Archived News for March 2011
06 Mar 2011
It has been a term of competitions over at Eton, so several Sundays have been spent over there accompanying string players and woodwind players in their respective competitions. It's always a lovely chance to get to know some of the other students than my own pupils, and there was some extraordinarily good playing. Well done to all prizewinners!
06 Mar 2011
What an absolute joy to be back at Uppingham! I had a wonderful two years there as a sixth-former and hold extremely fond memories of the place, so it was a delight to be asked to give a recital with Marcus Farnsworth as part of the Uppingham Concerts series. The Paul David Music School has been built since I left and includes a recital hall which is where we performed a Schubert set, Mahler's glorious Rückert-Lieder, Moeran's Norfolk folksongs arrangements (Moeran himself having been both pupil and teacher at Uppingham!) and then Finzi's Earth and Air and Rain. Great to see so many students in the audience, and lovely to meet up with various people during the day.
10 Mar 2011
Tune in to BBC Radio 3's Music Matters this Saturday to hear a slot about Kommilitonen!, including excerpts recorded during our rehearsal today and interviews with various people involved. Great also to see preview coverage in the Guardian (article by David Pountney, here) and the Financial Times (interview with Peter Maxwell Davies, here).
10 Mar 2011
Today saw the sitzprobe for Kommilitonen!; adding the orchestra is always an exciting stage in preparing an opera, but that is particularly the case for a new piece where no-one has ever heard the orchestration before! Max's colourful writing is so vibrant and luscious and energised and it was great to have him there again today, alongside various people from the Juilliard, who jointly commissioned the piece with RAM, and will be performing it in November. An intensive schedule of stage & orchestra sessions and then dress rehearsals fills the next week until curtain up on 18th!
16 Mar 2011
Spent the afternoon up at the Craxton Studios in West Hampstead playing for singers in the Handel Singing Competition, part of the London Handel Festival. It makes a rare and pleasant change to be back at the harpsichord! The Craxton Studios are certainly history-filled; judging by the photos on the wall, everyone who was anyone in the music world in the mid-twentieth century played there!
18 Mar 2011
The world premiere of Peter Maxwell Davies and David Pountney's new opera Kommilitonen! seems to have been a triumph. An invited audience (ranging from Lesley Garrett to Simon Callow to a Who's-Who of British opera houses and companies) gave the piece a rapturous reception with a standing ovation for cast, chorus, orchestra, production team, and especially Max himself. It is such a rare and exciting opportunity to be involved in the process of getting an entirely new opera from the dots on the page to this finished product, and it has been a privilege to be involved at such close quarters as chorusmaster and off-stage conductor. Congratulations and thanks to everyone involved at every step of the way.
21 Mar 2011
The reviews are coming in thick and fast for Kommilitonen!, with the majority full of praise for this new work. Here are links to reviews from Guardian, Times, Financial Times, Telegraph blog, Telegraph, and Evening Standard. Huge congratulations to all involved in this extraordinary project.
23 Mar 2011
Hugely enjoyable concert with Cara Berridge last night at Dunsfold Music Circle. This series rotates around a number of venues in the village, and yesterday we were performing in the beautiful home of Rupert and Claire Howell. This was the first outing of a programme which we will repeat in various guises over the next year: Beethoven's C major sonata was framed with pieces by Francoeur and Fauré, and then the second half consisted of Rachmaninov's sonata. It was wonderful to perform this huge work for the first time; written shortly after the second piano concerto, this is a glorious Rachmaninov combination of virtuosity and stunning melodies!
30 Mar 2011
Played for various singers in the prelim rounds of the Kathleen Ferrier Award this week: as a nearby neighbour, the use of St Paul's School's Wathen Hall for this is extremely convenient! Good luck to all involved.
31 Mar 2011
31 Mar 2011
Today Marcus and I gave our first performance, and only the second ever performance in the world, of Philip Grange's To The Borders of Sleep. These songs, written only last year, have been extremely challenging to prepare, but in performance were incredibly rewarding and well received. Philip has taken five poems by Edward Thomas on the themes of journeys and oblivion, and has set them fantastically. He writes, 'On one level the journey could be viewed as literal, while on another it could be seen as a metaphor for the poet's search for personal oblivion which he finds in the "unfathomable deep forest" of poem five.' Philip being on the professorial staff at Manchester University, and Marcus being a former student there, this recital was given in the music department's excellent Cosmo Rodewald Concert Hall, as part of their regular Thursday lunchtime series, to a packed audience. This programme was something of a survey of English song of the twentieth century, beginning with some of Britten's arrangements of Purcell songs, followed by Phil's new cycle, Barber's James Joyce settings Op 10, and ending with more Britten, this time in some of his sublime and entertaining folksong settings.