“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.”
South Florida Classical Review
“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.”
San Francisco Classical Voice
“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.”
Palm Beach Daily News
“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 Washington Post
“…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…”
The Baltimore Sun
“…an ensemble of first-rate musicians, technically superb, generously expressive, and obviously enjoying themselves.”
Dallas Morning News
The Academy of St Martin in the Fields 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 Academy gave its first performance in its namesake church in November 1959. Through unrivaled live performances and a vast recording output – highlights of which include the 1969 best-seller Vivaldi’s Four Seasons and the soundtrack to the Oscar-winning film Amadeus – the Academy quickly 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 program, the name and sound of the Academy is known and loved by classical audiences throughout the world.
Today the Academy is led by Music Director and virtuoso violinist Joshua Bell, retaining the collegiate spirit and flexibility of the original small, conductor-less ensemble which has become an Academy hallmark. Under Bell’s direction, and with the support of Leader/Director Tomo Keller and Principal Guest Conductor Murray Perahia, the Academy continues to push the boundaries of play-directed performance to new heights, presenting symphonic repertoire and chamber music on a grand scale at prestigious venues around the world.
When COVID-19 sparked lockdowns across the globe, the Academy responded by establishing a digital campaign to fund the production of new performance videos. New films of Elgar and Shostakovich will be out soon, and future filming plans include recording with Music Director Joshua Bell. In addition, the orchestra launched 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 – has seen the Academy collaborate with internationally artists on concert programmes devised by members of the orchestra. A second concert series is planned at St Martin’s for March-August 2021.