Archived News for January 2011
04 Jan 2011
Great to see that the forthcoming RAO production of Peter Maxwell Davies' Kommilitonen! is amongst the Guardian Arts' pick of 2011 recommendations! See here for the full article.
11 Jan 2011
First rehearsal with the chorus for Kommilitonen! (this term's RAO production, a première by Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, jointly commissioned by the Royal Academy of Music and the Juilliard School). A real ensemble opera, this work relies heavily on the chorus input, both musically and in terms of staging. The music is extremely complex but also very exciting; a real challenge worth getting teeth stuck into.
The Juilliard School will present the opera in Autumn 2011 in New York, and it is based on a libretto by director David Pountney. The title Kommilitonen! means ‘fellow students’; and the opera consists of three interlocking stories of students involved in political action. One follows the activities of the group known as Die Weisse Rose at the University of Munich in the 1940s, who produced leaflets protesting against the Nationalist Socialist government until they were arrested and executed. The second follows two young people involved in the Cultural Revolution in China, in which they found themselves on opposite sides. The third is the story of James Meredith, who battled against racial prejudice to become the first black student to enrol at the University of Mississippi. The three stories unfold in parallel and eventually come together, in a climax of devastating emotional impact.
13 Jan 2011
What an inspiration to be rehearsing the music of Handel in the Handel House Museum this morning! Nicola Corbishley and I were preparing for Tuesday's programme for the Chancery Bar Association in Lincoln's Inn Chapel; there is something quite amazing about rehearsing in the composer's own house 300 years after he lived there....
15 Jan 2011
Spent the day rehearsing with the Berkeley Ensemble for our concerts in Streatham and Leicester in February. It was great to be able to rehearse in St Peter's Church in Streatham, where the Berkeley Ensemble have a residency which enables them to use the space for rehearsal in return for giving concerts there. A good deal all round! The day was kick-started with an inspiring session with composer Thomas Hewitt-Jones; James Turnbull and I are imminently recording his Sonata Ciamarella at Eastcote Studios, so it was useful to make some last-minute tweaks to our interpretation to ensure it's just how the composer wants it!
17 Jan 2011
Very pleased to confirm the performers joining me for next month's Music at St Peter's concert: Laura Kelly (mezzo-soprano) and Steffan Rees (cello). Hope to see you there!
17 Jan 2011
Term has restarted at Eton and it looks set to be another busy one! Many congratulations to the boys on last term's excellent set of exam results at every level, and on audition and interview successes!
19 Jan 2011
The first concert in the Chancery Bar Association's new series seems to have gone down a treat! Nicola Corbishley's programme 'Tu fedel? Tu costante?' was a great success in the Edinburgh Festival last summer, and this was a revision of the same programme, with harpsichord accompaniment rather than strings. Handel's cantata Tu fedel? Tu costante?, exploring love and fidelity, was the centrepiece of the programme, and we framed it with songs by Blow, Humphrey, Purcell and Handel, and with solo harpsichord sonatas by Scarlatti. This new series exploits the beautiful space of Lincoln's Inn Chapel (annoying only for it's exceptionally high pews! - in every other respect quite stunning), and is a fundraising scheme for the Chancery Bar's Pro Bono Unit.
21 Jan 2011
Proud to have played for James Turnbull in the final of the Prince's Prize tonight, competing for the prestigious medal awarded by the Worshipful Company of Musicians. Great programme of Lutoslawski's Epitaph and York Bowen's Sonata for Oboe and Piano, and we were performing in the beautiful Parry Rooms at the Royal College of Music. Congratulations to Kathryn Rudge (mezzo-soprano; audience prize) and Duncan Rock (baritone; first prize).
25 Jan 2011
One of the great bonuses of this job is travelling to and performing in beautiful places; one of the great disadvantages is never having time to stay put and explore! Thus our visit to Penrith lasted not much more than twelve hours, and dreams of a lesirurely few days of fell-walking and pub lunches were dashed by commitments on either side.... However Marcus and I enjoyed performing for the Penrith Music Club, whose regular venue, the Methodist Church, was pleasingly warm on a cold January night! This was our first outing of Mahler's wonderful Rückert Lieder, which we paired with Schubert in the first half (a combination we're repeating in Brighton next week); switching to English in the second half, we revisited Turnage's Three Songs and then Britten's Songs and Proverbs of William Blake, which we're still discovering new things in two years after we first performed it. A quick burst of rehearsal; a well-received performance; a short night with wonderful hosts (who apparently have a marvellous view which we never saw as it was dark when we arrived and dark when we left...); and then back on the road in time to coach at the Academy all afternoon and take a chorus rehearsal on the Peter Maxwell Davies opera in the evening. It was an unexpected surprise to have the composer himself turn up to the rehearsal! But a privilege to work through some of the music with him and to see him hear the music live (rather than in his head) for the very first time!
30 Jan 2011
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31 Jan 2011
Owing to a double-booking, Steffan Rees is no longer able to take part in February's Music at St Peter's concert. We are extremely grateful to Matthew Lowe for stepping in at short notice! The programme for this concert will still include music by Schumann and Beethoven in the cello half and by Handel, Mendelssohn and Quilter in the sung half.