We caught up with The Swan’s Artistic Director, David Le Page, to find out what’s in store for the new season.
Each of us responds to music uniquely depending on a variety of factors which may range from upbringing, education and experience to temperament, peer pressure and fashion. The resulting enthusiasms can be as varied (and even polarised) as they sometimes are over politics or sport: people may be almost as passionate about what they dislike as about what they love. For myself, I am intrigued by music in all its forms: melodic music, atonal music, simple music, repetitive music, complex music, early music, experimental music, difficult music, loud music and quiet music. Most of all I’m curious about music I haven’t heard before and relish the potential delight in being taken by surprise.
The line between entertainment and enlightenment can be difficult to tread when putting programmes together: one has to be mindful of the preferences of audiences whilst at the same time recognising that it is impossible to please everyone. Different communities may require different approaches: what plays well in Stratford may not work so well in Coventry, Hereford or London. Sometimes it feels right to be boldly innovative, to try new things, and hope the audience will be swept up and drawn along.
With this notion of balance in mind, The Swan’s 26th season features well-known works by Mendelssohn, Bruch, Tchaikovsky, Dvořák, Vaughan Williams, Elgar, Strauss II, Schubert and Haydn. It also presents less familiar works by living composers such as Anna Meredith, Jessie Montgomery, James Wilson, Roderick Williams, David Gordon and Valerie Coleman. Soloists include Tai Murray, Guy Johnston, Nick Daniel, Roderick Williams and Aaron Akugbo.
Our intimate and experimental Night Owl series continues to offer intriguing performances, including Earthcycle, a contemplation of humanity’s impact on the environment, featuring old and new versions of The Four Seasons;
Whatever your musical persuasion, I know there is much to enjoy here amongst these programmes: much thought has gone into them. My hope is that you will be surprised and delighted by some of the less well-known works we will present.
Given the current state of the world it feels a privilege to be able to bring you this music, a timely connection with the limitless heights attainable by the nobler part of our humanity.
This autumn we will be joined by two stunning violinists to perform irresistible audience favourites. American fiddler Tai Murray makes a welcome return to play Max Bruch’s enduringly popular Concerto in G minor in Stratford (October 9th) and in Hereford (October 11th).
The following month UK-based Priya Mitchell will perform Samuel Barber’s emotionally-compelling concerto with The Swan at Warwick Hall on November 10th. This will be a very special occasion as Priya is one of the most intensely soulful violinists I have ever heard.
To celebrate Vaughan Williams’ 150th birthday, Nicholas Daniel will perform his mesmerising Oboe Concerto on November 16th. Nick is one of this country’s finest oboists and has been playing this gorgeous, folk-infused work since his prize-winning appearance at the BBC Young Musician of the Year in 1980.
The Vaughan Williams celebration continues into the new year with Five Mystical Songs sung by the celebrated baritone Roddy Williams. This concert on January 12th 2023 also features a new work by Roddy for voice and orchestra entitled Corona. Conceived during the pandemic it uses anonymous poetry sourced from the internet as the basis for its text.
Earthcycle is an exciting project which seeks to highlight humanity’s harmful impact on Earth’s environment and the disruption of its natural rhythms. Our new Associate Artist, Jazz and baroque keyboardist and composer David Gordon, has been commissioned by The Swan to compose a work based on Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, which will also be performed alongside folk songs related to each of the seasons. Earthcycle seeks to highlight the 21st century’s greatest concern whilst celebrating nature and our place within it.
This promises to be out most inviting and innovative season yet.