Anglo American composer Stephen Montague brings 90 performers together over 2 days to celebrate his 75th birthday

St John’s Smith Square is delighted to be celebrating Stephen Montague’s 75th birthday starting at midday on 9 March and finishing 24 hours later at midday, 10 March.

The joyously unique Horn Concerto for klaxon horn soloist and an orchestra of vintage cars signals the start of the celebrations at High Noon, Friday 9th March. To quote Sir John Drummond, former Controller of BBC Radio 3 on the work: “Stephen Montague is a master at bringing off large scale events. His Horn Concerto for an orchestra of automobiles and klaxon horn soloist is brilliant- a minor masterpiece!”

The four afternoon programmes feature his works for keyboard, chamber ensembles, and electronics with pianists Christina McMaster, Jenna Sung, Helen Ahahita Wilson, 9 year old Jacky Zhang amongst others as well as harpsichordist Jane Chapman, flautist Rebecca Griffiths and the newly formed Ling Ensemble.

In the crypt running throughout the day is the World Premiere of Montague’s sound installation, Tryst Whispers, secret messages whispered behind closed doors, and a video cube with short films by Alex Julyan, Rob Munday and others.

The afternoon concerts culminate with Dead Cat Bounce and 3 Concertos at 19:45. Flautist Nancy Ruffer and SJSS Young Artist, harpist Oliver Wass, perform the London Premiere of Disparate Dances with the Fulham Symphony Orchestra (conducted by Marc Dooley) and Jenna Sung and Project Instrumental give the European Premiere of Ritual: Ode to Changwon (2017) for prepared piano and string orchestra. The concerto evening ends with Rolf Hind playing Montague’s virtuoso Piano Concerto (originally a BBC Proms commission) with the Fulham Symphony Orchestra.

The evening melts quietly into an all night, candlelit performance of Eric Satie’s rarely performed Vexations played by a team of outstanding pianists and special visual projections by students from the Royal College of Art. The audience are invited to bring sleeping bags, enjoy SJSS coffee and doughnuts, savour 840 mesmerising repetitions which end the morning of March 10th, Montague’s actual 75th birthday.

Stephen Montague said: “Throughout my life I’ve looked forward- living each day like there’ll always be tomorrow. 75 seems to have crept up on me when I wasn’t looking. Damn! So how exciting to have this wonderful birthday gift from St Johns with the unique chance to turn my head, look back over the years for a day, and smile. What a boon it will be to see so many of my “children” from the past 45 years played with panache by a full spectrum of top professionals to young students in the glorious hall of St Johns. I am thrilled, excited and honoured.”


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