Manchester’s Halle Orchestra unveils spring season - seven concerts you won’t want to miss

A collaboration between two top orchestras, an epic work and a semi-staged opera are just some of the highlights on the programme.
The Bridgewater Hall. Photo: The HalléThe Bridgewater Hall. Photo: The Hallé
The Bridgewater Hall. Photo: The Hallé

It is going to be a spectacular spring for classical music lovers in Manchester after the Hallé Orchestra unveiled its new season.

The programme, which runs from January to May 2022, is packed with unmissable concerts as top international artists come to the city to perform music ranging from much-loved masterpieces to rediscovered rarities and exciting new works.

We’ve taken a look at the busy schedule and picked out seven concerts you simply won’t want to miss.

Mahler’s magnificent Third Symphony

The season opens in spectacular style on 23 January with Mahler’s Symphony No.3, one of the grandest and biggest works in the Western classical music canon.

The piece is an enormous tribute to the beauty and power of nature, requiring huge forces to bring to life its six movements which are composed on a truly epic scale.

Sir Mark Elder will be on the conductor’s podium at the Bridgewater Hall for this, with the Hallé Orchestra being joined on stage by acclaimed mezzo-soprano Alice Coote, sopranos and altos of the Hallé Choir and the Hallé Children’s Choir.

Toward the Unknown Region

The Hallé is teaming up with the BBC Philharmonic to pay a very special tribute to one of Britain’s best-known composers, Ralph Vaughan Williams, to mark the 150th anniversary of his birth.

Between them the two orchestras are playing a complete cycle of Vaughan Williams’ nine symphonies.

One of the highlights of the Hallé’s contribution will come on 30 April when the dark Sixth Symphony, a work clearly bearing the scars of World War Two, is partnered with the first piece in the cycle, the choral Sea Symphony.

Debutants arriving in Manchester

No fewer than 16 artists are making their debuts as part of the spring season, and two of them will combine on 3 February for a concert featuring two massive cornerstones of the orchestral repertoire.

Maxime Pascal will conduct the Hallé for the first time in Berlioz’s spectacular Symphonie Fantastique, which takes in the hero’s obsession with a woman, a masked ball, an execution and a sinister witches’ sabbath.

The Halle Orchestra. Photo by Peter Warren.The Halle Orchestra. Photo by Peter Warren.
The Halle Orchestra. Photo by Peter Warren.

They will be joined onstage by soloist Alena Baeva for Beethoven’s Violin Concerto.

Programming female composers

Putting neglected female composers into their rightful place on concert programmes has been a strong theme of the last few years in classical music, and the spring season continues that work.

Clara Schumann’s all too rarely performed Piano Concerto will be on the bill on 24 February with popular soloist Isata Kanneh-Mason, who has made her name performing the composer’s work, on the piano stool.

The concert will be conducted by Tianyi Lu.

A very Stars and Stripes concert

The orchestra will be taking an imaginary trip across the pond in March with a programme celebrating music written in America.

Jennifer Higdon’s City Scape: river sings a song to trees will be on the bill alongside Gershwin’s orchestral tone poem An American in Paris and Korngold’s Hollywood-influenced Violin Concerto.

The soloist will be Ning Feng, another debutant and the winner of the 2006 Paganini Competition.

Chamber music concerts

Following the success of the autumn chamber concerts at the orchestra’s Ancoats home Hallé St Peter’s, three more programmes of music on a more intimate scale will be offered in the spring season.

These include a concert curated by Hallé principal percussionist and composer David Hext, a programme featuring Janáček’s piece for woodwind Mladi and Sing to the Moon, a showcase for the Hallé Youth Choir.

A much-loved opera to bring the curtain down

The season comes to a close on 28 May with a semi-staged performance of one of the best-loved operas in the repertoire, Puccini’s Madama Butterfly.

A host of artists will make their first appearance with the Hallé, including the internationally-renowned Japanese soprano Eri Nakamura in the lead role of Cio-Cio San, the Madama Butterfly of the title.

This is a long-awaited concert as it was postponed from last year.

What has been said about the spring season?

Hallé chief executive David Butcher said: “Following a thrilling autumn season when we were so moved by the tumultuous reception from audiences as the Hallé returned to live music making, we are delighted to announce our Spring 2022 season.

“The way our audiences responded – and the way we were able to reach so many new listeners – was a real tonic, which has emboldened us to curate a spring season of music and artists that aim to surprise, illuminate and inspire.

“Large scale projects, such as a semi-staged Madama Butterfly and a complete Vaughan Williams cycle in his 150th anniversary year, complement the intimate Chamber Music Series at the award-winning Hallé St Peter’s.

“We champion new talent with many debut artists and composer premieres, not least with performances from our youth orchestra and choirs drawn from across Greater Manchester.”