Thursday Scholarship Series goes beyond the English String Orchestra

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On Thursday, April 18, violin professor Michael Heald will bring to the stage a program that takes the audience past what one would typically expect from an English String Orchestra concert. The performance is set for 7:30 in Hodgson Hall. Professor Heald will be leading the performance as concertmaster and will be joined by several faculty guests, as well as student and alumni performers.


“This concert is an opportunity for some of our string students to play the rich, expansive English String Orchestra repertoire,” says Heald, who used to be a member of the English String Orchestra in the early to mid-nineties and was wanting to bring those playing traditions to the school of music. Some of our current string students will play alongside string area faculty, as well as University of Georgia (UGA) alumni--there will be six former string students joining the program.


The program includes music by Purcell, Howells, Finzi, Britten, and Elgar. Professors Martha Thomas (piano) and Maggie Snyder (viola) will be playing the solos in two extraordinarily beautiful works: Finzi's “Eclogue for Piano and Strings” and Howells’ “Elegy for Viola, String Quartet, and Strings,” which was written over a three-year period as a memory for Howells’ son who had died young. Both pieces are masterworks that reach deep into the souls of the listener in different ways. The concert will end with the virtuosic “Introduction and Allegro for Strings” by Elgar.


For variety, Liza Stepanova, who was recently honored with being the recipient of the UGA Michael F. Adams Early Career Scholar Award, will join the Secret Sits Ensemble in the gorgeous, expansive slow movement of Elgar’s Piano Quintet, Op. 84. The ensemble consists of UGA students Nick Hoy on violin, Nick Lindell on viola, and Andrew William Reynish on cello, as well as Michael Heald on violin. The ensemble was formed with the intent of the continual development of chamber music across campus, the Athens community, and beyond. It was formed in 2017 in loving memory of Marie Anne DeLattre Patten.


As a special treat for audience members, the concert will be conducted by Timothy Reynish, who is renowned in the Wind Ensemble world for his work across the globe for the past fifty years. Amongst many professional positions, Reynish was one of the conductors of the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain, as well as the conductor of the Royal Northern College of Music Symphony Orchestra when Heald was attending. Heald remarks: “I am thrilled he is leading us for this performance. He studied conducting with Sir Adrian Boult, played French Horn professionally back in the glory days of British wind playing, and has been one of the preeminent leaders in British music life for many years. He brings an intensity, genuine passion, and tough dedication to performances that had a major influence on my own approach.”


This concert is presented as part of the Thursday Scholarship Series, which began in 1980. As the flagship concert series at the Hugh Hodgson School of Music, it continues the tradition of “Music Appreciation Programs” started by Hugh Hodgson himself in the 1930s. Proceeds from contributions and ticket sales to these concerts are among the primary means through which School of Music scholarship funds are raised each year. Tickets can be purchased online at or by phone at 706-542-4400. If you are unable to attend, the concert will be streamed at