Mahler’s Song of the Earth

Fri 6 Mar 2020, 7.30PM
Usher Hall, Edinburgh

R. Strauss Also sprach Zarathustra
Interval
Mahler Das Lied von der Erde

Thomas Søndergård Conductor
Jane Irwin Mezzo-Soprano
Simon O’Neill Tenor

‘I mean to portray in music the whole story of the human race…’ Richard Strauss did everything on a spectacular scale, and if you only know Also sprach Zarathustra from 2001: A Space Odyssey, you haven’t heard the half of it! But there’s more: Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde (The Song of the Earth) is a heartbreakingly poignant hymn to life in all its sorrow and sweetness. Some say it’s the greatest symphony Mahler never wrote, and with the divine voices of Jane Irwin and Simon O’Neill, Thomas Søndergård can dive straight to its heart.

6.45PM: RSNO Viola Katherine Wren in the Upper Circle Bar.

Tickets

£42, £32.50, £24.50, £19, £13

Discounts

Under 16s free (max 2 per paying adult); Under 26s / Mature Students £6 in advance, £8 after 5pm on the day; Unemployed £6; Disabled patrons and their carers 50% off; Group discounts available

Box Office

0131 228 1155

Featured Artists

Thomas Søndergård

Thomas Søndergård Conductor

Danish conductor Thomas Søndergård is Music Director of Royal Scottish National Orchestra, following six seasons as Principal Guest Conductor. He served as Principal Conductor of BBC National Orchestra of Wales (BBCNOW) from September 2012 – August 2018, and prior to this, as Principal Conductor and Musical Advisor of the Norwegian Radio Orchestra for three seasons.

He has conducted many leading orchestras, including Chicago Symphony, London Philharmonic, BBC Symphony, Royal Concertgebouw, London Symphony, Philharmonia Orchestra, Oslo Philharmonic, Gothenburg Symphony, Danish National Symphony, Royal Stockholm Philharmonic and Gewandhausorchester Leipzig, WDR Sinfonieorchester Köln, Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin, Mahler Chamber Orchestra, Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen, Bamberger Symphoniker; leading tours with Junge Deutsche Philharmonie and European Union Youth Orchestra; Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra, Netherlands Philharmonic, Luxembourg Philharmonic, Brussels Philharmonic; Swedish Radio Symphony, Finnish Radio Symphony, City of Birmingham Symphony, Sydney Symphony, Toronto Symphony, Atlanta Symphony, Vancouver Symphony, Houston Symphony and Seattle Symphony.

The 2019/20 season includes debuts with Cleveland Orchestra, NDR Radiophilharmonie Hannover and Detroit Symphony Orchestra. He makes return visits to Danish National Symphony Orchestra, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, the Bayerische Staatsoper orchestra, visits the Guildhall Orchestra for performances of Mahler Symphony No. 7 at the Barbican Centre and embarks on a Korean tour with the orchestra of the Royal Danish Opera. Highlights with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra this season include Berg’s Seven Early Songs with Karen Cargill, Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde joined by Simon O'Neill and Jane Irwin, recording work, a European tour and performances of the Verdi Requiem.

Highlights of recent seasons include debuts with Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Helsinki Philharmonic, and Orchestre National de France, and many re invitations, including Atlanta Symphony, Toronto Symphony Orchestra, Danish National Symphony, Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra, Bayerische Staatsoper (Turandot), Deutsche Oper Berlin (Berlioz’s Romeo and Juliet), Rundfunk Sinfonieorchester Berlin, Gurzenich-Orchester Köln, SWR Baden-Baden, Sydney Symphony, Orchestre National du Capitole de Toulouse and Norwegian Opera. Recent highlights with RSNO include tours to China and the United States, premieres of new commissions and Marsalis’ Violin Concerto with Nicola Benedetti.

A passionate supporter of the music of Carl Nielsen, his most recent programme with Swedish Radio Symphony (Symphony No. 5) received wide praise as “equal of the great pioneers of Nielsen interpretation… It’s hard to imagine a finer performance of this remarkable symphony” (Dagens Nyheter). As part of the 2015 anniversary celebrations of both Sibelius and Nielsen he conducted a wide variety of their works with many leading orchestras. In 2019 he participated in a special concert to celebrate Nielsen’s work with the Royal Danish Academy of Music Copenhagen.

A highly accomplished opera conductor, he is equally at home in mainstream and contemporary repertoire. Previous opera includes Bayerische Staatsoper (Turandot), Norwegian Opera (Die Zauberflöte), Deutsche Oper Berlin (world premiere of Scartazzini’s Edward II); and Tosca, Turandot (Nina Stemme) and Les dialogues des Carmelites (Royal Swedish Opera). His Royal Danish Opera visit conducting Ruders' opera Kafka's Trial was described as a sensation: "He is one of the best things that has happened to the art of opera for many years" and subsequent productions there have included Il barbiere di Siviglia, Le Nozze di Figaro, La bohème, Cunning Little Vixen and Il viaggio a Reims.

Commercial recordings with BBCNOW include Sibelius Symphonies 1, 2, 6 & 7 and a disc of his tone poems and theatre music, featuring Finlandia and Valse Triste (Linn Records). His first release with Royal Scottish National Orchestra features music by R Strauss, the concert suite from Der Rosenkavalier and Ein Heldenleben (Linn Records). Pentatone also recently released the Lutoslawski and Dutilleux cello concertos with Johannes Moser and Rundfunk Sinfonieorchester Berlin. Earlier noteworthy recordings include Vilde Frang's celebrated debut recording for EMI, and Ruders’ Piano Concerto No. 2, (Bridge Records) which was nominated for a Gramophone Award. In 2011 he was awarded the prestigious Queen Ingrid Foundation Prize for services to Music in Denmark.

Jane  Irwin

Jane Irwin Mezzo-Soprano

Jane Irwin studied music at Lancaster University and singing at the Royal Northern College of Music as a mezzo. As a concert and recital singer, she has appeared regularly in Britain, Europe and America. In 2002 she made her Carnegie Hall debut with the Pittsburgh Symphony under Mariss Jansons. She has sung for the BBC Proms, the Edinburgh International Festival, the Berlin Festival, the Concertgebouw and Musikverein. She has worked with the Berlin Symphony Orchestra, Deutsche Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, Orchestre de Paris, Rotterdam Philharmonic, Bamberg Symphony, Pittsburgh Symphony, American Symphony Orchestra, Seattle Symphony, San Francisco Symphony, Colorado Symphony, Swedish Chamber Orchestra, Spanish National Orchestra, Zurich Tonhalle, Philharmonia, City of Birmingham Symphony, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, Royal Scottish National Orchestra, and the Hallé Orchestra. Jane has also worked with conductors Myung Whun Chung, Sir Simon Rattle, Günther Herbig, Semyon Bychkov, Ivor Bolton, Andrew Davis, Libor Pesek, Donald Runnicles, Antonio Pappano, Sakari Oramo, Sir Mark Elder, Matthias Bamert, Trevor Pinnock, Petr Altrichter, Paul Daniel, Joseph Swensen, Sir Richard Armstrong and Jakov Kreizberg. She has given recitals at the Châtelet, Paris, London, Edinburgh, Geneva, Aix-en-Provence and Japan.

In 2009, Jane moved into a soprano repertoire. She sang her first Britten War Requiem in January 2010 with David Hill and has since sung Tatiana’s Letter Scene from Eugene Onegin at the Royal Festival Hall and Marie in Fragments from Wozzeck Diego Masson. She has also performed Isolde’s Liebsestod in Sardinia, Sieglinde Die Walküre in Mexico City, Andromache in Tippett’s King Priam at the Brighton Festival, and Brunnhilde’s Immolation scene from Götterdämmerung with the Bremer Philharmoniker.

As a mezzo she made her debut at the Royal Opera House in a new production of Götterdämmerung as Second Norn under Bernard Haitink, returning in 2003 to sing Suzuki in Madam Butterfly. She has sung Die Walküre at Bayreuth, Brangäne in Tristan und Isolde for San Francisco Opera, English National Opera and Deutsche Oper Berlin, Mere Marie in Dialogues des Carmélites for Lyric Opera of Chicago and appears regularly with Scottish Opera, highlights include Waltraute in Götterdämmerung and Anezka in The Two Widows by Smetana at the Edinburgh Festival.

Recent engagements include Verdi Requiem with RPO and Vladimir Jurowski at the Royal Festival Hall, concerts with Manchester Camerata, Northern Sinfonia, BBC National Orchestra of Wales, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra (with Sir Simon Rattle), National Youth Orchestra of Scotland, San Diego Orchestra, Finnish Radio Symphony, Real Filharmonia de Galicia, Orchestre National de Lyon and Sao Paulo Symphony Orchestra, as well as Brangäne in Tristan und Isolde for the Deutsche Opera Berlin conducted by Donald Runnicles and directed by Graham Vick.

In opera, Jane’s recent appearances include Miss Jessel Turn of the Screw with Aurora Orchestra at Snape Maltings and LSO St. Luke’s, her first Isolde for Regensburg Opera (and in concert in Craiova, Romania), and the Foreign Princess Rusalka in Saarbrücken.

Simon  O’Neill

Simon O’Neill Tenor

A native of New Zealand, Simon O’Neill has established himself as one of the finest helden-tenors on the international stage. He is a principal artist with the Metropolitan Opera, the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, Teatro alla Scala and both the Bayreuther Festspiele and Salzburger Festspiele, appearing with a number of illustrious conductors including James Levine, Riccardo Muti, Valery Gergiev, Sir Antonio Pappano, Daniel Barenboim, Pietari Inkinen, Pierre Boulez, Sir Charles Mackerras, Sir Colin Davis, Daniele Gatti, Edo de Waart, Fabio Luisi, Donald Runnicles, Sir Simon Rattle, Thomas Hengelbrock, Jaap van Zweden and Christian Thielemann.

Simon’s performances as Siegmund in Die Walküre at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden with Pappano, Teatro alla Scala and Berlin Staatsoper with Barenboim, at the Metropolitan Opera with Runnicles in the celebrated Otto Schenk production returning with Luisi in the Lepage Der Ring des Nibelungen and in the Götz Friedrich production at Deutsche Oper Berlin with Rattle were performed to wide critical acclaim. He was described in the international press as “an exemplary Siegmund, terrific of voice”, “THE Wagnerian tenor of his generation” and “a turbo-charged tenor”.

Notable debuts have included: Jenik The Bartered Bride at the Royal Opera House with Mackerras (2005), Die Zauberflöte at the Salzburg Festival with Muti (2005), Gran Sacerdote Idomeneo at the Metropolitan Opera under Levine (2006), Sergei in Shostakovich’s Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk with Armstrong for Opera Australia (2009), Siegmund Die Walküre at Teatro alla Scala with Barenboim (2010) and the Bayerische Staatsoper with Nagano (2013), Lohengrin (title role) for the Bayreuth Festival with Nelsons (2010), Parsifal (title role) with Gatti (2011), Chairman Mao Nixon in China with Lawrence Renes with the San Francisco Opera (2012), and Parsifal at the Wiener Staatsoper with Thielemann (2012).

Simon made his Bayreuth festival debut in the title role of Lohengrin in the new Hans Neuenfels production and returned as Parsifal in the celebrated Stefan Herheim production. Other recent engagements have included opening La Scala’s season as Siegmund Die Walküre with Barenboim, the Wiener Staatsoper with Welser-Möst, his return as Siegmund in the Keith Warner’s celebrated Der Ring des Nibelungen, Lohengrin, Fidelio, Stolzing Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg and the title role of Parsifal in the Stephen Langridge production at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, the Tambourmajor Wozzeck with Levine at the Metropolitan Opera, Erik Der Fliegende Holländer at the Ravinia Festival with Conlon and the Chicago Symphony, Cavaradossi Tosca in Tokyo, Berlin and Hamburg, Florestan Fidelio, and Die Walküre at the Houston Grand Opera and Hamburg Staatsoper. Simon also made his debut in the role of Siegfried in concert performances of Götterdämmerung with the Orquesta Sinfonica Galicia, reprised Parsifal with the Balthasar-Neumann Ensemble and Hengelbrock at Teatro Real Madrid and returned to Opera Australia and Houston Grand Opera as the title role in Otello.

Recent highlights include: Die Walküre in his debut with the Berliner Philharmoniker, Boris Katya Kabanova at the Berliner Staatsoper and Gurrelieder at the 2017 BBC Proms, all with Sir Simon Rattle; he also recently performed Die Walküre with Andrew Davis at the Edinburgh Festival, made his debut in the title role Siegfried with Jaap van Zweden and the Hong Kong Philharmonic, and performed Siegfried Götterdämmerung for the first time on stage at the Houston Grand Opera. Forthcoming projects include Das Lied von der Erde at the Barbican Centre and in Luxembourg with Rattle, a return to the Hamburgische Staatsoper as Tambourmajor Wozzeck, Die Walküre with La Fura dels Baus in Taipei, performances under Jaap van Zweden with the New York Philharmonic and Dallas Symphony orchestras, a tour with the Kammerphilharmonie Bremen and Paavo Järvi to China, and a return to the Bayerischer Staatsoper with Petrenko.

At extremely short notice Simon made his debut in the title role of Verdi’s Otello in concert at the Barbican with the London Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Sir Colin Davis (2009). His performance was widely acclaimed by critics, who described his musical and dramatic portrayal of the infamous protagonist as “thrilling”, “a triumph”, “an immense performance”, “a tremendous debut in the title-role, giving notice that he is the best heroic tenor to emerge over the last decade.”

Simon has appeared in many of the world’s leading concert halls including Carnegie Hall for Das Lied von der Erde with Levine and The Met Orchestra, Missa Solemnis with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Florestan at the Salzburger Festspiele and BBC Proms with Barenboim, Florestan with the National Symphony Orchestra with Eschenbach at the Kennedy Center Washington, Gurrelieder in the BBC Proms at the Royal Albert Hall, Das Lied von der Erde and Parsifal in concert at Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia with Pappano and Gatti, Act Three Parsifal with Nelsons and the Bayerischer Rundfunks Orchestra at the Herkulessaal München, Der Freischütz with Sir Colin Davis and the London Symphony Orchestra, Janacek’s Glagolitic Mass with Dutoit at Tokyo’s NHK Hall and with Boulez in the BBC Proms at the Royal Albert Hall, Mahler’s Symphony No8 at the Sydney Opera House with Ashkenazy and Beethoven’s Symphony No9 for the reopening of London’s Royal Festival Hall. He also had the honour of touring Europe with Daniel Barenboim and the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra performing Act One of Die Walküre in concert and performing the complete ring cycle with the Staatskapelle Berlin at the BBC Proms.

Multi-Grammy nominated, his discography includes his debut solo award-winning album Father and Son, Wagner Scenes and Arias (Lohengrin, Parsifal, Siegmund and Siegfried) with Pietari Inkinen and the NZSO for EMI, the title role of Parsifal on Blu-ray and DVD with Sir Antonio Pappano from Covent Garden, the title role of Otello and Max Der Freischütz with Sir Colin Davis for LSO Live, Die Walküre on Blu-ray and DVD with Daniel Barenboim from La Scala, Die Zauberflöte for the Salzburger Festspiele Mozart 25 DVD with Riccardo Muti, Mahler’s Symphony No8 with Vladimir Ashkenanzy and the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, Beethoven Symphony No9 with the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie conducted by Paavo Järvi and with the Montreal Symphony Orchestra under Kent Nagano, Frank Martin’s Der Sturm with the Netherlands Radio Symphony and Thierry Fischer, Chauson’s Le Roi Arthus with Leon Botstein and the BBC Symphony Orchestra, and most recently Voices of German Opera on EMI.

Simon became an Officer of New Zealand Order of Merit in the 2017 Queen’s Birthday Honours list, he is an alumnus and holds a Director of Music (Honoris Causa) from Victoria University of Wellington and is an alumnus if the University of Otago, the Manhattan School of Music and the Juilliard Opera Center. He is a Fulbright Scholar, was awarded the 2005 Arts Laureate of New Zealand and was a grand finalist in the 2002 Metropolitan Opera National Auditions returning as guest artist in 2007. He also appears on the 1998 New Zealand one-dollar performing arts postage stamp.

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