Past concerts

  • 18 May 2017

    Shostakovich (arr. Barshai) Chamber Symphony in C minor, Op. 110a 
    Prokofiev Violin Concerto No. 2, Op. 63 in G minor 
    Dvořák Symphony No. 6, Op. 60 in D major 
    Thursday 18 May 2017, 7:30pm
    St James's Church, 197 Piccadilly, London, W1J 9LL

    Michael Seal, conductor
    Zoë Beyers, violin

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

    To reserve tickets
    Phone: 020 7381 0441

    The Allied firebombing of Dresden killed more people than the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. While staying in Dresden in the summer of 1960, Shostakovich composed a quartet, his eighth, inscribed “In memory of victims of fascism and war.”  This evening we will perform Rudolf Barshai’s arrangement of this quartet for string orchestra. 

    Prokofiev composed his Violin Concerto No. 2 in 1935, while living in Paris just before returning to the Soviet Union.  He completed it at the same time as his well-known ballet score Romeo and Juliet, which this concerto mirrors in numerous passages.

    If the Sixth hasn't quite the stature of Dvorák's three final symphonies, it is nonetheless thoroughly characteristic of the composer.   It is the work that marks his full maturity as a symphonist, and it is by any standards one of the most ingratiating symphonies of its time.

  • 18 March 2017

    BeethovenCoriolan Overture, Op. 62
    Mozart Piano Concerto No. 25 in C major, K. 503
    Mendelssohn Symphony No. 3 in A minor, Op. 56 "Scottish"
    Saturday 18 March 2017, 7:00pm
    St James's Church, 197 Piccadilly, London, W1J 9LL

    Eamonn Dougan, conductor
    Yoon-Seok Shin, piano

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

    To reserve tickets
    Phone: 020 7381 0441

    Is this overture about Shakespeare’s Roman statesman, Coriolanus, or is it a Beethoven self-portrait?  We leave it to you to decide. 

    1786 was a really important year for Mozart.  In addition to The Marriage of Figaro and the “Prague” Symphony, Mozart completed Piano Concerti nos. 23, 24 and 25.  Among his piano concertos, No. 25, in our view, ranks high up on the list for its sublime synthesis of symphonic style, solo display and operatic characterisation.  

    Early on, Goethe compared him to Mozart. He spoke with some authority given he watched the young Mozart playing the harpsichord in 1763.  This was not a boyhood composition though.  Mendelssohn composed the Scottish when he was in his early thirties, having visited Scotland a decade earlier.  Some hear Scottish bagpipe tunes; others see Scotland's desolate moors and misty highlands.  We think it’s a fabulous symphony and you will enjoy it, but it is probably as Scottish as Mozart's Prague Symphony is Bohemian.

  • 6 February 2017

    Rachmaninov Isle of the Dead, Op. 29
    Rachmaninov Piano Concerto No. 2, Op. 18
    Prokofiev Symphony No. 5 in Bb major, Op. 100
    Monday 6 February 2017, 7:30pm
    St John's, Smith Square, London SW1P 3HA

    Michael Seal, conductor
    Chris Hopkins, piano


    Tickets: £20, £15, £10

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    Phone: 020 7222 1061

    Following some initial success, Rachmaninov, prone to anxiety and depression, composed nothing for three years. With the Second Piano Concerto, composed between 1900 and 1901, Rachmaninov overcame his writer’s block and discovered his voice - unforgettable tunes, amazing pianistic effects, effortless ideas and style.

    In May 1907, while in Paris to perform this piano concerto, Rachmaninov saw a reproduction of Böcklin’s painting The Isle of the Dead, depicting the arrival of a small boat at a desolate island seen across dark waters. It had a profound effect on the composer and the result, a few years later, was this wonderful symphonic poem.

    World War II was raging while Prokofiev worked on his Fifth Symphony, completing it in a month during the summer of 1944, sheltered in an artists’ retreat outside Moscow. He described it at the time as "a hymn to free and happy Man, to his mighty powers, his pure and noble spirit" and we agree with him when he later declared it to be one of his best compositions.

  • 2 December 2016

    Kodály Dances of Galanta
    Shostakovich Cello Concerto No. 1 in Eb major, Op.107
    Sibelius Symphony No. 2 in D major, Op. 43
    Friday 2 December 2016, 7:30pm
    St James's Church, 197 Piccadilly, London, W1J 9LL

    Holly Mathieson, conductor
    Tim Walden, cello

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

    To reserve tickets
    Phone: 020 7381 0441

    Kodály put Hungarian folk music at the centre of his music. The beguiling Dances of Galánta are essentially skillful arrangements of music of the sort that he may have first encountered as a child in the Hungarian town of Galánta (today in Slovakia), on the railway line – his father was the local station-master – from Budapest to Vienna.

    After Stalin’s death, in 1953, the Soviet government stopped bullying artists. But even though Shostakovich was free from harassment in 1959, his first Cello Concerto is a work that feeds on his grim memories of the Stalinist regime, harbouring bitterness and melancholy beneath its surface.

    We conclude this evening’s concert on a happier note with a performance of Sibelius’s Symphony No, 2, its warm melodies inspired by his visit to Florence and Rapallo, Italy.

  • 7 October 2016

    Vaughan Williams Symphony No. 3, “A Pastoral Symphony”
    Elgar Cello Concerto in E minor, Op. 85
    Elgar Cockaigne (in London Town), Op. 40
    Friday 7 October 2016, 7:30pm
    St James's Church, 197 Piccadilly, London, W1J 9LL

    Adrian Brown, conductor
    Daniel Benn, cello



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

    To reserve tickets
    Phone: 020 7381 0441

    Our concert this evening brings together Elgar and Vaughan Williams’ compositions that were developed through their personal experiences and reflections of the First World War.

    During the summer of 1919, Elgar began working on his cello concerto - its now famous elegiac opening theme representing Elgar's lament for all that this terrible war had cost.

    Vaughan Williams volunteered as a private in the Royal Army Medical Corps, served in France, survived the Somme and witnessed a daily toll of casualties, many of them close friends. The word “pastoral” disguises his true intentions for this third symphony, which confronts the horrors of the First World War that he experienced firsthand.

    We are pleased to welcome back our conductor this evening, Adrian Brown, a pupil of one of Elgar's finest interpreters and conductor of the very first performance of this evening’s symphony, Sir Adrian Boult.

  • 21 June 2016

    Schubert Symphony No. 5 in Bb major, D. 485
    Mozart Violin Concerto No. 5 in A major, K219
    Adrian Sutton A Fistful of Fives (Première performance)
    Beethoven Symphony No. 5 in C minor, Op. 67
    Tuesday 21 June 2016, 7:30pm

    St Martin-in-the-Fields, Trafalgar Square, London WC2N 4JJ

    Michael Seal, conductor

    Callum Smart, violin



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    Michael Seal also conducts our final concert of the season, in which we pay a first visit to the beautiful and famously musical church of St Martin-in-the-Fields. Following a slightly cheeky programming decision, the orchestra plays a series of “fifths” - Schubert's charming 5th symphony, Mozart's wonderfully witty 5th violin concerto with exciting young violinist Callum Smart, and Beethoven's epoch-making 5th symphony. In the midst of the “fifths” comes a new commission from Adrian Sutton, composer of the music for the National Theatre production of “War Horse”.