Scroll the page or click on the performer’s name for photos and reviews for 2022.
Jonathan Radford and Ashley Fripp
Wednesday 22 June 2022
SHALDON FESTIVAL REVIEW – JONATHAN RADFORD AND ASHLEY FRIPP – WEDNESDAY 22 JUNE 2022
The 2022 Shaldon Festival of Music opened with a stunning performance by the saxophonist Jonathan Radford and the pianist Ashley Fripp. In part, this was a celebration of the influence of two people who have been important in the development of the saxophone and its repertoire, Elise Hall and Rudy Wiedoeft, and also presented a flavour of the duo’s debut CD.
They began with Légende by André Caplet, a delightful piece with soaring lines for the alto saxophone, which the duo played very sensitively, in particular, the warm, slow section near the end.
The first half concluded with a piano solo, Gaspard de la Nuit, by Maurice Ravel. Ashley pointed out that Caplet and Ravel were contemporaries, indeed, Caplet beat Ravel to win in the Prix de Rome competition in 1901. It is well-known that this work is one of the most difficult to perform in the whole of the piano repertoire, the final movement especially so. Ashley gave a fantastic rendering of this work, displaying astonishing dexterity and panache. The work is based on three poems and Ashley’s reading of each poem before playing the piece greatly assisted in putting the music in context.
After the interval, the duo played Deep Purple, an arrangement by Wiedoeft of Peter de Rose’s well-known song. This was followed by two waltzes by Wiedoft. All these were played passionately and with great feeling. The excerpts from Kurt Weill’s The Threepenny Opera which followed were arrangements which had been made by Jonathan and Ashley during their enforced free time during the pandemic. The pieces were very skilfully arranged and were performed with much gusto.
Until this point, Jonathan had played only the alto saxophone but the final piece, an arrangement of Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue, called for him to alternate between alto and soprano saxophones, which he did seamlessly. It has always been a mystery to your reviewer how a saxophonist is able to slide smoothly up the scale in the opening phrase, and it remains so! But the work was beautifully performed by the duo and resulted in a torrent of well-deserved applause from the audience, who were rewarded with an encore: Dans l’Orient (In the Orient) by Rudy Wiedoeft.
This was an excellent opening concert for this season, raising the bar for the following three nights.
This concert was supported by the Royal Over-Seas League (ROSL)
Thursday 23 June 2022
SHALDON FESTIVAL REVIEW – APOLLO5 – THURSDAY 23 JUNE 2022
Thursday night’s performers were Apollo5, a very popular and award-winning British vocal ensemble renowned for their rich and distinctive dynamic sound. This concert was dedicated to Rosemary Rickett and sponsored by the Rosemary Rickett Memorial Fund. Rosemary was a former Chair of Shaldon Festival who loved all music but especially vocal music. As part of the Voces8 Foundation, Apollo5 have a passionate commitment to encouraging young people to enjoy and actively participate in singing. With financial support from the Helen Foundation, Shaldon Festival arranged for Apollo5 to visit the primary school Teignmouth Community School (Mill Lane) to run the workshop for Year 5 children as part of their outreach programme. Apollo5 singers are very skilled in creating a speedy and trusting relationship with children who have never met them before. Using a wide range of creative warm-up techniques, they encouraged the young children to relax, open their mouths, sing out and thoroughly enjoy their work together. Apollo5’s ambition was to give an opportunity for the children that wished to go beyond their workshop experience to perform with them during the evening performance. And this is exactly what happened.
Apollo5’s programmes are noted for the wide range of music across the centuries which they embrace. Their programme began with William Byrd’s Vigilate and they were immediately into their stride with rich, powerful singing in complete harmony. Their a cappella style allows each voice its own distinctive character yet each blending effortlessly into gorgeous harmony. Their attention to early music also embraced a contemporary setting by Emily Dickens (b.1987) of a 10th century plainchant from Salzburg of Ave Maris Stella. For this, Apollo5 moved to the back of the church so that listeners were left concentrating wholly on the haunting and moving sound filling the church which, with its barrel-vaulted stone roof, is renowned for its high-quality acoustic properties.
Apollo5’s control of tone and volume is masterful. They have the ability to sing very quietly, and for a song like Francis Poulenc’s Salve Regina, they can allow the notes to fade away to nothing at the end into a pin-drop silence that is truly moving. The first half of the programme closed with settings of two poems. One was Lost Innocence, a poem by WH Auden with the composed by the CEO of the Voces8 Foundation and the co-founder of Voces8, Paul Smith. This quiet delicate song was an especially sensitive re-imagining of Auden’s moving poem.
The second half began with children from TCS Mill Lane invited to join the singers on the stage greeted by warm applause. The children then participated in two songs. The first was a traditional Namibian song arranged by Craig Link called Meguru. Apollo5 had made no compromises for the children in rehearsals with the challenge of singing in a foreign language. Within the space of the hour and a half workshop earlier in the afternoon, the children had learned lines from the song and with great concentration sang with increasing confidence. With its distinctive rich long phrases and warm rounded tones the music immediately won over its audience who gave the children and Apollo5 rousing applause. The second item with the children was Marshmellow’s song Proud and again the children sang with power and joy to words that spoke directly to them and to the audience. They left the stage at the end of their session to prolonged clapping and hugged each other in sheer delight at participating in something they could only have dreamed about when they arrived at school that morning. Such is the power of music!
The programme continued with music from the 20th century with highlights including a hauntingly beautiful setting featuring a soprano solo composed by Fraser Wilson from Apollo 5 of the poem The Last Rose of Summer by the Irish poet Thomas More. Michael McGlynn’s Where All The Roses Go a setting by another Irish poet Francis Ledwidge featured a tenor solo showcasing the individual talents of Apollo5 supported by their colleagues. A very popular setting of Elton John’s iconic Your Song followed to warm applause. The final items in their extensive programme included Jerome Kern and Dorothy Fields’ famous song from Swingtime The Way You Look Tonight with key lines swapping effortlessly between the members of the ensemble.
The programme closed with Marta Keane’s justly famous song Homeward Bound arranged by Paul Smith for Apollo5 and showcasing the sheer brilliance of the power of the five singers as they brought their programme to a fitting climax. But we were not done yet. Three times the singers were pulled back onto the stage by demands from the audience, to be finally asked, “Would you like one more?” To thunderous approval, the singers came back for their encore, and what better for the conclusion of a wonderful concert in a seaside venue than Sam Smith’s The Lighthouse Keeper. Prolonged applause followed until the singers finally left the stage and very generously walked to the rear of the church to make themselves available to talk to many of the audience so visibly excited and moved by the evening’s music.
This concert was sponsored by the Rosemary Rickett Memorial Fund
The Mithas Trio
Friday 24 June 2022
SHALDON FESTIVAL REVIEW – THE MITHRAS TRIO – FRIDAY 24 JUNE 2022
What a delight. Three highly talented young musicians who can dig deep in to the musical world to provide an evening of a range of passionately expressed music. They definitely held the total attention, with silence, the Festival audience who were present. It was an absorbing and very pleasing experience to be in the company of Lonel Manciu (violin); Leo Popplewell ( cello); Dominic Degavino ( Piano).
The programme began with what is probably one of Schumann’s well known romantic day dreaming Piano Trio’s (Piano Trio no. 2 in F major) with qualities that captures his, and our, many changing moods. The piano was the lead instrument but needed, and received, the cross-rhythms and syncopation of violin and cello to grab the inner expressions of the four movements. The demanding qualities and pace of each part, with quite distinct harmonies, were wrapped around the terrific acoustic of St Peter’s.
The second item was a very modern piece composed by Helen Grime titled Three Whistler Miniatures. It is a celebration of the three chalk and pastel miniatures produced by the artist Whistler. Little or no harmony here, the overall effect was watching the three musicians in an animated state. My view is we need to have the visuals of the paintings before our eyes. They need to be displayed either in the programme or shown on a large screen and thus would have helped the audience to bring the sounds closer to the visual dynamic.
The final choice for the group, after the interval, was Dvorak’s Piano Trio 3 in F minor. This was extremely rich in melodious harmony with sounds of folk music visited and helping to create the overall easy on the ear sounds which were both soaring and soothing. Dvorak has quite a reputation for making sure each instrument has a central role with each one having its moments of lead. The overall effect taken by the Trio was quite amazing ensuring we, the audience, had a transporting, uplifting and emotional journey through each of the movements. The pace and energy of this quite complex piece was in the very confident experienced hands of these young musicians. It was a joy to be both watcher and listener.
The self delight and experience of the Trio, plus their own personal introduction of each item, set the overall feeling of this is just for you Shaldon Festival audience, it is not just another run of a frequently delivered evening. It was a programme which I’m sure was greatly appreciated by all those present.
Budapest Cafe Orchestra
Saturday 25 June 2022
Established in 2009 by award-winning British jazz violinist and composer Christian Garrick, the Budapest Café Orchestra play a blistering barrage of traditional folk and gypsy-flavoured music from across the Balkans and Russia, Klezmer laments, Romanian Doinas, Hungarian Czardas and their own unique re-imaginings of some of the biggest pieces ever written by the greats.
SHALDON FESTIVAL REVIEW – BUDAPEST CAFÉ ORCHESTRA – SATURDAY 25 JUNE 2022
Organisers promised that the final night of the Shaldon Festival of Music would “entertain like no other” and the unique Budapest Café Orchestra certainly delivered on that pledge! With the bohemian scene set with upholstered chairs, dancing lampshades and evocative mood lighting, the packed audience of St Peter’s Church was transported into a world of folk and gypsy-flavoured music “from anywhere we can find a good tune”, so went band leader Christian Garrick’s introduction.
BCO’s inimitable energy was apparent from the outset, beginning with Brahms’ familiar Hungarian Dance – which quickly became a showcase for the first of the band’s ‘surprises’ as guitarist Adrian Zolotuhin (aka ‘The Sultan’) inserted a humourous reference to 007 with the emergence of the James Bond theme, much to the amusement of the audience. Christian Garrick’s single bow hair violin playing was one of the most extraordinary musical moments to which I have ever borne witness! From the pews of St Peter’s it seemed as if he was drawing his right hand through the air above the strings and yet somehow producing sound from his instrument: violin meets the theremin. Cue wonderment all around! Further displays of extraordinary musical virtuosity followed as the band led us on a magical, unpredictable tour of the Balkans via the Highlands and Islands, Romania and Russia, with a bit of western Europe thrown in for good measure. Lyrical melodies contrasted with asymmetric rhythmic drive and stand-up comedy to create an unforgettable experience for the sell-out, toe-tapping crowd.
Hailing from Haringey rather than Hungary, the band has considerable musical acumen. Violinist Christian Garrick is one of the world’s most celebrated jazz violinists, having played with the likes of Dame Cleo Laine, Sir John Dankworth, Wynton Marsalis, Nigel Kennedy and Caro Emerald. Eddie Hession is “a supreme accordion champion of Great Britain”, having accompanied Luciano Pavarotti, Placido Domingo, Jose Carreras and Chris Rea in the course of his illustrious career. The quiet and unassuming double bassist Kelly Cantlon was formerly a Vagabond with northern soul sensations Jimmy James and the Vagabonds, and the enigmatic Sultan, Adrian Zolotuhin, proves himself the master of strummed strings in his expert handling of the Russian domra and balalaika, guitar and Turkish saz. Put all this together and you have an ensemble of awesome stature, creating a dazzling aural encounter far more resonate of larger ensembles.
The Shaldon Festival of Music really must be congratulated for bringing this fantastic ensemble to the village. What a treat for everyone, what a way to bring the 2022 festival to a close.