Orchestra launches new season with a crazy musical rollercoaster

The Alderley Edge Symphony Orchestra launches the 2019/2020 season with the Symphonie Fantastique by Berlioz.

Berlioz was a true romantic, living life with great intensity. It was the composer's romantic attachment to the actress Harriet Smithson which sparked off this symphony. As she ignored his advances, Berlioz imagined himself as a morbid poet, under the influence of opium. He obtained ideas from De Quincey's Confessions of an Opium Eater to produce a work full of intense imagery and emotion, ranging from gentle pastoral scenes to the final demoniacal fugue of the Witches' Sabbath. The beloved takes the form of a melody, a fixed idea, which returns throughout the work.

Leonard Bernstein described this work as the first musical expedition into psychedelia: "Berlioz tells it like it is. You take a trip, you wind up screaming at your own funeral."

The concert will be conducted by Richard Howarth, president of the Alderley Edge Symphony Orchestra. Richard says, "I fell in love with this piece as a teenager only knowing it was a gift of a piece to play for the strings of the orchestra. It was years later before I discovered the whole story behind it. The symphony is as amazing to listen to as it is to play, taking everyone on a rollercoaster of a crazy musical journey."

The theme of unrequited love is also explored in Bizet's L'Arlesienne, originally the incidental music to a stage play. A farmer's son, infatuated with a girl from the nearby town of Arles, learns that she is the lover of another man. On the feast day of St.Eloi, when the villagers are rejoicing, he flings himself from a high window to his death. In spite of the sad theme, Bizet composed some joyful and melodic music to conjure up love, the countryside, the people and the festivals of the region.

The last piece in the programme features talented young cellist, James Heathcote, from the Royal Northern College of Music. He will be playing Tchaikovsky's Variations on a Rococo Theme, written by the great Russian composer in homage to Mozart.

James says, "I really love the Rococo Variations. It is a piece that should not be taken too seriously and presents an opportunity for real bravura and virtuosity. I can't wait to play with the AESO for the first time and it's always a pleasure working with Richard!"

The concert will take place at 7.30pm on Saturday 16th November 2019 in The Festival Hall, 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 581321.

Guest post by Helen Hall.