St Albans Symphony Orchestra has plans to attract its biggest-ever audience for classical music in its 2019-2020 season, with three of its six concerts taking place in the city’s cathedral.
The orchestra’s New Year Concert regularly fills the Abbey for a programme of entertaining classics. Wednesday January 1st 2020 should prove no exception, with the young horn virtuoso Ben Goldscheider booked to perform Mozart’s popular Concerto No 4, mixed with music by Beethoven and Berlioz as well as traditional Viennese fare from the Strauss family.
But the orchestra also appears there as early as Saturday October 12th this year, when it will accompany Harpenden’s Hardynge Choir, Radlett Choral Society, St Albans Chamber Choir, Vivamus and children from local primary schools for the biennial St Cecilia Festival concert. The main choral work, to be conducted by Rufus Frowde, is A Sea Symphony by Ralph Vaughan Williams. The nautical theme will be maintained by two of the Sea Interludes from Benjamin Britten’s opera Peter Grimes and Seaside Postcards, written for children’s voices by contemporary composer Jonathan Dove.
SASO’s third venture into the cathedral will be on Saturday 9th May 2020 for a concert in association with the critically-acclaimed Hertfordshire Festival of Music. The programme of French music features the celebrated Organ Symphony by Camille Saint-Saens, alongside Claude Debussy’s colourful Nocturnes and a selection of the popular Songs of Auvergne by Joseph Canteloube. Women’s choir Gloriana will also take part, under their St Albans-based conductor Deborah Miles-Johnson.
Remaining concerts take place at the orchestra’s more regular venue: St Saviour’s Church. Saturday 7th March 2020 will see the return of dynamic soloist Matthew Sharp playing Edward Elgar’s emotional Cello Concerto in a programme that also includes William Walton’s Symphony No 1. Another favourite returning soloist is violinist David le Page, who will play Samuel Barber’s Concerto on Saturday July 4th. The orchestra will also perform Antonin Dvorak’s New World Symphony.
No SASO season would be complete without an afternoon of concerts specially for children. Sold out for the past two years in succession, the one-hour concerts in St Saviour’s give children the chance to not only hear a symphony orchestra in full cry, but also try out some of the instruments. One Sunday 17th November 2019, the fun and games will feature a musical Bear Hunt by composer Ian Stephens.
SASO’s Principal Conductor, Tom Hammond takes the helm for all the orchestra’s appearances except the opening, St Cecilia concert. He said: ”I am sure that our audiences will be as excited by this season’s programme as I am. Our returning soloists, Matthew Sharp and David le Page, received huge ovations when they last played with us, and they are performing two wonderful works.
“We can also promise some thrilling orchestral works ranging from established favourites to works like Walton’s First Symphony that are less well-known, but no less spine-tingling. As co-director of the Hertfordshire Festival of Music, I am delighted that our May concert brings a first-ever collaboration. St Albans Cathedral is a big venue to fill, but the opportunity to hear the mighty Abbey organ and SASO combine at full throttle in Saint-Saens’ wonderful symphony is not to be missed!”