Sunday 24 November 2013

Greg Morris Organ Recital at St. Peter Mancroft Church

On Saturday 23rd November 2013 I attended the Greg Morris Organ Recital at St. Peter Mancroft Church, Norwich in the Mancroft Music Autumn Recitals 2013 Series. Greg Morris is Associate Organist of the Temple Church in London and Musical Director of Collegium Musicum of London.

The programme consisted of Lo, he comes with clouds descending - Kenneth Leighton, Nun Komm der Heiden Heiland BWV 659 - Bach, Praeludium in D major - Buxtehude, Nun Komm der Heiden Heiland BWV 660 - Bach, Veni Emmanuel - Kenneth Leighton, Nun Komm der Heiden Heiland BWV 661 - Bach, Wachet auf - Bach and Fantasia and Fugue in G minor - Bach.

Greg's solo performances have included concerts at Notre Dame de Paris, the Neubradenburg International Organ Festival, Westminster Abbey, St. Paul's Cathedral, King's College, Cambridge and many other cathedrals and major churches. Greg began to study the organ with Andrew Dean at The Manchester Grammar School. He held scholarships at St. George's Chapel, Windsor and Jesus College, Cambridge, studied the organ with Paul Stubbings, John Kitchen and Thomas Trotter and was awarded the top performance prize for the Fellowship of the Royal College of Organists and the Silver Medal of the Worshipful Company of Musicians. He then moved to Blackburn Cathedral as Assistant Director of Music.

This was another wonderful Organ Recital at St. Peter Mancroft Church in the heart of Norwich with brilliant music by Bach, Kenneth Leighton and Buxtehude. Greg Morris put on a fantastic performance which was greatly appreciated by the enthusiastic audience.

Friday 22 November 2013

Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake at Norwich Theatre Royal

On the evening of Thursday 21st November 2013 I attended the performance of Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake at Norwich Theatre Royal. Thrilling, audacious and totally original, Matthew Bourne's legendary production transforms one of ballet's best -loved stories into a stylish, witty, poignant, contemporary tale with extravagant, award-winning designs by Lez Brotherston.

Perhaps best-known for replacing the traditional female corps de ballet with a menacing male ensemble, Matthew Bourne blends dance, style, humour, spectacle, character comedy and mime to create a provocative and powerful Swan Lake for our times. Originally written by Tchaikovsky in the late 19th century, Swan Lake was staged at Moscow’s Bolshoi Theatre in 1877.

There were fantastic performances from Jonathan Ollivier as The Swan, Sam Archer as The Prince and Madelaine Brennan as The Queen on a magical and fun night at Norwich Theatre Royal. This is the Modern Dance version of Swan Lake and is a very powerful and inspired production.

Thursday 21 November 2013

Yuck bring Glow and Behold to Norwich Arts Centre

The Yuck Glow and Behold Tour arrived at Norwich Arts Centre on Wednesday 20th November 2013 with support from Polterghost and Mega Emotion. I made my way to the St. Benedict's Street venue eagerly looking forward to this Twee Off gig headlined by the London based five piece.

Yuck are an indie rock band that originated in London, England. The band features Max Bloom, who formerly played in the band Cajun Dance Party along with former 'Yuck' member Daniel Blumberg. The band's self-titled debut album was released through Fat Possum in February 2011. Critics have likened the band to bands such as Dinosaur Jr, Pavement, My Bloody Valentine and Sonic Youth. Their new album Glow and Behold was released in September 2013.

Yuck made this a night to remember at Norwich Arts Centre along with support from London's Polterghost and Norwich band Mega Emotion with their hit song Brains. The sounds of Alternative Rock filled the venue as Yuck brought us tracks from both their albums including Get Away and Rebirth from their new album Glow and Behold.

Tuesday 19 November 2013

Britten Sinfonia's Serenade for Tenor, Horn and Strings

On the evening of Sunday 17th November 2013 I attended the Britten Sinfonia Serenade for Tenor, Horn and Strings concert at Norwich Theatre Royal. Britten Sinfonia’s recent recording of Britten’s Serenade for Tenor, Horn and Strings with Mark Padmore has been acclaimed worldwide and these artists performed the work in this fascinating concert.

Violinist Pekka Kuusisto directed the orchestra in an illuminating programme of works which also included a new work by Judith Weir, commissioned by the Britten Pears Foundation and Royal Philharmonic Society, to celebrate Britten’s centenary and the Bicentenary of the Royal Philharmonic Society. The programme was jointly devised by Pekka Kuusisto and Britten Sinfonia.

The programme consisted of Three Songs for Tenor and violin (and drone from orchestra) - Nico Muhly, Fourth movement from Quartet no. 4 - Bartok, Now Sleeps the Crimson Petal - Britten, Lighthouse - Tuur, I give you the end of a golden string (world premiere tour) - Judith Weir, Individualisierte Höhemessung der Lagen (from Partita fur Paul) - Arne Nordheim, Material in E flat for violin and drone from orchestra - Nico Muhly, Third movement from Quartet no. 4 - Bartok, Kanon - Berg arr Schnittke, Cantus in Memoriam Benjamin Britten - Arvo Part, God Music from Black Angels - George Crumb, Serenade for Tenor, Horn and Strings - Britten.

Britten Sinfonia were joined by Mark Padmore - tenor, Pekka Kuusisto - violin and Stephen Bell - horn on a wonderful night of classical music at Norwich Theatre Royal. They played twelve works by nine different composers which proved to be a varied and enjoyable concert. The performance took the audience to new and unfamiliar places.

Monday 18 November 2013

Julian Collings Organ Recital at St. Peter Mancroft Church

On Saturday 16th November 2013 I attended the Julian Collings Organ Recital at St. Peter Mancroft Church, Norwich in the Mancroft Music Autumn Recitals 2013 Series. This recital replaced that due to be given by Svyati Duo. Unfortunately Rebecca Hewes sustained a wrist injury and with regret had to withdraw. We were very grateful that Julian was able to put together a solo programme at short notice.

The programme consisted of Fantasia in G BWV 572 - Bach, Nun bitten wir den Heiligen Geist - Buxtehude, Andante with variations in D - Mendelssohn, Annum per annum - Part, Postlude pour l'office de complies - Alain and Pax vobiscum - Karg-Elert.

Julian Collings was educated as an organ scholar at Tonbridge School in Kent, before winning an organ scholarship to Christ's College, Cambridge in 1999. He is currently Director of Music at St. Cyprian's Church, Clarence Gate and regularly deputises as an organist at St. Bride's Church on Fleet Street. As organist with Svyati Duo, he regularly collaborates with cellist, Rebecca Hewes, performing concerts in the UK, Europe, Asia and the United States of America.

This was another wonderful organ recital at St. Peter Mancroft Church which was greatly enjoyed by the audience in attendance. The Mancroft Music Recital Series is always one of the highlights of the Music Calendar in Norwich both in the Autumn and Summer.

Sunday 17 November 2013

UEA Symphony Orchestra's English Connection Concert

On the evening of Friday 15th November 2013 I attended the UEA Symphony Orchestra's The English Connection Concert at St. Andrew's Hall, Norwich. This was a Sir Colin Davis Memorial Concert. The orchestra were conducted by Sharon Andrea Choa and featured soloist Paul Silverthorne (viola).

The programme consisted of Cello Concerto in E minor, Op. 85 (transcribed for viola) - Elgar and Symphony No. 8 in G major, Op. 88 - Dvorak.

Elgar's Cello Concerto is the last of four expressively linked works together with the Violin Sonata, String Quartet and Piano Quintet he wrote in 1918 and 1919. The chamber works have a wistful and eerie enchantment, to which the concerto adds an unmistakably tragic tone. Viola player Lionel Tertis worked tirelessly to establish the viola as a solo instrument in its own right and made a transcription of Elgar's concerto in 1929.

Dvorak wrote the Eighth Symphony in 1889 and was published by the London firm of Novello and Co in 1892. The Eighth is thought of as the sunniest and most relaxed of Dvorak's symphonies, but there is considerable emotional darkness in the slow movement, as well as light and tranquillity.

This was a wonderful evening at St. Andrew's Hall as the UEA Symphony Orchestra performed splendid pieces by Elgar and Dvorak. This was a fitting memorial concert in memory of Sir Colin Davis.

Saturday 16 November 2013

Sequence of Music for Remembrance-tide at Norwich Cathedral

On the evening of Thursday 14th November 2013 I was back at Norwich Cathedral for the Norwich Cathedral Consort's performance of Sequence of Music for Remembrance-tide. The Consort were conducted by Ashley Grote with organist Kris Thomsett.

The programme consisted of Hear my prayer - Purcell, Valiant-for-truth - Vaughan Williams, Agnus Dei - Barber, Rhapsody III in C sharp minor, Op 17 - Howells, Take him earth, for cherishing - Howells, Elegy - Thalben Ball, Bring us, O Lord - Harris, Never weather beaten sail - Parry and For the fallen - Guest.

The Norwich Cathedral Consort performed wonderfully along with Ashley Grote and Kris Thomsett. This was a moving and emotional event at Norwich Cathedral which took place in the Presbytery.

Friday 15 November 2013

John McGreal Organ Recital at Norwich Cathedral

On Thursday 14th November 2013 I attended the John McGreal Lunchtime Organ Recital at Norwich Cathedral which featured work by Bach, Vierne and Daquin. This was another great opportunity for Norwich workers to listen to some fantastic music during their lunch breaks.

The programme consisted of Ciacona in e minor, BuxWV 160 - Buxtehude, Chorale Prelude on: Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland BWV 659 - Come now, Saviour of the Heathen - Bach, Prelude and Wedge Fugue in e minor BWV 548 - Bach, Noel: A l'Etranger - Daquin, From:24 Pieces en Style Libre - Berceuse - Vierne and Toccata in D Major - Lanquetuit.

John McGreal read music while organ scholar at Peterhouse, Cambridge where he studied organ with David Rowland and Peter Hurford. He then continued his studies at the Royal College of Music in organ with Nicholas Danby and harpsichord with Ruth Dyson. From 1999 - 2011 he was Organist at the London Oratory where he maintained and developed the role of the organ in the liturgy. He has been based in Norwich since 2011 and now plays at the Shrine Church of St. Julian of Norwich.

I greatly enjoyed this brilliant Organ Recital from John McGreal at Norwich Cathedral. My particular favourite pieces being the music of J.S. Bach which filled the Cathedral and the audience with lots of joy.

Sunday 10 November 2013

Douglas Hollick Organ Recital at St. Peter Mancroft Church

On Saturday 9th November 2013 I attended the Douglas Hollick Organ Recital at St. Peter Mancroft Church, Norwich. Heinrich Scheidemann: a context celebrated the 350th anniversary of Scheidemann's death. This was the latest recital in Mancroft Music's Autumn Recitals 2013 series.

The programme consisted of Fantasia auf die manier eines Echo - Sweelinck, Erbarm dich mein O Herre Gott - Scheidemann, Herzlich lieb hab ich dich, O Herr - Scheidemann, Jesu, wollst uns weisen - Scheidemann, Toccata in G - Scheidemann, Chorale Fantasia - Buxtehude and Nun freut euch, lieben Christen gmein BuxWV 210 - Buxtehude.

Douglas Hollick is an organist and harpsichordist with an international reputation who teaches in Clare College Cambridge. In 1995 he recorded an organ CD entitled The Young Bach for Supraphon in the Czech Republic which attracted very favourable reviews. He was awarded a year 2000 Churchill Fellowship to visit North Germany and Denmark researching organs and other keyboard instruments of Buxtehude and the young J S Bach.

Heinrich Scheidemann, organist of Hamburg's Katharinenkirche, was one of many North German organists who studied with Sweelinck in Amsterdam. Dutch influence in North Germany was also strong in the sphere of organ building, which very rapidly in the early 17th century began to develop a much larger and more independent pedal department than the organ of Sweelinck and indeed much larger organs. The tonal design still largely followed the Dutch pattern, with great variety of reed and solo colours apart from the main principal chorus and flutes.

This was another wonderful organ recital at St. Peter Mancroft Church which highlighted the teacher/pupil link from Sweelinck all the way to the young Bach. It is always brilliant to hear the organ at St. Peter Mancroft Church being played and Douglas Hollick made this one of the highlights of the Autumn Recitals 2013 series.

Wednesday 6 November 2013

Hansel Und Gretel at Norwich Theatre Royal

On the evening of Tuesday 5th November 2013 I attended the Glyndebourne production of Hansel Und Gretel at Norwich Theatre Royal. This opera by Engelbert Humperdinck has long cast its musical spell over audiences of all ages. The score vividly evoked the magical world of fairy tale, and Laurent Pelly's deliciously witty production injected a modern twist into this enchanting classic.

Sung in German this fairy tale opera in three acts featured wonderful performances from Victoria Yarovaya as Hansel and Andriana Churchman as Gretel. The Glyndebourne Tour Orchestra were conducted by Ilyich Rivas. Hansel Und Gretel was first performed at the Court Theatre, Weimar in 1893.

Hansel and Gretel are doing chores. Both are bored and hungry, and to cheer themselves up they start to dance. Their games are interrupted by their Mother, who is angry to find them playing instead of working. In her anger she knocks over the milk jug, losing what was to have been supper. She sends them into the forest to gather strawberries instead. Wearied by their precarious existence, she sinks into a chair, only to be woken by the return of her husband. She is irritated to find him tipsy, but calms down when he produces a sack full of food. When he enquires after Hansel and Gretel, he is alarmed to hear they are in the forest: he warns of the Witch who lives there, and both parents set out to look for the children.

Hansel and Gretel happily gather and eat strawberries. When night falls they realise they are lost, and are frightened by the mysterious shapes in the mist. But a Sandman appears and settles them. They say their evening prayers, and go to sleep. The mist around them turns to clouds from which angels appear, who guard the children from harm.

At dawn the Dew Fairy comes to wake Hansel and Gretel. They are excited to see a house not far away, but when they begin to nibble at it, the Witch emerges and captures them, casting a spell. She puts Hansel in a cage, telling Gretel that her brother needs fattening. She releases Gretel with a spell, in order that the girl may help her with the oven. But Gretel uses the spell to free Hansel, and as the Witch demonstrates to Gretel how to check the oven, the children push her into it. As the Witch dies, the fence of people is transformed back into motionless children. Hansel invokes the formula for breaking the spell, and the children jump up and thank Hansel and Gretel for saving them. The Mother and Father appear, and the family is reunited.

This was a fantastic and magical evening at Norwich Theatre Royal with Glyndebourne bringing the story of Hansel Und Gretel by the Brothers Grimm to the stage. I greatly enjoyed this fairy tale opera which brought world class opera performance to Norwich with Glyndebourne making their annual visit to Norwich Theatre Royal.