concert notes

A programme to celebrate the bicentenary of the English composer, William Sterndale Bennett – featuring David Owen Norris

7.30pm Saturday 3rd March 2016

The Parish Church of All Saints
Church Hill / Bark Hart Road
Orpington, Kent

Orpington Symphony Orchestra
Leader: Sylvia Seaton
Conductor: Raymond Lewis

William Sterndale Bennett, Overture: The Naiades, 
William Sterndale Bennett, Piano Concerto no 4, (soloist: David Owen Norris)
Beethoven, Symphony no 5 in C minor

Tickets £10 (children & students, £5) at the door, or in advance from Malcolm Tysoe (stringed instrument specialist) Church Road, Farnborough, or telephone 020 8851 4502

This concert celebrates bicentenary of the birth of the composer, pianist, conductor, and influential music educator, William Sterndale Bennett. Born in Sheffield on 13th April 1816, and brought up by his grandfather after he was orphaned at the age of 3, Bennett was a child prodigy as a singer, violinist and pianist. He won a scholarship to the Royal Academy of Music at the age of 10. 

Bennett was appointed Principal of the Royal Academy of Music in 1866 when the institution was faced with the threat of closure, and he managed to revive its fortunes and save it from extinction. Bennett was revered as a teacher: his pupils included Parry and Arthur Sullivan. He also sought to improve opportunities for female students whom he regarded as being marginalised. 

William Sterndale Bennett’s compositions, largely orchestral works, piano concertos, and music for solo piano, enjoyed wide popularity in England and Germany. In 1849 he conducted the first English performance of Bach’s Matthew Passion, and in 1856 was elected professor of music at Cambridge University. In 1871 Bennett was among the first to receive the Philharmonic Society’s Gold medal, and was knighted in the same year. He died at his home in St John’s Wood on 1st February 1875 and was buried in Westminster Abbey. At the time of his death he was recognised as the most distinguished English composer of the romantic period. The two compositions in this concert are his best known works. Extraordinarily, shortly after his performance of the piano concerto to be heard in this concert, William Sterndale Bennet was offered the conductorship of the Leipzig Gwandhaus Orchestra (one of the most prestigious orchestras in the world): he declined the offer as he felt he would be letting down his students at the Royal Academy of Music.

We are very pleased to welcome as soloist in Sterndale Bennett’s fourth piano concerto, the distinguished pianist and broadcaster, David Owen Norris. He has been described as ‘One of the most iconic personalities in English music of any period’ by Revue Musicale, and ‘Quite possibly the most interesting pianist in the world’ by the Globe & Mail, Toronto.

David Owen Norris began his career accompanying musicians including Dame Janet Baker, Sir Peter Pears and Jean-Pierre Rampal. In his first few years as a solo performer he made over two hundred broadcasts, and has since given recitals all over the world. He has played concertos throughout North America and Australia, and in the BBC Proms (four times).

David Owen Norris has a long history with BBC Radio 3. For several years round 1990 he had his own weekly show, The Works, and through the middle years of that decade he was one of the presenters of In Tune. David Owen Norris is Professor of Musical Performance at the University of Southampton, Visiting Professor at the Royal College of Music and the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester, a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Music, a Fellow of the Royal College of Organists, and an Honorary Fellow of Keble College, Oxford.

Beethoven’s 5th Symphony is one of the most well-known compositions in classical music. It has often been referred to as one of the most important works of all time, and is probably the most recognisable symphony even for people unfamiliar with the classical repertoire.

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