The English Symphony Orchestra and the Orchestra of the Swan are joining forces throughout 2018 and 2019 to celebrate Matthews’s 75th birthday. Entitled ‘David Matthews in the Heart of England’, the celebration will bring together musicians, festivals, and venues from across the Midlands.
The inaugural event took place on 9 May at St George’s Bristol, when the ESO and Kenneth Woods premiered the Symphony No.9. In June, Matthews appeared as visiting composer at the Elgar Festival, Worcestershire’s newly launched celebration of the English composer. The programme included a performance of Matthews’s String Quartet No.6, and a new quartet arrangement of Elgar’s Sospiri. Matthews also presented the biannual A. T. Shaw Lecture on ‘Elgar’s Voice’.
Next, in October and November the English Symphony Orchestra will perform the Double Concerto and Variations for Strings. Then, in 2019, the project will move to Stratford-on-Avon’s ArtsHouse and the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire for concerts by the Orchestra of the Swan. In April they will perform Winter Remembered, and in May soprano April Fredrick will join the orchestra for the premiere.
Catalogue of Works
To mark Matthews's 75th Birthday Faber Music has published a new catalogue of works, which is available to view online here
Celebrations in Presteigne
The 75th birthday of David Matthews was marked with several performances at the Presteigne Festival in August. Ruby Hughes sang the Three Housman Songs with the Festival Orchestra and George Vass, whilst the Variations for Piano, Ein Celloleben, and Four Australian Birds for solo violin all featured in chamber concerts. The festival also saw the unveiling of a film portrait by Barrie Gavin. Another highlight was a performance of the Fourth Symphony. The symphony features the vivid tango movement – marked ‘slightly manic’ – which has been the basis of many chamber transcriptions (eight and counting!).