Total Immersion: Oliver Knussen retrospective

Total Immersion: Oliver Knussen retrospective
On 3-4 November the BBC and Barbican will offer a wide retrospective of Oliver Knussen’s distinguished oeuvre as part of their Total Immersion Festival dedicated to the composer. Performances will include a double bill of Knussen’s celebrated operas Where the Wild Things Are and Higglety Pigglety Pop! as well as concerts of his chamber and orchestral works. The festival marks Knussen's 60th birthday and fittingly brings together many performers and ensembles that have had a long history with him.

Saturday 3 November

2pm & 7pm, Barbican Hall
Where the Wild Things Are

Claire Booth Max
Susan Bickley Mama / Voice of Tzippy
Christopher Lemmings Moishe
Graeme Broadbent Emil
Jonathan Gunthorpe Aaron
Graeme Danby Bernard
Charlotte McDougall Tzippy

Higglety Pigglety Pop!

Lucy Schaufer Jennie
Susanna Andersson The Potted Plant / Baby
Claire Booth Rhoda / Voice of Baby's Mother
Christopher Lemmings Cat-Milkman / High Voice of Ash Tree
Graeme Danby Pig-in-Sandwich-Boards
Grame Broadbent Lion / Low Voice of Ash Tree

Britten Sinfonia
Ryan Wigglesworth conductor
Netia Jones director/designer
Libretti and original drawings by Maurice Sendak

Oliver Knussen changed the parameters of British opera with his two picture-book stage works Where the Wild Things Are and Higglety Pigglety Pop!  These colourful and opulent creations were inspired by the drawings of Maurice Sendak, whose deeply-felt stories for children have enchanted generations. Knussen’s scores, beautifully complex and yet always touching and involving, are performed by the Britten Sinfonia and a cast of talented, versatile singers.

Sunday 4 November
1.15pm, Music Hall, Guildhall School of Music & Drama
Masks/Three Little Fantasies/Trumpets /Songs without Voices /Sonya's Lullaby/Océan de terre

Richard Baker conductor 
Jenavieve Moore soprano 
Maud Millar soprano
Martha Lloyd flute
Richard Uttley piano
Guildhall New Music Ensemble

This concert by students from the Guildhall School of Music & Drama features music from the 1960s and 1970s including the touching piano solo Sonya’s Lullaby, written for the composers daughter, and vocal works including his intricate multi-layered setting of poems by Apollonaire,  Océan de Terre, and Trumpets, written for soprano and three clarinets. 
3pm Film & Discussion, Barbican Cinemas
Sounds from the Big White House: Oliver Knussen at 50

A film made to celebrate Oliver Knussen’s 50th birthday. The composer talks about the perils of early fame, about meeting Stravinsky and demonstrates his amazing collection of mechanical toys. Music performed by the London Sinfonietta and BBC SO includes excerpts from Where the Wild Things Are and the Horn Concerto.

6pm, Music Hall, Guildhall School of Music & Drama
Autumnal for Violin and Piano/Variations /Secret Psalm/Prayer Bell Sketch /Ophelia's Last Dance

Alexandra Wood violin
Ryan Wigglesworth piano
Huw Watkins piano

Music spanning Knussen’s composing career from the 1970s to the 1990s including Ophelia’s Last Dance, part of the chain of works following Ophelia’s tragic descent into madness and death, Prayer Bell Sketch for solo piano, written
in memory of Japanese composer Toru Takemitsu and Autumnal for violin and piano. 
8pm, Barbican Hall
Choral/Whitman Settings/Horn Concerto/Requiem - Songs for Sue/Violin Concerto /Symphony No. 3 
Oliver Knussen conductor
Claire Booth soprano
Leila Josefowicz violin
Martin Owen horn
BBC Symphony Orchestra 

The Total Immersion weekend comes to a close with a concert featuring major works from across Knussen’s career including the Third Symphony, the fine-spun Violin Concerto performed by Leila Josefowicz, for whom the Concerto was written, the dreamlike Whitman Settings, which sets the poetry of Walt Whitman and the moving Reqiuem: Songs for Sue, both of which were written for tonight’s soloist, Claire Booth to perform.