• Joshua Bell extends contract as Music Director to August 2028
  • Murray Perahia reaffirms commitment to the orchestra with new Principal Artist title
  • ASMF announces 24/25 programme at the orchestra’s historic home, St Martin-in-the-Fields alongside further season highlights
  • First player-led Marriner Projects revealed as part of a new initiative for ASMF musicians
  • Lady Marriner, Maria Cardamone, Alfonso Aijon and Cornelia Schmid announced as inaugural Honorary Members
Image

In the week that the Academy of St Martin in the Fields (ASMF) celebrates the 100th anniversary of the birth of its founder Sir Neville Marriner with a programme of special concerts and events, the ensemble announces highlights of its 2024-25 Season; which will see the orchestra present over 85 concerts journeying through music new and old with a host of starry guests, including a series in the ensemble’s historic home, the church of  St Martin-in-the-Fields. 

Also announced today: Music Director Joshua Bell extends his contract to 2028; the appointment of Murray Perahia as an ASMF Principal Artist cementing his long history with the ensemble; and a host of Marriner-inspired projects, including player-led initiatives and the appointment of ASMF’s inaugural Honorary Membership to four people who have made a transformational difference to the ensemble’s past, present and future.

Annie Lydford, Chief Executive of the Academy of St Martin in the Fields says:

“It has been extremely inspiring to work with Joshua Bell and the Academy of St Martin in the Fields these last two seasons, and an honour to help steward these celebrations of Sir Neville Marriner.

Joshua has a deep understanding of the DNA of this orchestra and its musicians, and the performances that they create together are second to none. There isn’t another artist who is better placed to continue to inspire and challenge us, and who can combine exquisite solo playing with directing such a range of music – from Bach to Brahms and Mozart to Mendoza – in the way that Joshua does. As a touring orchestra, we travel extensively with our Music Director, and the long-held relationship between Joshua and our players sits at the heart of this successful partnership. I am so pleased that we will continue our work with Joshua, who is not only this orchestra’s great artistic leader and champion, but also its friend.

We’re pleased, too, to share some of the highlights from ASMF’s next year of programming, as well as a series of new initiatives and plans that will celebrate and mark the legacy of our founder, Sir Neville Marriner. With more than 85 concerts across the season alongside a significant programme of work that delivers on our social purpose, we are proud that Sir Neville’s orchestra – an organisation which has never been in regular receipt of subsidy from Arts Council England – continues today as an ensemble which is thriving, ambitious and fit for the future.”

Joshua Bell announces contract extension

Music Director and violinist Joshua Bell extends his contract to August 2028, reasserting his commitment to the orchestra he has led since 2011. Under Joshua’s inspiring and energetic leadership, ASMF has pushed the boundaries for collaborative music making, offering a direct line and electrifying connection between the orchestra and its audiences around the world.

This announcement follows a major US tour for the orchestra under the direction of Joshua, performing 16 concerts to more than 25,000 audience members. During the Marriner100 celebrations, he will direct the orchestra for performances including Mozart’s Symphony No. 25 (Monday 15 April, St Martin-in-the-Fields), Mendelssohn’s Octet – “E Flat”(Tuesday 16 April, Wigmore Hall), the European premiere of Vince Mendoza’s Flight of Moving Days and Brahms’ Symphony No.2 (Thursday 18 April, Royal Festival Hall)

Joshua Bell, Music Director of the Academy of St Martin in the Fields says:

“I am delighted to be extending my contract as Music Director of the Academy of St Martin in the Fields for another four seasons. My work with the Academy has enriched my life in countless ways and I love them not only as one of the great orchestras of the world, but as a group of extraordinary individuals.

 It is an honour to announce this extension during the centenary celebration of Sir Neville Marriner, a man who not only helped launch my own recording career but who, over the course of half a century, fostered the Academy’s exceptional standard of excellence in orchestral playing that I strive to uphold today. I am excited to continue my work with this treasured orchestra and look forward to many more exciting and ambitious projects.”

Murray Perahia appointed as an ASMF Principal Artist

Pianist Murray Perahia continues his long-standing relationship with the Academy of St Martin-in-the-Fields, becoming an inaugural Principal Artist. ASMF will welcome Murray on the stage for performances together. Behind the scenes, he will offer coaching on a case-by-case basis to selected musicians. 

Murray Perahia says:
My collaboration with ASMF started early in my career with my first orchestral recording, Mendelssohn concertos with Neville. Later on the relationship became closer with the orchestra, and I did many joyful tours with them, playing and conducting; our relationship has always been about making music together and I look forward to continue doing this.”

Next week, Murray will join ASMF Chamber Ensemble at Wigmore Hall on Tuesday 16 April in a concert as part of the Marriner 100 series. In what will be his first performance in six years, Murray will perform Schumann’s Piano Quintet, as part of ASMF Chamber Ensemble’s celebration of its artistic collaborators, in a programme that will also feature Sally Beamish’s Partita for String Octet, a work specially commissioned by ASMF in 2019 during Beamish’s time as ASMF Composer-in-Residence, and the Mendelssohn Octet – “E-Flat” led by Music Director Joshua Bell.

ASMF presents highlights of its 2024/25 season, including series at St Martin-in-the-Fields

ASMF is excited to announce the first details of its 2024/25 Season, showcasing partnerships with world-class soloists, presented across over 85 concerts and including a series in the intimate atmosphere of its historic home at the Church of St Martin-in-the-Fields.

  • Cellist Anastasia Kobekina joins ASMF at the orchestra’s historic home of St Martin-in-the-Fields for an evening exploring lost masterpieces. The programme will see Anastasia perform Haydn’s recently rediscovered Cello Concerto No. 1 in C Major and Stravinsky’s Suite Italienne, one of several spin-offs from his hugely popular ballet Pulcinella. The programme also features Stravinsky’s Dumbarton Oaks  and Gallo’s Follia (Friday 1 November). 
  • Pianist Khatia Bhuniatishvili and the orchestra visit the Barbican Hall for two strongly contrasting Mozart concertos (Monday 9 December). Mozart’s Piano Concertos No. 20 and No. 23 will be bookended by Mozart’s Overture to Don Giovanni and Haydn’s Symphony 104 ‘London’.  
  • Ahead of his upcoming tour with the orchestra to North America with the orchestra, pianist Bruce Liu presents an exclusive programme of two concerti – Shostakovich’s Piano Concerto No. 1 in C Minor, op. 35 and Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 9 ‘Jeunehomme’, or ‘Jenamy’ (Saturday 15 February).
  • ASMF will also welcome the return of pianist Alexandra Dariescu for a programme celebrating the works of Clara Schumann, Nadia Bouglanger and Anna Clyne, in a celebration of love, life and loss. Alexandra will present Clara Schumman’s Piano Concerto and 3 Romances for Violin and Piano, alongside Boulanger’s 3 pieces for Cello and Piano. The programme also features Mozart’s Rondo in D for Piano and Orchestra and Anna Clyne’s moving and mediative Within Her Arms as a thoughtful reflection of love and grief (Friday 21 March).
  • As part of St Martin-in-the-Fields Easter Festival, countertenor Anthony Roth Costanzo joins forces with the Academy of St Martin in the Fields for a special concert. The title role star of Philip Glass’s Akhnaten, and recognised as one of the world’s leading performers of new music, Roth Costanzo will sing a programme combining some of the most beautiful and contemplative traditional Easter music with new music written specially for him. The programme will also include Hadyn’s Symphony No. 26 ‘Lamentatione’, incorporating a melody derived from an old plainsong of the Passion of Christ with this lament is woven across the movements
  • ASMF is delighted to be joined by violinist Augustin Hadelich, for a programme including Mozart’s Serenade No. 6, Shostakovich’s Sonata in G Major and Chevalier de Saint-George’s Concerto in A Major (Monday 5 May), ahead of a European tour.
  • Former BBC New Generation Artist and stellar soloist and chamber musician, violist Timothy Ridout comes together with ASMF Director/Leader Tomo Keller for one of Mozart’s best-loved works, his Sinfonia concertante, in a programme that also includes Hummel’s melodic Potpourri (Thursday 26 June)

ASMF will also see a range of ambitious projects planned with Joshua Bell and the Academy of St Martin in the Fields for the first term of the new contract period, including a tour to Switzerland and the Czech Republic in September 2024; an education residency in the US which will see students rehearsing and performing Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade side-by-side with ASMF players, directed by Joshua Bell from the violin; performances in the UK in summer 2025; a return to Asia; the release of a new recording of Paganini’s Violin Concerto No.2 alongside further recording projects; performances at European summer festivals and much more. The orchestra has recently renewed its commitment to new music, with two new commissions featured within the Marriner100 celebrations, and will continue to work with Joshua to realise new works for the ensemble. 

Further highlights of ASMF’s 24-25 programme include a 19-date tour of Germany with Jan Lisiecki, who performs all five Beethoven piano concertos in a programme that variously will also include PARADE by Errollyn Wallen (commissioned to mark Marriner 100), Stride by Anna Clyne or Seascape by Ruth Gipps; and a US tour with pianist Bruce Liu presenting Shostakovich’s concerto for piano and trumpet.

Tom Lessels, ASMF clarinettist and Player Director, says:

Performing unconducted has been an intrinsic part of playing in the ASMF since it was founded, but with Joshua leading us from within we have a recipe that results in concerts of unparalleled vitality and virtuosity.

He demands the same unrelenting levels of focus and commitment of us that have long been a hallmark of his own playing and, without exception, we leave the stage feeling that we have given a performance as if our lives depended on it.  This approach allows audience and players alike to depart with the impression of hearing familiar music afresh and as if for the first time.He challenges us to listen harder and work harder, but is also incredibly generous as both a musician and person, and we are all stronger and more fulfilled musicians as a result.

In the 13 years since Joshua officially joined the ASMF family, his leadership has elevated our understanding of orchestral playing, our abilities as a collective ensemble and our international standing to new heights.  We can’t wait to see what the next chapter in our relationship holds!”

Marriner’s legacy continues

Launching on Monday 15 April at St Martin-in-the-Fields (Celebrating Sir Neville Marriner), and with concerts at Wigmore Hall (16 April), the Royal Festival Hall (18 April) and Lincoln Cathedral (24 April), ASMF begins its celebration of the centenary of the birth of its founder by welcoming friends and supporters from around the world to enjoy a programme of special concerts and events, dedicated to his life and legacy. 

Reflecting the spirit of its founding, the anniversary celebrations will demonstrate the profound impact of music-making which is player-led (often without a conductor). Here, the musical freedom of ASMF’s players fuels inspiring, collaborative performances where every orchestra member shares artistic responsibility and where extraordinary communication is key. This player-led performing style creates a direct line between the musicians and audience to thrilling effect.

Building on Marriner’s legacy, ASMF today announces the first Marriner Projects, a new initiative putting funding and administrative support behind ideas masterminded by its musicians. The projects seek to capture the original “player led” spirit of the Academy when it was founded by Sir Neville, his role as an entrepreneurial musician, and the desire to find a way to do things differently:

Catherine Morgan (violin):

ASMF will provide funding to scale up the informal, popular concert series Catherine has been running in the Lamb and Flag pub in Oxford. This funding will enable her to book more players; put on more concerts; increase the breadth of what is available; pay the players more competitive fees; and plan further in advance – all to the benefit of the audiences who enjoy these events. With the additional planning, she can also be more creative in her programming to reach wider audiences (for example, with music-making specifically for children or different communities).

Fiona Bonds (viola)

ASMF will provide funding to restart and scale up a concert series run in Hertford by Fiona Bonds, increasing the number of concerts and enabling her to plan further in advance and pay her players more competitively. This concert series, which is relaxed and particularly friendly and informal in presentation (including the players talking to the audience about the music and a drink as part of the evening) would also include parallel performances in London, in the new community café above our offices, Sacred Grounds. Each programme will also have a community element, which will be decided upon based upon the nature of the programme/presentation.

Honorary Membership of the Academy of St Martin in the Fields

ASMF today also announces the first four recipients of a new title – Honorary Members of the Academy of St Martin in the Fields – people whose contributions to the orchestra have made a genuinely transformational difference to its past, present and future. The inaugural Honorary Members are: Alfonso AijonMaria CardamoneLady Marriner and Cornelia Schmid (see full biographies below).

ASMF and financial independence

Every pound raised in the UK and Europe during the 2023-24 Marriner Centenary Season is being doubled due, up to the value of £500,000, due to the generosity of Maria Cardamone and Paul Matthews. The Marriner100 Celebrations also mark the launch of ASMF’s new fundraising campaign entitled ‘Our Players, Our Purpose, Our Future’ which is designed to raise £5m before the 70th anniversary of ASMF’s first concert. This campaign will not only secure the orchestra’s future but will also enable player-led projects, commissions and social purpose programmes that would not otherwise be possible.