2019 – 2020 Programme

Christmas Concert 2019

With the Tottenham Community Choir, Director Nicki Williamson

Date: Sunday 15th December
Starts: 19.30
Where: St Mellitus Church, Tollington Park, London N4 3AG

Conductor: Oliver Till

Leader: Tina Bowles


  • Shostakovich – Festive Overture
  • Vaughan Williams – Suite for viola and orchestra: soloist Geoffrey Irwin
  • Khachaturian – Sabre Dance from Suite no 1 for orchestra 
  • Five carols – Tony Royse arrangements 
  • Tottenham Community Choir items: 
    • Vivaldi — Gloria 
    • Carly Simon arr Nicki Williamson – Let the River Run 

Music Director Oliver Till writes: London Medical Orchestra rounds off 2019 with a festive celebration featuring thrilling Russian orchestral works, the Khachaturian Sabre Dance and Shostakovich Festive Overture alongside Ralph Vaughan Williams’s tranquil Suite for Viola and Orchestra with violist Geoffrey Irwin. We’re delighted to be joined again by the Tottenham Community Choir for the opening movement of Vivaldi’s Gloria, and we look forward to getting the tinsel out for Christmas carols with audience and full orchestral and choral accompaniment.

Notes on the composers

Dimitri Shostakovich (1960-1975) was born in St Petersburg and studied at the St Petersburg Conservatory. He was one of the greatest composers of symphonies in the twentieth century. His Seventh – Leningrad – Symphony, written in response to the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941, is regarded by many as his defining work. In June 1942, the symphony was broadcast by the BBC, conducted by Sir Henry Wood. Shostakovich also wrote a significant amount of chamber music, including fifteen string quartets, but few operas, largely because of his difficult relationship with the Soviet regime. His opera, Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District, was first performed in January 1934 and was very popular – until, in January 1936, Stalin and his entourage attended a performance. They left before the end, the work was subsequently savaged in Pravda (“Muddle instead of Music”) and Shostakovich fell out of favour. He was, however, rehabilitated following the first performance, in October 1937, of his Fifth Symphony, and subsequently wrote a number of lighter works as a result of official commissions. Shostakovich wrote the Festive Overture – in three days – for a concert marking the 37th anniversary of the October 1917 Revolution.

Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-1958) studied at the Royal College of Music, Trinity College, Cambridge, in Berlin, where he was taught by Max Bruch, and in Paris, where he studied orchestration with Maurice Ravel. One of the most important aspects of Vaughan Williams’s music was his interest in folk songs, of which he collected more than 800. His major earlier works include the Sea Symphony (1910), Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis for Double String Orchestra (1910) and the London Symphony (1914). Following the outbreak of war, Vaughan Williams enlisted in the army and his military career included service on the Somme in 1918 (his friend, George Butterworth, had been killed on the Somme in 1916). During the Second World War, Vaughan Williams worked on behalf of German musician refugees – and his music was banned by the Nazi regime. Vaughan Williams wrote music for a number of propaganda films, the first of which was The 49th Parallel (1941). His Fifth Symphony received its first performance at the Proms in 1943. Vaughan Williams composed what is currently his most popular work, The Lark Ascending, for solo violin and orchestra, in 1914, although it was not performed until 1920. The Suite for Viola and Orchestra was written for Lionel Tertis. It was first performed at the Queen’s Hall in London in November 1943, by the London Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Malcolm Sargent.

Aram Khatchaturian (1903-1978) was born in Tiflis, Georgia, to Armenian parents. He studied composition at the Moscow Conservatory. His music was significantly influenced by Armenian and Georgian folk music. Khatchaturian became one of the best-known composers in the Soviet Union and won many state honours. He subsequently fell out of official favour and, at the 1948 Composers’ Congress, was criticised for “formalism”. He continued, however, to compose patriotic works. Khatchaturian is now best-known for the music he wrote in 1954 for the ballet, Spartacus. The Adagio of Spartacus and Phrygia, from the Second Suite, became particularly famous as the theme of the BBC’s television series,The Onedin Line, which was broadcast from 1971 to 1980. Sabre Dance comes from the music which Khatchaturian composed for the ballet, Gayaneh, which he wrote in 1942 and revised in 1957.

Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1741) was a virtuoso violinist as well as prolific composer. He is believed to have been taught mainly by his father. Vivaldi was ordained as a priest in 1703 and, because of the colour of his hair, was given the nickname “Il Prete Rosso”. Also in 1703, Vivaldi began an association with the Ospedale della Pieta, one of four Venetian charitable institutions which looked after children who had been orphaned or abandoned and which specialised in providing excellent musical training for girls. This association lasted for 37 years, with Vivaldi successively fulfilling the roles of violin master, director of instrumental music and composer. Vivaldi wrote nearly 500 concertos, mainly for strings but also for wind instruments. He also wrote sonatas, sacred vocal music and over 40 operas.  Vivaldi was a contemporary of, and his writing influenced, J.S. Bach. Vivaldi’s best-known works are The Four Seasons, violin concertos written in around 1720. They are among the earliest examples of what is now called programme music and were published with accompanying poems. The Gloria was written in around 1715 for the Ospedale della Pieta. After Vivaldi’s death, the Gloria, along with most of the rest of his music, was lost. Approaching 200 years later, in 1926, hundreds of Vivaldi manuscripts, including that of the Gloria, were discovered by monks in a monastery near Turin. A version of the Gloria was performed in Siena in 1939 but the piece was not performed in its original version until 1957, at Brooklyn College in New York City.

Rosalind Hedley-Miller

Spring Concert 2020

Date:  Sunday 29th March 2020
Starts: 18.00
Where: St Mary Brookfield Church, Dartmouth Park Hill, Highgate, London NW5 1SL

Conductor:   Oliver Till

Leader: Tina Bowles


Puccini – Preludio Sinfonico

Puccini – Operatic excerpts from La Bohème

Tchaikovsky – Symphony no 5 in E minor

Charity Revitalise

Summer Concert 2020

Date:   Sunday 28th June 2020
Starts: 18.00
Where: St Mary Brookfield Church, Dartmouth Park Hill, Highgate, London NW5 1SL

Conductor   Oliver Till

Leader         Tina Bowles


Griffes – the White Peacock

A Haydn Symphony

Beethoven – Violin Concerto in D major; soloist Emmanuel Bach

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