New classical music series aims to conduct big names to Norwich

International orchestras and sought-after soloists feature in a new classical music series at Norwic

International orchestras and sought-after soloists feature in a new classical music series at Norwich Theatre Royal - Credit: iStockphoto

International orchestras and sought-after soloists feature in a new classical music series at Norwich Theatre Royal which seeks to cement Norfolk's name on the classical music map.

Pianist Peter Donohoe will be soloist for the visit of St Petersburg Symphony Orchestra. Photo: Subm

Pianist Peter Donohoe will be soloist for the visit of St Petersburg Symphony Orchestra. Photo: Submitted - Credit: Archant

From local orchestras like the Norwich Philharmonic, Mozart Orchestra and Norfolk Symphony to concerts series at King's Lynn Festival, Norfolk and Norwich Chamber Music and the Holkham and Raynham stately home recitals, Norfolk has a strong tradition of classical music.

Add in Royal Philharmonic's programmes in Lowestoft and Snape Maltings, with its history of Benjamin Britten, being a mecca for musicians, and the region is well and truly on the classical music map.

Norwich Theatre Royal is now aiming to cement this even more strongly with a brand new season of concerts that begins this weekend with a concert by the St Petersburg Symphony Orchestra.

The European Union Chamber Orchestra will be performing alongside pianist Martin Roscoe at Norwich T

The European Union Chamber Orchestra will be performing alongside pianist Martin Roscoe at Norwich Theatre Royal on March 24. Photo: Submitted - Credit: Submitted

The orchestra can trace its history back to 1931. For the first 20 years of their life, they were linked to Leningrad Radio broadcasting live initially as a concert orchestra and them moving on to become a symphony orchestra.


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During the Second World War, it was the only orchestra which carried on performing winning plaudits for the Leningrad premiere of Shostakovich's Seventh Symphony in August 1942 and performing more than 300 times despite the blockade of the city.

It received Philharmonic status in 1953 and then in the late Sixties, began a major growth of its repertoire. By the Seventies, it was performing the Leningrad premiere of works by a wide variety of composers including Handel, Mahler, Strauss, and Tippett, as well as recording all the symphonies of Beethoven and Schubert, plus works by Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninov, Ravel and East Anglia's own Britten.

Martin Roscoe will be soloist for the visit of the European Union Chamber Orchestra. Photo: Eric Ric

Martin Roscoe will be soloist for the visit of the European Union Chamber Orchestra. Photo: Eric Richmond - Credit: Eric Richmond

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It now regularly takes part in prestigious international festivals and tours across Europe, Asia and America delighting audiences and critics alike and with a very mixed repertoire which includes works by Beethoven and Mozart, classical Swedish music, and the scores for both Winnie The Pooh and The Lion King.

For their Norwich concert, they will be joined by soloist British pianist Peter Donohoe to perform Prokofiev's Classical Symphony, which marked a change in the composer's style and approach. It mixes classical techniques with a more contemporary feel and also marked a departure for Prokofiev as it was composed away from the piano.

Also in the programme will be Rachmaninov's Piano Concerto No 4, which was first written by the Russian composer in 1926, and Rimsky-Korsakov's Scheherazade, which boasts some wonderfully evocative compositions as it tells stories of the Persian Princess.

Vladimir Altschuler will be conducting the St Petersburg Symphony Orchestra at the opening concert.

Vladimir Altschuler will be conducting the St Petersburg Symphony Orchestra at the opening concert. Photo: Submitted - Credit: Submitted

The new season will then continue on March 24 with a visit from the European Union Chamber Orchestra with a programme that includes Bach's Brandenburg Concerto No 3, Vivaldi's Four Seasons, and Mozart's Piano Concerto K414 In A Major, which features some very catchy and memorable moments either side of some powerful operatic-style music.

The orchestra itself, which boasts Queen Sofia of Spain as a patron, gave its first concerts in 1981 gaining a worldwide reputation as a musical ambassador for the European Union.

Meanwhile the Czech National Symphony Orchestra visit on April 15 conducted by Petr Altrichter and joined by soloist the globally-renowned pianist Pavel Kolesnikov. The programme will include Schubert's Symphony No 8, known as The Unfinished, which was found 37 years after the composer's death when a man handed over the incomplete piece to a Viennese conductor. Beethoven's Piano Concerto No 5 and Dvorak's Symphony No 9 also feature.

Globally-renowned pianist Pavel Kolesnikov will join Czech National Symphony Orchestra next April. P

Globally-renowned pianist Pavel Kolesnikov will join Czech National Symphony Orchestra next April. Photo: Submitted - Credit: Submitted

The orchestra's visit to Norwich will help it celebrate its first quarter of a century and is known for its versatility mixing traditional repertoire with more contemporary works, jazz pieces, and both musical and film scores.

They have also worked with a wide range of composers, conductors and performers which includes Ennio Morricone, James Morrison, Lalo Schifrin and Carl Davis, as well as working on the score for the Quentin Tarantino's western The Hateful Eight.

The new series adds to regular concert series at the Theatre Royal by Britten Sinfonia, and visits from Glynebourne and English Touring Opera.

Chief executive Stephen Crocker explained: 'Norwich has a deep-rooted association with classical music concerts that dates back to the founding of the Norfolk & Norwich Festival in the 18th century and continues to this day with a thriving and enviable programme across the city's churches and venues. As the largest stage in the city, the Theatre Royal has an important part to play in further developing this part of Norwich's vibrant music scene by ensuring that some of the world's leading symphony orchestras and classical performers are part of this city-wide programme.'

• St Petersburg Symphony Orchestra, Norwich Theatre Royal, October 22, 7.30pm, £36-£8, 01603 630000, theatreroyalnorwich.co.uk

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