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Saturday 8 December 7.30pm

Winchmore String Orchestra: Xmas Concert in aid of Macmillan Cancer Support

Winchmore Hill Methodist Church, Green Lanes N13 4EP  

WSO Poster December 2018

Conductor: Michael Coleby, Soloist: Thomas Balch - viola

Grieg - 2 Elegiac Melodies Op. 34, Casadesus - viola concerto after JC Bach, Torelli - "Christmas Concerto”, Mozart - Symphony No.25 in G minor, Anderson - "A Christmas Festival”

Further info from or 020 8882 0351

£9, concessions £8, children free

Michael Coleby

Michael Coleby

As we begin our 2018-19 season we welcome a new conductor, Michael Coleby. He succeeds Philip Gibson, who stepped down from the WSO podium last year after six years of inspiring leadership, and who continues to give us generous support.

Readers of our summer newsletter will know that initially we had expected the cellist, teacher and conductor Kwêsi Edman to take up the baton. Regrettably, he has had to withdraw because of unforeseen professional commitments, and we are fortunate and proud that Michael, despite an already busy career, has been able to accept the post.

Though still only 26, Michael has an impressive list of achievements. A cellist member of the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain while at school, he went on to take a degree in music at Bristol University, where, in his final year, he directed the university’s opera society in a production of Mozart’s Magic Flute under the guidance of Sir Roger Norrington. He has since taken part in masterclasses with Sir Roger and other leading conductors.

In 2014 Michael set up the Janus Ensemble, whose recent concerts include Berlioz’s L’enfance du Christ alongside the choir of the Pimlott Foundation, a body set up in memory of the theatre and opera director Steven Pimlott to promote amateur music-making. Last year he made his professional début as a conductor with the Deutsche-Sinfonie-Orchester Berlin alongside music director Robin Ticciati at the Berlin Atonal Festival. He has been invited back to the DSO to conduct its academy orchestra. Michael has also worked as an assistant conductor with the BBC Concert Orchestra and the Orquesta Castile y León based in Valladolid, and during the current season he will be part of a new young artist programme at the Birmingham Contemporary Music Group, conducting and curating concerts.

The programme for Michael’s WSO début spreads across four centuries, with a strong representation of music appropriate to a Christmas concert. It begins with the Chacony in G minor written in the late 17th century by PURCELL, who produced enough outstanding music in his short life – 36 years – to remain a contender for the title of Britain’s greatest composer. The piece is a series of 14 variations on an underlying theme.

In the style of Renaissance music, though written in 1925 by an Old Etonian called Philip Heseltine, better known as Peter WARLOCK, is the Capriol Suite, a much-loved fixture in the string orchestra repertoire. From the 19th century we have Two Elegiac Melodies by GRIEG; originally settings of poems by a Norwegian poet, they are, as their title suggests, full of poignant longing. Elegiac also describes another item in our programme, one of the relatively rare instrumental works by that giant of Italian opera, PUCCINI. This is I Crisantemi (the chrysanthemums), written on the death of the Duke of Savoy, originally for string quartet, though later arranged for string orchestra.

As always, our programme includes a concerto, and this time you may be forgiven for thinking it is by Bach. In fact it is the Viola Concerto in C minor by the 20th-century French composer Henri CASADESUS, who had a knack for writing music in the Baroque style, and in this case the concerto is a tribute to J S Bach. Indeed, the score carries a joint attribution to Bach and Casadesus. Our soloist is Thomas Balch, who is studying at the Royal Northern College of Music.

The programme’s first nod to Christmas is the Christmas Concerto by Giuseppe TORELLI, a contemporary of his near-namesake, Corelli, and like him an accomplished writer of the ”concerto grosso”, in which a small group of solo instrumentalists are accompanied by a larger ensemble. And the programme ends with a joyous assemblage of carol melodies by the popular American composer Leroy ANDERSON called A Christmas Festival.

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