Chester Philharmonic Orchestra

Concerts

November Concert

Chester Cathedral

Saturday 16, November 2019 7.30 pm

Overture:   Peterloo   Malcolm Arnold

Tuba Concerto:             Ralph Vaughan Williams

Symphonie Fantastique     Berlioz

It was on the 16th August 1819 that a peaceful crowd of some 80,000 Northern working folk gathered together in St Peter’s Fields Manchester to demand reform of Parliamentary representation. Acting upon the orders of the local Magistrates, a cavalry charge by the Manchester and Salford Yeomanry and the 15th Hussars killed 18 people and injured approximately 400 others. The name Peterloo is an ironic comparison to the Battle of Waterloo. Malcolm Arnold’s overture portrays these happenings musically, “after a lament for the killed and injured, it ends in triumph, in the firm belief that all those who have suffered and died in the cause of unity amongst mankind, will not have died so in vain.”(Malcolm Arnold)  Ralph Vaughan Williams tuba concerto was composed in 1954 and we will hear it this evening performed by international artist Les Neish. Les has toured the world with his tuba performing in over 60 countries and is Tuba Tutor at the RNCM, Salford University and Birmingham Conservatoire. Classical Music Magazine writes, Proof that the tuba, the comedian of the orchestra, is a credible solo instrument abounds in the brilliance of Neish” Berlioz Symphonie Fantastique is, Like the Peterloo Overture programmatic in that it depicts a story in five different scenes. This story is one of unrequited love. “The Artist” (Berlioz himself) falls in love but is unable to confess his love to the object of his desire. Everywhere he looks he sees visions of his loved one. He is an opium addict and in consequence poisons himself with an overdose resulting in hallucinations. The two final scenes, March to the Scaffold and Witches Dance, depict this and as Bernstein said, “Berlioz tells it like it is. You take a trip, you wind up screaming at your own funeral”.

Conductor - Marco Bellasi

Les Neish          Tuba

Ticket information

Christmas Concert with Chester Music Society Choir.

Chester Cathedral

Wednesday 18, December 2019 7.30 pm

This annual Christmas Concert is on two days Weds and Thursday 18th and 19th December. Tickets, prices and details are available from Chester Music Society web site or 01244 500959 and tickets are not included in the Orchestra’s Associate Membership offer.

Conductor - Graham Jordan Ellis

Presented by Roger McGough 

Ticket information

Fantasy and Fable from Russia

Chester Cathedral

Saturday 7, March 2020 7.30 pm

Overture Kikimora      Liadov

Violin Concerto No 1    Shostakovich

Scheherazade                  Rimsky-Korsakov

Of the three composers you will hear this evening , two were born in St Petersburg and the third was a professor at the St Petersburg Conservatoire. As if that were not enough coincidence, our soloist is from…St Petersburg too and what better choice of music to demonstrate the talent from that city and illustrate our theme of ”Fable and Fantasy” than  Liadov’s overture Kikimora  and Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade. “Kikimora” is another of these Slavic spirits, similar in some ways, to Baba Yaga found in Pictures at an Exhibition. She inhabits the cellar, or sometimes lives behind the stove, or under floorboards and is perhaps the scariest of all Slavic household spirits. Like Baba Yaga she also has chicken like features including a beak and chicken’s legs. (Listen for the ‘chicken’ played on the xylophone). Shostakovich’s Violin Concerto was written in 1947/48 when the Soviet authorities had banned his music and it received its first performance in 1955. Watch out for Shostakovich’s favourite ‘DSCH’ motif. The soloist this evening, Savva  Zverev the young Russian from St Petersburg is currently studying  at the RNCM in ManchesterAt the age of 7 he entered the Central Music School of the Moscow Conservatoire and has performed throughout Europe and the USA. Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade is based on the storyteller of the tale from one thousand and one nights. Listen to Sinbad’s voyages, a shipwreck and the tale of the Prince and Princess. Fable and Fantasy indeed

Conductor - David Chatwin

Savva Zverev:    Violin

Ticket information

Concert for St George's Day

Chester Cathedral

Saturday 25, April 2020 7.30

Brahms      Tragic Overture

Bartok          Viola Concerto

Elgar              Symphony No 1

One cannot discuss Brahms’ Tragic Overture without mentioning his Academic Festival Overture. Both were written at the same time and their first performances within days of each other with the Tragic Overture being performed at the same concert as the Academic Overture. This caused quite a stir because the Tragic is very solemn whilst the Academic is light hearted. The Tragic Overture is non programmatic and does not represent any specific tragedy. It has been postulated that Brahms wanted to compose an overture to Goethe’s Faust, but Brahms himself wrote to a friend , “I could not refuse my melancholy nature the satisfaction of composing an overture to a tragedy”. Bartok’s Viola Concerto wasn’t actually composed in its present form by Bartok. He died leaving a pile of manuscripts and sketches on unnumbered pages which his friend Tibor Serly arranged into order and then orchestrated to parts. This evening, the concerto will be performed by Duncan Anderson a young man who is a physics and music graduate and is well known to the orchestra. He first performed with us in 2009 and his parents have been members of the Chester Philharmonic for many years with his father Robert often leading and his mother Diana a member of the woodwind section. Elgar completed only two symphonies both composed when he was over 50. Initially he thought of composing a symphony to commemorate General Gordon but eventually decided that as abstract music was the pinnacle of musical achievement, it should be non programmatic . The first rehearsal for its first performance at the Free Trade Hall Manchester  in 1908 produced this comment from Hans Richter its conductor to the orchestra, “Gentlemen, let us now rehearse the greatest symphony of modern times, written by the greatest modern composer – and not only in this country.”

Conductor - Steven Threlfall

Duncan Anderson    Viola

Ticket information

Fabulous Birds

Chester Cathedral

Saturday 27, June 2020 7.30 pm

Respighi              The Birds

Sibelius                 Swan of Tuonela

Bartok                    Piano Concerto No 3

Stravinsky            Suite from The Firebird 

What better way could there be of concluding our season of programmes depicting Fable and Fantasy than one about birds? There are more than 40 fables allegedly written by the Greek story teller Aesop, but our contribution this evening is to concentrate on birds in the realm of Fantasy. Our programme starts with Respighi’s  Suite “The Birds” Based on the work of 17th and 18th century composers it describes the actions of birds such as fluttering of wings and the clucking of hens. Sibelius’ Swan of Tuonela depicts the Finnish land of the dead which is surrounded by a river of black water. On this river swims a swan that sings a beautiful but sad melody. Bartok’s Piano Concerto will be performed this evening by the winner of the CPO/Chetham’s Concerto Prize which, at the time of writing has still to be awarded. This concerto was composed shortly before Bartok’s death and although unfinished was completed from his notes by his friend Tibor Serly. Finally, you will hear Stravinsky’s Firebird Suite. The Firebird appears in Slavonic folklore as a purveyor of doom or alternatively one of blessing. It is pictured as a large bird with feathers appearing to be on fire, but actually glowing with red and orange light. The feathers continue to glow even when removed from the bird. It is a beautiful bird but very dangerous. There are many stories linked to the Firebird, but Stravinsky’s interpretation is linked to the compliex story of Prince Ivan who chases and captures the Firebird. Our conductor this evening is Daniel Parkinson. Daniel is no stranger to the CPO having played as a youngster in our string section. He studied Orchestral Conducting at the Royal Northern College of Music and has been an Assistant Conductor to the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra and Rambert. He has recently been appointed Associate Conductor of Northern Ballet.

Conductor - Daniel Parkinson

Soloist:- The winner of the CPO/Chetham’s Concerto Prize

Ticket information