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The Glasshouse and Royal Northern Sinfonia bring the thrill of live orchestral music to Middlesbrough Town Hall for 23/24 season

ByDave Stopher

Oct 31, 2023
Sunwook Kim Conductor and Pianist Photo: Marco Borggreve
    • Orchestral music to rejuvenate and inspire – nine concerts between 28 September 2023 and 23 May 2024
    • Discounts available for concessions and multibuy offers, including £5 tickets for under 30s
    • Chorus of Royal Northern Sinfonia celebrates its 50th Birthday
    • Guest artists include pianists Angela Hewitt and Sunwook Kim, cellist Bruno Philippe, and clarinettist Cristina Mateo and ensembles include Arcangelo Ensemble with Miloš Karadaglič and Jonathan Cohen and the National Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine as part of their first UK tour in over 20 years.

From shimmering Romantic era music to Viennese waltzes and polkas, Royal Northern Sinfonia return to Middlesbrough Town Hall for the sparkly new 2023/34 classical season.

Alongside Royal Northern Sinfonia, North East classical music fans can enjoy performances from guest ensembles and soloists from across the globe. Pre-concert talks are also on offer for concertgoers to enjoy hearing the stories behind the music.

Kicking off the season, Royal Northern Sinfonia blow away the cobwebs with Beethoven’s Symphony No. 4 on Thursday 28 September, in a fitting journey from darkness to light conducted by Jaume Santonja. The concert opens with the Beethoven-inspired Con Brio by Jörg Widmann, which takes influence from the great composer and sends it through a mincer, producing weird and wonderful results. Sandwiched between these pieces is Tchaikovsky’s thrilling Rococo Variations, performed with Bruno Philippe on cello.

Speaking of sandwiches, Royal Northern Sinfonia’s next appearance in Middlesbrough on Thursday 23 November sees two hearty slices of Romantic era music surround the shimmering and urgent Elongation of Nights by Justé Januliyté. Opening the concert is Brahm’s epic Piano Concerto No. 2 with soloist Sunwook Kim, while principal conductor of Royal Northern Sinfonia Dinis Sousa leads the orchestra through Schumann’s Symphony No. 4, an attention-grabbing half-hour opus to close the night.

The chorus of Royal Northern Sinfonia celebrates its 50th birthday this year, and there is no better way to blow out the candles than with the glory and drama of Handel’s Messiah. Director Peter Whelan and soloists Nardus WilliamsJess DandyLaurence Kilsby and Ashley Riches join Royal Northern Sinfonia and its chorus for this perfectly festive performance on Sunday 17 December.

2024 begins with a variety of styles. On Tuesday 2 JanuaryAntonio Méndez conducts the popular Viennese New Year’s, bringing soprano Rebecca Bottone along for an afternoon of waltzes and polkas inspired by Vienna’s famous Musikverein celebrations.

Thursday 1 February sees Stephen Bell conduct a night of Music from the Movies, where Royal Northern Sinfonia perform some of the most dramatic and memorable music for orchestra in existence – the film soundtrack. Expect tunes from Hollywood’s golden age right up to the present day, from films such as Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Beauty and the Beast, and Gladiator.

Mozart-fans will be in their element in the final two concerts of the Middlesbrough Town Hall season. On Friday 26 April, pianist Angela Hewitt directs and performs not one, but two, of his piano concertos, before Maria Włoszczowska directs his ‘Prague’ Symphony No. 38 to close this joyous night in the Town Hall Crypt.

The season-closer on Thursday 23 May is a typically varied concert, centred around Cristina Mateo’s performance of Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto. Also on the bill is Fazil Say’s Turkish-inspired Chamber Symphony and Stravinsky’s angular Danses Concertantes, before the night ends the way the season started – with a Beethoven symphony, his graceful yet high-voltage First.

Middlesbrough Town Hall will also welcome ensembles from across the UK and Europe during the season. The National Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine take the stage on Tuesday 31 October, led by artistic director and chief conductor Volodymyr Sirenko and leader Maksym Grinchenko. From Sibelius’ dark and brooding Symphony No. 1 to Bruch’s breathtaking Violin Concerto, the orchestra will also bring music from their homeland with Boris Lyatoshynsky’s Grazhyna Symphonic Picture to open.

Thursday 11 January sees superstar classical guitarist Miloš Karadaglič join baroque music supremos Arcangelo Ensemble for a night of some of the best baroque music. Directed by the dynamic Jonathan Cohen, the programme includes the ever-famous Pachelbel’s Canon, Bach’s toe-tapping Brandenburg Concerto No. 3, and the beautiful slow movement of Vivaldi’s Guitar Concerto to soothe the soul.

James Thomas, Director of Royal Northern Sinfonia said:

“From my first visit to Middlesbrough I was struck by the genuine warmth of the audience and their sheer passion for music and we’re very much looking forward to sharing another year of brilliant live orchestral music at the Town Hall.

This year, alongside favourites by Mozart, Beethoven and Brahms, we celebrate the 50th birthday of the Chorus of Royal Northern Sinfonia with a special performance of Handel’s much-loved Messiah, our New Year’s Viennese concert makes a welcome return by popular demand, and for the first time we’ve planned a concert of Blockbuster film music. Best of all, if you’re under 30 you can enjoy all of that for just £5 per concert!

We’ve really enjoyed compiling this year’s series of concerts and we hope you’ll be able join us.”

Tickets for all concerts are £25, with under 30s able to buy tickets for £5. Concertgoers can also save more as they enjoy more with a multibuy discount – save 10% when buying 2-6 concerts in the series, 20% when buying 7, and 25% when buying 8 (National Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine concert excluded from offer)

Tickets and information available online now at https://www.middlesbroughtownhall.co.uk/whats-on/