Academy of St Olave’s returns with Mozart works for first concert since January 2020

“It’s such a pleasure to be back performing orchestral music in York,” says Academy of St Olave’s musical director Alan George

THE Academy of St Olave’s will play its first concert since January 2020 on September 25, performing Mozart works at St Olave’s Church, Marygate, York.

The York chamber orchestra’s 8pm programme will feature Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto with soloist Lesley Schatzberger, followed by his exquisite Symphony No. 40 in G minor.

A short symphony by Baroque composer William Boyce will complement the Mozart pieces, carrying special significance for the Academy, having been performed at its inaugural concert more than 40 years ago.

Lesley Schatzberger will play the Mozart concerto on her basset clarinet, an instrument that can accommodate the low notes of the phrases as Mozart composed them, unlike the smaller modern instrument.

Musical director Alan George says: “It’s such a pleasure to be back performing orchestral music in York. This will be our first time playing together since January 2020, so we really are excited to be reunited after our enforced sabbatical.

Lesley Schatzberger: Soloist for Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto

“We have selected a programme of two of Mozart’s acknowledged masterpieces – the ever-popular Clarinet Concerto and the passionate 40th Symphony – that are sure to delight our audience, and we can’t wait to perform to an audience again.”

The Academy’s chair, Christine Smith, says: “We’re thrilled to be returning with what we believe will be the first York orchestral concert for nearly two years. This has probably been the most challenging concert to organise in the Academy’s history, but we’re confident we have all the measures in place to ensure the concert is a tremendous success, and it will be such a tonic to be able to make music together again after such a long absence.”

The September 25 concert will support Jessie’s Fund, a York charity founded by director Lesley Schatzberger to help children through music therapy.

Tickets are available online only, so must be booked in advance at academyofstolaves.org.uk, priced at £15, £5 for accompanied under-18s, with no booking fee.

Please check the Academy website the week before the concert for confirmation of the Covid-19 mitigation measures being taken.

REVIEW: Martin Dreyer’s verdict on Albion String Band/Hannah Roberts, Ryedale Festival, 19/7/2021

Albion String Quartet: Five concerts in one long weekend at 2021 Ryedale Festival

Ryedale Festival: Albion String Quartet/Hannah Roberts, St Olave’s Church, York, July 19

THE Albions spent a long weekend in residence for the festival’s opening, giving no less than five concerts. Three of these involved Schubert’s String Quintet in C, the last of them a mid-morning event marking the festival’s only venture into York this year.

They could hardly have chosen a better second cellist than Hannah Roberts: she blended superbly right from the start, while making her presence felt, the perfect combination. The proof here lay in the way all five voices jointly swelled and subsided, as if breathing together.

For many, this extraordinary work is a pinnacle of western music. What makes it additionally remarkable is that it came from the pen of a man who knew his end was near. So many of its apparently unruffled surfaces crack under the strain of this knowledge. It rarely settles – and is unsettling for the listener despite its many charms. For a performance to succeed, it needs to be uncomfortable.

Second cellist Hannah Roberts: “Blended superbly right from the start”

The heart of the work is its Adagio. Its outer sections hover, as the three central voices barely move and the outer two offer plucked comments; these at first lacked definition. After the bleak diversion into the minor key, first violin and second cello were much more distinct in their wanderings and we were transported into another world. It was a telling moment.

The first movement had gained urgency on the repeat of the exposition, and this was nicely sustained throughout the development. The attacks in the Scherzo gave it delightfully rustic implications, heightening the contrast with its ghostly Trio.

In the finale, all bright and cheery on the surface, we were made aware of the sinister implications of the last two notes. Indeed, the whole performance struck a superb balance between the light and the dark that pervades this incomparable score: a rewarding experience.

Review by Martin Dreyer