Thursday 31 March 2022

You could not help but be won over: Scottish Opera's new Gilbert and Sullivan production parks its gondola at the Hackney Empire

Gilbert & Sullivan: The Gondoliers - Dan Shelvey, Catriona Hewitson, Yvonne Howard and Richard Suart - Scottish Opera (Photo James Glossop.
Gilbert & Sullivan: The Gondoliers - Dan Shelvey, Catriona Hewitson, Yvonne Howard and Richard Suart - Scottish Opera (Photo James Glossop.

Gilbert & Sullivan The Gondoliers; Richard Suart, Yvonne Howard, Ben McAteer, William Morgan, Mark Nathan, Charlie Drummond, Sioned Gwen Davies, Catriona Hewitson, Dan Shelvey, dir: Stuart Maunder, cond: Derek Clark; Scottish Opera at the Hackney Empire
Reviewed by Robert Hugill on 30 March 2022 Star rating: 4.0 (★★★★)
Charm & delight to the fore with a largely youthful cast for Scottish Opera's visit to London

Scottish Opera is currently making a welcome visit to London, performing two operettas by Gilbert and Sullivan (one popular, the other rare). We caught Scottish Opera in Stuart Maunder's production Gilbert and Sullivan's The Gondoliers at the Hackney Empire on 30 March 2022. Derek Clark conducted with Richard Suart and Yvonne Howard as the Duke and Duchess of Plaza Toro, Ben McAteer as Don Alhambra del Bolero, William Morgan and Mark Nathan in the title roles, with Charlie Drummond and Sioned Gwen Davies as their beloveds, Catriona Hewitson as Casilda and Dan Shelvey as Luiz. Designs were by Dick Bird, lighting by Paul Keogan, and choreography by Isabel Baquero.

As a co-production with D'Oyly Carte Opera and State Opera South Australia, Dick Bird's sets and costumes were perhaps rather more luxurious than we often have with Gilbert and Sullivan operas. The opera is the final of Gilbert and Sullivan's regularly performed operas, afterwards came the 'carpet quarrel' and the two final works, The Grand Duke and Utopia Limited, neither of which are regularly performed (though Scottish Opera gives a concert staging of Utopia Limited at the Hackney Empire on 1/4/2022). But, even in The Gondoliers Gilbert was trying to vary the formula and the work comes with a deliberately large cast, rather than a few major roles, and effectively two story-lines which only properly intersect two thirds of the way through the opera. Gilbert's satire here is relatively gentle, and neither his skit on a Republican monarchy nor the Duke's turning himself into a limited company are quite developed enough. What the opera does have is tunes galore, and it is this aspect along with the attractive Venetian setting, that makes it so popular in the UK (and also high on the list of opera companies wanting to perform G&S).

Gilbert & Sullivan: The Gondoliers - Mark Nathan, William Morgan - Scottish Opera (Photo James Glossop.
Gilbert & Sullivan: The Gondoliers - Mark Nathan, William Morgan - Scottish Opera (Photo James Glossop.

Maunder and Bird took an entirely traditional view of the work, treating it seriously and never sending it up. The cast was an admirable mix of season professionals and young artists, including one current Scottish Opera Emerging Artist (Catriona Hewitson) and five former members of the scheme. The Hackney Empire was perhaps not the ideal theatre for the show, being somewhat larger than the company's Glasgow home, but all concerned filled the theatre with music and joy.

Wednesday 30 March 2022

New wine in old bottles: ORA Singers in Victoria's Marian motets and newly commissioned modern reflections

Stella - Victoria, Mark Simpson, Alexander Campkin, Francisco Coll, Cecilia McDowall, Will Todd, Julian Wachner; Ora Singers, Suzi Digby; Harmonia Mundi

- Victoria, Mark Simpson, Alexander Campkin, Francisco Coll, Cecilia McDowall, Will Todd, Julian Wachner; Ora Singers, Suzi Digby; Harmonia Mundi

Reviewed by Robert Hugill on 30 March 2022 Star rating: 4.0 (★★★★)
A fascinating pairing of old and new as six composers write motets using texts set by Spanish Renaissance composer Victoria, including four newly commissioned reflections

Suzi Digby and Ora Singers continue their development of new repertoire reflecting old with their latest disc, Stella - Renaissance Gems and their Reflections, Volume 3: Victoria on Harmonia Mundi in which the choir performs six Marian motets by Victoria with newly commissioned modern 'reflections' from Mark Simpson, Alexander Campkin, Francisco Coll and Julian Wachner, plus modern pieces by Cecilia McDowall and Will Todd.

The disc is organised quite strictly, we begin and end with the Ave Maris Stella plainchant, and then there are pairs of motets, one by Victoria and one by a contemporary composer each setting the same text. The compare and contrast is fascinating, and whilst the contemporary composers take elements from their chosen models thankfully there is nothing slavish about the modern music. As a contemporary composer who has both sung a lot of this Renaissance repertoire and written contemporary polyphony (including a couple of such reflections), what is fascinating about the music on the disc is how little of Victoria's love of polyphony makes its way into the modern pieces. The idea of four (five, six or eight) intertwining voices, where the onward line is more important than the vertical seems to be something missing from many modern composers' armoury. Here we have some lovely and haunting melodies, fascinating and striking harmonies and inventive textures, but little real modern polyphony.

Arvo Pärt's Passio at St Martin's Easter Festival

Arvo Pärt's Passio

The centrepiece of St Martin's Easter Festival (which runs at St Martin-in-the-Fields from 7 to 18 April 2022) is a performance of Arvo Pärt's Passio on 12 April when Owain Park conducts the Gesualdo Six, and St Martin's own choirs. Pärt's setting of the Latin text from St John's Gospel uses a solo quartet as the Evangelist alongside solo baritone (Jesus), solo tenor (Pilate), choir and instrumental quintet. The work was premiered in 1982 and is very much a crystallisation of his early Tinntinabuli style.

The festival opens with Jeffrey Skidmore directing Ex Cathedra in music by Bach, Purcell, Lotti, Scarlattin and Monteverdi, whilst saxophonist Christian Forshaw joins forces with Tenebrae for an exploration of old and new entitled Drop, slow tears: A Meditation for Choir and Sax [see my interview with Christian].

Good Friday features a performance of Bach's St John Passion when Andrew Earis directs St Martin's Voices with the London Mozart Players and the choir returns on Easter Saturday with a concert which pairs Allegri's Miserere with James MacMillan's recent setting of the same text, originally written for The Sixteen. The festival ends with a visit from the London Handel Festival, when Laurence Cummings directs the London Handel Orchestra and Nardus Williams, Rachel Redmond (sopranos), Ed Lyon (tenor), and Callum Thorpe (bass) in Handel's early Italian oratorio, La Resurrezione.

Full details from St Martin-in-the-Fields website.

Enrico Caruso: His Songs

A Small Selection of Songs Written For Caruso
Who knew? The great tenor Enrico Caruso used to write songs; it seems nine survive. He didn't write alone, he would find a melody and then have it harmonised by his accompanist, Richard Barthélemy or by Henri J. Van Praag, conductor of the orchestra at the Hotel Knickerbocker, where Caruso lived whenever he sang at the Metropolitan Opera, New York.

The Italian trained, English tenor Mark Milhofer has been on something of a mission recently, going through libraries (from Caruso's old home near Florence, to the British Museum, to the Peabody Institute in Baltimore, where Caruso's widow had left his music collection) to collect Caruso's songs together. It began by accident in 2020, Mark was simply looking for music for a live-streamed recital to be given in his front room in 2020. But he was intrigued. The results of his search have been published, as Caruso's Songs on the Vigor Music imprint.

And Mark his put together a programme which combines Caruso's songs with those written for him (and Mark has, so far, found 90 of these). His recital programme has been performed in Caruso's home, in the town where Caruso was conceived, and in other Italian cities.

Now Mark, along with pianist Marc Scolastra, is planning on recording a double album, of Caruso's own songs alongside around 40 that were written for him. They plan for it to be out on Urania Records for Caruso's 150th birthday next year. And the recording will be made at the Caruso Museum, in Caruso's home just outside Florence.

Mark has started a Kickstarter page to help him fund the project. Only five of Caruso's songs have ever been recorded, and many of the other songs will be first recordings. This is obviously something of a passion project for Mark, a tenor whose repertoire ranges from the early Baroque through to Britten and Benjamin. And it seems amazing that Caruso's own songs have somehow been allowed to languish. Do consider supporting Mark (rewards range from early access to the recording right through to a personal recital in your home)

Tuesday 29 March 2022

A programme of Bach's concertos and cello suite from Il Gusto Barocco gives us a distant echo of Bach's concerts at Cafe Zimmerman

Bach Suite & Concertos; Il Gusto Barocco, Jörg Halubek; Berlin Classics
Bach Suite & Concertos; Il Gusto Barocco, Jörg Halubek; Berlin Classics

Reviewed by Robert Hugill on 29 March 2022 Star rating: 4.0 (★★★★)
Vividly engaged playing in a programme which attempts to take us to Bach's Cafe Zimmerman

Having released a recording of Bach's Brandenburg Concertos last year [see my review], Jörg Halubek and Il Gusto Barocco continue their Bach journey on Berlin Classics with a disc that combines the Cello Suite No. 3 with the Violin Concerto in A minor, Harpsichord Concerto in D major, Concerto for Two Harpsichords and Concerto for two Violins, with soloists Leila Schayegh (violin), Jörg Halubek (harpsichord), Alexander Gergelyfi (harpsichord), and Anais Chen (violin), plus cellist Jonathan Pesek.

The programme is constructed in an intriguing manner, the movements of the Cello Suite are spread throughout the disc punctuating and linking the programme. The ethos behind this programming is a desire to evoke the atmosphere of Bach's concerts at the Cafe Zimmerman whilst recognising that we do not know enough about the details and will probably never be able to accurately reconstruct these events. Bach directed the Collegium Musicum at the Cafe Zimmerman, and recycled music from his earlier days for the ensemble, performing secular cantatas, concertos, orchestral suites and instrumental works in the cafe's main room. What we have is the surviving music, which provides us with a distant echo of these events.

Where will I be?

Misha Mullov-Abbado
Misha Mullov-Abbado

Under the title Where will I be?, NW Live Arts is presenting a pair of concerts in May, at the Swiss Cottage Library (14/5/2022) and the Foundling Museum (27/5/2022), which take the audience on a creative voyage exploring the common human need to have a home. NW Live Arts is partnering with the Single Homeless Project and clients of the Single Homeless Project are participating in storytelling workshops in the lead up to the concerts, with facilitator Eileen Egerton and the musicians. They will showcase the creative results of these workshops exploring the human experience and personal meaning of being homeless and finding a pathway, not simply back but forward, to a new place of hope.

For the concerts, Kuljit Bhamra, tabla, Tunde Jegede, kora and cello, Sabina Rakcheyeva, violin, Henrietta Hill, viola and Misha Mullov-Abbado, double bass will perform music by Bach, Weir, Bowie, Bhamra, Jegede plus folk music from across the world, improvisation and a new work by Mullov-Abbado commissioned by NW Live Arts.

Full details from the NW Live Arts website.

Islington Festival of Music and Art 2022

Festival goers at the 2021 Islington Festival of Music and Art (Photo Marc Gasgoine)
Festival goers at the 2021 Islington Festival of Music and Art (Photo Marc Gasgoine)

Following last year's successful inaugural festival, the Islington Festival of Music and Art returns to the borough for ten days of events from 15 to 24 July 2022. The festival was created by violinist Joana Ly and pianist and conductor Martin André as a direct response to the pandemic, aiming to put on events with international artists in a celebrations of arts for the local community.

This year features concerts in five historic venues with lunchtime concerts at Islington Square, evening concerts at Christ Church, Highbury and St Mary's Church, Upper Street, and a late-night series at Newington Green Meeting House and the Little Angel Theatre.

The six evening concerts are on the theme of Johannes Brahms - influence and legacy, with performances ranging from pianist Dmitrii Kalashnikov to ZRI in their radical re-working of Brahms' Clarinet Quintet.  The late-night concerts will feature Baroque music including Baroque violinist Kati Debretzini, lutenist Sergio Bucheli and the Concert Trombone Quartette.

There are two workshops, from photographer Marc Gasgoine and artist Dolph van Eden.

Full details from the Islington Festival of Music and Art website.

Monday 28 March 2022

Dani Howard appointed 2022/23 composer in residence at London Chamber Orchestra

The London Chamber Orchestra has appointed Dani Howard as composer-in-residence for the 2022/23 season

The London Chamber Orchestra has appointed Dani Howard as composer-in-residence for the 2022/23 season (a role held by Freya Waley-Cohen for 2021/22). To celebrate the appointment, Howard will be writing a saxophone concerto for Jess Gillam to be premiered during the 2022/23. Howard will also be writing other pieces, working with the emerging composers on the LCO New scheme and with the young people taking part in the LCO Music Junction project.

LCO celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2021, and celebrations continue with concerts, new recordings on Three Worlds Records, and a new book on LCO’s history written by Jessica Duchen. I chatted to Dani Howard back in 2019 between the premiere of her first opera, Robin Hood and her new work to open the 2019 Cheltenham Music Festival [see my interview]

Full details from the LCO website.    

Nothing has Changed. Everything has Changed

Nothing has Changed. Everything has Changed
Under the evocative title, Nothing has Changed. Everything has Changed, Louth Contemporary Music Society (LCMS) returns with its midsummer festival (17 and 18 June 2022) in Dundalk, County Louth in the Republic of Ireland. 

LCMS hasn't been inactive during the last two years, and this year's festival opens with Linda Catlin Smith's Meadow which LCS issued as a recording in 2020 [see my review] and Sam Perkin's Flow, which was also issued as recording. This opening programme will also include the premieres of pieces by Andrew Synnott and Gavin Bryars.

During the day on 18 June 2022 there will be a chance to hear music by Pascal Dusapin and Catherine Lamb, plus Icelandic improvisers Bára Gísladóttir and Skúli Sverrisson. The final concert of the festival is a real treat, the Estonian choir Vox Clamantis will be giving the world premiere of Siobhán Cleary’s Storm in Devon,plus Arvo Pärt’s LCMS commission The Deer’s Cry, music by the Estonian composer Helena Tulve, and Lou Harrison’s Mass for St. Cecilia’s Day.

Full details from the Louth Contemporary Music website.

The Library of a Prussian Princess: Ensemble Augelletti evoke late 18th century musical soirees that explored music of Bach, Handel and more

The Library of a Prussian Princess - Bach, Handel, Corelli, Geminiani, Anna Amalia, CPE Bach; Ensemble Augelletti; Barn Cottage Records

The Library of a Prussian Princess
- Bach, Handel, Corelli, Geminiani, Anna Amalia, CPE Bach; Ensemble Augelletti; Barn Cottage Records

Reviewed by Robert Hugill on 28 March 2022 Star rating: 4.0 (★★★★)
The young ensemble goes exploring in the remarkable library of a Prussian princess, an engaging programme that also sheds light on the appreciation of ancient music in the later 18th century

This delightful new disc, The Library of a Prussian Princess, from Ensemble Augelletti (Olwen Foulkes, recorders, Ellen Bundy, violin, Carina Drury, cello, Toby Carr, lutes, Benedict Williams, keyboards) on Barn Cottage Records celebrates the musical activities of Anna Amalia, Princess of Prussia, Abbess of Quedlinburg (1723-1787) with Anna Amalia's own music alongside works by Bach, Handel, Corelli, Geminiani and CPE Bach from her manuscript collection.

Anna Amalia was a remarkable person; the daughter of King Frederick Wilhelm I of Prussia, she was talented musically but forbidden to study it by her father. She was only able to begin studying openly in 1740 when her brother became King Frederick II of Prussia (Frederick the Great). Anna Amalia never married, she became abbess of the secularised convent of Quedlinburg, a non-religious court position that gave her an income and a place to live in Berlin. She employed one of Bach's pupils, Johann Philipp Kirnberger, as her teacher and accumulated a remarkable collection of manuscript copies of scores. Her collection numbers some 600 pieces with a huge number of Bach manuscripts, including he presentation score for Bach's Brandenburg Concertos, one of the earliest copies of the Mass in B minor and much else besides. By 1767 she had CPE Bach curating the manuscripts of his father's music. 

Sunday 27 March 2022

Going local: Brixton Chamber Orchestra at Brixton Windmill

Members of Brixton Chamber Orchestra in between sets at their family friendly concert at Brixton Windmill
Members of Brixton Chamber Orchestra in between sets
at their family friendly concert at Brixton Windmill
Last week Brixton BID was presenting the Brixton Performs festival, a week of comedy, music and drama events in Brixton. The final event was a family friendly concert outside Brixton Windmill (London's only working windmill, which was open for visitors) with Brixton Chamber Orchestra (BCO) performing a wide ranging programme.  

Thankfully the weather was fine, though the orchestra still had to battle wind and ambient noise from Brixton hill. But it was a delightful event. I was slightly late arriving and walked up to the windmill to the lovely sound of the flute solo from Debussy's L'apres midi d'un faune wafting across. This was followed by Renaissance dances, the Dance of the Knights from Prokofiev's Romeo and Juliet and much more, all delightfully woven together into a story by a narrator (who showed her versatility by singing in the second half).

Technically the first half was for the children, but it was fun for the adults too and then BCO moved on to orchestrated versions of contemporary hits. It was intriguing, hearing these songs in a new orchestral guise and certainly went down well.

If you are a South Londoner, then please do join their mailing list, and BCOs six-piece marching band will be out on Rush Common next Saturday, see website for details.

Saturday 26 March 2022

From Melissa to Musetta: I chat to Irish soprano Anna Devin about the joy of singing with Irish National Opera, returning to Puccini, having a Donizetti moment and her love of Baroque opera

Puccini: La Boheme - Anne Devin - Irish National Opera (Photo Ros Kavanagh)
Puccini: La Boheme - Anne Devin - Irish National Opera (Photo Ros Kavanagh)

The Irish soprano Anna Devin has made something of a name for herself in recent years singing roles in Handel opera, and last Summer garnered plaudits for her Melissa in Handel's Amadigi di Gaula at Garsington Opera. And whilst there have always been other composers, other eras in her repertoire, this year is going to show us Anna in more romantic repertoire. This month Irish National Opera's (INO) new recording of Puccini's La Boheme came out Signum Classics featuring Anna as Musetta, and then in June she returns to INO to perform Elisabetta in Donizetti's Maria Stuarda with further Donizetti to come. I recently met up with Anna by Zoom to chat about the challenge new roles as well as her continuing passion for the Baroque repertoire.

In fact, Anna has sung Musetta before or rather extracts from the role. When she was at the National Opera Studio in 2009 there were two sopranos who included the role of Mimi as one of their major studies, which meant that Anna came to sing extracts from the role of Musetta in opera scenes, and she enjoyed returning to the role again. From the outset, however, the project at Irish National Opera was beset with difficulties because of the pandemic. Planned as a staging of Puccini's La Boheme it became a live-streamed concert (from Bord Gáis Energy Theatre in Dublin on 13 March 2021) conducted by Sergio Alapont with a recording. [Read the review of the original concert in the Arts Review] But for a number of months, right up until she left home, it still was not clear whether the project would go ahead. And when she arrived in Ireland, Anna had, of course, to isolate for 10 days. 

To make matters more complex for her, she had been on maternity leave during the initial part of the pandemic and this was her first engagement since then, and frankly she was somewhat relieved that there was only a concert performance. But the circumstances meant that is was an unforgettable project. All those who were not currently resident in Ireland had to isolate, and then there was the joy of being able to see people and perform together again. The performance and recording were a big deal for everyone, and Anna is interested as to whether this will come over in the recording.

Friday 25 March 2022

English Music Festival 2022: Vaughan Williams, Holst, Coleridge Taylor, Havergal Brian and an Ivor Gurney premiere

Dorchester Abbey
Dorchester Abbey

The English Music Festival is back at Dorchester Abbey for a fun-filled weekend (27-29 May 2022) of English rarities including music by RVW (of course celebrating the 150th anniversary), Holst, Coleridge Taylor, Havergal Brian, Ivor Gurney and much else besides.

The festival's publishing arm is publishing a new performing edition of Coleridge Taylor's Violin Concerto and this will be presented at a concert with the BBC Concert Orchestra, conductor Martin Yates, with soloist Rupert Marshall Luck, plus music by Elgar, Delius, Alwyn, RO Morris and a chance to hear RVW's folk-dance piece Old King Cole.

Joseph Fort and the Choir of King's College, London will join the English Chamber Orchestra for a rare outing for Holst's Sanskrit infused The Cloud Messenger [which they recorded in 2020, see my review], whilst baritone Roderick Williams, the Godwine Choir and Holst Orchestra, conductor by Hilary Davan Wetton perform RVW's Willow Wood plus music by Bainton, Dyson, Finzi, Howells and Ireland.

As a celebration of the Queen's Platinum Jubilee, the Elysian Singers perform A Garland for the Queen, originally written by Bliss, Bax, Tippett, RVW, Ireland, Howells, Finzi, Berkeley, Rawsthorne and Rubbra for the Coronation. Baritone Gareth Brynmor John and pianist Christopher Glynnwill be providing a welcome showcase for Havergal Brian's songs, whilst Rupert Marshall Luck and pianist Nathan Williamson will premiere Gurney's Violin Sonata in D major along with music by  Robin Milford, Cecil Armstrong Gibbs and Elgar.

There is a lot more besides, full details from the English Music Festival website.

'It runs gigantically and in a large mood' - Elgar's Piano Quintet at Conway Hall

Sir Edward Elgar by William Rothenstein in 1919 (courtesy of the National Portrait Gallery)
Sir Edward Elgar by William Rothenstein in 1919
(courtesy of the National Portrait Gallery)

On Sunday 3 April 2022, the Tippett Quartet is joined by pianist Emma Abbate at Conway Hall for a programme that combines Elgar's Piano Quintet with Haydn's Quartet in D minor Op.103 and Brahms' Quartet in C minor Op.51/1. 

Before hand I will be giving a pre-concert talk entitled It runs gigantically and in a large mood, looking at the history behind Elgar's Piano Quintet, one of a group of three late chamber masterpieces which were hugely affected by the secluded countryside location where Elgar wrote them. And the talk's title comes from Elgar's description of writing the quintet as relayed to a friend in a letter. The William Rothenstein drawing (above) was created in 1919, the year Elgar wrote the quintet.

Full details from the Conway Hall website.

Earth's Wide Bounds: William Vann & the Chapel Choir of the Royal Hospital, Chelsea in RVW's Communion Service in G minor

Earth's Wide Bounds - Vaughan Williams Communion Service, Te Deum in G, Valiant for Truth, Nocturne: By the Bivouac's Fitful Flame; William Vann and the Chapel Choir of the Royal Hospital, Chelsea; Albion Records
Earth's Wide Bounds
- Vaughan Williams Communion Service, Te Deum in G, Valiant for Truth, Nocturne: By the Bivouac's Fitful Flame; William Vann and the Chapel Choir of the Royal Hospital, Chelsea; Albion Records

Reviewed by Robert Hugill on 25 March 2022 Star rating: 4.0 (★★★★)
The Anglican adaptation of RVW's Mass in G minor forms the centrepiece of this fine overview of the composer's Anglican sacred music, the familiar with a few unfamiliar items

The centrepiece of this disc, Earth's Wide Bounds, from William Vann and the Chapel Choir of the Royal Hospital, Chelsea is a work that many people were probably unaware existed, RVW's Communion Service in G minor. This latest disc from Albion Records features the choir's recordings of this alongside RVW's Te Deum in G, Valiant for Truth, and Nocturne: By the Bivouac's Fitful Flame along with a selection of RVW's finest hymns and shorter anthems. They are joined on the disc by organist Joshua Ryan and speaker Rowan Williams.

Whilst there is a long tradition of settings of the canticles for Matins and Evensong in the Anglican Church, a parallel tradition of settings of the Communion Service is less vigorous. Even for composers like Stanford, their Communion Service settings are rarely heard. The need for a specifically Anglican communion service setting arose because of the rubric in the Communion Service of the Book of Common Prayer. This dates back, essentially, to 1662 and the whole service is designed to have a greater focus on the word, and musical settings of the Ordinary are a nice to have (this is where the phrase 'in quires and places where they sing' comes from). And structurally there are differences.

So, after RVW wrote his Mass in G minor for RR Terry and the choir of Westminster Cathedral in 1910, it was the pianist, composer and conductor Maurice Jacobson (1896-1976) who produced the English version, with RVW revising it for publication in 1923. It is in English, of course, and the order of the movements is different with the Gloria coming at the end and there is an extra movement. Every communion service based on 1662 was supposed to begin with a recitation of the Ten Commandments, each with sung responses. This was the only new music in the piece. Whilst it was used, this version probably never had really wide currency and nowadays 'in quires and places where they sing', the use of the original Latin version is assumed.

Thursday 24 March 2022

Six Brandenburgs: Six Commissions

St Mary's Abbey, West Malling - the modern church & Norman tower
St Mary's Abbey, West Malling - the modern church & Norman tower

Music@Malling is festival that brings music to historic venues in and around West Malling in Kent. The main festival is in October each year, but in April 2022 the festival is having an extra outing. Across three concerts on 23 April 2022 in St Mary's Abbey in West Malling, Music@Malling presents Six Brandenburgs: Six Commissions, a delayed celebraton of the 300th anniversary of Bach's Brandenburg Concertos which were presented to the Margrave of Brandenburg by Bach in 1721.

Steven Devine will direct Chamber Domaine in all six Brandenburg Concertos, and each concerto will be accompanied by a new piece, conducted by Thomas Kemp, artistic director of Music@Malling. Six composers, Brian Elias, Daniel Kidane, Deborah Pritchard, Stevie Wishart, Joseph Phibbs and Michael Price have each written a piece that is intended as a response to one of the Bach concertos.

This pairing of old and new is echoed by the venue, which is a 1960s chapel at St Mary's Abbey (currently home to an order of Benedictine nunes) as part of an abbey founded originally in 1090.

Full details from the Music@Malling website.

Bouncing back: Spitalfields Music 2022

Christchurch Spitalfields - Spitalfields Festival

The last few years have been hard work for everyone in the arts. Smaller festivals often lack the cushioning of support from well-heeled patrons that bigger ones can have, and it is always heartening to see them bouncing back. Spitalfields Music's 2022 festival definitely shows the festival on a roll, with two weeks of events in East London (30 June to 13 July 2022) including 20 world premieres, centenary celebrations, solidarity with silenced Afghani musicians, a contemplation of our relationship to the natural world, and music from Bach and Biber to Stravinsky.

The festival opens with a celebration of the Spitalfields Mathematical Society which, from 1717 met in taverns around Christ Church "the public at large an opportunity of increasing their knowledge, on terms so easy, as to be within the reach of every individual, who has a taste to cultivate, or curiosity to gratify." It thrived for over a century before merging into the Royal Astronomical Society in the 1840s, educating "many weavers, and the rest were typically brewers, braziers, bakers, bricklayers". So, Professor James Sparks will be giving a lecture on The Mathematical Genius of Bach with musical illustrations from the City of London Sinfonia.

The Canticle of the Sun presents a reimagining of St Francis of Assisi's text by composer Arun Gosh, using spiritual music from across the world. Cayenne Ponchione-Bailey conducts the Oxford Phiharmonic Orchestra in a programme of music created by Afghani musicians in exile, all of whom have fled Afghanistan or are in hiding because of the Taliban. The programme will feature new pieces alongside arrangements of Afghan traditional songs for an orchestra of instruments from Afghanistan and the Western classical music tradition. Kazakh violinist Aisha Orazbayeva will be performing Biber's complete cycle of Mystery Sonatas on Baroque violin

A composer fascinated by British folk customs and an Iraqi film maker, Neil Luck and Hydar Dewachi come together with young people from our Neighbourhood Schools in Tower Hamlets and the Blackheath Morris Dancing Group to explore our need for ceremony.

Nevertheless, she persisted features Her Ensemble, the UK's first women and non-binary orchestra in music by women including Dobrinka Tabakova, Leokadiya Kashperova, Grażyna Bacewicz, and Barbara Strozzi. Inner City Brass features a new work by Callum Au alongside music by Susan LaBarr, Schumann, Bach, Mogens Andresen, Øystein Baadsvik, & Bruce Broughton. Rex Lawson will bring his dazzling pianola skills to bear on Stravinsky's Rite of Spring along with a piece Stravinsky actually wrote for pianola. Not to be missed.

There will be new work from Laura Bowler, a multi-media chamber piece Distance performed by soprano Juliet Bowler and Talea Ensemble. George Parris and the Carice Singers will be performing RVW's Mass in G minor alongside new works by Aileen Sweeney, Will Harmer, Claire Victoria Roberts, James Batty, Electra Perivolaris, and Michele Deiana. GBSR Duo and Mira Benjamin will be performing music by Barbara Monk Feldman.

The festival ends with a concert where Voces8 is joined by TUKS Camerata, an outstanding student choir from the University of Pretoria, South Africa for music on the theme of hope.

Full details from the festival website.

Writing against the grain: late-romantic horn concertos by Malcolm Arnold, Christoph Schönberger & Ruth Gipps from Ben Goldscheider

Arnold, Schönberger, Gipps - Horn Concertos; Ben Goldscheider, Philharmonia Orchestra, Lee Reynolds; Willowhayne Records

Arnold, Schönberger, Gipps - Horn Concertos; Ben Goldscheider, Philharmonia Orchestra, Lee Reynolds; Willowhayne Records

Reviewed by Robert Hugill on 24 March 2022 Star rating: 4.0 (★★★★)
Ben Goldscheider give sparkling performances in three late-Romantic concertos, two unjustly neglected mid-Century British works and the premiere by an Anglo-German contemporary composer

Recording artists seem to be eagerly uncovering a trove of mid-century British concertos that have been undeservedly forgotten or remain underappreciated. Last year, Peter Cigleris gave us clarinet concertos by Susan Spain-Dunk, Elizabeth Maconchy, Rudolph Dolmetsch and Peter Wishart on Signum [see my review] and next month Simon Callaghan's disc of piano concertos by John Addison, Arthur Benjamin, Elizabeth Maconchy, Humphrey Searle, Edmund Rubbra and Geoffrey Bush is issued by Lyrita.

And now horn player Ben Goldscheider celebrates the triple centenary of composers Malcolm Arnold and Ruth Gipps, and horn player Dennis Brain (in 2021) with a recording of Arnold's Horn Concerto No. 2, Op. 58 which was written for Brain, along with Gipps Horn Concerto. On this disc from Willowhayne Records, Ben Goldscheider, the Philharmonia Orchestra and conductor Lee Reynolds perform horn concertos by Malcolm Arnold, Christoph Schönberger and Ruth Gipps.

Arnold's concerto was written in 1957, that of Ruth Gipps in 1968 whilst Schönberger's is relatively recent, being written in 2019, yet all three have a commonality in that the music being written was somewhat against the grain of prevailing orthodoxy. One of the reasons why the concertos I mentioned in the first paragraph became neglected was the way mid-century British composers tended to be writing against the grain and often works were for particular people or places, and never reached common currency. Listening blind to the three horn concertos on the disc, I was fascinated to realise that all three composers created remarkably busy solo parts, only occasionally do we get to experience the horn as a lonely romantic with long-breathed melodic lines. And the writing is often full-on, with the soloist providing a constant stream of notes. The music on this disc might not always sound showy (each of the composers takes a distinctive view as to what a concerto is), but I suspect that it is taxing to play.

Wednesday 23 March 2022

Celebrating 40 years: The Lichfield Festival 2022 with a new 40-part motet by Thomas Hyde and Stephen McNeff's new opera

Lichfield Cathedral lit for an event at the 2018 Festival
Lichfield Cathedral lit for an event at the 2018 Festival
This year the Lichfield Festival, artistic director Damian Thantrey, celebrates its 40th anniversary with eleven days of events from 7 to 17 July 2022. The festival's classical music programme includes a several works from that first festival along with works celebrating the 150th anniversary of RVW's birth.

The anniversary centrepiece is a 40-voice choral concert in Lichfield Cathedral featuring From Silence, a new commission by Thomas Hyde with text by Alexander McCall Smith, plus RVW's Mass in G minor and Tallis’ Spem in Alium performed by the Carice Singers and Pieces of Eight, together with the Gentlemen of the Cathedral Choir.  The festival associate orchestra, the BBC National Orchestra of Wales will be performing RVW's Fantasia on a theme of Thomas Tallis (which featured in 1982) plus music by Britten and Schumann.

The cathedral is also the venue for Ballet Cymru's new production Dream, and for the finale of the Midland Choir of the Year Competition to showcase of the finest Midlands-based amateur singing groups.

There will be a performance of Stephen McNeff’s new chamber opera Beyond the Garden (which was premiered in Slovenia) based on the life of Alma Mahler, and featuring mezzo-soprano Susan Bickley. Whilst Charles Court Opera will be performing Gilbert and Sullivan's Patience.

There are recital appearances from cellist Steven Isserlis and guitarist Paul Galbraith, pianist Danny Driver (one of the festival's new associate artists), and the Brodsky Quartet. The festival's Young Artist series continues with a whopping ten recitals, and a former young artist, horn play Ben Goldscheider returns to perform RVW and Brahms with the Goldfield Ensemble.

There are fireworks, dance, spoken word, lectures, poetry and much much more, including the Lord Chamberlain's Men in an all-male staging of Shakespeare's As you like it.

Full details from the festival website.

A unique blend of opera, contemporary orchestral music, street art and animation: The Scorched Earth Trilogy

For The Scorched Earth Trilogy, a trio of new operas by composer Brian Irvine and librettist John McIlduff,

For The Scorched Earth Trilogy, a trio of new operas by composer Brian Irvine and librettist John McIlduff, creative production company Dumbworld and Irish National Opera are collaborating on three short works that offer a unique blend of opera, contemporary orchestral music, street art and animation, presented as a mapped video and sound installation which have been designed to be experienced in public spaces, with the audio transmitted to wireless headphones.

The three works in the trilogy, Trickledown Economics, Won’t Bring Back the Snow and Revival, will make their debut in Dublin on 25 and 26 March 2022, allowing members of the public to reimagine the spaces where they are being projected. The three works tackle some of the most pressing social, political and human issues we face today, in a radical and challenging way. 

The three pieces each feature a cast of opera singers (and two actors) accompanied by the Irish National Opera Orchestra, conducted by Fergus Sheil (artistic director of Irish National Opera). Librettist John McIlduff directs with designs by Katie Davenport, video design by Conan McIvor and VFX by Enda O'Connor. 

Dumbworld is is an artist led, multi-disciplinary production company that uses opera, animation, orchestral oratorio, arts installation and virtual reality to create contemporary performance art. The company was founded in 2009 by Brian Irvine and John McIlduff.

The Scorched Earth Trilogy by Dumbworld, co-produced by Irish National Opera takes place from 8pm-10.30pm on 25 and 26 March at The Berkeley Library, Trinity College Dublin. Tickets are free but pre-booking via the INO website is essential. And there are plans for the works will tour.

Portuguese violinist Bruno Monteiro in a striking programme of three major early 20th century violin sonatas, from Portugal, France and Brazil

Violin Sonatas - Luís de Freitas Branco, Maurice Ravel, Heitor Villa-Lobos; Bruno Monteiro, João Paulo Santos; Etcetera

Violin Sonatas
- Luís de Freitas Branco, Maurice Ravel, Heitor Villa-Lobos; Bruno Monteiro, João Paulo Santos; Etcetera

Reviewed by Robert Hugill on 23 March 2022 Star rating: 4.0 (★★★★)
Portuguese violinist Bruno Monteiro brings together three major early 20th century violin sonatas, each late-Romantic, each different in style but creating a highly satisfying recital

This disc from two Portuguese musicians, violinist Bruno Monteiro and pianist João Paulo Santos on the Etcetera label features three major violin sonatas from the first half of the 20th century, by the Portuguese composer Luís de Freitas Branco, the Brazilian composer Heitor Villa-Lobos and the French composer Maurice Ravel. One sonata almost unknown, one not as well known as it should be and one quite familiar, yet the three make a highly satisfying programme and bring out interesting elements in each other.

Born in Portugal of an aristocratic family, Luís de Freitas Branco was one of the major Portuguese composers of the early part of the 20th century and his output includes four symphonies and a violin concerto. His Sonata no 1 for Violin and Piano was written in 1908 when he was just 17 and still a student at the National Conservatory. It went on to win a competition in Lisbon, but also to generate some controversy partly because of the composer's harmonic language. Whilst it sounds typically late-Romantic to us, it was significantly different to the relatively conservative musical style prevalent in Portugal at the time. 

Tuesday 22 March 2022

A festival of new music theatre: 18th Münchener Biennale explores the theme of good friends, opening with a new work based on writings by Ukrainian author Serhiy Zhadan

Daniel Ott & Manos Tsangaris (Photo Manu Theobald)
Daniel Ott & Manos Tsangaris (Photo Manu Theobald)
Münchener Biennale - Festival für neues Musiktheater is an international celebration of new music theatre. Running from 8 to 16 May 2022 in and around Munich the 18th Münchener Biennale is the fourth to be curated by German composers Manos Tsangaris and Daniel Ott, 

Whilst the theme of this year's festival is Good Friends, the opening work had been planned for some considerable time and is an example of how art can anticipate life. So, on 8 May 2022, the festival opens with the premiere of Lieder von Vertreibung und Nimmerwiederkehr (Songs of Exile and No Return) with music by Austrian composer Bernhard Gander and words by Ukrainian poet and writer Serhiy Zhadan (in a German translation by Claudia Dathe). The work examines the dramatic effect on the human individual of war, displacement and flight, using a blend of choral passages and short dialogues to depict everyday situations and fictional experiences of flight and forced migration. The production is a co-production with Deutsche Oper, Berlin, where the production opens on 21 May 2022.

There are also premieres of works by Yoav Pasovsky, Ann Cleare, Lucia Kilger and Nicolas Berge, Polina Korobkova, Øyvind Torvund, and Malin Bång, as well as discussions and other events including the delightfully named Salon of Wondering and Views.

Full details from the festival website

Fidelio Trio explores Moeran's early chamber music, revealing a mix of Romantic harmonies, Continental influences and a sense of engagement with Irish musical culture

Moeran Chamber Music; Fidelio Trio; Resonus Classics

Moeran Chamber Music; Fidelio Trio; Resonus Classics

Reviewed by Robert Hugill on 23 March 2022 Star rating: 4.0 (★★★★)
An exploration of Moeran's early chamber work reveals some marvellous music in terrific performances bringing out the Continental influences in his music

Ernest Moeran's musical reputation tends to rest on a handful of works, mainly late ones notably the Symphony (from 1934-1937) and the Cello Concerto (from 1945), and much of his output remains relatively unknown. The new disc of his chamber music from the Fidelio Trio (Darragh Morgan, violin, Tim Gill, cello, Mary Dullea, piano) on Resonus Classics explores chamber works from the 1920s and 1930s, notably the Piano Trio, Sonata for Violin and Piano, and Sonata for Two Violins
(where Darragh Morgan is joined by violinist Nicky Sweeney), with one short late masterpiece the Prelude for Cello and Piano from 1943.

Moeran was never a particularly major figure, he rather ploughed his own furrow and a somewhat fallow period in the late 1920s (thanks to the riotous influence of his friend Peter Warlock) did not help. Moeran's well-made style and folk-song imbued music must have seemed somewhat out of time in the face of the bright modernisms of the 1920s and 1930s. 

But there is another thread to Moeran's musical make-up, one that sits implicitly behind much of the music on this disc, the music of Ireland. Moeran's father was Anglo-Irish and from the 1920s, Moeran started to explore his Irish musical roots. In 1934 he made his second home in Kenmare in the West of Ireland, and it was here that he died in 1950. And it is these West Ireland links that carry right through to the performers on the disc, as Darragh Morgan and Mary Dullea (from the Fidelio Trio) founded the Summer festival Chamber Music on Valentia, based on Valentia Island where Moeran finished his Symphony in 1937.

Monday 21 March 2022

La descente d'Orphée aux enfers: the Vache Baroque Festival returns with Charpentier, Carissimi and more

In 2020, I chatted to co-founder Jonathan Darbourne about his new Vache Baroque Festival [see my interview]. That year events included Purcell's Dido and Aeneas with Katie Bray, whilst last year's festival included a staging of Handel's Acis and Galatea as well as a celebration of Milton. This year the festival returns for the third edition from 26 August to 4 September 2022 at the beautiful grounds of The Vache, a house once owned by King James II.

The centrepiece of this year's festival is a staging of Charpentier's La descente d'Orphée aux enfers, led by music director Jonathan Darbourne and stage director Jeanne Pansard-Besson, with Samuel Boden in the title role and choreography by Ukweli Roach with dancers from BirdGang Ltd. Other events surrounding this include a series of pop-up multi-disciplinary installations, including Carissimi's Jephthe.

And the festival moves to London temporarily in November, with a gala celebration of the 300th anniversary Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier.

Full details from the festival website.

The magic returns: Dresden Music Festival 2022

Jan Vogler (Photo Stephan Floss)
Jan Vogler (Photo Stephan Floss)

After two years when the festival operated either online or in mixed mode with smaller-scale live concerts, the Dresden Music Festival is back this year with a large-scale event including several visiting orchestras. From 11 May to 10 June 2022, the festival will be presenting over 60 concerts in and around Dresden celebrating the 45th Dresden Music Festival. 

The festival's opening concert is the period instrument Dresden Festival Orchestra, conducted by Jean-Christophe Spinosi in Mozart's overture to Die Zauberflöte and Symphony No. 40, plus Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 5 'Emperor' with soloist Jan Liesecki on forte-piano. And the festival orchestra will be closing the festival as well when David Robertson conducts more Beethoven, the Choral Fantasy and Symphony No. 9 with soloists Martin Helmchen (piano), Aleksandra Kurzak  (soprano), Tanja Ariane Baumgartner (mezzo-soprano), Christian Elsner (tenor), and René Pape (bass). 

Two concerts celebrate historical Dresden connections. The Dresden Baroque Orchestra will be marking the 300th anniversary of composer Johann Adolph Hasse's (a native Saxon) journey South to acquire some Italian polish, whilst Helmuth Branny conducts the Dresdner Kapellsolisten in a the opera Elvira by Princess Amalia of Saxony, a work about which Carl Maria von Weber (her teacher) was most enthusiastic. Whilst Cellomania brings the chance to hear three of CPE Bach's Cello Concertos with three distinguished cellists, Nicolas Altstaedt, Edgar Moreau, and Pieter Wispelwey accompanied by La Folia Barockorchester directed from the violin by Robin Peter Müller

Highlights of the festival include Thomas Ades conducting the London Philharmonic Orchestra in this year's festival commission, the premiere of the suite from Ades' opera The Tempest, alongside his In Seven Days for piano and orchestra with pianist Vikingur Olafsson. Other visitors include Riccardo Chailly and orchestra of Teatro all Scala, Milan, Andris Nelsons and the Vienna Philharmonic, Simon Rattle and the Chamber Orchestra of Europe, and Ivan Fischer and the Budapest Festival Orchestra.  Soloists include violinists Ray Chen and James Ehnes, soprano Patricia Petibon, mezzo-soprano Magdalena Kozena, tenor Andrew Staples, and pianist Alexander Kantorow.

Other highlights include Cellomania, the second episode of the festival within a festival and this year cellist (and festival artistic director) Jan Vogler will be welcoming 40 cellists to Dresden include Mischa Maisky, Sol Gabetta, and Gautier Capucon. 

Recitals include baritone Samuel Hasselhorn (whom I chatted to last year, see my interview) with pianist Doriana Tchakarova in songs by Carl Loewe, Franz Schubert, Robert Schumann, Richard Wagner and Hugo Wolf.

Full details from the festival website.

Le Destin du nouveau siècle: a hitherto unknown opera-ballet by André Campra provides a glimpse into the largest Jesuit teaching institution in Paris, and some engaging music

André Campra Le Destin du nouveau siècle; Marc Mauillon, Mathias Vidal, Florie Valiquette, Claire Lefilliatre, Thomas van Essen, La Tempesta, Patrick Bismuth; Château de Versailles Spectacles

André Campra Le Destin du nouveau siècle; Marc Mauillon, Mathias Vidal, Florie Valiquette, Claire Lefilliatre, Thomas van Essen, La Tempesta, Patrick Bismuth; Château de Versailles Spectacles

Reviewed by Robert Hugill on 21 March 2022 Star rating: 4.0 (★★★★)
A hitherto unknown opera-ballet gives us a glimpse of France on the cusp of the 18th century.

This new disc from Patrick Bismuth and La Tempesta presents the first recording of a hitherto unknown opera ballet by André Campra, Le Destin du nouveau siècle with soloists Marc Mauillon, Mathias Vidal, Florie Valiquette, Claire Lefilliatre and Thomas van Essen, plus Les Chantres du Centre de musique baroque de Versailles, on the Château de Versailles Spectacles label.

Lasting some 80 minutes the work is an examination of how the future century might unfold, a very apt subject for a work premiered in 1700 at a time when King Louis XIV had been on the throne for 57 years and the glories of the Sun King's kingdom had rather faded. The opera was in fact a teaching exercise, one of around a dozen works that Campra wrote for the College de Louis-le-Grand, one of the biggest Jesuit institutions in Paris and where theatre was regarded as a suitable teaching tool for future public leaders who would need the skills of public speaking, recitation and dance. For the opera-ballet, it is probable that dancers from the school (aged 8 to 16) were partnered by professional musicians and singers.

Unfortunately, almost nothing is preserved of the works written for the college by composers such as Campra, Charpentier and Collasse, all we have is a few programmes. So it is all the more remarkable that, when in 2015 research was being done in the National Archives in Paris towards an educational project, the score identified as a possible one for the project which lay in a hitherto relatively obscure collection in Saint Denis, turned out to be the score of Campra's Le Destin du nouveau siècle.

There are, however, several questions hanging over the surviving material.

Saturday 19 March 2022

He enjoys the way his composition now touches lots of different worlds: I chat to Pascal Schumacher about his latest album

Pascal Schumacher & Echo Collective recording LUNA (Photo Frederick Migom - Jet Studios Brussels
Pascal Schumacher & Echo Collective recording LUNA (Photo Frederick Migom - Jet Studios Brussels)

The Luxembourg-born vibraphonist and composer Pascal Schumacher released his first solo album, SOL, in 2020 and he is about to release a new album, LUNA, with the Brussels-based Echo Collective on the Neue Meister label. Pascal's career has crossed classical music, jazz and improvisation, whilst he recently said that he considers these classifications obsolete. I recently met up with Pascal via Zoom to chat about LUNA, composing and more.

Pascal Schumacher (Photo Fredrik Altinell)
Pascal Schumacher (Photo Fredrik Altinell)
When I asked him what people will find on the new album, he said that he felt that listeners would experience the disc differently depending on whether they had heard his previous album, SOL. For those who have not heard SOL then LUNA will come over as a journey via different atmospheres and soundscapes. For Pascal, no track sounds like another, each one has a different setting and feeling. He likens it to moving through a house with nine rooms, each with different decoration but all the responsibility of the same decorator.  He has always wanted to make music like that, with no two tracks the same; something that is very different to, say, a disc from a string quartet or a jazz trio. So each piece on the disc is different, one for strings, another for vibraphone solo, another marimba and one with electronics. The common ground between them is him, the composer.

For those that have heard SOL, LUNA probably feels like a very logical next step. SOL is a solo album, with fewer tracks with different instrumentation and the vibraphone is the main character, but you can listen to LUNA and discover that it is complementary to SOL.

As Pascal has a history of improvisation in performance, I was intrigued as to whether the works on the new album were based on pre-composed music or improvisation, and the answer is both! With tracks like 'Infinity', 'Molodost' and 'Charles Duke', the string parts were 95% composed. This was what Pascal had initially planned, but he got on so well with the members of the Echo Collective and heard them improvising during the lunch break, that plans changed. The track 'Luna' had been intended to be solo vibraphone and synthesizer, improvised, but he decided to add a full carpet of improvised strings, taking advantage of the fact that the Echo Collective understood his music and his sound. For the track, 'Luna', there was no score, he just gave them notes on the emotion and dramaturgy, and they laid it down in just two takes.

Friday 18 March 2022

Symphony of Colours

Nick Halaban, a video editor from Argentina, has launched an ambitious project which he is calling Symphony of Colours. Using Motion Graphics combined with classical music he has produced a series of videos based on music by Bach, Beethoven, Brahms, Mahler. Nick hopes that the result will be a way of expanding the reach of classical music. It's an entirely self-funded project (and yes, he has even licensed the music).

See the results on Nick's YouTube playlist.

Looking for the best amateur players in South London: Brixton Chamber Orchestra's open auditions

Brixton Chamber Orchestra - open auditions

My local orchestra, Brixton Chamber Orchestra, is recruiting voluntary players. The orchestra, which is made up of a core of young professional players directed by Matthew O''Keeffe, also has base of volunteer players who are invited to join the professional principals and play side-by-side in full-orchestral concerts. So BCO is looking for the best amateur players in South London to join them.

There are no regular rehearsals, everything is project based with around five projects per year and extremely varied repertoire with events such as Lambeth Country Show, Summer & Christmas Estates Tours, Opera Gala Concerts, Gospel Music Collaborations, Music Trails. Their most recent gig was Grime Orchestrated at Hootenanny Brixton, with the 15-piece orchestra alongside special guest rappers Duppy, MegaMikes and more. And Next up is Brixton Performs Festival, when BCO will be performing a special child friendly FREE performance at Brixton Windmill on Saturday 26 March, details from the BCO website.

If you’re a talented instrumentalist with orchestral experience and passion for performance and community, BCO wants to hear from you. Auditions will take place on Friday 31 March and Sunday 2 April in Brixton, full details from the orchestra's website and the sign up form.

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