‘Eye-Popping’ Leading Violinist Joins Symphony Orchestra for Summer Concert

Henley Symphony Orchestra’s summer concert 2023 takes place on Sunday 25 June in St Mary’s Church, Henley, at 7.30pm, featuring works by Beethoven and Stravinsky. It will be conducted by the HSO’s recently appointed Music Director, Leon Bosch.

The concert opens with Beethoven’s Symphony no. 1. First performed in Vienna in 1801, it effectively served to announce Beethoven’s radical talents to the world. The Holy Roman Emperor Francis II is reported to have attended the premiere and to have remarked: “There is something revolutionary in that music!”

Stravinsky’s Pulcinella is an eighteenth-century story of love, revenge, truth and magic. Stravinsky developed the story into a ballet, which premiered in 1920. This charming Suite, a pared-down version of the score, marks Stravinsky’s dramatic shift to neo-classicism.

The concert will then return to Beethoven for his Violin Concerto, written in 1806. Its first performance by Franz Clement was unsuccessful, and for some decades the work languished in obscurity until it was eventually revived in 1844 by the then 12-year-old violinist Joseph Joachim and the orchestra of the London Philharmonic Society conducted by Felix Mendelssohn. Joachim would later claim it to be the greatest of all German violin concertos. It has since become one of the best known and most regularly performed concertos in the classical repertoire.

Leon Bosch took up his position as Music Director and Conductor of HSO in January this year. Internationally renowned as a double bass player, he has been developing a career as a conductor in the UK, his native South Africa and around the world. He was first encouraged to conduct by the late Sir Neville Marriner, legendary founder of The Academy of St Martin in the Fields, for whom he was Principal Bass for over twenty years. He also directs his own chamber ensemble, I Musicanti.

Berlin-based Latvian violinist Kristīne Balanas will be the concert’s soloist.  She’s been described as eye-popping virtuosity” by The Times, and she’s in demand for her “savage, bold, dramatic” playing (The Strad). She has appeared with major orchestras, including the London Philharmonic Orchestra, Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra and the Orchestre de Chambre de Paris. Her head-turning transformation from a street musician and rock and roll singer in Latvia to a graduate with honours from the Royal Academy of Music, marks her out as an entirely idiosyncratic presence on the stage. Kristīne has appeared in many festivals, including Festival Radio France Occitanie Montpellier and Denis Matsuev’s Stars on Baikal festival. She is a regular guest recital soloist on Latvian National Radio. She has also performed on BBC Radio 3’s In Tune and BBC 1’s The One Show and given recitals at the Purcell Room, St. John’s Smith Square and Kings Place. Her instrument is a 1787 Antonio Gragnani violin, loaned to her by ‘The Little Butterfly Foundation’.

Tickets are £20 unreserved and £8 for U16s/students, obtainable from hsoboxoffice@gmail.com  or 07726 459261.


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