Symphony Orchestra Chooses Brahms and Elgar Music for Spring Concert

Henley Symphony Orchestra in its 54th season, returns to the Hexagon on Sunday 17 March for its annual spring concert comprising of Brahms’ Academic Festival Overture and Symphony No 2 and Elgar’s Sea Pictures.

They are delighted to welcome Alexander Walker as guest conductor and Rebecca Afonwy-Jones, mezzo-soprano, as soloist.

The sparkling mood of the opening Academic Festival Overture, with its potpourri of boisterous student drinking songs, was written by Brahms as a thank you to Breslau University after he was awarded an honorary doctorate. Schumann predicted that Brahms would be the musical successor to Beethoven, and his Second Symphony surely fulfils this promise, with its rich depth of orchestral splendour. Written whilst on holiday in Austria in 1877, it is often described as the most melodious and sunny of Brahms’s four symphonies, but he himself wrote ‘Black wings are constantly beating above us’.

Sea Pictures, written by Elgar in 1899 immediately after the Enigma Variations, share Enigma’s mastery of orchestral tone-painting in five contrasting songs. The composition was encouraged by his wife, Alice, who wrote the second song. Janet Baker’s 1965 recording of Sea Pictures with John Barbirolli remains a benchmark account.

Rebecca Afonwy-Jones began her career as a Scottish Opera Emerging Artist, subsequently joining Welsh National Opera as an Associate Artist. Regular concert engagements have included her BBC Proms debut in Vaughan Williams’ Serenade to Music with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra. This season, she joins If Opera Company in roles including Marthe Iolanta; Mid Wales Opera as Dama Macbeth; and Longborough Festival Opera as Wellgunde Das Rheingold/Götterdämmerung and Waltraute Die Walkür. She will also be performing in Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 at London’s Barbican Hall.

Tickets are: £22, £18, £14; U16s/students half price; 1 child free with paying adult (£18 and £14 tickets); Groups: 1 in 8 free. To purchase, email hsoboxoffice@gmail.com tel 07726 45926, or via Reading Arts www.whatsonreading.com/book/408202 (booking fee applies)  0118 960 6060.

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