Saffron Hall announces new events for 2018 – including three major concerts with Nicola Benedetti as the Hall’s first Artist in Residence; major celebrations for Bernstein 100 led by BBC Symphony Orchestra; a focus on Swing & Big Band; a second BBC Radio 3 Big Chamber Day; world-class dance events; and a host of leading classical and jazz artists
Newly announced concerts as part of Saffron Hall’s 17/18 season furthers the venue’s pioneering learning and participation programme while continuing to bring the world’s biggest talents to the region.
New concerts include:
• Nicola Benedetti has been part of Saffron Hall’s story since it opened in 2013, selling out every concert she’s played and working with over 300 young musicians as part of its Learning & Participation programme. Now, she becomes Saffron Hall’s first ever Artist in Residence with three major concerts: she joins Marin Alsop and Saffron Hall’s Featured Ensemble, Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, in Beethoven’s Violin Concerto (7.30pm, Friday 9 February); Academy of Ancient Music in its Saffron Hall debut in rarities by Vivaldi and Telemann (7.30pm, Monday 28 May); and gives her first unaccompanied recital of fiendishly difficult masterpieces by Bach, Ysaÿe and Wynton Marsalis (7.30pm, Saturday 3 March)
• Paul Lewis, always a popular visitor at Saffron Hall, returns for two concerts in 2018, playing the excellent SH Steinway piano that he selected for the hall. These are the first in a series of four concerts over two years which bring together the music of Haydn, Beethoven and Brahms, tracing the musical threads that link them all (3pm, Sunday 7 January & 3pm, Sunday 18 March)
• The Sixteen and Harry Christophers make a welcome return with one of Vivaldi’s best-loved sacred masterpieces, Gloria, alongside other sacred choral music by Bach and Handel (7.30pm, Sunday 18 February)
• Castalian String Quartet, the award winning quartet (1st prize at the Lyon International competition and 3rdprize at Banff string quartet competition) who are fresh from performing at Saffron Hall’s Young Artists Day in December, returns with its lively and perceptive brand of music-making for two concerts in March. The first includes Mozart’s masterly E flat Quartet and Schumann’s First, alongside Dutilleux’s Ainsi la nuit (7.30pm, Thursday 1 March). The second features Haydn’s powerful late Fifths Quartet and Schubert’s bittersweet Rosamunde, No. 13 in A minor, alongside Britten’s Quartet No. 2 in C from 1945 (7.30pm, Friday 9 March). The quartet will also be working with the Hall’s Together in Sound programme for people living with dementia and their carers, a collaboration with Anglia Ruskin University.
• Colin Currie returns with the crack team of percussionists of the Colin Currie Group and Synergy Vocals, bringing three ground-breaking, life-affirming modern classics by Steve Reich, Clapping Music, Mallet Quartet and Drumming, to Saffron Hall for the first time (7.30pm, Saturday 10 March)
• In the second BBC Radio 3 Big Chamber Day at Saffron Hall, BBC Radio 3 and pianist Anna Tilbrook curate four one-hour concerts introduced by Radio 3 ‘Sunday Morning’ presenter Sarah Walker and recorded for broadcast. Among the exciting young singers joining Tilbrook are soprano Anush Hovhannisyan, Mezzo-soprano Anna Stéphany, tenor Alessandro Fisher, and bass-baritone Ashley Riches. The programme, which is centred around songs by Tchaikovsky also features music by composers Tchaikovsky loved and was inspired by – Mozart, Beethoven, Britten, Schumann, Bizet, Rimsky-Korsakov and Rachmaninov (3pm-8.30pm, Saturday 21 April)
• Alexander Whitley Dance Company brings an extraordinary multi-media dance, film and music event inspired by solar science research and its stunning imagery. 8 Minutes, with an installation of high-definition visuals from artist Tal Rosner and a special score by the electroacoustic music innovator Daniel Wohl, is a major show by choreographer Alexander Whitley (7.30pm, Saturday 28 April)
• Celebrating the centenary of Leonard Bernstein, the BBC Symphony Orchestra is conducted by Joana Carneiro in Bernstein’s Overture to Candide and Symphony No. 1, alongside music he loved including Stravinsky’s Firebird Suite, Copland’s Appalachian Spring Suite and Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue, with soloist Steven Osborne (7.30pm, Saturday 5 May)
• Pianist Benjamin Grosvenor, who hails from Westcliff-on-Sea in Essex, and now acclaimed all over the world, returns to his home county for a programme of Bach, Brahms, Berg and Ravel (3pm, 13 May)
• Countertenor Andreas Scholl joins Saffron Hall favourites The English Concert, bringing his matchless vocal warmth and beauty to a concert with an English twist featuring music by Purcell, Avison and Handel (7.30pm, Saturday 26 May)
• Maxim Vengerov returns with Soloists of the Oxford Philharmonic Orchestra and pianist Marios Papdopoulos for a concert featuring Mendelssohn’s exuberant String Octet and sonatas by Brahms (7.30, Wednesday 4 July)
• This spring features several jazz & swing highlights at Saffron Hall including:
– Ella 100 celebrates the music of Ella Fitzgerald with multi award-winning vocalist Claire Martin and the BBC Big Band under Barry Forgie. ‘The First Lady of Song’ is remembered through performances of her most famous songs, including That Old Black Magic, Too Darn Hot and Fascinating Rhythm (7.30pm, Saturday 17 February)
– Swinging at the Cotton Club with The Harry Strutters Hot Rhythm Orchestra, The Lindy Hop Dance Company and vocalists Marlene Hill and Megs Etherington bring the exhilarating dance and music of 1920s and ‘30s New York and Harlem’s hottest nightclub is recreated at Saffron Hall with music by Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, Cab Calloway, Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzergald and Fats Waller (3pm, Sunday 25 March)
– Courtney Pine, reigning king of British jazz saxophone, makes a welcome return with music from his new album, Black Notes from The Deep, for which he is joined by his Freestyle Records label mate, Omar Lyfook (7.30pm, Thursday 12 April)
– Jazz at the Movies, fronted by acclaimed local singer Joanna Eden with the Chris Ingham Quartet, put a jazzy spin on the evocative songs and soundtrack themes from classic films including The Aristocats, From Russia With Love, The Pink Panther and many more (7.30pm, Friday 4 May)
– Pasadena Roof Orchestra brings its lively re-creations of the glories of popular music from the 1920s and 1930s in a one-off concert (7.30pm, Saturday 2 June)
• Young Artist Coffee Concerts continue on Sundays: viola player Timothy Ridout pushes the boundaries of his instrument’s repertoire with a striking new version of Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet alongside music by Brahms and Tetris, with pianist Frank Dupree (2pm, 14 January); violinist Tamsin Waley-Cohen and pianist Huw Watkins with Mozart’s darkest violin sonata (in E minor) as a prelude to sonatas by Dvořák and Beethoven (11am, Sunday 11 March) and young Hungarian pianist Daniel Lebhardt with music by Liszt and Beethoven (11am, Sunday 15 April)
• BBC Symphony Orchestra will spearhead Saffron Hall’s Bernstein’s’ centenary year celebrations (7.30pm, Saturday 5 May 2017) in a season which also features Britten Sinfonia performing the composer’s Chichester Psalms with King’s College Choir (7.30pm, Friday 16 February), and Saffron Walden Symphony Orchestra and Saffron Walden Choral Society, who will perform his Symphonic Dances. (3pm, Sunday 17 June).
• Upcoming local presentations include Saffron Walden Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Richard Hull with a film music extravaganza (3pm, Sunday 11 February), a programme of Russian masterpieces by Rimsky-Korsakov, Tchaikovsky and Prokofiev (7.30, Saturday 14 April) Saffron Walden Choral Society joins that Bernstein at 100 celebration, and also gives a concert with the Chameleon Arts Orchestra under the baton of Janet Wheeler in Mozart’s ‘Great’ Mass in C minor (7.30pm, Saturday 24 March); Granta Chorale joins SWCS Youth Choir under Janet Wheeler with an evening of music and words celebrating Samuel Pepys (7.30pm, Sunday 12 May)
Other highlights, previously announced, include:
• Britten Sinfonia continues as Resident Orchestra with three further concerts: in the first it is joined by King’s College Choir for Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms (7.30pm, Friday 16 February); Thomas Adès returns for two special concerts pairing symphonies by Beethoven with newer works by Gerald Barry, including his Piano Concerto (with soloist Nicolas Hodges) and The Conquest of Ireland (with bass Joshua Bloom) (7.30pm, Saturday 19 May and 3pm, Sunday 20 May)
• Emerson String Quartet makes its eagerly-anticipated Saffron Hall debut in music by Haydn, Ives and Schumann (7.30pm, Friday 19 January)
• Family Jam – Percussion! A participatory day of rhythm and drumming for all ages led by world-renowned artist Colin Currie (11am and 2pm, Sunday 21 January).