The Northampton Symphony Orchestra’s 125th anniversary celebrations culminate this weekend in its most high-profile concert of the season.
The event, at the Royal & Derngate, is capped with the epic Alpine Symphony, composed by Richard Strauss in 1915 and one of Strauss’ largest non-operatic works. It consists of 22 continuous sections of music, forming what is known as a tone poem.
Unusually for a concert piece, the Alpine Symphony will include 20 horns, six trombones, two tubas and a lupophone. The lupophone, a rare woodwind instrument, was made especially to cover the Alpine Symphony part for Heckelphone, itself a rare bass oboe which lacks the lowest five notes Strauss indicated in the part.
Performing the lupophone will be Christopher Redgate, whom the orchestra believes to be the only professional player of the instrument in Britain.
In addition, the orchestra will also be assisted by internationally recognised piano soloist Peter Donohoe, playing Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No 2. Peter has appeared as a solo artist with many of the world’s leading symphony orchestras, including annual performances at the Proms for 17 years.
The orchestra will also be performing Sir William Walton’s Crown Imperial, and as an added bonus, a specially commissioned piece titled From the Heart of the Rose by UK-based composer Alga Mau, who grew up in Northampton.
Conductor John Gibbons said: "The Alpine Symphony is a landmark in the orchestral repertoire, with its astonishing use of a mega large orchestra, including the lupophone.
"We are incredibly lucky to have one of the world’s most distinguished pianists playing Tchaikovsky. Peter won the Tchaikovsky piano competition during the Soviet era, made his reputation playing big romantic concertos, and to have such an international calibre during our 125th anniversary is an absolute privilege."
The concert takes place on Sunday June 16, starting at 7pm.