60 Moments

Celebrating our 60th anniversary

Throughout the season we’ll be sharing videos, podcast episodes, photos and more that celebrate the stories, memories and mementos of our 60-year history.

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In this first video, our Music Director, Joshua Bell, recalls his earliest memories of the Academy and of his first time working with the Orchestra and Neville Marriner when he was just 18 years old.


In the second of our ’60 Moments’, Lady Marriner, Sir Neville’s widow, talks with Sir David Attenborough about how the Academy came to have its unusual name.


The Academy’s Chief Executive, Alan Watt, introduces our 19/20 season in this short video. As well as taking you on a whistle stop journey through our touring plans, and our Learning and Participation activities, Alan has a message for our audiences around the world.


Amadeus – 35 years on
“The next time we talked about it, [the possibility of the Academy recording the Amadeus soundtrack], was down in the country in Devon where I have a house – Milos (Forman – the film’s director) arrived with a very big Hungarian sausage for us to spend the weekend eating and we played tennis – Milos is quite good but he didn’t win…. We decided which episodes in the script were going to need music and what sort of music and then it was agreed we could record the music so we came to London – in Abbey Road Studios – and recorded everything.

Amadeus went on general release in the USA in September 1984. The movie won 8 Academy Awards and the soundtrack, recorded by the Academy and Sir Neville Marriner, reached #1 in the Billboard Classical Albums Chart, #56 in the Billboard Popular Albums Chart, has sold over 6.5 million copies to date and received 13 Gold Discs, making it one of the most popular classical music recordings of all time. Sir Neville recorded a conversation about Amadeus – and how the Academy came to be involved – for the Academy Podcast in 2016


Musical Conversations

In the first of several ‘Moments’ celebrating our learning and participation work, we wanted to share a story about our most recent work in schools.
Between January-June 2019, the Academy of St Martin in the Fields ran the pilot phase of an intergenerational music project with students from Langdon Academy and local older residents from Newham.

The aims of the project were to address loneliness amongst older people and to increase creativity and enjoyment of classical music along with tolerance and understanding. The group worked with Academy musicians, animateur Jason Rowland (Royal Opera House, Philharmonia Orchestra, London Philharmonic Orchestra), filmmaker Chuck Blue Lowry (work shown at the British Film Institute, Women of the World Festival, London Short Film Festival and Whitechapel Gallery amongst others) and theatre maker Sue Mayo (Magic Me, People United, Goldsmiths College) to create an original composition, called My Song for You.

Some of the group created texts for the performance, while others learned new instruments or developed their skills to create the piece, which was inspired by Dvorak’s ‘Serenade.’ As well as music making, the group thought a lot about what a serenade is. Why would you sing to someone else, and how do we show our love for others? This involved lots of conversation across generations, discovering commonalities and differences.

“It was wonderful to work together and not worry about age or background”
(older person.)

“Before I was shy and used to stammer a lot but when we got to know each other and the band we got stronger. We worked as a team”
(younger person.)

Following the success of this pilot project, we are developing a guide on delivering intergenerational music projects to enable Langdon Academy to run the project again next year. We are also seeking funding to work with other schools and the older people within their local communities.


The Academy Chamber Ensemble
To celebrate their autumn tour of the US and Canada, here is a special ‘Moment’ all about the Academy Chamber Ensemble.

At the heart of the concert programme for this tour is the Mendelssohn Octet for Strings in E flat Major, Op.20. This spirited work, written by the 16-year-old Felix, was performed at the first concert the ensemble ever played, on its foundation in 1967, and has since become a firm favourite of the Ensemble and audiences alike.

The Chamber Ensemble was, in fact, formed specifically in order to play the Mendelssohn Octet and the success of the ensemble – being as they were eight players extremely used to playing together rather than two separate quartets brought together for the performance – was apparent right from the start.

“My favourite recording of the Octet, and the first I ever heard” Tom Service, The Guardian, on the 1979 recording above

The Academy Chamber Ensemble comes in different shapes and sizes, (for example often performing as a quintet, sextet or octet), depending on the repertoire and is made up of the Academy of St Martin in the Fields’ principals – both string and wind players. The Chamber Ensemble enables the Academy to programme chamber music in addition to the works played by the full orchestra and, in fact, in the early days the Chamber Ensemble often played the second part of the Academy concerts, with the rest of the orchestra going off stage. Having the Academy’s principals regularly playing chamber music together helps the orchestra remain in touch with the chamber music approach to its music making.

“an ensemble of first-rate musicians, technically superb, generously expressive, and obviously enjoying themselves.” Dallas Morning News

Listen to an episode of the Academy Podcast all about the Chamber Ensemble where, among other things, you can hear Tomo Keller talk about the qualities and the pure joy of the Mendelssohn Octet.


Welcome to the wonderful world of the Academy’s Music Library

As it’s Libraries Week we thought we’d take you on a quick tour of the Academy’s music library where you’ll find boxes, filing cabinets and shelves full of scores and instrumental parts…


Depending on the repertoire we will hire or buy the music and, over the years, have accumulated a lot of music! There are various works for which we own more than one copy with each one containing the markings of a different director. For example we have several sets of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons with the bowings and other markings from Neville Marriner, Joshua Bell and Julia Fischer.


There are many musical gems within the library – for example Neville Marriner’s set of scores from the recording sessions for the Amadeus soundtrack


Every now and then there’ll be a sheet-music based emergency – our former Concerts & Tours Manager, Richard Brewer, tells one such story here


Share your Academy moment

Perhaps the first concert you attended was given by the Academy, or you discovered your love of a particular piece through an Academy recording…

If you have a special connection to or memory of the Academy please get in touch with Ellie at marketing@asmf.org or use hashtag #ASMF60