In the BBC PROMS season 2019, the London Symphony Chorus will be making two appearances. In the first concert, (Tuesday, 20th August starting at 7.30 pm) they are joined once again by the voices of Orfea Catala and the Orfea Catala Youth Choir from Barcelona. Sir Simon Rattle will be conducting the London Symphony Orchestra, with baritone soloist Gerald Finley in “Belshazzar’s Feast” by Sir William Walton.
In 1947, Herbert von Karajan called it “the best choral music that’s been written in the last 50 years”. Karajan performed it in 1948, in a performance that moved Walton to tears, amazed that he could ever have written such a wonderful work. It was first performed at the Leeds Festival in 1931, during which festival there was also a performance of Berlioz’s Requiem. Sir Thomas Beecham, the festival director, suggested to Walton that as the brass bands were on hand he might as well include them in his piece “As you’ll never heard the thing again, my boy”. It has remained one of Walton’s most celebrated works.
The other works in this concert are Charles Koechlin “Les bandar-log”, which transports the audience to the primeval forest, where all the noise comes from the monkeys and Edgard Varese “Ameriques”, in which more than 10 percussionists are needed to bring the celebration of the modern city in sound to life.
As well as being broadcast live on Radio 3, the concert will be on BBC Four on Friday, 23rd August.
Our second concert takes place at the Royal Albert Hall at 11.00 am on Sunday, 8th September, and is the European premiere of John Luther Adams’ “In the Name of the Earth”. This musical meditation on nature is conceived as an immersive experience on a colossal scale, involving more than 600 singers, and is to be conducted (with the assistance of several other assistant conductors) by our own Chorus Director, Simon Halsey, who also conducted the world premiere in New York.
To achieve this large-scale musical spectacular, as well as the LSC, the voices of many choirs will be heard, including: Hackney Empire Community Choir, Victoria Park Singers, BBC Symphony Chorus, Crouch End Festival Chorus, London International Gospel Choir, London Philharmonic Choir, LSO Community Choir.