Launch of 33rd Ayr concert series

Pekka Kuusisto
Pekka Kuusisto

Volunteers from Ayr Arts Guild have arranged the 33rd Ayr Concert Series of orchestral concerts by professional musicians in Ayr Town Hall between October and March.

There will be seven concerts, one more than last time, as The Chamber Philharmonic Europe from Cologne will complete the 2019-2020 Series on March 27, 2020.

The opening concert on Wednesday, October 2, by the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, will feature the outstanding young Finnish violinist Pekka Kuusisto who played at the Proms in London on Saturday 3 August.

In Ayr he will direct the Orchestra in Bach’s popular Brandenburg Concerto No. 3, which will be a launch pad for the Scottish premiere of the Swedish composer Hillborg’s new piece called Bach Materia: snatches of the Brandenburg send Pekka and the Orchestra freewheeling in different directions to create excitement and ravishing beauty! After the interval, Pekka returns to his native Finland, and Sibelius’s majestic and deeply personal response to nature. Join them for the ride and expect the unexpected: you won’t be disappointed.

On Friday 22 November, the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Martyn Brabbins, will play the delightful Brahms’ Variations on the St Anthony Chorale (Haydn Variations). Brahms’ chosen tune wasn’t really by Haydn at all, but he didn’t know that, and filled the ‘Haydn Variations’ with all the wit and fantasy of his favourite classical master. His friend Dvorak invented his own melody, and let it grow into a masterpiece as characterful as any of his symphonies, in his Symphonic Variations.

As a contrast, young British tenor Stuart Jackson and BBC SSO principal horn Alberto Menendez Escribano dive deep into Britten’s Serenade - great poetry meets incandescent music, united by an unspoken theme of its own: the timeless magic of night.

The BBC SSO brings A Very Merry Christmas concert with Andrew Cottee, arranger, composer and conductor, to Ayr on Thursday 19 December. And the SCO conducted by Joseph Swensen return with their popular New Year Gala concert on Saturday 4 January.

On Friday 24 January, the BBC SSO plays Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto, a special favourite of violin soloist Kristof Barati, himself a favourite of BBC SSO audiences, and it will provide the warmest possible heart to this programme from the energetic Peruvian conductor Miguel Harth-Bedoya. Grazyna Bacewicz’s Concerto is a typically exhilarating and inventive workout for the BBC SSO strings, from one of the 20th-century Poland’s most undeservedly neglected geniuses.

Dvorak’s Seventh Symphony is an impassioned, storm-swept outpouring of melody and emotion, in which he fearlessly stakes claim to a place in the great symphonic tradition.

The Orchestra of Scottish Opera makes their annual trip to play Ayr Town Hall on Friday 7 February, under Holly Matheson with soloist Cillian O’Ceallachain. The concert opens with Kodaly’s vibrant and fiery folk dances in Dances of Galanta, followed by Nino Rota’s cool, jazzy, peppy, optimistic Trombone Concerto played by the Orchestra’s principal trombone.

In the second half, Sibelius’s Lemminkainen Suite is pure theatre, even though there are no actors, singers or dancers on stage. It will be a special treat to hear the Orchestra play them with their deep knowledge of theatre, storytelling and characterisation.

To conclude the 33rd Series, The Chamber Philharmonic Europe from Cologne directed by violinist Michel Gershwin will play music by Vivaldi, Suk, Bach, Rachmaninov and Nielsen plus Hummel’s tuneful Trumpet Concerto with soloist Cyrill Gussaroff.

Tickets will be at last year’s prices: Adults £25 Circle, £20 Stalls; Students £5 Stalls and School Pupils £3 Stalls in advance from Ayr Gaiety Box Office, open Monday to Saturday, 10.00am to 5.00pm, Tel: 01292 288 235, and, subject to availability, at the door on the night.

The annual Ayr Concert Series is arranged for South Ayrshire Council by volunteers from Ayr Arts Guild in a unique partnership between the local authority, the voluntary sector and the Scottish orchestras.

‘Best Value’ Season Tickets for all seven concerts are available at £121 Stalls, £151 Circle.