Saffron Hall announces 2018 autumn season including new partnerships, world-class music across a broad range of genres, new spoken word events and a deepening commitment to sharing the power of music and the arts with the people of the region
13 September 2018 – 26 January 2019
Saffron Hall has today [21 May 2018] announced details of its autumn 2018 season, revealing a rich mix of international soloists, ensembles and events, across classical, jazz, folk, theatre, dance and spoken word, with visiting artists engaging in projects with the local communities.
Celebrating its fifth birthday in 2018, award-winning Saffron Hall has transformed the cultural life of its region and triggered debate about the relationship venues have with their local communities.
Saffron Hall has established itself as a centre for world-class international music-making with regional education and community work firmly at its core. It has sold over 120,000 tickets to more than 300 events, hosted over 100 school and community events, worked with over 23,000 young people and has had considerable regional impact with its innovative Together in Sound programme, free courses for people living with dementia and their carers, in partnership with Anglia Ruskin University.
Saffron Hall autumn highlights at a glance:
- The Hallé becomes Associate Ensemble for the 2018/19 season, giving two debut concerts this autumn as well as working side-by-side with over 200 local school children both on and off the stage
- Countertenor Iestyn Davies becomes Artist in Residence for four concerts, starting with a joint song recital with Carolyn Sampson and pianist Joseph Middleton
- Resident orchestra Britten Sinfonia brings a world-class line-up of musicians, conductors and composers with three extraordinary events in autumn, and continues to fully immerse itself in the life of the Hall and its community in the third year of its residency
- English Touring Opera returns for three dates, including a rare triple-bill of 17th-century works by Purcell, Carissimi and Gesualdo; Handel’s Radamisto and Bach’s St Matthew Passion, involving three local school and community choirs
- Major international visitors include Czech National Symphony Orchestra with Jennifer Pike and Sō Percussion from USA
- Welcome returns for pianist Paul Lewis; conductors Sir Mark Elder and Edward Gardner; singers Sophie Bevan, Roderick Williams and Allan Clayton; BBC Concert Orchestra and The English Concert with Harry Bicket
- New ‘Thoughts & Talks’ series features spoken word events with Val McDermid, Professor Robert Winston and Dr David Starkey
- Huge range of Family events including major participatory dance day, theatrical and operatic events, and a range of concerts from The Hallé to Saffron Walden Symphony Orchestra
- Saffron Opera Group stages Wagner’s Parsifal, while New Sussex Opera mount a rare production of Stanford’s The Travelling Companion
- Rich offering of first-class events for Christmas ranging from Handel’s Messiah and carols with Bob Chilcott and John Rutter to large-scale jazz and gospel choir events
- Expanded range of laid-back evening Foyer Club concerts including first-rate jazz, folk and Latin ensembles
- Young Artist Coffee concerts bring leading British talent including saxophonist Jess Gillam and the Heath Quartet
Angela Dixon, Saffron Hall Chief Executive, comments:
“This hall, with its incredible acoustic and transformative approach to learning and outreach work within the school and the region, continues to offer a strong combination of world-class artists in an ever broadening range of genres, amateur music making and youth music. I am proud to present the first part of our fifth full season, which continues to create a potent mix of outstanding music and performance provision for the region. I am delighted to welcome The Hallé as Associate Ensemble, Iestyn Davies as Artist in Residence and to continue our rich partnership with Britten Sinfonia.”
Artistic partnerships and first-rate classical music
Countertenor Iestyn Davies becomes the 2018/19 Artist in Residence with four concerts. He is joined in the first by soprano Carolyn Sampson and pianist Joseph Middleton for a joint song recital including Purcell, Quilter and Schumann (21 Nov) and returns with Britten Sinfonia for a star-studded Handel Messiah alongside Sophie Bevan, Allan Clayton and Roderick Williams (22 Dec). The residency continues into the spring season with masterclasses and concerts with Fretwork and lutenist Thomas Dunford, details of which will be announced this autumn.
The Hallé is Associate Ensemble for the 2018/19 season. They make their Saffron Hall debut with Edward Gardner conducting R. Strauss’s Also Sprach Zarathustra and Sibelius Symphony No. 2 (13 Oct), before a richly-programmed Family Concert themed around dance music such as excerpts from Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker, Copland’s Rodeo and Dvořák’s Slavonic Dances (14 Oct, 11am). In addition to its concerts, the Hallé will work with over 200 local school children – opening the doors to its rehearsals and mentoring young local musicians playing side-by-side with members of the orchestra. Details of the Hallé’s spring concert with Sir Mark Elder will be announced later.
Britten Sinfonia’s vibrant residency continues into its third year with a compelling and dramatic evening of music and words to commemorate the end of the Great War under violinist/director Thomas Gould. The evening, devised by Dr Kate Kennedy and featuring baritone Jonathan McGovern, includes poetry and letters by Mary Borden, Vera Brittain, Ivor Gurney and Wilfred Owen, alongside music by Gurney, Kelly, Ravel, Barber and a new arrangement of Nico Muhly’s poignant The Last Letter (10 November).
Britten Sinfonia returns with a scintillating line-up of some of the UK’s finest singers for a festive performance of Handel’s Messiah with Britten Sinfonia Voices under Jacqueline Shave (22 Dec), while Sir Mark Elder joins the orchestra for the second instalment of their four-year Brahms Symphony Cycle, paired with Mahler songs and Britten’s last orchestral work, Suite on English Folk Tunes (18 Jan). Further concerts in 2019 will include the culmination of Britten Sinfonia’s acclaimed Beethoven Symphony Cycle, under the baton of Thomas Adès, in the spring.
In addition to an outstanding programme of concerts, Britten Sinfonia immerses itself in the life and work of Saffron Hall (and further afield) beyond presenting concerts with a host of other activities such as talks, open rehearsals, side-by-side projects with Saffron Centre for Young Musicians, family concerts and projects with locals schools in partnership with Essex Music Hub.
English Touring Opera has brought a wonderful range of full-scale, professional opera productions to Saffron Hall for the past two seasons and makes a welcome return with a triple bill of 17th century music and opera, including Purcell’s much-loved Dido & Aeneas. The evening also includes a dramatic realization of Carissimi’s Jonas by Dancer/director Bernadette Iglich and madrigals by Gesualdo in an extraordinary landscape of shadows and candle-light (26 Oct). ETO returns the following evening with Handel’s Radamisto, under the baton of Peter Whelan in a fully-staged production directed by James Conway (27 Oct).
ETO also gives a dramatic presentation of Bach’s St Matthew Passion in a performance co-presented by Saffron Hall in which the professional performers are joined by local choirs Granta Chorale, SCYM Junior choir and SWCHS Voices (4 Nov).
Sō Percussion, the innovative American ensemble, not only have a debut concert bringing its electrifying mix of minimalism, jazz and world music, but they also embed themselves at Saffron Hall for a four-day residency in which it will work with Year 9 pupils at Saffron Walden County High School, home to this pioneering venue, to create a new work for their concert (23 Nov).
Among the other eagerly-anticipated classical highlights of the autumn is the latest instalment Paul Lewis’ recital series exploring the connections between Haydn, Beethoven and Brahms (21 Oct, 3pm); a rare UK visit from the Czech National Symphony Orchestra with conductor Heiko Mathias Förster in a programme which includes music by Smetana, Piazzolla and Dvořák and Bruch’s Violin Concerto with soloist Jennifer Pike (25 Nov, 3pm); a visit from BBC Concert Orchestra and BBC Singers with two legends of Christmas music, John Rutter and Bob Chilchott (16 Dec, 3pm); and a glittering concert of 18th-century Baroque music by Vivaldi, Purcell and JS Bach from Harry Bicket and The English Concert (26 Jan).
New series of ‘Thoughts & Talks’:
Spoken word returns to Saffron Hall in style this autumn with three high-profile events to launch ‘Thoughts & Talks’. Val McDermid, one of the biggest names in crime writing, talks about her journey from Kirkcaldy to international bestsellerdom (13 Sep); the legendary scientist, politician and writer Professor Robert Winston explores the opportunities and ethics around genetics and genetic engineering (17 Oct); and historian Dr David Starkey draws on his knowledge of Henry VIII and the Tudors and modern politics to illuminate connections between now and then (16 Jan).
Jazz and Folk:
Already celebrated for its rich offering of contemporary music, jazz, folk and events which defy categorisation, Saffron Hall’s autumn season is no exception. Jazz highlights include a concert inspired by Billie Holiday’s legendary 1956 concert at Carnegie Hall from renowned singer David McAlmont (29 Sep) and internationally-acclaimed vocalist Stacey Kent in music from her latest album including American standards, Bossa Nova classics and chansons (3 Nov). An extraordinary evening celebrating Van Morrison’s masterpiece Astral Weeks, released 50 years ago, is presented by vibes/marimba player Orphy Robinson and brings together some of the UK’s top jazz players and vocalist Sarah Jane Morris to reinterpret the magical combination of jazz, folk and soul influences of the ground-breaking album (16 Nov). Kansas Smitty’s House Band, who have been packing their own Hoxton Basement and Ronnie Scott’s with an incendiary combination of swing, blues, R&B, New Orleans marching band music and the wild end of gospel, create a special festive show for Saffron Hall (8 Dec).
Winners of ‘Best Group’ four times at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards, Scottish folk pioneers Lau return with their first new music since their acclaimed 2015 album The Bell That Never Rang (30 Nov).
Saffron Hall’s much-loved Foyer Clubs have been attracting great young jazz acts from the region and beyond in recent seasons, and have expanded to include folk and Latin music too. Audiences can enjoy laid-back evenings with a well-stocked bar, locally-sourced food and lively performances this season from Gabriel Latchin Trio (14 Sep), The Hut People (28 Sep); Paul Higgs Quintet (12 Oct); Hannah Sanders & Ben Savage (2 Nov); Joanna Strand (15 Nov); Julian Siegel Quartet (11 Jan) and Classico Latino (25 Jan). All Foyer Club events start at 8pm.
A festive Christmas season, with something for everyone:
The broad offer at Saffron Hall is exemplified by extraordinary festive events during the Christmas period. As well as Britten Sinfonia’s starry Messiah (22 Dec), Bach’s Christmas Oratorio from Cambridge University Symphony Chorus (24 Nov) and an evening of carols with John Rutter and Bob Chilcott, so strongly associated with so much of our Christmas music, taking turns to conduct their own festive music with much-loved carols with BBC Singers and BBC Concert Orchestra (16 Dec, 3pm). Kansas Smitty’s House Band, whose first album was chosen as one of the jazz albums of the year by Daily Telegraph, create a seasonal show (8 Dec) and London Community Gospel Choir promise life-affirming tidings of deep comfort and roof-raising joy (9 Dec). A Victorian Christmas with actors Robert Powell and Liza Goddard celebrates the delights of Christmas past, in the company of Queen Victoria, Lewis Carroll, Edward Lear, Alfred Lord Tennyson, and Gilbert Sullivan with Clive Conway (flute) and Christine Croshaw (piano) (23 Dec, 3pm).
A home for the community:
Local musicians continue to play a prominent role in the life of Saffron Hall. Saffron Opera Group, whose Ring cycle over the previous four years was hailed as one of the UK’s most ambitious and successful Wagnerian events in recent times (‘transcendent…. spellbinding’ The Guardian), moves on to an ambitious staging of Wagner’s final masterpiece, Parsifal (16 Sep).
A rare chance to hear the last of Charles Villiers Stanford’s nine operas, The Travelling Company, in an innovative staging by New Sussex Opera and director Paul Higgins, with a cast that includes some rising stars of the operatic world such as Julien Van Mellaerts and Kate Valentine. Toby Purser conducts this family friendly production based on a story by Hans Christian Andersen (2 Dec, 3pm).
Saffron Walden Symphony Orchestra and Saffron Walden Choral Society each stage major concerts to mark the centenary of the end of World War One (11 Nov, 3pm, & 17 Nov) whilst there are numerous concerts, festivals and events in music, dance and theatre presented by Saffron Walden County High School, one of the top performing non-selective state schools in England.
Learning, participation and events for families:
With a mission to share the power of music and the arts, Saffron Hall is situated in the state school of Saffron Walden County High School. Learning, education and participation is at the heart of much of its work and underpins its role as a cultural beacon for the region with many learning events planned for adults and children.
A diverse year-round schools programme enables young people to get up-close to some of the world’s top artists and this season sees hundreds of children working with hip hop dance company Boy Blue, the Hallé, Britten Sinfonia and music innovators Sō Percussion.
Saffron Hall is a place for everyone, and large-scale concerts and events for families include a Family Jam: Dance! day with hip-hop dance company Boy Blue (23 Sep, 11am & 2pm); an enchanting first theatrical experience for 2-5 year olds and their families about friendship, the moon and being brave in the dark with Theatre Hullabaloo (14 Nov, 1.30pm & 15 Nov, 10.30am) as well as Family concerts from Saffron Walden Symphony Orchestra (30 Sep, 3pm) and The Hallé (14 Oct, 11am) which includes great orchestral music, alongside engaging narration.
Together in Sound, free community-based sessions for people living with dementia and their carers with music therapists from Anglia Ruskin University, continues to build on the extraordinary work Saffron Hall undertakes to use the power of music to help enrich the lives of people affected by this condition.
All concerts begin at 7.30pm, unless otherwise stated.
The 2018 spring season will be announced in the autumn.