St Albans Symphony Orchestra to celebrate the power of music in its new season

St Albans Symphony Orchestra (SASO) principal conductor Tom Hammond

St Albans Symphony Orchestra (SASO) principal conductor Tom Hammond - Credit: St Albans Symphony Orchestra

The new St Albans Symphony Orchestra season will celebrates the life-enhancing power of music.

From enduring hope in dark times to the exuberant enjoyment of living, the SASO 2018-2019 programme features a wonderful array of works.

The grim realities of life in Stalin’s Russia are prominent in the opening concert at St Saviour’s Church on Saturday, October 13.

It will feature Shostakovich’s dramatic Symphony No 5, written at a time when the composer’s career and very survival were threatened by political tyranny.

His Cello Concerto No 1 will be played by internationally acclaimed soloist Matthew Sharp, and the programme open with Malcolm Arnold’s Peterloo Overture, depicting the slaughter by cavalrymen of unarmed protesters in Manchester 200 years ago.

By contrast, the season concludes on Saturday, July 6 next year with the hugely popular Piano Concerto by Grieg, with Veronica Shoot, a former student at Hertfordshire’s Purcell School, as soloist.

It will be followed by Nielsen’s energetic Symphony No 4, known in English as ‘The Inextinguishable’.

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Although it was written during the First World War, the Danish composer wanted his music to express “the lifeforce: the unquenchable will to live”.

In quite different style, SASO’s traditional concert in St Albans Cathedral to celebrate New Year’s Day combines excerpts from classic dance scores by Prokofiev (Romeo and Juliet) and Massenet (Le Cid) with music from the movies, including The Bridge on the River Kwai, Raiders of the Lost Ark and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.

Favourite Viennese music by Johann Strauss the Younger intriguingly makes an appearance under both main headings.

The orchestra’s Saturday, March 9 concert features the ever-popular Violin Concerto by Brahms, played by Clare Howick whose recordings and appearances in concert halls and on BBC Radio 3 have gained critical praise.

The programme also includes Storr, a ‘symphonic poem’ by contemporary British composer Matthew Taylor, and the inspiring Symphony No 9 by Schubert, otherwise known as ‘The Great C-Major’.

SASO’s 2018-19 evening concerts will be conducted by principal conductor Tom Hammond, with the exception of Saturday, May 11, when guest conductor William Carslake will take the helm for a programme of English music.

Families with youngsters at primary school can look forward to musical fun and games on the high seas at Pirates Aarrh-Hoy!, the orchestra’s two children’s concerts on the afternoon of Sunday, November 18, with guest conductor Matthew Andrews.

A salty selection of classics will be animated by Annette Holland and David Bevan of Best Theatre Arts.

With the exception of New Year’s Day, all SASO concerts in 2018-19 take place in St Saviour’s Church in Sandpit Lane.

• Further details, including tickets, at