THE musicians of Slaithwaite Philharmonic Orchestra clearly thrive on challenges.
For the concert which next week opens their new season at Huddersfield Town Hall, the orchestra plays a programme work composed by giants of the classical world.
It’s a programme bursting with hope and joy – and pretty demanding stuff for the musicians according to the orchestra’s music director Benjamin Ellin.
East Of Bayreuth kicks of the new season in stunning style on October 16 (7.30pm).
It opens with Wagner’s Die Meistersinger Prelude and continues with work by two of the big names of Russian music, Medtner and Rachmaninov.
The SPO musicians know the Mastersingers Overture, well. Over the years it has been one of the test pieces which they have played, and won award with, at national competitions going back as far as 1913. Clearly a favourite in their repertoire then.
The orchestra welcomes back London based pianist Simon Callaghan as its soloist. He played Rachmaninov’s third concerto with the SPO last season.
Simon returns to play the third piano concerto by Russian composer and contemporary of Rachmaninov – Nicolas Medtner and the concert is brought to a climax with Rachmaninov’s much loved second Symphony.
“This opening programme combines an overture of might and resonance for the SPO, a Russian Symphony that is genuinely loved across the world and a concerto by another Russian who actually found love and hospitality in the UK and is even buried in London,” said Ben Ellin, who will conduct the concert.
“I think the Rachmaninov is so popular because it is a genuinely moving journey.
“He wrote it after a number of years of compositional silence following harsh criticism of his First Symphony, and I genuinely think the Second is a very powerful journey of darkness to light. The endurance of the human spirit.”
“Everyone knows the Rachmaninov for the wonderful melodies and beautiful harmonies.
“It’s also fiendishly difficult, which I think some of the players had forgotten when they had requested us to programme it.
“You have to be careful what you wish for I suppose,” said Ben.
“Medtner is having a Renaissance of sorts but I am sure this concerto will be fresh to most!
“The work is very beautiful and full of wonderful little twists and turns! It’s definitely a challenge because the orchestral writing and solo part are utterly interlinked which means the broad picture is there only as a full group unlike many other concertos.”
The orchestra is delighted to have pianist Simon Callaghan back with them. He is in much demand internationally as a soloist and chamber musician.
His intelligent and compelling performances both on the concert platform and in the recording studio are earning him a reputation as an exciting and versatile young artist.
His recent performances include a chamber music tour of South Korea, a début with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, a gala concert with English National Opera principals plus appearances on ITV and BBC Television. He has also broadcast on BBC Radio.
Simon Callaghan is equally at home performing the mainstream repertoire as in lesser-known pieces, frequently presenting works by Sterndale Bennett, Parry and Kapustin in his recital programmes.
Simon studied at Chetham’s School of Music with Bernard Roberts and then won a full scholarship to study with Yonty Solomon at the Royal College of Music.
He graduated with first class honours, won numerous prizes and has continued winning prizes both in this country and abroad.
His diary for the season is busy with collaborations with cellist Tim Hugh (London Symphony Orchestra), the Maggini, Barbirolli and Sacconi Quartets and the actors Timothy West and Prunella Scales.
Simon will also record a disc of Delius two-piano music with Hiroaki Takenouchi for SOMM and will perform concertos by Chopin, Gershwin, Grieg, Medtner, Saint-Saens, Prokofiev and Rachmaninov, as well as solo and chamber recitals throughout the UK.
Tickets for next Saturday’s concert are £15.00 to £10.00 (concessions £7.50) from Kirklees box offices on 01484 223200.
As with all SPO concerts, children accompanied by adults are admitted free to the area and gallery.
Arrive early for the concert (6.30pm) and hear Ben Ellin lead a discussion about the evening’s music in the main concert hall.