As John Gilhooly, the Hall's director explains: "Last season buoyed us up with a 30% increase in ticket sales, and now, with our acquisition of the Hall's lease, we have been freed from paying annual rental of some Ô£100,000. As a consequence we can present an exceptionally full, varied and dynamic programme for 2009-10. Beyond expanding our piano, chamber and song recital series, we are also placing a stronger emphasis on early music, contemporary music _ not least new commissions _ and jazz."
To celebrate its new-found leaseholder status the Hall is running a series called 10 for 10 between Sept. 13 and Dec. 19. It comprises 10 varied concerts, offered to series subscribers for just Ô£10 each. The artists range from established figures like tenor John Mark Ainsley and pianist Artur Pizarro, to rising names such as Jonathan Biss, Alina Ibragimova and C_dric Tiberghien and Wigmore debutants Trio Medi‹val.
2009 Song Competition
Providing the upbeat to the season is the 2009 Wigmore Hall/Kohn Foundation International Song Competition (6th-10th September). The names of the singers on this year's judging panel exemplify the status this event has acquired since its inauguration in 1997: Dame Anne Evans, Ann Murray DBE, Dame Margaret Price, Sir Thomas Allen and Wolfgang Holzmair.
Singers & Friends
The season's opening concert on 12th September brings tenor Mark Padmore, partnered by Paul Lewis in Schubert's Die sch‹ne M‹llerin. Padmore appears in a series of events throughout the season, including two November programmes of Purcell and Handel with The English Concert. On 28th September Padmore and Lewis return to join pianist Imogen Cooper in celebrating her 60th birthday; the other members of the party are Wolfgang Holzmair (also to be heard in Winterreise with Andreas Haefliger on 29th November) and cellist Sonia Wieder Atherton.
There is more Schubert from baritone Matthias Goerne, who on 18th and 20th September continues his three-season traversal of 200 of the composer's songs; his pianists are Eric Schneider and Alexander Schmalcz. On 25th October, another fine baritone, Simon Keenlyside commences a four-concert residency with Graham Johnson and Brahms, Wolf and Schubert. In January he will collaborate with another singer who is a focal point over the autumn and winter, Austrian mezzo Angelika Kirchschlager, who on 20th November shares a programme with Dame Felicity Lott which includes two settings of Frauenliebe und _leben: Schumann's and the lesser-known version by Carl Loewe.
Dame Felicity also entices us with Duparc and Berlioz to the first concert (24th October) of eight throughout the season by the Nash Ensemble which extend L'Invitation au voyage; on the itinerary are France and Spain, while subsequent vocal travellers include Sally Matthews and Karen Cargill. Another of Britain's most distinguished singers is Philip Langridge, who celebrates his 70th birthday on 3rd November with Schubert, Vaughan Williams, Britten, Birtwistle and David Owen Norris and the Doric String Quartet. A British lyric tenor of the younger generation, Andrew Kennedy, gives the world premiere of four Shakespeare settings commissioned by Wigmore Hall from the American composer Ned Rorem, now 86. Kennedy's recital with Roger Vignoles also features Purcell, Warlock, Britten and Ives. A further Rorem premiere will be heard at Wigmore Hall in March 2010.
A further special vocal occasion is the concert on 22nd December to celebrate the 50th birthday of Julius Drake who (with fellow-pianists Roger Vignoles and Malcolm Martineau) is a mainstay of song recitals at the Hall. Honouring him is a starry line-up of singers _ Sophie Danemann, Alice Coote, Joyce DiDonato, Derek Lee Ragin, Ian Bostridge, Mark Padmore, Gerald Finley, Christopher Maltman _ and oboist Nicholas Daniel.
A voice-type rather than an artist, composer or theme is the focus of a three-concert series which is launched on 18th November: The Art of the Countertenor is embodied by Iestyn Davies with Concerto Copenhagen and Lars Ulrik Mortensen; Bejun Mehta and Julius Drake follow on 9th December, while David Daniels is scheduled for February. The countertenor voice has always formed an essential component of The Hilliard Ensemble, which gives three concerts over the weekend of 6th/7th November, with repertoire ranging from the Middle Ages to the world premiere of a work by Simon Bainbridge.
The final series to commence in 2009 is a set of six concerts devoted to the songs of Strauss under the stewardship of Roger Vignoles. A sumptuous lunchtime feast is guaranteed on 7th December when Christine Brewer takes the Wigmore stage.
Additionally, the period includes appearances by (in chronological order): Dame Emma Kirkby, Patricia Bardon, Camilla Tilling, Joan Rodgers, Florian Boesch, Soile Isoskoski (in Hindemith's rarely-heard Rilke cycle Das Marienleben), Lucy Crowe, Sarah Walker (masterclass), Carolyn Sampson, Anna Caterina Antonacci, Christian Gerhaher, Sir Thomas Allen, Sergei Leiferkus and (partnered by pianist Garrick Ohlsson) Ewa Podl_s.
Pianists & Friends
Leif Ove Andsnes appears in three concerts over the 2009-10 season, the first taking place on 22nd September. This (like the concert in May 2010) sees him with the brother-and-sister team of violinist Christian Tetzlaff and cellist Tania Tetzlaff; the programme comprises trios by Schumann and Mozart.
Three days earlier comes the first Wigmore appearance in over 20 years by Christian Zacharias, who combines three Haydn sonatas with works by Scarlatti and Brahms, while hot on the heels of Andsnes and the Tetzlaffs comes Yevgeny Sudbin in a recital Russian and French works with the Armenian cellist Alexander Chahusian. Opulent French sonorities also come from the Trio Chausson on 27th September, making its Wigmore debut with works by its composer namesake and by Ravel, while German debutants the Atos Trio play Haydn and Schubert on 18th October.
On October 1st Nelson Goerner anticipates the 2010 bicentenary of Chopin's birth with a programme devoted to the Polish master, while on 20th October Till Fellner reaches the halfway point of his Beethoven sonata cycle at the Wigmore. November 4th brings Angela Hewitt in an all-Schumann programme; Marc-Andr_ Hamelin's diverse and demanding programme on 13th November includes Liszt and Alkan, while Elisabeth Leonskaja's all-Chopin recital on 23rd November is preceded on the 21st by her collaboration with the Kopelman Quartet in works by Shostakovich.
The Florestan Trio's repertoire on 25th November includes a new work by Huw Watkins, while Silke Avenhaus's lunchtime concert with the Arcanto Quartet on 30th November features pieces by Gy‹rgy Kurtêg.
In December, one day (Sunday 6th) brings both the coffee-time debut of the Venezulan-Argentine pianist Sergio Tiempo (his programme ranges from Bach to Ginastera) and the evening return of Nikolai Demidenko. The rest of the month sees recitals from Aleksandar Madzar, David Fray, Ingrid Fliter, Melvyn Tan and the Vienna Piano Trio.
Strings _ Ensembles & Soloists
The Anglo-Dutch Leopold String Trio is one of the anchors of the Beethoven theme that runs through the season _ the others being Till Fellner, the Artemis Quartet and the teams of Alina Ibragimova and C_dric Tiberghien and Mikl‹s Per_nyi and Andrês Schiff. The Leopolds play the entire corpus of the composer's string trios on 26th and 27th September, while the group's viola player, Lawrence Power, also teams up with the members of the Jerusalem Quartet for three Mozart quintets in the course of the season. The Israeli ensemble will appear in a total of six Mozart concerts in 2009-10, the first being on October 3rd and 4th.
Further quartets playing at the Hall between September and December include META4, Ysaêe Quartet, Belcea Quartet, Elias Quartet, Quatuor Ebêëne, New Helsinki Quartet, Emperor Quartet, Aviv Quartet, Endellion, Hagen, Doric, and, with dates on November 16th and 17th, the Emerson Quartet in Haydn, Mendelssohn and Beethoven. The Arcanto Quartet's three concerts include collaborations with the cellist Olivier Marron, the clarinettist J‹rg Widmann and (as mentioned above) the pianist Silke Avenhaus.
Two multi-purpose string groups, the Razumovsky Ensemble and the Scottish Ensemble appear on 16th September and 8th October respectively, in richly varied programmes that range from the 17th to the 20th centuries.
String recitalists include Gil Shaham, appearing at the hall for the first time in many years with a programme of solo Bach, Viktoria Mullova (also in Bach, but with harpsichordist Ottavio Dantone), Rachel Podger, Jennifer Pike, Carolin Widmann, Tabea Zimmermann, Steven Isserlis, Alban Gerhardt, Colin Carr, Ralph Kirshbaum and Christian Polt_ra.
Contemporary & Jazz
With a 75th birthday concert for the Master of the Queen's Music, Sir Peter Maxwell Davies (13th October), a day devoted to South African-born composer Kevin Volans (featuring a new work specially for Wigmore Hall) and the first of the season's four new works jointly commissioned by the Hall and Britten Sinfonia (a piece by Christian Mason to be performed on 16th December), today's _ and tomorrow's _ music is very much on the agenda. Following his warm welcome at the Hall in 2008-9, jazz pianist Brad Mehldau makes four appearances in 2009-10, the first two on 15th and 16th October.
Ton Koopman and the Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra are leading the way with a residency and a programme of Haydn concertos and symphonies on 21st September, while the first period of the season also brings appearances by the Purcell Quartet (celebrating the 400th birthday of its namesake), Trevor Pinnock, Lucy Crowe and the European Brandenburg Ensemble, the Academy of Ancient Music, The English Concert, Florilegium and harpsichordist Gary Cooper with the Belgian ensemble B'Rock.
Defying classification (and occasionally good taste) _ãÄlounge act' Kit and the Widow make Wigmore Hall their salon for a Christmas concert on 17th December, which is good news for anyone who appreciates a little musical light relief at the end of the year.
The Hall is located at 36 Wigmore Street in London.
For tickets and full schedule visit www.wigmore-hall.org.uk.