Past concerts

  • 5 October 2018

    Nielsen Helios Overture, Op. 17
    Grieg Piano Concerto in A minor, Op. 16
    Sibelius Symphony No. 6 in D minor, Op. 104
    Sibelius Symphony No. 7 in C major, Op. 105
    Friday 5 October 2018, 7:30pm
    St James's Church, 197 Piccadilly, London, W1J 9LL

    Michael Seal, conductor
    Chris Hopkins, piano

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    Tickets: £18, £15, £12 (concessions £3 off)


  • 14 June 2018

    Berlioz Le carnaval romain
    Strauss Horn Concerto No. 1 in Eb major, Op. 11
    Mahler Symphony No. 10 (ed. Cooke 1910)
    Thursday 14 June 2018, 7:30pm
    Queen Elizabeth Hall, Southbank Centre

    Michael Seal, conductor
    Martin Owen, horn

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    We open our return to the Queen Elizabeth Hall, with a performance of Berlioz's dashing Roman Carnival Overture, followed by Richard Strauss’s equally exuberant, and one of the most-demanding solo works for the horn, the Horn Concerto No. 1. The centerpiece of the concert is a performance of Mahler’s Symphony No. 10. The symphony was written in the summer of 1910, and was Mahler’s final composition. At the time of his death, the work was substantially complete in the form of a continuous draft, but not fully elaborated or orchestrated. After Mahler's death there was no immediate attempt to complete the work for performance. The various realisations produced by Deryck Cooke have, since the mid-1960s, become the basis for most performances and recordings and it is the Cooke version of the complete Symphony you will hear.

  • 19 May 2018

    Berlioz Béatrice et Bénédict Overture
    Prokofiev Piano Concerto No. 3, Op. 25 in C major
    Brahms Symphony No. 4, Op. 98 in E minor 
    Saturday 19 May 2018, 7:00pm
    St James's Church, 197 Piccadilly, London, W1J 9LL

    Michael Seal, conductor
    Chris Hopkins, piano

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    Tickets: £17, £15, £10 (concessions £3 off)

    Tickets will be available to purchase at the door before the concert starts.

    Berlioz captures the essence of Shakespeare’s comedy, Much Ado About Nothing, in this delightful Overture, much of it in the playful introduction, where the silences are as witty as the dialogue between woodwind and strings.   It is a sparkling introduction to the tale of love gone wrong–and love gone right.

    The exuberant, brash Piano Concerto No. 3 drew thunderous applause from American audiences in 1921 but it received rather tepid reviews. Neither in Chicago nor in subsequent New York performances did the concerto arouse much enthusiasm.  Prokofiev said the American public "did not quite understand the work."  Nevertheless, it went on to become one of the half a dozen or so most popular piano concertos of the entire twentieth century.

    Similarly, the premiere in 1885 of Brahms’s Symphony No. 4 had a cool reception.  Audiences found the symphony’s strangeness difficult to deal with on first acquaintance.  Its strangeness lies in its combination of modern (for 1885) harmonies and suggestions of old music (in particular the passacaglia in the final movement).  Now the symphony is firmly a concert favourite.

  • 16 March 2018

    Mendelssohn Overture A Midsummer Night’s Dream
    Beethoven Symphony No. 1, Op. 21
    Mozart Overture Così fan tutte
    Mendelssohn Violin Concerto in E minor
    Friday 16 March 2018, 7:30pm
    St James's Church, 197 Piccadilly, London, W1J 9LL

    Eamonn Dougan, conductor
    Nicola Benedetti, violin

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    Tickets: £17, £15, £10 (concessions £3 off)

    A limited number of tickets will be available to purchase at the door before the concert starts.

    Beethoven's Symphony No. 1, seen from all points of view, is a classical one, strongly anchored in the Viennese musical life of the time, especially Mozart’s last symphonies.  Knowing their Mozart and Haydn well, his contemporaries referred to this symphony as “masterpiece" repeatedly and praised the work's "originality”.

  • 23 January 2018

    Stravinsky Dances concertantes
    Haydn Cello Concerto No. 1 in C major
    Mozart Symphony No. 40 in G minor, K550
    Tuesday 23 January 2018, 7:30pm
    St Martin-in-the-Fields, Trafalgar Square, London WC2N 4JJ

    Michael Seal, conductor
    Richard Birchall, cello

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    Tickets: £22, £18, £14 (concessions £3 off)

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    Danses Concertantes looks and sounds like a ballet score; officially, however, it is a concert piece. It hails from Stravinsky’s neoclassical period when he worked to establish an artistic link with the formal and contrapuntal structures of eighteenth-century music. Written in Hollywood in the winter of 1941-1942, the work received its premiere in Los Angeles in the February.

    Haydn's Cello Concerto No. 1 in C Major, composed around 1761-1765, was presumed lost for two hundred years until in 1961, a copy of the score was discovered at the Prague National Museum. The Concerto has since become a staple of the cello repertoire.

    We conclude this performance with Mozart’s Symphony No. 40, which needs no introduction. The summer of 1788, when this, along with his other last two symphonies, were composed, was not a good time for Mozart. He was beset with by financial troubles, declining popularity, illness of his wife, and the failure of his opera, Don Giovanni. Notwithstanding this, he completed all three symphonies in lightning speed over a ten-week period. For some time, it was believed that Mozart never heard a performance of No. 40, although today there is some evidence that there was at least one performance during his lifetime conducted by Salieri.

  • 8 December 2017

    Sibelius Karelia Suite
    Rachmaninov Piano Concerto No. 1, Op. 1 in F# minor
    Sibelius Symphony No. 1, Op. 39 in E minor 
    Friday 8 December 2017, 7:30pm
    St James's Church, 197 Piccadilly, London, W1J 9LL

    Adrian Brown, conductor
    Drew Steanson, piano

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    Tickets: £17, £15, £10 (concessions £3 off)

    Finland’s early history is characterised by Russian domination. Sibelius was an ardent nationalist, and his music became a rallying cry for the Finnish people in their fight for linguistic, cultural and political independence. One of his earliest pieces was the incidental music for a patriotic play performed by students in Karelia. In 1896 Sibelius took three of these pieces and mashed them together into the Karelia Orchestral Suite you will hear this evening. A few years later, Sibelius began sketching the First Symphony. Ironically, many have pointed out how Russian this symphony is - borrowing much from Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 5. However, this symphony, like Finlandia composed that same year, is far from Russian - it is fiercely nationalistic and patriotic. Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No. 1 was Nordic inspired. He adapted the entire musical structure of the outer movements of the Grieg Piano Concerto to create it in 1891. This Concerto lived in the shadow of his later concerti, but in recent years, consensus has been building that this neglect is unjust. Although it does not have the great themes and orchestration of the later concerti, the First is a lively, ebullient work that brimming with youthful enthusiasm, and it has gradually taken its place in the concert pianist repertoire.


    At our next concert, we shall we raising money for the Royal Free Hospital Quiet Cancer Therapy Appeal. This is devoted to research into Neuroendocrine cancers.

    Although they are relatively uncommon, these cancers are particularly difficult to treat as in most cases, the sufferer has no symptoms until they have reached an advanced stage so the prognosis is poor. In comparison to many other cancers, little is known about them, and much basic research is still needed into their causes, the identification of those at risk, and the optimum treatment.