English Symphony Orchestra/English String Orchestra http://eso.co.uk The International Orchestra of Elgar Country Tue, 27 Jun 2017 11:47:23 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Soprano April Fredrick Appointed As First ESO Affiliate Artist http://eso.co.uk/soprano-april-fredrick-appointed-as-first-eso-affiliate-artist/ Sat, 08 Apr 2017 13:31:49 +0000 http://eso.co.uk/?p=3663

Continue reading »]]>


The ESO (English Symphony Orchestra/English String Orchestra) have announced the appointment of American-born soprano April Fredrick as the orchestra’s first Affiliate Artist. Fredrick will be one of several leading artists to work with the ESO in long-term partnership as part of the new scheme.

“Working in collaboration with our fellow artists has been one of the biggest contributing factors to the ESO’s success over the last few years,” said ESO Artistic Director Kenneth Woods. “We’ve always believed that it’s better to build strong working relationships with soloists and composers we respect and enjoy working with over time than to simply populate our concerts with a bunch of one-off appearances by artists who, however gifted, never spend enough time with the orchestra to really create a rapport.”

April Fredrick: “I first heard the ESO’s recordings many years ago as a teenager in Wisconsin, and I was struck then by its passion, flexibility, and precision. As a performer, I have found the orchestra a sheer joy to work, and I am absolutely delighted to have the chance to develop that relationship further. I have also been deeply impressed by the vibrancy and power of its performances, full of an equal depth of thought and feeling, under Kenneth Woods. I am incredibly excited at the prospect of being able to collaborate long-term with such wonderful and dynamic thinkers and musicians to re-imagine old works and models and create new ones that speak afresh to today’s world”.

Woods also explained that the new scheme is about more than simply inviting the same artists to appear over and over again on concerts. “The Affiliate Artist scheme is about strategic and creative partnership. It’s about finding artists we can work with to commission new works, develop new projects, reach new audiences and create new recordings.”

One of Fredrick’s most ambitious projects with the ESO is “The Hour of Love and Death”- an immersive multi-media staging of Shostakovich’s 14th Symphony in which Fredrick is appearing as soloist alongside current ESO Artist-in-Association Matthew Sharp and serving as Executive Producer. “A large part of my inspiration to create The Hour of Love and Death came from knowing Matthew and April as singers,” said Woods. “In fact, the very first project April and I did was a performance of Shostakovich 14. I could immediately see that she was one of those rare sopranos who have the voice for this formidable work, but that she also brings communicative gifts, movements skills and theatrical presence to the piece that opened up the possibility of taking this work to a whole different level. The same is true of Matthew Sharp, who also brings vast experience as a theatrical and operatic director to the project. In her capacity as Executive Producer, April has further expanded the project’s creative scope and public engagement. This is exactly the sort of strategic cooperation that I hope the new Affiliate Artist scheme will help us develop.”

Fredrick made her debut with the ESO in the arias from Beethoven’s Incidental Music to Goethe’s Egmont in 2015 and created a nationwide sensation among critics and music lovers when she sang the title role in the world premiere performance and Somm recording of John Joubert’s opera Jane Eyre in 2016. More recently, she gave the London premiere of Philip Sawyers’ Songs of Loss and Regret, a performance of which Robert Matthew-Walker wrote in Classical Source that “a considerable compliment was paid to the composer by the exceptional April Fredrick who sang superbly throughout without a score. For an artist of this quality to memorise the music is itself an indication of her view of the work’s stature.” Her upcoming ESO projects also include Mahler’s Fourth Symphony with Kenneth Woods in February, 2018.

Hailed as ‘astonishing and luminous’ (Bachtrack), soprano April Fredrick grew up in rural Wisconsin and trained first as a violinist before studying voice at the University of Northwestern St Paul in Minnesota. She went on to study at the Royal Academy of Music, where she gained an MMus in Vocal Performance and a PhD on the late songs of Ivor Gurney, singing with the Historical Performance department under Laurence Cummings, premiering works by Academy composers, and frequently appearing as part of the Lyric Song Salon.


Her first two discs on the SOMM label, of Barber Knoxville: Summer of 1915 and Copland 8 Songs of Emily Dickinson with the Orchestra of the Swan and Earth’s Call, John Ireland songs with pianist Mark Bebbington, have been described as full of ‘humane and vulnerable’, with ‘creamy timbre and velvet strength’, (MusicWeb), where ‘not the slightest distance can be felt between her and the texts’ (Gramophone).


Other recent performances include Barber Knoxville: Summer of 1915 with the Cheltenham Symphony Orchestra, Mahler Symphony 4 with the Warsaw Philharmonic, the world premiere of Philip Saywer’s Songs of Loss and Regret with the English Symphony Orchestra (forthcoming on Nimbus Records) in Hereford Cathedral, and Strauss’s Vier Letzte Lieder with the Blackburn Symphony Orchestra.


Upcoming work includes, Brahms Requiem and Strauss’ Vier Letzte Lieder with the Nottingham Harmonic Society and the world premiere of a new song-cycle by David Matthews.


What the press are saying about April Fredrick- soprano

a lyrically gleaming soprano, soaring rapturously on Joubert’s singer-friendly lines.’ John Allison, DailyTelegraph


a perfectly-formed voice, fearless in melisma, bright at the top and reflective in descent. She really did embody Charlotte Bronte’s heroine.’ Christopher Morley, Birmingham Post


Fredrick was an outstanding Jane – independent, fiery, poetic‘ Rob Barnett, MusicWeb International


A splendid, strong-willed Jane…terrific dramatic sense, reflected both visually and vocally… utterly riveting…passion and utter conviction…quite fabulous, variable voice, powerful and expressive right across the range’ Roderic Dunnett, Music and Vision


‘April Fredrick gleams in the title role’ Erica Jeal, The Guardian


‘April Fredrick captured the development of the character well, and made all the words tell. Her voice is warm and attractive across a wide range and the resolve of the character shone through’. Alexander Campbell, Classical Source
This was a marathon for April Fredrick, the soprano who took the role of Jane, but she finished as strongly as she started. It was her show on the platform and rightly so: not only vocally, but visually too, how you might imagine Brontë’s heroine to be, she was an ideal Jane (but far from Brontë’s ‘plain’ Jane)…These are her strengths, essential in an opera singer – characterization abilities allied to a solid register.’ Geoff Read, Seen and Heard International


The American soprano April Fredrick was simply breathtaking as Janeintonation, phrasing and sheer musical understanding demonstrated that she is a soprano of whom there is nothing to suggest she will not pursue a leading international career.’ Robert Matthew-Walker, Musical Opinion 


For any media enquiries, interview and image requests, please contact Melanne Mueller, melanne@musiccointernational.com, +44 (0) 20 8698 6933 or +1 917 907 2785

An Interview with Matthew Peters http://eso.co.uk/an-interview-with-matthew-peters/ Tue, 21 Mar 2017 19:00:27 +0000 http://eso.co.uk/?p=3652

Continue reading »]]> You made your start in the industry with a very eminent organisation- the Chicago Symphony. What can you tell us about your experience there?

Producing the Chicago Symphony radio broadcasts was an exhilarating experience due to both the pace of the job as well as the enormity of working with world-class artists. The pace of the job felt like driving at 90 miles and hour with no brakes because, unlike studio recording where the might be take after take after take of a difficult passage, we only recorded two live performances and then proceeded to edit those together. For the standard repertoire it was rarely an issue – the orchestra has played it hundreds of times, I would know the score really well, etc. However, the CSO often did a number of world premieres – and I wouldn’t have access to the score until the concert. It was sometimes nerve-wracking to sight-read a modern score of a piece I had never heard, and be able to mark it as if I had known the piece my whole life.


It was also humbling – as my job, based on the performances, was to make my editing recommendations to artists such as Daniel Barenboim, Yo-Yo Ma, Pierre Boulez, Zubin Mehta, etc. I was a bit star-struck at first, because these were the artists I listened to growing up and who inspired me to become a musician. However, I was supposed to speak to them as colleagues – which at 21 years old – took a bit of getting used to!


The ESO has a distinguished history of its own, but it’s a much smaller operation than the CSO. What appealed to you about working with this orchestra?

I was actually very aware of its history before I moved to the area – I have the Serenades for Strings album with Boughton on vinyl!

I hadn’t made the connection that the ESO was local to Worcester till the side-by-side performance of the Worcester Youth String Orchestra with ESO. It was at that concert – where I realised the orchestra’s artistic direction was not only about staying true to the standard string repertoire, but also strongly supporting modern music (English composers in particular) – and programming them side by side – that I became very interested in working with the orchestra.

I have been inspired by the projects of the past two years and cannot wait to be an intergral part of planning for the future.


What do you hope to accomplish here? Where would you like to see the orchestra in five years?

It is no secret that the ESO has had some troubles over the years – and that is nothing to be ashamed of. Orchestras, like people, have life cycles and go through prosperous times and also fall on hardships. The number of top-tier orchestras in the United States that have come close bankruptcy or have had strikes and/or lock-outs in the past 5-10 years is heartbreaking. However, when the whole organisation comes together as a team (players, directors, management, trustees), usually the orchestra survives and even comes out the other side stronger.


I think we are at a turning point and the ESO’s best days are still ahead. One of my first directives was to get all of the departments to start communicating better with each other, working together, and realising that the orchestra is above all of us. It is not about any single person, but all of us coming together that will elevate the orchestra to where is should be – and in five years time, I hope that will be nationally recognised as one of the top orchestras in the country, and through our recordings, also develop an international following that could lead to touring opportunities.


Can you tell us a bit about your background as a musician and how that’s informed your approach to orchestra management?

I started playing the cello when I was 8 years old at the Preucil School of Music in Iowa City, Iowa. For a relatively small town in the Midwest – Iowa City is a bit of a cultural haven – so I was lucky to play in 2 extremely good youth orchestras, played a lot of chamber music, studied theory and composition, and did a European tour. The University of Iowa also brought in top recitalists and touring orchestras so I was able to grow up listening to world-class musicians, that lead to me pushing myself to achieve as much as I could.


This actually has informed my orchestral management style in that I feel it is just as important to perform in smaller communities as it is the big, prestigious world stages. Naturally, I would love for the ESO to play Royal Albert Hall, Carnegie Hall, Sydney Opera House, etc… but by playing the smaller halls in more isolated communities, one never knows which child might be inspired so much by that one performance that it fuels them to strive for a life in the arts as well.


We understand you’re still very active as a music educator yourself. Can you tell us a bit about your teaching philosophy and what you see as the ESO’s role in supporting music education?

Yes – I am Head of Strings at the Elgar School of Music and I also teach cello in my own private studio as well as some peripetetic teaching for the County. My basic philosophy is that every child should have access to music tuition, should they want to play an instrument. This is not a unique philosophy, but one that is harder to sustain with government funding cuts and in many cases, parents’ cost of living going up but wages staying the same.


Something I would like to see more organisations adopt are workstudy programmes : reduced tuition in exchange for light work. My family was only able to afford all of our lessons (I have a brother and sister too) because the Preucil School offered us workstudy. I helped out in the office, I set up and cleared away after some classes, and when I was older, I actually helped lead the class and got my first introduction into teaching. Not only did the work study help me afford lessons, but I actually practised more because I was working for them.


I think the ESO is lucky to have the education team lead by Noriko Tsuzaki and James Topp. They tirelessly work to provide opportunities for children and are looking to expand our orchestral courses to more locations. I would like to see the ESO work more within schools, to help inspire children to take up instrument tuition – or at least come to concerts… and on the other end of the spectrum, would like to develop a young artists programme for talented students (perhaps 16-20 years old) that gives them the chance to play chamber music with ESO players and could even lead to a concerto performance.


We gather you’ve also worked a lot in non-classical musical styles. Can you tell us a bit about that?

I have always loved music in all genres, and while I was studying sound recording at McGill University, I had a chance to learn digital audio production. It gave me the tools to make my own music – and while sounding very different to classical – I approached it the same way. I was intrigued by motifs, varying articulations, dynamics, timbre – but I used different sources to “paint with sound”. I did a lot of work in experimental hip hop (I guess in the same way one can only describe Ravel’s La Valse as rather experimental for a waltz!), released several 12” singles and full albums, and performed in New York City (both in clubs and as sound designer for theatre projects) and many festivals in Europe. I also collaborated with jazz musicians, hiphop mc’s, percussionists, vocalists, and other producers in a way that felt like chamber music to me.

ESO Appoint Violinist Zoë Beyers as Leader http://eso.co.uk/eso-appoint-violinist-zoe-beyers-as-leader/ Wed, 15 Mar 2017 16:10:25 +0000 http://eso.co.uk/?p=3638

Continue reading »]]>  

Zoe Beyers in performance with the ESO at London’s Kings Place–
Photo by Ben Ealovega

The English Symphony Orchestra and English String Orchestra are delighted to announce the appointment of violinist Zoë Beyers as Leader of the ESO, effective immediately.  ClassicalSource critic Edward Clark said of Beyers’ leadership of the ESO during the orchestra’s recent Kings Place debut that “ guest-leader Zoë Beyers’ playing was inspirational to all around her.”

In September 2009 Zoë became the Associate Leader of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, and has performed regularly with the CBSO as soloist and chamber musician.  Zoë is greatly in demand as a guest leader, working with the Philharmonia, BBC Philharmonic (also as a soloist/director), BBC Symphony Orchestra, Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Britten Sinfonia, Aurora Orchestra, Musikkollegium Winterthur and the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra.

Beyers will lead approximately half of the ESO’s concerts, and will appear with the orchestra regularly as both director and soloist. She will also be active in developing the ESO’s chamber music offer, and will contribute to the development of the orchestra’s commissioning and recording programmes.

“This is a very happy day for the orchestra.,” said ESO General Manager Matthew Peters. “Zoë was the unanimous choice of the musicians and administration. She brings to the ESO a passion for a broad range of repertoire and shares our commitment to bringing worthwhile unknown works of all eras to the attention of our audience.

Beyers says of her appointment that “I’m thrilled to be joining the ESO, and look forward to working with this dynamic ensemble.  The ESO’s commitment to performing and commissioning new music is something that is very close to my own heart.  I am very excited to be joining an ensemble that is such an integral part of the future of classical music in Britain, as well as its past.  I look forward to a wonderful musical journey together.”

“The orchestra has benefited enormously from the inspirational contributions of all the guest leaders we have worked with over the last two seasons. It has been a time of great renewal for the orchestra” said ESO Artistic Director, Kenneth Woods.  “in Zoë we have found a permanent member of the team who will be an important part of the orchestra’s artistic foundations for many years to come.”

The orchestra will be appointing an additional leader in the coming months. Beyers’ first appearance with the ESO in her new role will be at The Bridgewater Hall on the 21st of April in a performance of the ESO’s “Wall of Water” programme featuring works by Kaija Saariaho, Thea Musgrave, Emily Doolittle and Deborah Pritchard.



About Zoë Beyers

Zoë Beyers was born in Stellenbosch, South Africa.  Since her solo debut aged eleven with the Swedish Chamber Orchestra under Paavo Järvi, she has performed with many distinguished conductors throughout Europe and Africa.  Recent highlights include Sir Peter Maxwell Davies’ A Spell for Green Corn and the Britten concerto with the BSO under Michael Seal.  Forthcoming projects include the Korngold concerto with the Norwich Philharmonic and Prokofiev’s 2nd concerto with the Corinthian Chamber Orchestra.

Zoë is a member of the Hebrides Ensemble and also performs, broadcasts and records with the Birmingham Contemporary Music Group and the Scottish Ensemble, collaborating with, amongst others, Francois Leleux, Stephen Osborne, Lars Vogt, Elisabeth Leonskaja and Alexander Janiczek, and the composers Helen Grime and Oliver Knussen.  As a soloist/director, Zoë’s 2011 recording of early Mendelssohn concerti with the University of Stellenbosch Camerata was nominated for a SAMA award.  Her 2013 recording of Wassenaer concerti armonici (directing the Innovation Chamber Ensemble for Somm Records) was Classic FM’s CD of the week, and their 2014 disc of rare Elgar works was received with critical acclaim.

About the ESO

The Worcestershire- based ESO, the International Orchestra of Elgar Country, is an ensemble which in recent years has become synonymous with artistic excellence, innovative and visionary programming, distinctive commissioning, ground-breaking recording, a welcoming and immersive concert experience, transformative youth programmes and service to the community. Since 2013, the orchestra has re-emerged as a major force in British musical life, presenting and recording the orchestra’s first full-length opera (the world premiere of John Joubert’s Jane Eyre) to overwhelming critical acclaim, presenting the 2015 Classical Music Magazine “Premiere of the Year,” and releasing a triumphant series of recordings including Donald Fraser’s orchestration of the Elgar Piano Quintet (Classic FM Disc of the Week) and the Complete Piano Concertos of Ernst Krenek (Sunday Times Essential New Release).

Founded in 1980 by William Boughton, the ESO have a long and distinguished history of collaboration with legendary figures of British music making. Vernon “Tod” Handley became the orchestra’s second Principal Conductor in 2007, and led the orchestra until his death. Over the years, the ESO has worked with a distinguished list of instrumentalists, composers and conductors, including Nigel Kennedy, Stephen Isserlis, Daniel Hope, Michael Tippett, Nicholas Maw and Yehudi Menuhin, who was appointed the ESO’s Principal Guest Conductor in 1991, and led the orchestra on a number of international tours. In 2017 the ESO launched the 21st Century Symphony Project, an ambitious multi-year effort to commission, premiere and record nine new symphonies by nine different composers with the triumphant world premiere of Philip Sawyers Symphony no. 3.

Next ESO Performance with Zoë Beyers

English String Orchestra
Friday, 21 April, 2017 7:30PM

Wall of Water

Kenneth Woods- conductor
Harriet Mackenzie- violin

Thea Musgrave- Green
Deborah Pritchard- Violin Concerto: Wall of Water (after the paintings by Maggi Hambling)
Emily Doolittle- falling still for violin and strings
Kaija Saariaho- Terra memoria

Information and tickets from: https://tickets.bridgewater-hall.co.uk/single/eventDetail.aspx?p=33986


For any media enquiries, interview and image requests, please contact Melanne Mueller, melanne@musiccointernational.com, +44 (0) 20 8698 6933 or +1 917 907 2785

ESO Open 2017 Shirehall Sunday Series with Vivaldi, Bach and Telemann featuring Academia Musica Choir http://eso.co.uk/eso-open-2017-shirehall-sunday-series-with-vivaldi-bach-and-telemann-featuring-academia-musica-choir/ Sat, 04 Feb 2017 12:20:04 +0000 http://eso.co.uk/?p=3592

Continue reading »]]> 4 February, 2017

For Immediate Release

ESO Open 2017 Shirehall Sunday Series with Vivaldi, Bach and Telemann featuring Academia Musica Choir

ESO Artist-in-Association, bass-baritone and cellist Matthew Sharp

The English Symphony Orchestra, hailed as the International Orchestra of Elgar Country, kick off their 2017 series of very popular Shirehall Sunday concerts at 3:30 Pm on the 19th of February with a programme of Baroque favourites by Bach, Vivaldi and Telemann. The ESO are joined on this occasion by the outstanding Scholars Choir of Hereford Sixth Form College, Academia Musica, and a top-flight team of local and national soloists, including Lucy Bowen, Caitlin Prowle, Emma Curtis, Jon Weller and Matthew Sharp. The concert will be conducted by the ESO’s Principal Conductor and Artistic Director, Kenneth Woods.

The Academia Musica choir continue to go from strength to strength. In addition to their weekly evensongs at Hereford Cathedral, a number of exciting concerts are planned for 2017. Aryan Arji, Director of Music of Academia Musica said, ‘It is a privilege to perform on a regular basis with this great orchestra with whom we now have a well-established partnership.”

Kenneth Woods, Artistic Director, says the relationship between the ESO and Academia is a special one. “Since we first started working together a few years ago, the ESO and Academia Musica have collaborated on several really important projects- tours to London, world-premiere performances. They’re a wonderful, spirited and polished choir, and there’s always energy when we work together. Doing this very uplifting music of Bach and Vivaldi promises to be a particularly rewarding collaboration.”

The ESO are one of the region’s most active proponents of music education, offering regular orchestral courses in addition to the work they do in partnership with regional music hubs and groups like Academia Musica, which give young musicians a chance to perform as colleagues with leading professionals. Hereford audiences can sample the achievements of the ESO Youth Orchestras and young guest musicians from around Herefordshire in a free pre-concert youth performance at 3PM. The assembled youngsters will showcase the result of their recent work on ESO courses with a performance including the world premiere of a new work written just for them by the ESO’s acclaimed composer-in-association, Philip Sawyers, conducted by James Topp.

In addition to their busy concert schedule and work in support of music education as Orchestra in Residence of Herefordshire, the ESO also present an uplifting series of dozens of concerts in care homes and hospices across the county, bringing the comfort of live music to people living with dementia.

2016 was a landmark year for the ESO. The orchestra is currently enjoying a major artistic resurgence, having recently released their first full-length CD in over 10 years- a recording  of Krenek Piano Concertos which won a string of five-star reviews and landed on the Sunday Times Best Recordings of 2016 list. 2016 also saw the release of the ESO’s recording of the Elgar Piano Quintet as arranged for symphony orchestra by Donald Fraser- a recording which became Disc of the Month on Classic FM and a one of the year’s best-selling CDs. Other highlights of 2016 include winning Classical Music Magazine’s “Premiere of the Year” accolade for the second year in a row and a stream of international broadcasts.

Academia Musica Choir




Sunday 19 February 2017 at  3:30 PM

Hereford Shirehall
Part of ESO Shirehall Sundays

English Symphony Orchestra
Kenneth Woods- Principal Conductor

Academia Musica Choir- Aryan Arji, director

Lucy Bowen- soprano
Caitline Prowle- soprano
Emma Curtis- contralto
Jon Weller- tenor
Matthew Sharp (ESO Artist-in-Association)- bass-baritone


Vivaldi- Gloria RV589

Telemann-Ouverture-Suite, ‘”Burlesque de Quixotte”

‘Bach- Cantata no. 140 “Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme”


TICKETS-  https://esobachintown.eventbrite.co.uk/

Book by phone via Worcester Live-  01905 611427

£18/general admission, £22/premium seating, £5/children age 5-18

Booking charges may apply


More about the ESO: http://eso.co.uk/

More about Kenneth Woods: http://kennethwoods.net

More about Matthew Sharp: http://www.matthewsharp.net/

More about Emma Curtis: http://www.emmacurtis.com/


Interview requests, additional materials and images: Melanne Mueller <melanne@musiccointernational.com>

ESO Launch New Residency with Worcester Live with Gala Concert on 17 Feb http://eso.co.uk/eso-launch-new-residency-with-worcester-live-with-gala-concert-on-17-feb/ Fri, 03 Feb 2017 19:50:04 +0000 http://eso.co.uk/?p=3579

Continue reading »]]> The English Symphony Orchestra, one of Worcester’s most celebrated international cultural exports, will launch a new collaboration with Worcester Live with a gala evening of light classical favourites in Huntingdon Hall on Friday the 17th of February. Joining the ESO musicians and their Artistic Director, Kennneth Woods, is rising soprano superstar, April Fredrick, whose recent performance in the title role of John Joubert’s Jane Eyre was one of 2016’s breakout performances.


Soprano April Fredrick

The concert is a celebration of the ESO’s new role as Orchestra in Residence for Worcester Live, the company behind the Worcester Festival, the Swan Theatre, Huntingdon Hall and Worcester Rep. The programme, entitled “All Singing, All Dancing” includes Hungarian Dances by Brahms, Slavonic Dances by Dvorak and waltzes and polkas by Johann Strauss alongside some of the most beloved soprano arias in the repertoire. “We wanted to make this first concert of our Worcester Live residency as joyful an occasion as possible, so we’ve chosen a a programme of works very close to our hearts: one which is as full of life and excitement as we could possibly make it,” says Kenneth Woods, the ESO’s conductor and Artistic Director. “April Fredrick is one of our most valued artistic partner and one of the most exciting emerging talents in the UK, and we’re so thrilled she’ll be joining us for this concert.”

Long a mainstay of musical life in Worcestershire, the ESO’s recordings and tours have been one of the county’s most powerful cultural exports for many years. The orchestra is currently enjoying a major artistic resurgence, having recently released their first full-length CD is 10 years- a recording  of Krenek Piano Concertos which won a string of five-star reviews and landed on the Sunday Times Best Recordings of 2016 list. 2016 also saw the release of the ESO’s recording of the Elgar Piano Quintet as arranged for symphony orchestra by Donald Fraser- a recording which became Disc of the Month on Classic FM and a one of the year’s best-selling CDs. Other highlights of 2016 include winning Classical Music Magazine’s “Premiere of the Year” accolade for the second year in a row and a stream of international broadcasts.

The new alliance between Worcester Live and the ESO bring together Worcester’s two most important cultural organisations in a  project to build new audiences for classical music in the country and to expand music education opportunities for area young people.  “Developing the audiences of the future is all about collaboration,” says Worcester Live’s CEO Chris Jaeger. “This kind of cooperative approach is the best way to engage new listeners”

The ESO’s Worcester Live Residency will continue with Façade and the Enduring English Eccentric starring Ben Humphrey at the Swan Theatre on the 7th and 8th of April.



More about the ESO: http://eso.co.uk/


More about Worcester Live: http://www.worcesterlive.co.uk/


More about Kenneth Woods: http://kennethwoods.net


More about April Fredrick: http://www.aprilfredrick.com/


Additional enquiries or interview requests: eso@eso.co.uk

Concert information:

Friday 17 February, 2017 at 7:30 PM

Huntingdon Hall
Gala Launch of New ESO/Worcester Live Orchestra Residency Project

English Symphony Orchestra
Kenneth Woods- Principal Conductor
April Fredrick- Soprano


Brahms Hungarian Dance no. 1 3’
Brahms- Hungarian Dance no. 3 3’
Johann Strauss Jr. – Mein Herr Marquis from Die Fledermaus 4’
Rossini- Una voce poco fa
Johann Strauss Jr- Titsch Tratsch Polka 3’
Brahms- Hungarian Dance no. 5  3’


Dvorak- Slavonic Dance opus 72 no. 2
Dvorak- Slavonic Dance opus 72 no. 7
Dvorak- “Song to the Moon” from Russalka
Gounod- Jewel Song from Faust
Sibelius- Valse Triste
Johann Strauss Jr- “Saffi’s” Song from The Gypsy Baron
Johann Strauss Jr.- Emperor Waltzes

Prices: £19, £16.50, Under 16’s £8, Family Ticket £34.50

Tickets available here: http://www.worcesterlive.co.uk/events_review.asp?eid=453059724

Book By Phone Via Worcester Live: 01905 611427

ENGLISH SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA PRESENT THE 21ST CENTURY SYMPHONY PROJECT: NINE SYMPHONIES BY NINE COMPOSERS LAUNCHES WITH FEBRUARY PREMIERE OF PHILIP SAWYERS’ THIRD SYMPHONY http://eso.co.uk/kenneth-woods-and-the-english-symphony-orchestra-present-the-21st-century-symphony-project-nine-symphonies-by-nine-composers-launches-with-february-premiere-of-philip-sawyers-third-symphony/ Fri, 16 Dec 2016 20:23:03 +0000 http://eso.co.uk/?p=3527

Continue reading »]]>

The English Symphony Orchestra (ESO) are proud to announce the 21st Century Symphony Project, which will commission nine composers to write nine symphonies to be premiered by the ESO. The project will launch with the premiere of the ESO’s “John McCabe Composer-in-Association” Philip Sawyers’ Symphony No. 3 on 28 February 2017 at St. John’s Smith Square in London. The project is the brainchild of ESO conductor Kenneth Woods, who was recently promoted to become the orchestra’s Artistic Director in October, 2016.

Ken’s concept took root when he was first appointed Principal Conductor of the ESO in 2013-14. “This big moment for both me and the orchestra begged for a bold statement,” he explains, “and I decided to commission a symphony from my friend and colleague Philip Sawyers to celebrate this new partnership.”

The ESO has consistently supported the creation and dissemination of new and unknown British music. Commissioning, performing and recording new orchestral works remains a key aspect of the orchestra’s mission. The ESO aspires to present symphonic music – from Haydn to Tippett and beyond – that engages, challenges and rewards audiences. The ESO further aims to introduce audiences to new works that are by turns substantial, original, challenging and beautiful, works which will open up new ways of hearing music over time.

Whilst devising the 21st Century Symphony Project, Ken pondered the genre’s relationship with the past and what it has to offer in the future. “These are among the questions I hope the project will encourage all of us to consider,” he comments.

Inaugurating the 21st Century Symphony Project is Philip Sawyers’ Symphony No 3. Soon after Ken met Philip, when both were mentors to the Kent County Youth Orchestra, a plan developed to record the composer’s Concertante for Violin, Piano and Strings, Cello Concerto and Second Symphony for the Nimbus label. The 2014 release was described by Gramophone as “three recent works of strong personality, genuine substance and warm-hearted integrity … performed here with thrilling conviction and formidable assurance by the Orchestra of the Swan under its [then] excellent Principal Guest Conductor Kenneth Woods.” Ken’s and the ESO’s commission for Philip’s Third Symphony soon followed.

The 21st Century Symphony Project will continue in 2018 with the world-premiere of David Matthews’ Symphony No. 9. “Kenneth Woods is a visionary conductor and a champion of new music,” said Matthews of his choice to write his Ninth for Ken and the ESO. Matthews looks forward to the premiere of Sawyers’ Third, saying “Sawyers is a natural symphonist. His first two symphonies show those qualities of dynamism, drama, contrast, lyricism; they are works that renew the tradition in a vital way.”

Asked about the future of the 21st Century Symphony Project, Ken remarks, “I have a pretty clear sense of what the next steps in the cycle will be, and I have a long wish list of possible composers, more than enough to fill out the cycle. Who’s to say we need to stop at nine, which after all is perhaps a not-so-discreet nod to Beethoven’s legendary symphonic output.”
# # #
As the 21st Century Symphony Project promises an auspicious opening to 2017, Ken and the ESO are basking in a banner year that has included no fewer than four acclaimed premieres. The March release of first recordings of Piano Concertos Nos. 1 – 3 by Ernst Krenek, with Mikhail Korzhev (Toccata Classics), received “electric performances” and was chosen as one of the Top Recordings of 2016 by The Sunday Times. May saw the release of the world-premiere recording of Hans Gal’s Concerto for Piano and Orchestra, with Sarah Beth Briggs (AVIE Records), which earned a Gramophone Critic’s Choice of 2016 accolade for its “beautifully poised, enchanting account.” Also in May, AVIE released the premiere recordings of Donald Fraser’s orchestrations of Elgar’s Piano Quintet and Sea Pictures which reached the Top 10 of the UK Specialist Classical Chart. In October, Ken and the ESO gave the world-premiere performance of John Joubert’s opera Jane Eyre, a “Premiere of the Year” for Classical Music Magazine. The performance was captured live by Somm Recordings and is scheduled to be released in March 2017 to coincide with the composer’s 90th birthday. For the performance, Ken enlisted the support of Michael Young whose recent appointment to the ESO’s newly established position of Assistant Conductor “tops a remarkable year for the English Symphony Orchestra” (Classical Music Magazine).

* * * * *

For any media enquiries, interview and image requests, please contact Melanne Mueller, melanne@musiccointernational.com, +44 (0) 20 8698 6933 or
+1 917 907 2785

Tuesday, 28 February, 2016 – 7:30 PM
Philip Sawyers
(b. 1951) Fanfare for Brass
Sawyers Songs of Loss and Regret (London premiere)

     April Fredrick soprano
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756 – 91) Piano Concerto No. 20 in D Minor, K. 466
     Clare Hammond piano
Symphony No. 3 (world premiere)

Kenneth Woods

English Symphony Orchestra

St. John’s Smith Square
London SW1P 3HA

                                     MusicCo logo


PHONE: +44 (0) 20 8698 6933 / +1 917 907 2785


Appointment of new Assistant Conductor tops a remarkable year for the English Symphony Orchestra http://eso.co.uk/appointment-of-new-assistant-conductor-tops-a-remarkable-year-for-the-english-symphony-orchestra/ Tue, 13 Dec 2016 12:46:14 +0000 http://eso.co.uk/?p=3507

Continue reading »]]>  

Conductor Michael Young

The English Symphony Orchestra are proud to announce the appointment of Michael Young in the newly established role of  Assistant Conductor. British born conductor Michael Young will take up the new position in January 2017. Michael recently assisted ESO Artistic Director and Principal Conductor Kenneth Woods in the world premiere of John Joubert’s opera Jane Eyre. It was following his impressive contribution to Jane Eyre that Kenneth decided, for the first time in the history of the ESO, to establish a new position of Assistant Conductor. Michael was delighted to accept:

“I am completely thrilled to be named as the first assistant conductor of the English Symphony Orchestra. It is one of the UK’s finest orchestras and one that is uniquely committed to British orchestral music, new and old. I was blessed to be involved in the recent birth of John Joubert’s masterpiece Jane Eyre. For me it’s so important that this wealth of music gets out there as powerfully and directly to as many as possible, so to be working with Kenneth Woods and the ESO is just ideal.”

Michael has an enviable CV. He is the is co-founder and Artistic Director of the Beethoven Orchestra for Humanity – a new kind of professional chamber orchestra and immersive concert experience ‘fusing topical talk and classical music for today’s world.’ Michael has also been Music Director of Charities Philharmonia, London Youth Opera and Little Operations. He has won several prizes at the Leeds Conductors’ Competition and the Ninth International Pedrotti Conducting Competition. In the UK Michael has worked with the English National Opera, London Philharmonic Orchestra, Grange Park Opera, Fabulous Beast Company, Sinfonia Viva and the Orchestra of Opera North. He has also assisted Vladimir Jurowski, Bernard Haitink and Ed Gardner. Overseas Michael has conducted orchestras including the Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional del Perù, Orquesta Ciudad de Granada, Ruse Philharmonic Orchestra, Orchestra Haydn di Trento e Bolzano and the Ensemble Zandonai.

The ESO has an incredible heritage of conductors including William Boughton, Yehudi Menuhin, and Vernon Handley. They have a long established tradition of supporting the artistic and professional development of musicians which Kenneth Woods is keen to build on:

“We strongly believe in building relationships with soloists and composers we believe in and one couldn’t help but be impressed by Michael’s superb natural musicianship and his openness to learning and taking on new ideas. Having worked together at the Colorado MahlerFest, I invited him to be an assistant conductor for the ESO’s recent world premiere and recording of John Joubert’s Jane Eyre. Michael has a keen ear for detail and he proved himself an expert rehearsal pianist, quickly earning the total trust of the singers. His detailed work on proofreading the newly-created scores and parts of this huge work helped enormously.

 There are few areas of our industry that are more difficult to break into than the world of professional conducting. We hope that our new Assistant Conductor position will offer Michael and his successors, not just a chance to learn and observe, but also a platform to show the industry what they are capable of at an elite level. This position is designed for conductors who are ready to take that next big step forward in the industry. We are looking forward to working with Michael and have every confidence that he will go on to make his association with the orchestra something we’ll take pride in for years to come.”

This new appointment caps a remarkable year for the English Symphony Orchestra receiving multiple awards and widespread critical acclaim for their series of concerts . Their recording with Mikhail Korzhev, Krenek Piano Concerti vol. 1, was awarded the Sunday Times “Best of the Year’ for 2016 and their concert performance of John Joubert’s opera Jane Eyre received rave reviews
and earned them Classical Music Magazine’s “Premiere of the Year” for the second year running.


– Ends-
For further information about the English Symphony Orchestra, please contact Melanne
Mueller via info@musiccointernational.com



For more information about Michael Young, please contact info@ellison-stromsholm.com
+44 (0)20 7381 9751

ESO Recording “Krenek Piano Concerti vol. 1” with pianist Mikhail Korzhev a Sunday Times “Best of the Year” for 2016 http://eso.co.uk/eso-recording-krenek-piano-concerti-vol-1-with-pianist-mikhail-korzhev-a-sunday-times-best-of-the-year-for-2016/ Tue, 06 Dec 2016 21:42:17 +0000 http://eso.co.uk/?p=3478

Continue reading »]]> The Sunday Times has just announced their list of the “100 Best Records of the Year,” across all genres.

We’re delighted to learn that our recording “Complete Piano Concertos of Ernst Krenek vol. 1” with pianist Mikhail Korzhev has made this year’s list as one of just 10 CDs in their “Contemporary” category. This latest accolade is further proof of the ESO as one of British music’s most remarkable come-back stories in recent years. Recorded in September 2015 at Wyastone Concert Hall, this was the ESO’s first full-length commercial CD in over a decade, part of a renewed emphasis on recording under the leadership of new Artistic Director, Kenneth Woods.

“Moving from tonal into 12-tone territory, with arresting results. The foreshortened No. 3 is a witty, mercurial masterpiece.”


Congrats to Misha Korzhev, Kenneth Woods, conductor, producer Benjamin Michael Haas, engineer Ben Connellan, the team at Toccata, and all our wonderful ESO musicians.

Volume 2 is being released in April 2017.






ESO Earns Classical Music Magazine “Premiere of the Year” for Second Year in a Row with John Joubert’s Jane Eyre http://eso.co.uk/eso-earns-classical-music-magazine-premiere-of-the-year-for-second-year-in-a-row-with-john-jouberts-jane-eyre/ Wed, 30 Nov 2016 10:31:20 +0000 http://eso.co.uk/?p=3460

Continue reading »]]> jane-eyre-premiere

For the second year in a row, the English Symphony Orchestra and Artistic Director Kenneth Woods have received the Classical Music Magazine Premiere of the Year nod for the Midlands. Following on the 2015 selection of the premiere of Donald Fraser’s orchestration of the Elgar Piano Quintet at the Elgar Hall in the final concert of the ESO’s 2015 Elgar Pilgrimage, Christopher Morley, longtime senior music critic of the Birmingham Post, has made the ESO’s performance of John Joubert’s opera Jane eyre his 2016 Premiere of the Year.

The ESO’s Avie Records recording of last year’s Premiere of the Year went on to be a Classic FM CD of the Week and spent 8 weeks in the classical Top 20, all the more reason to look forward to the release of Jane Eyre on Somm Recordings in March 2017.


“…. Kenneth Woods conducting an on-its-toes English Symphony Orchestra and a totally committed cast of 12, among whom April Fredrick as Jane and David Stout as Rochester were simply outstanding…Joubert as a composer is unafraid to encompass the achievements of previous operatic greats…unleashing a wonderfully engaging well-structured language of his own…”




ESO Premieres John Joubert’s Jane Eyre to International Acclaim http://eso.co.uk/eso-premieres-john-jouberts-jane-eyre-to-international-acclaim/ Wed, 23 Nov 2016 18:19:12 +0000 http://eso.co.uk/?p=3440

Continue reading »]]>
For Immediate Release

On 25 October 2016, Kenneth Woods and the English Symphony Orchestra gave the world-premiere performance of John Joubert’s opera Jane Eyre at the Ruddock Performing Arts Centre in Birmingham, an occasion that was universally acclaimed and is destined to be remembered for years to come. At the conclusion of the two-act opera’s concert performance, audience and musicians alike arose in a simultaneous standing ovation for the 89-year-old composer who at long last heard his magnum opus brought to life. The critics followed suit with widespread praise for the performance that was captured for posterity by the SOMM label. The live recording is scheduled to be released in March 2017 to coincide with Joubert’s 90th birthday.

Kenneth Woods, the English Symphony Orchestra and soloists take a bow on the stage of the
Ruddock Arts Centre in Birmingham following the premiere of John Joubert’s opera Jane Eyre

The Critics’ Perspective
“April Fredrick sang with a lyrically gleaming soprano, soaring rapturously on Joubert’s singer-friendly lines.  David Stout supplied virile tone as Rochester … Kenneth Woods conducted a well-prepared performance that ought on disc to win new admirers for the operatic Joubert” – The Daily Telegraph

“As a timely reminder of the melodic strengths and potency of Joubert’s music this fine performance with April Fredrick as Jane, David Stout as Rochester and Mark Milhofer as the Reverend St John Rivers, certainly did the trick.” – The Guardian

Soprano April Fredrick as Jane Eyre

“Joubert’s luminous, ardently lyrical score (think Britten without his splinter of ice) is disarmingly direct. David Stout made a suitably brusque and Byronic Rochester, but it was April Fredrick as Jane who really carried the whole thing … whether flashing with defiance or soaring rapturously and with radiant tone over a surging orchestra” – The Spectator

“Five Stars. The tears in our eyes at the end of this professional première of John Joubert’s Jane Eyre were quickened not only by the ravishing music of Jane and Rochester’s reconciliation, but also by the sheer emotional importance of the occasion … Joubert’s vision was finally fulfilled … the near-ninety year-old acknowledged thunderous applause after a tremendous performance of a wonderful score” – Birmingham Post

“Five Stars. The support from cast members was exemplary, and the orchestra … in the warm and immediate acoustic of Birmingham’s Ruddock Hall, sounded polished and vibrant … there was an added poignancy in the standing ovation, and a feeling that something of real value had taken place: an important contribution to the repertoire, deserving of a place on the world opera stage.” – Bachtrack

“the 2 CD set release will be quite an event … a passionate work and full of heart … we can look forward to the release of what is likely to prove a glowing entry in the annals of recorded English opera.” – MusicWeb International

“A world première positively reeking of drama and tension … it took this Birmingham audience by storm. Fredrick was utterly absorbing to listen to … Stout matched her at every turn … the English Symphony Orchestra as committed and on the ball as I’ve heard them … conducted throughout with wonderful command and control by Kenneth Woods … a truly rich experience.” – Music and Vision Daily

“the work makes a powerful impact … April Fredrick captured the development of the character well … Her voice is warm and attractive across a wide range and the resolve of the character shone through. David Stout’s brooding Rochester was also impressive … Kenneth Woods conducted with aplomb, and the recording is much looked forward to.” – Classical Source
The Conductor’s Perspective
“Joubert’s magnum opus is a work that reaches for the stars. The composer boldly chose to adapt a beloved and iconic novel, rich with detail and multiple layers of meaning and complex characters. I knew from my first look through the score that Jane Eyre was an opera of great aspiration. Having now conducted it, I understand it as an opera of great achievement. Joubert’s absolute genius for orchestration creates a sound world which illuminates the inner lives of the carefully crafted and boldly etched characters. His uncanny gift for melody rewards and inspires the singers at every turn. His profound understanding of musical form has allowed him to create a work full of sophisticated structural relationships and a fascinating and compelling web of musical connections. This is what opera is all about at its very best: character, emotion, musicianship and melody. I’ll be forever grateful to have been part of the effort to bring this masterpiece to the public’s attention, and doubly grateful to have done so in partnership with such an extraordinary cast. Thanks to Siva Oke for taking the initiative to undertake this epic project, and all gratitude to John for the great gift he has given music and opera lovers everywhere with a score which will be performed, discussed, studied and loved for generations to come.” – Kenneth WoodsA Soloist’s Perspective
Composer John Joubert with
soprano April Fredrick (Jane Eyre)

“‘Music, when soft voices die … vibrates in the memory’ (Percy Shelley). Two days after the recording and premiere of Jane Eyre with David Stout, Mark Milhofer, Gwion Thomas, Kenneth Woods and the English Symphony Orchestra, these lines by Shelley capture my sensations, along with this portion of Kenneth Birkin’s marvellous libretto: ‘This is the sweetest hour. The sun going down in simple state Sheds golden blessings on mankind. Extending high and soft and wide The radiant heavens over … Lingers as I do … loth to leave this …” – soprano April Fredrick

A Musician’s Perspective

“His night. His opera. His triumph. Of music he’d at one time despaired of ever hearing, of one of the works existing closest to his heart. And [Joubert’s daughter] Anna wasn’t the only one in tears: no, we were all in tears, at least in the violas and celli, and you can shove this on my tombstone (because it practically killed me but it was a true highlight of my cello-playing life, better than playing with the Hanover Band in Carnegie Hall, better than playing under Sir John Eliot Gardiner in the Lincoln Center, better than almost any concert with the BBC Symphony or Royal Philharmonic I ever did): I played in the premiere of Joubert’s Jane Eyre.” – Alice McVeigh, ESO cellist

The Producer’s Perspective
For me the happiest moment came when singers, orchestra and conductor bowed to an audience who stood on their feet applauding a superb performance of a true masterpiece. The memory of a beaming John Joubert struggling to his feet to acknowledge the ovation will remain forever etched in my memory. And another blissful moment … His first words to me, having bounded up the steps to give him a hug – ‘We did it, we did it, we did it!’– Siva Oke, owner of SOMM Recordings, Executive and Recording Producer of Jane Eyre


# # #

Jane Eyre
is the English Symphony Orchestra’s first foray into a full opera and the latest achievement in an impressive string of world premieres. The orchestra’s October 2015 Elgar Festival produced the premieres of Elgar’s Piano Quintet and Sea Pictures in new arrangements by Donald Fraser, resulting in a chart-topping recording released by AVIE Records. October 2014 saw the premiere of Deborah Pritchard’s Wall of Water at London’s LSO St. Luke’s with a reprise at the National Gallery and release on the Nimbus label.
* * * * *
Further information about the premiere of John Joubert’s Jane Eyre can be found here.For any media enquiries, interview and image requests, please contact Melanne Mueller, melanne@musiccointernational.com, +44 (0) 20 8698 6933 or
+1 917 907 2785
                                     MusicCo logo


PHONE: +44 (0) 20 8698 6933 / +1 917 907 2785