Saffron Hall in February – August 2020

Saffron Hall Spring season at a glance

Igor Levit and Sir Antonio Pappano with London Philharmonic Orchestra perform Busoni Piano Concerto
Chineke! And Sheku Kanneh-Mason come together for Haydn’s Cello Concerto No.1
Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment bring The Magic of Mozart to over 1000 primary school students
Britten Sinfonia and star soloists perform Britten’s Curlew River, featuring Ian Bostridge as the Madwoman and including study afternoon
The Tallis Scholars perform Spem in alium and Allegri’s Miserere
World premiere of new Danny Elfman work with Elim Chan conducting National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain
Beethoven 250 celebrated with Midori and players from Lucerne Festival Strings performing all-Beethoven concert, and pianist John Lill returns with four Beethoven sonatas

Following a hugely successful Autumn season, with events making it into the Guardian’s ‘Best Classical Concerts’ list and the Sunday Times dubbing its initiatives as ‘extraordinary’, Saffron Hall announces its Spring 2020 season.

In parallel with the vibrant and varied programme throughout the season, providing world-class musical and cultural content unrivalled in the East of England, the Hall continues to be a leader in cultural community provision with ground-breaking music therapy projects and fully integrated arts experiences for students and participants across the region. Alongside this, the award-winning venue also welcomes back its resident giants, the London Philharmonic Orchestra and Britten Sinfonia, with star guests including Igor Levit, Sir Antonio Pappano and Alison Balsom.

Angela Dixon, Chief Executive of Saffron Hall, said: ‘This season continues to exemplify the quality and variety that Saffron Hall has to offer, with events spanning classical music at the very highest level, critically acclaimed family events, talks, and Schools & Community work.

In our efforts to combine international artists and local engagement, we have prepared a programme that invites everyone to take part – from the likes of Nicola Benedetti and Sheku Kanneh-Mason to our very own Saffron Walden County High School students.

Saffron Hall is committed to enabling as many people as possible to access and participate in the arts. This season, the Hall continues to deliver exceptional learning programmes for schools and communities, to place local performers alongside the world’s greatest artists, and present a wide-ranging public programme for audiences of all ages.’

Classical Music

Championing change and celebrating diversity in classical music Chineke! Orchestra are joined by Sheku Kanneh-Mason for a performance of Haydn’s Cello Concerto No.1, alongside a programme featuring Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, Fauré and Brahms’ Symphony No.2 [11 Apr]. This concert forms part of a wider initiative between Saffron Hall and Saffron Walden County High School, addressing diversity and inclusivity.

Britten Sinfonia returns as part of its celebrated residency at the Hall, joining forces with illustrious trumpeter Alison Balsom for a concert exploring 300 years of music, intertwining ancient and contemporary influences with interpretations of Purcell by some of the greatest composers of recent times [16 May]. The orchestra also performs Britten’s Curlew River, with a line-up of star soloists including Ian BostridgeAshley Riches and Neal Davies [28 Mar], complemented by a pre-show study afternoon led by Dr Kate Kennedy.

Violinist Nicola Benedetti, a regular and committed visitor to Saffron Hall, returns with Leonard Elschenbroich and Alexei Grynyuk. Together the trio performs two passionate romantic masterpieces by Schumann and Brahms that have been described as ‘the music of friends’ [21 Mar].

Continuing its new residency at Saffron Hall, the London Philharmonic Orchestra brings astounding concerts to the venue, including its star-studded concert with Igor Levit and Sir Antonio Pappano. Levit plays an unmissable performance of Busoni’s colossal Piano Concerto, with Pappano bringing all his sense of drama to this titanic piece. The work notoriously demands phenomenal charisma and skill from its soloist, making every performance of this Concerto a major occasion [02 May].

The London Philharmonic Orchestra also bring one of its popular FUNharmonics family concerts to Saffron Walden, performing a newly written prequel to Stravinsky’s Firebird [17 May] featuring a chorus of local secondary school students. The Orchestra will also present a day of collaborative music making, giving young musicians from across the region, the opportunity to play alongside their musicians.

The Magic of Mozart [30 Apr] is the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment’s lively interactive concert for primary school students. Presented by composer James Redwood, pupils will be led through Mozart’s Symphony No. 29 and find out how Mozart gets players in the Orchestra to work in teams, change sounds and even make a musical sandwich!

‘Handel wrote for the voice in a way that allows the performer to really shine!’ says Franco FagioliIl Pomo d’Oro makes its welcome return to the Hall with Fagioli, the Argentinian countertenor, for a programme of Handel and his outrageous Italian rival, Vinci [26 Apr].

It would be impossible to have a 2020 season without featuring Beethoven, and Saffron Hall celebrates the composer’s 250th year with an all-Beethoven concert featuring violinist Midori and Festival Strings Lucerne [06 Mar]. Pianist John Lill also pays tribute to the composer to whom he has devoted his life, with a concert of his most celebrated sonatas, including the ‘Pastoral’ and ‘Pathétique’ [24 May].

Family events this season continue with the return of science communication expert Frank Burnet for an afternoon of music and storytelling, using music inspired by science and nature [05 Jul] with Saffron Walden Symphony Orchestra. Young performers from the Saffron Centre for Young Musicians and Saffron Walden County High School also take part in a performance of Carmina Burana with the Saffron Walden Choral Society [11 Jul].

The creative maverick behind the soundworlds of Batman, The Simpsons and Edward ScissorhandsDanny Elfman, makes his mark on the classical music world with his first ever symphonic work, which receives its world premiere at Saffron Hall with the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain conducted by Elim Chan [06 Aug].

Well-known for being the first ever orchestra in the modern era to perform a symphony from memory, the Aurora Orchestra continues its ground-breaking music-making with Beethoven’s 7th Symphony. Led by conductor Nicholas Collon, the Orchestra unpack the musical architecture of the seminal work, before putting it all back together in a fully memorised performance [21 Aug].


Saffron Hall maintains its reputation as one of the burgeoning homes of contemporary dance in the East of England, and their Spring season sees Alexander Whitley’s Dance Company perform the choreographer’s new work Overflow. Whitley is known for his ground-breaking use of technology, and this piece incorporates a dazzling kinetic light sculpture, lighting design by Guy Hoare, costumes by award-winning designer Ana Rajčević and an exhilarating new score by Rival Consoles, whose music has appeared on Netflix series Black Mirror [24 Apr].

Boy Blue also make a triumphant return to Saffron Hall with their unique and inspiring hip hop dance workshops in March specifically for primary students.

Thoughts & Talks

The Hall’s successful Thoughts & Talks series continues to inspire audiences throughout this season, with An Afternoon with Amanda Owen, shepherdess, bestselling author and star of Channel 5 TV series, Our Yorkshire Farm [21 Jun], which will be presented on the same day as Saffron Walden County High Schools Farming department open day.

Hannah Critchlow has been named as a Top 100 UK scientist by the Science Council for her work in science communication. She is also listed as one of the University of Cambridge’s most inspirational and successful women in science, and regularly appears on TV and radio to discuss and explore the brain. In her talk at Saffron Hall, she uncovers everything you’ve ever wanted to know about human brains, behaviour and the future [06 May].

Folk and Jazz

In its continued representation of a wide variety of musical genres, this season sees further contemporary music legends perform at the Hall, including Fairport Convention, often credited with the conception of British folk-rock music. The group combines new material with its long-established favourites as part of its winter tour [22 Feb].

Cherise Adams-Burnett, Jazz FM Vocalist of the Year 2019 brings Evelyn and the Yellow Birds to the Hall [12 Feb] which explores jazz music and its Caribbean influences through a heart-warming tale specifically for primary school students.

The Glenn Miller Orchestra also returns to the Hall, carrying listeners straight back to the 1940s with Miller’s original arrangements and classic line-up [22 Mar]. Travelling even further back, Alex Mendham & His Orchestra imbue the musical world of the 1920s onto the stage in an immersive silver screen big band spectacular. Their performance features the evocative and witty tunes of the Charleston era, including a chance to hear Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue in its original jazz setting [08 Feb].

Jacqui Dankworth, who received an MBE earlier this year for her services to music, brings a 10-piece jazz orchestra to the Hall for a fabulously eclectic range of numbers inspired by the music of stage and silver screen. This concert features everything from Gershwin jazz standards to contemporary film music such as Marvin Hamlisch’s ‘What I Did for Love’ [23 May].

Continuing its series of Young Artist Coffee Concerts, Saffron Hall sheds light on up-and-coming musical talent, offering public masterclasses after each concert. Violinist Jonian Ilias Kadesha performs a Sunday afternoon concert with Noam Greenberg [28 Jun]. Pianist Clare Hammond, Royal Philharmonic Society’s ‘Young Artist’ winner in 2016, also performs a programme of Schumann, Mendelssohn and Szymanowski [23 Feb].

Saffron Hall continues to deliver Together in Sound – offering free music therapy group sessions for people living with dementia and their companions. The project is delivered in partnership with the Cambridge Institute for Music Therapy Research at Anglia Ruskin University and continues to build on the extraordinary work Saffron Hall undertakes to use the power of music to help enrich the lives of people affected by dementia.

Booking for Spring 2020 events is open now; for more information and to book tickets click here.

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