Star-studded line-up announced for Saffron Hall’s 2015-16 season

June 2, 2015

Leonidas Kavakos
Photo: Marco Borggreve

Star-studded line-up announced for Saffron Hall’s 2015-16 season.

Saffron Hall welcomes a wealth of world-class artists and ensembles for its second season under Chief Executive Angela Dixon. The London Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Vladimir Jurowski and joined by Gramophone Artist of the Year 2014, Leonidas Kavakos (2 October) kick off the star-studded roster of concerts in style.

Selected  highlights:

  • World-class music making begins with the London Philharmonic Orchestra, Vladimir Jurowski and Leonidas Kavakos and ends with Brahms trios from Gautier Capuçon, Leonidas Kavakos and Nikolai Lugansky
  • Debut artists include Alison Balsom, Joshua Bell, Stephen Isserlis and Sir András Schiff
  • Debut ensembles include the CBSO, the Oslo Philharmonic, the London Chamber Orchestra and the Academy of St Martin in the Fields
  • Returning artists and ensembles including Nicola Benedetti, The Sixteen, Maxim Vengerov, Benjamin Grosvenor and Britten Sinfonia
  • Early music includes Bach Collegium Japan with Masaaki Suzuki and The English Concert with Harry Bickett
  • A newly-commissioned Schools opera, The Glass Knight, written for and by 300 local children with composer Philip Sunderland
  • Community and outreach work including award-winning learning projects Musical Rumpus and Friday Afternoons
  • Rich programme of local performances including the start of a Ring Cycle and Stravinsky’s The Rake’s Progress
  • Exceptional events for children and families

Kavakos’ concert begins a strong year for violinists with performances from Nicola Benedetti with the Benedetti Elschenbroich Grynyuk Trio (15 November) and with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra (31 January); Joshua Bell with Stephen Isserlis and the Academy of St Martin in the Fields (23 January); Maxim Vengerov in recital (20 February) and the return of Kavakos alongside Gautier Capuçon and pianist Nikolai Lugansky for a programme of Brahms trios (5 June).

Britten Sinfonia perform three times during the season, beginning with a performance of Hermann’s music for the film Psycho, accompanying a screening of Hitchcock’s famous film (10 October). Jazz bassist Eddie Gomez and pianist Stephen Osborne join the orchestra for a programme featuring composers who were influenced by jazz (21 November). Mezzo-soprano Alice Coote performs Phaedra with the orchestra, co-directed by harpsichordist Mahan Esfahani and violinist Jacqueline Shave (15 May).

A number of acclaimed musicians make their debut at the Hall this season attracted by the hall’s much-praised flexible acoustics and state of the art facilities. Trumpeter Alison Balsom performs music by Albinoni, Handel and Vivaldi with the London Chamber Orchestra (6 September) and pianist Sir András Schiff chooses a programme of masterpieces from the Austro-German piano repertoire for his debut (31 March). The Oslo Philharmonic and Vasily Petrenko perform Mahler’s Symphony No.5 and Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No.2 with pianist Simon Trpčeski.

The Sixteen returns to Saffron Hall following their sell-out concert last year. The first of their two concerts features a seasonal programme focusing on the Virgin Mary, contrasting Renaissance masterpieces with contemporary works that have been inspired by them (20 December). The second concert is devoted to Handel, centring on the Dixit Dominus (27 February). An additional seasonal offering comes from the BBC Singers which performs Christmas music alongside excerpts of Dylan Thomas’ A Child’s Christmas in Wales (19 December). This will be recorded for broadcast on BBC Radio 3, the first radio broadcast from Saffron Hall.

Other top quality early music comes from The English Concert which performs Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater and other works devoted to the Virgin Mary (20 March) and from the Bach Collegium Japan under Masaaki Suzuki which performs Bach’s Magnificat in D alongside Bach cantatas (10 April).

Events for families and children
There are a variety of concerts this season designed to appeal to the younger audience. These include Paddington Bear’s First Concert, a story written by Michael Bond with an original score by Herbert Chappell performed here by City of London Sinfonia and conductor Hugh Brunt (1 November, two performances). Also in November Spitalfields Music’s award-winning musical adventure for babies, Musical Rumpus, (8 November, two performances) comes to Saffron Hall. In December Saffron Hall presents a double bill film screening of The Gruffalo and The Gruffalo’s Child with live music accompaniment from the Southbank Sinfonia (13 December).

Learning & Participation
Community outreach and education is a huge part of the work of Saffron Hall. Saffron Hall, in association with Saffron Walden County High School, is commissioning an original School’s opera for young people entitled The Glass Knight, featuring 300 schoolchildren and teachers drawn from the County High School and local primaries alongside a cast of professionals. This exciting new opera about the legend of the Saffron Walden Cockatrice, composed by Philip Sunderland (9-12 March), will allow class teachers to gain news skills, following a professional process and working with opera. In addition to performing roles, there will be a number of other backstage roles for young people to experience, including technical, stage management, marketing, set builders and front of house.

Saffron Hall is working to enhance progression routes in Music Education in the area further by working in partnership with Guildhall School of Music & Drama’s Centre for Young Musicians, Saffron Walden County High School and Essex Music Education Hub to start a specialist Saturday morning music school in the 15/16 season.  The school would be open to young people throughout the area and would have a bursary scheme to promote access.

The Brodsky Quartet is resident at Saffron Walden County High School for an immersive, cross-arts week of song-writing and album making with students at the school. The final session will be open to the public (19-23 October). Nicola Benedetti presents her ‘Benedetti Sessions’, giving masterclasses to local young musicians alongside rehearsal, preparatory and performing workshops following her first concert at Saffron Hall this season (16 November). These two events exemplify Saffron Hall’s mission to encourage world class artists to work with the local community to effect wider change.

Aldeburgh Music’s award-winning Education project comes to Saffron Hall in the Autumn.  Friday Afternoons is an annual, massed singing event, where this year primary school children sing new songs by Nico Muhly (20 November).

 Young Artist Recitals
Saffron Hall is dedicated to showcasing younger talent alongside established artists and ensembles. With this in mind there are four Young Artist Recitals announced so far this season, starting with Australian pianist Jayson Gillham (11 October). He is followed by cellist Michael Petrov and pianist Alexander Ullman (22 November) and New Zealand violinist Benjamin Baker (17 April). The final concert in the series features mezzo soprano Anna Huntley and pianist James Bailleau in a recital of lieder, folk and theatrical songs (8 May). Gillham, Baker and Huntley also give a masterclass with students of the Music Academy at Saffron Walden County High School following their recitals.

Alternative concerts
James Farm, the American jazz group fronted by saxophonist Joshua Redmond, come to Saffron Hall this Autumn with a concert featuring contemporary bop and improvisations (14 November). The worlds of flamenco and jazz collide in a collaboration between jazz pianist Chano Dominguez and guitarist Niño Josele (4 December).

Local events
Local musicians feature substantially in the life of Saffron Hall. These include concert performances from Saffron Opera Group of Stravinsky’s The Rake’s Progress and Wagner’s Das Rheingold which marks the start of a new Ring Cycle (13 September & 17 January), Saffron Walden Choral Society (7 November & 19 March) and Saffron Walden Symphony Orchestra (29 November, 7 February, 23 April and 18 June).

Other local highlights include a talk by Terry Waite and a children’s concert by the Saffron Walden Symphony Orchestra with artist James Mayhew as part of the Words in Walden Festival (8 & 18 October) and a Singing Day with the Saffron Walden Choral Society and Eamonn Dougan, assistant conductor of The Sixteen (30 January).


For more information please contact Isobel Pyrke at Albion Media: or 020 3077 4945

Full listings and booking information, visit the What’s On pages
Further events for Spring and Summer 2016 will be announced in November

Twitter: @SaffronHallSW
Facebook: /saffronhallsw

Now in its second full season, Saffron Hall is establishing itself as a vibrant cultural centre for the region, offering outstanding artistic encounters in an expanding programme that weaves international artists together with local performance groups and Learning & Participation activities. Conceived with education and community work at its heart, and built in the grounds of Saffron Walden County High School, Saffron Hall’s aims to be a trail-blazing model of state school and community music provision across the region and beyond, producing outstanding events with world-class artists. In the 2014-15 season, Saffron Hall welcomed over 19,000 audience members from Saffron Walden, the surrounding area and further afield to its concerts, tripling the audience after the initial season.