Journey to Russia with the Alderley Edge Symphony Orchestra

On Saturday 2nd March, at 7.30pm. the Alderley Edge Symphony Orchestra will perform an exciting programme of romantic Russian music. The concert will take place in the Festival Hall, Alderley Edge.

The programme opens with Tchaikovsky's Capriccio Italien, a richly descriptive portrait of Italy, written when the composer spent some time in Rome. The opening fanfare recalls the bugle call he heard every evening from the nearby cavalry barracks. While in the Eternal City he witnessed the Carnivale in full swing and soaked up the Italian folk music and street songs. Although not a ballet score, it has infectious rhythmic energy, so by the end of the piece, you and all of Rome are dancing a tarantella in the streets!

The orchestra leader, Shahla Armitage, then performs Kabalevsky's violin concerto, one of the three concertos that Kabalevsky dedicated to Soviet Youth. Shahla was born in Baghdad and started playing the violin at an early age. She studied violin and piano under Russian tutors at the Music and Ballet School and later through a scholarship at the Mendelssohn Hochschule in Leipzig. After graduation she joined the Iraqi National Symphony Orchestra. Shahla brings a uniquely Russian style to this beautiful piece, which combines exciting dance rhythms with pensive, lyrical folk song melodies.

Shahla says: "The Kabalevsky Violin concerto was one of the most energetic violin concertos that I heard it as a child. I loved it during my studies under Russian professors, and always wanted to perform it. I am delighted to have this opportunity with AESO."

The concert concludes with Rachmaninov's Symphonic Dances, sometimes described as "Rachmaninov's Apotheosis of the Dance". Written in America and completed in 1940, it was his last composition and allowed him to indulge in a nostalgia for the Russia he had known and his lifelong fascination with Russian church music. In the final dance there is a struggle between the Dies Irae (Judgement) theme and a theme representing Resurrection – Resurrection wins! Complex rhythms and an emphasis on individual instrument tone colours make it an unusual and beautiful work. The alto saxophone has a ravishingly beautiful melody and the use of the other woodwind conveys a typically Russian melancholy.

The first performance of the Rachmaninov by the Philadelphia Orchestra, in January 1941, was poorly received because the orchestra was under-rehearsed! It is certainly a piece which requires intensive rehearsal, but the Alderley Edge Symphony Orchestra aims to rise to the challenge, expertly managed by Richard Howarth, President and Chief Conductor of the AESO.

Richard has had a distinguished career as a violinist, leading and directing orchestras for over twenty years. He brings to conducting a wealth of experience and dynamism to inspire both musicians and audiences.

Richard says: "I am delighted that the AESO have programmed these Russian masterpieces. They will inspire and challenge the players and contribute to the growth and development of this ambitious orchestra. I am particularly looking forward to the Kabalevsky Violin Concerto with the orchestra's Leader, Shahla Armitage."

The concert will take place at 7.30pm on Saturday 2nd March in the Festival Hall, Talbot Rd, Alderley Edge, SK9 7HR. Tickets cost £10 for adults and £1 for under eighteens. Tickets will be available on the door or can be bought in advance through the website or on the ticket hotline 01625 581321or 07813 075119.

Guest post by Helen Hall.

Alderley Edge Symphony Orchestra