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Dates for Your Diary

Mark Bebbington – British piano music recital at St John’s, Smith Square

In an exploratory recital on November 7 at 7.30pm at St John’s, Smith Square, entitled 'Contemporary British Piano Music - a living tradition', the noted pianist Mark Bebbington unveils a thread of contrasting works which demonstrate the vitality and enduring presence of the piano into the 21st century.  The recital opens with a work from the radical world of late Liszt - the first version (dating from 1882) of ‘La Lugubre Gondola’.

John McCabe, who celebrated his 75th Birthday earlier this year, acknowledges a continuing fascination with the late pieces of Liszt – especially ‘La Lugubre Gondola ‘- and of the influence of this work on ‘Tenebrae’. This is followed by Robert Matthew-Walker’s Fantasy-Sonata: Hamlet (Piano Sonata No 3) Op.34 of 1980, in which the composer seeks to portray aspects of the central character rather than dramatic elements of the play. Whilst the Sonata falls into several clearly defined sections, the music itself is entirely continuous. Mark’s new recording of this work is issued later this year on Naxos.

More recent music is heard in the second hald, by Richard Causton, whose Non mi comporto male (1993), moves through five short sections which are played without a break. It is not until some way into the final section that Fats Waller's song, 'Ain't Misbehavin', the theme on which the piece is based, emerges fully. A ‘diverting and vivacious miniature, combining the lyric style of Finzi with a contrapuntal virtuosity’, as Bebbington says, is Caprice (2001) by Ian Venables – a Three Choirs Commission – and David Briggs’s recent Piano Sonata (2011), another work commissioned for the Three Choirs Festival, concludes the recital. The composer says: ‘Many will notice the influence of composers such as Ravel, Debussy, Satie, Prokofiev etc.; no composer can exist in a vacuum but the goal is always to catch your audience with an individual fingerprint.  The Sonata is written to highlight the extremes of sonority of a modern concert grand piano, as well as act as vehicle for the performer to demonstrate a kaleidoscopic technical facility – ranging from richly poetic nuance to transcendental velocity and power.’

Tickets: £20, £15, £10 (concessions: £18, £13.50, £9) - By telephone 020 7222 1061 or online: www.sjss.org.uk.

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Berlioz Society Study Weekend

Berlioz

"Berlioz: Master of the Orchestra, Evangelist of Instrumentation" is the subject of The Berlioz Society's Twelfth Annual Study Weekend to be held at the Art Workers Guild, 6 Queen Square, London WC1 on the weekend of November 29 & 30.

170 years ago, Berlioz published his Treatise on Instrumentation, a remarkable example of a great composer venturing into the world of technical and theoretical exposition and producing a masterpiece which affected the musical thinking of generations. Drawing on a generous selection of musical examples, David Cairns, author of a magisterial two-volume biography of Berlioz, will set the scene, exploring the many experiences and the historical background which influenced Berlioz as he wrote his treatise. Professor Julian Rushton will discuss the very Berliozian subject of how orchestral colour contributes to musical expression and meaning while Professor Hugh Macdonald, general editor of the Bärenreiter New Berlioz Edition, will consider how far Berlioz followed his own precepts in practice.Other speakers will look at Richard Strauss's influential adaptation of the Treatise for the modern (German) musical world, Berlioz's innovations in instrumentation and his guitar music, while conductor Adrian Brown will draw on his extensive experience on the podium to give an insight into what conducting Berlioz’s orchestra means. To conclude the weekend, Society Chairman Alastair Aberdare will interview Sir Antonio Pappano on Covent Garden's recent successful production of the opera "Les Troyens".

On Saturday night the distinguished guest speaker at dinner will be John Bridcut, producer of exceptional films on individual composers and musicians, prior to the presentation of the Berlioz Society Medal to Dame Janet Baker.

Places at the Weekend for non-Berlioz Society Members and accompanying guests are £145 each, including morning and afternoon refreshments and a buffet lunch each day; Saturday night dinner with three courses + wine costs £45 per head. For further information:  helenpetchey.berlioz@gmail.com, tel: 02085040295

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2014 Malcolm Arnold Festival

Malcolm Arnold

The 9th Malcolm Arnold Festival returns to the composer’s birthplace, Northampton, on Saturday 18th and Sunday 19th October 2014 at Royal and Derngate, with the title ‘A Kaleidoscopic Imagination’. “This has given us scope for a wide-ranging and very colourful and varied collection of events”, said Festival Director, Paul Harris. “So we have a real mix of Arnold, straddling many of those different genres he loved and contributed to so effectively. We have some film music, music for the ballet, works for orchestra, chamber ensembles and instrumental music. And of particular interest will be a very rare performance of the one-act opera, ‘The Open Window’, with the full orchestral accompaniment.”

Sir Malcolm’s Concertos will be centre-stage, with those for horn, flute, oboe, and trumpet as well as his Clarinet Concerto No. 1 to be performed by Julian Bliss who gave a thrilling performance of the second concerto last year. The Festival will be launched by John Wallace, who gave the first performance of Arnold’s Trumpet Concerto, and will be playing the work during the opening concert with the Northampton Symphony Orchestra.

Artists making return visits include the Berkeley Ensemble, and pianist Alice Pinto who will be giving an illustrated piano recital. Violinist Giovanni Guzzo will perform both of Arnold’s Violin Sonatas, and producer John Kehoe discusses recording in ‘On and Off the Record’. For the first time also, the Festival moves into the state of the art ‘Errol Flynn Cinema’ for a special event; ‘The Forgotten Films’ narrated by BBC Presenter and Festival regular, John Griff. Claire Thompson and Scott Mitchell will follow this with a vocal recital of some of the fascinating songs based on many of the film excerpts.

Sunday evening’s Gala concert is entitled ‘A Night with the Stars’ and features BBC Young Musician of the Year, Martin James Bartlett, playing a real favourite of Malcolm’s; Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No. 2 and Julian Bliss performing Malcolm’s Clarinet Concerto No.1 together with a brilliant new work, ‘Fantasy on a theme by Malcolm Arnold’ by a great friend of the Festival, composer Toby Young. John Gibbons will conduct the Worthing Symphony Orchestra.

For more information on The Malcolm Arnold Festival including the full programme, visit www.malcolmarnoldfestival.com. Box Office: Royal & Derngate, Guildhall Road, Northampton NN1 1DP, tel: 01604 624 811 e-mail: boxoffice@royalandderngate.co.uk or website: www.royalandderngate.co.uk.

 

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CoMA at 21

On Saturday 25th October, CoMA (Contemporary Music for All) celebrates its 21st year and unique position in contemporary music in two daytime concerts at St John's, Smith Square featuring ten ensembles performing 20 specially commissioned fanfares, each introducing a work from CoMA's groundbreaking Open Score repertoire.

In the evening, ensembles join forces to perform larger-scale works including CoMA’s first-ever commissioned work, Plain Harmony by Michael Finnissy.  On Friday 24th October Trinity Laban's Contemporary Music Group performs a number of additional works from CoMA's Open Score repertoire at Blackheath Concert Halls.

Together the concerts provide a unique opportunity to hear more than 50  works reflecting  the diverse forms and languages used by composers of today. 

The previous evening, at Blackheath Concert Halls, Recital Room, Friday October 24th at 18.00 hours Trinity Laban Contemporary Music Group directed by Gregory Rose perform music by Basil Athanasiadis, Alexander Campkin, Zhuomin Chan, Tristan Evans, Morgan Hayes, Piers Hellawell, Jordan Hunt, Simon Speare and Michael Levinas.

 

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Docklands Sinfonia hosts ‘epic’ evening of Persian music

Docklands Sinfonia will be hosting an evening of Persian music in London’s Cadogan Hall on Sunday 19th October. The concert is understood to be the first time that a British orchestra has performed an entire programme dedicated to Iranian symphonic music. The evening will showcase the works of some of Iran’s most respected and well-known composers including Aminollah Hossein, Loris Tjeknavorian, Mehran Rouhani, Hossein Dehlavi and Reza Vali.

The idea of a British orchestra performing an evening of Persian music has come about as a result of the friendship and collaboration between Iranian pianist Neysun Rouhani and Docklands Sinfonia’s founder and musical director Spencer Down. The Epic Persia concert is also aimed at enhancing understanding between the British and Iranian people following a difficult period in diplomatic relations between the two countries. Iranian soloists, including Neysun Rouhani, will perform during the evening.

The project will highlight the best of Iranian orchestral music. While British audiences may have been introduced to concerts and performances by traditional Iranian ensembles, the concert looks to widen cross-cultural understanding of Iranian symphonic music. The concert will feature a wide-variety of pieces – including a piano concerto, songs and suites. Docklands Sinfonia will also be running a competition for a new work written by a composer who is currently living in Iran. Composers will be asked to write around the theme of the Shahnameh – an epic Persian poem written by Ferdowsi. The winner, who will receive prize money, will also be invited to travel to London for the world premiere.

Since its formation in January 2009 by musical director Spencer Down, the orchestra has enjoyed success with performances at Buckingham Palace for the Queen, the Royal Albert Hall with Grammy-award winner Imogen Heap. Docklands Sinfonia musical director and conductor Spencer Down said: “We are very excited to be hosting this concert at Cadogan Hall which celebrates the very best of Iranian symphonic music. We are pleased to confirm some fabulous Iranian composers and performers for this concert.”

Neysun Rouhani added: “As a British-Iranian Pianist, I am very proud to be involved in this project. Very few Iranian composers will have had the opportunity of hearing their works played by a full symphony orchestra – let alone on the international stage. This concert and competition is a fantastic opportunity to raise the profile of Iranian composers in the UK. We hope that this concert will help widen cross-cultural understanding of Iranian symphonic music.”

 

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Emerging Cultural Talent in the European Union

Malcolm Arnold

The project “Emerging Classical Talent in the EU” [ECT-EU], organised with the support of the Culture Programme of the European Union, brings together 32 musicians from four partner countries, Sweden, Estonia, Italy and Wales, with an aim to present outstanding emerging artists and composers to a wider audience and spread the word about the positive effects of music on the human brain.

A total of 15 concerts will be held during the 22nd Rapla Church Music Festival (EE) and the 40th Festival della Valle d'Itria (IT) in July, and at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama (UK), the Stockholm Musikaliska Concert Hall (SE) and in the churches of Kalmar County (SE) in October. The participating musicians will prepare programmes with exciting works of European composers, including three new commissions (Tina Andersson, Daniela Terranova and Mark David Boden).

The ECT-EU project also aims to raise awareness of the European Brain Council’s initiative "Year of the Brain" which draws attention to how music can effectively be used to retrain and re-educate the injured brain, and how the process of learning music changes the brain’s auditory and motor areas, which as a result grow larger and interact more efficiently.

Participating ensembles and soloists in the ECT-EU project include the string orchestra Camerata Nordica, the Swedish Wind Ensemble, Sinfonia Cymru, Pille Lill (soprano), Andreas Lend (cello), Oksana Sinkova (flute), Virgo Veldi (saxophone) and young singers from the "Rodolfo Celletti" Belcanto Academy: Amy Elizabeth Corkery (soprano), Angela Giovio (mezzo-soprano) and Joonas Antti Ilari Asikainen (baritone).

In addition to the three new commissions, the programmes feature rarely played pieces from Galina Grigorjeva, Nino Rota, Alban Berg, Pavel Haas, Erwin Schulhoff, Salvatore Sciarrino, Pehr Henrik Nordgren and John Fernström. For more information please visit: www.classicalfestival.eu.

 

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The Schubert Project

Franz Schubert

In 2014 Oxford Lieder presents the UK’s first complete performance of Schubert songs in a unique festival featuring a stellar array of the world’s great singers. During his short life – just 31 years – Schubert created a remarkable body of work in his 650 songs and these will form the heart of the Schubert Project. Around this, the city of Oxford will be buzzing with other music and events that will further illuminate the songs and bring to life the world that Schubert himself inhabited.

Singers performing will include Sir Thomas Allen, Ian Bostridge, Sarah Connolly, William Dazeley, James Gilchrist, Robert Holl, Wolfgang Holzmair, Sophie Karthäuser, Angelika Kirchschlager, Stephan Loges, Christopher Maltman, Christoph Prégardien, Birgid Steinberger, Roderick Williams and many more in over 50 recitals. They will be joined by the world's leading pianists, including Thomas Adés, Eugene Asti, Imogen Cooper, Julius Drake, Graham Johnson, Malcolm Martineau & Roger Vignoles. In addition, the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, the Doric String Quartet and the Schubert Ensemble will be amongst partners for chamber music.

The Bodleian Library will show several Schubert manuscripts; the Ashmolean Museum will host live music events and a display of its exceptional 19th-century drawings; the Botanic Gardens collaborate on a study event looking at Schubert’s relationship with nature; a pop-up theatre event will recreate a famous Schubert gathering; local restaurants will feature Viennese food and wine. Masterclasses, talks and workshops abound, and the Festival stretches to all corners of the city from the Europe’s oldest concert hall – the Holywell Music Room – through to the contemporary setting of the recently restored Ashmolean Museum.

 

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