St Albans Symphony Orchestra (SASO) plans to transport its audience on a musical rollercoaster from exuberant joy to heartfelt grief when it performs Sir Edward Elgar’s Second Symphony in St Saviour’s Church, Sandpit Lane on Saturday May 14th (7.30pm : pre-concert talk at 7pm).
First performed in 1911, the symphony is dedicated to the memory of King Edward VII. But the composer’s letters and comments to friends make it clear that his music had a far deeper and more personal meaning for him than a tribute to recently deceased royalty.
He described his work as “the passionate pilgrimage of the soul”. A reference at the bottom of his score to Tintagel, has also prompted speculation about whether a walking holiday with married friends in Cornwall had resulted in romantic feelings for another man’s wife that he could only express though music.
Unlike any previous SASO concert, the performance will be the culmination of intensive rehearsals during the preceding 24 hours. Tickets are priced at just £5 and the ‘workshop’ is being subsidised by a legacy left to the orchestra by Babs Yule, a long-time supporter and well-known ‘Albanian’, who died in 2010.
Bjorn Bantock, SASO’s former principal conductor, will be taking charge for the first time as its guest conductor, although it will be the fourth time he has overseen a “Babs Yule Workshop”.
He said: “At previous workshops we have had a performance of the featured work for family and friends, but it always seemed a shame not to be able to share the results of such enjoyable music-making with a wider audience. This public performance is an experiment, but we hope it will attract people who do not already know Elgar’s astonishing symphony as well as those that do and recognise its genius.”
As added value, Bjorn will be giving an audience talk about the music before the performance starts, when wine and cheese will be available as part of the admission price.
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