ESO Digital: A Virtual Celebration of 21st Century Music


Just in case you missed it… The English Symphony Orchestra launched its 2022 season in early February and will be performing live concerts in Worcester, Hereford, Gloucester, Cheltenham and beyond throughout the season. Read more here: 

Also coming up this season is a series of virtual concerts to be broadcast via the ESO’s online streaming service, ESO Digital, so even those further afield can enjoy the music of the ESO from the comfort of their home. Here’s a sneak peek at what’s coming up on the ESO Digital platform this February and March.

ESO Digital Concerts: February & March 2022

Friday 18th February at 7.30pm 
The Music of Saxton & Sawyers

Philip Sawyers  Octet
Robert Saxton  The Resurrection of the Soldiers
Philip Sawyers  Remembrance for Strings

Philip Sawyers, the ESO’s Composer Laureate, was the first composer to feature in the orchestra’s acclaimed 21st Century Symphony Project. Written in 2020, Remembrance for Strings is a touching meditation on loss, based on themes from Sawyers’ tone poem based on the paintings of Samuel Palmer, The Valley of Vision.

The Octet was written for the young chamber ensemble Liquid Architecture, who gave the first performance in September 2007. The work marked an important evolutionary step in Sawyers move towards a more densely contrapuntal approach to composition, something that would have a pivotal influence on Sawyers’ Second Symphony and the works which followed.

Robert Saxton’s powerful tone poem for strings, The Resurrection of the Soldiers, was inspired by the visionary series of paintings by Stanley Spencer in Sandham Memorial Chapel. Informed by his own harrowing experiences as a soldier in the British Army in WWI, Spencer’s extraordinary images depict soldiers rising from their graves on the last day. Saxton says of the piece that “it progresses towards a sense of hope.

Event Link: (available to watch until Tues 22nd Feb)

Friday 25th March at 7.30pm 
21st Century Symphony: Adrian Williams

Adrian Williams  Symphony No.1

Adrian Williams is the ESO’s current John McCabe Composer-in-Association and his First Symphony was a lifetime in the making. Recorded back in December 2021, at Wyastone Recording Studio, the ESO were honoured to perform the world premiere of this work and to include it in their acclaimed 21st Century Symphony project.

Adrian Williams on Symphony No 1: “It’s been more than half a century since my first juvenile attempt at a symphony. In 2018 Kenneth Woods gave me the chance to begin writing symphonies through an invitation to compose a work for his 21st Century Symphony series. Much of this substantial work was conceived on long walks on Hergest Ridge and elsewhere in the Welsh borders. The slow movement owes much to the distressing media coverage of the forest fires in Australia. Much of the four-movement work is anguished and intense but its final affirmatory bars leave any anguish far behind.”

Event Link: (available to watch until Tues 29th March)



  • ESO Digital was launched in 2020 following a series of performances that were recorded and filmed at Wyastone Recording Studio and later broadcast via the ESO’s new digital channel, ESO Digital. These virtual concerts provided a much-needed lifeline for ESO musicians and audiences to stay connected during the pandemic and although the ESO is now welcoming back live audiences to their concerts, the platform has been such a success in reaching new and wider audiences across the world that it’s become part of the ESO family. For more information visit:
  • All of the ESO Digital concerts are available to watch for FREE each month, for a limited time, or audiences can become an ESO Digital supporter with a donation from just as £5 a month to access all virtual concerts as much as their heart desires.
  • The English Symphony Orchestra’s 21st Century Symphony Project was launched in 2017 with a view to commission nine composers to write nine symphonies, all to be premiered by the ESO. The project launched with the premiere of the ESO’s John McCabe Composer-in-Association Philip Sawyers and his Symphony No. 3 back in February 2017 at St. John’s Smith Square in London. The project is the brainchild of ESO conductor and Artistic Director, Kenneth Woods.


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