To each word a warbling note… fairies, lovers and a bloke called Bottom with a donkey’s head. A Midsummer Night’s Dream is Shakespeare at his very best: and Felix Mendelssohn loved it so much that he transformed it into pure musical magic. Enjoy both narration and music (including that Wedding March) tonight, plus a lively overture by Felix’s sister Fanny and our incredible RSNO Youth Chorus in a 21st-century celebration of the names that we give to birds, beasts and plants.
Repertoire includesMendelssohn-Hensel - Overture in C Major James Burton - The Lost Words (World Premiere) Mendelssohn - A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Incidental Music
SoloistsRSNO Youth Chorus Patrick Barrett - Director, RSNO Youth Choruses
Music Director Thomas Søndergård
Danish conductor Thomas Søndergård is the Music Director of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, following six seasons as Principal Guest Conductor. The 2023:24 season also sees Thomas start his tenure as Music Director of the Minnesota Orchestra. Between 2012 and 2018, he served as Principal Conductor of BBC National Orchestra of Wales (BBC NOW), after stepping down as Principal Conductor and Musical Advisor of the Norwegian Radio Orchestra.
He has appeared with many notable orchestras in leading European centres, such as Berlin (including Berliner Philharmoniker, Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin, Mahler Chamber Orchestra, Konzerthausorchester Berlin), Munich (Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunk), Leipzig (Gewandhausorchester), Paris (Orchestre National de France), London (London Philharmonic, BBC Symphony, London Symphony and Philharmonia Orchestra), Amsterdam and Rotterdam (Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Netherlands Philharmonic, Rotterdam Philharmonic) and is a familiar figure in Scandinavia, with such orchestras as Oslo Philharmonic, Gothenburg Symphony, Danish National Symphony, Royal Stockholm Philharmonic, Swedish Radio Symphony, Finnish Radio Symphony and Helsinki Philharmonic. North American appearances to date have included the symphony orchestras of Chicago, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Baltimore, St Louis, Toronto, Atlanta, Montreal, Vancouver, Houston and Seattle. He has made highly successful tours to China, Korea, Australia and New Zealand.
The 2023:24 season marks the beginning of Thomas’ tenure as Music Director of the Minnesota Orchestra. With the RSNO this season, in addition to their subscription series, Thomas will lead the orchestra’s residency at the Grosses Festspielhaus in Salzburg, joined by Lise de la Salle, as well as an extensive European tour with Ray Chen. This season sees Thomas make his return to the London Symphony Orchestra, as well as his debut with the New York Philharmonic, where he will perform the US premiere of Olga Neuwirth’s Keyframes for a Hippogriff. Thomas also makes regular guest appearances throughout Scandinavia this season, debuting with Iceland Symphony and the Bergen International Festival, where he leads a full staging of Ibsen’s Peer Gynt to Grieg’s complete incidental music. Return visits include Bergen Philharmonic, a joint collaboration with Aalborg and Aarhus Symfoniorkesters, and the Danish National Symphony Orchestra, celebrating his receipt of the Carl Nielsen and Anne-Marie Carl Nielsen’s Foundation award for his outstanding contribution to Danish musical life.
As part of the 2015 anniversary celebrations of both Sibelius and Nielsen, he conducted a wide variety of their works with many leading orchestras. A passionate supporter of the music of Carl Nielsen, his performances with the Swedish Radio Symphony of his Symphony No. 5 was praised as “equal of the great pioneers of Nielsen interpretation… It’s hard to imagine a finer performance of this remarkable symphony.” (Dagens Nyheter); and in 2019 participated in a special concert to celebrate Nielsen’s works with the Royal Danish Academy of Music Copenhagen.
Following his acclaimed debut for Royal Danish Opera (Kafka’s Trial), he has since returned regularly to conduct a broad repertoire, including Die Walküre, which won the 2022 Reumert Award for Best Opera Production, Elektra, Le nozze di Figaro, Il barbiere di Siviglia, La bohème, Cunning Little Vixen, Il viaggio a Reims; and has also made short concert tours with the Royal Danish Orchestra. He has also enjoyed successful collaborations with Norwegian Opera and Royal Swedish Opera. His Stockholm productions of Tosca and Turandot (both with Nina Stemme) led to his Bayerische Staatsoper debut, conducting main season and Opera Festival performances of Turandot with her and he most recently returned to for the Opera’s Akademiekonzert series. He made his Deutsche Oper Berlin debut with the World premiere of Scartazzini’s Edward II and has since returned for Berlioz’s Romeo and Juliet.
His discography covers a broad range of contemporary and mainstream repertoire, including Poul Ruders (Arhus Symphony, Norwegian Radio, Royal Danish Opera (Kafka’s Trial) for Da Capo and Bridge Records); Sibelius symphonies and tone poems with BBC NOW and Prokofiev and Richard Strauss with RSNO for Linn Records; Lutoslawski and Dutilleux concertos with ‘cellist Johannes Moser and Rundfunk Sinfonieorchester Berlin (Pentatone); and Vilde Frang’s celebrated debut recording (WDR Koln for EMI).
In January 2022, Thomas was decorated with a prestigious Royal Order of Chivalry – the Order of Dannebrog (Ridder af Dannebrogordenen) by Her Majesty Margrethe II, Queen of Denmark.
RSNO Youth Chorus
Founded in 1978 by Jean Kidd, the RSNO Youth Chorus (formerly known as the RSNO Junior Chorus) is one of the leading children and youth choirs in the UK, with over 400 members aged seven to eighteen. It has built up a considerable reputation singing under some of the world’s most distinguished conductors and appearing on radio and television.
RSNO Youth Choruses Director Patrick Barrett
Patrick Barrett is a conductor specialising in choral music and opera. He is currently Chorus Director of the RSNO Youth Choruses, Royal Opera House Youth Opera Company, Irish Youth Training Choir and the award-winning Farnham Youth Choirs.
Recent work has included conducting the RSNO Youth Chorus alongside soloists Sheku Kanneh-Mason, Benjamin Grosvenor and Nicola Benedetti in the Royal Scottish National Orchestra’s All-Star Gala performances, and preparing them for the recording of Jonathan Dove’s Gaspard’s Christmas, which is available on all streaming services. Over the summer, he led FYC to success at the Hull International Choral Competition and the International Choir Competition in Provence, winning the Youth Choirs of Equal Voices and Children’s Choir categories respectively, and will be competing with them in the World Choir Games 2024 in New Zealand. In the past year, he has also premiered a number of new works including Jonathan Brigg’s The Sapling with the ROH Youth Opera Company and pieces by Emma O’Halloran and DJ and producer R.Kitt with IYTC. This summer, he took up the position of Guest Conductor with the National Youth Choir of Great Britain’s Girls’ Choir and has been invited back for 2024.
Much of Patrick’s work revolves around championing young people within choral music and, for the past two years, he has been invited to address the annual conference of the Post Primary Music Teachers Association in Ireland. His work in this area began as a Trainee Music Leader with Spitalfields Music between 2015-16 and he is now firmly established as a music educator, having delivered projects for organisations including the BBC Singers, Sonoro, The Sixteen, Wigmore Hall, Aldeburgh Young Musicians, and Ark Schools.
In opera, Patrick works with many of the UK’s major companies including the Royal Opera House, English National Opera and Garsington Opera. For the ROH, he is the Musical Director of the Youth Opera Company, preparing them for main stage performances of Verdi’s Otello under Sir Antonio Pappano and Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel under Sebastian Weigle, and conducting them in the world premieres of specially commissioned works including Lewis Murphy’s A Different Story in the Linbury Theatre. He is also a regular leader on their Create and Sing programme, working with secondary school teachers to stage specially-devised operas in classrooms across the country. For the ENO, he has prepared the children’s chorus for Janáček’s The Cunning Little Vixen under Martyn Brabbins and Bizet’s Carmen under Kerem Hasan. For Garsington Opera, he has worked on a specially-commissioned community opera called Dalia by Roxanna Panufnik as the Youth Chorus Director.
Patrick was previously the conductor of the University of Birmingham’s Upper Voices Choir and Brockham Choral Society.