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Fibonacci Sequence Chamber Ensemble
Sunday 24 June 2018
Fibonacci Sequence Chamber Ensemble
Concert supported by the Exeter and District Classical Music Trust
Daniel Pioro Violin
Benjamin Roskams Violin
Morgan Goff Viola
Benjamin Hughes Cello
Four Romantic Pieces Op.75a for two violins, and viola
Capriccio (Poco allegro)
Passacaglia for Violin and Cello (after Handel)
WOLFGANG AMADEUS MOZART
Piano Quartet in G minor, K. 478
Rondo: Allegro moderato
Piano Quintet in F minor, Op. 34
I Allegro non troppo II Andante, un poco Adagio
III Scherzo: Allegro IV Finale: Poco sostenuto
2018 REVIEW by Nigel H. Crabtree
It is difficult to convey the impact of the thrilling musical experience we were privileged to witness tonight. From the very first note of the Dvorak Op 75a Trio it was abundantly clear that it was going to be an evening of sublime musicality. Dvorak’s work often refers to Folk melodies and his use of Bohemian Folk Songs infused the work with real emotional contrast. That it was written for amateur players would perhaps be disputed by the 2nd violinist who often allows both melody and bass line to be supported by endless shifting arpeggiated figures within the texture – so sensitively and effortlessly achieved. There were some lovely glissandi in the appoggiaturas in the Elegy passed on as echoes between the 1st Violin and Cello.
Halvorsen’s Passacaglia, a Duet for Violin and Cello, was simply breathtaking! What virtuosity was displayed by both players – but with a nonchalance that belied the incredible technical acrobatics. Virtually all the different possibilities of producing sound on a stringed instrument were deployed to the obvious delight of the packed audience – and of the players. It was as if the spirit of Paganini was abroad in Shaldon.
Mozart’s Piano Quartet K.478 cast in his favourite dramatic key of G minor, allows for all the stormy turbulence of unexpected modulations to take the somewhat forbidding opening motif to task in the development sections. The communication between the players, the nuances of performance directions and the ability to draw us into their belief and trust in Mozart’s score was completely compelling.
From G minor to the very much darker key of F minor. A key that affords, certainly for the upper strings, less opportunity to use the brighter sonorities surrounding the tuning of the open strings. It is often thought that for string players a D flat (for example) is a completely different note to its enharmonic equivalent of C sharp – the latter sounding much brighter, even though it is the same black note on the piano! So the die (dye?) is cast by Brahms for his Piano Quintet in F minor Op34. In this dramatic and often tempestuous work we were treated to Chamber Music virtually at its limits – in parts almost symphonic in scale. For this work all the members of the Fibonacci Sequence came together contributing their consummate skill and musicianship to the utmost, leaving us spellbound and them exhausted at the end of an unforgettably stunning concert.
The only mathematical glitch was that the 4tet isn’t represented in the Fibonacci Sequence, however with the addition of a page turner I suppose it complied – he did however, rather mess up the sequence by appearing in the Brahms Quintet – who needs a page turner anyway!
The Fibonacci Sequence celebrated its twentieth anniversary in 2014, and is considered one of the UK’s most distinguished chamber ensembles with a wide-ranging discography and impressive reviews. The ensemble members appear at the world’s leading festivals and venues and many of them are also on the faculties of leading conservatoires in the UK and abroad. The Fibonacci Sequence was chosen for the season 2012-2013 by the Concert Promotions Network, and has appeared at Buxton Festival, Thaxted Festival and many distinguished venues throughout the UK. In 2014 they made a return visit to Colombia following great acclaim from their visit in 2011.
For Fibonacci Sequence Chamber Ensemble website click here
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Piano Quartet No. 1 in G minor, K.478
Although Haydn may be credited with the crystallization of the main classical musical forms – the symphony, concerto, string quartet, string trio, etc. – into patterns which became universally accepted, it is to Mozart that we owe the piano quartet, despite the fact that he wrote no more than two of them. He was used to the idea of chamber music which incorporated the keyboard for domestic use where the harpisichord, or fortepiano, held sway and was merely accompanied by other instruments. This arose mainly from social circumstances where daughters of upper class families were accomplished keyboard players, a skill which often served to ensnare a husband, while sons, whose main aim in life was rather different, played string instruments with a lesser degree of skill. It seems, however, that in the 1780s Mozart showed complete disregard for the needs of amateurs and turned to the professional and the connoisseur, writing for equal partners. This was particularly so in his piano quartets. According to Georg Nissen, Constanze Mozart’s second husband, the publisher Hoffmeister commissioned three piano quartets. The G minor was the first of these to be submitted, but when it appeared in 1785 the general public found it too difficult to perform and Hoffmeister withdrew his support. However, the second, the E flat Major, K.493, had already been written and was accepted by another publisher. Unfortunately, the composer had become disillusioned and he was to write no more in this form.
Both quartets are in three movements. The key of G minor, his key of ‘fate’, had a special significance for Mozart and was the catalyst for some of his greatest works. Set out in unison by all four instruments, the opening terse motif was described by the musicologist Alfred Einstein as the ‘fate’ theme. This first movement is in large-scale sonata form, the subdued second subject being introduced by the piano alone and with the ‘fate’ motto again exploited to the full in the coda. Lyrical, and slower, the second movement has a melancholy air. In contrast to the first two movements, the high spirited Rondo finale dismisses all despondency in an incredible abundance of melody.
Programme notes provided by John Dalton courtesy of Making Music
Johannes Brahms: Piano Quintet in F minor Op. 34
Allegro non troppo
Andante, un poco adagio
Sostenuto – allegro non troppo – presto non troppo
Brahms had considerable difficulty in getting this enormous work into its final form. It first appeared in 1863 as a string quintet with two ‘cellos, and was tried out by Joachim and friends and spoken of approvingly by Clara Schumann. Then it was re-cast as a sonata for two pianos and performed by Brahms and Tausig in Vienna in 1864. It made little impression and was thought to lack warmth that only strings could supply. Finally it was published as a piano quintet in 1865 though not publicly performed for another three years. It is a work of immense power and urgency and, with its multiplicity of ideas, almost bursts the seams of the classical structure in which it is cast.
The long first movement in F minor begins with a four-bar unison phrase, followed by a rhythmic transformation of it on the piano in semiquavers which forms much of the material of the movement. A second theme, whispered pp on strings with piano, soon appears in a remote C sharp minor, over a rumbling measured trill in the bass. The elements of contrast and surprise (as when the recapitulation creeps in) feature strongly through the movement which eventually relaxes into F major (for the first time) in the Coda. But this is rudely thrust aside by a reversion to the minor key storms from the opening.
By contrast the Andante in A flat is simple and tender. The lulling rhythm carries a duet melody on the piano strongly recalling Schubert. This flows serenely on, until a middle section (in a remote E major) has strings answered by piano molto espressivo. The duet theme returns, completely rescored to present new interesting textures.
The Scherzo which follows has immense rhythmic verve. A pulsing low C on ‘cello underpins a soft syncopated string tune in 6/8, which becomes a 2/4 march still pp, until a sudden shout of joy in huge C major chords. These elements are exploited in a relentless almost savage manner, building to a great climax. This is slightly relieved by the Trio section, based briefly on a rich noble tune. The whole scherzo section then repeats its onslaught.
The finale begins with a dark whispered introduction which at times appears to be completely atonal. Then in wanders the main tune on ‘cello with semiquaver figuration on piano; the movement then consists of subtle and imaginative transformations of this theme, through various modulations and rhythm and time changes. An oddly syncopated second theme, più animato, mainly for string quartet, provides an episode of lighter texture.
A late appearance of the main theme arrives in 6/8 in C sharp minor (again – see first movement) marked non legato and presto. This leads to a huge Coda which pulls all the threads together, with Brahms’ symphonic genius being used in a masterly display of creative thought, almost overpowering the listener by its breadth and grandeur.
Specht tells us that the quintet contains some of the “gloomiest music Brahms has written”. Tovey calls the first movement “powerfully tragic,” yet Clara Schumann was “charmed” by it – hardly suggesting tragedy. Geiringer describes it as “lively.” When the pundits disagree, we had better be careful: let us dream our dreams but let us be reticent about them. Our neighbour may have dreamt quite a different dream, and who is to say whether either of us is right?
Programme notes provided by C.R.W. for Ilkley Concert Club, September 2010
Choral Workshop and Informal Concert 2018 directed by Stephen Threlfall
Saturday 23 June 2018
Performer(s): Choral Workshop directed by Stephen Threlfall
Rossini: Petite Messe Solennelle
Stephen Threlfall: Musical Director
Peter Adcock: Piano
Paul Morgan: Organ
Héloïse West: Soprano
Rebecca Smith: Contralto
Matthew Wilding: Tenor
James Quilligan: Bass
2018 REVIEW by Richard Lamming
In his manuscript for this extraordinary piece, the composer famously appeals for divine pardon, should the Lord consider it sacrilegious. He explains: “I was born for opera buffa, as You well know. Not much technique, a little bit of heart, that’s all.” His modesty was exemplary but his quandary remains. Rossini intended the piece to be performed in the society salons of late-nineteenth century Paris, by four soloists and a chorus of eight (he made a comparison with the twelve disciples), with a harmonium and two pianos.
Performing the “little, solemn mass” with a chorus of over one hundred and fifty singers provides opportunities not available in the salons. On Saturday night in St. Peter’s church, Shaldon, conductor Stephen Threlfall, Director of Music at Chetham’s School of Music, Manchester, made the most of them. With four fine soloists, a Shaldon Festival Chorus on top form, one piano and an organ standing in for the harmonium, the audience were treated to an enthralling and lively evening.
One benefit of having a large choir is the ability to create a more “massive” feel in the chorus items. Stephen Threlfall’s masterly direction provided brilliant dynamic agility in his huge ensemble, often changing in an instant from thunder to
pianissimo. It is testament to his great talent that he made it look easy.
The Shaldon Festival Chorus rose to the occasion. At times some entrances were slightly tardy, possibly down to the need to arrange the choir longitudinally, running the entire length of the long nave with the podium at the mid-point and the piano (and organ) at one end. This did not detract from the consistent enjoyment of their performance however and Stephen Threlfall kept everything together.
The soloists had plenty of opportunities to shine. At times it was difficult not to be transported to one of Rossini’s wonderful comic operas, especially in the early Laudamus Te quartet and the tenor’s solo Domine Deus. Between these two, the trio Gratias agimus tibi, one of Rossini’s most beautiful melodies, teased the listener by suggesting a parlour song. All of this was clearly as the composer intended for his salon audiences; for example, almost all the movements are in major keys. Elsewhere, there were musical nods to Bach, Wagner and Chopin amongst others and reworkings of several of Rossini’s own previous operatic pieces.
Soprano Héloïse West delivered the textual drama with a very pure voice, both in her solos and ensemble parts. Her stunning solo, O Salutaris, was a delightful tour de force.
Héloïse’s duet Qui tollis pecata mundi with contralto Rebecca Smith was especially beautiful, being the only piece for the soloists in the first half to be written in a minor key. Rebecca’s powerful and mellow voice also provided a steadiness in the ensemble pieces and in her dramatic “duel” with the chorus in the finale.
Tenor Matthew Wilding revealed a most pleasing vocal style, his Domine Deus perfectly blending a sacred theme with operatic melody. Though sometimes not as strong in the quartet as the other soloists, his voice was a delight to listen to.
James Quilligan has a fine and robust bass voice and a wide experience of operatic and choral work. He used both to the full effect in the bass-baritone range that the piece requires.
Covering both piano roles on one instrument, the Shaldon Festival official accompanist, Peter Adcock, once again earned the admiration of the audience and the affection of the singers. He made Rossini’s stylistic demands sound fun to play, with the style ranging from plangent to humoroso. Like his conductor, he made the gargantuan task (the piece is an hour and a half long) look easy.
For a great church organ to stand in for a salon harmonium was an exercise in restraint (the role has often been taken by a piano accordion) but this was clearly not a challenge for an organist of the stature of Paul Morgan, Organist Emeritus at Exeter Cathedral. His underscoring, occasional swells, and gentle sostenuto passages were sensitively delivered. The organ solo Ritomelloin the second half gave him a most welcome opportunity to use a little more of the instrument’s richness and compass.
The finalé to the mass, Agnus Dei, brings together theatricality and sacred passion, as the music moves between major and minor keys and the contralto and chorus alternate within the text. The dynamics fluctuate between pianissimo, fortissimo and rinforzando before, for the last surge, all the parts are marked tutta forza making the request “dona nobis pacem”: “grant us peace”something of a demand. The chorus did not disappoint.
The atmosphere after the concert was one of delight and excitement, both for the performers and the audience. It was a most enjoyable evening, maintaining the very high quality that has been developed by Shaldon Festival Choral Workshop for many years.
Gioachino Antonio Rossini: Petite Messe Solennelle
Rossini was born at Pesaro and moved with his parents to Bologna at the time when Napoleon’s troops entered Northern Italy. There Rossini had a musical upbringing and started composing at about the age of 12. By his late teens he was writing seriously for the theatre. He studied at the University of Bologna, becoming an enthusiast for the music of Mozart, who had died little more than two months before Rossini was born. Rossini later referred to Mozart as ‘the admiration of my youth, the desperation of my mature years and the consolation of my old age’.
Rossini achieved both fame and fortune early in his career, continuing opera-writing until he was 37 years old. In this period, he held positions as Musical Director of theatres in Naples and later in Paris. However, in 1829, his Last opera William Tell was produced and he retired, having written nearly 40 operas. For the next 25 years, he wrote virtually nothing. Then, after settling in Paris in 1855, he started to compose again, mainly songs and piano pieces, and often parodying contemporary styles. A collection of about 150 pieces date from the last 13 years of his life, many of them humorous or quirky in nature – he called them the “sins of old age”.
During this last period, he was in 1863 asked by a friend, Countess Louise Pillet-Will, to write a solemn mass for the consecration of a private chapel. He scored the work for intimate forces – two pianos, harmonium, four soloists and small chorus. The resulting work was first performed in Passy near Paris in March 1864. At the end of the score he rather touchingly wrote:
Good Lord, there it is, finished, this poor little mass. I do not know if this music is sacred or sacrilegious (musique sacrée or sacrée musique). I was born for comic opera as You well know. Little skill, some feeling and that’s all. Therefore let me sing Your praises and grant me your paradise. G. Rossini – Passy 1863.
His description “little” has stuck to the work so that it is customarily referred to as the “Petite” Messe Solennelle, in spite of taking over 80 minutes to perform! It contains the full text of the High Mass – hence solennelle in the title – but in addition, Rossini has set O Salutaris Hostia, a text suitable for the feast of Corpus Christi. However, it is not really solemn in any emotional sense. For this was as quirky in its way as any of his other pieces written at this time. Indeed, among his annotations to the autograph, he self-depricatingly described the work as ‘the last mortal sin of my old age’.
This was the last of Rossini’s major compositions and was immediately received enthusiastically by Meyerbeer and other musical eminences in Paris at that time. Although it was commissioned for small forces, Rossini clearly envisaged performances on a larger scale and he orchestrated it a year or two later. The hand of the opera composer undoubtedly shows in the writing, but does not dominate. Indeed some sections could be taken as Rossini showing his mastery of form with affinities to older styles, for example the strict canon of the unaccompanied Christe eleison, early in the work. This is framed by two Kyrie sections, where the smooth vocal parts are underlain by rhythmic piano writing in quite different style. Occasionally, in such solos as Domine Deus and Quoniam, the theatre takes over, and there are times when the Rossini of 1863 comes stylistically close to Verdi. This perhaps is less to be wondered at than the contrapuntal skill and vitality of the fugal sections (Cum Sancto Spiritu and In Vitam Venturi). The instrumental Preludio Religioso certainly offers a rare glimpse of a more serious and academic Rossini than might be expected by listeners who know only the operas.
Programme notes provided by Edinburgh Royal Choral Union, May 2011 courtesy of Making Music
Stephen Threlfall’s current role as Director of Music at Chetham’s School of Music, the UK’s leading music school, is a happy culmination of many years’ experience in the professional music world.
An alumnus of the Royal Northern College of Music, Stephen’s career took him first to the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra, where he was sub-principal cellist, before becoming Director of Music at Benenden School. At the same time, his reputation as a conductor and educator was growing rapidly.
As a conductor, Stephen has earned much acclaim for his performances, recordings and broadcasts. He has conducted at many major venues and festivals in the UK and with many international solo artists. Engagements have taken him to the USA, Europe and Scandinavia, with regular visits to the Urals Philharmonic and Bach Orchestras in Yekaterinburg, the Royal Oman Symphony and Amman Symphony Orchestras. Other ensembles include Canzonetta, Leeds Festival, Chester Bach and Manchester Chamber Choirs; the Northern Ballet and Northern Chamber Orchestra, Manchester Camerata and the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra. He has conducted a number of concert broadcasts for the BBC, Classic FM and Russian national Radio and TV, and his repertoire includes many world premieres, notably High on the Slopes of Terror by Sir Peter Maxwell Davies. Stephen made his Royal Festival Hall debut in February 2012 in an all Rachmaninov programme.
Stephen combines a natural sense for performance with his creative vision to inspire the artistic direction and programming of concerts, festivals and educational events. He has a passion for working with young people and has enjoyed successful collaborations with many student and youth orchestras both at home and abroad, including the symphony and chamber orchestras at Trinity and the Royal Northern College of Music, Birmingham Conservatoire, Vannersborg Orchestra Sweden, the Texas Music Festival in Houston and the National Children’s Orchestra.
He has created and directed a number of arts and community projects involving an impressive number of guest musicians, artists and specialists. These have included the award-nominated Antarctica (2001) and Brundibár (2002/3) projects; A Child of Our Time (2005) and The Spirit of Norway Festival (2007) which consisted of over 50 events including many educational workshops and performances. In Autumn 2008, the Leonard Bernstein Celebration included chamber and symphonic concerts, and a special concert with the composer’s daughter Nina Bernstein-Simmons.
In Autumn 2012, Stephen directed a 4-day celebration to mark the 150th anniversary of Frederick Delius, which included concerts with the Chetham’s Symphony Orchestra and cellist Raphael Wallfisch, broadcast by Classic FM. A Russian project is planned for Autumn 2017.
In 2013 Stephen devised a major project marking the centenary of Benjamin Britten. This included performances across all areas of Britten’s output with symphony concerts in Manchester, Chester, London, Lichfield and Cheltenham Festivals, and a national tour of Noye’s Fludde with performances at Manchester Cathedral, and Ryedale and Shaldon Festivals.
In July 2015 Stephen conducted two performances of Mahler’s Third Symphony with Mezzo Soprano Sarah Connolly and the Chetham’s Symphony Orchestra in both Manchester and Cheltenham.
Other performances include conducting the Transylvania State Philharmonic Orchestra and Chorus, two concerts in Melbourne, Australia and return visits to Russia, US, Oman and Ischia.
Future concerts include two works commemorating The Battle of the Somme in World War 1, with live screening of Imperial War Museum archive footage. In August 2017, Stephen will conduct the complete cycle of the Beethoven Piano Concertos with an array of international soloists as part of the Chetham’s International Piano Summer School.
Chetham’s School of Music 2018
Friday 22 June 2018
Performer(s): Chetham’s School of Music
Chetham’s School of Music Showcase Concert
Molin Han violin
Alexandra Toteva percussion
Ailsa McTernan soprano
Ruby Barber trumpet
Alexandra Toteva – snare drum
EUGENE NOVOTNEY: A Minute of News
Ruby Barber – trumpet
HENRI TOMASI: Nocturne
EUGÈNE BOZZA: Caprice
Ailsa McTernan – soprano
MICHAEL HEAD: Sweet Chance, that led my steps abroad
RALPH VAUGHAN WILLIAMS: Silent Noon
JOHN IRELAND: Spring Sorrow
IVOR GURNEY: Sleep
GERALD FINZI: It was a lover and his lass
Ruby Barber – trumpet
CARL HÖHNE: Slavische Fantasie
Alexandra Toteva – marimba and xylophone
KEIKO ABE: Michi
MARK GLENTWORTH: Blues for Gilbert
GEORGE HAMILTON GREEN: Valse Brillante
Molin Han – violin
MAURICE RAVEL: Sonate
- Perpetuum mobile
FOSTER-HEIFETZ: Jeanie with the light brown hair
GEORGE GERSHWIN arr. Stephen Threlfall: It ain’t necessarily so
Piano accompaniment: Brenda Blewett
Director of Music: Stephen Threlfall
2018 REVIEW by Christopher Morris
The second concert of The 2018 Shaldon Festival saw a return, for the sixth time in fifteen years, of students from Chetham’s School of Music, the largest specialist music school in the UK. On this occasion we welcomed four talented soloists, providing us with a broad range of music of many different styles.
Alexandra Toteva a percussionist from Bulgaria, began the proceedings with Eugene Novotney’s A Minute of News. Novotney is internationally recognised as a composer of contemporary percussion music. The piece is scored for a single snare drum, with the snare lowered most of the time. Alexandra displayed an amazing variety of different effects, frequently exchanging drumsticks, rarely using two the same, and coaxing astonishing sounds using the fingers of the hand and brush. There were frequent rim-shots as well as the use of the engagement and disengagement of the snare as a rhythmic device. Although quite short, this piece is quite complex and she carried the performance off flawlessly.
Our next soloist was the English trumpeter Ruby Barber who is studying piano and voice at Chetham’s. She played first the Caprice for the trumpet with piano accompaniment by the French composer Eugene Bozza, written in 1943. This is in three linked sections, the first with lots of runs and a good deal of triple-tonguing. The central, more lyrical section is followed by a faster, virtuosic finale. Two different mutes were used during this performance. Ruby followed this with the Nocturne, the second movement from Henri Tomasi’s Trumpet Concerto. Tomasi is also French and is contemporary with Bozza but his musical style is different. This engaging movement was beautifully delivered on this occasion.
Then we were treated to five songs, performed by soprano Ailsa McTernan.. Ailsa has a very clear, open voice with excellent diction. First was Michael Head’s Sweet Chance, that led my steps abroad, set to a text by the Welsh poet William Henry Davies, whose poetry deals with, amongst other matters, the way in which the human condition is reflected in nature and, in this case, the coincidence between a rainbow and the song of a cuckoo. Next was Vaughan William’s Silent Noon, a setting of a poem by the pre-Raphaelite poet Rosetti. Then we had the well-known Sleep by Ivor Gurney, with text by the Jacobean poet John Fletcher, and Spring Sorrow, John Ireland’s setting of a poem by the first world war poet Rupert Brooke. Finally, Ailsa sang Gerald Finzi’s It was a lover and his lass with a lot of hey nonny-no-ing! All these songs suited Ailsa’a rang and style of voice perfectly, a really well chosen selection, performed brilliantly.
The first half concluded with a return of Ruby Barber with Carl Holne’s Slavishe Fantasiie, a virtuosic display demonstarting Ruby’s mastery of her instrument.
After the interval, Alexandra Toteva returned to give us Michi by Keiko Abe on the marimba. This piece is a standard n the advanced marimba repertoire. It is a real virtuoso piece where the player has to use four malletts simultaneously, playing an almost non-stop stream of demisemiquavers. She then played Blues for Gilbert, a jazzy piece with syncopated rhythms by Mark Glentworth, played on the vibraphone, and finally, back to the marimba (this time with two hard malletts) with Valse Brilliante by George Hamilton Green. These three dazzling performances reinforced our view that Alexandra is an artist to be reckoned with.
Our fourth soloist was the Chinese violinist Molin Han who played Violin sonata, in G major. This work is for violin and piano and is in three movements. It demonstrates some of Ravel’s more angular, impressionistic writing and exploits the differences in tonal quality between the two instruments. This is particularly noticeable in the Allegretto first movement. The syncopated and jazzy Blues second movement is followed by a Perpetuum mobile where the brilliance of the violin is contrasted with the relative simplicity of the piano accompaniment. This is an immensely challenging work and was brought off by Molin with great style and terrific panache. Molin concluded her performance with a lovely rendering of Jeanie with the light brown hair by Stephen Foster, arranged for violin by Jascha Heifetz. This was a lovely rendering and the perfect antidote to the Ravel. Molin is clearly a very talented musician.
Finally, all four soloists came together for a rendering of George Gerswin’s It ain’t necessarily so, arranged by Chetham’s Director of Music, Stephen Threlfall. This was an excellent conclusion to the evening, with the showcase moments for each of the soloists.
Tribute must be given to the timeless work of the piano accompanist, Brenda Blewitt, whose exacting performance gave each soloist the opportunity to shine. The standard of performance of all four of these young people was fantastic. The audience had an enjoyable and uplifting evening and, if these performances are anything to go by, the long-term future of high-quality classical music is assured.
Ruby Barber (trumpet) LRSM is 18 years old from Thirsk, North Yorkshire. She has studied trumpet at Chetham’s since age 13, firstly with Tracey Redfern, and latterly with Murray Greig. In summer 2017 she received her second diploma in trumpet performance. She was a member of the National Youth Music Theatre Company of 2016 & 2017 and a member of the National Youth Orchestra 2017 & 2018. Ruby has performed in venues such as the Hackney Empire and the Royal Albert Hall for the BBC Proms 2017. She also studies piano with Marta Karbownicka and singing with Diana Palmerston. Ruby sings in the Chetham’s Vocal Ensembles and recently performed in the Vocal department’s opera extracts from The Marriage of Figaro. As a soloist, Ruby performed the Arutiunian Trumpet Concerto in July 2017 with her local youth orchestra and has participated in master classes with trumpet players Allen Vizzutti, and Jason Evans, and baritone Marcus Farnsworth.
Molin Han (violin) was born in 2000 in Zibo Shandong, China and started to learn the violin and piano at the age of 4. In 2010 she attended the Shanghai Conservatory of Music Affiliated Primary School, Grade 4, studied with Chenxing Huang and won the first place in the entrance examination. In 2014 she attended the Central Conservatory of Music Affiliated Middle School, Grade 2, studied with Liwei Tan and again won the first place in the entrance examination. In 2014-2015 Molin joined the China Youth Chamber Orchestra and acted as chief performer and then in 2016, joined the China Youth Symphony Orchestra. In April 2016 she participated in the Menuhin International Violin Competition as the youngest in the Senior Group and in December of that year performed her first solo concert held at the Central Conservatory of Music. In 2017 Molin was selected as a member of the first National Youth Orchestra of China (NYO-China) and performed at Carnegie Hall, Beijing National Grand Theatre, Shanghai Oriental Art Centre, Suzhou Cultural and at the Art Centre Grand Theatre in July this year. Molin started at Chetham’s School of Music in 2017 with a full scholarship and now studies with Jan Repko where she won the Concerto Competition in January of this year and will perform with the schools symphony orchestra in 2019.
Ailsa McTernan (soprano) is a 17-year-old who has been a student at Chetham’s School of Music, Manchester since September of 2017. She is a double first-study singer and violinist, studying the violin with Deirdre Ward and singing with Margaret McDonald whilst also studying the piano as a second-study. She started singing lessons aged 9 and was invited at an early age to participate in singing courses and masterclasses with performances in Boston, Louth, Grimsby, Cambridge and Tuscany. She became a member of Opera North Youth Chorus and performed as a soloist with them in Bob Chilcott’s Circle Song at Sage Gateshead and in ‘Dr Ferrets’ Bad Medicine Roadshow’ performed at Buxton Opera House, at Hull City of Culture and at the Tête à Tête Opera Festival. She also performed the lead soprano role with ONYC in Kurt Weill’s Down in the Valley at the Aberdeen International Youth Festival. She has received invitations to perform at various concerts, services, weddings and charity events. Recently Ailsa was awarded first prize in the national competition ‘Catherine Lambert Junior Recital Prize’ held at Trinity Laban. She is really enjoying her studies at Chetham’s and hopes to embark upon a music career.
Alexandra Toteva (marimba) Alexandra Toteva was born in 2001 in Plovdiv, Bulgaria. She began studying percussion at the National School of Music and Dance “Dobrin Petkov”, moving to Chetham’s School of Music in September 2017. She has won many awards including first prize at the International competition for percussion instruments “Pendim”, the International competition for young performers in Pernik and first prize and prize for best performance in the International competition “Vurban Vurbanov” Burgas. She was also awarded second prize in the international competition Dobrich-Albena (no first prize awarded). She has also won awards as part of the Percussion Ensemble “Presto” and was awarded special prize for rising young talent. Alexandra has performed with various orchestras including the National School of music Dobrin Petkov and the Symphony Orchestra and Wind Orchestra of Pernik at Plovdiv, Sofia, Burgas, Haskovo and Pernik. She has performed in masterclasses with Emmanuel Sejourne and Aurora Percussion Duo.
Chetham’s School of Music
The thriving creative community at Chetham’s involves up to 300 students aged 8-18, whose common passion is music. Entry to the School is based solely on musical ability or potential, never on background or ability to pay, thanks to generous bursaries through the Government’s Music and Dance Scheme. This common bond of musical passion makes for a truly inspirational place which transforms the lives of all who are part of it.
Chetham’s is the largest specialist Music School in the UK and is the only one based in the north of England. The School is also a national and international resource for music education – welcoming teachers, professional players, composers and conductors, community groups, school children and other young musicians, both experienced and novices, to come together and make music. Our network of partnerships with professional orchestras and organisations extends across the music industry, and our alumni populate orchestras and ensembles across the world.
Based in the heart of Manchester, Chetham’s is housed in a state-of-the-art New School Building, with an acoustically designed concert hall opening onsite in 2017 as a new home for student performances and professional concerts. The opening of The Stoller Hall will further develop the links between Chetham’s students and the professional musical community, and build on the School’s already strong position within Manchester’s cultural sector.
Chetham’s long history began in 1421, and students still enjoy opportunities to perform in the 600-year old Baronial Hall attached to Chetham’s Library. It opened as a charitable school in 1653, and educated the poor boys of the district for 400 years before becoming a co-educational music school in 1969. Over almost 50 years, Chetham’s students and alumni have enjoyed success at major competitions, taken up positions across the music profession as performers, leaders and teachers, and established the School as a vital element of music education in the UK.
Thursday 21 June 2018
Andrea Halsey soprano
Eleonore Cockerham soprano
Chris Wardle countertenor
Barnaby Smith countertenor
Sam Dressel tenor
Blake Morgan tenor
Rob Clark baritone
Jonathan Pacey bass
Programme: Choral Dances
Joseph Lieber, Joseph Mein – HIERONYMOUS PRAETORIUS
Choral Dances from Gloriana – BENJAMIN BRITTEN
3 Time and Concord
4 Country Girls
5 Rustics and Fishermen
6 Final Dance of Homage
Bogoroditse Devo – SERGEI RACHMANINOV
In Beauty May I Walk – JONATHAN DOVE
Hymn to Saint Cecilia – BENJAMIN BRITTEN
I N T E R V A L
Boureé – JS BACH arranged by Ward Swingle
The Triumphs of Oriana (1601)
Lightly She Whipped O’er the Dales – JOHN MUNDY
Hark! Did Ye Ever Hear Such Sweet Singing? – THOMAS HUNT
Straighten Up and Fly Right – NAT ‘KING’ COLE arranged by Jim Clements
Homeward Bound – SIMON AND GARFUNKEL arranged by Naomi Crellin
Moondance – VAN MORRISON arranged by Alexander L’Estrange
Sway – LUIS DEMETRIO and PABLO BELTRÁN RUIZ arranged by Alexander L’Estrange
Mack the Knife – KURT WEILL arranged by Jim Clements
It Don’t Mean a Thing – DUKE ELLINGTON arranged by Ben Parry
2018 REVIEW by David Batty
VOCAL RICHES OPEN THE 2018 SHALDON FESTIVAL
What a busy group VOCES8 appear to be! On the two nights immediately prior to their concert on 21 June in Shaldon they were performing in Stockholm. However, nothing ventured, nothing gained, and VOCES8 arrived in time both to lead a workshop with pupils of Teignmouth Community School and then in front of a sell-out audience perform an enthusiastically received vocal concert to open the 2018 Shaldon Festival, bringing back memories of their 2015 Festival appearance.
The variety of their venues matches the attractive content of a VOCES8 concert. For Shaldon they presented a first half under the general theme of ‘Choral Dances’. The repertoire took us from Praetorius to Benjamin Britten and Jonathan Dove, with a diversion to Rachmaninov, and demonstrated VOCES8’s many talents. For instance, great rhythmic accuracy was evident in ‘Time and Concord’ from Britten’s ‘Choral Dances’ (from his opera Gloriana), sheer beauty of sound in the same composer’s Hymn to Saint Cecilia, and a lovely lilt to the lullaby to the infant Jesus by Praetorius. Balance between the eight voices was finely judged, though perhaps the lower voices could have made more of the great fortissimo outburst towards the end of Rachmaninov’s ‘Bogoroditse Devo’ (from his Vespers). We were glad to hear In Beauty May I Walk written for VOCES8 by their composer-in residence, Jonathan Dove, who clearly captured the vocal group’s myriad qualities; and was there a reminder of Britten in the writing?
The second half of the concert opened with the fruits of the workshop with the Teignmouth Community School. Both pupils and VOCES8 had great fun with an arrangement of Price Tag by Jessie J, music immediately appealing to the young people in the choir and ideal material for VOCES8 to coach them in areas of accuracy, rhythm and, let’s say it, sheer enjoyment in singing. (Let’s hope the experience will encourage more boys to join the choir!)
A typical Swingle Singers arrangement of a Bach Boureé and delightful performances of two Elizabethan madrigals led to a set of close harmony arrangements of jazz and other vocal classics to end the concert. VOCES8 uses well rehearsed choreography to bring life and vigour to this repertoire and they really succeeded in ‘wowing’ the audience, though not all was busy action – the attractive arrangement of Simon and Garfunkel’s Homeward Bound was quietly evocative.
The members of VOCES8 had to leave Shaldon pretty smartly after the concert but not before sending a happy audience home with an encore, a Van Heusen/Cahn classic, Ain’t that a Kick in the Head. Altogether a great start to the 2018 Festival!
The British vocal ensemble VOCES8 is proud to inspire people through music and share the joy of singing. Touring extensively throughout Europe, North America and Asia, the group performs repertoire from Renaissance polyphony to contemporary commissions and arrangements; versatility and a celebration of diverse musical expression is central to the ensemble’s performance ethos.
VOCES8 has performed at venues such as the Wigmore Hall, Royal Festival Hall, Royal Albert Hall, Bridgewater Hall Manchester, Elbphilharmonie Hamburg, Cité de la Musique Paris, Vienna Konzerthaus, Tokyo Opera City, National Centre for the Performing Arts Beijing, Shanghai Concert Hall and Mariinsky Theatre Concert Hall. Artistic collaborators have included the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, period ensembles Florilegium, L’Arpeggiata and La Folia Barockorchester, and violinist/artistic director Hugo Ticciati. This season they will perform with baroque violinist Rachel Podger with a new innovative project called Guardian Angel. In the 2017/18 Season the ensemble will be touring Europe extensively, returning to Russia, and making three tours to the USA; they will also make debut tours to Singapore and Mexico.
With an on-going programme of recordings and live broadcasts, VOCES8 is heard regularly on international television and radio. The ensemble is a Decca Classics artist and has released acclaimed recordings that have been at the top of the classical charts. VOCES8 has premiered commissions from Roxanna Panufnik, Alexander Levine, Alec Roth, Ben Parry, Ola Gjeilo, Philip Stopford and Thomas Hewitt Jones. The group also performs bespoke arrangements written by Arranger in Residence, Jim Clements.
The ensemble welcomed one of the most celebrated contemporary composers, Jonathan Dove, as Composer in Residence for two seasons from September 2017. As well as a commission planned for 2019 (Jonathan’s 60th birthday year), the associateship will provide mentoring opportunities to emerging composers linked with the group’s education programme.
VOCES8 is passionate about music education and is the flagship ensemble of the music charity VCM Foundation. Engaging in a broad range of outreach work that reaches up to 40,000 people a year, the group also runs an annual programme of workshops and masterclasses at the Foundation’s home in London, the Gresham Centre at St Anne & St Agnes Church. The ensemble is dedicated to supporting promising young singers and awards eight annual choral scholarships through the VOCES8 Scholars initiative. These scholarships are linked to the annual Milton Abbey Summer School at which amateur singers of all ages are invited to work and perform with VOCES8. International education partnerships include Bozar Brussels, Paris Philharmonie, Vienna Konzerthaus and Heidelberg Frühling.
As official Ambassadors for Edition Peters, the ensemble has published a collection of Songbooks and educational material including the VOCES8 Method. Developed by Paul Smith, Co-Founder of VOCES8, this unique teaching tool is available in four languages and adopts music to enhance development in numeracy, literacy and linguistics.
VOCES8 is very grateful for support from Arts Council England, the Merchant Taylors’ Company, the Worshipful Company of Plaisterers, Holman Fenwick Willan and T.M.Lewin.