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Saffron Hall to reopen for live performances including tenor Mark Padmore, BBC Young Musician winner Martin James Bartlett, jazz singer Joanna Eden and Britten Sinfonia

Musicians from the worlds of classical and jazz music are coming together to form an extensive programme of one-hour concerts as Saffron Hall prepares to reopen for live performances.

The concert hall in Saffron Walden is welcoming audiences back from Friday October 9, following successful pilots and members events, with the aim of being "a beacon of hope" for performers and other arts venues across England.

It will be one of the few venues in the country to host regular concerts for live audiences across the autumn.

London Philharmonic Orchestra Picture: Benjamin Ealovega (42423600)
London Philharmonic Orchestra Picture: Benjamin Ealovega (42423600)

To allow for social distancing and to create an intimate atmosphere, the auditorium seating bank has been retracted and replaced with tables and chairs, reducing the capacity from 740 to 150.

Other measures introduced in line with Government guidance include contactless digital ticketing, mandatory face coverings (unless exempt), staggered arrival times and shorter performances. The recently announced curfew does not affect performances that start before 10pm.

The first weekend (October 9-11) will feature tenor Mark Padmore performing with pianist Julius Drake and also with London Philharmonic Orchestra players in a performance of Britten's Serenade for Tenor, Horn and Strings.

Tenor Mark Padmore will open the autumn programme Picture: Marco Borggreve (42423609)
Tenor Mark Padmore will open the autumn programme Picture: Marco Borggreve (42423609)

The BBC Young Musician winner, pianist Martin James Bartlett, will perform courtesy of the Thaxted Festival in association with Saffron Hall while jazz groups Libby Key Trio and Shackleton Trio open the weekend.

The second weekend (October 23-25) features Britten Sinfonia – Saffron Hall's resident orchestra – performing a family-friendly programme as well as one that pays homage to 85-year-old Estonian composer Arvo Pärt, who from 2011 to 2018 was the most performed living composer in the world.

Also performing are local jazz vocalist Joanna Eden in association with Fairycroft House and composer, producer and guitarist Justin Adams in collaboration with Italian musician Mauro Durante.

Tickets for the first two weekends go on sale on Friday (Oct 2).

Further weekends across October and November will include Jess Gillam, London Community Gospel Choir, Sir Mark Elder, Roderick Williams, Kathryn Tickell, the Castalian String Quartet, the BBC Symphony Orchestra, recorder player Tabea Debus and violinist Nicola Benedetti.

Saffron Hall's chief executive, Angela Dixon, said: "Following hugely successful pilots from Britten Sinfonia and folk group Honey and the Bear, and members events with Aurora Orchestra and Nicola Benedetti with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, we feel confident that we can deliver a safe experience for audiences and performers.

"Serving the community is at the forefront of our mission. Despite receiving no regular funding, our model means we can open when other halls remain closed and we feel it is imperative we open our doors and continue to make music and the arts available to all at this uncertain time.

"We aim to be a beacon of hope for performers, musicians, orchestras and other arts venues across England. It's very clear that the arts are needed now, more than ever."

Saffron Hall's schools and community programme continues throughout the autumn. Jess Gillam will take part in Together in Sound online, Saffron Hall's music therapy sessions for people living with dementia and their companions delivered in partnership with the Cambridge Institute of Music Therapy Research at Anglia Ruskin University.

Saffron Hall will also launch a new online project for primary schools featuring specially created resources and filmed performances from Tabea Debus and other artists.

Visit www.saffronhall.com to find out more and to book tickets.

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