Monday 30 September 2013

King Henry's Band at Cromer Parish Church

On the evening of Saturday 14th September 2013 I attended the King Henry's Band concert at Cromer Parish Church which featured Robert FitzGerald and his absent friends playing in aid of the Cromer Bell Project. King Henry's Band is a Medieval One Man Band which uses a multi-layered backing ensemble of many early instruments, each played and painstakingly pre-recorded by Mr FitzGerald. He then accompanies, live, on anything up to 15 instruments during a performance.

We were treated to some delicious melodies from Tielman Susato's Danserye of 1551 and then the music of some 16th Century songs in the latest Paris fashion including Je ne scaroys chanter a French song by the Flemish musician Adriaen Willaert. Before the interval there were some medieval pieces, introducing more strange instruments.

Act Two began with some Elizabethan and slightly later period favourites including The Frog Galliarde and Dances from Terpsichore. King Henry's Band returned to Medieval times playing Ductia 14 a catchy 13th Century French piece featuring the rauschpfeife with kortholt and srtring drum. The evening concluded with a cheerful 16th Century pot pourri finishing with The Moor's Dance.

This was a wonderful event at Cromer Parish Church which raised funds for the Cromer Bell Project and was greatly enjoyed by the enthusiastic audience in attendance on the North Norfolk coast. King Henry's Band put on a fantastic performance which was fun and delightful.

Sunday 29 September 2013

Oliver Waterer Organ Recital at Norwich Cathedral

On Thursday 12th September 2013 I attended the Oliver Waterer Big Screen Lunchtime Organ Recital at Norwich Cathedral. Oliver has recently been appointed Organist and Master of the Choristers at St. David's Cathedral, Pembrokeshire, Wales. He is also Artistic Director of the renowned St. David's Festival.

The programme consisted of Hymne d'actions de grace - Langlais, Rhosymedre (or Lovely) - Vaughan Williams, Fuga sopra il Magnificat BWV 733 - Bach, Postlude pour l'office de complies - Alain, Toccata (Douze Pieces No. 3) - Dubois and Elergy (for April 7th 2013) March from the Birds of Aristophanes arr. Walter Alcock - Parry.

Oliver Waterer played a wonderful programme of organ music at Norwich Cathedral to the delight of the lunchtime audience. He has recently moved from Chelmsford Cathedral to Pembrokeshire and therefore we were very pleased that he was still able to keep this performance in his diary. My favourite piece was the March from the Birds of Aristophanes.

Robert Munns Organ Recital at Norwich Cathedral

On Monday 26th August 2013 I attended the Robert Munns Bank Holiday Organ Recital at Norwich Cathedral. The international concert organist performed a varied programme of contemporary organ music.

The programme consisted Suite de Premier Ton - Bedard, Varmeland the Beautiful - Cundick, Variations on a Norwegian Folk Tune - Slogedal, Two Choral Preludes - Bach, Variations on There is a Happy Land - Shearing, Paven and Alman - Jacques, A Pensive Ground - Steele, Dainty Dance - Self, Soliloquy - Hanson and  From Usbekistan, Toccata - Mushel.

Robert Munns is a former scholarship holder at the Royal Academy of Music and has had an extensive career as a concert organist, conductor and church musician. His many overseas tours have included performances, master classes and broadcasts on five continents that have attracted great acclaim. For many years he was organist to the Royal Philharmonic and has appeared as guest soloist with the London Philharmonic and BBC Scottish Orchestras.

This was a wonderful Organ Recital performed by Robert Munns which included lots of brilliant and interesting contemporary organ music. I enjoyed Robert Cundick's Varmeland the Beautiful where the spirit of this Swedish folk song is succinctly captured by the composer. Bjarne Slogedal's Variations on a Norwegian Folk Tune was used as a call signal by the Resistance during World War II.

Pavilion Brass Quintet at Eaton Park

On the afternoon of Sunday 25th August 2013 I attended the Pavilion Brass Quintet Bandstand Concert at Eaton Park, Norwich. This was the last concert in the Summer 2013 Bandstand Concert Series organised by Norwich City Council and Brian Dermott on every Sunday from June to August in various Norwich parks.

The Pavilion Brass Quintet gave us a wonderful afternoon of splendid music in Eaton Park. From Puppet on a String to Eleanor Rigby there was a Sixties sound in the air. Singin' in the Rain and Amazing Grace were performed brilliantly.

This was a great concert to finish this season's Bandstand Concert Series which have given lots of pleasure to many people in Norwich during the Summer. Thanks to Norwich City Council and Brian Dermott for organising these events.

Saturday 28 September 2013

The Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra at the BBC Proms

On the evening of Friday 23rd August 2013 I attended Prom 55 of the BBC Proms at the Royal Albert Hall in London featuring the Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Antoni Wit and pianist Alexander Melnikov. This was the Proms debut of the Warsaw Philharmonic under Antoni Wit in his final concert as the orchestra's Artistic Director.

The programme consisted of Concerto for Orchestra - Lutoslawski, Piano Concerto No. 2 in F major - Shostakovich, Tragic Overture - Panufnik, Lullaby - Panufnik and Symphony No. 6 in B minor - Shostakovich. These are landmark pieces by two of Poland's 20th-century greats along with a pair of works by Shostakovich.

Lutoslawski began the Concerto for Orchestra in 1950 as a request from the conductor Witold Rowicki for a new work for the Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra. The piece combines Polish folk styles with more modern compositional procedures. Rowicki directed the premiere in Warsaw on 26th November 1954.

Shostakovich's Piano Concerto No. 2 was composed in 1956-7 for his teenage son Maxim who premiered the work in Moscow on 10th May 1957. This was immediately before Shostakovich began work on his 11th Symphony and can be seen as a light hearted relaxation before that massive undertaking.

Tragic Overture was composed by Panufnik in 1942 and was a brutal, overtly violent piece which was a non-verbal protest against the occupying forces. Panufnik composed Lullaby in London in 1947 and is a rare combination of beauty and innovation.

Shostakovich's Symphony No. 6 was composed in 1939 and first performed in Leningrad on 21st November 1939 by the Leningrad Philharmonic Orchestra under Yevgeny Mravinsky. Shostakovich said that the musical character of the Sixth Symphony was different from the mood and emotional tone of the Fifth Symphony, in which moments of tragedy and tension were characteristic. In the Sixth Symphony he wanted to convey the moods of spring, joy and youth.

This was a wonderful evening at the Royal Albert Hall as the Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Antoni Wit gave us a brilliant performance of some very emotional pieces of music from Eastern Europe. There were some very dark sounds which set the mood for the performance. This was the perfect way for Antoni Wit to finish his twelve years as the Orchestra's Artistic Director.

Sunday 22 September 2013

Vermeer and Music

On the afternoon of Friday 23rd August 2013 I visited the Vermeer and Music: The Art of Love and Leisure Exhibition at The National Gallery in London which featured the Academy of Ancient Music as Resident Ensemble. This exhibition explored the musical pastimes of the 17th-century Netherlands combining the art of Vermeer and his contemporaries with rare musical instruments, songbooks and live music.

For the first time the National Gallery’s two paintings by Vermeer, A Young Woman standing at a Virginal and A Young Woman seated at a Virginal were brought together with Vermeer’s Guitar Player. There were technical explanations of the paintings along with a recital from the Academy of Ancient Music. It was fantastic to hear the music from the period being played live being surrounded by these amazing paintings. In the 17th-century music was in the moment but with paintings like the Guitar Player the music can live forever.

Monday 16 September 2013

BBCSO and Lisa Batiashvili at the BBC Proms

On the evening of Wednesday 21st August 2013 I attended Prom 52 of the BBC Proms at the Royal Albert Hall in London which featured the BBC Symphony Orchestra conducted by Sakari Oramo and violinist Lisa Batiashvili. The BBC Symphony Orchestra were making their second appearance with its new Chief Conductor Sakari Oramo.

There was a geographically wide ranging programme consisting of Cave of Luminous Mind - Param Vir, Violin Concerto in D minor - Sibelius, Celtic Symphony - Bantock and Enigma Variations - Elgar.

This was the world premiere of the BBC commission Cave of Luminous Mind by Param Vir, who turned to Tibetan Buddhism for inspiration and specifically to the remarkable life of the 11th century sage Milarepa. This was the composer's musical response to Milarepa's meditational journey towards enlightenment. The piece was dedicated to the late Jonathan Harvey.

Sibelius composed his Violin Concerto in 1903 with a revised version being published in 1905. Sibelius began his musical career with high hopes of becoming a concert violinist. When destiny forged another path for him, then he expressed his relationship with his instrument through this, his only concerto, a work that combines intense virtuosity with profound depths of expression.

Bantock's Celtic Symphony is his homage to the Hebrides, an area he greatly loved. This piece was composed in 1940 for string orchestra and harps. The world of Celtic myth and legend was one of the several locales that appealed to Bantock for musical inspiration.

The first performance of Elgar's Enigma Variations took place in 1899. It was Elgar's most ambitious orchestra works to date and helped establish him as a composer of international importance. Elgar turned to his friends for inspiration for his Enigma Variations offering personal yet sharply etched characterisations in the work that made his name.

This was a fantastic evening at the Royal Albert Hall with the BBC Symphony Orchestra conducted by Sakari Oramo providing us with a wonderful and interesting programme of music. The Georgian violinist Lisa Batiashvili performed an outstanding Sibelius Violin Concerto which is a piece that she has made an acclaimed recording with Sakari Oramo. There was a brilliant atmosphere which made this a special night at the BBC Proms.

Wednesday 11 September 2013

Norwich City Concert Band at Chapelfield Gardens

On the afternoon of Sunday 18th August 2013 I attended the Norwich City Concert Band Bandstand Concert at Chapelfield Gardens, Norwich. This was in the series of concerts organised by Norwich City Council and Brian Dermott on every Sunday from June to August in various Norwich parks. The Lord Mayor of Norwich was in attendance to present Brian Dermott who was conducting the Norwich City Concert Band with a certificate to celebrate fifteen years of organising the Norwich Parks Bandstand Concerts.

Norwich City Concert Band (NCCB) was the brain-child of Bill Moore (an ex-military musician) who after discovering that Norwich had its own Municipal Military Band earlier in the twentieth century set about forming a band, together with players of an ensemble called “Enigma”. In March 1997, after many years of playing with friends in “The Enigma Ensemble”, Bill and four members of the ensemble, (Nicola Ingham, Louise Ladiman, Sue Wensley and Ann Wilson), decided to turn Bill’s vision into a reality. Thanks to the financial support from the Norwich City Council and Arts 4 All, auditions were held in August 1997.

The band held it’s first rehearsal in October 1997. This took place at Bignold First and Middle School, on Wessex Street, in Norwich. Peter Smith was appointed as the Director of Music. The band’s first year was successful with a debut concert on the 22nd March 1998 in Blackfriars Hall, Norwich. The band performed an open air concert as part of the Lord Mayor’s Celebrations in June 1998.

The Norwich City Concert Band opened the concert with the Gladiators Entrance and then entertained us with music from Les Miserables. They also performed the Dam Busters March and a medley of The Beatles hits. They finished the concert with Handel's Royal Fireworks Suites 1 and 4. This was a wonderful afternoon in Chapelfield Gardens full of fantastic music and beautiful sunshine.

Wednesday 4 September 2013

Julian Thomas Organ Recital at Norwich Cathedral

On Thursday 15th August 2013 I attended the Julian Thomas Lunchtime Organ Recital at Norwich Cathedral. This was the regular monthly Organ Recital that Norwich Cathedral provide for the people of Norwich and visitors to the Fine City.

The programme consisted of Fantasia and Fugue in G - Parry, Mozart Changes - Gardonyi, Cantilene and Dialoque sur les mixtures from Suite Breve - Langlais, Fugue in G a la Gigue BWV 577 - Bach and Marche Heroique - Brewer.

Julian Thomas began his musical training as a chorister at Salisbury Cathedral and then as a music and academic scholar at Charterhouse, before going to Cambridge as Organ Scholar at Jesus College. He was Second Assistant Organist at Lincoln Cathedral before becoming Assistant Organist and Director of the Girls' Choir at Norwich Cathedral from 2001 to 2007. He moved to Tonbridge School in September 2007 to take up the post of Organist and Choirmaster.

This was a wonderful Organ Recital at Norwich Cathedral which was greatly enjoyed by the enthusiastic audience. There is no better way to spend a lunch break then to listen to a programme of fantastic organ music. Julian Thomas seemed to enjoy his return to Norwich Cathedral where he performed brilliantly on the Cathedral's organ and provided us with some amazing music.