Tag Archives: St John’s Smith Square

Julian Jacobson – 70th Birthday Concert Series

Julian Jacobson piano: Masterpieces of Beethoven, Schubert and Prokofiev
70th Birthday Concert Series

St John’s Smith Square, Westminster, London SW1P 3HA

 

Julian Jacobson, who has established a reputation as a pianist of extraordinary breadth and versatility, celebrates his 70th birthday this autumn with a series of Sunday afternoon concerts entitled Masterpieces of Beethoven, Schubert and Prokofiev, at St John’s Smith Square on 22 October, 26 November, 11 February and 11 March 2018.

The series features Prokofiev’s mighty War Trilogy, the 6th, 7th and 8th sonatas – widely regarded as the crowning glory of his output of piano music – a rare opportunity to hear the trilogy performed in sequence in the first three concerts. In the final concert Julian will play four pieces from Prokofiev’s “Romeo and Juliet” and he will be joined by his regular duo partner, the Anglo-Japanese pianist Mariko Brown, in Gershwin’s “An American in Paris”, in Julian’s own virtuoso transcription for piano four hands.

A highly respected Beethoven pianist, Julian’s repertoire is firmly centred on the great classics of the repertoire – in recent years he has become particularly known for his Beethoven cycles and marathons (playing the complete 32 sonatas on three occasions in one day, most recently in 2013). He has also been an acclaimed exponent of contemporary music including jazz (giving the UK premiere of Ligeti’s Études in 1987 among many others), and as a much sought-after duo and ensemble pianist he has partnered many leading British and international soloists. His concert tours have taken him to over 40 countries worldwide and he has recorded more than 30 CDs.

Beethoven’s perennial sonatas: No.14 in C# Minor ‘Moonlight, No. 8 in C minor ‘Pathétique’, No. 23 in F minor ‘Appassionata’ and the Eroica Variations are complemented by major works of Schubert, including the Wanderer Fantasy and his Four Impromptus D899, as well as the Prokofiev.

Speaking about the St John’s Series, Julian Jacobson says: “As a man approaches his 70th birthday – something I thought only happened to other people – he can either try and run away from it or “face the music”. And so I decided I would challenge myself by presenting four programmes of composers I love and have been involved with over many years, celebrating some of their greatest and most loved piano music. There is a time for highways and byways and I have spent many years happily exploring them, but increasingly I feel the need to try and measure up to the pinnacles of the repertoire and see what I can bring to them of myself. I invite you warmly to share my journey!”

Highly regarded by audiences, critics and fellow musicians, György Kurtág remarked during the International Musicians’ Seminar (IMS) in Prussia Cove that: “Julian Jacobson is a possessor of perfection in musical interpretation and this illuminates his chamber music partners as well as his students and all listeners…”

Masterpieces of Beethoven, Schubert and Prokofiev

Four Sundays at St John’s Smith Square, London

Dates and programmes:

Sun 22 Oct 2017 at 3.00pm

Beethoven Eroica Variations op. 35

Schubert Four Impromptus D899

Prokofiev Sonata No. 6 in A op. 82

 

Sun 26 Nov 2017 at 3.00pm

Beethoven Sonata No.14 in C# Minor ‘Moonlight’

Schubert Sonata in D D850

Prokofiev Sonata no.7 in B flat op. 83

 

Sun 11 Feb 2018 at 3.00pm

Beethoven Sonata No. 8 in C minor ‘Pathétique’

Schubert Sonata in A D959

Prokofiev Sonata No. 8 in B flat op. 84

 

Sun 11 Mar 2018 at 3.00pm

Schubert Wanderer Fantasy

Beethoven Sonata No. 23 in F minor ‘Appassionata’

Prokofiev Romeo and Juliet: Ten Pieces op. 75 nos. 1, 4, 6 and 10

Gershwin An American in Paris arr. Jacobson for piano 4 hands

For tickets and further information visit: www.sjss.org.uk

Julian Jacobson www.julianjacobson.com
Source: press release/Jo CarpenterMusic PR Consultancy

Live lessons

Last weekend I performed at St John’s Smith Square, one of London’s premier music venues. This was part of their Music Marathon, 12 hours of continuous music making to coincide with the Open House London weekend. There was a great range of music and performers, a good-sized audience and a friendly atmosphere. I chose to perform, perhaps rather over-ambitiously, Schubert’s Sonata in A, D959, preceded by Britten’s Night Piece – a demanding programme of music lasting 45 minutes. I performed the Schubert Sonata 7 times last year (including the FTCL Diploma recital) but as any performer will tell you, each live performance reveals new or unexpected things about the music and you as a performer. I believe it is important to perform the music we study and play – not least because this wonderful music was written to be shared. Performing can take many forms – from informal playing at home with friends to a concert at a world-renowned concert hall – and each performance presents its own dificulties, stresses, pleasures and revelations.

I came late to performing, having had a long break from the piano after university, and completed two performance diplomas in my late 40s. In order to do this, and because I had not had a formal musical training in conservatoire, I had to “learn” how to be a performer (mostly by teaching myself and talking to and observing professional musicians at work). The most significant thing I have learned is that one must be extremely well-prepared – and prepared for anything and everything that can happen, both within the music itself and all the things one cannot control. Even the best laid plans in practise can come awry in performance, for a variety of reasons. For this reason most professional performers (and serious amateurs too) will do a number of practise performances in less important venues before the most important concert in their diary (at the Wigmore Hall for example, reputedly one of the hardest places to perform in because of its famously knowledgeable and discerning audience). Each performance is part of the learning process and whatever happens in a performance should be seen as a point of reference for future practising and preparation (and a timely reminder that we can never truly say that a piece of music is “finished”).  For example, during my SJSS performance certain passages which had seemed pretty secure in practise came unstuck (noticeably to me, but probably not to the audience as I managed to improvise). It can be quite a jolt to discover that one’s careful practising may not have been quite as scrupulous as one thought. For this reason, I try not to spend too much time negatively reflecting on a performance which may not have gone as well as I’d hoped, preferring to note the areas which require improvement and incorporate these into my practising regime. Thus, through these marginal gains one can take the music to another or different level each time it is performed.

Performing is physically and mentally demanding. and an unusual level of mental concentration is required combined with physical stamina for the duration of the performance (and playing for 45 minutes continuously is hard work!). Interruptions to one’s focus, such as noises in the hall, an error or memory lapse, or negative self-talk, can throw a performance off track and one sometimes has to muster huge forces to bring one back to the task in hand. This is why we must practise so meticulously, to make the music as secure as possible, so that we don’t break down or stop in performance (something I have only witnessed once in a professional performance, though I have encountered numerous but tiny errors or memory slips).

In addition, the stress and anxiety of performing does not pass the moment one leaves the stage. It can take some hours for the body’s stress hormones to return to their normal levels, which can leave one feeling jittery, restless, irritable and sleepless – despite one feeling physically and mentally drained. I have found isotonic drinks such as Gatorade help alleviate the physical and emotional effects of performing (these products have been proven to offer enhanced recovery to patients undergoing complex surgery).

Finally, one should try not to negatively post-mortem a performance too much. It has happened, in the moment, and now it is over and one should look forward to the next opportunity to present one’s music in concert. Compliments and generous feedback from audience members, colleagues and friends can make a huge difference to one’s attitude to a performance and help maintain a positive mindset.

So what did I learn from performing at St John’s Smith Square? First, that meticulous preparation is crucial and constantly reminding oneself of this truth is so important. Secondly, that one should never become complacent in the face of this great music; remain humble and do not allow one’s ego to get in the way of the music. Thirdly, accept compliments and comments with courtesy and humility – these are almost always genuine and given generously. Lastly, I have huge respect for professional musicians who perform regularly – because it ain’t easy!

Many of the aspects outlined in this article will come up in the course of my studies at the Royal College of Music as I embark on a two-year MSc in Performance Science. It’s a fascinating subject and I look forward to sharing my discoveries and further thoughts here.

Music Marathon at St John’s Smith Square 

A free 12-hour MUSIC MARATHON at St John’s Smith Square for Open House London Weekend

At 10am on Saturday 16 September, St John’s Smith Square opens its doors for Open House London Weekend 2017, inviting visitors to experience the stunning Baroque architecture while listening to and participating in musical activities.

There will be 12 hours of non-stop performance, open rehearsal and workshops from 10am on Saturday 16 September until 10pm that evening. All events are free of charge and people are encouraged to drop in at anytime to hear what’s happening. The schedule for the Music Marathon can be found on the St John’s Smith Square website at https://www.sjss.org.uk/events/open-house-2017-music-marathon

This year’s Music Marathon once again has a fantastic selection of pianists throughout the day. Blüthner artist Yuki Negishi performs works by Chopin, Liszt, and Nikolai Kapustin and we welcome back The Cross-Eyed Pianist’s own Frances Wilson with a programme of Britten and Schubert (from 5.15pm). Praised for “exceptional musicianship, poise and supreme confidence” at the Blackheath International Piano Festival, Harriet Stubbs features with Leo Nicholson to perform the first movement of Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 3 on our two grand pianos. Késia Decoté returns this year with her programme of piano works by contemporary female composers (including works for toy piano) and Niamh Beddy continues her collaboration with dancer and choreographer Alice Weber to perform Carl Vine’s Piano Sonata No. 1 and a world premiere from Stevon Russell.

Soloists take the stage in the form of young award-winner Emmanuel Sowicz performing classical guitar arrangements of Bach and Scarlatti alongside Castelnuovo-Tedesco’s Sonata ‘Omaggio a Boccherini’ Op. 77. International percussionist Beibei Wang brings us Bach’s Cello Suite No. 1 on the marimba coupled with a work by kiwi composer John Psathas combining percussion with electronics, and a world premiere of one of Beibei’s own compositions. Having graduated from both the Royal College of Music and the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, violist Katherine Clarke brings her passion for contemporary music to St John’s Smith Square with works by Garth Knox and Paul Patterson.

The Wall of Sound Singing Ensemble make a welcome return to St John’s Smith Square with their uniquely-styled traditional folk arrangements. We’re also delighted to have back our London International A Cappella Choral Competition 2017 competitors, Iken Scholars, with a programme of Lobo, Scarlatti, and Lotti. 

There is a variety of ensembles participating, from the Eos Trio opening the marathon with Stravinsky, CPE Bach, and Khachaturian, to baroque trio Musicke in the Ayre exploring the repertoire of 16th and 17th century art song from across Europe, accompanied by lute and bass viol. The marathon closes with a very special performance from experimental music collective Echoshed of their new piece Dialogues, written especially for the Music Marathon utilising the different spaces around St John’s Smith Square.

This year will also feature short talks on the history and architecture of St John’s Smith Square from Artistic Director, Richard Heason.

Richard Heason, Director of St John’s Smith Square said: 

“One again we celebrate Open House Weekend with a 12 hour marathon of continual music making at St John’s Smith Square. There’s a huge range of music on offer, with both new and old, familiar and fresh. St John’s will resound to the sound of choirs, orchestras, solo instrumentalists and electronic music and all of it is available to listen to free of charge in this magnificent Grade 1 listed concert hall. Come and join us as we embark on our marathon of music making.”

#SJSSMarathon

Full details of the Marathon: https://www.sjss.org.uk/events/open-house-2017-music-marathon

 

I Musicanti make a welcome return to St John’s Smith Square

Once again the impeccable musicianship, collective commitment and imaginative and varied programming of I Musicanti impressed with the first concert in their new series at St John’s Smith Square. Entitled ‘Alexandra and the Russians’, each recital in this 4-concert series features a new work by composer Alexandra Harwood, who can trace her Russian heritage back to Catherine the Great.

Bookended by Shostakovich’s taut and impassioned Piano Quintet Op 57 and Glinka’s good-natured and lyrical Sextet in E flat, Alexandra Harwood’s ‘Fiddler in Hell’ was a rollicking, foot-tapping romp and a great platform for violinist Fenella Humphreys’ colourful virtuosity and affinity with new music. Meanwhile, Schnittke’s mysterious and unsettling Hymnus II demonstrated the supreme technical control and musical understanding of Leon Bosch (double bass) and Richard Harwood (‘cello).

I Musicanti’s creative approach proves that it’s possible to present new music in accessible programmes which combine familiar works with lesser-known pieces. Future concerts in the series include music by Tchaikovsky, Arensky, Prokofiev, and Smirnov performed by some of the finest musicians active in the U.K. today.

Highly recommended ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

IMusicanti.co.uk

Neil Chaffey’s birthday concert at St John’s Smith Square

sjss1

For the musically-inclined there can be few better ways to mark a significant birthday than to gather musicians, friends and family together in celebration, and this was the format for a delightful and varied concert on the 80th birthday of Neil Chaffey, concert artist manager. The concert comprised musicians represented by Neil Chaffey and the programme demonstrated the breadth, variety and individual talents of these artists. And with an audience of family, friends and supporters, the atmosphere at St John’s Smith Square was warm and convivial.

After a rousing rendition of the Largo from Handel’s ‘Xerxes’, performed by Chaffey himself on the magnificent SJSS organ, we remained in the Baroque era for songs and arias by Purcell, Blow, Handel and Monteverdi by The Musicke Company (soprano, countertenor, baroque cello and harpsichord). This provided an elegant first part to the concert and contrasted beautifully with a performance of John McCabe’s Clarinet Sonata. Neil Chaffey and John McCabe first met as students at Manchester University in the mid-1950s and Neil comissioned the sonata in 1969 when he was Artistic Director of the Macclesfield Arts Festival. This haunting work is in various linked sections which together make up a continuous movement, and the individuality of each instrument is given voice (including some interesting effects achieved by plucking the piano’s strimgs) while letting all three work with roughly the same motifs. It was a very committed and absorbing performance of a challenging work.

Another striking contrast came with Gitarrissima, an all-female guitar quintet from Vienna, who played well-known and some lesser-known works arranged for guitar (including the intriguing baby “octave” guitar) with great brio, virtuosity and individuality (their renditions of the Tritschtratsch Polka and Hoe-Down from Copland’s ‘Rodeo’ ballet suite were particularly enjoyable and entertaining).

The second half of the concert was mainly taken up with piano music, opening with an intimate and sensitively nuanced performance of works by Bridge, Schumann and Kapustin by Neil Chaffey’s pianist daughter Alicia. ‘Rosemary’ by Frank Bridge, dedicated to Alicia’s late mother, was particularly poignant, and her approach to Schumann’s Fantasiestucke op.12 demonstrated a clear appreciation of the composer’s shifting moods, from tender and introspective in Des Abends to the extrovert Aufschwung. After the spirited jazzy Kapustin, Alicia was joined by her duo partner Marzia Hudajarova in a charming rendition of Fauré’s ever-popular Dolly Suite.

The final part of the concert featured the Fujita sisters Arisa, Honoka and Megumi, who together make up the Fujita Piano Trio. Initially, Megumi gave a solo performance of three of Chopin’s most popular Etudes (Black Keys, Thirds and Revolutionary) in which she balanced power and richness of sound with a wonderful delicacy of touch. Joined by her sisters, the trio performed Mendelssohn’s Piano Trio in c minor, entirely from memory, which made for an intensely musical and impressively concentrated performance, and thrilling close to a most enjoyable concert and a wonderful musical birthday tribute to Neil Chaffey.

 

St John’s Smith Square announces its 2017/18 season 

On 19 June 2017, St John’s Smith Square announced its 2017/18 Season. 

In a characteristic programme, punctuated by a range of Festival celebrations, St John’s Smith Square continues its core mission to provide a home for Baroque music within the UK’s only concert hall dating from the Baroque period while equally championing new music. International artists sit comfortably alongside emerging talent and St John’s Smith Square also continues to provide a vital and unique central London home for the best in community music.

Festivals at St John’s Smith Square

This season, St John’s Smith Square presents seven festivals, each with their own distinct identity, featuring the highest calibre artists and repertoire as expected of its renowned programming approach.

The 32nd Annual Christmas Festival curated by Stephen Layton (9 – 23 December 2017) includes concerts with regular favourites Ex Cathedra, The Tallis Scholars, Solomon’s Knot, the choirs of Clare College Cambridge, Trinity College Cambridge, Christ Church Cathedral Choir Oxford, King’s College London, City of London Choir, the National Youth Music Theatre, Polyphony and the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment. New to the Festival this year are Vox Luminis and the London Choral Sinfonia. A very special bonus for December will be organ curator David Titterington’s marathon undertaking to perform the organ works of JS Bach on the magnificent Klais organ at St John’s Smith Square. The Bach in Advent series comprises daily recitals, usually at 6.00pm, from 3 – 23 December 2017, and these will be open to all, free of charge.

The Holy Week Festival (26 March – 1 April 2018) returns after the huge success of the inaugural festival in 2017. Curated by Nigel Short and Tenebrae and featuring a mix of ticketed concerts and free late-night liturgical events, St John’s Smith Square will once again resound with choral music for Passiontide. Artists include Tenebrae, Polyphony, the Britten Sinfonia, Gabrieli, Skylark (from the USA), Aurora Orchestra, Ex Cathedra and The Tallis Scholars.

The London Festival of Baroque Music (11 – 19 May 2018) will have a French theme. In this, the 34th Festival since it was originally launched as the Lufthansa Festival of Baroque Music in 1984, the LFBM commences its new system of working with different Guest Artistic Directors for each festival. To develop the French theme, the Guest Artistic Director for 2018 is the conductor Sébastien Daucé who will be bringing his own Ensemble Correspondances for a staged setting of Charpentier’s Histoires sacrèes (17 May 2018). The Festival will also celebrate the 350th anniversary of the birth of Couperin.

Following the ‘taster day’ in May 2017, Rolf Hind and friends will return for the iconoclastic Occupy the Pianos festival (19 – 22 April 2018). The growing stable of pianistic trailblazers will be joined by percussion, voice, film and elements of theatre in an exploration of the two broad subjects of Nature and Technology. The festival will also feature a performance of Sir Peter Maxwell Davies’ ground-breaking Eight Songs for a Mad King.

The Brook Street Band (and friends) lead a weekend Festival in February (23 – 25 February 2018) exploring the varied musical styles that informed and shaped the composer Georg Muffat. The Band will explore his legacy in the form of chamber and orchestral music by composers including Bach and Handel, with four concerts (plus a dance-music workshop and illustrated pre-concert talks) providing a comprehensive musical survey, as well as a natural ebb and flow in terms of mood and scale, small chamber versus orchestral line-ups, and art music versus dance music. Concerts include music from Muffat’s Armonico Tributo as well as a selection from the two volumes of Muffat’s ground-breaking Florilegium 

Also in February, St John’s Smith Square welcomes back the Principal Sound Festival (16 – 18 February 2018), which this year will focus on the music of Luigi Nono, alongside works by Rebecca Saunders, György Kurtág, Claudia Molitor and, once again, Morton Feldman. Artists featured include Exaudi, Explore Ensemble, the Bozzini Quartet, Siwan Rhys, George Barton and Jenni Hogan.

Americana ’18

Throughout the calendar year of 2018, St John’s Smith Square celebrates music from America in a series of concerts curated by the conductor David Wordsworth. Highlights include a celebration of Stephen Montague’s 75th birthday (9 March 2018) with a day of events including his complete works for keyboards and the London premieres of a number of his concertos. There will be a whole day of events, stretching for 13 hours (to represent the 13 stripes of the Stars and Stripes flag) on Independence Day (4 July 2018) and in Autumn 2018, there will be a focussed festival of American music.

Other features of Americana ’18 include the Carducci Quartet playing Philip Glass (23 March 2018), the London Chorus with Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms, celebrating the centenary of Bernstein’s birth (8 March 2018) and Orchestra Nova in a programme that includes the complete chamber version of Copland’s Appalachian Spring (22 May 2018). The pianist Zubin Kanga will give a concert of music by Terry Riley and John Adams among others (9 February 2018) and the Crouch End Festival Chorus will collaborate with the Brodsky Quartet in a programme including music by Randall Thompson, Copland and the Barber Adagio (10 February 2018). For everyone, there is an opportunity to ‘Come and Sing the Bernstein Musicals’ (17 March 2018).

Period Instrument Performance

Period instrument performance is always at the forefront of St John’s Smith Square’s programme. La Nuova Musica and The Holst Singers, both familiar to St John’s Smith Square audiences, collaborate for the first time in a programme of Handel and Mozart (13 November 2017).

London Bach Society make their contribution to the 500th anniversary of the Reformation with a concert which brings together the Steinitz Bach Players and Tenebrae under the direction of Nigel Short (30 October 2017). St John’s Smith Square continues marking the Reformation’s anniversary when Gabrieli and Paul McCreesh return with their recreation of a 17th century Lutheran Christmas morning (7 December 2017) 

Following their debut performance back in April, the Armonico Consort and Baroque Orchestra with Christopher Monks will give a performance of Monteverdi’s Vespers of 1610 (4 October 2017), continuing the celebrations of the 450th anniversary of Monteverdi’s birth.

The young conductor, Joel Sandelson, brings his period instrument orchestra Wond’rous Machine for a concert of Corelli, Purcell and Lully (28 October 2017) and soprano Anna Dennis will give a concert of Purcell songs with Sounds Baroque directed by Julian Perkins (19 January 2018).

The European Day of Early Music (21 March 2018) will be celebrated at St John’s Smith Square with a performance in collaboration with the London Handel Festival, and there will be more Handelian celebrations when Stephen Layton directs a concert with Florilegium, soprano Mary Bevan and countertenor Tim Mead (27 February 2018).

Opera

Opera always plays a significant role in St John’s Smith Square’s calendar. Bampton Classical Opera continue to champion the work of Salieri (12 September 2017), this time with his The School of Jealousy, a work that almost certainly inspired Da Ponte and Mozart to create Cosi fan tutte. Later in the season Bampton return to give a programme illustrating the life of the legendary singer Nancy Storace (7 March 2018) marking the bicentenary of her death.

In October there is a chance to hear the opera stars of the future when St John’s Smith Square hosts the final of The Voice of Black Opera Competition (3 October 2018) featuring six young singers accompanied by the City of London Sinfonia , conducted by Kwamé Ryan. There is a further showcase opportunity when Irish Heritage Opera visit to celebrate 44 years of bringing Irish operatic talent to the stage (12 April 2018).

La Nuova Musica return with Handel’s Orlando (1 February 2018), the start of an annual cycle of Handel operas at St John’s Smith Square. There is more Handel in April when Christian Curnyn and the Early Opera Company return with Giulio Cesare (11 April 2018). Further opera can be found during the London Festival of Baroque Music when La Nuova Musica return with Iestyn Davies in the title role of Gluck’s Orfeo (13 May 2018). 

Moving on from the baroque period, Kensington Symphony Orchestra present Puccini’s La Bohème conducted by their music director Russell Keable (21 May 2018).

Orchestral Performances

St John’s Smith Square enjoys close relationships with many of the UK’s top orchestras. The London Mozart Players and Howard Shelley’s innovative explorations of great piano concertos this season features works by Schumann, Saint-Saëns, Mendelssohn, Shostakovich and Grieg whilst the Orchestra of St John’s continues its My Music series with celebrity guests including Sir Simon Jenkins, Lord Archer and Lord Hague. 

As part of the Southbank Centre’s Belief and Beyond Belief series Matthew Barley leads a performance of Sir John Tavener’s The Protecting Veil with the City of London Sinfonia (2 December 2017).

Orchestra Vitae return with an intimate programme of Mozart and David Lang which will be presented ‘in the round’ (7 November 2017) and then in the spring with a programme within the Americana ’18 season including Copland’s Third Symphony and the Gershwin Piano Concerto (2 March 2018). Another classic American Third Symphony, this time by Ives, is featured in a programme marking the return of the English Symphony Orchestra which also includes the Copland Clarinet Concerto, Piston’s rarely performed Sinfonietta and a newly commissioned work from Jesse Jones (18 April 2018).

In Spring 2018, St John’s Smith Square welcomes the European Union Chamber Orchestra for a programme of Haydn and Mozart (21 February 2018). 

The Young Musicians Symphony Orchestra have five concerts this season, and the Kensington Symphony Orchestra once more brings its unique programming style to St John’s Smith Square in its 17/18 concert series. The Royal Orchestral Society and the Salomon Orchestra also return to St John’s Smith Square for regular concerts including a performance of the Berg Violin Concerto with violinist Ben Baker and Schmidt’s Symphony No. 4 conducted by Holly Mathieson (16 October 2017).

Choral and Vocal Music

Given the outstanding acoustics at St John’s Smith Square, many choral societies return year after year and 2017/18 is no exception with performances of Elgar’s The Dream of Gerontius given by the 1885 Singers and Orchestra and the Malvern Festival Chorus (14 October 2017), Brahms’s A German Requiem with The London Chorus (11 November 2017), Islington Choral Society (18 March 2018) and the Anton Bruckner Choir (28 April 2018), Stravinsky’s Symphony of Psalms and Vaughan Williams’s A Sea Symphony with Twickenham Choral Society (8 July 2018), Handel’s Joshua with the Whitehall Choir (17 November 2017) and Haydn’s The Creation with Vox Cordis with the Orchestra of St Paul’s (21 November 2018).

As part of the Southbank Centre’s Belief and Beyond Belief festival St John’s Smith Square is delighted to once again welcome The Cardinall’s Musick with a programme of music from the 16th Century to present day. The English Baroque Choir celebrates its 40th birthday with a performance of Bach’s Mass in B minor (24 March 2018) and the London Choral Sinfonia return with a programme that places music by James MacMillan, Eric Whitacre and Morten Lauridsen around the Requiem of John Rutter (22 February 2018)

New Music and Emerging Talent

The celebration of new music has always been central to the programming at St John’s Smith Square and this season is no exception. Among those whose works will receive premieres at St John’s Smith Square in 17/18 are Gregory Rose, Sally Beamish, Alexandra Harwood, Hanna Kulenty, Patrick Brennan, Khyam Allami, Nimrod Borenstein, Owain Park, Arlene Sierra, Kareem Roustom and Jesse Jones.

The highly praised Young Artists’ Scheme at St John’s Smith Square enters a fifth season with three extraordinary talents. The Bukolika Piano Trio present music by Boulanger, Hanna Kulenty, Messiaen, Górecki and Panufnik alongside more familiar works by Beethoven and Dvořák; the violinist Mathilde Milwidsky performs music by Arvo Pärt, Janáček, Clara Schumann, Grieg and Richard Strauss, while the piano and percussion duo of Siwan Rhys and George Barton offer programmes including music by Vinko Globokar, Kagel, Cage, Feldman and Sir Harrison Birtwistle. All three Young Artists will be showcased as part of a special concert (17 September 2017) within Open House London. 

Regular Concert Series & Chamber Music

St John’s Smith Square hosts its regular Thursday Lunchtime Concerts, which feature, among others: Yeomen from The Musicians’ Company; prize-winners from the Oxford Lieder Festival; performances from St John’s Smith Square’s Young Artists 17/18; artists featured at the Dartington International Summer School and a monthly organ recital series programmed by St John’s Smith Square’s organ curator, David Titterington. Particular highlights of the lunchtime series include the Pettman Ensemble with Stephen De Pledge and guest violinist Clio Gould (7 September 2017), the chamber choir Siglo de Oro (9 November 2017), the Duke Quartet (1 February 2018) and the violinist Daniel Pioro (22 March 2018).

The Sunday at St John’s programme, in its fourth year, once again includes a number of mini-series within it. Returning artists include I Muscanti and Leon Bosch who will give a series of concerts juxtaposing Russian chamber music with premieres by the composer Alexandra Harwood. Lucy Parham also returns with her Sheaffer Sundays ‘Composers in Love’ concert series featuring well-known actors such as Harriet Walter, Tim McInnerny, Patricia Hodge and Simon Russell Beale.

The Revolutionary Drawing Room reaches the Razumovsky Quartets as it enters the second year of the complete Beethoven Quartets cycle (concluding in the 2018/19 season) and the pianist Julian Jacobson gives four concerts in his 70th birthday year that bring together masterpieces by Schubert, Beethoven and Prokofiev. Deniz Gelenbe and friends give two concerts of romantic chamber music while Ensemble de Note makes its St John’s Smith Square debut with a series of early classical chamber music performances. The Prince Regent’s Band will give a fascinating programme of 19th century band music (5 November 2017) and the soprano Elin Manahan Thomas together with Elizabeth Kenny (lute and theorbo) will set the scene for Christmas with their programme ‘Now Winter Comes Slowly’ (3 December 2017).

The virtuoso brass ensemble Septura opens the audience’s ears to new sounds as they make their St John’s Smith Square debut in a sequence of concerts entitled Kleptomania, playing arrangements of great works written for other instrumental combinations.

Piano recitals include a performance with Sibelius scholar Joseph Tong in a Nordic themed concert to mark the 60th anniversary (to the day) of Sibelius’s death (20 September 2017) and Blüthner Pianos present a series of concerts to showcase their instruments with the pianists Tom Poster, Dmitry Masleev and Martin Sturfalt. Russian pianist Dmitri Alexeev is another pianist celebrating his 70th birthday at St John’s Smith Square (2 November 2017).

Southbank Centre at St John’s Smith Square

The collaboration with Southbank Centre continues for 17/18 during their period of refurbishment. Highlights include the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment with Sally Beamish’s The Judas Passion (25 September 2017) and Rachel Podger playing and directing the OAE in a concert featuring two of Mozart’s Violin Concertos (27 November 2017). The London Sinfonietta return under their founder conductor David Atherton to give a performance of Henze’s landmark work Voices, based on 22 folk songs from around the world (11 October 2017) and St John’s Smith Square will also host some of the London Sinfonietta’s 50th birthday celebrations as they revisit many of the most iconic works from the past 50 years including music by Xenakis, Colin Matthews and Sir Harrison Birtwistle.

Highlights from Southbank Centre’s International Chamber Music Series at St John’s Smith Square include the Emerson Quartet in concerts on two consecutive nights with the late quartets of Beethoven (31 October and 1 November 2017) and Steven Osborne returning with friends to perform Messiaen’s monumental Quartet for the End of Time alongside Shostakovich’s Second Piano Trio (14 November 2017). Southbank Centre’s International Piano Series at St John’s Smith Square includes concerts with Bertrand Chamayou, Víkingur Ólafsson, Boris Giltburg, Alice Sara Ott and George Li.

Richard Heason, Director of St John’s Smith Square said: “St John’s Smith Square is unique amongst London’s concert halls. It is the oldest, yet most flexible, concert hall in London and as such I am very proud that we are able to offer a programme that is so diverse but equally filled with events and festivals of deep integrity. The programme at St John’s Smith Square is forged through collaborating creatively with many hugely talented and generous musicians and my grateful thanks go to all those who enable this programme to be offered. We look forward to welcoming artists and audiences to this iconic venue throughout the coming season.”

 

Booking information:  

Box Office 020 7222 1061   

Book online http://www.sjss.org.uk  

 

St John’s Smith Square 2017/18 Season booking opens:

Monday 3 July 2017 for St John’s Smith Square’s Patrons

Friday 7 July 2017 for St John’s Smith Square’s Friends

Monday 10 July 2017 for General Booking
(Source: press release)