Sunday 31 May

The Damnation of Faust



We hope that you enjoy this broadcast from our archives, recorded at the Barbican Centre in September 2017.

Tonight's programme:

Berlioz The Damnation of Faust

Sir Simon Rattle conductor
Karen Cargill
Bryan Hymel
Christopher Purves
Gábor Bretz Brander

London Symphony Chorus
Tiffin Boys’ Choir
Tiffin Girls’ Choir
Tiffin Children’s Chorus
Simon Halsey
chorus director

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Hector Berlioz
The Damnation of Faust


A spring dawn on the plains of Hungary. Faust revels in the beauty and solitude of the scene. Sounds of distant merrymaking and warlike preparations intrude on his reverie. Peasants dance in honour of spring. Faust, unable to share their emotions, moves to another part of the plain, where soldiers are advancing to battle. He admires their courage and proud bearing but is unmoved by their empty thirst for glory.


Night, in Faust’s study in North Germany, to which he has returned, driven by the ennui that still pursues him. He resolves to end it all and is about to drink poison when church bells peal out and voices proclaim the victory of Christ at Easter. He throws away the cup and, reminded of his childhood devotions, imagines he has found a new peace. Mephistopheles appears and mocks his pious hopes. He offers to reveal wonders not imagined in the philosopher’s cell. They are swept upwards and the scene moves to Auerbach’s cellar in Leipzig, where a noisy crowd of revellers are drinking. One of them, Brander, sings a ballad about a poisoned rat, on which the whole company improvises a blasphemous Amen fugue. Mephistopheles responds with a song about a flea. The drinkers applaud; but Faust is disgusted, and the scene fades as Mephistopheles transports him to the wooded banks of the Elbe, where he is lulled to sleep by soft voices; sylphs weave the air above him. In a dream he sees Marguerite. Awaking, he begs Mephistopheles to lead him to her. They join a band of soldiers and students who are on their way to the town where she lives.


Evening. Drums and trumpets sound the retreat. Alone in Marguerite’s room, Faust drinks in its purity and tranquillity. He hides behind the arras as Marguerite enters, oppressed by a dream in which she saw her future lover. While she braids her hair she sings an old ballad. Outside the house Mephistopheles summons the spirits of fire. They perform a ritual dance of incantation, after which, in a diabolical serenade, Mephistopheles incites Marguerite to the arms of her lover. Faust steps from behind the arras and the lovers, recognising each other, surrender to their passion. They are rudely disturbed by Mephistopheles, warning that Marguerite’s mother is awake. The neighbours can be heard banging on the door. Faust and Marguerite take an agitated farewell. Mephistopheles exults that Faust will soon be his.


Alone, Marguerite longs for Faust, without whom life has no meaning. Distant sounds of trumpets and drums and echoes of the soldiers’ and students’ songs break through her reverie. But Faust does not come. In deep forests he invokes Nature, whose proud untamed power alone can assuage his longings. Mephistopheles appears and informs him that Marguerite has been condemned for the death of her mother, killed by the sleeping draughts she was given during Faust’s visits. In despair, Faust signs a paper agreeing to serve Mephistopheles in return for saving her life. They mount black horses and gallop furiously. Peasants kneeling at a wayside cross flee as they pass. Phantoms pursue Faust; huge birds brush him with their wings. A storm breaks, as with a voice of thunder Mephistopheles commands the legions of hell to begin their revels. Faust falls into the abyss. Demons bear Mephistopheles in triumph. The redeemed soul of Marguerite is received into Heaven by the seraphim.

Synopsis by David Cairns
David Cairns won the biography category of the Whitbread Prize and the Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction for his second volume biography on Berlioz: Servitude and Greatness. Working alongside Sir Colin Davis since the 1950s, their Berlioz reputation goes before them: ‘Cairns and Davis made Berlioz not just acceptable, but almost normal, a patient, rational craftsman, a great composer like any other’ (Mark Swed, Los Angeles Times).

Hector Berlioz
The Damnation of Faust Op 24

Part One
Part Two
Part Three
Part Four

Not all Germans were outraged when Berlioz conducted his Faust in Germany in the 1840s and 1850s.

Hans von Bülow wrote rapturously to Liszt about it and Peter Cornelius called it ‘one of our greatest musical masterpieces, to be ranked with Haydn's Creation, Handel’s oratorios and Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony’. But the general reaction was deeply hostile, and not just for the frivolous reason that, as one reviewer put it, Berlioz ‘slandered Mephistopheles’ by making him trick Faust, and slandered the morals of German students, who never ‘roamed the streets in search of girls’. It was far worse. He had vandalised a national monument.

Germany may have responded much more positively than France to Berlioz’s music. But this was a special case, a case of fundamentally different Fausts. To the Germans Faust meant both parts of Goethe’s play – a Faust purged of the sins and follies committed in Part One’s reckless quest for experience and scaling the heights in Part Two. To Berlioz it meant Part One only, with no real hint of the redeemed hero of Part Two – on the contrary, a Faust almost as surely damned as in Marlowe’s play and the old versions of the legend. That was the text he knew and identified with and took to his heart, when he read and re-read, compulsively, Gérard de Nerval’s French translation. It became for him a sacred possession, untouched by the as- yet-unpublished Part Two. In due course the Eight Scenes from Faust of 1828–29 grew into The Damnation of 1845–46, incorporating the original Scenes, some extensively revised, some hardly changed – though the single guitar accompaniment of Mephistopheles’ serenade became the clatter of massed pizzicato strings, with wicked choral interjections from the will o’ the wisps. The sheer animation of the completed score, its sardonic humour and dazzling contrasts of mood, have often obscured two vital truths: the dramatic and structural logic of the whole, and the deadly seriousness underlying the brilliant surface.

The work’s philosophy is not stated: it is embodied in the language of the music and in the precisely organised sequence of scenes. Berlioz could not have made The Damnation a mere kaleidoscope of picturesque incidents. The subject was too close to him for that. He was dramatising himself, his own inner experiences: his frustrated longings, an ideal of love destined never to find fulfilment, the boyhood religious faith irrevocably lost, the fatal ennui, the mal de l’isolement that first seized him as a boy, as he sat reading in a field and heard the Rogation procession pass nearby, chanting Te rogamus, audi nos – the very chant that in The Damnation accompanies the Ride to the Abyss, the final stage of Faust’s road to ruin.

For this hero there can be no salvation. The devil cannot be escaped: he is within. From the first, Faust’s shadow, the demon of denial, has him in his grasp, blighting each positive impulse – towards learning, companionship, love, nature. Mephistopheles, a more openly Satanic figure than Goethe’s, controls and directs everything that happens. Marguerite herself is his creature (though she escapes him in the end). At the very beginning the tiny worm of consciousness eating away Faust’s imagined felicity – the flattened sixth which poisons the seemingly serene viola melody (B-flat in the key of D major) – reveals the truth. The rising phrase that spans the notes from E to B-flat establishes the tritone, the medieval ‘devil in music’. In the classic form of F–B it is a motif of the score, from Mephistopheles' first entry on a rasping B major (after Faust’s illusory recovery of belief, in F major) to the same juxtaposition of chords, hissing with tam-tam and cymbals, that opens and closes Pandemonium. The first notes of Marguerite’s ballad are F and B.

It is all there in the music. Listening to it, we are there: in the din and reek of Auerbach’s cellar and Brander’s drunken belching, the lulling airs of the Elbe valley, the stillness of Marguerite’s room; we watch the long column of soldiers and students roistering towards the distant town; we are present as the town goes to its rest, as Mephistopheles (atonally and with F–B prominent) summons his sprites, as the nightmarish shouts of the neighbours terrify Marguerite, as distant student voices hauntingly punctuate her lament, as the roar of the forest and the torrential cascade momentarily soothe Faust’s immortal longings. We feel the weariness of the small hours in Faust’s study, the emptiness of learning as the stealthy fugato fades, the dustiness of the books that give no answers, the isolation of a baffled soul.

Isolation, loneliness is the subject of the work: the loneliness of Marguerite, her awakened passions deprived of their object, the loneliness of Mephistopheles himself, the being who cannot love or die, the loneliness of Faust, crying out to the vast, indifferent night sky for the meaning that eternally eludes him.

Mephistopheles' appearance at that moment, with his ironic: ‘In the azure vault, tell me, do you perceive the star of steadfast love?’ completes the pattern of disillusionment that recurs throughout The Damnation – the same spirit in which the devil materialised to mock Faust’s nostalgic memory of faith and that burst in cynically at the climax of his love-making. The vitality and vibrant imagery that are so striking a feature of the music only make more ironic and more profound the alienation of Berlioz-Faust from a world depicted with such seductive and lifelike vividness.

Note by David Cairns


The Damnation of Faust, conducted by Sir Simon Rattle

The Damnation of Faust, conducted by Sir Simon Rattle

Hector Berlioz

Hector Berlioz was born in south-east France in 1803, the son of a doctor. At the age of 17 he was sent to Paris to study medicine, but had already conceived the ambition to be a musician and soon became a pupil of the composer Jean-François Le Sueur.

Within two years he had composed the Messe solennelle, successfully performed in 1825. In 1826 he entered the Paris Conservatoire, winning the Prix de Rome four years later. Gluck and Spontini were important influences on the formation of his musical style, but it was his discovery of Beethoven at the Conservatoire concerts, inaugurated in 1828, that was the decisive event in his apprenticeship, turning his art in a new direction: the dramatic concert work, incarnating a ‘poetic idea’ that is ‘everywhere present’, but subservient to musical logic.

His first large-scale orchestral work, the autobiographical Symphonie fantastique, followed in 1830. After a year in Italy he returned to Paris and began what he later called his ‘Thirty Years War against the routineers, the professors and the deaf’. The 1830s and early 1840s saw a series of major works, including Harold in Italy (1834), Benvenuto Cellini (1836), the Grande Messe des Morts (1837), the Shakespearean dramatic symphony Romeo and Juliet (1839), the Symphonie funèbre et triomphale (1840) and Les nuits d’été (c 1841). Some were well-received; but he soon discovered that he could not rely on his music to earn him a living. He became a prolific and influential critic – a heavy burden for a composer but one that he could not throw off.

In the 1840s he took his music abroad and established a reputation as one of the leading composers and conductors of the day. He was celebrated in Germany (where Liszt championed him), in Russia (where receipts from his concerts paid off the debt from the Parisian failure of The Damnation of Faust), in Vienna, Prague, Budapest and London. These years of travel produced less music. In 1849 he composed the Te Deum, which had to wait six years to be performed. But the unexpected success of L’enfance du Christ in Paris in 1854 encouraged him to embark on a project long resisted: the composition of an epic opera on The Aeneid, which would assuage a lifelong passion and pay homage to two great idols, Virgil and Shakespeare.

Although Béatrice et Bénédict (1860–62) came later, the opera The Trojans (1856–58) was the culmination of his career. It was also the cause of his final disillusionment and the reason, together with the onset of ill-health, why he wrote nothing of consequence in the remaining six years of his life. The work was cut in two, and only part performed in 1863, in a theatre too small and poorly equipped. Berlioz died in 1869.

Profile by David Cairns

Sir Simon Rattle
LSO Music Director

Sir Simon Rattle was born in Liverpool and studied at the Royal Academy of Music. From 1980 to 1998, he was Principal Conductor and Artistic Adviser of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and was appointed Music Director in 1990. In 2002, he took up the position of Artistic Director and Chief Conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic where he remained until the end of the 2017/18 season. He became Music Director of the London Symphony Orchestra in September 2017.

Sir Simon regularly tours within Europe, North America and Asia, and has long- standing relationships with the world’s leading orchestras. Initially working closely with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and Boston Symphony Orchestras, Simon has also recently worked with the Philadelphia Orchestra and the Metropolitan Opera. Sir Simon is also a Principal Artist of the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment and Founding Patron of Birmingham Contemporary Music Group.

Sir Simon Rattle was knighted in 1994. In the New Year’s Honours of 2014 he received the Order of Merit from Her Majesty the Queen.

Image: Ranald Mackechnie

Karen Cargill

Scottish mezzo-soprano Karen Cargill studied at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and was the winner of the 2002 Kathleen Ferrier Award.

In opera, Karen has appeared as Judith (Bartók's Bluebeard’s Castle) for Opera North. Karen regularly sings with the Boston, Cleveland, Philadelphia, Chicago, Rotterdam and Berlin Philharmonic Orchestras, Dresden Staatskapelle, London Symphony and Philharmonic Orchestras, Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, Danish Radio Symphony Orchestra and the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, and has worked with conductors including Donald Runnicles, Yannick Nézet-Séguin, Bernard Haitink, Sir Simon Rattle, Daniele Gatti, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Daniel Harding, Robin Ticciati, Edward Gardner, Mariss Jansons and Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla.

Opera highlights have included appearances at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden; Metropolitan Opera, New York; Deutsche Oper Berlin; Montpellier Opera; Glyndebourne Festival and Edinburgh Festival, with roles including Waltraute (Wagner's Gotterdämmerung); Erda (Wagner's Das Rheingold and Siegfried); Brangaene (Wagner's Tristan and Isolde); Mère Marie (Poulenc's Las Dialogues of the Carmelites) and Judith (Bartók's Bluebeard’s Castle).

Karen appears regularly at the BBC Proms and the Edinburgh International Festival. Highlights with her regular recital partner Simon Lepper include appearances at Wigmore Hall, the Concertgebouw Amsterdam, Kennedy Centre Washington and Carnegie Hall, as well as regular recitals for BBC Radio 3. With Simon she recently recorded a critically acclaimed recital of lieder by Alma and Gustav Mahler for Linn Records for whom she has also recorded Berlioz Les nuits d’été and La mort de Cléopâtre with Robin Ticciati and the Scottish Chamber Orchestra.

In July 2018 Karen was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. She is also Patron of the National Girls’ Choir of Scotland.

Bryan Hymel

Hymel made his Covent Garden debut in 2010 as Don José in Bizet's Carmen and has since returned for performances in Dvořák's Rusalka, Berlioz's Les Troyens, Meyerbeer's Robert le diable and Verdi's Les Vêpres siciliennes.

Hymel made his widely anticipated debut in 2015 at the Opéra National de Paris for performances of Berlioz's The Damnation of Faust, and returned later that season for performances of Verdi's La traviata. He made his Teatro alla Scala debut as Don José (Bizet's Carmen) in 2010, later reprising the role with the Canadian Opera Company and in his debut at the Bayerische Staatsoper. His Metropolitan Opera debut came in 2012 with Berlioz's Les Troyens, and he returned in subsequent seasons for Puccini's Madama Butterfly and La bohème. He made his house and role debut as Percy in Lyric Opera of Chicago’s staging of Donizetti's Anna Bolena, as well as his San Francisco Opera debut in his renowned rendition of Énée in Les Troyens and his Washington National Opera debut as Don José in Carmen.

On the concert stage, Hymel has been seen in Beethoven’s Symphony No 9 led by Gustavo Dudamel at Milan’s Teatro alla Scala; Verdi’s Requiem with the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra under Music Director Yannick Nézet-Séguin and at the Edinburgh Festival under Donald Runnicles; Walter Braunfels’ Jeanne d’Arc with the Salzburg Festival; a European Tour of The Damnation of Faust with the Orchestre National du Capitole de Toulouse;  Roger Waters’ Ça Ira at the Gothenburg Culture Festival and in its US debut with the Nashville Symphony; and in Berlioz’s Requiem with The Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra and the Orchestre National du Capitole de Toulouse. Hymel debuted with the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra in a solo concert conducted by Music Director Frédéric Chaslin. He made his debut in recital at London’s Wigmore Hall in 2016.

Hymel studied at the Academy of Vocal Arts in Philadelphia under Bill Schuman and was a participant in San Francisco Opera Center’s Merola Program.

Image: Chris Gloag

Image: Chris Gloag

Christopher Purves

Christopher Purves has firmly established himself as one of the leading British baritones of his generation. Through his celebrated interpretations of a diverse and eclectic range of roles and repertoire, he is in great demand with many prestigious theatres around the world, working with orchestras, conductors and directors of the highest calibre. He started his musical life as a choral scholar at King’s College, Cambridge, and went on to become a member of experimental rock group Harvey and the Wallbangers.

Recent operatic highlights have included returning to Glyndebourne as Mephistopheles in Richard Jones' staging of Berlioz's The Damnation of Faust, and Golaud in Stefan Herheim’s new production of Debussy's Pelléas et Mélisande, Creon in Enesecu's Oedipe for Dutch National Opera, and Opernhaus Zürich for Barrie Kosky’s production of  Schreker's Die Gezeichneten conducted by Vladimir Jurowski. Previous highlights include the title role in Richard Jones’ new production of Mozart's Don Giovanni for English National Opera, The Protector in George Benjamin's Written on Skin for the Royal Opera House, the title role in Barrie Kosky’s production of Handel's Saul at the Adelaide Festival, Alberich in Wagner's Götterdämmerung for Houston Grand Opera, Gamekeeper in Janáček's The Cunning Little Vixen and the title role in Saul for Glyndebourne Festival Opera, his debut at the Opera de Paris in Schoenberg's Moses und Aron, Alberich in Götterdämmerung at the Bayerische Staatsoper and in Wagner's Siegfried with the Canadian Opera Company and Houston Grand Opera, the title role in Puccini's Gianni Schicchi at Opera North, Sharpless in Puccini's Madama Butterfly in his house debut at the Chicago Lyric Opera, Balstrode in Britten's Peter Grimes at Teatro alla Scala and Nono’s Al gran sole carico d’amore at the Salzburger Festspiele.

On the concert platform, recent highlights include the world premiere of Emily Howard's The Anvil: An elegy for Peterloo with the BBC Philharmonic and Ben Gernon, a critically acclaimed Alberich in Wagner's Das Rheingold with the New York Philharmonic and Alan Gilbert, Peasant in Schoenberg's Gurrelieder with Sir Simon Rattle and the London Symphony Orchestra at the BBC Proms, Handel's Acis and Galatea with La Nuova Musica, Mozart's Requiem with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Elgar's The Kingdom at the First Night of the BBC Proms with Sir Andrew Davis and the BBC Symphony Orchestra, Haydn’s Die Schöpfung with Masaaki Suzuki and the Gewandhausorchester Leipzig; a European tour of Handel’s Messiah with Emmanuelle Haïm and Le Concert d’Astrée. 

A keen recitalist, Purves works regularly with pianist Simon Lepper, and has appeared at the Aldeburgh Festival, Opera North and Kettle’s Yard in Cambridge.

Gábor Bretz

Born in Budapest, Gábor Bretz began his vocal training with Stephan Czovek in Los Angeles and with Prof. Albert Antalffy in Budapest. He subsequently studied at the Béla Bartók Conservatory of Music with Maria Fekete and the Franz Liszt Academy of Music with Sandor Solyom-Nagy, and won the 2005 Maria Callas Grand Prix competition in Athens.

Since graduating from the Franz Liszt Academy, Gábor’s regular performances at the Hungarian State Opera have included the title roles in Boito's Mefistofele and Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro, Leporello and the title role in Mozart's Don Giovanni, Banquo in Verdi's Macbeth, Colline in Puccini's La bohème, Don Basilio in Rossini's The Barber of Seville, Escamillo in Bizet's Carmen, Gurnemanz in Wagner's Parsifal, Zaccaria in Verdi's Nabucco, Orestes in Strauss' Elektra and Landgraf in Wagner's Tannhäuser at the Wagner Festival under Ádám Fischer in Budapest.

Other notable appearances include the title role in Wagner's The Flying Dutchman at the Passionstheater GmbH in Oberammergau; Ferrando in Verdi's Il trovatore at the Royal Opera House; Escamillo in Bizet's Carmen at the Bayerische Staatsoper, the Royal Opera House, the Metropolitan Opera, New York, the New National Theatre in Tokyo and the Hamburg State Opera; Colline in Puccini's La bohème at the Royal Opera House; Shaklovity in Mussorgsky's Khovanshchina at Dutch National Opera; Phillipe II in Verdi's Don Carlos under Renato Palumbo at the Hamburg State Opera, in a Peter Konwitschny production; and numerous performances in the title role of Bartók's Bluebeard’s Castle with the Berlin Philharmonic, Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra, the Bayerische Rundfunk Orchestra, Oregon Symphony Orchestra and the New York Philharmonic under Daniel Barenboim, Gustavo Dudamel, Ádám Fischer, Edward Gardner, Daniele Gatti, Valery Gergiev, Daniel Harding, Michele Mariotti and Esa-Pekka Salonen. Gábor Bretz has also worked with other eminent conductors including Alain Altinoglu, Philippe Jordan, Kent Nagano, Sir Simon Rattle, Juraj Valčuha and Omer Meir Wellber.

Simon Halsey
LSO Choral Director

Simon Halsey occupies a singular position in classical music. He is the trusted advisor on choral singing to the world’s greatest conductors, orchestras and choruses, and also an inspirational teacher and ambassador for choral singing to amateurs of every age, ability and background. By making singing a central part of the world-class institutions with which he is associated, he has been instrumental in changing the level of symphonic singing across Europe.

He holds positions across the UK and Europe as Choral Director of the London Symphony Orchestra and Chorus; Chorus Director of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra Chorus; Artistic Director of Orfeó Català Choirs and Artistic Adviser of the Palau de la Música; Barcelona; Artistic Director of the Berlin Philharmonic Youth Choral Programme; Creative Director for Choral Music and Projects of WDR Rundfunkchor; Director of the BBC Proms Youth Choir; Artistic Advisor of the Schleswig-Holstein Musik Festival Choir; Conductor Laureate of the Rundfunkchor Berlin; and Professor and Director of Choral Activities at the University of Birmingham. He is also a highly respected teacher and academic, nurturing the next generation of choral conductors on his post-graduate course in Birmingham and through masterclasses at Princeton, Yale and elsewhere.

Halsey has worked on nearly 80 recording projects, many of which have won major awards, including a Gramophone Award, Diapason d’Or, Echo Klassik, and three Grammy Awards with the Rundfunkchor Berlin. He was made Commander of the British Empire in 2015, was awarded The Queen’s Medal for Music in 2014, and received the Officer’s Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany in 2011 in recognition of his outstanding contribution to choral music in Germany.

Image: Matthias Heyde

London Symphony Chorus

The London Symphony Chorus was formed in 1966 to complement the work of the London Symphony Orchestra and is renowned internationally for its concerts and recordings with the Orchestra. Their partnership was strengthened in 2012 with the appointment of Simon Halsey as joint Chorus Director of the LSC and Choral Director for the LSO, and the Chorus now plays a major role in furthering the vision of LSO Sing, which also encompasses the LSO Community Choir, LSO Discovery Choirs for young people and Singing Days at LSO St Luke’s.

The LSC has worked with many leading international conductors and other major orchestras, including the Berlin Philharmonic, Vienna Philharmonic, Leipzig Gewandhaus, Los Angeles Philharmonic, New York Philharmonic, the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain and the European Union Youth Orchestra. It has also toured extensively in Europe and has visited the US, Israel, Australia and south-east Asia.

The partnership between the LSC and LSO, particularly under Richard Hickox in the 1980s and 1990s, and later with the late Sir Colin Davis, led to its large catalogue of recordings, which have won numerous awards.

The Chorus is an independent charity run by its members. It is committed to excellence, to the development of its members, to diversity and engaging in the musical life of London, to commissioning and performing new works, and to supporting the musicians of tomorrow. For more information, please visit

Tiffin Choirs


Since its foundation in 1957, the Tiffin Boys’ Choir has been one of the few state school choirs to have been continually at the forefront of the choral music scene in Britain. The Choir has worked with all the London orchestras and performs regularly with the Royal Opera. Recent engagements have included Mahler Symphony No 3 (LSO/Haitink at the BBC Proms, LSO/Harding, Philharmonia/Hruša, LA Phil/ Dudamel), Nielsen's Springtime in Funen (BBC SO/Litton) at the BBC Proms, Mahler Symphony No 8 (Philharmonia/Salonen, London Philharmonic/ Jurowski), Mussorgsky's Boris Godunov (Mariinsky/Gergiev), Stravinsky's Perséphone (Philharmonia/Salonen), the UK premiere of Unsuk Chin’s Alice in Wonderland, the soundtrack for The Hobbit at Abbey Road Studios, appearing on set in the film Philomena, and Titanic Live! with James Horner.

The Choir has made recordings of most of the orchestral repertoire that includes boys’ choir and has recently been broadcast on the BBC, Classic FM and ITV. Notable releases have included Mahler Symphony No 8 (EMI/Tennstedt), which was nominated for a Grammy Award; Puccini’s Il Trittico, Massenet’s Werther and Puccini’s Tosca (EMI/Pappano); Britten’s Billy Budd (Chandos/Hickox), Mahler Symphony No 3 (Signum Classics/Maazel, LSO Live/Gergiev, Telarc/Zander), and Britten’s War Requiem (LPO Live/Masur). Members of the Choir feature in DVD releases of Bizet's Carmen, Puccini's La bohème, Puccini's Tosca and Humperdinck's Hänsel und Gretel from the Royal Opera House.


Tiffin Girls’ School is nationally renowned for its outstanding musical provision and gives six major orchestral and choral concerts each year. Recent performances include Nielsen’s Springtime in Funen with the BBC Symphony Orchestra at the BBC Proms, Mahler Symphony No 3, and performances of Bizet'sCarmen with the Royal Opera House recorded for DVD. The choir has had major competition success, winning both the junior and senior categories at both the Leith Hill Music and Woking Music festivals, and tours regularly in the UK and abroad, including recent collaborations with the choirs of Queen’s College Oxford and Clare College Cambridge.

The choir is directed by Dominic Neville.

London Symphony Orchestra © Ranald Mackechnie

London Symphony Orchestra © Ranald Mackechnie

The London Symphony Orchestra was established in 1904 and has a unique ethos. As a musical collective, it is built on artistic ownership and partnership. With an inimitable signature sound, the LSO’s mission is to bring the greatest music to the greatest number of people.

The LSO has been the only Resident Orchestra at the Barbican Centre in the City of London since it opened in 1982, giving 70 symphonic concerts there every year. The Orchestra works with a family of artists that includes some of the world’s greatest conductors – Sir Simon Rattle as Music Director, Principal Guest Conductors Gianandrea Noseda and François-Xavier Roth, and Michael Tilson Thomas as Conductor Laureate.

Through LSO Discovery, it is a pioneer of music education, offering musical experiences to 60,000 people every year at its music education centre LSO St Luke’s on Old Street, across East London and further afield.

The LSO strives to embrace new digital technologies in order to broaden its reach, and with the formation of its own record label LSO Live in 1999 it pioneered a revolution in recording live orchestral music. With a discography spanning many genres and including some of the most iconic recordings ever made the LSO is now the most recorded and listened to orchestra in the world, regularly reaching over 3,500,000 people worldwide each month on Spotify and beyond. The Orchestra continues to innovate through partnerships with market-leading tech companies, as well as initiatives such as LSO Play. The LSO is a highly successful creative enterprise, with 80% of all funding self-generated.

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Thursday 4 June 2020, 7.30pm BST

Stravinsky The Soldier's Tale

Stravinsky The Soldier's Tale

LSO Chamber Ensemble:
Andrew Marrine­­r
Rachel Gough bassoon
Philip Cobb trumpet
Dudley Bright trombone
Neil Percy percussion
Edicson Ruiz double bass
Roman Simovic director
Malcolm Sinclair narrator