Our Music Director, Matthew Willis, is ramping up the demands on all the forces under his baton as he prepares for our first concert, when we will be bringing you the much-loved Enigma Variationsby Elgar, Gerald Finzi’s setting of Edmund Blunden’s text, For St Cecilia, and then an amazing but little-known piece by Gustav Holst, The Cloud Messenger. The largest of his ‘Indian’ works, it tells the story of an exiled Indian poet who sends a cloud towards the Himalayan mountains to relay the message of his love to his lonely wife. Described by Vaughan Williams as ‘beautiful’, Holst translated the original Sanskrit words himself.
These works are rooted in England in the twentieth century. These were turbulent times, when societal and musical norms were being challenged, shocking and exciting audiences in equal measure.
Moving to Europe for the first orchestral concert, the gentle beauty of the Debussy Nocturnes will be followed by Arutiunian’s Trumpet Concerto, with Matilda Lloyd, the 2014 BBC Young Musician of the year ‘Brass Category’ winner, as soloist, and then Chausson’s Symphony in B flat. Here again we have inspiration from other art forms, with Debussy being inspired by a series of impressionist paintings of the same name by Whistler. The Russian composer Alexander Arutiunian borrowed from the melodic and rhythmic characteristics of Armenian folk music in writing his most well-known piece, completed in 1950. In contrast, the Symphony in B flatbyAmédée-Ernest Chausson, may also be described as impressionistic in nature.
The second joint concert moves us to quite another time and place. Entitled ‘Mostly Mozart’, it will include Cherubini’s Anacréon Overture, together with Mozart’s Piano Concerto 22, played by Marina Koka, winner of the TWYICA competition of 2014, before the choir join in for the monumental Requiem. Unfinished at his death in 1791, this dramatic setting of the Requiem Mass has given rise to a number of myths and to suggestions that the additional work was undertaken by Antonio Salieri, rather than Süssmayr.
In May our orchestra brings us back to the symphonic developments of the nineteenth century with Smetana Ma Vlast (My Homeland), Borodin’s 2nd Symphonyand then right up to date with Richard Norris’s Symphony in (approximately) 15 Minutes. Exciting fare, as I’m sure you will agree.