OPERA SARA HERSHKOWITZ Ligeti’s Mysteries of the Macabre, City Halls, Glasgow, Thu 28 Nov; ‘Mad Scene’ from Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor, Music Hall, Aberdeen, Fri 29 Nov

'It’s taking the piss out of opera and the seriousness of it all,’ says American soprano Sara Hershkowitz when chatting about György Ligeti’s absurdist opera Le Grand Macabre. She’ll be joining the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra on 28 Nov for a performance of Mysteries of the Macabre: three of the opera’s coloratura arias, arranged as a concert piece. 'There are very few artists who can say that they truly, truly follow the beat of their own internal drum as completely as Ligeti did' explains Hershkowitz. 'He was a non-conformist in the extreme. Le Grand Macabre is called the anti-anti-opera because anti-opera was too much of a label!'

Ligeti was no stranger to pain. After escaping a Nazi slave labour camp, he spent two weeks walking home to discover another family living in his house. His parents and brother had been deported to Auschwitz, from which only his mother returned. It’s little surprise then that he was constantly questioning and challenging the political regimes in power. 

Judging from the state of politics on both sides of the Atlantic, it would be hard to argue the piece has lost any of its relevance since its 1978 premiere. And Hershkovitz made headlines recently when she performed the work with the North Netherlands Symphony Orchestra dressed as Donald Trump, complete with fatsuit, red tie and orange face (it’s on YouTube watch it). Despite the trolls, there’s also been a hugely positive response to

Hershkowitz’s blending of music and politics. ‘One thing that I’m grateful for is it’s opened interesting doors for me artistically, and it’s shown me people are interested in artists who are willing to speak out and have something to say that might be less conventional. I had no way of estimating the way it might open up new directions for me and that’s been really exciting.' (Miranda Heggie)



RSNO: SAINT-SAËNS’ ORGAN CONCERTO Usher Hall, Edinburgh, Fri 1 Nov, Blast from the past as RSNO’s legendary maestro, Neeme Järvi, returns to conduct Saint-Saëns mighty Symphony No 3, with thundering orchestra and organ. Scotland’s own Catriona Morison will sing arias from Bizet’s ever-popular Carmen. Also Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, Sat 2 Nov,

PIANODROME AT LEITH THEATRE Leith Theatre, Edinburgh, Mon 11 Nov–Sun 8 Dec, One of the world’s most unusual venues, the Pianodrome is rebuilt within Leith Theatre for four weeks of all things piano, alongside an eclectic programme of performances. Musicians can also take up residence, collaborate, write new material and whatever else may come from creative sparks flying.

118 THE LIST 1 Nov 2019–31 Jan 2020

THE NIGHT WITH . . . THE HERMES EXPERIMENT Hug and Pint, Mon 25 Nov, An unusual quartet of harp, clarinet, voice and double bass, award-winning group The Hermes Experiment appear under the auspices of The Night With . . . in a programme which features a new commission from Glasgow-based composer Matthew Grouse and Meredith Monk’s Double Fiesta. Also Scottish Storytelling Centre, Edinburgh, Tue 26 Nov,

SCOTTISH OPERA: IRIS City Halls, Sun 1 Dec, halls A Scottish Opera premiere of Iris, Mascagni’s rarely performed opera, which is set in Japan and tells an unusual tale of lost innocence. Presented in concert style, Iris is an opera full of colour, featuring ‘Hymn to the Sun’, which is often recognised as Mascagni’s finest work.


PIANO RECITAL: SUSAN TOMES St Cecilia’s Hall, Fri 22 Nov, On St Cecilia’s Day, what better than hearing music in the hall that bears the name of music’s patron saint? Pianist Susan Tomes plays on a rare Erard grand piano, with pieces by Debussy, Ravel, Schumann and Chopin all chosen to match the sound of the instrument, made by the renowned 19th-century Parisian firm established by the brothers Erard.

SCOTTISH CHAMBER CHOIR St Mary’s Catholic Cathedral, Sat 23 Nov, stmaryscathedral. Double masses but one choir dividing itself for the timeless Vaughan Williams ‘Mass in G minor’ and Kenneth Leightons’s ‘Mass Op 44’, combining the lyricism of early English music with 20th- century chromaticism and rhythmic intensity.

SCOTTISH ENSEMBLE: FOR A WINTER’S NIGHT Greyfriars Kirk, Tue 10 Dec, Concerts celebrating 50 years of the Scottish Ensemble’s championing of music for string ensemble, including expanding the repertoire to include special commissions such as Anna

Catriona Morison Meredith’s ‘Scottish Variation’, which sits alongside JS Bach and Sibelius, heard in the warmth and illumination of flickering candlelight. Also Wellington Church, Glasgow, Wed 11 Dec,