“Music of the Future” or “Zukunftsmusik” is a term often associated with Wagner. It was the title of an essay he wrote detailing his grand ideas for opera, but it was also used by his detractors as well as his supporters, and he himself questioned its usefulness as a term for what he meant. Nevertheless, he had aesthetic ideals concerning how music should be performed – dramatically and on a grand scale, uniting all forms of art together in one “complete” work – and this informed his compositions.
It is this futuristic theme that here unites Wagner with Liszt, the great innovator. Their ideas differed and at times their friendship suffered, but both had strong ideas about how music should shape and be shaped by the cultural landscape. The Ulster Orchestra pays tribute to the vision and ingenuity of these two composers with the aptly named “Music of the Future” concert this Friday night at the Ulster Hall.
Among other accolades, Liszt was recognised as perhaps the most skilled pianist of his day. His work therefore provides a fitting programme for the highly talented Michael McHale, who will be performing one of the great showpieces of the piano repertoire, Liszt’s Second Piano Concerto. Michael is Belfast born but gaining a reputation as a world class performer and the leading Irish pianist of his generation. His appearance will mark a welcome return as he has worked with the Ulster Orchestra a number of times.
On this occasion he won’t just be performing, either – he will also be giving a Piano Masterclass for a select group of gifted young musicians at the Ulster Hall on Thursday evening. Everyone, from keen music students to resolute non-players, can come along and watch as Michael advises and inspires the pianists of tomorrow. It’s a welcoming atmosphere and one might even pick up a top tip or two! Tickets can be bought at the door for £5, but entry is free for students and it promises to be a highly informative and enjoyable experience for any piano enthusiast.
Our “Music of the Future” concert also marks a welcome return to Belfast for the guest conductor Alan Buribayev. His last concert with the Ulster Orchestra, in April this year, featured Tchaikovsky’s Sixth Symphony, and was a thrilling performance, auguring well for an equally stunning presentation of another of Tchaikovsky’s great symphonies, the Fifth. Add to this a 7pm pre-concert talk with Piers Hellawell, Professor of Composition at QUB, and it’s clear that this is a concert not to be missed – an evening of thrilling entertainment that will impress upon its audience the might, power and virtuosity of those who looked to the future of music well over a century ago.
More info at www.ulsterorchestra.com