Bjorn again for emotional Elgar rollercoaster

Bjorn Bantock

Bjorn Bantock - Credit: Archant

A musical rollercoaster from exuberant joy to heartfelt grief is the aim of St Albans Symphony Orchestra (SASO) when it performs Elgar’s Second Symphony on Saturday night. (14)

First performed in 1911, the symphony is dedicated to the memory of King Edward VII. But the composer’s letters and comments to friends make it clear that his music had a far deeper and more personal meaning for him than a tribute to recently deceased royalty.

Elgar described his work as “the passionate pilgrimage of the soul”. A reference at the bottom of his score to Tintagel, has also prompted speculation about whether a walking holiday with married friends in Cornwall had resulted in romantic feelings for another man’s wife that he could only express though music.

Unlike previous SASO concerts, the performance at St Saviour’s Church, Sandpit Lane, will be the culmination of intensive rehearsals during the preceding 24 hours.

Tickets are £5 with the ‘workshop’ in advance of the performance being subsidised by a legacy left to the orchestra by Babs Yule, a long-time supporter and well-known Albanian, who died in 2010.

Bjorn Bantock, SASO’s former principal conductor, will be taking charge for the first time as its guest conductor, although it will be the fourth time he has overseen a Babs Yule Workshop.

He said: “At previous workshops we have had a performance of the featured work for family and friends, but it always seemed a shame not to be able to share the results of such enjoyable music-making with a wider audience.

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“This public performance is an experiment but we hope it will attract people who do not already know Elgar’s astonishing symphony as well as those that do and recognise its genius.”

Bjorn will be giving an audience talk about the music at 7pm before the 7.30pm performance.

Tickets at £5 (£1 children) are available from the SASO ticket secretary on 1727 852768, online (booking fee applies) or on the door.