Sat 24 October
Leeds Town Hall
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Simon Wright - conductor
Elgar (arr Knight) - Cockaigne Overture Listen
Gabrieli - Canzon Septimi Toni A 8 No 1 Listen
Imogen Holst - Leiston Suite
i Entry Music, ii Jig, iii Interlude, iv Slow Air, v March to the Tune of Kettle-Drum Listen
Enrique Granados (arr Crees) - Three Spanish Dances Listen
Duke Ellington - Chelsea Bridge Listen
Jim Parker - A Londoner in New York Listen
Programme duration approximately 75 mins. Please note there will be no interval.
Join us as we shine a spotlight on the exceptional brass players and percussionists of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. This dazzling programme takes us on a musical journey, from Granados’ charming Spanish Dances and the bright fanfares of Italian composer Gabrieli, to the jazz-infused sounds of Duke Ellington and Jim Parker’s perfect musical evocation of the Big Apple. Celebrating great British works, we hear the music of Gustav Holst’s daughter, Imogen Holst, who made an enormous contribution to the country’s music, and a special arrangement of Elgar’s London-themed Cockaigne Overture.
Programmes Notes - Please feel free to use your own device to view the programme notes during the concert.
Concert Overture: Cockaigne (In London Town) – 1901
The busy bustle, hurly-burly and characteristics of England’s capital city have proved a not inconsiderable attraction to composers since the days of Orlando Gibbons (1583-1625). His glorious setting of The Cries of London is among the most distinguished examples of early programme music by an English composer. From a later period, Vaughan Williams’ London Symphony, Ireland’s London Overture and the hugely popular suites of Eric Coates spring readily to mind as distinguished works each imbued with a distinctive London flavour.
Yet it is Elgar’s Cockaigne which has found the most ready acceptance in the concert repertory. Its popularity is not difficult to define: the characterisation vivid, the textures each brilliantly contrasted, and - above all - its concise expression (the piece runs for a little over ten minutes) ensures that each vignette does not outstay its welcome.
The motto themes can well bear their various attributions, but the work stands self-confidently enough by virtue of the magical musical invention in an impressionistic sense. After a skittish opening (listen for the duetting woodwinds in the third bar, brimful of good humour), the main theme - normally agreed to represent the character of the Londoner - is reached, expansive and with the direction that Elgar made especially his own, Nobilmente. The second subject, in E flat, signifies the strolling lovers in one of the Capital’s many fine parks, while the ubiquitous street lad is represented by a brilliant shortening of the main Londoner subject very much in the manner achieved by Wagner in his Mastersingers Overture.
The development section is interrupted by the fabulous swaggering interlude signifying a marching band and reminding us that the work dates from very early on in the Edwardian period when imperial self-assurance was so high on the national agenda. Another important element in the development section is the so-called “Church” motto announced initially by first clarinet and first horn. One of the many humorous touches in the piece had occurred a moment or two previously with the ‘wrong-note’ (wrong key) presentation of the band tune, clearly here Elgar had in mind the work of an amateur ensemble! At the very apex of the Overture is heard the expansive ‘Londoner’ motif, enriched by the lower sonorities of the organ, before the briefest reprise of the opening Scherzando figure heralds a triumphant conclusion.
© Simon Lindley
Canzon Septimi Toni A 8 No 1 - 1597
Giovanni Gabrieli was an influential Italian composer whose work embodies music bridging the Renaissance and Baroque periods. He was born in Venice, and other than four years of study in Munich, he would remain on the bustling Italian island for his whole life. After an unexpected resignation, Gabrieli found himself appointed as organist for the great San Marco Basilica. Architecturally the Basilica, along with other Venetian venues, afforded Gabrieli great steps in musical innovation, most notably in dynamics. Balconies all around the Basilica on higher levels allowed Gabrieli to divide ensembles of choirs and instruments to perform their parts from different places, creating the possibility of music coming from difference directions and distances. His Canzon Septimi Toni A 8 No 1, or song on the seventh scale in eight parts, is a fine example of this. The eight parts are divided into two groups of four taking turns to interject in conservation with each other, before joining together for a triumphant finish.
One can only imagine, before the evolution of instruments and as we now know them, just how impressive it would have been to hear such music coming from different directions up above, with light streaming though stained glass windows into a dimly flame-lit cathedral more than 400 years ago.
© Florence Fawcett
Leiston Suite - 1967
i Entry Music. Brilliant and energetic
ii Jig. Quick and light
iii Interlude. Cheerful and energetic
iv Slow Air. Very slow and expressive
v March, to the tune of Kettle-Drum. Cheerful and energetic
Imogen Holst was inescapably surrounded by great composers, and their influence can be heard in her music. She had a close relationship with her father Gustav Holst whose musical legacy she resolved to establish, and a great love of folk song that could be traced to her tutelage from Ralph Vaughan Williams whilst studying at the Royal College of Music in London. Much of her life she worked with Benjamin Britten, from preparing his scores to eventually becoming Artistic Director of the Britten Pears Festival in Aldeburgh. Through her work on the musical scene and in composing, she became part of the English musical tradition she was inextricably linked with, and working so hard to preserve. Her music has not reached the audiences it merits. The Leiston Suite is five short movements for brass quartet, named after the Suffolk town where she lived for several years. Each movement is distinctly different and conjures up scenes of Suffolk life in the countryside, with energetic fanfare, dances, and folk-influenced tunes.
© Florence Fawcett
Three Spanish Dances (arr Crees) - 1890
Enrique Granados was a gifted pianist and composer, many of whose works are for solo piano. He travelled to Paris to study piano and composition, where his natural flare for improvising was fostered and developed, which can be heard in his music. These Three Spanish Dances are part of the famous Twelve Spanish Dances which he composed at just twenty-three years of age. The originally solo piano dances convey his musical nationalism in their charming, lilting Spanish rhythms that are easily imagined for classical guitar. Indeed the pieces have been arranged and transcribed for many different instruments, and Eric Crees’ brass arrangement of these three dances transports listeners to sunny nineteenth century España.
© Florence Fawcett
Billy Strayhorn & Duke Ellington
Chelsea Bridge - 1941
Chelsea Bridge was composed by Billy Strayhorn in 1941, and first recorded in the same year by the Duke Ellington band with Billy Strayhorn at the piano. Billy Strayhorn and Duke Ellington were both American composers and pianists, working together on the Duke Ellington Band. Ellington called Strayhorn his writing and arranging companion. They worked very closely together often sharing and completing each others' musical ideas, collaborating like this for over three decades. Rumour has it that Strayhorn was inspired by a painting of Battersea Bridge whilst in London, and mistakenly named his song after the wrong bridge. The original Chelsea Bridge contains jazz horn lines you might expect, curiously decorated by a piano part that moves like the musical water of French composers Debussy and Ravel.
© Florence Fawcett
A Londoner in New York – 1987
i Grand Central
ii Echoes of Harlem
iii The Chrysler Building
iv Central Park
v Radio City.
Hartlepool-born composer Jim Parker was an orchestral oboist before he became a full time composer. Over a busy and varied composing career Parker has composed orchestral music including an oboe concerto, brass works and television music including the theme tune to the popular gardening show Groundforce, and film music including A Rather English Marriage which earned him one of his many BAFTAs.
Parker wrote his brass suite A Londoner in New York in 1987 for the Philip Jones Brass Ensemble saying, ‘I had for some time been considering how to express in music the impressions made on me by New York. My general feeling was that here was a city which prided itself on being modem and progressive but which, nevertheless, retained a delightful old-fashioned quality. The suite is intended to reflect these impressions.’
Each movement is a musical depiction of its namesake. Grand Central begins with the sound of a locomotive gathering steam to set off, meanwhile the busy bustling city crowds can be heard alongside clashing car horns of busy traffic near the station. Echoes of Harlem plays us jazz band echoes of Harlem in the heyday of jazz greats Duke Ellington and Fatz Waller, while Central Park waltzes through the bright, green opening in the centre of the huge metropolis. All in all an exciting whistle-stop tour through the dazzling New York City.
© Florence Fawcett
As the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (RPO) approaches its seventy-fifth anniversary in 2021, its mission to enrich lives through orchestral experiences that are uncompromising in its excellence and inclusive in its appeal, places the RPO at the forefront of music-making in the UK. Performing approximately 200 concerts each season and with a worldwide audience of more than half-a-million people, the Orchestra embraces a broad repertoire that enables it to reach the most diverse audience of any British symphony orchestra. Whilst artistic integrity remains paramount, the RPO is unafraid to push boundaries and is equally at home recording video game, film and television soundtracks and working with pop stars, as it is performing the great symphonic repertoire.
The RPO collaborates with the most inspiring artists and looks forward to welcoming its new Music Director, Vasily Petrenko, in September 2021. Vasily Petrenko will join a roster of titled conductors that includes Pinchas Zukerman (Principal Guest Conductor), Alexander Shelley (Principal Associate Conductor) and Grzegorz Nowak (Permanent Associate Conductor).
Cadogan Hall in London has been the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra’s home since 2004. Here it performs an annual season of concerts, many of which are subsequently toured to its seven principal residency venues. In addition, the Orchestra promotes more than forty-five concerts each season at partnership venues across the country, several of which are in areas where access to live orchestral music is very limited. In London, the Orchestra also promotes a season of symphonic concerts at the Southbank Centre’s Royal Festival Hall and a popular series at the iconic Royal Albert Hall, where it has recently been appointed as the Hall’s Associate Orchestra.
As a respected cultural ambassador, the RPO enjoys a busy schedule of international touring, performing in the world’s great concerts halls and at prestigious international festivals.
The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra has always been entrepreneurial and in 1986 it was the first UK orchestra to launch its own record label. The RPO has gone on to embrace advances in digital technology and now achieves nearly thirty million downloads of its recorded music each year. The Orchestra is increasingly active online (www.rpo.co.uk) and on social media (@rpoonline) providing audiences with the opportunity to engage with the RPO and enjoy ‘behind-the-scenes’ film clips and photographs.
Passion, versatility and uncompromising artistic standards are the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra’s hallmarks, and as it looks forward to an exciting future with its new Music Director, Vasily Petrenko, it will continue to be recognised as one of the world’s most open-minded, forward-thinking and accessible symphony orchestras.
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Under 18s/full-time students/unwaged: 50% off
(prices include 10% booking fee)
Due to limited capacity and current social distancing measures, advance booking is required. We regret that booking tickets on the door is not currently an option.