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The Australian Chamber Orchestra (ACO) has announced its 2021 season, an ambitious hybrid of live and digital concerts responding to 2020 and welcoming a new musical era. The bold season features seven live concert programs, opening in New South Wales in February and touring nationally from May 2021.

The season opens in Wollongong and Sydney in February 2021 with Tabula Rasa, the first concerts in the ACO’s 2020 program to be cancelled due to Covid19. Tabula Rasa by one of the most performed and influential living composers Arvo Pärt, translates to clean slate in Latin. Celebrating music and arts’ enduring ability to prevail, the program also features Shostakovich’s Chamber Symphony in C Minor as well as the world premiere of Shanty by British Composer Thomas Adès CBE.

In the second program Beethoven & Bridgetower, Artistic Director Richard Tognetti will perform Beethoven’s arguably most loved and performed violin Sonata The Kreutzer, originally dedicated to George Bridgetower, a violinist of West Indian descent. Bridgetower performed with Beethoven at the Sonata’s premiere, but the pair spectacularly fell out and his name was removed from the dedication. In a dramatic collaboration with Belvoir St Theatre, Tognetti seeks to tell Bridgetower’s story and restore his place in history. Performed in Newcastle and Sydney in March, the concert also includes Janácek’s String Quartet No. 1 Kreutzer Sonata.

The first national tour of the season, Schubert’s Quintet, will see members of the ACO perform in Melbourne for the first time in over a year. Schubert’s career was marked by admiration for Beethoven and his desire to match the heights achieved by his hero. A star studded ACO ensemble led by Richard Tognetti will perform his String Quintet in C major, composed in the final weeks of the composer’s too short life, and considered one of the best longform pieces of chamber music.

Baroque Revelry is a unique experience that will see the ACO collaborate with Belvoir St Theatre to explore the music and musicians who created the vibrant world of Baroque Europe. Richard Tognetti will direct an orchestra of ACO soloists featuring music by the trailblazer Barbara Strozzi, Francesca Caccini and the devilish Tartini.

This breath-taking cinematic collaboration is an extraordinary tale of nature, and humans as partners and adversaries.

Following the record-breaking Mountain, ACO will once again collaborate with BAFTA nominated Sherpa Director Jennifer Peedom to present the companion feature film River. With a musical score performed live and directed by Richard Tognetti, featuring his original music alongside Bach, Vivaldi, Ravel, Jonny Greenwood and a new collaboration with William Barton, this breath-taking cinematic collaboration is an extraordinary tale of nature, and humans as partners and adversaries.

Celebrating the meditative and healing power of music, its ability to heighten our awareness and help us repair and renew, the ACO, joined by guitarist Slava Grigoryan presents Music for Healing, an eclectic program of music featuring Pe-teris Vasks’ graceful Vox amoris, Anna Thorvaldsdottir’s Illumine, Pink Floyd’s Shine on You Crazy Diamond and Australia composer Iain Grandage’s Black Dogs.

The live season will close with the nation-wide tour of Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons in November 2021. Following a sell-out tour in 2015, the Orchestra revisits Vivaldi’s much-loved masterpiece interspersed with music from the masters of the oud and riq, Joseph and James Tawadros, providing a cultural melting pot that promises to excite and illuminate.

In addition to the live season, in August, Principal Violin Helena Rathbone will lead ACO Collective on a tour of regional Queensland and NSW with performances in Bundaberg, Gympie, Toowoomba and Lismore. ACO Collective is the ACO’s critically acclaimed regional touring and education ensemble, that combines Australia’s most talented emerging string players with the professional musicians of the ACO. The Orchestra will perform a thrilling program including Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons and the World Premiere of a new commission by Australian composer Holly Harrison.

Alongside the live season, Australian Chamber Orchestra presents its inaugural digital subscription series ACO StudioCasts, a series of eight 50-minute concert films released on their new video streaming platform.

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