World premiere of Sally Beamish’s The Judas Passion, with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, among rich and varied highlights of the season

Saffron Hall, approaching its fourth season under the inspirational artistic leadership of Chief Executive Angela Dixon, once more reveals a richly varied season which underlines its reputation for building strong partnerships and bringing world-class artists to an award-winning concert hall in Essex that is transforming the cultural life of the region. Since the hall’s opening in 2013, Saffron Hall has sold over 90,000 tickets to more than 250 events, and reached 19,000 young people and established itself as a centre for world-class international music-making with education and regional development firmly at its core.

Saffron Hall Autumn highlights at a glance:

  • Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment (OAE) is Saffron Hall’s first Featured Ensemble, with world premiere of Sally Beamish’s ‘The Judas Passion’ and JS Bach’s Christmas Oratorio
  • A season of debuts at Saffron Hall including Mirga Grazinytė-Tyla with the City of Birmingham Symphony, London Symphony Orchestra, OAE, Il Pomo d’Oro with Alina Ibragimova, Emerson Quartet, Mitsuko Uchida among many others
  • Britten Sinfonia gives four outstanding concerts in its continuing residency across the season
  • English Touring Opera returns with operas by Handel & Rameau, plus JS Bach’s B minor Mass
  • A focus on the piano headlined by Mitsuko Uchida and the welcome return for Paul Lewis
  • First Young Artists Sessions in association with YCAT (Young Classical Artists Trust)
  • Conclusion of Saffron Opera Group’s acclaimed Wagner ‘Ring’ cycle
  • New series of courses and events in partnership with Anglia Ruskin University for people living with dementia, Together in Sound, builds on Saffron Hall’s pioneering work in the field

World-class artists and ensembles:
Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment becomes Saffron Hall’s first ‘Featured Ensemble’ making its debut with the world première performance of The Judas Passion, a large-scale choral work by Sally Beamish commissioned by OAE with a libretto by poet David Harsent. For this first performance, it is joined by Choir of the Age of Enlightenment and soloists including Julia Doyle as Mary, Brenden Gunnell as Judas and James Newby as Christ and conducted by Nicholas McGegan (24 September). The Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment returns with Trinity College Choir for JS Bach’s Christmas Oratorio (21 December) with further performances to be announced for the Spring later this year.
Mirga Grazinytė-Tyla makes her debut at Saffron Hall with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra conducting Sibelius’s The Swan of Tuonela, Mahler’s Fourth Symphony and Mozart’s Flute and Harp Concerto with soloists Xavier De Maistre and Marie-Christine Zupancic (30 September). Nikolaj Znaider and the London Symphony Orchestra also come to Saffron Hall for the first time in a programme of Mozart violin concertos, with Znaider himself as soloist, and Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 6 (6 December).
Mitsuko Uchida makes her eagerly-anticipated debut in two recitals of Schubert sonatas (29 October & 2 November), showcasing Saffron Hall’s magnificent piano – the finest in the region and chosen by pianist Paul Lewis, who makes a welcome return with piano works by Haydn, Beethoven and Brahms (7 January 2018).
Other highlights from world-renowned artists and ensembles include: Il Pomo d’Oro with violinist Alina Ibragimova in music by JA Hasse, CPE Bach, Michael Haydn and Fanny Mendelssohn (5 November); I Fagiolini and Robert Hollingsworth with Monteverdi’s less-known Vespers (22 November); City of London Sinfonia with cellist Matthew Barley in Tavener’s The Protecting Veil (1 December); and an eagerly-anticipated debut for the Emerson String Quartet in music by Haydn, Ives and Schumann (19 January).

Strong partnerships:
Britten Sinfonia continues its vibrant residency with two Autumn concerts beginning with an intimate performance of Brahms’s First Symphony with Sir Mark Elder alongside moving and eloquent music by Mahler and Finzi (10 November). It is joined by King’s College Choir, soprano Ailish Tynan and baritone Neal Davies for Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms, a new work by Emma-Ruth Richards and Vaughan Williams’ Dona nobis pacem, all conducted byStephen Cleobury (16 February). In addition to an outstanding programme of concerts, Britten Sinfonia is embedding itself in the life of the school and community through open rehearsals, coaching sessions, and other bespoke projects.
After its hugely successful debut at Saffron Hall last season, which saw capacity houses enjoying fully-staged productions for the first time, English Touring Opera returns with Handel’s Giulio Cesare (28 October), Rameau’s Dardanus – in the first UK performance of the 1744 version of this ravishing tale of love in war (27 October) – and a performance of Bach’s Mass in B minor involving local schools (8 October).
The first Young Artists Sessions in association with YCAT give the public a chance to enjoy a choice of three, one-hour concerts with nine leading young British artists and ensembles on the brink of international careers. The afternoon will also include on-stage conversations where the artists will share their thoughts and experiences with the audience (3 December).

Jazz, Folk and Rock:
Rock is represented for the first time with the debut of celebrated singer/songwriter Richard Thompson, best known for his work with Fairport Convention (21 October). A day of events with the National Jazz Orchestra including workshops and an evening concert conducted by Mark Armstrongwith Liane Carroll, joined by SWCHS Jazz Band, (13 October) complements the regular hugely-popular Foyer Jazz Club events on Friday evenings featuring rising stars from around the UK and local talent from the region. September will also see Folk on the Foyer launching with a performance by Honey and the Bear.

A home for the community:
Local musicians continue to play a prominent role in the life of Saffron Hall. Saffron Opera Group’s Ring cycle, hailed as one of the UK’s most ambitious and successful Wagnerian events in recent times (‘transcendent…. Spellbinding’ The Guardian) comes to its triumphant conclusion with Göttedämmerung (17 September).
Saffron Walden Choral Society joins forces with Harlow Chorus, the Choristers of Jesus College, Cambridge and the Chameleon Arts Orchestra for an Armistice Day performance of Britten’s War Requiem with a starry line-up of soloists including Erica Eloff, Robin Tritschler and Peter Harvey (11 November), and it presents a singing day celebrating Mozart for participants of every level (20 January). Saffron Walden Symphony Orchestra perform ‘Around the World in 60 Minutes’, a concert for families with narrator and illustrator James Mayhew, conducted by Richard Hull (1 October) and a concert of Nielsen, Sibelius and Rachmaninov (26 November).
Other highlights are the Saffron Song Fest featuring choirs from across Essex and Cambridgeshire (15 October); and Handel’s biblical oratorio Israel in Egypt from the Cambridge University Musical Society (25 November).

Learning and participation:
Situated in the state comprehensive school of Saffron Walden County High School, learning, education and participation is at the heart of much of the work of Saffron Hall. This unique location underpins its role as a cultural beacon for the region with many learning and outreach events planned for adults and children.
A new series of free courses for people living with dementia and their carers, with music therapists from Anglia Ruskin University, builds on the extraordinary work Saffron Hall began last season to use the power of music to help enrich the lives of people affected by the condition.
Among the events open to the public are large-scale ‘Family Jam!’, workshop days in which anyone can participate, this season devoted to dance, with Alexander Whitley Dance Company (12 November) and Percussion, in a day led by world-renowned artist Colin Currie (21 January).

Angela Dixon, Saffron Hall Chief Executive, comments: “As we enter our fourth full season, we are proud of how we have developed a growing appetite for classical music in the region with most of our events attracting capacity audiences. We’re delighted to continue our rich association with our Resident Orchestra Britten Sinfonia and build on our transformative approach to learning and outreach work within the school. I’m also thrilled to include our first Young Artists Sessions in association with YCAT and to welcome so many leading artists to the hall for the first time.”

The 2018 Spring season will be announced in the Autumn.

 

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