So yes, “safety first” plays its part in an Usher Hall orchestral series that centres on extended residencies and UK bands. It opens with the BBC SSO and indigenous choral forces (a Carmina Burana under the newly-knighted Sir Donald Runnicles) and ends with the RSNO’s Dream of Gerontius under Sir Andrew Davis, while key residencies by the Philadelphia (a star-studded Beethoven 9) and Philharmonia Orchestras extend to four appearances each, spilling into chamber music programmes by their key players at the Queen’s Hall. EIF director-elect Nicola Benedetti turns to an old friend - the Bruch concerto - with the SCO.
There’s the added exotica of the Czech Philharmonic’s Mahler 7 and Janacek Glagolitic Mass, Susanna Mälkki and the Helsinki Philharmonic, authentic Stravinsky from the dynamic Les Siècles, even the multi-national Australian World Orchestra under Zubin Mehta. The incomparable Iestyn Davies sings in Handel’s Saul with The English Consort; Simon Rattle returns with the LSO.
Opera is limited to one fully-staged run, Garsington Opera’s new Rusalka (Dvorak) with the Philharmonia. Two concert performances - Beethoven’s Fidelio (Runnicles and the Philharmonia) and Strauss’ Salomé (Edward Gardner’s Bergen Philharmonic) take up the slack.
Normal service resumes at the Queen’s Hall, its daily chamber music draw ranging from Anne Sofie von Otter and the Takács and Pavel Haas Quartets, to the Chineke! Chamber Ensemble with didgeridoo player William Barton.