Meet the astounding singers in our classical music programme whose voices will fill Edinburgh's theatres this August.
Our first song recital is given by BBC New Generation Artist Ilker Arcayürek, who makes his International Festival debut at the Queen’s Hall on 9 August. His clear tenor voice is both rich and lightsome, having been compared to the likes of Christophe Prégardien and Ian Bostridge. Accompanied by Simon Lepper, who’s no stranger to the Festival stage, the duo released an album of Schubert lieder late last year, which was met with a glowing review in Gramophone magazine, and five stars in the Guardian. Much of the album’s material will be performed in their recital, including the poignant Schäfers Klagelied (Shepherd’s lament), a setting of text by the great German poet Johan Wolfgang von Goethe.
In another setting by Schubert of Goethe’s poetry, listen to soprano Dorothea Roschmann sing Nur we die Sehsucht kennt (Only he who knows yearning). Dorothea returns to the International Festival, giving a recital at the Queen’s Hall on 21 August, with the fabulous pianist Roger Vignoles. This song will form part of her programme, only on this recording it’s not Roger Vignoles at the keyboard, but Edinburgh-born Malcolm Martineau!
Our Queen’s Hall series closes this year with an all-American programme from Edinburgh’s own Hebrides Ensemble on 25 August. Joining them is mezzo soprano J’Nai Bridges, who can be heard here lending her rich, honeyed hues to two Gospel classics Standin’ in the need of Prayer and Couldn’t Hear Nobody Pray.
Another Edinburgh group, and one of the UK’s flagship early music ensembles, Dunedin Consort will perform in Queen's Hall on 5 August and the Usher Hall on 13 August, their first International Festival appearance in that venue. They’ll perform Handel’s stirring Oratorio Samson with a fabulous group of soloists, including Alice Coote in the role of Micah. A renowned Handel interpreter, here she is singing an aria from the composer’s most famous oratorio The Messiah.
Also joining Dunedin Consort is young English soprano Louise Alder. Louise stepped in with only a day’s notice to sing with Dunedin Consort in the 2016 International Festival, as their original soprano was indisposed, and her performance impressed audience and critics alike. She was praised for her ‘gorgeous’ voice and ‘astounding breath control’ in The Scotsman and received five stars in The Herald. Since then she’s shot to fame, singing at the BBC Proms, Garsington Opera and Glydnebourne, has won Best Young Singer at the 2017 International Opera Awards, and was shortlisted for Royal Philharmonic Society Young Artist of the Year award. She’s also recorded an album of Strauss lieder with pianist Joseph Middleton. Listen here to the glassy stillness of Weihnachtsgefühl. It’s a little off season – the title translates as ‘Christmas mood’ – but surely there’s never a bad time of year to listen to such beautiful singing!
As part of our six concert youth ensemble series in the Usher Hall, we’re really excited to be welcoming NYO USA Jazz, a new group all the way from New York’s Carnegie Hall! They’ll be led by exceptional trumpeter Sean Jones and joined by jazz singer Dianne Reeves on 5 August. Listen to her here singing the sultry, soul-soaked ballad I Want You composed by Sean Jones and taken from her album Beautiful Life, which won the Grammy for best jazz album in 2015.
After singing the role Marguerite in last year’s La damnation de Faust, French soprano Michele Losier takes centre stage as Cinderella from 24-26 August in Opera de Lyon’s stunning production of Rossini’s La Cenerentola. Listen to her here performing music from her homeland – Jules Massenet’s fifth Pastoral Poem Crepuscule, meaning twilight, arranged for solo soprano and piano.
Joining us for Dvořak’s mighty requiem in the Usher Hall on 21 August is powerful Czech tenor Pavel Cernoch. Listen to him here singing in another epic Czech work for solo singers, choir and orchestra – Leos Janacek’s 194 oratorio The Eternal Gospel.
Our closing concert in this year’s Usher Hall programme is Mahler’s 8th Symphony, nicknamed ‘symphony of a thousand’ and performed by the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra on 26 August. The fabulous roster of soloists includes Scottish mezzo soprano Karen Cargill. You can listen to her singing in Mahler’s second symphony in this tremendously moving live recording with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra. No, stop it, you’re crying….
Also joining the orchestra for this closing performance is baritone Christopher Maltman. Listen to him here singing one of the most haunting pieces of German lieder, Der Leiermann, the final song from Schubert’s epic song cycle Winterreise. Meaning ‘The Hurdy-Gurdy Man’, the song tells the story of a lonely beggar, playing his instrument with frozen fingers. Only the rapturous applause at the end gives it away that this too is a live recording!