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Henley Symphony Orchestra

Smetana - Vltava
Beethoven - Piano Concerto No. 5 in Eb Major Op 73
Rachmaninov - Symphony No. 2

Leon Bosch: Conductor
Eric Lu: Piano

Leon Bosch took up his position as Music Director and Conductor of HSO in January this year and joins us for our 23rd Hexagon concert.
Leon, who is internationally renowned as a double bass player, has for some while been developing a career as a fine conductor both in the UK and in his native South Africa. He was first encouraged to conduct by the late Sir Neville Marriner, the legendary founder of The Academy of St Martin in the Fields, for whom Bosch was Principal Bass for over twenty years. Having watched many of the great conductors from his view in the orchestra, he then studied in London with the renowned conductor Sian Edwards and in St Petersburg with Alexander Polishchuk. Since 2014, Leon has conducted groups in the UK and around the world, including the chamber ensemble he formed, I Musicanti.

Since Eric Lu’s unprecedented success as winner of the 2018 Leeds International Piano Competition, he has built an extraordinary world-wide career. Eric made his Proms debut with the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra in summer 2018 and this season performs with renowned orchestras including the Chicago Symphony Orchestra (Riccardo Muti),  the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, the London Symphony Orchestra (Marin Alsop), the Cologne Philharmonie and the Boston Symphony Orchestra. We are delighted to welcome him to Reading.

Political unrest and nationalistic fervour are key to our programme. Smetana’s evocative Vltava (a description of the Moldau river) was written in 1874 after he aligned himself to the growing move for Czech identity. Beethoven began composing his Fifth and final ‘Emperor’ Concerto in 1809, while Vienna was under invasion from Napoleon’s forces for the second time. Its grandeur, bold melodies and heroic spirit befit its dedication to Archduke Rudolph, Beethoven's friend, patron and student, who had fled to exile. After the disaster of the premiere of his First Symphony, Rachmaninov fell into a depression and became unconvinced of his abilities as a symphonist.  Happily, for us, his Second Symphony, written in Dresden where he took his family to escape the political tumult that would put Russia on the path to revolution, was premiered in 1908 in St Petersburg to great acclaim. It remains one of the composer's most popular and best-known compositions.

From the first concert held in a borrowed marquee in Shiplake, and now in its 53rd season, HSO has gone from strength to strength, attracting some 50 players from across the Thames Valley. The orchestra promotes an annual season of four concerts featuring internationally acclaimed artists. The aim is to provide high-quality music-making at affordable prices and to give local musicians a chance to perform the great classical orchestral repertoire to a high standard.