Spring is in the Air….


This April the ESO are delighted to perform alongside one of the foremost pianists of our time, Peter Donohoe, to perform Grieg’s iconic Piano Concerto in A minor. In the lead-up to Easter the ESO join forces with the Academia Musica Choir to perform Bob Chilcott’s St John Passion at Leominster Priory. There’s also a virtual concert to be broadcast via the ESO’s online streaming service, ESO Digital, so even those further afield can enjoy Elgar’s Enigma Variations from the comfort of their home.


ESO Digital Concerts

Friday 8th April at 7.30pm (available to watch for FREE until Tues 12th April)
Enigma Variations

Event Link: https://eso.co.uk/enigmavariations

Edward Elgar  The Enigma Variations

Recorded live at the Elgar Festival in Worcester Cathedral in October 2021, this ESO Digital performance features one of Elgar’s most well-known and iconic works, The Enigma Variations. What started as a jovial improvisation at the piano after a long day of teaching, the variations began to take form, after he and his wife Alice began adding characteristics of their friends and colleagues into the variations, attributing initials to each of them. The personality behind the “Enigma” title however is a mystery, just like its name suggests, however some believe the “Enigma” itself is in fact Edward Elgar, as the opening motif seems to suggest some sort of personal identification as the rhythm appears to match the inflection of his name…

ESO Concerts

Saturday 9th April at 7.30pm
St John Passion at Leominster Priory

Event Link: https://eso.co.uk/09apr22-leominster

Bob Chilcott  *St John Passion
George Walker  Lyric for Strings
W A Mozart  Adagio and Fugue in C minor
Vaughan Williams  Fantasia on a Theme of Thomas Tallis

English Symphony Orchestra
*Chorus: Academia Musica
Conductor: Kenneth Woods
*Soloists: Jon Weller – Evangelist, Zak Eastwood – Jesus, Jazz Licqurish – Woman, Alex Hemington – Officer, Tim Pratt – Pilate, Joni Foster – Soprano

This concert is all about bridging the gap between eras, taking inspiration from the past to create something compelling and new.

The programme opens with a collaboration between the ESO and local partners Academia Musica Choir, who will perform Bob Chilcott’s interpretation of the Passion, using text from St John’s Gospel. Following in a similar setting to J S Bach’s story of the Passion, where the story is narrated by a tenor Evangelist, Chilcott’s creative process took time to unfold given the mixture of excitement and apprehension of retelling such an iconic work. However, the music is direct and accessible and is a very fitting piece to welcome the upcoming Easter celebrations.

The Adagio part of Mozart’s Adagio and Fugue in C minor K.546 was a late addition to an earlier work, his Fugue in C minor K.426, written for two pianos in 1783. He later revisited the work in 1788 whilst writing his final three symphonies and transcribed the fugue for strings. It’s not clear why he did this but one theory is he wanted to refresh his old counterpoint studies before starting work on the counterpoint section that concludes his final symphony, ‘Jupiter’.

In a bid to re-establish a national voice by returning to music of the past and preservation of native folk music, Vaughan Williams’ Fantasia on a Theme of Thomas Tallis is a stunning and poignant tribute to English composers of the Tudor era, such as William Byrd and of course Thomas Tallis. The premiere of the work took place in 1910 as part of the Three Choirs Festival in Gloucester Cathedral, a fitting acoustic for such a sonorous piece.

Tickets  £22.50
Under-18s  £5

Wednesday 23rd April at 7.45pm
Peter Donohoe at Forum Theatre, Malvern

Event Link: https://eso.co.uk/23apr22-malvern

Carl Nielsen  Helios Overture
Edvard Grieg  *Piano Concerto in A minor
Jean Sibelius  Symphony No. 6

English Symphony Orchestra
Conductor: Kenneth Woods
*Soloist: Peter Donohoe (piano)

For tonight’s programme the ESO are taking the audience on a tour of the Nordic region, with a little sojourn to Athens along the way…

In the Winter of 1903, Nielsen found himself overlooking the Aegean Sea in Athens, following a grant his wife received to make copies of the bas-reliefs in Athens. Although the Helios Overture was clearly inspired by the tranquillity of his surroundings, specifically the warm sun and the Greek myth of Helios carrying the sun across the sky, Nielsen was deeply uncomfortable with the concept of ‘program music’ as he felt that music should tell its own story without the need for a detailed narrative. So much so that he wrote to a composer friend Thomas Laub for reassurance on the matter…

The opening motif to Grieg’s Piano Concerto is instantly recognisable and this particular three-note motif is not only a prominent feature in Norwegian folk music but also part of Grieg’s musical DNA throughout his compositions. The soloist for this performance is one of the foremost pianists of our time, Peter Donohoe.

All Finnish composers, to a certain extent, live in the shadow of Sibelius, whose influence and impact on the 20th century symphony is significant. His sixth symphony is very unique, it doesn’t have a clear-cut key or tonal centre. It moves through D Dorian, often found in old church music and folk songs, and this gives the work a mysterious and otherworldly quality.

Tickets from £25
Under-18s £10


  • 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: https://www.eso.co.uk/digital
  • 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.


For further press information please contact pr@eso.co.uk