Conductor James Ross to leave SASO after nine years of achievement

Conductor James Ross, who has led St Albans Symphony Orchestra’s to new heights of achievement is to leave the orchestra when its season ends in July.

After nine years at the helm, he has decided it is time to take up new challenges, including a growing volume of international work with professional orchestras around the globe, including the United States, Europe, Sri Lanka and China.

Dr Ross said: “It has been a pleasure to work with SASO over the past nine years, and to see the Orchestra grow and develop so much. This would not have happened without a massive effort made by all those who have played with and supported us during this time, to whom I am hugely grateful.”

Dr Ross is an authority on French opera and past finalist in the BBC Philharmonic Conducting Competition. Under his baton, St Albans Symphony Orchestra has grown in size and attracted amateur and professionally-trained musicians of a high standard. He also obtained grant support for the orchestra’s sections to be coached by members of the City of London Sinfonia.

This has enabled SASO to tackle increasingly ambitious music, including large-scale works by composers such as Bruckner, Elgar, Janacek and Mahler. Critically acclaimed highlights have included concerto performances with Guy Johnston, the Harpenden ‘cellist and former BBC Young Musician of the Year, charity concerts in St John’s Smith Square, London and a celebration of the orchestra’s 75th anniversary in 2007 that included Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring ballet music. Another exciting development was the introduction of ‘New Music Days’ giving up-and-coming composers an opportunity to hear their scores played live by a full symphony orchestra.

Kieran McGuirk, SASO’s chairman said: “Under James’ expert guidance over nine years the Orchestra has grown substantially in size, skills, repertoire and reputation, enabling us to reach new peaks of performance as well as broadening our range of musical activities in and around St Albans. We owe him a great deal and wish him every success in his growing international career.”

From September, the baton will pass to the St. Albans-based conductor Bjorn Bantock who is already known to local audiences through concerts with the Hertfordshire Philharmonia and Watford Philharmonic orchestras. He is also principal conductor of the London Chamber Strings and the Europa Ensemble.

Dr Ross will, meanwhile, be leading SASO through a giant-sized final challenge in the Abbey on Saturday 12th June when they perform Mahler’s inspirational ‘Resurrection’ Symphony as part of the St Albans Magna Carta celebrations. The work’s five movements are on an expansive scale and require the participation of two choirs as well as solo singers.

For further information, contact:

David Utting (SASO Press Officer): 01727 762855 / 07930 313790