St Albans Symphony Orchestra starts its new season with Sax appeal!

14th October 2007 Most people may think of the saxophone as a jazz instrument, but classical composers have also been intrigued by its plaintive sound – as St Albans  Symphony Orchestra will demonstrate on Saturday 27th October at the opening concert of its 2007-8 season (7.30pm, St Saviour’s Church, Sandpit Lane, St  Albans). David Wigram, whose saxophone playing won him the 2003 South and West  Hertfordshire Young Musician of the Year competition, will be the soloist in a Rhapsody for Orchestra and Alto Saxophone by the French ‘impressionist’  composer Claude Debussy and also in a Saxophone Concerto by the young St Albans-based composer, Richard Payne. David, 21, is a former Head Chorister at St Peter’s Church St Albans and BBC Choirboy of the Year. He was seen by millions of TV viewers singing a duet in the presence of the Queen on Millennium night in the last minutes before midnight. He also sang as a soloist at the  English National Opera. Currently studying viola as well as saxophone at the Royal College of Music, he performs regularly on both instruments with a professional jazz group, ‘Five Star Swing’. Debussy’s Saxophone Rhapsody was an extraordinary commission in 1902 by a wealthy American lady whose doctor told her that playing the instrument would  improve her hearing: it is by turns exquisitely atmospheric and thrillingly dynamic. Richard Payne’s concerto is contrastingly upbeat, combining an  energetic, melodic opening with a tranquil middle section and a pulsating, rhythmic finale. Richard, who plays in SASO’s trumpet section, composed the concerto while he was a music student at Bristol University. The orchestra’s saxophone celebration also includes a performance of  Sergei Rachmaninov’s Symphonic Dances. His last major work, written in America in 1940, features an evocative first movement solo for the instrument. A symphony in all but name, it continues with a sinister ‘haunted ballroom’ waltz and a final movement that hints at approaching death before an exciting final coda. The concert, under conductor James Ross, will also include music by the English composer Gustav Holst for his ballet The Perfect Fool. Like his famous Planets suite it is full of memorable tunes, including the opening motif for trombone, the composer’s own instrument. Tickets £12, £8, Under-18s £1, Students £5 from the SASO Ticket Secretary (01727 857422) or on the door.