Monday 28 November 2011

Ian Tindale Organ Recital

Ian Tindale the Organ Scholar at St. Bride's Church, Fleet Street in London gave an Organ Recital on Saturday 26th November 2011 at St. Peter Mancroft Church, Norwich as part of the Mancroft Music Autumn Recitals 2011 Series. I made my way to the church very much looking forward to some wonderful music.

The programe consisted of Sonata in F major, Wq.70/3 - C.P.E. Bach, Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland, BWV 659 - J.S. Bach, Trio Sonata in E minor, BWV 528 - J.S. Bach, Schmucke dich, o liebe Seele, Op.122 No.11 - Brahms and Sonata in F minor, Op.65 No.1 - Mendelssohn.

Ian Tindale is studying for a Master of Performance in Piano Accompaniment at the Royal College of Music. He put on a wonderful performance at St. Peter Mancroft that merited the large round of applause at the end of the recital.

Piano and Horn Concert at Norwich Assembly House

On Friday 25th November 2011 I attended the UEA Music at One series concert at The Assembly House, Norwich which featured Perez Kwong on piano and Steven Musk on horn. These are two of the UEA School of Music's most promising talents.

The programe consisted of Polonaise - Chopin, Reverie - Glazunov, Les Adieux, Romance - F Strauss, Aufschwung - Schumann, Nocturne - Gilere, Nocturno - F Strauss and Impromptu - Chopin. Both players gave excellent performances and provided the audience with a wonderful lunchtime treat of Classical Music.

Today the UEA Council announced that the School of Music would close which is very sad news. The Save UEA Music Campaign have vowed to fight on trying to save the School of Music.

Sunday 27 November 2011

Tchaikovsky's Fifth Symphony full of colour and life

On Thursday 24th November 2011 I made the journey to the City of London for the London Symphony Orchestra's concert at The Barbican. The concert was part of the complete cycle of Tchaikovsky symphonies that the orchestra conducted by Valery Gergiev commenced last season.

The programme for the evening consisted of Symphony No.1 (Classical) - Prokofiev, Fachwerk - Gubaidulina and Symphony No.5 - Tchaikovsky. The orchestra were conducted by their principal conductor Valery Gergiev with Geir Draugsvoll as soloist on the bayan for Sofia Gubaidulina's Fachwerk.

Prokofiev's Classical Symphony from 1917 was written in the style of Haydn and Mozart. This was a delightful way to start the concert at a sold out Barbican Hall. Sofia Gubaidulina's Fachwerk is a concerto for bayan, percussion and strings composed in 2009. The bayan is a Russian form of the piano accordion played brilliantly by soloist Geir Draugsvoll who gave us a large range of sounds from this adventurous piece.

After the interval it was time for the next part of the London Symphony Orchestra's Tchaikovsky cycle with his Symphony No. 5 from 1888. The orchestra and Valery Gergiev took us on an extraordinary journey full of colour and life. This is Tchaikovsky's idea of fate holding the possibility of happiness. At the finale there is all the fury of Cossack dancing that had us all tapping our feet at The Barbican.

This was a wonderful evening that I enjoyed greatly and by the reaction from the audience at the end by many others as well. This was the London Symphony Orchestra on top form making the finest music available and showing why they are rated as one of the top orchestras in the world.

Wednesday 23 November 2011

Viva Voce Singers 20th Anniversary Concert

On Saturday 19th November 2011 I attended the Viva Voce Singers 20th Anniversary Concert at St. Peter Mancroft Church, Norwich that provided an evening to celebrate the joy of choral singing. The BBC Radio Norfolk Choir of the Year 2011 were directed by Jody Butler as they celebrated this special anniversary.

The programme consisted of Jubilate Deo - Gabrieli, Sicut cervus - da Palestrina, Adoramus te, Christe - de Lassus, O quam gloriosum - Victoria, Hymn to St. Cecilia - Britten, Sing joyfully - Byrd, Justorum animae - Byrd, Ave verum Corpus - Byrd and Songs of Farewell, My soul there is a country, I know my soul hath power to know all things, Never weather-beaten sail, There is an old belief, At the round earth's imagined corners, Lord let me know mine end - Parry.

This was a wonderful evening of choral singing from this small and friendly Norwich based chamber choir who help to raise money for local charities. With a splendid set of 16th century European sacred music pieces to open the concert we were then treated to Benjamin Britten's Hymn to St. Cecilia which is a setting of poetry by Britten's friend W.H. Auden.

Before the interval there was sacred music by William Byrd including Ave verum Corpus which is one of his best known pieces. Fully refreshed by a delicious apple juice during the interval I looked forward to Hubert Parry's Songs of Farewell. The choir were on top form as they performed this set of anthems which contain some of the most moving passages in Romantic a cappella music. 

Tuesday 22 November 2011

La Boheme at Norwich Theatre Royal

On Friday 18th November 2011 I attended the Glyndebourne Opera's performance of Giacomo Puccini's La Boheme at Norwich Theatre Royal. This was a wonderful opportunity for everyone in Norwich to witness world class Opera locally, this being one night of a five night residency which included performances of Don Pasquale and Rinaldo.

The writer Rodolfo and painter Marcello complain about their cold flat and burn Rodolfo's latest script. The philosopher Colline and the musician Schaunard return with supplies and money and after Benoit their landlord comes for his rent but gets plied with drink and is thrown out the friends go out to Cafe Momus leaving Rodolfo to stay and finish an article.

Rodolfo is interrupted by a neighbour, Mimi, whose candle has gone out. Mimi faints and when she revives he relights her candle but she has lost her key and her candle goes out for a second time. Rodolfo puts his candle out and tells Mimi about his life and dreams while Mimi tells of her life of sewing. They declare their love and leave for Cafe Momus. On the way Rodolfo buys Mimi a hat before joining his friends for dinner.

Marcello's ex-lover Musetta and her wealthy benefactor Alcindoro turn up and Marcello is unable to ignore Musetta as she sings about her own beauty and allure. Musetta sends Alcindoro to buy her a new pairs of shoes and Musetta and Marcello are reconciled. The friends join a street parade leaving Alcindoro to pay the bill.

A few months later Mimi searches for Marcello who has moved in with Musetta. Overcome with coughing she arrives to tell Marcello that Rodolfo walked out and is consumed by jealousy. When Rodolfo appears she hides and overhears he wants to leave her because he can't cope with her illness. He thinks her condition is due to his poverty. Rodolfo hears Mimi cry and rushes to her and they agree to part until spring.

The friends making the best of a bad situation make their own entertainment when Musetta bursts in with Mimi who is dying. Mimi has left her rich lover as she wanted to be brought back to die. Musetta, Marcello and Colline go to sell their things to buy medicine while Mimi and Rodolfo reaffirm their love and reminisce. The friends return and Musetta gives Mimi something to keep her warm and prays. Mimi dies peacefully leaving Roldolfo grief-stricken.

Complete with a rotating centre stage the story is now set in modern day Paris. With amazing performances from all the cast and brilliance from the Glyndebourne Orchestra this was a very special night at Norwich Theatre Royal. The sad ending emotionally moved us but throughhout the performance there were many times when the theatre was full of laughter.  

Monday 21 November 2011

Bruch at lunch at Norwich Assembly House

It was Britten Sinfonia at lunch on Friday at The Assembly House, Norwich as we were once again treated to a wonderful varied concert at this historic building in the Fine City. The line up on 18th November 2011 was Thomas Gould - violin, Miranda Dale - violin, Caroline Dearley - cello, Stephen Williams - double bass, Joy Farrall - clarinet, Andrea de Flammineis - bassoon and Stephen Stirling - horn.

The programme consisted of Till Eulenspiegel einmal anders - R. Strauss arr. Hasenohrl, Borderland - Charlie Piper and Septet in E flat, Op. posth - Bruch. The opening piece was made by Franz Hasenohrl in 1954 when he turned R. Strauss' fifteen minute tone poem for an orchestra into an eight minute piece for a quintet.

Borderland composed by Charlie Piper was on it's World premiere tour and was co-commissioned by Britten Sinfonia and Wigmore Hall. The piece is based on the transitional state between wakefulness and sleep. The programme was completed by Bruch's Septet in E flat, Op. posth that was composed in 1849 when the composer was eleven years old. It was only discovered in 1981.

This was another high quality performance from Britten Sinfonia when even the Sun tried to get in on the action as Thomas Gould had to ask for the blinds to be drawn during the closing piece. Maybe it will be sunglasses at lunch next time.

Saturday 19 November 2011

Pachelbel and Bach at The Octagon Chapel

On Thursday 17th November 2011 I attended The Bach Players Pachelbel and Bach concert at The Octagon Chapel, Norwich where there was a large crowd for their third concert of the year at this venue even though they were competing against Handel at Theatre Royal.

The programme for this concert was Cantata Was Gott tut, das ist wohlgetan - Pachelbel, Cantata Ich bin vergnugt mit meinem Glucke BWV 84, Sacred concerto Christ ist erstanden - Pachelbel, Canons from the Musical Offering BWV 1079 - Bach and Cantatta Was Gott tut, das ist wohlgetan BWV 99 - Bach.

The Bach Players are a group of musicians who share a passion for the music of Bach. They play on original instruments and all the vocal music is sung in its original language. Their programmes focus on music from the Baroque period with tonights showing Pachelbel as a predecessor of Bach. With Rachel Elliott - soprano, Sally Bruce-Payne - alto, James Gilchrist - tenor and Matthew Brooke - bass on vocals along with The Bach Players this was always going to be a very interesting evening that I had been looking forward too eagerly.

The music was of the highest quality as you would expect from The Bach Players as they delighted the audience with a programme that they will be releasing on a double CD early next year. Norwich appreciates The Bach Players regular concerts in Norwich as was shown by the support for them on Thursday evening at this beautiful historic venue. This was an intimate night of  music where the audience always felt part of the occasion and the performance.

Monday 14 November 2011

St. Gregory's Orchestra's 25th Anniversary

The St. Gregory's Orchestra celebrated it's 25th Anniversary with a Remembrance Sunday concert at Princes Street United Reformed Church, Norwich on Sunday afternoon in aid of UNICEF for their East Africa Children's Crisis Appeal. I joined a large crowd who experienced a splendid performance from the St. Gregory's Orchestra.

The Orchestra were founded by Martin Wyatt as an Orchestra for the local community. The programme for the afternoon was The Warsaw Concerto - Addinsell, The Whistle of Sandy McGraw - Robert Service, They Didn't Believe Me - Jerome Kern, Last Night I Had The Strangest Dream - Ed McCurdy, Requiem - Faure and Symphony No.7 - Beethoven. The concert featured Alison Mills - Leader, Martin Wyatt - Conductor, Kevin O'Regan - Piano and The Oriole Singers.

The programme was appropriate for Remembrance Sunday opening with The Warsaw Concerto that was written for the 1941 film Dangerous Moonlight. Reg Andrews a member of the Oriole Singers read the poem The Whistle of Sandy McGraw by Robert Service from the 1916 Rhymes of a Red-Cross Man. Martin Wyatt then sang Jerome Kern's They Didn't Believe Me a song from the 1914 musical The Girl from Utah before Win Forster read the poem Last Night I Had The Strangest Dream by Ed McCurdy.

Before the interval The Oriole Singers joined the St. Gregory's Orchestra in performing Gabriel Faure's Requiem. This was a moving performance  of this ethereal  work that Faure saw death as a happy deliverance rather than as a painful experience.

Refreshments were served during the interval before the St. Gregory's Orchestra conducted by founder Martin Wyatt performed Beethoven's Symphony No. 7, a piece of music that has the ability to lift the spirits of everyone that was first performed in 1813 at a charity concert for soldiers wounded in the Battle of Hanau. At the end of the concert the Lord Mayor of Norwich Councillor Jenny Lay gave an address praising Martin Wyatt and his work with the orchestra.

Music for oboe and guitar Autumn Recital

It's 1pm on Saturday 12th November 2011 as I walk into a packed St. Peter Mancroft Church, Norwich for the Juliet Rickard and Ian Cooper's Music for oboe and guitar Autumn Recital.

Another Mancroft Music Recital where the people of Norwich can experience wonderful music in this historic City Centre Church. The programme consisted of Oboe Concerto - Cimarosa, Pan (from Six Metamorphoses) Op. 49 - Britten, Consolazione, Romance sans paroles Op. 25 - Coste, Les Regrets, Cantilene Op. 36 - Coste, La Montagnard, Divertissement Pastoral Op. 34 - Coste, Aaturias (from Suite Espanola Op. 47 - Albeniz, Psalm 23 (from Chichester Psalms) - Bernstein, Maria (from West Side Story) - Bernstein and Libertango - Piazzolla.

Juliet Rickard and Ian Cooper are both part of the Norfolk Music Service and were a delightful choice to play in this season's Autumn Recitals. This was Juliet Rickard's first public performance for two years while Ian Cooper performs regularly both with guitar and voice. I'm sure everyone present enjoyed their performance which took us from Domenico Cimarosa to West Side Story.

UEA Symphony Orchestra and all that Jazz!

On Friday 11th November 2011 I attended the UEA Symphony Orchestra's From The New World To Jazz David Potter Memorial Concert at St. Andrew's Hall, Norwich which also featured the UEA Duke Ellington Orchestra.

The programme for the evening was La Revue de Cuisine - Martinu, Piano Concerto in F - Gershwin, The Early Years - Duke Ellington and Symphony No.9 in E minor, Op 95, From the New World - Dvorak. Conductor for the evening was Sharon Andrea Choa while Alison Lincoln was soloist on Gershwin's Piano Concerto.

David Potter was an artist who loved to paint pictures of the Orchestra who passed away earlier this year. The programme was chosen from music that he enjoyed. The Save UEA Music campaign were handing out leaflets and asking the audience to sign their petition.

The concert opened with the fun of Martinu's La Revue de Cuisine complete with chef and saucepan headwear. The Kitchen Revue is strongly influenced by Jazz and is based on a tale of love and jealousy among a group of kitchen utensils.

George Gershwin's Piano Concerto in F was a triumph for the Orchestra and Alison Lincoln on piano as we were given a taste of the Twenties full of Broadway influences. The sound of New York that will remain timeless forever.

After the interval Vic Hobson led the UEA Duke Ellington Orchestra in a wonderful set of early works from Duke Ellington. We were treated to Black and Tan Fantasy, Rockin' in Rhythm and Mood Indigo that are all transcriptions of Ellington recordings made for the Lincoln Center by David Berger.

The evening ended on a high with Dvorak's Symphony No.9, Op 95 New World. The music reflects his experiences of America and was first performed in 1893. A mix of sounds that always thrills from the Czech composer.  The night was a great example of the UEA School of Music providing music for the community in Norwich.

Wednesday 9 November 2011

Xenia Horne's musical journey

After the Adie Oboe and Harp Duo cancelled it was harpist Xenia Horne who stepped in to make sure that the show went on for the latest in the Eaton Concert Series at St. Andrew's Church, Eaton, Norwich on Sunday 6th November 2011. With a varied programme she delighted the large audience with help from flautist Lucy Marks.

With music from Vivaldi, Prokofiev and Debussy to Irish harpist Turlough O'Carolan on to modern work from Stewart Green this was truly a very varied programme that thrilled us all. Flautist Lucy Marks joined Xenia for Fantasia on a Theme of Greensleeves, My Love is Like a Red Red Rose and Scarborough Fair.

From The Burning of the Piper's Hut to Gershwin's Summertime Xenia Horne took us on a fantastic journey through several centuries of music. The Eaton Concert Series is always full of wonderful surprises and a delightful place to spend a Sunday afternoon.

Norwich Philharmonic with Haydn Glory!

On Saturday 5th November 2011 it was Norwich Philharmonic Society's first concert of the 2011/12 season at St. Andrew's Hall, Norwich. I made my way to this historic venue with great expectations and was not disappointed as the Orchestra and Chorus put on a wonderful performance.

The programme for the evening was The Noonday Witch - Dvorak, Suite from Der Rosenkavalier - Richard Strauss  and Mass in B flat Harmoniemesse - Haydn. Conductors for the evening were Matthew Andrews and David Dunnett with Cecilia Osmond - soprano, Clare McCaldin - mezzo-soprano, Simon Wall - tenor and Brian Bannatyne-Scott - bass.

The Noonday Witch is one of the five symphonic poems composed by Dvorak from 1896-97 that tells the story of a mother who threatens her child with the witch. Richard Strauss wrote Der Rosenkavaler in 1909-10 from which he later extracted two waltz sequences. Mass in B flat, Harmoniemesse was the last of six masses that Haydn wrote for Prince Nicolaus II's wife Marie Hermenegild.

In the first half of the programme we had the dramatic piece from Dvorak followed by Richard Strauss' splendid works from Der Rosenkavaler but the highlight of the evening had to be Haydn's Harmoniemesse complete with chorus in full voice. Harmonie is German for wind-band as the mass is in B flat making it suitable for a large wind section. Glory be to God on high and on earth peace to men of goodwill.

Tuesday 8 November 2011

Ben Miller Organ Recital at St. Peter Mancroft Church

On Saturday 5th November 2011 I attended the latest Mancroft Music Autumn Recitals at St. Peter Mancroft Church, Norwich featuring Organist Ben Miller who is currently Senior Organ Scholar at the church.

The programme for this lunchtime organ recital was Fantasia in G major BWV 572 (Piece d'orgue) - Bach, Three Plainsongs Preludes - Clucas, Concerto in A minor BWV 593 - Vivaldi, Qui Lux Es - Clucas, Toccata - Clucas and Prelude and Fugue in C major BWV 547 - Bach.

Another wonderful time was had by all as the contrast between the Baroque and Modern pieces made for an interesting programme. Well done to Ben Miller on his splendid performance who I'm sure will bee delighting us again in the future.

Sunday 6 November 2011

Dancing at Norwich Playhouse

On Friday night I attended an evening of intriguing, amusing and beautiful dance presented by Norfolk Dance at Norwich Playhouse. There were three works performed that were created by artists based in the region with whom Norfolk Dance has strong links.

Palimpsest explores the body as an instrument to be written on leaving a code to be deciphered. 30 Cecil Street is based on The Limerick Athenaeum that closed to the public 13 years ago and now lies empty and closed. Chairs is where a couple are preparing for visitors uncertain of who will join them.

A night to admire and appreciate the works and dancing on show at this delightful Norwich venue which made us think as well as putting smiles on our faces. Let's dance put on your red shoes and dance the blues. Let's dance to the song they're playin' on the radio.

Friday 4 November 2011

Music for All Souls at UEA Chaplaincy

On Thursday evening I caught the number 27 bus on Castle Meadow and after a journey around the houses I made it to the UEA Chaplaincy in time for the UEA Chamber Choir's Music for All Souls concert. With the UEA School of Music being threatened with closure this is a time to show your support and attend events like these.

The programme for the evening was Officium Defunctorum (Requiem) in six parts - Victoria, Usquequo Domine - Guerrero and Versa est in Luctum (funeral motet for Philip II of Spain) - Lobo. A wonderful selection of music from the Renaissance period.

This event was a live event not a recording and proved that music is a miracle. Please save the UEA School of Music. The singing throughout the concert was of the highest quality in the splendid setting of the UEA Chaplaincy and with the added bonus of being given the history and background of the music between pieces. Please show your support and attend future events as well as signing the petition to save the UEA School of Music.

Tuesday 1 November 2011

A night of Baroque at Norwich Cathedral

I made my way to Norwich Cathedral on Saturday evening greatly anticipating the latest Norwich Baroque concert featuring Elizabeth Watts and Michael Chance. There was a large audience in attendance setting the scene for a brilliant night.

With Elizabeth Watts being described as a lyric soprano as ravishing as one could possibly want and Michael Chance as a musician of impeccable taste and expressive vibrancy this was always going to be a performance of the highest quality.

The programme consisted of Concerto Grosso Op.1 No.5 in D major - Locatelli, Nisi Dominus RV. 608 - Vivaldi, Arias - Scarlatti, Sinfonia for strings in B minor Al Santo Sepolcro RV 169 - Vivaldi, Concerto for strings in C major RV.114 - Vivaldi and Stabat Mater - Pergolesi.

Countertenor Michael Chance with Vivaldi's Nisi Dominus and Soprano Elizabeth Watts with an Alessandro Scarlatti opera arias both thrilled us but when they joined forces on Pergolesi's Stabat Mater it was a joy and truly made this a night to remember. A setting of the Feast of Seven Dolours of the Blessed Virgin Mary Pergolesi wrote it during the last months of his life. When my body dies, grant that to my soul is given the glory of paradise. Amen.

With great enthusiasm from the audience the two stars of the evening gave us an encore of Scherzano sul tuo Volto from Handel's Rinaldo that made for the perfect ending to the evening. A great homecoming for Elizabeth Watts and with Michael Chance showing his support as Norwich Baroque's patron this turned into one big Baroque party.

Matthew Pitts Organ Recital

On Saturday 29th October 2011 I attended the latest Mancroft Music Autumn Recital at St. Peter Mancroft Church, Norwich featuring Organist Matthew Pitts from Yorkshire who between 2006 and 2009 was Organist at this church making it a kind of homecoming.

The programme consisted of Praeludium in E minor BuxWV 142 - Buxtehude, Trio Sonata No.1 in E flat major BWV 525 - Bach, Vom Himmel hoch da komm'ich her BWV 700 - Bach, Vater unser im Himmelreich BWV 7377 - Bach, Praembulum in E major - Lubeck, Prelude and Fugue - Succo, Pastorale on 'Nun danket alle Gott' from op.46 - Herzogenberg and Toccata and Fugue in D minor BWV 538 - Bach.

This was another great example of music being provided for the people of Norwich by Mancroft Music, giving everyone an opportunity to experience these splendid pieces in such a wonderful setting. Matthew Pitts didn't let us down as he played brilliantly for about a hour.