Saffron Hall announces its 2016-17 season

10 May 2016

Saffron Hall is delighted to announce its 2016-17 season with debuts from Sir Antonio Pappano, Anne Sofie von Otter, Stephen Hough, the inaugural season of Resident Orchestra Britten Sinfonia, and three fully-staged English Touring Opera performances.

Priority booking for members opens from Tuesday 10 May 2016
General booking opens Wednesday 25 May 2016

The 2016-17 season at a glance

  • Intimate debut recitals by Stephen Hough, Gerald Finley with Sir Antonio Pappano, Sir Willard White with the Brodsky Quartet and Anne Sofie von Otter with string quartet Brooklyn Rider
  • Debuts from world-class ensembles Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra with Edward Gardner, St Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra with Yuri Temirkanov and Gabrieli Consort
  • Jazz highlights including American vocalist Madeleine Peyroux and the National Youth Jazz Orchestra
  • Britten Sinfonia begins its long-term residency with a concert with The Sixteen, under the baton of Harry Christophers on their world premiere tour of James MacMillan’s Stabat Mater
  • English Touring Opera brings three fully-staged baroque operas – Monteverdi’s Ulysses’ Homecoming, Cavalli's La Calisto, Handel’s Xerxes – and Bach’s St John Passion with community choirs
  • The return of leading ensembles and musicians including the London Philharmonic Orchestra, Nicola Benedetti, Sir András Schiff and The English Concert
  • A new score by Neil Brand co-commissioned by Saffron Hall, BBC Symphony Orchestra, and Barbican, performed to Douglas Fairbanks and Allan Dwan’s 1922 classic silent film, Robin Hood
  • A packed Learning and Participation programme including a National Youth Jazz Orchestra performance and side-by-side rehearsal with Saffron Walden County High School students; a creative project for those living with dementia in partnership with London’s Wigmore Hall and the Royal Academy of Music; the launch of a whole-school SATB choir at Saffron Walden County High School in partnership with Gabrieli ROAR
  • A Young Artist Recital series featuring Sean Shibe, Louis Schwizgebel, Laura van der Heijden and Tom Poster, and Richard Uttley
  • Events for families including Michael Morpurgo narrating The Best of Times, and an adaptation of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol with BBC Symphony Orchestra and BBC Singers
  • Local highlights include Saffron Opera Group continuing its epic Ring cycle, Saffron Walden Choral Society performing Jonathan Dove’s There was a Child, Saffron Walden Symphony Orchestra welcoming back local piano prodigy George Harliono, and Words in Walden presenting a family concert, Once Upon a Tune.
  • More events will be announced in November, including the full jazz and contemporary programme, a big community choir project, and a major dance event.

Angela Dixon, Saffron Hall Chief Executive, comments:
“It is with immense pride that we announce Saffron Hall’s third full season. As the hall’s reputation continues to grow, we welcome back world-renowned artists alongside some who will have their first experience of the hall’s outstanding acoustic and warm audience, including Anne Sofie von Otter, Sir Antonio Pappano, and Stephen Hough.

We’re delighted to welcome our new Resident Orchestra Britten Sinfonia, and together we embark on a rich journey over the coming years with an exceptional programme of concerts and an inspiring, collaborative approach to learning and outreach within Saffron Walden County High School. We’re also thrilled that English Touring Opera will bring three fully-staged operas this autumn. This full and varied season is a direct result of the quality of our award-winning concert hall, our enthusiastic audiences, and our ongoing outreach, education, and regional development projects.”

David Butcher, Britten Sinfonia Chief Executive, comments:
“We were lucky to be the first professional orchestra to perform at Saffron Hall, and are very much looking forward to our new partnership with Angela Dixon and her team. It’s not often that you have the chance to start with a clean sheet, and we have a fantastic opportunity to develop a new residency model together, and to engage young people from Saffron Walden County High School and the wider community with first class music making, both in concert, and starting this autumn, by throwing the doors open for pupils to experience the creative process in rehearsal. It’s just the start; there are exciting times ahead…”

World-class ensembles
Saffron Hall’s much-praised flexible acoustic and state-of-the-art facilities attract internationally renowned orchestras, with many of them appearing at the venue for the first time:

The Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra and conductor Edward Gardner are joined by returning artist Leonard Elschenbroich performing Elgar’s Cello Concerto (Sunday 15 January 2017); Yuri Temirkanov leads the St Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra in a programme featuring Prokofiev, Ravel, and Rachmaninov’s Rhapsody on a theme of Paganini performed by returning pianist Nikolai Lugansky (Friday 20 January 2017); Artistic Director Paul McCreesh leads Gabrieli Consort for Bach’s Easter Oratorio (Saturday 8 April 2017) for their Saffron Hall debut. Returning to Saffron Hall, the London Philharmonic Orchestra and conductor Vladimir Jurowski are joined by star violinist Nicola Benedetti (Saturday 24 September 2016); and leading baroque orchestra The English Concert returns with violinist/director Rachel Podger (Friday 3 February 2017).

Intimate recitals by international artists
A solo recital by pianist Stephen Hough showcases his artistry and technical brilliance with a programme of Schubert, Franck, Liszt, and the performer’s own Sonata III (Trinitas) (Sunday 30 October 2016); Gerald Finley sings with Sir Antonio Pappano at the piano for an intimate evening of solo piano music and song, ranging from Beethoven and Respighi to Tosti’s Neapolitan ballads (Sunday 4 December); a collaboration between New York string quartet Brooklyn Rider and Swedish, Grammy Award-winning mezzo-soprano Anne Sofie von Otter features some of the most iconic classical and pop artists, from John Adams and Philip Glass to Björk and Kate Bush (Friday 11 November 2016); Sir Willard White and Brodsky Quartet pay tribute to the American classics, the Hollywood Quartet, and Frank Sinatra, with songs by Barber, Copland, Gershwin, Kern, Weill (Saturday 1 April 2017); the great pianist Sir András Schiff returns after his debut last season (Thursday 4 May 2017); and American jazz singer and guitarist Madeleine Peyroux makes her Saffron Hall debut, as the first of many more jazz and contemporary artists to be announced during the year (Wednesday 30 November 2016).

Britten Sinfonia residency
Britten Sinfonia begins its Saffron Hall residency with James MacMillan’s Stabat Mater on the work’s world premiere tour with The Sixteen conducted by Harry Christophers. This new setting forms part of a programme which places the work in the context of music from Tallis, Britten and Vaughan Williams (Sunday 16 October 2016). The ensemble appears four more times during the season with a concert celebrating Steve Reich’s 80th birthday with Synergy Vocals, led by Clark Rundell (Sunday 6 November 2016); in a Mediterranean-inspired evening directed by harpsichordist Mahan Esfahani joined by violinist/director Thomas Gould and contralto Claudia Huckle (Saturday 4 February 2017); presenting a picture book family concert based on Ed Vere’s children’s book Max the Brave (Saturday 18 February); and ending the season with a concert on the work and influence of Beethoven – with the composer’s first and second symphonies paired with Gerald Barry’s Beethoven – led by Thomas Adès (Saturday 27 May 2017).

Alongside an outstanding programme of concerts, the ensemble will embed itself in the life of the school and local community through hosting open rehearsals, facilitating coaching sessions, and other bespoke projects.

English Touring Opera residency
Building on its success with opera over the past seasons, including Saffron Opera Group’s on-going Ring cycle and an opera commissioned for 300 schoolchildren, Saffron Hall hosts English Touring Opera for a four-day residency of three fully-staged baroque operas from Venice – Monteverdi’s Ulysses’ Homecoming (Wednesday 2 November 2016), Cavalli’s La Calisto (Thursday 3 November 2016), Handel’s Xerxes (Friday 4 November 2016) – and Bach’s St John Passion (Saturday 5 November), which will see English Touring Opera players and soloists perform shoulder-to-shoulder with local adult and school choirs.

Learning & Participation
In addition to its public concerts, Saffron Hall has initiated a pioneering learning and participation programme which sees thousands of people, young and old, take part in performance and backstage roles, and sets a trailblazing model for state school and community music provision. In 2015-16, Saffron Hall commissioned its first opera in a partnership with Saffron Walden County High School, which involved 350 schoolchildren, in a production based on the mysterious local Saffron Walden legend of The Glass Knight. This season’s packed programme includes a National Youth Jazz Orchestra performance and side-by-side rehearsal with Saffron Walden County High School students; a creative, participatory project with London’s Wigmore Hall and the Royal Academy of Music for those living with dementia; the launch of a whole-school SATB choir at Saffron Walden County High School in partnership with Gabrieli ROAR; and more events to be announced.

Young Artist Recitals
Saffron Hall is dedicated to showcasing younger talent alongside established artists and ensembles. With this in mind, there are four Young Artist Coffee Concerts announced this season, showcasing YCAT guitarist Sean Shibe (Sunday 23 October 2016), pianist Louis Schwizgebel (Sunday 13 November 2016), cellist Laura van der Heijden and pianist Tom Poster (Sunday 2 April 2017), and YCAT pianist Richard Uttley (Sunday 21 May 2017). Following the recitals, the artists lead masterclasses with Saffron Walden County High School students.

New commission and film screening
Douglas Fairbanks and Allan Dwan’s 1922 silent classic about the legend of Robin Hood is transformed for the 21st century, with a vibrant new score from Neil Brand co-commissioned by Saffron Hall, the BBC Symphony Orchestra, and the Barbican, performed live by the BBC Symphony Orchestra and conducted by Tim Brock (Saturday 25 February).

A home for the community
Local musicians feature substantially in the life of Saffron Hall. These include Saffron Opera Group, continuing its epic Ring cycle (Die Walküre on Sunday 9 October & Siegfried on Sunday 12 February), Saffron Walden Choral Society performing a christmas concert with BBC Concert Orchestra (Thursday 22 December) and Jonathan Dove’s There was a Child (Saturday 25 March), and Saffron Walden Symphony Orchestra welcoming back the 15-year-old local piano prodigy George Harliono (Saturday 17 June).