English Symphony Orchestra, Events and Shows, In The Cooler, Music, NCCR

2019 Elgar Festival to Celebrate Centenary of Cello Concerto.

Edward Elgar Centenary

 

A four-day Worcestershire music festival, headlined by world-leading classical musician Rafael Wallfisch, is to celebrate Britain’s greatest composer, Sir Edward Elgar from the 30th of May to the 2nd of June, 2019.

At the heart of this summer’s Elgar Festival is the Cello Concerto, performed by the renowned artist in a gala concert at Worcester Cathedral to mark the centenary of the composer’s last masterwork.

And with the theme Elgar for Everyone, organisers are determined to engage people of all ages and walks of life in the legacy and music of Worcester’s greatest son. A jam-packed programme of activities includes the chance to play one of the great man’s own pianos.

Inaugurated last year as a two-day event and immediately gaining Critic’s Pick status with The Guardian and The Times, 2019’s festival has now expanded to four days, reflecting the bid to champion Sir Edward to as wide an audience as possible.

For Raphael Wallfisch the festival’s ethos couldn’t be better demonstrated than through the Cello Concerto, which was conceived during the dark years of the First World War as (he) Elgar recuperated from an operation. However it was initially a flop.

Raphael Wallfisch

Raphael Wallfisch (London 20 March 2013)

“Elgar was to conduct the London Symphony Orchestra and the young British cellist Felix Salmond but the rest of the programme at the Queen’s Hall that October 1919 was conducted by, Albert Coates, who was in fact my wife’s grandfather,” says Wallfisch. “Coates took the bulk of the rehearsal time, and a mere 30 minutes were left for the concerto.

“The performance was not good and the orchestra unprepared. The public and critics were puzzled and unsure about the new work and Salmond never played it again.
“It took a number of years and distance from the Edwardian era and World War 1 to realise how powerfully evocative and nostalgic the music is. I am greatly looking forward to performing this now beloved work in Worcester with the ESO.”

The June 1 gala evening, also sees a first-time collaboration between the English Symphony Orchestra and Worcester Cathedral Chamber Choir, for Donald Fraser’s acclaimed choral arrangement of Elgar’s Sea Pictures, and Vaughan Williams’s Fifth Symphony. Other festival concerts include performances from professional chamber choir The Proteus Ensemble, Elgar and Debussy sonatas from violin virtuoso Zoë Beyers and pianist Philip Moore, and a song recital featuring the original voice and piano version of Elgar’s Sea Pictures.

Alongside this busy programme are educational workshops, talks, poetry readings, a new version of the Elgar Trail, a Cello Day for families and young people and an Elgar for Everyone Family Concert (in Henry Sandon Hall) at Malvern College.

Elgar Festival Artistic Director Kenneth Woods, says:

“Every once in a while, we need to step back from a very popular work like the Cello Concerto and remind ourselves of why it resonates so deeply with so many millions of listeners. We want the 2019 Elgar Festival to create the conditions whereby even the most jaded Elgar fan can hear this most personal work with fresh ears.

“Elgar’s Cello Concerto was my pathway into the world of this great composer whose music has had such a profound influence on my life. “From my first encounter with it as a young cellist in America, it cast a spell on me, and after all the times I’ve since played it, heard it and conducted it, its power and honesty continues to amaze me. To conduct this 100th Anniversary performance in Elgar’s hometown with Raphael, in the shadow of the Malvern Hills, whose profile helped inspire the work’s opening melody, is more than a dream come true. I would never have dared dream something so crazy, so unlikely. I can’t wait.”

For a complete listing of events and booking information, go to www.elgarfestival.org or visit the event’s Facebook page.

English Symphony Orchestra, Events and Shows, Music, NCCR

English Symphony Orchestra begin 2019 with celebration of Dvořák in Malvern Theatres

Concert on 26 January to feature leading Czech violin superstar, Pavel Šporcl

After saying goodbye to 2018 with a sold-out performance of Messiah in Malvern Priory, the English Symphony Orchestra will begin 2019 with a celebration of the music of Antonin Dvořák in Malvern Theatres featuring today’s leading Czech violinist, Pavel Šporcl, in a performance of the Dvořák Violin Concerto, a work he has recorded to international acclaim with Vladimir Ashkenazy and the Czech Philharmonic. The concert also includes Dvořák’s melodious and moving Eighth Symphony and a selection of his vivacious Slavonic Dances under the baton of the ESO’s Artistic Director, Kenneth Woods.

Pavel Šporcl has appeared with major orchestras including the Orchestre National de France, Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, Russian National Symphony Orchestra, Orchestre de Paris, Czech Philharmonic Orchestra, Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, and the Hungarian Radio Orchestra, and has worked with leading conductors including Vladimir Ashkenazy, Libor Pesek, Jiri Belohlavek and Andris Nelsons.

Šporcl brings a lifetime of experience to the Dvořák Violin Concerto, a work written for Joseph Joachim and described by ESO Artistic Director Kenneth Woods as “one of the most perfect and beautiful of all Romantic violin concerti.” Gramophone Magazine said of his live recording of the Dvořák that “his tonal variety and expressiveness in the lyrical passages are …magnetic, and the lightness and rhythmic spring of his playing heighten the finale’s Slavonic dance character.”

 

Hailed as an artist with a human touch, Šporcl likes to go beyond the classical music scene and collaborates with many non-classical music artists. His projects Gipsy Way (2008) and Gipsy Fire (2014) with gipsy cimbalom band has been received with great enthusiasm in many countries including China, and was seen in almost 300 concerts by more than 120,000 people. “We’re very excited to be working with Pavel,” says Woods. “He shares with the ESO an ethos that says there ought not to be any divide between quality and accessibility in the arts. He’s passionate about making his music available to everyone, and that is why he is one of the most popular artists in Europe today.”

The second half of the concert will be given over to Dvořák’s Eighth Symphony, a work particularly close to Woods’ heart. “Dvořák 8 was the first score I bought as a young musician curious about the role of the conductor and the art of the composer,” says Woods. “It’s one of those pieces which has been with me at every step of my musical life as student and professional, cellist and conductor.”

Considered by many critics to be Dvořák’s most melodic symphony, Woods describes the Eighth as “one of those very special works in which an embrace of childlike wonder and simplicity underpins a work of deep emotions.” The concert opens with what Woods describes as a “grab bag” of Dvořák’s Slavonic Dances.

The close of 2018 saw the ESO receiving a new round of accolades for their work. Their recording of Woods’ orchestration of the Brahms Piano Quartet in A major was chosen as one of The Arts Desk’s 10 Best Classical CDs of 2018, their recording of the Hans Gàl Cello Concertino was a MusicWeb International Recording of the Year, and their CD “Songs for Strings,” which debuted as Classic FM CD of the Week in August, was chosen a Favourite CD of 2018 by Classical Candor.

The ESO’s next concert, on the 16th of February, will be a concert performance of Act I of Wagner’s Die Walküre on 16 February in Worcester’s Swan Theatre

2013_pavel_sporcl-8282

PAVEL ŠPORCL

CELEBRATING DVORÁK WITH PAVEL ŠPORCL IN MALVERN THEATRES

Saturday the 26th January 2019   7.45pm

Pre-concert talk at 6.45pm

Forum Theatre, Malvern Theatres, Grange Road, Malvern, WR14 3HB

English Symphony Orchestra
Kenneth Woods- Artistic Director
Pavel Šporcl – Violin

Pre-concert talk at 6:45

Programme

Dvořák – Slavonic Dances (selected)
Dvořák – Violin Concerto
Pavel Šporcl – Violin
Dvořák – Symphony No. 8

Join Kenneth Woods and the ESO for this celebration of the greatest of all Czech composers with today’s most popular and distinguished Czech violin virtuoso, Pavel Šporcl. Šporcl’s recording of his countryman’s concerto has been hailed by Gramophone as “…a warmly idiomatic reading…tonal variety and expressiveness….magnetic.”

The concert opens with a lively selection of Slavonic Dances and ends with a performance of Dvořák’s vibrant and tuneful Eighth Symphony.

TICKETS: from £17.36 (prices include 12% booking fee)

Book online via Malvern Theatres or via eso.co.uk

Phone Booking 01684 892277
In person at the Malvern Theatres box office, Grange Road, Malvern, WR14 3HB

Press enquiries and interview requests: noriko.tsuzaki@eso.co.uk

 

English Symphony Orchestra, Interviews, Music

English Symphony Orchestra:CELEBRATION OF ELGAR IN BARNSTAPLE. Saturday 10th November, 2018 at 7.30pm

Queens Theatre, Barnstaple

English String Orchestra
Kenneth Woods- Artistic Director
Zoë Beyers – Violin

Programme

Elgar – Serenade for Strings
Vaughan Williams – The Lark Ascending
Elgar – Songs for Strings
Dvorak – String Serenade
Elgar– Introduction and Allegro

 

The English String Orchestra bring a concert celebrating the glories of the Romantic string orchestra repertoire with a portfolio of works form their celebrated discography. Violin virtuoso and ESO Leader, Zoë Beyers performs Vaughan Williams’ haunting and evocative “The Lark Ascending”, recently voted the nation’s favourite piece of music by Classic FM listeners.

Appropriately for an orchestra based in Elgar’s home city of Worcester, the ESO also bring to Barnstaple his beloved Serenade for Strings and the touching Songs for Strings, arranged by Donald Fraser. The concert concludes with the ESO specialty, Dvořák’s beguiling Serenade, infused with the unforgettable melos of his native Bohemia.

Here is an interview with Kenneth Woods from earlier this year for NCCR..

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Kenneth Woods-Principal Conductor,English Symphony Orchestra