Kenneth Woods and the English Symphony Orchestra (ESO) began 2020 auspiciously with #Beethoven250 concerts featuring rising star pianist Isata Kaneh-Mason, who also took part in the orchestra’s signature educational initiatives. Less than two months into the new decade, the ESO continues to hit the high notes having procured major grants from Arts Council England, the John Ellerman Foundation and the William A. Cadbury Charitable Trust which will sustain the orchestra in a number of ways, from back office to front of stage and foster an ever-increasing number of supporters and audience members.
Jonathan Godfrey OBE, Chairman of the ESO’s Board of Trustees comments, “We're very grateful for generous support of these funders, which is tangible recognition of the commitment to musical excellence and community engagement that Ken, the musicians and the organisation have made. Their combined investment offers us a chance to make this a transformational year for the ESO.”
A £120,000, three-year grant from the John Ellerman Foundation will help support the position of a full-time Chief Executive Officer for the ESO, as well as Woods’ ground-breaking 21st Century Symphony Project. The former will consolidate the ESO’s infrastructure in its home base in Worcestershire, throughout the United Kingdom and internationally. The latter ensures the continuity of the 21st Century Symphony Project which aims to commission, premiere and record nine new symphonies in nine years – a statement of artistic ambition that affirms the continuation of the centuries-old symphonic tradition.
Dorothée Irving, Head of Grants at the John Ellerman Foundation, comments, “We are delighted to be supporting the ESO with a core cost grant over the next three years. The award was made in recognition of the orchestra’s high artistic values and resolute commitment to new commissions as well as its infectious enthusiasm when it comes to shining a light on lesser known repertoire.”
The fourth instalment of the 21st Century Symphony Project is James Francis Brown’s Symphony No. 1 which will be premiered on 29 July 2020 at Kidderminster Town Hall as part of the 2020 Three Choirs Festival. Previous premieres in the 21st Century Symphony Project have been Philip Sawyers’ Symphony No. 3 – “a masterpiece” (Classical Source), David Matthews’ Symphony No. 9 – “utterly beguiling” (MusicWeb), and Matthew Taylor’s Symphony No. 5 – an aural exploration of loss and grief. The 21st Century Symphony Project is being recorded and released by Nimbus Alliance.
A £20,000 grant from the William A. Cadbury Charitable Trust contributes to the ESO’s core operational costs and the Chief Executive Officer position. A detailed job description of the CEO position and application guidelines may be found at https://www.eso.co.uk.
The ESO’s latest grant from Arts Council England recognises the orchestra’s commitment to its varied audiences in England’s “Three Counties”, Gloucestershire, Herefordshire and Worcestershire. Of special note are the ESO’s training courses for young musicians which include “side-by-side” performances with members of the ESO, and outreach into care homes with orchestra members performing and interacting with people suffering from dementia – an uplifting and life-altering experience for all involved.
The ESO’s banner 2019-20 season features a roster of notable soloists including Nicola Benedetti, Maja Bogdanović, Sarah Beth Briggs, Isata Kaneh-Mason, Craig Ogdon, Alexander Sitkovetsky and Tamsin Waley-Cohen. The orchestra’s 2020 “John McCabe Composer-in-Association” is Adrian Williams. On 25 April 2020, the orchestra will premiere Philip Sawyers’ hour-long oratorio Mayflower on the Sea of Time, repeating the work at the Three Choirs Festival on 29 July 2020, and later recording the work for Nimbus Alliance.
Looking ahead, Woods and the ESO expand their participation in the Worcester-based Elgar Festival with choral and orchestral works culminating in a performance of Elgar’s First Symphony. Throughout the 2020-21 season, the ESO will celebrate the its 40th Anniversary.
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For further information about Kenneth Woods please visit https://kennethwoods.net/blog1
For further information about the English Symphony Orchestra please visit https://www.eso.co.uk
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