Fresh and bold: new CSO season celebrates musical visionaries and trailblazers | HerCanberra

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Fresh and bold: new CSO season celebrates musical visionaries and trailblazers

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As we look to the future, there’s no denying escaping the monotony of everyday life is at the top of our to-do lists.

Following the disappointing cancellation of 2021 spring programming, the Canberra Symphony Orchestra (CSO) is entering the new season with a bang, aiming to bring captivating and transporting experiences to audiences.

According to Chief Conductor and Artistic Director, Jessica Cottis this season brings “great classics alongside bright new names, brought together through a single element: an ability to profoundly influence the nature of their own age and beyond.”

“A lot of intellectual energy went into the 2022 season,” she says. “I started with a tiny fragment of music: a chord that Richard Wagner used in his opera, Tristan and Isolde. It had been playing in my head for a while, keeping me awake at night. This chord literally changed the course of classical music history, and here now was the core of my programming: musical visionaries.”

“Of course, these pieces are linked by an extra aspect: it’s all really wonderful music.”

Iconic masterworks

The flagship Llewellyn Series kicks off in April at the Australian National University School of Music with Redemption, featuring works by Wagner, Margaret Sutherland, Bernard Herrmann and Mendelssohn. Meanwhile, the Chamber Classics Series at Albert Hall in Yarralumla will be expanded to four concerts, with classic works from Beethoven, Brahms, J.S. Bach and more a comforting reminder of the enduring power of music.

Later in the year, Principal Guest Conductor Simon Hewett will conduct Beethoven’s ‘Eroica’ Symphony, as well as two special performances of Handel’s Messiah, featuring Chloe Lankshear, Tobias Cole, Andrew Goodwin and Adrian Tamburini.

Specifically programming works by musical trailblazers stretching from the Baroque to the present day, Jessica says that the 2022 season will explore themes that will resonate with everyone.

“From the Llewellyn Hall mainstage to intimate chamber experiences, the season will explore themes of loss, redemption, revolution, connection, power, identity and the imagination,” she says.

World premieres

Continuing its significant commitment to Australian voices, the 2022 season includes a mainstage commission from Canberra export Leah Curtis during Llewellyn Four: Infinite Possibilities in late 2022.

The CSO Chamber Ensemble will also premiere four new works in the dedicated Australian Series, including a commission supported by the National Museum of Australia.

“I’m passionate about new music, especially the development of new music in Australia,”says Jessica.“Our Australian Series looks at the themes of stargazing, collective memory and our connection to the land but there’s so much on offer across the season.”

“I can’t wait to open the season with Mendelssohn’s joyous 5th symphony, and later in the year to hear Markiyan Melnychenko play Sibelius’s hypnotic violin concerto. Of course, the icing on the cake is sharing all of this with our audiences.”

Conducting two flagship Llewellyn Series concerts – including the Prelude and Liebestod from Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde and Stravinsky’s Petrushka – as well as the opening Australian Series concert, Stargazers, and the CSO’s annual Summer Prom, Jessica believes that the unforgettable program and the season ahead look forward while being a balm for the ears and mind.

“Music can influence our physical, mental and emotional states far more directly than any other art form,” she says.

“Each and every musician in the CSO has a huge commitment to music and this passion is so palpable. It’ll be a season of great music, and great music-making!”

All concerts will be delivered in line with ACT Government COVID-safe requirements. Subscribers will save up to 25 per cent across the season and enjoy two complimentary ticket swaps.

Bookings are available online at and over the phone with CSO Direct (02 6262 6772, weekdays 10am – 3pm).

Feature Image: Kaupo Kikkas

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