A great Deal of contemporary music

June 10, 2013

It will soon be time for this year’s Deal Festival, this year celebrating its thirtieth anniversary, and there’s a selection of contemporary musical events lined up at the seaside town between 28 June – 7 July.

deal_festival_logoSt George’s Church will host a performance of Tavener‘s mesmering The Protecting Veil, featuring cellist Matthew Sharp, on Saturday 29 June. The Aurora Orchestra brings a programme including Boulez‘s Memoriale on Sunday 30 June.

A new song cycle, Rest, by Emily Hall and Toby Litt is the late night feature on Monday 1 July.

Harpist Ruth Wall

Harpist Ruth Wall

The Fitkin-Wall duo will be at The Pines Calyx at 1pm on Tuesday 2 July to perform Lost, a mesmeric work for harps and keyboard.  Graham Fitkin is celebrating his fiftieth birthday and since 2003 has been working closely with Ruth Wall.

Later in the evening, a new commission for community performers, The Burning of the Boats by David Burridge and libretto by Martin Riley, is a dramatic re-telling of the burning of boats on Dover Beach to combat smuggling. In the evening, vocal octet Voces8 include a commission by Harvey Brough in their evening concert.

Wednesday 3 July includes a performance by pianist William Howard of a newly-commisioned work by David Matthews.

For jazz enthusiasts, the David Gordon Trio play at the Astor Theatre at 9.45pm on Thursday 4 July.

You can download the festival programme here (pdf), and follow the Festival on Twitter.

Good luck to the Deal Festival, and a happy thirtieth birthday!

Good running: contemporary music at this year’s Cheltenham Festival

May 30, 2013

There’s a veritable feast of contemporary music in store in July at this year’s Cheltenham Music Festival.

20130401-181718.jpgThere’s a concert from the Choir of Royal Holloway and Dame Felicity Lott in a prgramme that will include Britten, Poulenc, Michael Berkeley, Anthony Pitts and a new piece by Gabriel Jackson.

The Choir of Trinity College, Cambridge bring a programme of Britten, Pärt, John Tavener and Howells, amongst other pieces.

The City of London Sinfonia perform Britten, Michael Zev Gordon, and Tippett‘s vivacious Concerto for Double String Orchestra.

Credit: Festival website

Brothers Colin and David Matthews are featured in a concert from the Schubert Ensemble, whilst the Birmingham Contemporary Music Group première The Lighthouse Keepers by David Sawer alongside the Feldman/Beckett Words and Music (Sawer appears In Conversation before the concert).

The music of Dai Fujikura features alongside music by Britten, Poulenc and Stravinsky‘s Rite of Spring in a two-piano concert extravaganza as well.

Lots to look forward too; lots of success to the Cheltenham Music Festival in July!

Dazzling display from Park Lane Group artists

May 7, 2012

Young artists from the Park Lane Group demonstrated talent far beyond their years in the lunchtime concert earlier today, Sprite!

Taking the concert’s name from Patrick Nunn’s puckish and mischievous piece for solo piccolo which appeared in the programme, flautist Rosanna Ter-Berg and pianist Leo Nicholson displayed a degree of technical mastery which was, if you’ll forgive the pun, simply breathtaking in scope.

The programme opened with David Matthews’ Duet Variations, a piece full of rich colours and lush textures that shows Matthews to have a foot equally in both the Romantic and modern traditions. The composer himself, present at the occasion, took to the stage afterwards to receive warm applause.

The première of Thomas Oehler’s Prelude followed; inspired by Debussy’s sets of piano preludes, the title of the piece was printed at the end of the programme; ‘Les yeux du chat, à nuit (The eyes of the cat, at night)’ and was full of supple, lithe figures in both instruments, skirling passages full of feline grace and agility. Oehler himself was also at the concert, and was clearly pleased with the performers’ realisation.

The first solo piece, Turnage’s Tune for Toru for piano, is an elegiac miniature, dedicated to the great Japanese master who died in 1996, and was delivered by Nicholson with thoughtful control. In contrast, Jonathan Harvey’s Nataraja which followed was a treasure-trove of extended woodwind techniques and a tapestry of sounds that reached far beyond that of the normal sound-spectrum typical of works for flute and piano. Ter-Berg delivered the full range of sounds with astonishing accomplishment.

Patrick Nunn’s programme-titling piece is full of impish humour; written 1998 and dedicated to his then six-month old nephew, it bristles with waggish impudence, which was realised in Ter-Berg’s spirited performance.

The most colourful piece, The Colour of Pomegranates by Julian Anderson, displayed Anderson’s trademark rich, sumptuous harmonic palette (heard elsewhere, for instance, in his evocative choral epic, Heaven is Shy of Earth); shimmering textures shrouded the warm sound of the alto-flute, and in a marvellously unpredictable yet effective ending, the final sounds faded away into the sound of birdsong outside the venue, a wonderfully unintended moment of chance. Sky and Water by Emily Howard had one or two effective gestures in its impressionistic textural explorations, and was followed by the final piece, Flute Music with Accompaniment or Solo Flute, in which tiny segments of ideas are developed and extended by both the players, opening out into a broader final section before closing with a small, deft gesture.

The musicians were treated to warm and sustained applause from an enthusiastic full house at St Gregory’s, an acknowledgement richly deserved as the listeners responded to two accomplished young performers, who will surely be ones to watch out for.