Berkeley Ensemble & Laura Snowden

Location: St Augustine's Church, Luton LU3 2JR
Berkeley Ensemble
Laura Snowden



We welcome back the Berkeley ensemble in their twelfth concert for us in Luton.

The music of Malcolm Arnold always deserves to be heard more widely and here is a chance to enjoy the elegiac Phantasy for solo cello, the Guitar Concerto with Laura Snowden and the early string quartet Phantasy Vita Abundans which flirts inventively with the blues, with fandango and with samba. The programme also includes Tim Watts’ gentle Lullabies, which the ensemble commissioned in 2018 for their Little Venice Festival in London.

Embracing our season’s theme, The Relationship between Literature, Art & Music, they are also presenting movements from Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition, in a thrilling arrangement by Robert G Patterson. The original 1874 piano piece was inspired by the paintings of the composer’s friend Viktor Hartmann. In the August of the previous year Hartmann had died unexpectedly and his loss affected Mussorgsky deeply. A retrospective exhibition was arranged in the spring of 1874, which included two paintings that the composer had been given by the artist, and presented at The Imperial Academy of Arts in St Petersburg. Mussorgsky was so inspired by seeing the paintings hung together in this way that he set to work immediately on the score, completing it in a mere three weeks. In a letter to his friend, the influential critic Vladimir Stasov, written in June of that year, he describes his progress:

My dear généralissime, Hartmann is boiling as Boris boiled – sounds and ideas hung in the air, I am gulping and overeating and can barely manage to scribble them on paper. I am writing the fourth number – the transitions are good (that’s the ‘Promenade’). I want to work more quickly and steadily. My physiognomy can be seen in the interludes. So far I think it’s well turned…

There is no doubting that this piece is one of the most widely known examples of the direct interpretation of figurative artworks into a language of music and I am so pleased we have been able to include it in this season’s programme.

Richard Sisson (Chair of Luton Music)


Malcolm Arnold – Phantasy for solo cello
Malcolm Arnold – Phantasy Vita Abundans
Modest Mussorgsky – Pictures at an Exhibition (selected movements arr. Robert G Patterson)


Tim Watts – Lullabies
Malcolm Arnold – Guitar Concerto

Laura Snowden – guitar
Renate Sokolovska – flute
John Slack – clarinet
David Horwich – French horn
Sophie Mather – violin
Francesca Barritt – violin
Daniel Shilladay – viola
Gemma Wareham – cello
Martin Ludenbach – double bass

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