Kensington Symphony Orchestra returns to St John’s Smith Square to perform Rachmaninov’s Symphony No.1 with conductor Russell Keable, in the orchestra’s first performance since the initial Covid-19 lockdown in March 2020.

After the disastrous première of Rachmaninov’s Symphony No.1 in 1897, the composer suffered a mental breakdown, and abandoned the score when he left Russia in 1917. However, it has since found favour as a dynamic expression of the country’s symphonic tradition, described by Robert Simpson as “achieving a genuinely tragic and heroic expression that stands far above the pathos of Rachmaninov’s later music”.

The Italian composer Alfredo Casella’s Concerto for Orchestra (1937), written for the Concertgebouw Orchestra of Amsterdam and Willem Mengelberg, carries echoes of Hindemith in its neo-baroque energy, but remains a sunny, lyrical and melodic work.

The programme opens with Helen Grime’s Everyone Sang (2010). Commissioned to mark the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra’s 75th birthday, the work juxtaposes celebratory joy with a sense of melancholy, imagining the orchestra as a number of voices that can produce a unified melody but also break off into individual and varied strands of song.

Described as “one of the very best amateur groups in the country” by Classical Music magazine, KSO has been hailed by Classical Source for “putting on bold, adventurous programmes that few of the ‘big five’ in London would either think of or get away with”. Forthcoming highlights of the 2021/22 season include Walton’s Belshazzar’s Feast, marking KSO’s debut at Croydon’s Fairfield Halls.