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Philip Sawyers: Birth of a Symphony, with the English Symphony Orchestra

Tuesday February 28, 2017 at 19:30
St John's Smith Square, London
£25, £20, £15, £10
Phone for tickets: 020 7222 1061
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Tickets "at the door" - until sold out
  1. Fanfare (world premiere) - Philip Sawyers
  2. Songs of Loss and Regret (London premiere) - Philip Sawyers
  3. Concerto for Piano and Orchestra No 20 in D minor K 466 - Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
  4. Symphony No 3 (world premiere) - Philip Sawyers

The English Symphony Orchestra embark on a multi-year celebration of the enduring place of the symphony in today’s musical life with the world premiere of Philip Sawyers’ Symphony No 3. Previous symphonies by Sawyers, who holds the English Symphony Orchestra's 'John McCabe Composer in Association' chair, have been greeted with universal acclaim.

Kenneth Woods, Artistic Director of the English Symphony Orchestra (ESO), has made an indelible mark with his bold and boundless innovations. His latest conception is the 21st Century Symphony Project which will commission nine composers to write nine symphonies to be premiered by the ESO.

Ken's concept took root when he was appointed Principal Conductor of the ESO in 2013-14. "This big moment for both me and the orchestra begged for a bold statement," he explains, "and I decided to commission a symphony from my friend and colleague Philip Sawyers to celebrate this new partnership."

The ESO has consistently supported the creation and dissemination of new and unknown British music. Commissioning, performing and recording new orchestral works remains a key aspect of the orchestra's mission. The ESO aspires to present symphonic music - from Haydn to Tippett and beyond - that engages, challenges and rewards audiences. The ESO further aims to introduce audiences to new works that are by turns substantial, original, challenging and beautiful, works which will open up new ways of hearing music over time.

Inaugurating the 21st Century Symphony Project is Philip Sawyers' Symphony No 3. Soon after Ken met Philip, when both were mentors to the Kent County Youth Orchestra, a plan swiftly developed to record the composer's Concertante for Violin, Piano and Strings, Cello Concerto and Second Symphony for the Nimbus label. The 2014 release was described by Gramophone as "three recent works of strong personality, genuine substance and warm-hearted integrity ... performed here with thrilling conviction and formidable assurance by the Orchestra of the Swan under its [then] excellent Principal Guest Conductor Kenneth Woods." Ken's and the ESO's commission for Philip's Third Symphony soon followed.

The 21st Century Symphony Project will continue in 2018 with the world-premiere of David Matthews's Symphony No 9. "Kenneth Woods is a visionary conductor and a champion of new music," said Matthews of his choice to write his Ninth for Ken and the ESO. Matthews looks forward to the premiere of Sawyers's Third, saying "Sawyers is a natural symphonist. His first two symphonies show those qualities of dynamism, drama, contrast, lyricism; they are works that renew the tradition in a vital way."

Emerging piano superstar Clare Hammond performs Mozart’s fiery Piano Concerto No 20 in D minor, and soprano April Fredrick, fresh from her glowing success in Joubert's 'Jane Eyre' with the English Symphony Orchestra gives the London premiere of Songs of Loss and Regret.

There will be a pre-concert talk at 6.30pm

St John's Smith Square
Smith Square

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