St Albans Symphnoy Orchestra ready for New Year concert at Abbey

WITH the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and the 2012 London Olympics on the horizon, St Albans Symphony Orchestra (SASO) will mount a musical Festival of Britain at its traditional New Year Family Concert.

To be held in St Albans Abbey at 7pm on Monday, January 2, the concert will feature favourite music from English, Scottish and Welsh composers ranging from Benjamin Britten’s showpiece The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra to the Oscar-winning film theme by Vangelis for Chariots of Fire, portraying British success in the 1924 Olympics.

Under its principal conductor Bjorn Bantock, the orchestra will also play The Lark Ascending by Ralph Vaughan-Williams, which is among the best-loved of all classical works in Britain. The evocative violin solo will be played by the SASO’s leader, Jennifer Wigram.

Performances of two 20th Century Welsh Dances by Alun Hoddinott will be complemented by George Butterworth’s quintessentially English Banks of Green Willow and The Land of the Mountain and the Flood, by 19th-Century composer Hamish MacCunn, depicting the grandeur of the Scottish highlands.

The 21st Century will also be represented by Saturnalia, a colourful account of the winter holiday celebrated by the Romans by London-based composer Edmund Jolliffe which was given its world premiere by SASO in March this year.

Pursuing its regal theme, the orchestra will play William Walton’s march Crown Imperial, written for the coronation of the Queen’s father George VI and, on a lighter note, Ronald Binge’s Elizabethan Serenade.

And from British cinema, a suite from Walton’s Battle of Britain score will feature alongside the Dambusters’ March by Eric Coates. Concluding a packed programme in patriotic style, Bjorn Bantock will be seeking audience participation in Elgar’s Pomp and Circumstance March No 1, better known as Land of Hope and Glory, and C.H. Parry’s Jerusalem.

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Tickets at �20, �16, �12 reserved (nave) and �8 unreserved (aisle), �1 under-18s and �5 students, are available from the SASO ticket secretary on 01727 857422, the Abbey Box Office on 01727 890256 or via