Our mid and north Wales tour approaches

Thursday 7 November 2013, 15:23

Laura Sinnerton Laura Sinnerton

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As the evenings draw in and autumn gradually gives way to winter, preparation for the BBC National Orchestra of Wales' mid and north Wales tour is well underway. 

BBC National Orchestra of Wales at Venue Cymru in Llandudno BBC National Orchestra of Wales at Venue Cymru in Llandudno. Photo: Betina Skovbro

On this occasion we will be joined by a young British conductor who the orchestra has worked with on a number of programmes in the last few seasons.

Michael Francis (who, incidentally, read music at Cardiff University) began his career as a bassist in the London Symphony Orchestra, but over the last number of years has made the transition from playing, to full time conducting. I bet he is glad he will never have to learn every bass player's favourite Ein Heldenleben audition excerpt ever again. 

Michael rather famously stood in for Gergiev when the Russian maestro's flight delayed his arrival for a rehearsal of Shostakovich 4, and then again during a festival of Sophia Gubidulina's music at the Barbican (though he had 12 hours' notice on that occasion - eek!).

He stepped in for John Adams at the nth hour (two hours before the performance), in a concert of the composer's own works, and he has also stood in for Andre Previn. 

Now however, he is most certainly not waiting in the wings as anyone's understudy as he has an enviable reputation not just in Europe, but also in Asia, and in the United States.

He has also been appointed as the chief conductor and artistic advisor of Norrköping Symphony, Sweden. Not bad going at all - it was as recently as 2007 that his first stand-in for Gergiev occurred. 

We will also be joined by celebrated German cellist, Daniel Müller-Schott. I am very excited about this. He is a phenomenal talent (he won the Tchaikovsky Competition at just 15) and an international star.

His repertoire of both established concertos and new or commissioned works is incredible and in October 2013 he was awarded the Aida Stucki prize by the Anne-Sophie Mutter Foundation for his 'outstanding contribution' to the cello repertoire. 

As a recitalist, concerto soloist, chamber musician, and recording musician, Muller-Schott really is big news, and it is very exciting for us to bring an artist of his calibre to our mid and north Wales audiences. He will be performing Dvořák's Cello Concerto in B minor, the last solo concerto composed by Dvořák.

I think this concerto has one of the most recognisable openings of almost any concerto. However, it has a very long opening orchestral tutti - it must be a very lonely sit at the front of the stage for the soloist.

The second half of the programme will be dedicated to Tchaikovsky's Sixth Symphony, the composer's last completed work. This symphony is a bit of an emotional wringer, especially when the finale returns, devastatingly, in B minor after the G major presto of the third movement. More about this in my next blog though.

So, a programme of Dvořák and Tchaikovsky, all centered round B minor. It is going to be passionate, tearing-at-the-heartstrings stuff. Don't let the cold, dark evenings put you off coming out in Aberystwyth, Bangor or Llandudno - join us, and let this music move and inspire you too.

The orchestra tour Aberystwyth on Friday 8 November, 7.30pm; Bangor on Saturday 9 November, 7.30pm; and Llandudno on Sunday 10 November, 3pm. For more information, visit the orchestra's tour page.

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