South Florida Classical Review
“The Academy of St Martin in the Fields is one of the world’s finest chamber orchestras…The players offered modern orchestral Haydn, played with the full sonority of contemporary [sic] instruments, yet kept within the stylistic niceties of the classical tradition. The outer movements had plenty of propulsive energy, definitely not Papa Haydn of the powdered wig variety. A spacious Minuet and canon and long spun Adagio were shaped with just the right measure of aristocratic charm and wit.”
San Francisco Classical Voice
“The English chamber orchestra Academy of St Martin in the Fields, with leader and solo violinist Joshua Bell, played works by Mozart and Beethoven with a kind of quiet excellence that made these familiar works a joy to hear again.”
Palm Beach Daily News
“The precision of this ensemble was staggering from the first downbeat. They played with a constant, clear, unified sound, with their blend, balance and attacks always in agreement. As impressive as the soloists were, the collective string sound was equally effective. It would have been easy for this level of precision to be antiseptic, but ASMF instills more than enough musicality to bring the work to life…Played as a large piece of chamber music, players rarely looked at their music, opting for eye contact and body language to drive things. It was in this sense this chamber orchestra came alive. They were playing as a band, feeding on each other’s performances, instead of keeping time until the double bar.”
The Washington Post
“Renowned for its punctilious and conductor-less performances, the group could have breezed through Felix Mendelssohn’s “Hebrides Overture” on its own. But with Bell’s leading from the concertmaster’s seat, the group embodied the music director’s glowing interpretation in a symbiotic give-and-take…Together, director and orchestra displayed innate synchronicity, including in the jovial Allegro’s meticulous articulations, the Andante’s mystical ease, the third movement’s elegant, lilting melodies and the finale’s impish romp.”
The Baltimore Sun
“…the musicians proceeded to play the heck out of a demanding program…extraordinary details of dynamics and tone coloring…The Academy musicians seemed to revel in the notes and they shaped an absorbing, virtuosic performance.”
…a delectable mix of drive and vibrant coloring…an impressive night…”
Dallas Morning News
“…an ensemble of first-rate musicians, technically superb, generously expressive, and obviously enjoying themselves.”
Minneapolis Star Tribune
“But it also featured the most passionately intense interpretation of Robert Schumann’s Second Symphony you’re ever likely to experience, a precise and powerful example of Romanticism at its stormiest. My two-hour trip to Winona for this sold-out concert was well worth the drive, for it proved undoubtedly one of Minnesota’s classical music events of the year, or perhaps decade… But the most memorable moments came on the slow movement, one of the most sadly beautiful things Schumann ever wrote, its yearning tone eloquently expressed in exquisite solos from oboist John Roberts, flutist Michael Cox and clarinetist Fiona Cross. While Bell offered some guidance with his bow arm, it was clear that developing this kind of acutely calibrated chemistry in an orchestra is a feat as superhuman as what its leader can do with a violin.”
The Academy of St Martin in the Fields (ASMF) is one of the world’s finest chamber orchestras, renowned for fresh, brilliant interpretations of the world’s greatest orchestral music.
Formed by Sir Neville Marriner in 1958 from a group of leading London musicians, the ASMF gave its first performance in its namesake church in November 1959. Through unrivalled live performances and a vast recording output – highlights of which include the 1969 bestseller Vivaldi’s Four Seasons and the soundtrack to the Oscar-winning film Amadeus – the orchestra gained an enviable international reputation for its distinctive, polished and refined sound. With over 500 releases in a much-vaunted discography and a comprehensive international touring programme, the name and sound of the ASMF is known and loved by classical audiences throughout the world.
Today the orchestra is led by Music Director and virtuoso violinist Joshua Bell, retaining the collegiate spirit and flexibility of the original small, conductor-less ensemble which is an ASMF hallmark. Under Bell’s direction, and with the support of Leader/Director Tomo Keller and Principal Guest Conductor Murray Perahia, ASMF continues to push the boundaries of player-directed performance to new heights, presenting symphonic repertoire and chamber music on a grand scale at prestigious venues around the globe.
When COVID-19 necessitated a national lockdown, the ASMF responded by establishing a digital campaign to fund the production of new performance videos as well as launching a new concert series at its spiritual home of St Martin-in-the-Fields in London’s Trafalgar Square. The series – the first of its kind in the orchestra’s home city for many years – saw the ensemble collaborate with international artists on concert programs devised by members of the orchestra.
In June 2022 on Sky Arts UK, ASMF presented A London Dream, a musical celebration of Mendelssohn’s exquisite interpretation of Shakespeare’s beloved comedy A Midsummer Night’s Dream, conducted by Ryan Wigglesworth. A London Dream celebrates and champions music and musicians, placing them at the center of the production, driving the pulse of the narrative, observing and punctuating key moments with intimate cameos. The film is available on Sky on demand for subscribers, and will be repeated throughout the spring. Please visit www.asmf.org/alondondream for the most up-to-date screening information.
The rest of the 2022/23 season will see the orchestra appear frequently at London’s St Martin-in-the-Fields, including a February concert with acclaimed US cellist Gary Hoffman and a performance of Bach’s St John Passion with St Martin’s Voices on Good Friday. Internationally, the ASMF will tour Europe with Joshua Bell, culminating in a performance at Southbank’s Queen Elizabeth Hall on 26 January. This precedes a tour to the US alongside cellist Gary Hoffman and mandolinist Avi Avital, and a concert in Ankara with violinist Roman Simovic. The spring brings a series of concerts across Germany and Italy in May with pianist Seong Jin Cho and violinists Julia Fischer and Lena Neudauer, before a busy festival season with ASMF performing at Bravo! Vail, Bradfield Music Festival, Meckpomm and Rheingau. The ASMF Wind and String Chamber Ensembles also look forward to an eventful spring, with tours across the US and concerts in the UK.
This season sees the ASMF continue its dedication to Learning and Participation in a collaboration with Southbank Sinfonia; the players will also join violinist Julia Fischer for a special education project in Baden Baden as part of their summer tour to Germany.