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Philharmonia Orchestra kicks off the festival’s classical music programme

18:45 09 May 2014

NNF14 Esa-Pekka Salonen 
rehearsal, RFH, 4 Sept 2010
commissioned by Alice Walton at Philharmonia Orchestra
Rite of Spring, Romeo & Julia, Night on the Bare Mountain and Debussy

NNF14 Esa-Pekka Salonen rehearsal, RFH, 4 Sept 2010 commissioned by Alice Walton at Philharmonia Orchestra Rite of Spring, Romeo & Julia, Night on the Bare Mountain and Debussy's Nocturnes

Benjamin Ealovega 2010

Hailed as one of the world’s great orchestras, the Philharmonia Orchestra is set to be a great classical opening act for the 2014 Norfolk and Norwich Festival.

Arts correspondent Emma Knights finds out more.

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NNF14 Esa-Pekka Salonen 
rehearsal, RFH, 4 Sept 2010
commissioned by Alice Walton at Philharmonia Orchestra
Rite of Spring, Romeo & Julia, Night on the Bare Mountain and Debussy's NocturnesNNF14 Esa-Pekka Salonen rehearsal, RFH, 4 Sept 2010 commissioned by Alice Walton at Philharmonia Orchestra Rite of Spring, Romeo & Julia, Night on the Bare Mountain and Debussy's Nocturnes

The works of musical masters Shostakovich, Mendelssohn and Rachmaninov are set to fill Norwich’s St Andrew’s Hall as the Philharmonia Orchestra takes to the festival stage on opening night.

The world-renowned orchestra’s concert is the first event in the festival’s classical music programme, and Philharmonia violinist Gideon Robinson said it was a chance for people to see the orchestra perform some of its favourite works.

The concert will be conducted by Andrew Gourlay.

“We are beginning with Shostakovich’s Festive Overture. That’s a great rousing opener - you have got a fantastic brass fanfare beginning and ending the piece,” said Gideon, who is chairman of the orchestra.

“That is followed by Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto, possibly the most famous violin concerto in the world, and we have got Tasmin Little - one of the most notable violinists of our generation - as a soloist.

“Then we are finishing with the Rachmaninov Symphony No. 2 - I think if the orchestra were to choose a favourite romantic symphony it would be this. It’s a wonderful piece to play. It’s perfectly written in many ways and a very demanding piece. It’s fantastic.”

The London-based orchestra, which was founded in the 1940s, is a regular visitor to the Norfolk and Norwich Festival.

For the 2013 Norfolk and Norwich Festival the Philharmonia Orchestra celebrated work of Benjamin Britten and his links to the city in the concert Our Hunting Fathers – Britten in Norwich.

Gideon said: “I’ve been in the orchestra 22 years and must have been to the Norfolk and Norwich Festival seven or eight times in that period.

“There’s always a really good audience in Norwich and the concerts are always full. St Andrew’s Hall is a really nice place to play with fine acoustics and Norwich is a really nice place to visit.”

The Philharmonia Orchestra is known for being a musical pioneer and is committed to presenting the same quality, live music making in venues throughout the country as it brings to London and the great concert halls of the world.

In 2013/14 the orchestra is performing more than 160 concerts and its international touring schedule includes visiting Russia, Switzerland, Italy, France and China.

The orchestra’s Norfolk and Norwich Festival concert is being sponsored by the Eastern Daily Press and the festival’s principal travel partner, Abellio Greater Anglia.

The Norfolk and Norwich Festival’s roots lie in classical music - the festival can trace its history back to a fundraising concert for the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital in 1772, making it one of the oldest surviving arts festivals in the UK.

• The Philharmonia Orchestra concert is at St Andrew’s Hall, in Norwich, on Friday, May 9 at 7.30pm. Tickets £7-£35. For more information and to book visit www.nnfestival.org.uk or call 01603 766400.

• For more NNF Festival Focus features click here.

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