The Academy of St Martin in the Fields is pleased to announce its concerts and projects for autumn 2021. The Orchestra has been performing live to in-person audiences since May 2021 and is looking forward to continuing this autumn. Highlights include:

  • Concerts continue at St Martin-in-the-Fields, the Orchestra’s namesake church
  • Concerts with Music Director Joshua Bell begin with an exploration of Vivaldi and Piazzolla’s Four Seasons at the BBC Proms
  • A celebration of three female composers with ‘The Beacon Project’
  • International touring to Europe and the United States

Concerts with Music Director Joshua Bell

The season is preluded with a musical journey through the seasons on two continents with Music Director Joshua Bell. Inspired by Vivaldi’s best-known work The Four Seasons, Piazzolla, whose 100th anniversary is this year, created his own response, complete with musical quotations: The Four Seasons of Buenos Aires. The two works are interspersed with each other during the concert.

There are two performances, at 3:30pm and 8pm on Wednesday 25 August, the latter is live broadcast on BBC Radio 3. It is also broadcast on television on BBC FOUR on Friday 27 August.

Bell and the Orchestra then travel to Europe to perform in two festivals: The George Enescu Festival, Bucharest (Tuesday 7 September) and the Dvořák Prague Festival (Thursday 9 September). Both programmes open with the Overture to Mendelssohn’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Bizet’s Symphony No.1, before Bell takes centre stage for one of the most important pieces in the violin repertoire: Dvořák’s Violin Concerto in A minor. All measures on quarantine and testing for travelling orchestras will be adhered to.

The Beacon Project

This new digital offering from the Academy shines a light on contemporary female composers and features three new performance films by former Academy Composer in Residence Sally BeamishEleanor Alberga and Errollyn Wallen. Filmed at St John’s Smith Square and Henry Wood Hall, the films showcase the musicians from the orchestra, from string octet to 13-part wind ensemble through to small-scale chamber orchestra, the latter conducted by John Butt.

Commissioned by the Academy during her residency with the orchestra, Beamish’s Partita for string octet was inspired by Mendelssohn’s own work for eight musicians, as well as her time adjudicating at the Carl Nielsen Violin Competition where she heard many superb performances of the Bach solo sonatas and partitas. The piece takes fragments from these composers as well as Handel to take the idea of a partita, a traditional suite for solo instrument, and reimagines it for small chamber ensemble, in her words ‘almost like a bowed keyboard.’

Alberga conducts her own work Nightscape, which conjures up the images of going from evening to night in Jamaica. The piece was first premiered in 1993 and a wind ensemble from the Academy gave the first performance since then in November 2020. Wallen’s Concerto Grosso provides a new take on the baroque concerto style. A vibrant composition, it is a combination of dance elements, the buoyant rhythms of the period and popular music and is conducted by John Butt.

Alongside these performance films is a suite of Key Stage 1 materials. Short videos exploring the three works are full of fun, interactive activities and these are accompanied by written resources, all devised and presented by Lucy Drever, a presenter, workshop leader and narrator who is also Head of Musicianship at the Benedetti Foundation.

The Key Stage 1 learning materials and performance films will be available to schools, local authority music hubs and families from the autumn, freely available via the Academy’s website.

The three performance films will be released on the Academy’s Facebook page and YouTube channel monthly from September 2021.

International Touring

The Academy Chamber Ensemble travels to the US in October for a 10-date tour of Sleepy Hollow, New York State (Saturday 16 October); Clemson, South Carolina (Monday 18 October); Charlottesville, Virginia (Tuesday 19 October); Montgomery, Alabama (21 October); Franklin, Tennessee (Friday 22 & Saturday 23 October); Los Alamos, New Mexico (Tuesday 26 October); Grass Valley and La Jolla, California (Wednesday 27 & Friday 29 October) and Phoenix, Arizona (Saturday 30 October).

They perform two programmes which both include Purcell (arr. Britten) Chacony for Strings and Ferguson’s Octet; Glazunov’s Idyll and Beethoven’s Septet in Eb Major make up the first programme and Schubert’s Octet in F Major for Winds & Strings completes the second.

The full Orchestra visits Europe for a 4-date tour with cellist Pablo Ferrandez, beginning with a concert at St Martin-in-the-Fields (Saturday 4 December); followed by Eindhoven (Tuesday 7 December), The Netherlands (Tuesday 7 December); Friedrichshafen, Germany (Wednesday 8 December); Munich, Germany (Thursday 9 December); and Wiesbaden, Germany (Friday 10 December).

Mighty cello concertos make up the centrepiece of both programmes: in Eindhoven and Friedrichshafen the programme begins with Purcell (arr. Britten) Chacony in G minor and Ferrandez performs Boccherini’s Cello Concerto in Bb major & Haydn’s Cello Concerto No. 1 in C major. A symphony by CPE Bach ends the evening.

In Munich and Wiesbaden the Boccherini and Haydn concertos are followed by Mozart’s Symphony No. 29 in A Major.

Concerts at St Martin in the Fields

The Academy returns to its spiritual home in the autumn. The Academy Chamber Ensemble performs a programme of Purcell, Ferguson and Schubert prior to its tour to the US (Tuesday 12 October), followed by a concert with cellist Pablo Ferrandez (Saturday 4 December).

The Academy joins forces once again with St Martin’s Voices and conductor Andrew Earis for a performance of Handel’s Messiah. (16 December, 7.30pm) and for Christmas with the Academy, celebrating the festive season (17 December 6pm & 8pm).

For full listings and tickets, please visit