Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra gives world premiere of James MacMillan’s Trombone Concerto
Jörgen van Rijen, principal trombonist of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, will be performing the world premiere of James MacMillan’s Trombone Concerto on Thursday, 20 April. MacMillan’s new composition was commissioned by the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, together with four other orchestras. Iván Fischer will be conducting the RCO. The work will also be performed on Friday, 21 April and on Sunday, 23 April.
The programme additionally features Béla Bartók’s rarely played Hungarian Sketches and Antonín Dvořák’s Symphony No. 7. In the latter work, the trombone section often plays a central role in determining the overall sound.
The Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra has previously performed a number of works by Macmillan, who is hailed for his direct and compelling musical idiom. Back in 2009, for instance, it put on his new St John Passion. ‘In all the pieces I’ve played by MacMillan, I’ve been struck by how effectively he writes for the trombone,’ says van Rijen, ‘so I asked him whether he would be interested in writing a trombone concerto. I was so pleased he immediately said yes! The concerto is melodious but also virtuosic. I think it will be spectacular for the audience,’ he continues. ‘It pushes the soloist to the limits of what is physically possible, but that was the whole point. It’s supposed to be a challenge.’
The performances with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra are the first in a long series. Van Rijen has found eight orchestras* to perform the concerto with him. He says, ‘That was no problem at all thanks to MacMillan’s excellent reputation.’ In May, he will be performing the work with the Royal Flemish Philharmonic in Antwerp under the direction of the composer himself. Performances with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, under the baton of Gustavo Gimeno, will follow in February 2018.
* a.o. the Royal Flemish Philharmonic, the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, the Oulu Symphony Orchestra, the Philharmonisches Orchester des Staatstheaters Cottbus and the Dallas Symphony Orchestra