September 28, 2017

Kenneth Woods’ and the English Symphony Orchestra’s (ESO) relationship with their “John McCabe Composer-in-Association” Philip Sawyers continues apace with the world-premiere recording of his Symphony No. 3. The release, on 6 October 2017 on Nimbus Alliance, also includes the composer’s Songs of Loss and Regret featuring the ESO’s Affiliate Artist soprano April Frederick, and Fanfare for brass ensemble.

Sawyers’ Symphony No. 3 is the first incarnation of Woods’ bold innovation, the 21st Century Symphony Project, which will commission nine composers to write nine symphonies to be premiered by the ESO. The Third Symphony was premiered by Woods and the ESO in February 2017 at St. John’s Smith Square in London, as were the Songs of Loss and Regret alongside the Fanfare. declared the Fanfare “a serious opening statement,” the Songs “a masterpiece,” and the “thrilling account of the forty-minute Symphony equally convincing,” concluding, “The performance was of quite gripping quality and commitment.”

“This programme reveals Philip Sawyers as a composer at the height of his powers whose music ranges across a relatively wide spectrum of harmonic intensity,” states Woods, “from the very direct and straightforward tonal language of the Fanfare to the twelve-tone pyrotechnics of the Third Symphony. Regardless of whether we look to the modal harmonies of Songs of Loss and Regret or the multi-layered serial counterpoint of the finale of the Third Symphony, we still find a unifying sense of a strong and individual artistic personality whose music speaks to the deepest human issues of our time.”

The release comes just days before the premiere performance of another Sawyers commission, his Concerto for Trumpet, Timpani and Strings, featuring the “steel-lipped Simon Desbruslais” (The Birmingham Post). The centre-piece of an all-English programme that also includes ESO repertoire staples by Elgar, Tippett and Walton, the premiere takes place on 15 October 2017 in Worcester’s Huntingdon Hall as part of ESO’s Orchestra-in-Residence series for Worcester Live.

Woods, Desbruslais and the ESO can also be heard joining forces with piano virtuoso Clare Hammond on the newly released The Art of Dancing (Signum Records), an enterprising collection of new works for trumpet, piano and strings by Toby Young, Geoffrey Gordon and Nimrod Borenstein, and a new trumpet concerto by Deborah Pritchard. Woods and Desbruslais have collectively premiered, commissioned and recorded seven new concertos. The Sawyers Trumpet Concerto will be the cornerstone of their third recording, which will feature five new works for trumpet and orchestra.

The Sawyers commissions join an impressive slate of premiere performances and recordings by Woods and the ESO. Recent critically acclaimed releases include An Eventful Morning in East London: 21st Century Violin Concertos by Emily Doolittle, Robert Fokkens, David Matthews, Paul Patterson and Deborah Pritchard (Nimbus Alliance) with playing by soloist Harriet Mackenzie that is “rivetingly incisive throughout” and “exemplary accompaniments from the ESO” (The Times, five stars); the second volume of Ernst Krenek’s complete piano concertos (Toccata Classics) with soloist Mikhail Korzhev, in which Woods and the ESO “play with the conviction that this is music worth believing in” (Gramophone); and John Joubert’s opera Jane Eyre (SOMM Recordings), “a thrilling, emotional experience … Kenneth Woods’ assured conducting coaxes committed playing from the ESO” (Classical Ear, five stars).

The commissioning and dissemination of new and unknown British music is central to the English Symphony Orchestra’s ethos. With Kenneth Woods as Artistic Director, this conductor-orchestra partnership perpetuates the enduring renewal of the symphonic tradition.

The 21st Century Symphony Project will continue in May 2018 with the world-premiere of David Matthews’ Symphony No. 9.

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For any media enquiries, interview and image requests, or to request review copies of CDs, please contact Melanne Mueller,, +44 (0) 7788 662 461 or +1 917 907 2785

For further information about Kenneth Woods please visit

For further information about the English Symphony Orchestra please visit

Philip Sawyers (b. 1947)
Symphony No. 3
Songs of Loss and Regret
     April Frederick soprano
world premiere recordings
Nimbus Alliance
Release date: 6 October 2017

The Art of Dancing
Toby Young The Art of Dancing
Geoffrey Gordon Saint Blue
Deborah Pritchard Seven Halts on the Somme
Nimrod Borenstein Concerto for Piano, Trumpet and Strings Simon Desbruslais trumpet 
Clare Hammond piano
Signum Records
Release date: 25 August, 2017

Sunday, 15 October 2017 – 3:30 PM
Philip Sawyers (b. 1947) Concerto for Trumpet, Timpani and Strings
     premiere performance
     Simon Desbruslais trumpet

Also on the programme:
William Walton (1902 – 1983) Two pieces from Henry V
Edward Elgar (1857 – 1934) arr. Donald Fraser (b. 1947) Salut d’Amour
Elgar Serenade for Strings
Michael Tippett (1905 – 1998) Little Music for Strings

Huntingdon Hall
24 Chapel Walk
Worcester WR1 3LD
Presented in partnership with Worcester Live

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