Archived News for April 2011
08 Apr 2011
Norden Farm Centre for the Arts is one of those rare theatre venues which is attractive to look at and well equipped but is also acoustically excellent and has a great piano! Having played here with Alexandra and Charlotte Reid a few years back, it was a pleasure to return with Marcus Farnsworth as part of this year's Maidenhead Music Society series. Our first half comprised a set of Schubert songs and then Mahler's glorious Rückert Lieder; it has been a joy to perform these several times so far this year and to feel them settle and our understanding of them continue to grow! The second half gave us a chance to reprise Barber's Op 10 settings of James Joyce from last week's Manchester recital, and then concluded with one of the absolute staples of our repertoire, and one of the glories of the English repertoire, Finzi's Earth and Air and Rain. Looking forward to repeating this programme in Machynlleth next week!
10 Apr 2011
Beautiful weekend back in Oxford, teaching on the new Oundle for Organists course, 'Advance!'. This course is aimed at current and elected organ scholars, working at the whole broad range of skills they need to develop and use, from taking choir rehearsals and planning music lists to accompanying singers and playing for rehearsals. It was a privilege to teach alongside Owen Rees, Paddy Russill, Dan Hyde, and course director Robert Quinney, and to be teaching such receptive students. We were based at Balliol and used Queen's and Magdalen for teaching, all of which looked absolutely gorgeous in the glorious sunshine, and provided an excellent basis for a productive weekend. It was fascinating and inspiring to chat to the students about their routes into this world and their future plans beyond it; I certainly call on the experience of that meticulous organ scholar training on an almost daily basis, and feel very privileged to have experienced it, even though I am now primarily focusing on totally different areas of music!
16 Apr 2011
Machynlleth, on the west coast of Wales, seems to be one of those places which has increasingly made its mark on the musical map of the UK recently, particularly as a result of its prestigious summer festival, directed by Julius Drake. Our concert last night was part of Machynlleth Music Club's year-round concert series, using the same venue as many of the festival concerts - The Tabernacle, a beautiful converted chapel attached to the Museum of Modern Art. This intimate and resonant space, combined with the excellent responsive and colourful Steinway, made it a beautiful place to repeat last week's programme with Marcus Farnsworth (Schubert, Mahler, Barber, Finzi) and it was a privilege to have such a warm reception. A speedy journey back across the country ensured that I was back in London in time to rehearse at Emile Woolf's stunning house for tonight's concert there with the Hampden Quartet: having played the Schumann Quintet here with the same group last year, it was a joy today to return with the Dvorak Quintet. One of the particular delights of performing here, aside from the excellent hospitality, is the use of Emile's wonderful piano, apparently the former concert instrument of choice for Rachmaninov when it was a Steinway concert hire instrument and he gave concerts in London! Now off to Dorset for a week to play cello music, as one of the resident pianists on Sue Lowe's Cello Gathering course at Bryanston.
24 Apr 2011
What a joy to spend an entire week playing cello music! This surely is one of the greatest sets of repertoire there is - composers over the centuries have clearly responded to the richness and intensity of what this instrument offers. Sue Lowe's Cello Gathering courses (known as the Gathering of the Clans!) have built a superb reputation over the years, and manage to offer just the right help and inspiration to all the cellists, whether they are at school, at university, at music college, or out in the world! As a team with the wonderful other pianists, John Thwaites and JP Ekins, our responsibility was to play for the eight or nine hours of open masterclasses each day, with incredibly inspiring teaching by Pierre Doumenge and Sandy Baillie. Alongside this we rehearsed with and coached the cellists on the wide range of repertoire they had with them (from Haydn to Elgar to Brahms to Rachmaninov to Barber to Shostakovich... and with a good dose of the current Grade 8 set pieces amongst those at school!). They also received private lessons from a varied faculty of teachers (Sue Lowe, Anna Shuttleworth, Matthew Lowe), baroque input from Charles Medlam, classes with William Bruce, and Alexander Technique from Vivien Mackie and Clare Finzi, all in the stunning setting of Bryanston School. Many congratulations to Sue on running such a successful course yet again.
26 Apr 2011
Looking forward to playing in the Ferrier Awards final at the Wigmore on Friday, accompanying Marcus Farnsworth. The others who got through from today's semi-final are Kitty Whately (with Gamal Khamis), Elena Sancho (with Yshani Perinpanayagam), Victor Sicard (with Anna Cardona), Jonathan McGovern (with Tim End) and Justina Gringyte (with Sergey Rybin). Good luck to all!
30 Apr 2011
Great buzz at the Wigmore last night for the Ferrier final - delighted to have played for Marcus Farnsworth, who won the Song Prize. Congratulations also to Kitty Whately (winner), Jonathan McGovern (second prize) and Tim End (accompanist prize) - a great evening all round.