RNS: John Wilson's Summer Songs
John Wilson conductor
Francesca Chiejina soprano
Royal Northern Sinfonia
Bennett Summer Music
Delius A Song Before Sunrise
Barber Knoxville: Summer of 1915, Op.24
Copland Appalachian Spring Suite
A hot, sultry summers evening in small town America is evoked by Samuel Barber’s Knoxville, Summer of 1915, the centrepiece of a programme that points the way to warmer, longer, days. Staying with the American theme is Copland’s ever-popular Appalachian Spring, a soaring masterpiece that captures the sound and spirit of the USA. Crossing the pond back to England, the concert opens with Richard Rodney Bennett’s graceful Summer Music and Delius’ mesmerising A Song before Sunrise, which captures that moment of stillness before the sun slips below the horizon. Gateshead-born RNS regular John Wilson joins us to conduct this beautiful programme.
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Francesca Chiejina, soprano
Nigerian-American soprano Francesca Chiejina is a recent graduate of the Jette Parker Young Artists Programme at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, where her roles included Countess Ceprano Rigoletto, Lady-in-Waiting Macbeth, Voice from Heaven Don Carlo, Ines Il trovatore, Micaëla La tragèdie de Carmen (Wilton’s Music Hall), Melantho/Love The Return of Ulysses (Roundhouse), and the soprano solos in Gorecki’s Third Symphony for The Royal Ballet.
In the 2020-21 season she sings Miss Jessel The Turn of the Screw for OperaGlass Works, Freia Das Rheingold for Birmingham Opera Company, Anne Trulove The Rake’s Progress for Blackheath Halls Opera, and Handel’s Messiah at the Royal Albert Hall.
Recent highlights include her debut with Capella Cracoviensis as Aldimira Sigismondo; her house and role debut as Clara Porgy and Bess at Grange Park Opera; her debut with the Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal (Serena Porgy and Bess); and Vaughan Williams’ Serenade to Music at the Last Night of the BBC Proms.
Chiejina studied at the University of Michigan and the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, where she won the GSMD English Song Prize and Aria Prize. She was a finalist in the inaugural Glyndebourne Opera Cup in 2018 and the 2017 Kathleen Ferrier Awards.
John Wilson, conductor
John Wilson is in demand at the highest level across the globe, working with some of the finest orchestras and opera houses. In the UK, he performs regularly at festivals such as Aldeburgh, Glyndebourne and the BBC Proms with orchestras such as London Symphony, London Philharmonic, BBC Scottish Symphony and City of Birmingham Symphony. Elsewhere, he has conducted the Royal Concertgebouw, Budapest Festival, Swedish Radio Symphony, Oslo Philharmonic and Sydney Symphony orchestras amongst others. Recent and future highlights include his debut with the Bavarian Radio Symphony, Danish National Symphony, Royal Stockholm Philharmonic and Basel Symphony orchestras and his return engagements include DSO Berlin, BBC Philharmonic and Philharmonia Orchestra.
Born in Gateshead, Wilson studied composition and conducting at the Royal College of Music, where in 2011 he was made a Fellow. In 1994, he formed his own orchestra, the John Wilson Orchestra, dedicated to performing music from the golden age of Hollywood and Broadway, and with whom he has appeared regularly across the UK. In March 2019, John Wilson was awarded the prestigious ISM Distinguished Musician Award for his services to music.
Royal Northern Sinfonia, orchestra of Sage Gateshead, is the UK’s only full-time chamber orchestra. Founded in 1958, RNS has built a worldwide reputation for the North East through the quality of its music-making and the immediacy of the connections the musicians make with audiences.
The orchestra regularly flies the flag for the region at major festivals, including the BBC Proms. They appear frequently at venues and festivals in Europe, including La folle journée in Nantes. In recent seasons they have toured to Vienna, Budapest, Istanbul and Tokyo.