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Take a trip along the Danube with acclaimed Chester orchestra

Saturday 29th June 2024

Take a trip along the Danube with acclaimed Chester orchestra

Final rehearsals are underway as one of the Northwest's premier orchestras prepares to stage the final concert of its 2023/24 season which will feature a performance of one of the most famous waltz tunes ever written.

Set to be staged by Chester Philharmonic Orchestra in the historic surroundings of Chester Cathedral, the concert entitled "A postcard from The Danube" takes place on Saturday 29th June at 7.30pm and will feature native Viennese, Czech and Hungarian music by composers Johann Strauss II, Bela Bartok and Antonin Dvorak, including the famous "Blue Danube" by Strauss which will take the audience on a journey along the River Danube. The orchestra will be conducted by Stephen Threlfall and they will be joined by special guest soloist, Viola virtuoso Duncan Anderson.

Founded in 1884, Chester Philharmonic Orchestra is regarded as one of the premier orchestras in the North West and aims to perform music from a wide repertoire that will appeal to playing members and audiences alike. The orchestra is proud to work closely with The Royal Northern College of Music in providing a platform for its students. In recent years, the orchestra has hosted an impressive range of internationally acclaimed soloists including Craig Ogden, Guy Johnston and Sheku Kanneh-Mason.

Composed in 1886, "The Blue Danube" is the common English title of "An der schönen blauen Donau", (German for "By the Beautiful Blue Danube") and was originally performed on 15 February 1867 at a concert of the Wiener Männergesang-Verein (Vienna Men's Choral Association). It has been one of the most consistently popular pieces of music in the classical repertoire. The work originally had words added by the Choral Association's poet Joseph Weyl but a further, purely orchestral version with additional music added by Strauss became the version most widely known and performed today.

In addition to "The Blue Danube", the concert will include the Overture to one of the most celebrated operettas of all time, "Die Fledermaus" (The Bat) also by Johann Strauss II, and one of Dvorak's most popular works, "Symphony No.8 in G major," Op. 88. composed in 1889. The evening will also include a performance of Bartok's Viola Concerto, written in 1945 and regarded as one of the most important works in the viola repertoire. The Viola concerto will feature guest soloist Duncan Anderson.

Born in Chester and raised in Runcorn, Duncan Anderson is Co-Principal viola in the English National Opera Orchestra in London. Since joining in 2020, he has enjoyed giving over 200 performances of opera, ballet, and music theatre with them, with wide-ranging repertoire including works by Mozart, Verdi, Britten, Wagner, Puccini, and Philip Glass. He is looking forward to returning for the 2024-25 season commencing in September. Duncan attended Chetham's School of Music where he studied violin, piano, and viola. He continued his studies at the Royal College of Music whilst also reading physics at Imperial College London and took a Masters’ degree at Guildhall School of Music & Drama. He now lives with his wife and son in Reading, where he also teaches at home.

As a soloist, Duncan has previously appeared with the Chester Philharmonic Orchestra to perform Vaughan Williams Flos Campi and Walton’s Viola Concerto. He has performed Hindermith Trauermusik with Chester Chamber Orchestra, as well as Mozart’s Sinfonia Concertante which he also performed recently at the Chobham Festival in Surrey. Duncan also has a busy freelance schedule, working with orchestras across the UK, including the Hallé, the BBC Scottish Symphony orchestra, and the BBC Concert Orchestra, most recently as guest principal viola. He has also appeared as guest principal with the BBC Philharmonic, the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, the Philharmonia Orchestra, the Ulster Orchestra, and the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House. Duncan has made regular appearances at the BBC proms and has also performed and toured with the Academy of St Martin in the Fields with recent tour destinations including China and Malta. He has also played on the soundtrack for the BBC’s Call the Midwife, ITV’s Finding Alice, the BBC World Service, and the latest Alien movie.

Formally Director of Music at Chetham's School of Music, Stephen Threlfall is a highly acclaimed conductor with many years experience directing orchestras and ensembles. A passionate and dedicated musician committed to bring out the best from his players enabling them to deliver unforgettable musical experiences, Stephen is well known for his ability to communicate with musicians and audiences alike.

Speaking about the special season finale concert, Diana Anderson the Chair of Chester Philharmonic Orchestra said "We are delighted to be staging our 2023/24 concert season finale in the glorious surroundings of Chester Cathedral as we take our audience on a trip along the River Danube which has become so famously associated with the music of Strauss. We are looking forward to welcoming back soloist Duncan Anderson to perform Bartok's Viola Concerto and also, to performing Dvorak's Symphony No.8 and the overture to the famous Strauss Operetta "Die Fledermaus". This concert promises to be a highlight of the Chester concert season and one not to be missed."

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