Wednesday, 3 June 2015

Building on success - Saffron Hall 2015/16 season announcement

Saffron Hall and Saffron County High School
Saffron Hall and Saffron County High School
Saffron Hall, in Saffron Walden, opened for its first full season last year (2014/15). And at the launch for the 2015/16 season, the hall's director Angela Dixon was able to announce that during that season the majority of concerts sold out. The hall is a rather unique public/private partnership in that it is at Saffron County High School and use of the hall is shared between the school and the public concerts (with the latter mainly at the weekend). Angela Dixon was also able to list an impressive group of artists who performed in 2014/15 are returning for 2015/16 along with a whole range of new ones.

Big names include the London Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Vladimir Jurowski with violinist Leonidas Kavakos, in Sibelius, Tchaikovsky and Oliver Knussen, the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Lahav Shani with violinist Nicola Benedetti in Haydn, Szymanowski and Dvorak, the Academy of St Martin in the Fields with Joshua Bell and Steven Isserlis in Dvorak, Beethoven, Schumann arr. Britten and Brahms.

Saffron Hall
Saffron Hall
The Britten Sinfonia make three visits, with Bernard Herrmann's music for Psycho accompanying the film, music by jazz based composers with jazz bassist Eddie Gomez and pianist Stephen Osborne, and mezzo-soprano Alice Coote singing Britten's Phaedra, plus music by Britten, Tippett, Purcell and Bach with harpsichordist Mahan Esfahani.

Other visitors include the Oslo Philharmonic, conductor Vasily Petrenko with pianist Simon Trpceski, trumpeter Alison Balsom, pianist Andras Schiff, the Benedetti Elschenbroich Grynuk Trio, the BBC Singers, the Sixteen, the English Concert and Masaaki Suzuki and the Bach Collegium Japan.

It is a strong line-up, indicating the enthusiasm that performers feel for the hall. And this enthusiasm is reflected in the audience, many of whom travel some way to come to concerts, showing how badly needed some concert hall provision was in this part of East Anglia. But there is a strong local audience, and local groups perform there too. The Saffron Walden Symphony Orchestra gives regular concerts, and the enterprising Saffron Opera Group is performing Stravinsky's The Rakes Progress and Wagner's Das Rheingold, which is part of a planned Ring Cycle.

The hall has a strong learning and participation programme, and there will be masterclasses for pupils of Saffron County High School as well as work in local Primary Schools. The Brodsky Quartet will be resident at the school for an immersive cross-arts weekend and Nicola Benedetti will be giving masterclasses to young musicians. The Hall has commissioned a new opera for young people from Philip Sunderland, called The Glass Knight it features a local legend.

Further information on all this is available from the Saffron Hall website. The Hall is two miles from Audley End Station and the hall runs a free mini-bus service to and from the station before and after concerts.

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