Orchestra also performs Handel’s Messiah with light projections by Nina Dunn Studio

The Academy of St Martin in the Fields today announces its second concert series at its namesake church St Martin-in-the-Fields in Trafalgar Square. From 11 March, there will be one evening orchestral concert a month until August with monthly lunchtime chamber concerts as well from May. The March and April concerts will be broadcast online on the church’s digital platform and the series will move to having a socially distanced live audience when possible. Every evening orchestral programme will be filmed and available on a pay-to-view basis with catch up for 30 days afterwards.

Each programme presents a mix of repertoire: great music the Academy is renowned for as well as at least one work by a contemporary composer, including movements from Errollyn Wallen’s Concerto Grosso; the London premiere of the Academy’s former Composer in Residence Sally Beamish’s Ariel for solo flute; Thea Musgrave’s Impromptu No.1; and Tunde Jegede’s Breath of Life, Jonny Greenwood’s Postcard for solo cello and Nainita Desai’s Root to Order (all BBC Postcards). Guest artists include conductor John Butt, mandolinist Avi Avital, conductor Ryan Wigglesworth and soprano Sophie Bevan.

As well as this series of concerts, the Academy also performs an abridged version of Handel’s Messiah at the church, with St Martin’s Voices conducted by Andrew Earis. The performance will be illuminated by images projected on to the East Window, curated by Nina Dunn Studio (8 April, 7:30pm, 30 day catch up).

Alan Watt, Chief Executive of the Academy of St Martin in the Fields says: “We are delighted to be returning for a second series at St Martin-in-the-Fields and it is wonderful for the Academy to showcase our musicians, and interesting and sometimes unexpected programmes. I am also excited that we will be performing Handel’s Messiah at Easter, collaborating with brilliant lighting designers Nina Dunn Studio. We firmly believe in the power of music to move and comfort people, and this is so important in these challenging times. I am looking forward to being able to welcome audiences back to our live performances when it is safe to do so.”

The series opens with Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 6 and Brahms’ Serenade No. 2 either side of James MacMillan’s Untold. The work is a short, slow movement for wind quintet using cor anglais instead of an oboe. The lyrical and expressive melody is loosely based on an Irish love-song For Ireland I’ll not tell her Name (11 March, 7:30pm).

The Academy mixes old and new with a concert directed by John Butt, bringing its usual fresh approach to baroque repertoire it has not performed for a while, as well as a piece by contemporary composer Errollyn Wallen. Matthew Locke’s Suite from Incidental music to The Tempest opens the programme and is followed by Purcell’s Chacony (arr.Britten) & Suite from the Fairy Queen; Errollyn Wallen’s Concerto Grosso, movements I & IV; and Handel’s Concerto grosso in B flat major (22 April, 7:30pm).

May’s concert features two concertos: Haydn’s Violin Concerto with Academy Leader Tomo Keller as soloist and Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto, performed by Principal Clarinet James BurkeCalm Sea in Summer, the final movement of Sea Sketches, by Grace Williams completes the programme (13 May, 7:30pm). The lunchtime chamber concert in May features two works by Thea Musgrave, Take Two Oboes, and Impromptu No. 1 for flute and oboe, as well as Nicole Chamberlain’s Mimic. Music by Vivaldi, Zelenka and Telemann is also included (15 May, 12.30pm).

The Academy gives the London premiere of its former Composer in Residence Sally Beamish’s Ariel, for solo flute. Originally composed for solo viola, Beamish wrote a version especially for Academy Principal Flute Michael Cox. Based on the character from Shakespeare’s ‘The Tempest,’ it portrays the magical and elusive qualities of Ariel, the spirit who is enslaved to Prospero. The material is constructed of a single bar which repeats and turns in on itself, forming different shapes and gestures. The final section is a wordless setting of part of Ariel’s song ‘Full Fathom Five,’ and ends with the tolling of a distant bell, which has been sounding intermittently throughout the piece. The rest of the programme is made up of music by Telemann, Mozart, Martinů, Grieg and Corelli (3 June live, 10 June online, 7:30pm).

June’s chamber concert opens with Julian Phillips’ arrangement of Mozart’s Fantasia in F minor and continues with two other contemporary works: MacMillan’s Untold and John Woolrich’s A Book of Studies Set 1. Mozart’s Divertimento and Janáček’s Mladi complete the programme (12 June, 12.30pm).

Mandolinist Avi Avital joins the Academy in July for the first date of a planned short European tour. Avital performs Avner Dorman’s Mandolin Concerto and his own arrangement for mandolin of J.S. Bach’s Violin Concerto in A minor, BWV1041. Biber’s Battalia à 10 and Grieg’s Holberg Suite complete the programme. (Monday 5 July live, 9 July online, 7:30pm). Following the London date, Avital and the orchestra take this programme to Germany at the Meckpomm Festival (10 July) and in Mosel (12 July). The Academy also perform with Julia Fischer whilst in Europe: Meckpomm Festival (11 July); Ludweigsburg, Germany (13 July) and Gstaad, Switzerland (18 July). The Academy Chamber Ensemble also perform at the Meckpomm Fetsival (9 July).

July’s chamber concert focuses on the violin. Bacewicz’s Quartet for 4 violins starts the lunchtime programme, followed by Julian Andersen’s Ring Dance. Beamish’s Prelude & Canon for Two Violins and Telemann’s Canonic Sonatas for Two Violin accompanies music by Bartók (24 July, 12.30pm).

Following their collaboration last December, conductor Ryan Wigglesworth joins forces with the Academy – together with soprano Sophie Bevan – for Mozart’s Chi’io mi scordi di te and Non temer amato bene, Wigglesworth’s Notturno and Ravel’s Trois poèmes de Stephane Mallarme. (13 August, 7:30pm).

The final chamber concert includes three BBC Radio 3’s Postcards from Composers. Launched in April 2020 – at the start of the first UK lockdown the Postcards from Composers project was part of the BBC Arts’ Culture in Quarantine, the ongoing cross-platform initiative providing cultural content to audiences in their homes at the time of the pandemic. As part of it, BBC Radio 3 commissioned   fifty composers to write 30-second pieces for solo instrumentalists as hope-filled, musical responses to the global crisis. The Postcards from Composers performed at this lunchtime concert are Tunde Jegede’s Breath of Life for clarinet, Jonny Greenwood’s Postcard for solo cello, and Nainita Desai’s Root to Order for double bass. Music by Mozart, Martinů and Beethoven completes the programme (14 August, 12.30pm).

The Academy of St Martin in the Fields and St Martin-in-the-Fields church are closely following government guidance and the concerts will adhere accordingly to the latest advice.

A season pass for all of the online orchestral concerts is available for £40 (Early Bird until 28 February), £54 (Standard), as well as tickets to individual online concerts from asmf.org. Tickets enable access to the online concerts for up to 30 days from first broadcast.

Tickets to attend the lunchtime chamber concerts and evening concerts in person will go on sale nearer the time. Please note the lunchtime concerts are in person only and are not being filmed for broadcast.