Ben Folds, Aretha Franklin, Nirvana and Ewoks sit alongside Mahler and the 250th anniversary of Beethoven’s death in a rich 2020 Adelaide Symphony Orchestra season that will also celebrate the oft-overlooked work of women in classical music.
Announced last month, onetime Adelaide resident Ben Folds will return to South Australia as part of a national symphonic tour that will pair him with the ASO on Thursday 19 March. While Folds has performed with the ASO before, recent years have seen him deepen his engagement with the classical world, premiering a specially-commissioned piano concerto with the Nashville Symphony in 2014, and serving as artistic advisor to the National Symphony Orchestra in Washington since 2017.
Throughout June the ASO will present She Speaks, a series of intimate Elder Hall performances on June 24 curated by composer Anne Cawrse. Celebrating the work of women composers including Fanny Mendelssohn Hensell, Lisa Cheney, Caroline Shaw and Kaija Saariaho alongside the world premiere of Cawrse’s Suite from Innocence, performers will include Anna Goldsworthy’s Seraphim Trio, the Elder Music Lab and Cheryl Pickering. A free panel discussion with Anna Goldsworthy, Anne Cawrse, Hilary Kleinig and Rachel Bruerville will also explore how women have historically been overlooked in the classical world.
The ASO’s 2020 season will also commemorate the 250th anniversary of Beethoven’s death in September with a landmark fortnight-long season of the composer’s nine symphonies performed over four Adelaide Town Hall concerts led by Principal Guest conductor Mark Wigglesworth. Wigglesworth leads an eclectic roster of conductors helming the orchestra in 2020 following the departure of Nicholas Carter last year.
One such guest will be Carter himself, taking up the baton once again to lead a performance of Mahler’s Symphony No. 5 and Thomas Adés’ violin concerto Concentric Paths as part of the 2020 Adelaide Festival. This concert comes in addition to the ASO’s participation in Romeo Castellucci’s new production of Mozart’s Requiem due to premiere at the festival next year.
2020 will also see the return of popular programming staples of 2019 with the Master Series, Classics Unwrapped and Mozart at Elder. Next year’s Master Series will feature the world premiere of a newly commissioned horn concerto from Brisbane composer Paul Dean in June and in October, composer in residence Cathy Milliken will debut a new work inspired by the half-a-billion-year-old Ediacaran fossils of the Flinders Ranges held by the South Australian Museum.
In keeping with the ASO’s ongoing exploration of contemporary music and popular culture, in August Kate Ceberano and Mahalia Barnes will lead a rousing celebration of trailblazing soul legend Aretha Franklin with songs including Respect, Chain of Fools and I Say A Little Prayer. End of Fashion frontman Justin Burford will front an orchestral reinterpretation of Nirvana’s back catalogue in May with tunes such as Smells Like Teen Spirit and About A Girl – the quiet-loud dynamic will never be the same.
The ASO will also conclude its series of concerts performing the live score to George Lucas’ original Star Wars trilogy with Return of the Jedi. While the third but by no means final installment in the franchise is not known for originating iconic John Williams’ themes such as the Imperial March, it does include a lot of unusual musical interludes (Jabba’s Palace, Ewok celebrations) that should prove for an interesting evening.
In October, former Good Morning Australia and Australian Idol music director John Foreman will lead Big Hits of the Small Screen, a tribute to iconic television theme music from Skippy The Bush Kangaroo to Danny Elfman’s Simpsons theme.
Explore the full 2020 Adelaide Symphony Orchestra program here