St Albans Symphony Orchestra welcomes in 2017 with annual concert

Conductor Tom Hammond

Conductor Tom Hammond - Credit: Archant

A mixture of musical fireworks is how St Albans Symphony Orchestra (SASO) describes its annual welcome to the New Year at the cathedral.

On Monday, January 2, this year because New Year’s Day falls on a Sunday, it will feature favourite classics and surprises.

For traditionalists there will be the characteristic dances and other excerpts from Tchaikovsky’s ballet score, Swan Lake, and Tales from the Vienna Woods, among the most popular of the many symphonic waltzes composed by Johann Strauss II.

The orchestra under its new principal conductor, Tom Hammond, will also perform music in the Viennese style from Der Rosenkavalier, the popular opera by the German composer Richard Strauss.

Less often heard is the Konzertstück for Four Horns and Orchestra by Robert Schumann. In effect a concerto for four horns, it was written as a showpiece to take advantage of newly-invented valve horns, the versatility of which allowed the composer to pursue all manner of harmonic twists and turns.

Its technical demands, especially in the top horn part, partly explains its relative neglect but on January 2, the quartet will be led Pip Eastop, one of Britain’s foremost horn players.

He has not only performed as soloist and guest player with all of London’s major orchestras but also held professorships at both the Royal College and the Royal Academy of Music.

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The other soloists will be Martin Childs, Alex Wide and SASO’s own principal horn player, Stephen Orriss.

In addition, SASO’s leader Jenny Wigram will feature as the violin soloist in music written by British composer Nigel Hess for the 2004 film Ladies in Lavender. The orchestra will also be strutting its Latin stuff with the Gypsy Tango Jalousie.

The concert starts at 7pm and reserved centre seats at £28, £22 and £12 (£1 under-18s, £5 students) and unreserved aisle seats at £8 are available St Albans Cathedral box office (01727 890290) or online.