It's nearly 10 years now since we moved our slot from June to May, the time when renewal of the natural world is in its fullest flow, and it is thoughts of that breath of spring that have inspired us to make 'Nature' this year's theme. After all, it's a subject that would have been as close (if not closer) to anyone in the 17th or 18th centuries as it is to us today. It has to be one of the reasons behind the modern-day success of Vivaldi's Four Seasons (which we will be hearing here for the first time since 1990, as part of a unique 'Seasons Double Bill'), and as long ago as the 1630s Milton recognised Nature's power over human temperament in two great pastoral poems, set to music a century later by Handel in the delightful oratorio we've asked Paul McCreesh to conduct on
the opening night.
The pastoral lifestyle figures strongly in these works and is also reflected in concerts by Florilegium, Theatre of the Ayre and Le Jardin Secret, while birdsong is at the heart of an ingenious programme from French visitors Ensemble La Fenice. Other distinguished guests include Andreas Staier, the European Union Baroque Orchestra and the Freiburg Baroque Orchestra (the last two each accompanied by a sparkling soprano soloist), while our annual night out at Westminster Abbey offers a rich evening of Purcell choral odes. We are also very excited that Richard Mabey, one of the major nature writers of our day, has agreed to give the 2013 Lufthansa Lecture.
Naturally, we hope you'll join us.