Watch on demand: Serenades and a Symphony

The Philharmonia onstage during a performance conducted by John Wilson


John Wilson – conductor

Ben Hulett – tenor

Christopher Parkes – horn


ELGAR Serenade for Strings

BRITTEN Serenade for Tenor, Horn and Strings




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‘Under John Wilson’s impeccable direction… the sonority was beyond luscious’, according to a five-star review in The Times, when he conducted one of our first online performances in July 2020. He’s back, with two home-grown soloists, in a beguiling all-British programme.

Vaughan Williams’s Fifth Symphony was composed and premiered during the Second World War, but there’s not an ounce of violence in it. You might hear sadness or nostalgia, especially in the third movement Romanza with its wistful woodwind melodies. But the overall mood of the symphony is one of serenity – this is music as refuge and comfort in times of trouble.

Two serenades, by Elgar and Britten, are the perfect companions to the symphony. Elgar’s begins with the instruction ‘piacevole’ – pleasing – and each of its three short movements is a miniature delight. Britten’s is a haunting, ethereal setting of six poems on nocturnal themes, by poets ranging from an anonymous 15th-century writer to Blake, Keats and Tennyson. It was composed for Britten’s partner Peter Pears, and Dennis Brain, the Philharmonia’s first Principal Horn. Like the Vaughan Williams, it was first performed in 1943, but it speaks not of war but of moonlight and shadows, sunset and sleep.

Filmed as live at Royal Festival Hall, Southbank Centre

Capture date: Tuesday 30 March 2021

Prices & Discounts

£10 to £20

For Friends of the Philharmonia:
Standard ticket: £11
Five-concert subscription: £45
Become a Friend here. The booking code for Friends will be included in your confirmation email. If you are an existing Friend, we will send you your booking code.

For other bookers:
Standard ticket: £12
Standard+ ticket: £20
Five-concert subscription: £50
Five-concert subscription+: £90

If there will be more than one person watching the concert in your household, or if you are able to pay a bit more to help us recover from the financial impact of lockdown, please consider buying a Standard+ ticket for £20, or a Subscription+ for £90. The viewing experience will be the same as with a Standard ticket.

When and where

This concert was filmed at Royal Festival Hall, Southbank Centre, and will premiere on Thursday 15 April 2021 at 7.30pm. It was filmed on 30 March 2021

How can I watch

You will get an email with a unique link to watch the stream. You can watch as many times as you want after that for 30 days. For further details on how to book and watch, visit our FAQs page

Running time

80 minutes


Is this a live performance?

No. This performance is filmed as live but it took place on Tuesday 30 March 2021

Was it produced safely?

Yes. We are working with independent health and safety experts and have robust risk assessment procedures in place drawing from Public Health England advice.

Programme notes

Read the digital programme notes for this concert

Streamed from Southbank Centre

Online concerts from our London home


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