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ASO returns to Festival Theatre with Natsuko Plays Beethoven

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Adelaide Symphony Orchestra will return to the Festival Theatre next month for a special concert featuring Beethoven’s Violin Concerto, which will also mark the farewell performance of long-serving concertmaster Natsuko Yoshimoto.

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Ongoing COVID-19 restrictions forced the orchestra to recently cancel or postpone nine concerts in the remainder of its 2020 season – including Beethoven: The Symphonies, a series of performances that was to take place over two weeks.

However, it announced today that it will present one-off concert Natsuko Plays Beethoven at the Adelaide Festival Centre’s Festival Theatre on Saturday, September 19.

“While the orchestra can’t celebrate the 250th anniversary of Beethoven’s birth by performing all nine Beethoven Symphonies as originally planned, we’re thrilled to mark this special occasion with one of our closest friends – Natsuko Yoshimoto,” says ASO managing director Vincent Ciccarello.

“The September date will be especially poignant, as we farewell our long-serving, esteemed concertmaster.”

The ASO announced at the end of last year that Yoshimoto, who has been concertmaster for more than a decade, would be leaving her role in October.

In early March, Yoshimoto spoke to SALIFE about her time with the orchestra and how much she was looking forward to a 2020 season set to showcase a range of violin concertos, including the planned Natsuko Plays Brahms concert in April. Shortly after, however, the COVID-19 lockdown was introduced, wreaking havoc on all live performance.

Now, ahead of her farewell performance with the ASO, Yoshimoto says Beethoven’s Violin Concerto is a masterful piece that “explores, seeks and speaks with an enormous range of emotions”.

The composer wrote it in 1806, and it was first performed by celebrated Austrian violinist Franz Clement.

“There are so many things that make this piece revolutionary,” Yoshimoto says.

“Firstly, it opens with timpani alone, which was unheard of, with a five-note figure that then becomes the thread for the whole of the first movement.

“The scale of this concerto is bigger than anything that had come before – not only in terms of the actual size of the orchestra and the size of the piece, with a huge almost symphonic introduction before the soloist enters, but also its emotional content and depth. The story it tells and the journey are so complete.”

The repertoire for Natsuko Plays Beethoven will also include Brahms’ Academic Festival Overture and Smetana’s The Moldau.

The concert will be presented in accordance with current COVID-19 guidelines, with audience members seated in a checkerboard format with at least one empty seat between them.

Yesterday, the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra presented a sold-out Classics Unwrapped performance in Tanunda. A string ensemble of 16 ASO musicians have also been performing a series of free concerts at community centres across metropolitan Adelaide over the past month.

Tickets for Natsuko Plays Beethoven will go on sale from Wednesday.

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