London Chamber Orchestra and the French Horn


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It is not unusual for recent London Chamber Orchestra concerts to feature an enthusiastic amount of the French horn, due to Non Executive Director Martin Childs being an amateur player himself, and a champion for the instrument. ‘Transcendence’, at 7.30pm on Tuesday 22 February 2022, at St John’s Smith Square, London, is no exception. Nicholas Korth performs his own piece ‘Inscapes’ for Tenor, Natural Horn and String Ensemble, – a world premiere mirrored and inspired by Britten’s Serenade for Tenor, Horn & Strings which follows. Tenor Toby Spence joins Nicholas Korth to perform Britten’s haunting lines. Also in the concert is Mozart’s Ballet Music from Idomeneo, and Symphony No. 35 ‘Haffner’.

“During my childhood I often heard my father practising the Prologue to the Britten Serenade for tenor, horn and strings. I was mesmerized by Britten’s use of the natural harmonics of the horn, and have been fascinated by such extraordinary sonorities ever since.
Inscapes makes exclusive use of tunings derived from the natural harmonic series. Its title is taken from a word coined by the visionary Victorian poet and Jesuit priest, Gerard Manley Hopkins, to encapsulate the unique inner life of each component of the natural world. The piece is both a celebration of, and an elegy to, the current state of our earth, reflected in the poems I have selected.”

Nicholas Korth

“Britten wrote the six songs with his partner Peter Pears’s voice in mind, promising him that the pieces would ‘be worthy of you by the time I’ve finished!’ The high notes in the ‘Pastoral’, especially, showed off Pears’s crystal clear upper register beautifully.  But it was the horn player Dennis Brain who gave Britten the idea for the songs in the first place. Britten had been extremely impressed by Brain’s performance in a previous collaboration, and agreed to write a work for him. Brain was able to tackle fiendishly difficult techniques that were beyond most other performers, including producing the natural harmonics that appear in both the ‘Prologue’ and ‘Epilogue’ of Serenade. Britten recalled that ‘some of my happiest musical experiences were conducting this work for him and Pears.”

Dr Leah Broad