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Multi-tasking maestra with the LSO

Super-talented Barbara Hannigan takes on the role of conductor and soprano at the Barbican

15 March, 2019 — By Michael White

If you asked me who was the most charismatically exciting, supercharged and super-talented all-round musician in the world of serious music right now, I’d say Barbara Hannigan. Because there’s no one like her. Even vaguely.

She first leapt to fame as a Canadian soprano singing modern opera, with an onstage presence that left audiences captivated when she starred in things like George Benjamin’s Written on Skin at Covent Garden and Brett Dean’s Hamlet at Glyndebourne.

Then it turned it out that she was also a conductor – and a good one, which is more than you could say for certain other singers who take up the baton (thinking especially of José Cura, whose bizarre attempts to sing and conduct at the same time – with his back to the orchestra and both hands flapping like a bird in take-off – were the silliest thing I ever saw in a concert hall).

If that weren’t enough, she’s also a composer/ arranger, with a Grammy under her belt for a CD of music from Gershwin’s Girl Crazy that she sang, conducted and arranged

All of which means you shouldn’t miss her multi-functional appearance this Sunday at the Barbican, where she does everything and more with the London Symphony Orchestra – in repertoire by Ligeti, Haydn and Berg, as well as some of those Gershwin arrangements.

It’s the grand finale of a London residency that the Barbican’s been giving her, and so a sort of farewell. But she won’t be gone for long. She’s in the running for no less than three prizes in this year’s International Opera Awards which run at Sadler’s Wells in April. And not long after that she has another UK residency, at the Aldeburgh Festival in Suffolk where she’ll be the star attraction.

Catch her where you can. She’s dynamite.

• Barbara Hannigan, Sunday March 17, 7pm, Barbican, 020 7638 8891, www.barbican.org.uk, from £16

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