Sawyers Concerti
24th-28th February 2023

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Philip Sawyers  Double Concerto for Violin & Cello
Philip Sawyers  Viola Concerto


Conductor: Kenneth Woods
Soloists: Daniel Rowland (Violin & Viola), Maja Bogdanović (Cello)

About this Concert

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About the Composer - Philip Sawyers

Philip Sawyers’s works have been performed and broadcast in many countries worldwide including USA, Canada, Spain, Austria, Czech Republic, France and UK. Music-web International described the Nimbus Alliance CD of Sawyers’s orchestral work as “music of instant appeal and enduring quality”. Robert Matthew-Walker writing in Classical Source described the premiere of the second symphony by the London Mozart Players as a “deeply impressive work, serious in tone throughout, and genuinely symphonic… one of the finest new symphonies by a British composer I have heard in years…”

Philip Sawyers began composing as a teenager, shortly after picking up the violin for the first time at the age of 13,  and remains a proudly self-taught composer. However, it has only been in the last few years that his talent has begun to be recognised with major commissions and performances by orchestras in the USA and frequent performances in Europe. His work has been performed by the London Mozart Players, Grand Rapids Symphony, Orchestra of the Swan, Orquesta Sinfnica del Principado de Asturias, Fort Worth, Albany NY, Tuscon, Tulsa, Omaha and Modesto Symphony Orchestras. Recent commissions include a Third Symphony for the English Symphony Orchestra and a symphonic poem Hommage to Kandinsky for the Grand Rapids Symphony Orchestra. A second disc of orchestral work featuring the Concertante for violin, piano and strings, the cello concerto and second symphony has been recorded by the Orchestra of the Swan and released on the Nimbus Alliance label. In 2020, the English Symphony Orchestra and the Worcestershire Schools Chorus premiere Sawyers’ Mayflower on the Sea of Time, libretto by Philip Groom, an oratorio commissioned by the City of Worcester to celebrate the 400th Anniversary of the sailing of the Mayflower. The nearly-hour-long work will be repeated in July 2020 at the Three Choirs Festival.

Chamber Music has also formed an important part of his output. An octet was commissioned by the mixed ensemble Liquid Architecture for the Chelsea Schubert Festival in 2007 and the Steinberg Duo commissioned a second Violin Sonata in 2011. A disc featuring both the violin sonatas was recorded by the Steinberg Duo at the Banff Centre in Canada in January 2012 for the Nimbus Alliance label where they also gave both works their Canadian premiere. “Four Shropshire Songs” for mezzo-soprano, clarinet, and string quartet were premiered at the 2006 Guildford Festival and the Quintet for Clarinet and String Quartet (1969) was performed during at the same Festival in 2005 as well as performances as far afield as Grove Park in London and Clun in Shropshire.

In 2015 Sawyers was appointed the “John McCabe Composer-in-Association” for the English Symphony Orchestra, a position he held until 2018, when he was named the ESO’s Composer Laureate.  His association with the ESO has produced two acclaimed recordings of new works including his Third Symphony, Songs of Loss and Regret, Fanfare, a symphonic poem The Valley of Vision, Concerto for Trumpet Timpani and Strings, Violin Concerto, and Elegiac Rhapsody in Memory of John McCabe for Trumpet and Strings. The Nimbus Alliance Recording of his Third Symphony, Songs of Loss and Regret and Fanfare was a Gramophone Critics’ Choice Best of 2017 winner, while the recording of his concertos for violin and trumpet alongside The Valley of Vision led BBC Music Magazine to exclaim “Sawyers’ thrilling orchestral music truly captivates.”

Born in London in 1951, Philip Sawyers studied at Dartington College of Arts in Devon, violin with Colin Sauer, and composition with Helen Glatz (a pupil of Vaughan Williams and Bartok). Whilst at the Guildhall School of Music in London, he studied violin with Joan Spencer and Max Rostal, and received encouragement for his compositions from Buxton Orr, Patric Standford and Edmund Rubbra.

In 1973, Sawyers joined the Royal Opera House Orchestra, Covent Garden. During this period he also freelanced with other orchestras and chamber groups including the London Symphony Orchestra, the English National Opera Orchestra and Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, some West End theatre orchestras and in film, pop, and light music sessions leaving very little time for composition. Time was also taken up with teaching and coaching, principally as a violin coach for the Kent County Youth Orchestra, and as visiting teacher at various educational establishments.

In 1997, he decided to opt for a quieter life, left the ROH, and undertook a year of postgraduate study at Goldsmith’s College, University of London. Alongside composing, Sawyers now works as a freelance violinist, teacher and adjudicator having spent 12 years as an examiner for the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music from 2001-2013.

Dear visitor to my website, the tab for previous performances shows an incomplete list. This current site was set up in 2012 and all performances listed moved to the previous performance list automatically once they had taken place. I began to attempt to add some before this date trawling through my archive boxes of programmes. This has proved to be impractical and very time consuming so I have abandoned the task – some go as far back as 1968!

Find out more at 

About the Soloist - Daniel Rowland

Dutch/English violinist Daniel Rowland’s playing has been acclaimed as “wonderful, ravishing in its finesse” by The Guardian, as „both naked and highly virtuosic“ by NRC Handelsblad, while The Herald praised his “astonishing sound and uniquely single-minded intensity”.

Daniel has established himself on the international scene as a highly versatile, charismatic and adventurous performer, with a wide ranging repertoire. In recent seasons Daniel has performed with orchestras from Tromso in the north of Norway to Cape Town, in concertos from Beethoven and Brahms to Elgar, Berg, Korngold, Weinberg, Prokoffief and  Schnittke and has worked with leading conductors such as Heinz Holliger, Jaap van Zweden, Francois Xavier Roth, Lawrence Foster, Anthony Hermus, Rossen Milanov and Andrey Boreiko. He loves championing contemporary composers and is a passionate advocate of concertos such as those by Vasks, Lindberg, Glass, Saariaho and Van der Aa. In 2017 he premiered Isidora Zebeljan‘s Violin Concerto „Three curious loves“ and this autumn sees the premiere of Roxana Panufnik‘s „Songs of Love and Friendship“ with the Dutch Radio Choir at the Concertgebouw.  September 2020 saw the release of Daniel’s newest CD ‘Distant light’, for Challenge Records with Violin Concertos by Peteris Vasks, recorded live at the Stiftfestival 2019 with the composer present. (“A beautiful ode to Vasks – rich in tension and magic“ – NRC Handelsblad)

A passionate chamber musician, Daniel has performed with artists as diverse as Ivry Gitlis, Heinz Holliger, Gilles Apap, Anna Fedorova, Alexander Lonquich, Nino Gvetadze, Michael Collins, Nicolas Daniel, Vladimir Mendelssohn, Lars Vogt, Alberto Mesirca, Willard White and Elvis Costello. He is a frequent guest at foremost international chamber music festivals such as Kuhmo, Stellenbosch, Risor, Sonoro, Rio de Janeiro, Chiemgau and Osnabrück. Daniel is part of acclaimed duo partnerships with pianist Natacha Kudritskaya, “a perfect partnership“ according to  BBC Music Magazine, and with cellist Maja Bogdanovic, who‘s recent duo CD „Pas de deux“ (Challenge Records) included 5 world premieres and was described as „a magical meeting between violin and cello“ by Dutch daily NRC Handelsblad.  He is also a founding member of a cutting edge Tango Quintet with bandoneon virtuoso/composer Marcelo Nisinman (an ensemble with the power of dynamite – Süddeutsche Zeitung) 

In 2005 Daniel founded the Stift International Music Festival in the bucolic region of Twente in the eastern Netherlands, where he grew up, with the 15th century Stiftkerk as the main venue. The festival has garnered acclaim as one of great intimacy, adventure and atmosphere. Daniel was for twelve years the leader of the Brodsky Quartet, performing all over the world, and making numerous recordings, including the celebrated Shostakowitch Cycle. He teaches at the Royal College of Music in London.

Daniel was born in London, and started his violin lessons in Enschede after his parents moved to Twente in the eastern Netherlands. He studied with Jan Repko, Davina van Wely, Herman Krebbers, Viktor Liberman and Igor Oistrakh. Meeting Ivry Gitlis in 1995 was of great significance, leading to lessons in Paris and, later, to musical collaborations. Daniel’s competition successes include first prize at the 1995 Oskar Back competition at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam and the Brahms Prize in Baden-Baden. His violin is by Lorenzo Storioni (Cremona 1796), and his bow is a Maline, kindly loaned by the Dutch Instrument Foundation.

About the Soloist - Maja Bogdanović

Following her stunning recital debut at Carnegie’s Weill Hall, The Strad hailed Maja Bogdanovic for “an outstanding performance of exceptional tonal beauty and great maturity of interpretation.” Since then, she has taken her place among today’s foremost cellists.

In the U.S., Ms. Bogdanovic made her debut at the 2017 Grand Teton Music Festival, playing Saint-Saëns Cello Concerto No. 1 under the baton of guest conductor Cristian Macelaru. She has also performed with the Spokane Symphony (Elgar Concerto) and twice with the Lubbock Symphony (Shostakovich Concerto No. 1 and Dvorák Concerto). This season, she brought the Dvorák Concerto to California for her debut with the Bakersfield Symphony. In 2018/2019, she returns to the Americas to make debuts with the Ft. Worth Symphony, performing the Saint-Saëns Concerto No. 1, as well as with the Minas Gerais Philharmonic in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, performing Friedrich Gulda’s Cello Concerto. While in Texas, she will also appear with the Lubbock Symphony, playing the Schumann Concerto.

Worldwide concerto engagements include the Belgrade Philharmonic, Berlin Symphony, Bergische Philharmonie, Bremerhaven Staatsorchester, Korean Wonju Philharmonic Orchestra, Morelia Philharmonic/Mexico, Orchestre National des Pays de la Loire, Salta Symphony/Argentina, Serbian Radio Orchestra, Slovenian Philharmonic, St. Bartholomew Orchestra/London, Sydenham Festival Orchestra, Tokyo Philharmonic, the Tonhalle Orchester/Zurich, as well as chamber orchestras which include Nouvelle Europe, Dušan Skovran, St. George Strings, Sejong Soloists, and the Munich Chamber Orchestra.

An avid chamber musician, Maja Bogdanovic performs regularly at the Kuhmo Festival in Finland, and has performed recently at the Stift International Chamber Music Festival in The Netherlands. Her appearances at many of the world’s leading venues and festivals include the Amphithéâtre Sorbonne, Amsterdamse Cello Biënnale, Festival de Radio France et Montpellier, Folles Journées/Nantes, Giverny Festival, Muziekgebouw/Amsterdam, Palais des Congrès/Nantes, Prinzregententheater/Munich, Salle Gaveau and Salle Pleyel/Paris, Tonhalle Düsseldorf, and the Zeist Festival in Holland. She concertizes regularly in Europe with pianists Maria Belooussova and Nino Gvetadze, and violinists Frederieke Saeijs and Namanja Radulovic.

Continuing her activities as a recording artist, Ms. Bogdanovic has produced several internationally-released CDs for the French label Lyrinx, as well as a Nimbus label recording of Philip Sawyers’s Concerto for Cello and Orchestra, dedicated to her by the composer. Her newest disc, EASTERN WIND (Orchid Classics), with pianist Maria Belooussova, features compositions for cello and piano by Glière and Rachmaninoff and has received rave reviews.

Within her wide repertoire, Maja Bogdanovic devotes a special place to contemporary music. She has premiered works of Nicolas Bacri, Sofia Gubaidulina, Ivan Jevtic, Krzysztof Penderecki, Philip Sawyers, Eric Tanguy, and Benjamin Yusupov, among others. Her collaboration with Krzysztof Penderecki began in France with the Orchestre National des Pays de la Loire, continued in Belgrade with the Belgrade Philharmonic, and in Ljubljana, where she performed his Cello Concerto No. 2 with the Slovenian Philharmonic conducted by the composer himself. Among a select group of the world’s leading artists, including Lorin Maazel, Anne-Sophie Mutter and others, she was invited to play for a special performance in Warsaw celebrating Penderecki’s 80th birthday, collaborating with Yuri Bashmet, Julian Rachlin, and Barry Douglas.

Laureate of numerous international competitions, Ms. Bogdanovic won First Prize at the third Aldo Parisot Cello Competition in South Korea and received the Second Prize and Special Audience Award at the Gaspar Cassado International Competition in Tokyo. She was awarded the Special Prize at the Concours Rostropovich in Paris and, in the same year, became a multiple laureate of the International Jeunesses Musicales Competition in Belgrade, as recipient of Third Prize and two special awards.  She was named UMUS Artist of the Year in 2011 by the Association of Music Artists of Serbia.

Born in Belgrade, Serbia, Maja Bogdanovic began playing the cello at a very early age, studying with Professor Nada Jovanovic at the Music School Kosta Manojlovic in Zemu. She went on to graduate with a First Prize from the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique de Paris, where she completed her postgraduate course with Michel Strauss; while there, she also studied chamber music with Itamar Golan and Pierre-Laurent Aimard. Following her studies in Paris, she pursued further training at the Universität der Künste Berlin with Professor Jens Peter Maintz, as well as Bernard Greenhouse, Alban Gerhardt, Young-Chang Cho, and Heinrich Schiff.

Ms. Bogdanovic’s instrument was custom made for her by French luthier Frank Ravatin. She currently divides her time between Chicago and Paris.

Production Information

Recorded at Wyastone Concert Hall, Monmouth, on 3rd March 2022

Producer: Phil Rowlands
Videographer: Tim Burton
Orchestra Manager: Simon Brittlebank / The Music Agency