Friday, 26 July 2019

James MacMillan, Nicholas Maw and Anna Clyne in the Kensington Symphony Orchestra's 2019/20 season

KSO rehearsing at Henry Wood Hall Photo © 2008 Sim Canetty-Clarke
KSO rehearsing at Henry Wood Hall Photo © 2008 Sim Canetty-Clarke
One of London's leading non-professional orchestras, the Kensington Symphony Orchestra, has announced an ambitious 2019/2020 season. Alongside more established works the orchestra, music director Russell Keable, will be performing music by James MacMillan, Nicholas Maw and Anna Clyne.

The season open's with Anna Clyne's Masquerade alongside Berg's Lulu Suite and music by Prokofiev. Clyne's work was written for the Last Night of the Proms in 2013 and was premiere by the BBC Symphony Orchestra, conductor Marin Alsop. The piece is inspired by 18th-century promenade concerts held in London's pleasure gardens, and Clyne said of the work:
'these concerts were a place where people from all walks of life mingled to enjoy a wide array of music. Other forms of entertainment ranged from the sedate to the salacious with acrobatics, exotic street entertainers, dancers, fireworks and masquerades. I am fascinated by the historic and sociological courtship between music and dance. Combined with costumes, masked guises and elaborate settings, masquerades created an exciting, yet controlled, sense of occasion and celebration. It is this that I wish to evoke in Masquerade.'

Further ahead, in January 2020 the orchestra performs James MacMillan's Symphony No. 4 alongside music by Brahms. MacMillan's symphony was premiered by the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, conductor Donald Runnicles, at the BBC Proms in 2015, and is described by the composer as 'essentially abstract. I’m interested here in the interplay of different types of material, following upon a fascination with music as ritual that has stretched from Monteverdi in the early 17th century through to Boulez and Birtwistle in the present day.'

In June 2020 the orchestra features Nicholas Maw's Dance Scenes (written in 1995 for the Philharmonia Orchestra's 50th anniversary) in the final concert of the season. 'It is written to please and does not put a foot wrong, as it dances energetically along to some singable themes, with invigorating rhythms, cast in a clear structure, and above all flourishing a masterly grasp of orchestration. The brassy extravagance of the first dance sounds like Walton and the tangy woodwind writing later like Britten, so Maw's debts to his English forebears are clearly signposted.' - Richard Fairman writing of Maw's Dance Scenes in the Financial Times, 27 September 1995.

The forthcoming season will be the orchestra's 64th, and music director Russell Keable has been in post for more than 30 of these. The new season is a busy one, with six concerts at venues include St John's Smith Square, the Queen Elizabeth Hall and the newly restored Fairfield Halls, Croydon.

Other highlights of the season include Korngold's Violin Concerto (with Stephen Bryant) and Shostakovich's Symphony No. 11, and Mahler's Symphony No. 3.

Full details from the Kensington Symphony Orchestra's website.

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