Planning each new Oxford Philharmonic season is a labour of love as we endeavour to present a wealth of music in the company of some of the finest exponents of the repertoire. Whether it is Valery Gergiev returning to launch the season, Anne-Sophie Mutter performing Brahms or Maxim Vengerov in a special chamber collaboration with The Soloists of the Oxford Philharmonic, we seek to create moments that capture the Orchestra’s ethos of musical integrity and for making strong musical statements.
Of particular significance this season is a focus on the great Russian masterworks. From the early influence of Glinka on the national musical identity to the exotic writings of Borodin and Rimsky-Korsakov, the soaring melodies of Rachmaninov and Tchaikovsky to the gripping orchestral brilliance of Stravinsky and Shostakovich, this repertoire lifts high both audience and orchestra. Joining us are leading interpreters Valery Gergiev, Khatia Buniatishvili, Vladimir Ashkenazy, Yuri Temirkanov, and Anna Tsybuleva (winner of the 2015 Leeds Piano Competition) as well as our own principal players, Natalia Lomeiko and Yuri Zhislin, who will be your guides across this vast musical landscape.
I am pleased to welcome to Oxford the star cellist Gautier Capuçon playing Haydn in the same space the composer himself once conducted. Lars Vogt will bring a special energy to both the keyboard and the conductor’s baton while two charismatic artists, the cellist Steven Isserlis and mandolinist Avi Avital, will both make welcome returns with repertoire from two very different eras. As many of our patrons know, I have a deep affection for Mozart’s music and am delighted to be presenting a number of his works this season with colleagues including the soprano Rebecca Evans, flautist Emmanuel Pahud and a protégé of mine, the emerging young Taiwanese pianist Szuyu Su.
In November, we gather with many friends and collaborators to mark a significant milestone with the 15th anniversary celebration of our position as Orchestra in Residence at the University of Oxford. Our many initiatives over the years have included masterclasses, apprenticeships in orchestral playing, tuition, composer workshops, concerto competitions, and performances and recordings with leading college choirs. Additionally, through our concert ticket discount scheme we have ensured access to world-class performances for so many students. I feel truly proud of all we have achieved. Indeed, we launch an exciting new concert format in January 2018 in a collaboration between Simonyi Professor of Mathematics at the University of Oxford, Marcus du Sautoy, and the Orchestra who together will unveil the hidden mathematical secrets behind the masterworks.
This season holds a special significance for me for so many reasons. As our Orchestra approaches its 20th birthday, I too celebrate a significant personal landmark with the 50th anniversary of my arrival to this country. As a budding pianist who dreamt of a life in music, the UK provided me with an education and an abundance of opportunities to embark on a career as a performing musician. Not in my wildest dreams would I have imagined that Oxford, a city that featured extensively in my early career, would become my musical home and, with the founding of our Orchestra, the heart of my creative efforts for almost 20 years and counting. From stepping off a plane aged 12 to standing at Buckingham Palace receiving an MBE for services to music in Oxford, this has been the most magical of journeys. I reminisce by way of thankful acknowledgment of the multitude of opportunities this country has afforded me.
And so to our 2017/18 season, one filled with wonder, outstanding music and thrilling collaborations. I would like to invite you to join us on another journey of musical delights.
Marios Papadopoulos MBE, Music Director