Shropshire Star

Orchestra preparing for summer concert

Shrewsbury Symphony Orchestra will present a summer concert this month – taking on Rachmaninoff's mighty romantic second symphony, as the group continues to build on a stellar local reputation.

Shrewsbury Symphony Orchestra. Picture: Andy Bell

The orchestra has worked hard to extend its local audiences over the past few years, committing to a programme of works by female composers, linking up with North Wales Opera company to present two staged productions of Carmen last summer, and putting on outdoor concerts at Shrewsbury Castle in the summer months.

On June 26 it will present a varied and popular programme of music at Christchurch, Bayston Hill, including the orchestral showpiece Welsh Rhapsody, by Shropshire-born composer Sir Edward German, Sibelius’ lively Karelia Suite and the majestic Symphony No 2 by Rachmaninoff.

German played the violin and led the orchestra in his home town of Whitchurch in Shropshire during the late 1800s, as the son of John David a liquor merchant, church organist and lay preacher.

Aged 18, German studied privately with Walter Cecil Hay, the then director of music at St Chad’s in Shrewsbury, before studying at the Royal Academy of Music.

In 1888, he was appointed as music director of The Globe Theatre in London and wrote extensively for the stage.

He also wrote for piano and voice and concert music, of which his Welsh Rhapsody (1904) is perhaps best known.

The four-movement Symphony No 2 by Rachmaninoff, with its famous dark ‘motto’ theme, and stunning cor anglais and clarinet solos, was composed in 1907, after the composer had spent two successful seasons as conductor of the Imperial Opera at the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow.

It was written in Dresden, where Rachmaninoff was living at the time, to escape the political turmoil in his homeland.

People may recognise it from the 2014 film Birdman, directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu which borrows from the first and second movements.

The Karelia Suite was written by Jean Sibelius in 1893 and remains one of his most popular works.

‘Intermezzo’ from The Karelia Suite was the theme tune for the TV Series ‘This Week’ from 1956 to 1992.

A spokesman for the orchestra said: "As always the orchestra have worked hard to prepare for this concert, packed with great folk tunes and romantic themes. We are delighted to be offering such an enjoyable and accessible programme to our audience."

The summer concert takes place on Wednesday, June 26, at 7.30pm in Christchurch, Glebe Road, Bayston Hill.

Tickets cost £16.50/£2 and are available from from

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