Newly announced concerts and events as part of Saffron Hall’s 2018/19 season furthers the venue’s pioneering learning and participation programme while continuing to bring the world’s biggest talents to the region. Classical Music
Some of the biggest names in classical music come to Saffron Hall in its fifth birthday year, including Sir Bryn Terfel, Emanuel Ax and Nicola Benedetti. Terfel, making his Saffron Hall debut, performs a selection of English and Welsh song, Lieder and opera arias by composers including Ireland, Vaughan Williams and Schubert in a first opportunity for Saffron Hall audiences to hear this legendary voice (Wednesday 8 May, 7.30pm).
Pianist Emanuel Ax, celebrating his 70th birthday year, makes his Saffron Hall debut with a musical journey that details the high romance of Chopin to the understated poetry of George Benjamin (Saturday 22 June, 7.30pm).
Nicola Benedetti has been part of Saffron Hall’s story since it opened in 2013, selling out every concert she’s played there and working with over 300 young musicians as part of its Learning & Participation programme. She returns to perform Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto Op.35 and Prokofiev’s Romeo & Juliet with the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain (Friday 26 July, 7.30pm).
Resident Orchestra Britten Sinfonia brings a world-class line-up of musicians, conductors and composers with extraordinary events this Spring. Sir Mark Elder joins the orchestra for the second instalment of their Brahms Symphony Cycle, paired with Mahler songs and Britten’s last orchestral work, Suite on English Folk Tunes (Friday 18 January, 7:30pm); Britten Sinfonia also concludes its series of concerts with Thomas Adès, showcasing Beethoven’s Symphonies No. 7 and 8 alongside the music of Gerald Barry in a jubilant and joyous evening (Saturday 18 May, 7:30pm).
The Hallé, the venue’s Associate Ensemble for the season, returns to Saffron Hall in April with Sir Mark Elder and renowned violinist Viktoria Mullova for Sibelius’s Violin Concerto, placed alongside works by French composers including Berlioz and Debussy (Sunday 7 April, 3pm). Countertenor Iestyn Davies, Saffron Hall’s 2018/19 Artist in Residence, returns for two concerts in the Spring after his concert in the Autumn: he joins viol consort Fretwork in a concert that bridges together the 17th and 21st centuries with works by Purcell and Michael Nyman (Sunday 24 March, 3pm); and interprets the profound beauty of John Dowland’s A Delightful Thing in an evening of music, poetry and drama (Saturday 6 April, 7:30pm).
Other highlights include the return of internationally-renowned pianist Paul Lewis to the Hall, concluding his series of concerts bringing together the music of Haydn, Beethoven and Brahms (Sunday 24 February, 3pm); The Sixteen Choir & Orchestra and conductor Harry Christophers exploring one of the most magnificent pieces in the choral repertoire, Monteverdi’s Vespers of 1610, in the final performance of their UK tour celebrating the piece (Sunday 9 June, 3pm); BBC Young Musician finalist Jess Gillam reprising her Last Night of the Proms piece Scaramouche with the BBC Concert Orchestra in an evening of classical favourites (Saturday 23 February, 7.30pm); and the third BBC Radio 3 Big Chamber Weekend, with another BBC Young Musician and BBC New Generation Artist Mark Simpson curating three concerts introducing his own music (including a brand new work) alongside the music he loves best, from the poetry of Brahms and Schumann to the exuberance of Bernstein and Gershwin (Friday 26 April, 7.30pm; Saturday 27 April, 5pm; Saturday 27 April, 7.30pm).
Jazz, Folk and World Music
In addition to its strong classical programme, Saffron Hall also showcases a wide range of musical styles with leading international talent.
Composer, virtuoso tabla player and Mercury Prize-winning artist Talvin Singh brings his distinctive style to the Hall, collaborating with flautist Shriram Sampath and cellist Francesca Ter Berg for an evening of music that knows no boundaries (Friday 15 February, 7.30pm). Following the release of her highly-praised album Syrian Dreams, Maya Youssef presents an evening of music for the qunan (the traditional Syrian 78 stringed plucked zither), of which she is an acclaimed performer (Saturday 9 March, 7.30pm).
In its 60th birthday year, one of the world’s most iconic music venues, the Ronnie Scott’s All Stars takes to the road to celebrate the Ronnie Scott’s story. It comes to Saffron Hall for celebratory evening of world-class live jazz, alongside rare archive photographs and video footage of the world-famous jazz club (Saturday 20 July, 7.30pm). The BBC Big Band celebrate Nat King Cole’s centenary with a selection of the legendary singer’s greatest works, including Mona Lisa, Nature Boy and Let There Be Love, joined by established jazz vocalist Atila (Sunday 14 April, 3pm).
Kathryn Tickell, former Musician of the Year at the Radio 2 Folk Awards, recipient of the Queen’s Medal for Music and the foremost exponent of the Northumbrian pipes, brings her innate understanding and passion for folk music and tradition to the Hall (Friday 5 April, 7.30pm), whilst jazz pianist Bill Laurance continues his musical explorations of groove and funk to create a truly unique sonic landscape (Saturday 30 March, 7.30pm).
There will be more dance than ever before at Saffron Hall. Barbican Associate and hip-hop prodigies Boy Blue explore social tensions and cultural identity in 21st-century Britain in Project R.E.B.E.L, an energy-fuelled show, featuring a special performance from Saffron Walden County High School students (Friday 8 March, 7:30pm).
National Youth Dance Company present its new work in an evening fusing contemporary dance, physical theatre and hip-hop, created by acclaimed Guest Artistic Director, Botis Seva (Saturday 13 July, 7:30pm).
Scottish Dance Theatre promise an exhilarating, cutting-edge dance show with a double bill, RITUALIA by Colette Sadler, and a new commission by world-renowned Emanuel Gat. A visual feast, RITUALIA re-imagines Igor Stravinsky’s Les Noces, while Sadler’s playful interpretation of gender creates a bewitching choreography (Saturday 1 June, 7:30pm).
Community, Learning and Participation
Saffron Hall continues its commitment to bringing the very best of the performing arts to local schools and the community. Its schools engagement programme enables thousands of young people of all ages to get up-close to some of the world’s top artists, and this spring primary school children can experience Britten Sinfonia’s interactive musical retelling of Lewis Carroll’s Alice Through the Looking Glass. Music teachers from across the region will also be able to build their skills with expert training from the London Philharmonic Orchestra.
Saffron Hall launches a major new project to help combat loneliness and isolation this spring. Come Together brings together 50 local people to forge intergenerational connections through dance & theatre. Working in association with Britten Sinfonia, Fairycroft House, Mind in West Essex, Orchestras Live, Saffron Walden Museum and SWCHS, Come Together aims to unite people of all ages through the arts.
Together in Sound, Saffron Hall’s music therapy and dementia work continues to explore the powerful social and emotional benefits of participating in the arts. In April, local school children will make and share music as part of the project, which is delivered in partnership with the Cambridge Institute for Music Therapy Research (CIMTR) at Anglia Ruskin University.
The day after their performance of RITUALIA, Scottish Dance Theatre offers families the chance to explore William Blake’s imagination in Innocence, a magical theatrical journey led by the company’s dancers and with live music from Paul Bradley (Sunday 2 June, 11am and 2.30pm).
Saffron Hall is proud to provide a platform for musicians in the community and partner local groups. Saffron Walden Symphony Orchestra perform an all-American programme including Gershwin’s ever-popular Rhapsody in Blue and the lesser-heard Symphony No. 2 by Howard Hanson (Sunday 10 February, 3pm), before returning to the Hall in May to present a concert inspired by nature, including Dvořák’s In Nature’s Realm and Mahler’s great celebration of the natural world, his Symphony No. 1 (Saturday 11 May, 7.30pm). Saffron Walden Choral Society join Bishop’s Stortford Sinfonia to celebrate the music of ‘La Serenissima’, including popular works by Monteverdi, Gabrieli, and Schütz before concluding with Vivaldi’s Gloria (Saturday 23 March, 7.30pm).
The Thoughts and Talks programmed, launched earlier this season, continues with an evening with writer, historian and TV presenter Dr David Starkey (Wednesday 16 January, 7.30pm), legendary comic actor Tim Brooke-Taylor of The Goodies fame (Wednesday 20 March, 7.30pm) and Sheila Dillon, Food journalist and host of The Food Programme on BBC Radio 4 (Thursday 9 May, 7.30pm).
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.
Angela Dixon, Chief Executive of Saffron Hall, said: “Our fifth season continues with a dazzling array of inspirational musicians, dancers, speakers, educators and communicators. Every day at Saffron Hall the finest practitioners share their artistry with school children, amateur musicians, new audiences and those living on the fringes of our society, putting our programme truly at the heart of our community. I am proud of what we have achieved together in such a short space of time and look forward to a wonderful Spring of concerts and events at Saffron Hall.”