80 Strings Students take on Schoenberg

In preparation for the RNCM Strings Festival, Dutch Conductor Henk Guittart is currently working with 80 of our string players on the Arnold Schoenberg piece, Verklärte Nacht.

Verklärte Nacht (Transfigured Night) was originally composed for a string sextet in 1899 but arranged in 1917 for string ensemble. After conducting the piece many times, Schoenberg reworked it again – this time for a larger string orchestra – and expressed that it should be played by at least 65 string players.

“The RNCM is taking this suggestion very seriously, using a huge string orchestra of about 80 players,” says Guittart.

A large scale performance of the piece will take place on the Sunday evening of our Strings Festival with Guittart at the helm. A founder member of the Schoenberg Quartet, Guittart describes the work as one of his all-time favourite – and has even discussed the ambitious RNCM performance with Schoenberg’s son. It is bound to be a very special end to a fantastic festival.

“Yesterday saw eight hours devoted to Verklärte Nacht, sextet version, tutti rehearsal with about 80 dedicated students, and three sectionals” Guittart continues. “The level of ability is extraordinary, and the passion too. They all go the extra mile. What a school, and what an energy.”

The Schoenberg Verklärte Nacht concert on Sunday night is sure to be one of the highlights of the Festival, but there’s plenty more to enjoy – from a children’s concert on Saturday morning by Project Jam Sandwich, to 10 visitors taking masterclasses (free to the public) and all of the Brahms Duo Sonatas performed by an all-star line up on Saturday evening. Find out more about the RNCM Strings Festival here.