Sydney Symphony Orchestra 2021 program

Music, Classical and opera
Ace violinist Ray Chen, wearing a natty tweed suit, prepares to play
Photograph: John Mac Ray Chen kicks off the year with Tchaikovsky’s ‘Violin Concerto’

Time Out says

After the year that this has been, let the SSO soothe you into a (hopefully) better 2021...

Forget the year the never really was, the Sydney Symphony Orchestra (SSO) has dropped its 2021 program and they are not mucking around. From Rachmaninov to Radiohead, there’s something for everyone to unwind to after the year that was. We’ve picked out a handful of our favourite to whet your classical appetites.

It all kicks off at Sydney Town Hall with Romance Begins (February 10-13), a new rendition of Tchaikovsky’s dreamy ‘Violin Concerto’ as performed by Mr swish Ray Chen. He won hearts and minds performing the very same piece in the in the Queen Elisabeth Competition a decade ago, launching him into international stardom. Chen will also string us along with Dvořák’s ‘New World Symphony’, which helped propelled Neil Armstrong onto the moon. Then let chief conductor designate Simone Young get you in synch with the majesty of Beethoven – including snippets from his opera, Fidelio – in Great Minds (February 18-20).

And as if that’s not an exciting enough start to a brand new (and hopefully much better) year, David Drury will take to the town hall’s mighty organ to play ‘Water’ in Reflections Of Light. It's a piece written by Radiohead guitarist Jonny Greenwood, as inspired by Philip Larkin’s poem. Drury will also perform Camille Saint-Saëns’ ‘Symphony No.3’.

Movie lovers will dig A Window To The Soul (April 22) with conductor Benjamin Northey leading the SSO through film composer Max Richter’s ‘On the Nature of Daylight’, which you can hear in both Martin Scorsese’s Shutter Island and Denis Villeneuve’s Arrival. Breakthroughs (May 27) pairs game changers from John Adam’s (‘Shaker Loops’, 1978) and Shostakovich, with his First Symphony (1926).

Mozart’s unfinished ‘Requiem Mass’ will wow with a little help from soprano Siobhan Stagg, mezzo-soprano Caitlin Hulcup, tenor Steve Davislim and baritone James Clayton in Sacred Ground (August 4-7). Whoever finished the piece, as Beethoven famously put it, “If Mozart did not write the music, then the man who wrote it was a Mozart.”

You can listen to Tchaikovsky’s ‘First String Quartet’ and Prokofiev’s ‘Quintet in G minor’ up close and personal in the Opera House’s Utzon room as part of the Cocktail Hour series in Russian Greats (September 10-11), or go much bigger with From Rachmaninov With Love as  fellow Russian, Konstantin Shamray tackles the great’s notoriously difficult ‘Third Piano Concerto’ at the Town Hall (October 13-16). And if your budget is tight and attention span short, we heartily recommend checking out the one-hour Tea and Symphony concerts. Bite-sized in length and price, you geta cuppa and biccies with the ticket. Bliss.


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