Celebrating his 40th birthday with The English Concert during the first week of the season (16th September) is countertenor Iestyn Davies, a frequent presence at Wigmore Hall over the past decade. Davies will also be awarded the Wigmore Hall Medal at this concert, in recognition of peerless artistry and commitment to the Hall. As a resident artist he takes the lead at three further concerts and also appears in the season’s Britten Series. Malcolm Martineau continues his Schumann series with Sir Simon Keenlyside, Sasha Cooke, Catriona Morison and Thomas Oliemans, while Mark Padmore and Kristian Bezuidenhout perform Schubert’s Song Cycles in three concerts.
Among the other recitalists over the season are, in alphabetical order, Anna Caterina Antonacci, Ilker Arcayürek, Jamie Barton, Dame Sarah Connolly, Alice Coote, Marianne Crebassa, Stéphane Degout, Franco Fagioli, Gerald Finley, Christian Gerhaher, Matthias Goerne, Thomas Hampson, Philippe Jaroussky, Christiane Karg (in a three-concert residency), Jakub Józef Orliński, Christoph Prégardien, Brenda Rae, Max Raabe, Sir Bryn Terfel, Ailish Tynan and Roderick Williams. Thomas Quasthoff returns to Wigmore Hall for a masterclass and special interview to mark his 60th birthday, and Sunday afternoons will continue to introduce exceptional young singers, bringing Wigmore Hall debuts for, among others, Operalia winner Elsa Dreisig.
In July 2020, Sholto Kynoch’s Oxford Lieder Festival makes a visit to Wigmore Hall for a Mahler Day comprising four recitals, at John Gilhooly’s invitation.
The season’s wealth of Beethoven is shared between Jonathan Biss, Sir András Schiff (who also offers a Schubert lecture-recital) and Elisabeth Leonskaja (who in addition continues her series devoted to Mozart and the Second Viennese School), while the Brahms strand is sustained by Jonathan Plowright.
Among the other artists appearing in the London Pianoforte Series are Inon Barnatan, Christian Blackshaw, Bertrand Chamayou, Kirill Gerstein, Nelson Goerner, Richard Goode, Benjamin Grosvenor, Marc-André Hamelin, Pavel Kolesnikov, 2018 Leeds Competition winner Eric Lu, Garrick Ohlsson, Francesco Piemontesi (launching a Schubert cycle) and Beatrice Rana. Leif Ove Andsnes gives a solo recital and also performs with musicians from the Mahler Chamber Orchestra, Paul Lewis and Steven Osborne team up for duets, and Imogen Cooper celebrates her 70th birthday in October 2019 with Schubert’s three last sonatas.
Chamber music is of the essence in the season’s Beethoven, Brahms and Weinberg programming, but further highlights of the season are provided by such artists as Leonidas Kavakos, Martin Fröst, Isabelle Faust, Miloš Karadaglić, Janine Jansen and Wigmore Hall Associate Artists the Takács Quartet. In September, the St Lawrence String Quartet surveys the complete Opus 20 Quartets by Haydn in one evening, and later in the season Roman Rabinovich marks Haydn’s death day with three concerts of solo piano works, chamber music and song.
The Nash Ensemble, Wigmore Hall’s Chamber Ensemble in Residence, explores great works by Schubert in the context of Weber, Haydn, Schumann, Rossini and others, in its ‘Around Schubert’ series. Musicians from Chineke!, Europe’s first majority-BME orchestra, also make a welcome return to the Hall, continuing a run of landmark Wigmore performances in recent seasons, and the Kaleidoscope Chamber Collective under the direction of pianist Tom Poster makes its debut in February with two concerts.
Contemporary and Jazz
Committed to renewing and expanding the repertoire, Wigmore Hall continues its commissioning programme with a new work from Huw Watkins, composed for percussionist Colin Currie. The season also features the UK première of Taivaanvalot(Heavenly Lights) by pianist Olli Mustonen, who will be joined for the occasion by Ian Bostridge and Steven Isserlis. Among the other leading artists presenting today’s music during the season are JACK Quartet and Birmingham Contemporary Music Group.
The 70th birthday of South African-born, German-trained composer Kevin Volans is celebrated with a concert and a study day, and British composer Freya Waley-Cohen reflects on Beethoven’s Grosse Fuge in a work for string trio. Following his jazz residency at the Hall in 2017, Vijay Iyer is the 2019/20 Composer in Residence. Based in New York, he is a pianist, composer, bandleader, producer and a professor at Harvard University. In the context of the Beethoven programme, he will examine the nature of improvisation and, in conjunction with anthropologist Professor Georgina Born, of innate musicality.
GRAMMY award-winning jazz vocalist Dianne Reeves returns following an acclaimed debut in 2018, and Django Bates brings his irrepressible style to the Hall in summer 2020.
BBC Lunchtime Concerts
Wigmore Hall’s evening concerts are regularly relayed on Radio 3, but the network’s Monday lunchtime concerts are part of the fabric of the Hall’s programming with its ever-refreshing balance of established names and rising talent. Among the artists appearing between mid-September and mid-July are: Nelson Freire; Bertrand Chamayou; Alexander Melnikov; Jennifer Pike and Martin Roscoe; Giuliano Carmignola and Riccardo Doni; Jean-Guihen Queyras and Alexandre Tharaud; Daniel Müller-Schott and Annika Treutler; Jess Gillam and Zeynep Özsuca; Christian Lindberg and Roland Pöntinen; Borodin Quartet and Barry Douglas; Jerusalem Quartet; Meta4; Brentano String Quartet; Stuart Skelton and Richard Peirson; Benjamin Appl and Kristian Bezuidenhout, and Louise Alder and Joseph Middleton.
Wigmore Hall’s Learning programme is dedicated to giving people of all ages, backgrounds and abilities the opportunity to participate in creative music-making. In collaboration with a range of community, education, arts, health and social care organisations, the programme engages a broad and diverse audience through projects, concerts, workshops and online resources.
In 2019/20, the theme of the Learning Festival, which runs throughout the season, is Musical Conversations. Goethe compared a string quartet to ‘four rational people conversing among themselves’, and this makes an apt analogy for the activities of the Learning programme, which encourages co-creation in a spirit of equality, creativity and collaboration. The Learning team’s work is defined through conversations with such partners as schools, care homes, hospitals and refuges. The team responds by producing creative musical programmes, which enhance and even change the lives of children in hospital and of people who are living with dementia, who have experienced homelessness, or who simply face barriers when it comes to their experience of the arts.