Sir Neville Marriner Centenary Concert – ASMF & Joshua Bell

18 April 2024
Royal Festival Hall, Southbank Centre, London

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18 April
Royal Festival Hall, Southbank Centre, London


In a programme of classics (Mozart, Saint Saens, Brahms) and contemporary (a violin and jazz drum premiere by Vince Mendoza), the Academy of St Martin in the Fields performs music across the generations to celebrate the centenary of the trailblazing Sir Neville Marriner.

In the 1980s a generation was turned on to classical music by the film Amadeus, its soundtrack performed by the Academy of St Martin in the Fields’ (ASMF). Similarly, a previous generation had discovered Baroque music thanks to ASMF recordings of Handel, Haydn and Corelli. The man who opened up all this music to a whole new audience was Sir Neville Marriner: his ground-breaking player-led, egalitarian orchestra performed the classics with a distinctive crisp, stylish sound, rich tone and brisk tempo. The ASMF celebrates this consummate musician in their founder’s centenary year, with a concert that reflects the orchestra’s illustrious history and acknowledges Marriner’s legacy.

Excerpts from the soundtrack to Amadeus, originally curated by Sir Neville, opens this exceptional concert. Special guests will contribute readings, anecdotes and memories of Marriner and his Mozartean genius, with the music directed by virtuoso violinist Joshua Bell, proving that you can never have ‘too many notes’.

Bell, who took over from Sir Neville as ASMF Music Director in 2011, takes the solo spot for Saint Saens’ virtuosic work, which he performed previously at Sir Neville’s 90th birthday concert. Full of fiery flourishes it’s the perfect showcase for Bell’s stylistic flair, and a reminder of Marriner’s own career as a violinist.

Adding a contemporary vibe, Grammy Award-winning Vince Mendoza’s world premiere has been specially composed to unite the Stradivarius of Joshua Bell and the jazz drums of Sir Neville’s grandson, Douglas Marriner. In this unique and thrilling work, Mendoza deftly combines contemporary and classical elements to produce a whole new sound, setting off the fireworks at this particular party!

Bringing the concert to a rousing conclusion, and marking the orchestra’s inclusion of Romantic music in its repertoire, Brahms’ sunny, witty second symphony is also the perfect metaphor for Sir Neville, who shared his expertise with wit, affection and a light touch. Brahms’ musical jokes are hidden within the formal symphonic structure, but the optimism is unmistakeable, and the blazing denoument allows a final tribute Marriner. His enduring legacy lives on in the Academy of St Martin in the Fields, now one of the world’s leading orchestras.

Music Director/Violin: Joshua Bell
Director/Leader: Tomo Keller
Drums: Douglas Marriner
Soprano: Sarah-Jane Brandon 

Marriner’s Mozart – directed by Tomo Keller:
Overture The Magic Flute
Serenade for Winds, K.361 (third movement)
‘Ruhe sanft, mein holdes Leben’ from Zaide – soprano Sarah-Jane Brandon
Overture Die Entführung aus dem Serail
: Introduction et Rondo Capriccioso – soloist Joshua Bell
Vince Mendoza: Flight of Moving Days – commission for Joshua Bell, Douglas Marriner & ASMF, European Premiere
Brahms: Symphony No.2 in D major, Op.73 – directed by Joshua Bell