Leslie Olive introduces the year's concerts:

The Apex, Bury St Edmunds 
Sunday 27th March 2022  4.00pm

Smetana: Overture to "The Bartered Bride"
Dvořák: Cello Concerto
Dvořák: "New World" Symphony

Maxim Calver, Cello

Suffolk Philharmonic Orchestra

Leslie Olive, Conductor

Tickets from The Apex

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Max Calver wins the strings section of the 2018 BBC Young Musician Competition

Leslie Olive introduces this music:


I'm delighted to introduce to you the strings winner in 2018 BBC Young Musician, Max Calver. Max made a huge impression in the competition, which launched him into a career which already includes numerous concerto performances with orchestras across the UK. While already making his way with this very promising programme, Max is continuing his studies at the Royal College of Music in London.



Cello Concerto / 9th Symphony

These two great masterpieces date from the nearly three years that Dvorak spent in America as director of the National Conservatory of Music of America in New York.


Although composed close together in time, these two minor key works are so different in mood. The New World Symphony, whilst not without its more reflective moments, seems to bask in transatlantic sunshine and celebrate the characteristic intonations and tones of voice of the New World. The Cello Concerto, on the other hand, whilst not without its moments of triumph and glory, is shot through with a deep yearning for a return, a yearning rich with the intonations of the composer's native land: a longing, a sadness, a desire for the embrace of home. Max Calver explores and explains these depths with a spirituality remarkable in so young a virtuoso.

The Overture to Smetana's opera The Bartered Bride is the bullet-train of operatic overtures. Fleeting and highly energised, rollicking on its way, it demands nothing short of virtuosic playing from every musician. It is, simply, very, very fast.


A major concert in celebration of 1000 years of the Abbey of St Edmund.

Suffolk Philharmonic Orchestra 10th Anniversary

James Gilchrist, one of the UK's most distinguished tenors, sings the tenor role in Paul Carr's "Into The Light."

Bury St Edmunds Festival

Saturday 28th May 2022 7.30pm

St Edmundsbury Cathedral

World première of 1,000th Anniversary commission:

Britten: Fanfare for St Edmundsbury

Parry: I Was Glad

Paul Carr: Into The Light

Elgar: Enigma Variations

The English Arts Chorale
Eye Bach Choir
James Gilchrist, tenor
Suffolk Philharmonic Orchestra
Leslie Olive, conductor


Find out about composer Paul Carr - click the button:

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Leslie Olive introduces this music:


This concert is a real thrill for me. As well as helping to celebrate 1,000 years of the Abbey of St Edmund, it also marks the first ten years of Suffolk Philharmonic Orchestra, and because of the repertoire I also have the opportunity to include my two voluntary choirs and individual singers from choirs across Suffolk.



The concert opens with Benjamin Britten’s Fanfare for St Edmundsbury, written for Bury’s huge and spectacular 1959 Magna Carta Pageant and specified as being for three trumpets “as far apart as possible”! Actually, the rhythms of the three melodic strands are intricate, different, and tricky to co-ordinate even when the players are next to each other. We will experiment in rehearsal to see how close we can come to Britten's idea of antiphony between them.



After the fanfare, we have the great coronation anthem by Sir Hubert Parry, “I Was Glad when they said unto me” – on this, occasion, of course, without the coronation acclamations, but no less grand and magnificent for all that, with choirs, Suffolk’s Philhamonic Orchestra in all its glory, and the Cathedral’s mighty organ. 


Newly commissioned for this concert celebrating 1,000 years since the founding of Bury’s Benedictine Abbey is a work for solo tenor, choir, and orchestra which sets texts with Benedictine resonances. Indeed, some of the words are from the Rule of St Benedict itself. The SPO welcomes one of the UK’s most distinguished lyrical tenors, James Gilchrist, to perform INTO THE LIGHT, commissioned at my recommendation from Paul Carr. I have been involved now with some half dozen new works by Paul, and when my suggestion of a commission to celebrate Abbey1000 was accepted by the Abbey1000 committee, I was delighted that Paul accepted the commission to set words suggested by Canon Matthew Vernon, Sub-Dean of our Cathedral. In my opinion, Paul Carr has excelled himself in this atmospheric work which I convinced you will love.


Which brings us to Elgar, who of course needs neither introduction nor explanation, except perhaps to those less familiar with the work that established reputation as a composer, that this is the suite of pieces that features "Nimrod" - rightly one of the most unmistakeable, memorable, moving, and profound musical utterances of any English composer. Or perhaps, come to think of it, any composer. Ever.

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Charlotte Saluste-Bridoux
plays Mendelssohn's violin concerto


The Isle of Ely Festival

Ely Cathedral

Saturday 25th June 2022


Overture: "The Hebrides"

Violin Concerto 

Symphony No.4, "Italian"

Charlotte Saluste-Bridoux, violin
Suffolk Philharmonic Orchestra
Leslie Olive, conductor

Generously sponsored by 

Leslie Olive introduces this music:


I confess I am in love with this all-Mendelssohn programme! I was once again on a boat standing off Fingal’s Cave on the southern cliff of the Scottish island of Staffa this last summer, and there is a particular feel and look to the ocean swell as it reached the Hebrides which Mendelssohn captures perfectly in his wonderful Hebrides Overture – also known as “Fingal’s Cave.” The music takes us on a journey through calm swells to something much more challenging and back again. At the end it seems as though we have sailed away, and the island disappears in the distance.


The wonderful young French violinist Charlotte Saluste-Bridoux plays the same composer’s Violin Concerto, surely one of the most extraordinary and compelling works in an extraordinary and compelling category of composition. Charlotte was a prize-winner at the 2021 International Auditions for the Young Classical Artists Trust (YCAT), with whom I and Suffolk Philharmonic have worked for many years as part of our commitment to providing opportunities for the most outstanding solo performers of the younger generation.


Mendelssohn was a keen traveller, and his fourth and last symphony – the “Italian” – is just as genuinely coloured with the sunshine and swirling colours of Italian peasant dancing as the Hebrides Overture is redolent of sea spray and the crash of the waves on the basalt columns of Staffa. The movements are all glorious, from the sun-drenched opening, through the musical impression of a religious procession in Naples in the slow movement, and the fiery Saltarello and Tarantella dances of the finale – the Tarantella being the legendary frenzied dance in which a victim of a tarantula sting dances himself to death.

Come and enjoy this wonderful programme with the SPO In the numinous and inspiring surroundings of Ely Cathedral at the height of summer.


"..within reach of everyone in Suffolk.."

In association with

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The Lark's Flight over Suffolk is supported by:

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With additional support from:

The Lark's Flight over Suffolk

Summer 2022

The Lark Ascending, by Ralph Vaughan Williams (RVW), is today one of the best-loved pieces of classical music in the UK. To celebrate the 150th anniversary of the birth of the composer, Suffolk Philharmonic Orchestra aims to bring this glorious music within reach of everyone in Suffolk.

"The Lark's Flight over Suffolk" tells the story of The Lark Ascending and of RVW's live, his triumphs and his disappointments, in music and words. The Lark Ascending features along with his Oboe Concerto and other captivating music by this outstanding and influential British composer. 

Launching at the Theatre Royal in Bury St Edmunds on Thursday 30th June 2022, "The Lark's Flight" then goes on tour to five further venues around the county of Suffolk. As well as RVW himself (played by an actor, of course), there will be a small orchestra of 14 musicians, and outstanding soloists.

"The Lark's Flight" is conceived and directed by conductor Leslie Olive.


Bury St Edmunds, Theatre Royal

Thursday 30 June 7.30pm

Eye, Town Hall
Friday 1 July 7.30pm

Aldeburgh, Jubilee Hall
Sunday 3 July 4.00pm (time tbc)

Carlton Marshes, Visitor Centre
Suffolk Wildlife Trust
Friday 8 July 7.30pm

Felixstowe, St Andrew's Church
Saturday 9 July 7.30pm

Hadleigh, Church
Sunday 10 July 4.00pm (time tbc)


Ralph Vaughan Williams 150th Anniversary Celebrations

St Edmundsbury Cathedral

Saturday 15th October 2022

Vaughan Williams

Symphony No.1: A Sea Symphony

Symphony No.2: A "London" Symphony

Suffolk Philharmonic Orchestra

Leslie Olive, conductor