The Last Night of the Proms is a defining point in the musical calendar; once it has past summer literally becomes autumn where classical music venues are concerned, bringing with it a whole new set of possibilities.
Except this is 2020 of course, and the rulebook for live events has not just been completely rewritten but is subject to endless revisions, as the Coronavirus pandemic regulations change and as the government resets its guidelines.
In the midst of this confusion and with (sadly) a lack of constructive action and urgency from the Department for Culture, Media & Sport, the Wigmore Hall’s unveiling of a packed new season of concerts is all the more impressive.
The hall led the return to live classical music back in June, which already seems a long time ago – and the sight of Stephen Hough playing to an empty venue might have been bittersweet but was also unexpectedly moving. Building on the success of that venture, the new season is even more ambitious.
Starting tonight, with Christian Gerhaher and Gerold Huber performing Berg and Schubert, the season runs right the way through to 22 December. During September each weekday will have two concerts, with an hour’s lunchtime recital at 1pm, broadcast by BBC Radio 3, and the evening concert at 7.30pm. All will be streamed on the Wigmore Hall channel and on YouTube.
Happily there are too many highlights for Arcana to list here – but during September you would be well advised to keep near a screen! The first lunchtime recital, on Monday 14 September, will see Alban Gerhardt and Markus Becker playing Shostakovich, Schumann and Beethoven – while other highlights of the first week include a concert from Rachel Podger and Kristian Bezuidenhout on Tuesday 15 September, with Bach and Froberger, and a richly imaginative song recital from Dame Sarah Connolly and Malcolm Martineau, the next lunchtime.
Later we have a characteristically imaginative recital from guitarist Sean Shibe (Friday 18), an all-Bach masterclass from pianist Angela Hewitt (Saturday 19), Quatuor Danel continuing their Shostakovich and Weinberg series (Wednesday 23) and a fascinating juxtaposition of Ravel and Couperin from pianist Cédric Tiberghien (Thursday 24). The following evening sees a combination of French and American songs from baritone Gerald Finley and pianist Julius Drake.
And that’s just the first week! With so many riches in store, head to the Wigmore Hall website – where you can get planning. If you’re lucky enough to live closer to London you might be considering attending in socially distanced person, but if not then the online concerts will be rich and stimulating indeed.
In order to watch the Wigmore Hall’s online content, you need to head to their website and create a free account here. Once set up, you’re ready to roll! Alternatively you can watch at the Wigmore’s own YouTube channel