This year the Chester Summer Music Festival included artists from the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Italy, Norway, Belarus and Russia and ran from 1st – 16th July 2011. Celebrating its 34th year, performances at the festival included vocal music from The King’s Singers and the Gabrieli Consort, violin repertoire from Jack Liebeck, Pavel Šporcl and Ruth Palmer and jazz with Stefano Bollani and cabaret with Claire Martin and Richard Rodney Bennett. Fellow YCAT artists Rhodes Piano trio, Philip Higham (cello) and the Doric String Quartet also took part in the festival.
On Monday 4th July 2011 I returned to St Mary’s Centre, Chester to perform in the first lunchtime concert of the festival a recital of arias and song with pianist Daniel Browell. The concert was supported by friends of the Chester Summer Music Festival and was really well attended. I had previously performed at the Festival for the first time in July 2008 and it was just as I had remembered – a lovely audience, atmosphere and venue.
St Mary’s centre, originally a medieval parish church, is situated in the south west of the city on top of St Mary’s hill behind Chester Castle. There is some great information about St Mary’s Centre here.
This year the Festival had a theme of British Music running through the programmes and I loved the opportunity to celebrate pieces by Benjamin Britten and Elgar during the recital.
It was such a joy to be a part of the finale concert of the Chester Summer Music Festival at Chester Cathedral on the evening of Saturday 16th July 2011. I performed Ralph Vaughan Williams’ “Five Tudor Portraits” with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, Conductor John Wilson, Baritone Christopher Purves and the Chester Festival Chorus under the direction of their chorus master Frances Cooke.
The Chester Festival Chorus was formed in 1981 and follows a rich tradition of choral singing in Chester. Over the last 30 years it has established itself as one of the leading large scale choirs in the North West.
Chester Cathedral is a truly remarkable building with a history spanning almost two thousand years – it was a perfect setting for the finale concert with a full house and a truly celebratory atmosphere of “The Best of British” Music and a great Festival! Thank you to the organisers of the Festival, who did an amazing job, and everyone who joined in the celebrations!
“Chester, summertime and great music-making in beautifully unique surroundings: there’s no better way to spend your time!” Andrew Cornall, Artistic Director of the Chester Summer Music Festival
Their aim is “to foster understanding and appreciation of the arts among people residing in Melling and surrounding areas by the promotion of musical or dramatic events or other performances or exhibitions”Melling Tithebarn Arts Association
The recital programme included piano pieces written by Chopin, Schubert and a spectacular performance of the Horowitz Carmen Variations along with songs by Brahms, Tosti and Rogers and Hart.
The recital took place at the Melling Tithebarn. Originally built in the mid 18th Century, the renovation and extension of the Tithebarn took place in 1974 and enabled the founding of the Arts Association, which promotes performances of music and drama. The barn had previously been used as a coach house and is a special performance space tucked away off Tithebarn Lane.
- It was great to perform to a ‘full barn!’ There was such a warm community spirt amongst the Melling Tithebarn Arts Association organisers and supporters. (The home-made Melling Tithebarn biscuits were also delicious and much appreciated!!) Thanks to everyone there!
It was a joy to congratulate the recipients of the evening’s prizes, all of the pupils, and everyone who had been a part of the school year. I was so proud to see and hear that Carleton House is growing from strength to strength with the hard work of all the teachers, the people that support the school and most of all the wonderful achievements and spirit of the boys and girls there.
What a treat to see Music thriving in the school with performances by the boys and girls on guitar, piano and some great singing – Mrs Harris (music teacher) had done a brilliant job!
The evening brought back tonnes of happy memories for me of the special times at school there. The Carleton House motto “They can because they think they can” is certainly as poignant to me today as it was when I first began to understand what it meant!
On Monday 11th July 2011 I performed a recital at Wigmore Hall, London with pianist James Baillieu. Cellist Tim Lowe also performed in the concert that was presented by the Worshipful Company of Musicians’ Company Concerts and Maise Lewis Young Artists Fund. Our recital was the final concert of the Monday Platform series at Wigmore Hall.
“The Monday Platform is a joint initiative between five organisations whose similar aim is to nuture and support young professional musicians. Whilst providing unique performance opportunities. The Monday Platform also gives Wigmore Hall audiences a chance to hear the very best emerging young artists in a regular monthly series.” Monday Platform series
Built in 1901 by the piano firm Bechstein, Wigmore Hall is such a magical venue with an inspiring heritage of wonderful musicans that have performed there. It was a great privilege to perform there once again and such an enjoyable recital! With thanks to WCOM, Maise Lewis Young Artists Fund and the Monday Platform Series.
“I think that it is wonderful that young artists get a chance to perform on the stage of the greatest small hall in the world, Wigmore Hall.” Malcolm Martineau
It was a great pleasure to join Conductor Yan Pascal Tortelier and the Royal Northern College of Music Symphony Orchestra for an evening of American Music at Manchester’s Bridgewater Hall. The concert programme included orchestral pieces Bela Bartok’s ‘Concerto for Orchestra’ and the George Gershwin ‘Catfish Row’ (Symphonic Suite from Porgy and Bess).
The Bridgewater Hall is Manchester’s international concert venue and is a stunning building. It was such a wonderful experience to perform on the stage there and to sing Aaron Copland’s Old American songs with the RNCM Symphony Orchestra- “The Boatman’s Dance” “Simple Gifts” and “At the River.”
The evening was a terrific way to mark my long association with the RNCM and the completion of my studies there. I was so thrilled to see so many familiar faces in the audience and to have such a memorable opportunity to say a fond farewell!
Voice and Piano recording of Aaron Copland’s Simple Gifts
It was a real honour to be invited to perform at the 150th Anniversary of Birkenhead School on Saturday 18th June 2011. I have been so fortunate to have had a long standing relationship with the internationally renowned Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra since beginning my vocal studies. I first performed with them at the age of 18 in several local concerts and was then given the fantastic opportunity to perform with the RLPO and Conductor Carl Davis CBE, at the famous Leeds Castle concerts in Kent and later with Conductor Vasily Petrenko at the Opening Ceremony of Liverpool’s Capital of Culture Year at the Liverpool Echo Arena.
I always enjoy performing at outdoor concerts as I love the relaxed atmosphere of the evenings, the sense of celebration and close rapport with the audience – (and seeing all of their wonderful picnic creations and costumes!) I was particularly thrilled to be able to perform again with the RLPO under the baton of their wonderful Chief Conductor Vasily Petrenko at this event.
Thankfully the weather, despite unfavourable forecasts, was really kind to us and much to everyone’s relief – although it was a chilly evening for June!
After an afternoon of rehearsals the concert commenced with the Birkenhead School’s Big Band and the audience of 3,000+ were then treated to performances by some of the schools very talented young pupils. Roger Philips from BBC Radio Merseyside compèred the evening and the RLPO then took to the stage with Vasily. It was great privilege for me to join these talented musicians singing some Bizet, Saint-Saens, Lehar and Lerner & Loewe in the first half of the concert and Boubil & Schonberg and Rodgers & Hammerstein in the second. The programme concluded with Tchaikovsky’s, ‘1812 Overture’ with a spectacular firework display and Elgar’s “Pomp and Circumstance.” It is such a great moment to join the audience in singing ‘Land of Hope and Glory’ and witness the sea of flags across the audience!
A special thank you to everyone at Birkenhead School for their wonderful organisation and hospitality, to Vasily and the orchestra and to all of the people who attended the concert for making the event such a special occasion.
Find out more about what’s on during Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra’s 2011/2012 season .
“Born in Oxford on January 26, 1945 Jacqueline du Pré is arguably the greatest talent to ever play the cello. She combined mind, heart, body and soul to produce the most expressive tones ever to emanate from the instrument.”
” The Jaqueline Du Pré Music Building was the first purpose-built concert hall to be built in Oxford since the Holywell Music Room in the time of Handel. Its inspiration was the wish to create a living memorial to a great artist. A joint fundraising campaign by St Hilda’s College, of which Jacqueline du Pré was an Honorary Fellow, and the Musicians’ Benevolent Fund raised over £1 million with the support of a wide range of institutions and Trusts, and very many private individuals…The Building was opened in September 1995.”
It was a privilege to sing in such a lovely venue … and there was a Jacqueline du Pré bronze sculpture alongside us on stage which I loved! I have put a little picture below.
“The College is pleased to be able to draw on the support of Alumnae of the College, Friends of the JdP, private trusts and public funding bodies in ensuring that the artistic, educational and community programmes which take place in the JdP remain a truly living memorial of Jacqueline du Pré.”
“Spitalfields Music: the home of exceptional music making in London’s East End. We create astounding live music experiences through performances and learning & participation. Inspired by the spirit of the area, its people and their global and local influences, we take live music as our core, exploring performance, artists and communities.”
The Heath Quartet also performed with James Baillieu that evening – the quartet had just returned from performing a series of conerts in Salamanca, Spain and will be performing at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival across August 2011 and once again with James on 16th July 2011 at the Music at Paxton Summer Festival. They are all wonderful musicians -catch them if you can!
Thank you to everyone involved in organising the recent rectials and to the lovely audiences that came along to support them!
During the week of the Sunday 15 – Sunday 22 May 2011 I had an amazing time participating in a Samling Masterclass week and gained wonderful insights into repertoire preparation, performance and life as a musician.
“Samling transforms lives. We take highly talented young people on individual journeys in music” samling.org.uk – 2011
Who? I was joined on the masterclass week by fellow ‘Samling Scholars’ Meeta Raval, Eva Ganizate and Jennifer France (sopranos) , Stephen Chambers (tenor), Benjamin Appl (Baritone) and Elizabeth Burgess and Jocelyn Freeman (pianists). Karon Wright (Samling Chief Executive) was on hand with help and support and our Samling masterclass team comprised celebrated artists John Mark Ainsley (Tenor), Della Jones (Mezzo Soprano), Paul Farrington (Vocal Consultant) and Caroline Dowdle (pianist)
Where? I travelled up to Cumbria to stay in the beautiful setting of Farlam Hall, a family run and country manor hotel , which was our ‘home’ for the week. The setting of the hotel in 12 acres of gardens with its elegant drawing rooms, amazing cuisine (the tea breaks and home-made bread were a highlight!) and lovely staff made our stay very special. http://www.farlamhall.co.uk/
What? During the week we had a very full schedule of classes. We were given the opportunity to rehearse and work with the pianists and then perform our repertoire for the tutors. During the masterclasses we were able to explore the pieces in many different ways: through the interpretation, technique, language and music …and the learning didn’t stop when you had finished singing in your class – there was so much to learn from everyone’s personal experiences as musicians and to have the opportunity to watch the other singers working with the input from the tutors and pianists was really valuable. Also, during the week we even had the opportunity to share and explore poetry.
Performances …We travelled from Farlam Hall to The Sage in Newcastle on the Wednesday for our public masterclass session. We took the scenic route to catch a glimpse of parts of the Hadrians wall path, see the Millenium Bridge in Newcastle and there was an amazing view of the The Sage which is a fabulous venue!
My masterclass session was with Della who helped me explore Olga’s aria from Tchaikovsky’s ‘Eugene Onegin’ in more depth.
By the end of the week at Farlam Hall I was starting to panic about whether I would still be able to fit into my concert dress after eating all the wonderful food and glorious cakes…
On Saturday evening we travelled back to The Sage (I squeezed into the dress!) and it was a lovely way to finish the week with the Samling Gala concert – the programme was bursting with arias, songs, as well as operatic ensembles. It was such a lovely treat to have Della Jones and John Mark Ainsley join us for the Brahms’ Liebeslieder Waltzer.
I spoke to audience members afterwards who had also attended the public masterclass earlier in the week and it was great to have their insight into the Samling experience – there is so much to learn from how your performance has been received by the audience!
There was such a supportive atmosphere throughout the week and across the two public events. I learned a great deal during the week from everyone involved and in such a short space of time – there is so much to reflect upon and it is an experience I will never forget. Thanks to everyone involved and good luck to all of the fellow and future Samling Scholars!!
Since 1996 the Samling Foundation have been working with some of the world’s greatest artists to help nurture young professional musicians as they embark upon their careers.
“Distinguished singers from around the world, led by our Patron Sir Thomas Allen, together with internationally celebrated accompanists, artists and teachers came to Cumbria to lead week-long residencies that could and did change young professionals’ lives.” samling.org.uk – 2011
Hear more about Samling from Sir Thomas Allen at… http://www.samling.org.uk/about.html
“Our Masterclass Programme is unique in the UK and provides singers and pianists – Samling Scholars – with a sympathetic environment where they can work, perform and, above all, be inspired.” samling.org.uk – 2011