Thank you to all our Friends

These are challenging times for the arts. Nevertheless, as our Artistic Director Marc Corbett-Weaver explains, Firebird plans to resume its concert season later this year…

Marc Corbett-Weaver

Dear Friends

London Firebird Orchestra & The Pandemic

As the UK went into lockdown in March, we had engaged our players in two projects – our concert at Kings Place and an engagement concert with Middlesex University. Both had to be cancelled because of venue closures and the lockdown. Fortunately, we were in a position to support our players with payments for both projects. We are grateful for the generosity of our Friends & Benefactors, and the University, for this.

At present I am working with our conductors, George Jackson and Michael Thrift, and colleagues at St George’s to adapt our autumn programme. Orchestras are now performing on the continent with safety measures in place and we are watching developments closely.

Our home venue, St George’s Hanover Square, is currently closed but plans to reopen in time for the autumn. 

As things stand therefore, we aim to proceed with our two orchestral concerts, Firebird for Schools Concert and Firebird Young Composer of the Year Competition, with our audience socially distanced. We also plan to bring these performances to a wider audience via online streaming.

This is a desperate time for young musicians, many of whom have had all their concerts cancelled. We look forward to announcing more details of our 2020/21 Season soon. Once again, all the musicians and the Board of Trustees would like to say a big thank you for your continued support. We look forward to having you with us for the journey ahead.

Meanwhile we would like to share the wonderful video performance below created by one of our regular soloists.

With our very best wishes at this challenging time,

Marc Corbett-Weaver
Artistic Director & Chief Executive, London Firebird Orchestra


We hope you will enjoy this video clip featuring part of the marvellous Finale from Sibelius Symphony no. 5, performed by our orchestra in June 2019 at St George’s Hanover Square.

The resplendent horn theme came into the composer’s mind while he was climbing mountains in Finland and suddenly saw the amazing spectacle of sixteen swans in flight above him – he wrote in his diary ‘This was the greatest day of my life!. 

We hope our performance offers a little inspiration to our Friends at this challenging time.


If you are not already one of our donors, please do support us by joining the Friends & Benefactors Society.

Firebird Orchestra Sunday 8th February 2015 @ Kings Place © Huw Jennings

To find out about the benefits of being a Friend and to join online, go to our Friends page.

Meet the Soloist: Sherry Shen

Meet one of Firebird’s talented violinists, Sherry Shen from China, currently a second year masters’ student at London’s Royal College of Music.

Tell us about your involvement with Firebird and other orchestras and ensembles…

I have been playing with London Firebird Orchestra since March 2019, playing the violin in the Orchestra. 

Sherry Shen

I also have a quartet and a piano trio at RCM, and I am also involved in London City Philharmonic, London Film Orchestra, Brixton Chamber Orchestra and RCM Symphony Orchestra.


What would you say are some of the highlights of your career so far?

I worked for four years as principal second violin in the Alexander Chamber Orchestra, which was one of the very first professional chamber orchestras in China. I also worked in a Chinese opera company as the orchestra leader, and toured Singapore, Hong Kong, Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu, Nanjing, and Suzhou.


What about your future ambitions in music?

I hope my future is as an orchestral musician. I would love to work in a top orchestra and also have a chamber group to work with long term. Simply put, my ambition is to keep playing music.


What do you feel is the value of Firebird to younger professional musicians?

London Firebird Orchestra has a great vibe and high quality. It helps young musicians including myself to familiarise themselves with life and work in a professional orchestra.


Clearly with things changing rapidly due to the coronavirus many concerts are being postponed or cancelled. Please check our diary for the latest status regarding each of our forthcoming concerts.

Jonathan Bloxham with the London Firebird Orchestra

Meet the Soloist: Samantha Hay

Last week we met talented young violinist Emmanuel Bach. This week we meet the other no less talented soloist in Firebird’s next concert, The First Cuckoo,  soprano Samantha Hay…

Tell us a little about yourself as a musician…

I trained as an undergraduate at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire and as a postgrad at the Royal College of Music.  I was a chorister for Welsh National Opera for seven years and returned to freelance work seven years ago.


Can you identify some career highlights to date?

After I left the chorus at WNO, I returned a year later to perform Frasquita in Carmen and my dream role of Queen of the Night. That was a very proud moment! To keep returning to a company that meant so much to me is such a pleasure and a thrill every time.  

I also performed as the Goddess Ceres in a production of The Tempest with the Royal Shakespeare Company – singing and delivering a Shakespeare speech for the most highly regarded theatre company in the world was one of the most amazing experiences of my life.


What is your preferred musical genre?

I regularly perform as a soloist for Choral Societies throughout the UK, but my heart is on the stage with opera.  I love discovering a character and working as a team with other cast members and production staff.  Working in a studio for weeks and then transferring the production to stage in front of a constantly changing audience is very exciting and hugely rewarding as a performer.


What about your future ambitions in music?

I am really keen to become more involved in the education of young people and children and to introduce them to classical music and opera and hopefully inspire more young people into the industry.

Together with my partner, Beatboxer Andy Frost, we have formed the duo OperaBeatz! We hope to show how completely difference genres of music can work together and we run workshops for schools to encourage more exploration in musical styles.


What is the value of London Firebird to younger professional musicians like yourself?

Throughout my professional development I have always been very grateful for programmes such as British Youth Opera, where I was given a great opportunity to perform a major role at the Linbury Studio.

Establishments such as this and London Firebird are vital for giving young musicians experience in a professional environment and also for networking with peers.  In this business, learning doesn’t end after college, there is still a huge amount to learn in the professional world, and it is really important for young musicians and singers to experience that.


The First Cuckoo: Nature Unwrapped

Sunday 22 March, 6.30 pm
Kings Place, 90 York Way, London N1 9AG

The First Cuckoo
Common cuckoo (Cuculus canorus)

Delius On Hearing the First Cuckoo
Delius Spring Summer Night on the River
Mendelssohn Violin Concerto in E minor, Op. 64
Mozart The Queen of the Night Arias: Der Hölle Rache & O zittre nicht (from Magic Flute)
Haydn Symphony no. 83 in G minor, Hob.I:83 (La Poule)

Conductor George Jackson
Violin Emmanuel Bach
Coloratura Samantha Hay

This concert has been organised in collaboration with the London Chamber Music Society

Jonathan Bloxham with the London Firebird Orchestra

Meet the Soloist: Emmanuel Bach

Virtuoso Emmanuel Bach describes his mission as communicating through music and to bring music to wider audiences. He will be doing just that on 22 March when he performs Mendelssohns’s famous Violin Concerto….

Tell us a little about yourself as a musician…

Photographs of Emmanuel Bach by Chris Christodoulou

Growing up with music in the home, I found my feet through having a pianist mother, taking lessons with a Russian teacher Natasha Boyarsky, for many years, including studies at Oxford, Royal College London, and later studying with Radu Blidar.

My mission is communicating through music and to bring music to wider audiences. Symphony, opera, chamber music, and other art genres have long brought me interest and helped me to develop as a musician.


What are your career highlights to date?

Winning the Royal Over-Seas League String Competition and working in performances and masterclasses with Anne-Sophie Mutter and Vengerov.


Do you see yourself as a soloist, chamber musician, orchestral musician or all three?

My focus is solo and chamber music, which presently involves performing concertos, giving recitals and playing in duos.


What about your future ambitions in music?

To maintain interest in and support for the arts, by bringing music to wide audiences and communities who can benefit. To that end, I aim to perform more internationally, and hope to support interest in some more unusual composers. I also look forward to more work encouraging music-making in young people and communities here and abroad.

What is the value of London Firebird to younger professional musicians like yourself?

Firebird offers a fantastic opportunity for soloists to play with an orchestra of young professionals and students in a prominent venue, working together to perform for a committed audience.


The First Cuckoo: Nature Unwrapped

Sunday 22 March, 6.30 pm
Kings Place, 90 York Way, London N1 9AG

The First Cuckoo
Common cuckoo (Cuculus canorus)

Delius On Hearing the First Cuckoo
Delius Spring Summer Night on the River
Mendelssohn Violin Concerto in E minor, Op. 64
Mozart The Queen of the Night Arias: Der Hölle Rache & O zittre nicht (from Magic Flute)
Haydn Symphony no. 83 in G minor, Hob.I:83 (La Poule)

Conductor George Jackson
Violin Emmanuel Bach
Coloratura Samantha Hay

This concert has been organised in collaboration with the London Chamber Music Society

Jonathan Bloxham with the London Firebird Orchestra

The First Cuckoo

Have you heard the First Cuckoo of Spring yet? Firebird is heading to Kings Place on 22 March for The First Cuckoo: Nature Unwrapped. Take a look at some of the great music in store…

Following an invitation from the London Chamber Music Society, we are delighted to return to Kings  Place for the fourth time. Inspired by our name, Firebird explores some of nature’s ornithological themes in music with conductor George Jackson.

The tone poems composed in 1912 by the Bradford born composer Frederick DeliusOn Hearing the First Cuckoo in Spring and Summer Night on the River open our concert with a tranquil mood and give the title of the concert.

The first of these Two Pieces for Small Orchestra are an exchange of cuckoo calls between oboe and strings followed by a melody inspired by a Norwegian Folksong.


Next comes Felix Mendelssohn’s bravura Violin Concerto in E minor, Op. 64 which will be performed by virtuoso Emmanuel Bach.

Composed between 1838 and 1844, It now forms an essential part of the violin repertoire and is one of the most popular and most frequently performed violin concertos in history.


Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was no stranger to virtuosi either and the vocal range of coloratura soprano Samantha Hay is put through its paces in the amazing Queen of the Night Arias: Der Hölle Rache & O zittre nicht from The Magic Flute.

…dazzling coloratura and fearless top notes drew audible gasps!

Intermezzo.com

Music by Josef Haydn concludes the concert with his Symphony no. 83 in G minor.

The second of his six ‘Paris’ Symphonies, it is popularly known as La poule (The Hen) because the clucking melody reminded listeners of the jerky head motion of a walking hen.


This concert has been organised in collaboration with the London Chamber Music Society.

The First Cuckoo: Nature Unwrapped

Sunday 22 March 2020, 6.30 pm
Kings Place, 90 York Way, London, N1 9AG

The First Cuckoo

Delius On Hearing the First Cuckoo
Delius Spring Summer Night on the River
Mendelssohn Violin Concerto in E minor, Op. 64
Mozart The Queen of the Night Arias: Der Hölle Rache & O zittre nicht (from Magic Flute)
Haydn Symphony no. 83 in G minor, Hob.I:83 (La Poule)

Conductor George Jackson
Violin Emmanuel Bach
Coloratura Samantha Hay

London Firebird Orchestra
London Firebird Orchestra

Tribute to Sara Turnbull

Everyone at the London Firebird Orchestra is most saddened that our good friend, longstanding volunteer and passionate supporter Sara Turnbull died suddenly on Wednesday 5th February 2020.

Sara Turnbull is pictured above (right) together with her sister Georgina, singer and television presenter Aled Jones and actor Geoffrey Palmer.

Sara was involved with the orchestra from its inception in 2012 and worked tirelessly for it over the years. She helped organise almost every concert, giving so very generously of her time. We will all remember her merrily greeting the audience before each concert, after a long day stapling, sticking and stuffing. Sara loved watching the orchestra rehearse, helping back-stage and enjoying the concerts – while sipping from her hip-flask of gin.

In January of this year Sara was looking particularly well. An operation on her leg in the autumn led to great improvement in her health and mobility, which had suffered after a nasty fall in autumn 2017

Pictured above: Sara Turnbull, right, together with her sister Georgina, who also helps with Firebird


Sara’s cheery gentle character, lively sense of humour and tireless reliability will be remembered fondly and greatly missed. She knew all of our supporters and regular members of the audience well – and was much-loved by everyone who played in the orchestra.

We offer our heartfelt condolences Sara’s sister Georgie, all the family and her great many friends.

Sara’s funeral will take place on Thursday 27th February at 12noon. For details please email: Marc.Corbett-Weaver@FirebirdOrchestra.com 


The London Firebird Orchestra’s Board of Trustees would like to dedicate the rest of the concerts of the 2019/20 season to Sara Turnbull as a gesture of thanks for her enormous support.



From the Earth to the Skies

 In Memory of Sara Turnbull

Tuesday 25 February 2020, 7:30 pm
St George’s, Hanover Square, London, W1S 1FX

From the Earth to the Sky

Mozart Overture to Idomeneo, re di Creta, K, 366
Beethoven Piano Concerto no. 2 in B flat, Op. 19
Mozart Ilia’s Arias: Quando avran fine omai & Padre, germani, addio! (from Idomeneo)
Mozart Symphony no. 41 in C, K. 551 (Jupiter)

Conductor Michael Thrift
Piano George Harliono
Soprano Rosanna Harris

Meet the Soloist: Rosanna Harris

Soprano soloist Rosanna Harris will be making her Firebird debut with From the Earth to the Skies on 25 February. We find out more about her musical life…

Tell us a little about yourself as a musician…

I was born in Glasgow in Scotland and from there I travelled all over the world eventually settling back in the U.K. in my early 20s. I completed a BMus degree at Acadia University in Nova Scotia, Canada before completing an MMus & PGDip in Vocal Performance at the RNCM in Manchester. I recently moved to Surrey after a few years living in London.

Music has been a part of my life since I was a small child: my parents were, and still are, involved in music and always encouraged me to participate in a wide range of artistic endeavours.

As well as singing, I studied the ‘cello, acting and dance and regularly performed in plays, musicals, operas, dance recitals, as well as with orchestras and ensembles, most of which I continue to enjoy as time allows. 


What are your career highlights to date?

Some of my most memorable experiences have been performing on stages including Bridgewater Hall, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, Royal Festival Hall, Grange Park Opera, and Opera Holland Park, both as a soloist and member of an ensemble. I have also worked with companies such as English Touring Opera, which has allowed me to see many gorgeous pockets of the U.K. 


What about your future ambitions in music?

I am mainly involved in the freelance opera world, but I really enjoy performing with ensembles and orchestras as time allows between opera contracts.  My ambition is to keep singing in any way I can. I like to mix singing with private singing teaching, so that I add variety to my days. As long as I have music in my life and the chance to sing often enough, I will be happy!


What is the value of London Firebird to younger professional musicians like yourself?

Performing with orchestras such as London Firebird gives invaluable opportunities for younger professional musicians, not least because of the depth an orchestra brings to the music and the exhilarating feeling one experiences as the performer.

At this stage in my career it is not always easy to come across solo opportunities like this. I am honoured to have been asked to perform Ilia’s recitative and aria from Idomeneo. This will be the first time I will be working with London Firebird Orchestra. I am very much looking forward to it. 



Conductor Michael Thrift, pianist Marc Corbett-Weaver and soprano Rosanna Harris

From the Earth to the Skies

Tuesday 25 February 2020, 7:30 pm
St George’s, Hanover Square, London, W1S 1FX

From the Earth to the Sky

Mozart Overture to Idomeneo, re di Creta, K, 366
Beethoven Piano Concerto no. 2 in B flat, Op. 19
Mozart Ilia’s Arias: Quando avran fine omai & Padre, germani, addio! (from Idomeneo)
Mozart Symphony no. 41 in C, K. 551 (Jupiter)

Conductor Michael Thrift
Piano Marc Corbett-Weaver
Soprano Rosanna Harris

From the Earth to the Skies

What better way to forget the winter blues than with Firebird’s first concert of the year From the Earth to the Skies on 25 February at the lovely St George’s Hanover Square?

Classical masterpieces by Mozart and Beethoven abound a concert taking us from the earth bound Island of Crete to the celestial wonders of the planet Jupiter alongside Beethoven’s delightful second Piano Concerto…

Composers Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Ludwig van Beethoven

Conductor Michael Thrift takes Firebird on a flight back to the Trojan wars for the start of Mozart’s Opera Idomeneo. Ilia, the daughter of the defeated king of Troy, has been captured by the Cretans.

She has fallen in love with the son of the Cretan King who releases her along with other captives. Ilia’s aria is performed by Rosanna Harris, fresh from the stages of Opera Holland Park and Grange Park Opera.

Conductor Michael Thrift, pianist Marc Corbett-Weaver and soprano Rosanna Harris

Firebird’s Artistic Director Marc Corbett-Weaver performs Beethoven’s delightful Piano Concerto no. 2 before Firebird heads to the skies for Mozart’s inspirational Jupiter Symphony.

‘Marc Corbett-Weaver showed himself to be an interpretive artist fully immersed in the subtleties and considerable technical demands of each composer’s writing.’

Musical Opinion Magazine

From the Earth to the Skies

Tuesday 25 February 2020, 7.30 pm
St George’s, Hanover Square, London, W1S 1FX

Mozart Overture to Idomeneo, re di Creta, K, 366
Beethoven Piano Concerto no. 2 in B flat, Op. 19
Mozart Ilia’s Arias: Quando avran fine omai & Padre, germani, addio! (from Idomeneo)
Mozart Symphony no. 41 in C, K. 551 (Jupiter)

Conductor Michael Thrift
Piano Marc Corbett-Weaver
Soprano Rosanna Harris

We look forward to seeing you at the first in a series of fabulous concerts throughout the year – click on the button below to see what’s coming up in 2020 and to book.

London Firebird Orchestra
London Firebird Orchestra

Make the most of 2020 with Firebird

Happy New Year from everyone at Firebird!

It’s that time of year when many of us are making resolutions for the year ahead. Have you made yours yet?

The three most common resolutions people make are to:

* sort out their finances
* eat more healthily
* exercise more.

One other you might like to add is ‘Make the most of 2020 with Firebird. We have a fabulous line up of concerts this year, so make sure these are on your agenda for 2020…

FROM THE EARTH TO THE SKIES

Tuesday 25 February 2020, 7:30 pm
St George’s, Hanover Square, London, W1S 1FX

From the Earth to the Sky

Mozart Overture to Idomeneo, re di Creta, K, 366
Beethoven Piano Concerto no. 2 in B flat, Op. 19
Mozart Ilia’s Arias: Quando avran fine omai & Padre, germani, addio! (from Idomeneo)
Mozart Symphony no. 41 in C, K. 551 (Jupiter)

Conductor Michael Thrift
Piano Marc Corbett-Weaver
Soprano Rosanna Harris

THE FIRST CUCKOO: NATURE UNWRAPPED

Sunday 22 March 2020, 6:30 pm
King’s Place, London, N1 9AG

The First Cuckoo

Delius On Hearing the First Cuckoo
Delius Spring Summer Night on the River
Mendelssohn Violin Concerto in E minor, Op. 64
Mozart The Queen of the Night Arias: Der Hölle Rache & O zittre nicht (from The Magic Flute)
Haydn Symphony no. 83 in G minor, Hob.I:83 (La Poule)

Conductor George Jackson
Violin Emmanuel Bach
Coloratura Samantha Hay

FIREBIRD FOR SCHOOLS

Thursday 14 May 2020, 1:30 pm
St George’s, Hanover Square, London, W1S 1FX

Firebird for Schools

Programme to include:
Prokofiev Peter and the Wolf, Op.67

Conductor George Jackson

B MINOR WITH LOVE

Thursday 11 June 2020, 7:30 pm
St George’s, Hanover Square, London, W1S 1FX

B Minor with Love

Dvorak Cello Concerto in B minor, Op. 104
Winner of the Firebird Young Composer of the Year Competition New Work (World Première)
Tchaikovsky Symphony no. 6 in B minor, Op. 74 (Pathétique)

Conductor Michael Thrift
Cello Aleksei Kiseliov

NORTHERN LIGHTS

Thursday 24 September 2020, 7:30 pm
St George’s, Hanover Square, London, W1S 1FX

Glinka Overture to Ruslan and Ludmilla
Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto in D, Op. 35
Sibelius Symphony no. 2 in D, Op. 43

Principal Guest Conductor George Jackson
Violin Yury Revich

FIREBIRD FLIES TO THE EAST

Thursday 22 October 2020, 7:30 pm
St George’s, Hanover Square, London, W1S 1FX

Borodin In the Steppes of Central Asia
Rachmaninoff Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, Op. 43
Puccini A Selection of Arias from ‘La Bohème’
Stravinsky The Firebird Suite (1919)

Principal Guest Conductor George Jackson
Piano George Harliono
Soprano Sky Ingram

London Firebird Orchestra
London Firebird Orchestra