The world premiere of a new concerto written by clarinettist and composer Mark Simpson for Nicola Benedetti will be free to view on Thursday April 22 on Marquee TV and for seven days thereafter. The first performance of the work will be given by the London Symphony Orchestra with its Principal Guest Conductor Gianandrea Noseda on the podium.
The LSO is one of four partner co-commissioners of the concerto, along with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, Germany’s WDR Sinfonieorchester and the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra in the USA. The RSNO had been due to give the first Scottish performances on April 23 and 24 in Edinburgh and Glasgow as part of the season that was announced immediately before the pandemic struck.
Benedetti is a featured soloist in the new digital season by the RSNO, playing concertos by Karol Szymanowski on April 16 and June 11, however the Scottish premiere of the Simpson concerto is now pencilled in for early in 2022. RSNO chief executive Alistair Mackie told VoxCarnyx that details were still to be confirmed, but a provisional date was being held in the soloist’s diary.
The concerto is of particular interest because Simpson and Benedetti are near-contemporaries whose early fame came through the bi-annual BBC Young Musician Competition. The violinist won at the Usher Hall in 2004, playing the Szymanowski’s Concerto No 1, and Simpson was the winner at the Sage, Gateshead, in 2006.
The decision by Mackie and the RSNO to postpone their performances raises interesting questions about concert scheduling as a result of the move to online streaming, and ones which may persist beyond the health emergency if orchestras build on the experience of making work available that way, as seems likely.
Previously, it would have been perfectly acceptable for a new work to be heard in front of a live audience in London, and then repeated for concert-goers in Edinburgh and Glasgow the same week. However, the RSNO felt that it could not broadcast its performance when the LSO’s would still be available to watch, especially, perhaps, as the London orchestra’s premiere is initially free to view, while the RSNO’s would have been part of a subscription season. Orchestral managements have yet another variable to take into account as they look to a future beyond Covid-19.
The LSO’s chief executive, Kathryn McDowell, has announced the Chief Conductor who will succeed Sir Simon Rattle. Another musical knight, Sir Antonio Pappano, will move from his current position at the Royal Opera House, where his contract ends in July 2024. Pappano will be styled Chief Conductor Designate at the LSO from September 2023 and take up the post a year later.