Thursday 30 June 2022

Fifth Door Ensemble returns with a double bill of Bartok's Bluebeard and Weill's Seven Deadly Sins

Fifth Door Ensemble
Last year, tenor Charne Rochford's Fifth Door Ensemble made its debut at Opera Holland Park with a performance of Mahler's Das Lied von der Erde (with Jennifer Johnston and Charne Rochford, conducted by Thomas Blunt) in Rainer Riehn's completion of Schoenberg's chamber arrangement. Now Fifth Door are back at Opera Holland Park for a double bill of Bartok's Duke Bluebeard's Castle and Weill's The Seven Deadly Sins, again in innovative smaller-scale versions. 

In the Bartok, Jessica Cottis will conduct Eberhard Kloke’s arrangement for 26 players (this version's UK premiere) with David Stout as the Duke and Gweneth-Ann Rand as Judit. In the Weill, Julia Riley sings Anna with Charne Rochford (Father), Tom Randle (Brother), Grant Doyle (Brother) and Robert Winslade Anderson (Mother) as her family, all conducted by Thomas Blunt using HK Gruber and Christian Muthspiel’s 15 player arrangement.

Charne formed Fifth Door last year as a specific response to the pandemic. When the music stopped, it seemed that the first thing to come back would be concerts and using reduced orchestrations seemed a way of making them viable. 

He confesses himself obsessed by Bartok's Bluebleard and of course that is where his ensemble gets its name. The orchestral arrangement they are using is by the German conductor and composer Eberhard Kloke; it still uses 26 players which is quite a lot, and the requirements include some relatively obscure instruments. Of course, there is no role for Charne in the opera, but being as he has been obsessed with it since seeing it at Covent Garden (in a double bill with Schoenberg's Erwartung) he can sit back and enjoy it.

Charne is, of course, singing in the Kurt Weill, as Father in the quartet of family members. The role of Anna calls for singer and a dancer; the singer is Julia Riley and whilst the performance is unstaged they will be using a dancer too. There is a lot of musical exposition in the work, so Charne feels it needs a dance element and the dancer will be interacting with Julia Riley's Anna on-stage. The work will be performed in Brecht's original German with W.H. Auden's English translation used for surtitles.

Bluebeard will be more stand and deliver, but the work will be performed in Hungarian (with English surtitle). David Stout has sung the title role in Hungarian, whilst Gweneth-Ann Rand had success with Judit (in English) at Stone Nest for Theatre of Sound.  And the prologue will be delivered in Hungarian.

They are giving two performances, both on Sundays (21 August and 28 August) at 6pm.

Charne's reasons for creating the company was both as a response to freelance artists not working as a result of the pandemic, but also a response to the feeling that companies were not listening to freelancers. Before all this happened Charne had no experience of being a producer, and this year's programme is more ambitious than last year's. With what is going on in the world, he admits the producing opera like this feels rather luxurious, but he sees it as important to entertain people as well as providing paid work for freelance artists; he just had to get up and do something.

Earlier this year Julia Riley, Charne and David Stout presented a recital at the 1901 Arts Club including a four-handed version of Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring alongside music by Wagner, Ravel, and Brahms and they have a recital series planned at Chelsea Arts Club later this year. Also next year, they will be back with another large-scale work in a reduced orchestra version, this time more Mahler.

More about Fifth Door from their website, and tickets are available via Opera Holland Park's website.

Premiere of James MacMillan's Mass of St Edward the Confessor at Westminster Abbey as part of celebrations for the Feast of St Peter

Westminster Abbey, order of service for St Peter's day service

Yesterday (29 June 2022) was the Feast of St Peter, Apostle and Martyr. St Peter is also the Patron of Westminster Abbey and so there was a rather special sung Eucharist at the Abbey. The preacher was the Very Reverend Dr David Hoyle, Dean of Westminster and James O'Donnell directed Westminster Abbey Choir. The music at the service include the world premiere of James MacMillan's Mass of St Edward the Confessor, and Palestrina's Tu es Petrus, with MacMillan's Toccata as the closing voluntary. I was lucky enough to be seated in the historic Quire [see my photo on Instagram] so had a perfect sight and sound of a very special service.

James MacMillan's mass is, I think, his seventh setting of the ordinary, the first being a Missa Brevis written when he was just sixteen. There are at least two congregational settings, but perhaps the best known setting is the wonderful, and complex, Mass (for choir and organ) written for Westminster Cathedral for the Millennium, and equally complex is the Missa Dunelmi (for eight-part choir) written for Durham Cathedral in 2011. His Mass of Blessed John Henry Newman (for cantor, congregation, organ with optional brass & timpani) written for Pope Benedict XVI's visit to the UK in 2010.

Mass of St Edward the Confessor, commissioned by Thomas and Mia Harding and dedicated to Westminster Abbey Choir School, is written for unaccompanied choir. James O'Donnell directed a full-strength Westminster Abbey Choir (16 boys, 12 men), and we heard the Kyrie, Gloria, Sanctus & Benedictus and Agnus Dei. MacMillan's use of polyphonic textures in the piece referred to a tradition that dates back to the early Tudor period, but the sound-world sometimes also evoked the music of a 20th century figure like Kenneth Leighton (who was MacMillan's teacher), but at the end of the day the music was very much his own with plenty of distinctive finger-prints in the shapes of phrases and the approach. Often, the music was surprisingly thoughtful, but with passages of crunchy harmonies and almost violence, yet it is the quieter moments that stick in the memory, the lovely opening Kyrie and the surprisingly intimate final pages of the Gloria. The Sanctus was suitably rhapsodic with some lovely melodies evoking chant and Gaelic psalm singing, whilst the Agnus Dei featured a superb tenor solo.

Palestrina's glorious Tu es Petrus is a motet that I have sung on many occasions, and always a firm favourite, here it was superbly performed during the administering of communion. And at the end of the service we had MacMillan's Toccata which was premiered at Gloucester Cathedral in 2019.

Wednesday 29 June 2022

New season at St Martin in the Fields

St Martin-in-the-Fields' Autumn Season
The church of St Martin-in-the-Fields has announced its Autumn season, continuing the venues development of its role as a significant concert location. Headline performances include Harry Christophers and the Sixteen in their choral pilgrimage for 2022 including Parry's Songs of Farewell, Sir John Eliot Gardiner and the Monteverdi Choir in Bach's Christmas Oratorio, Gardiner also conducts the English Baroque Soloists in music by Mozart and Haydn with Isabelle Faust (violin) and Antoine Tamestit (viola) , the BBC Singers in Durufle's Requiem, and La Serenissma in a concert exploring the life of English violinist and composer Nicola Matteis the Younger, whose Italian father was a close friend of Henry Purcell but who spent most of his career in Vienna. Other visitors include Polyphony, Fretwork, The Gesualdo Six, Rodolfus Choir and London Mozart Players in Judith Bingham's Clarinet Concerto with Jonathan Leibovitz

Baritone Benjamin Appl starts his residency with a concert devoted to the extraordinary life of Holocaust survivor and refugee Éva Fahidi, combining her words with music that was important in her life. The evening includes music by (amongst others) Schubert, Bach, Eisler, Krása, Schumann and Mahler. Equally challenging, SANSARA joins forces with the United Strings of Europe and Syrian oud player Basel Saleh for Music of Solidarity and Sanctuary, featuring music by Icelandic composer Hildur Guðnadóttir, Caroline Shaw and  the world premiere of The Journey by Lebanese composer Houtaf Khoury.

St Martin’s Voices, the Church’s own professional vocal ensemble, begins a new series of six hour-long concerts each with a distinguished guest speaker. Songs of Justice features musical responses to injustice by James MacMillan, Philip Moore, Cecilia McDowall, Ērik Ešenvalds, Jessica Curry and Rhiannon Randle with human rights lawyer Philippe Sands the guest speaker.

In the crypt, for Halloween, mezzo soprano Lotte Betts-Dean and young artists from City Music Foundation present Death Speaks with music by Purcell, Dowland, Schubert and the UK premiere of David Lang’s Depart, originally conceived as an installation for the morgue in the Raymond Poincaré Hospital in Garches, France, and performed live by St Martin’s Voices. Other young artists include tenor James Way and The Assembled Company, an ensemble uniting top-level period and modern instrument performers, in a programme of Handel cantatas and his German Arias sung by Rowan Pierce.

Full details from the church's website.

An exciting rediscovery: Mercadante's Il proscritto proves far more than a museum piece in this thrilling revival from Opera Rara

Mercadante: Il proscritto - Iván Ayón-Rivas & Ramón Vargas - Opera Rara at the Barbican (Photo Russell Duncan)
Mercadante: Il proscritto - Iván Ayón-Rivas & Ramón Vargas - Opera Rara at the Barbican (Photo Russell Duncan)

Mercadante: Il Proscritto; Irene Roberts, Ramón Vargas, Iván Ayón-Rivas, Elizabeth DeShong, Sally Matthews, Goderdzi Janelidze, Opera Rara Chorus, Britten Sinfonia, Carlo Rizzi; Opera Rara at the Barbican
Reviewed 28 June 2022 (★★★★★)

Mercadante's opera revived after a gap of 180 years proved thrilling and remarkably innovative, with gripping drama from all performers. 

Mercadante is the nearly man of Italian opera, with a successful career lasting from 1819 to the 1860s yet never quite achieving the level of prominence, or historical endurance, of his contemporaries. Opera Rara has already espoused three of his operas over the years and last night (28 June 2022) the company presented Mercadante's Il proscritto at the Barbican Hall, following recording sessions. Carlo Rizzi conducted the Britten Sinfonia and Opera Rara Chorus, with Irene Roberts, Ramón Vargas, Iván Ayón-Rivas, Elizabeth DeShong, Sally Matthews, and Goderdzi Janelidze.

Il proscritto dates from 1842, when it was premiered Naples where he was Director of the Naples Conservatory. The premiere was not a great success, and the manuscript lay in the conservatory's library until 2020 when Carlo Rizzi, artistic director of Opera Rara, discovered it and the company decided to revive the work. A new edition has been created by Roger Parker and Ian Schofield, which is available via Casa Ricordi.

During the 1830s, Mercadante had produced a series of works which are regarded as 'reform operas', aimed at changing the structure of Italian bel canto operas and their reliance on the soloists as vehicles for display. He was partly spurred on to this after witnessing the premiered of Meyerbeer's Les Huguenots in 1836, and Mercadante would write "varied forms, cabalettas banished, crescendos out, vocal lines simplified, fewer repeats, more originality in the cadences, proper regard paid to the drama, orchestration rich but not so as to swamp the voices, no long solos in the ensembles", though contemporary critics complained about the resulting works' lack of melodic invention.

Mercadante: Il proscritto - Elizabeth DeShong, Irene Roberts & Carlo Rizzi - Opera Rara at the Barbican (Photo Russell Duncan)
Mercadante: Il proscritto - Elizabeth DeShong, Irene Roberts & Carlo Rizzi - Opera Rara at the Barbican (Photo Russell Duncan)

By the 1840s, Mercadante seems to have walked back from this point to some extent. Il proscritto does have cabalettas, including one that is pure Rossini, but the three act finales are remarkably innovative and daring, and his approach to the orchestra and to the dialogue was new and pointed the way forward. As a point of comparison, 1842 would also see the premiere of Verdi's Nabucco, it would be another decade before Verdi wrote his trio of masterpieces, Rigoletto, La traviata and Il trovatore, and would start his own innovations in operatic structure.

Tuesday 28 June 2022

The Military Wives Choirs is celebrating ten years of bringing women in the military community together

Laura Wright with the Military Wives Choirs (Photo Rosie Powell)
Laura Wright with the Military Wives Choirs (Photo Rosie Powell)

This year the Military Wives Choirs celebrates ten years since the charity was first created, bringing together women in the military community to sing, share and support. The first Military Wives Choir was formed in 2010 by a group of women whose loved ones were deployed in Afghanistan, and since the founding of the Military Wives Choirs charity in 2011 an incredible community has been built of nearly 2000 women in over 70 choirs across the UK and internationally. In celebration there is a series of five concerts alongside soprano and Ambassador Laura Wright.

The first concert, on 18 June 2022 at St Albans Cathedral featured nearly 200 choir members from 15 Military Wives Choirs, including individuals from overseas choirs, whilst the next concert, on 22 July 2022 at Winchester Cathedral features 160 members from 13 Military Wives Choirs, and the concert will be live-streamed. Further concerts are at Lincoln Cathedral (2/9/2022), Exeter Cathedral (24/9/2022) and Greyfriars Kirk, Edinburgh (29 October 2022).

The Military Wives Choirs connects women in the military community and creates a support network through the power of singing. As both an independent charity and a subsidiary of SSAFA, the Armed Forces charity, the Military Wives Choirs works collaboratively with SSAFA in their mission to provide support to our Forces and their families.

Full details from the Military Wives Choirs website.

Over 4,000 young people to come together to perform at Music for Youth National Festival in Birmingham

Music for Youth National Festival

The annual Music for Youth National Festival is in Birmingham this year, on 8 & 9 July 2022 when over 4,000 young people will come together to perform at Symphony Hall, the Town Hall and the CBSO Centre. Tickets for all the concerts are free as a 'welcome back' gesture by organisers after a challenging couple of years for the arts. This year’s theme is A Festival For All and will feature performances from the very best young musicians across jazz, brass, classical, folk, choral, pop, rock and everything in between. Every corner of the UK will be represented, from Truro to Glasgow and Newport to Sunderland.  

There will be a showcase evening on Friday, July 8 at the Town Hall to promote the level and breadth of music education across the UK. And to support the celebration of live music, the festival will feature exciting new digital elements and live streams. A dedicated ‘takeover’ stage will be open for anyone under the age of 21 to apply to perform and there will be non-performance roles available, including event and marketing assistants, and workshops and panels with leading industry experts, including representatives from TikTok and Universal Music. 

Further information from the Music for Youth website, and tickets are available from B:Music.

Voices of Power: Luke Styles' new oratorio at Three Choirs Festival

Three Choirs Festival Youth Choir (Photo: Michael Whitefoot)
Three Choirs Festival Youth Choir (Photo: Michael Whitefoot)

Having had his saxophone concerto Tracks in the Orbit premiered by BBC National Orchestra of Wales at Hoddinott Hall in Cardiff in April of this year, composer Luke Styles is back with another large-scale premiere at this year's Three Choirs Festival. On 28 July 2022 at Hereford Cathedral, Samuel Hudson conducts the premiere of Luke Styles' Voices of Power with contralto Hilary Summers, the Three Choirs Festival Youth Choir and the Philharmonia Orchestra at a concert which also includes music by Judith Weir, Sarah Kirkland Snider and the 17th century Italian nun Peruchona.

Styles' new work is an oratorio setting text by poet and author Jessica Walker which contemplates the nature of power across the centuries. The protagonists of the piece are seven powerful women stretching over two millennia, from Roman times to the present day: Boudica, Elizabeth I, Catherine the Great, Margaret Thatcher, Eleanor Roosevelt, Hillary Clinton and Jacinda Ardern. The work was written specifically for Hilary Summers and the young voices of the Three Choirs Festival Youth Choir, whose members are aged 14 to 25.

In July 2021, I chatted to Luke about his new opera at the Cheltenham Music Festival, see my interview 'Exploring big themes'.

Full details from the festival website.

The Telling's Empowered Women

The Telling
The Telling

The Telling are taking three of Clare Norburn's concert plays on tour under the title, The Empowered Women Trilogy, from 23 July to 18 September 2022 in places that often miss out on touring networks including Wolverhampton, South Cumbria, Manningtree, Folkestone, Conwy (North Wales) and Lympstone (Exmouth), as well as London, Lewes, Cardiff and Liverpool.

Directed by Nicholas Renton, and starring actors Teresa Banham, Suzanne Ahmet and Anna Demetriou alongside the singers and musicians from The Telling, the three plays Into the Melting Pot, Vision and Unsung Heroine tell the stories of three very different Medieval women (two real, one imagined) who take their lives into their own hands. In the Melting Pot is the story of Bianca, a Jewish woman facing expulsion from Spain and setting sail for an uncertain future as ordered by the Spanish Catholic Monarchs in 1492. Vision is the imagined testimony of the composer and mystic Hildegard of Bingen. Set in Provence in the 12th century Unsung Heroine is the story of female troubadour Countess Beatriz de Dia.

Back in 2020 I chatted to Clare Norburn about her concert plays and her work with The Telling, see my interview.

Full details from The Telling's website.

Monday 27 June 2022

A new song festival on the edge of the Cotswolds: Shipston Song

Shipston Song logo

During lockdown, pianist Ian Tindale produced a fine series of recital films from the music room in a house in the Cotswolds [see my article]. And now the project has extended, into a full blown live festival. Shipston Song takes place from 23 to 25 September 2022 at a private venue on the outskirts of Shipston-on-Stour.

The festival opens with Julien van Mellaerts (baritone), Moloko Letsoalo (soprano, Shipston Song Rising Star) and Ian Tindale in Richard Rodney Bennett's Songs before Sleep (his wonderful re-inventions of nursery rhymes), Eleanor Alberga's The Soul's Expression, which gives the recital its name, songs by Brahms and then Schumann's Dichterliebe. On Saturday 24 September, Harriet Burns (soprano), Jess Dandy (contralto) and Ian Tindale present 'My songs are my diary’: Discovering Josephine Lang, which will include songs and duets by the German composer Josephine Lang (1815-1880) along with music by her friends and mentors, Felix Mendelssohn, and Clara Schumann.

The final concert of the season will feature James Gilchrist (tenor), Daniel Barrett (baritone, Shipston Song Rising Star), Ensemble Kopernikus and Ian Tindale in a programme centred around RVW's On Wenlock Edge plus the Songs of Travel, songs by Rebecca Clarke and the piano trio by Percy Miles (who was Clarke's harmony teacher at the Royal Academy of Music)

Full details from the festival website

Love in Bloom: for its Pride concert, the Fourth Choir explores the subject of love

Stone Nest
Stone Nest
Under guest conductor Ben Horden, the Fourth Choir is presenting Love in Bloom at Stone Nest on Shaftesbury Avenue on Saturday 9 July 2022 as the choir's Pride Celebration. The subject of the concert is Love, with contributes from both Kate Rusby and Michel Le Grand, Shakespeare and Shelley, as well as music by Cecilia McDowall and Judith Weir, plus Britten's Hymn to St Cecilia, his setting of words by W.H. Auden that ask whether love should be chaste or sexual - St Cecilia or Aphrodite. All that plus choral arrangements of pieces from Rent and West Side Story.

Stone Nest of course used to be the scene of the Limelight, London’s most hedonistic nightclub in the 1980s, perhaps we can still feel the aura of Boy George, Bob Geldof, George Michael and the international glitterati who used to hang out there!

The Fourth Choir is London's LGBT + chamber choir for non-professional singers. Focusing on performing great choral works from early music to contemporary masterpieces, the Choir was formed in 2013 with the aim of representing the LGBT+ community on London's classical music scene.

Full details from the Fourth Choir's website. 

Michael Bakrnčev's Calm

Australian composer, Michael Bakrnčev's Calm – Trio for Flute, Violin and Harp, was written a wedding gift for Michael’s wife, and performed on their wedding day in 2017. Bakrnčev has now released the work as a single, performed by Heline Fay (Flute), Peter Voronov (Violin) and Mercedes Bralo (Harp).

Born in Melbourne in 1989, Bakrnčev's family had migrated from Macedonia in the 1960s and brought with them a rich tapestry of their country’s folklore, religion, traditional cuisine, dance and music. Following studies at the Queensland Conservatorium – Griffith University, Bakrnčev's music began to intertwine Macedonian folk music with modern classical music practice.

Calm is available online [LinkTree]

An afternoon delight: Anna Morrisey's inventive production of Rossini's The Barber of Seville at Nevill Holt Opera, in a finely musical performance conducted by Dinis Sousa

Rossini: The Barber of Seville - Nevill Holt Opera 2022 (Photo Genevieve Girling)
Rossini: The Barber of Seville - end of Act One - Nevill Holt Opera 2022 (Photo Genevieve Girling)

Rossini: The Barber of Seville; Liam Bonthrone, Michel de Souza, Sarah Champion, Grant Doyle, Andri Björn Róbertsson, Janis Kelly, director: Anna Morrissey, Royal Northern Sinfonia, conductor Dinis Sousa; Nevill Holt Opera
Reviewed 26 June 2022 (★★★★)

Anarchic, inventive yet well-observed production of Rossini's comic opera, in a crisply engaging musical performance

For its Summer season this year, Nevill Holt Opera is back in its regular theatre, the lovely modern space inserted into Nevill Holt's historic stables. The first opera of the season was Puccini's La boheme, and on Sunday 26 June 2022, we caught Anna Morrissey's production of Rossini's The Barber of Seville. Dinis Sousa conducted the Royal Northern Sinfonia, with Liam Bonthrone as Almaviva, Michel de Souza as Figaro, Sarah Champion as Rosina, Grant Doyle as Dr Bartolo, Andri Björn Róbertsson as Don Basilio  and Janis Kelly as Berta. Peter Davies played the fortepiano continuo. Designs were by Alex Berry, with lighting by Jamie Platt.

Morrissey's production was modern dress with Berry's set designs being a symphony of pink (surely an ironic gesture given Bartolo was a surly curmudgeon). There was a strong 1980s feel about everything, perhaps as a genuine setting but possibly to suggest that Dr Bartolo was rather stuck in a time-warp, certainly Grant Doyle's Bartolo with his beard, greasy long hair and dodgy suit seemed somewhat stuck in an image of his youth. As with many modern performances, the production was less about Count Almaviva's disguising himself to his his elevated status and more about the attempts to release Sarah Champion's Rosina from her prison. Shorn of its historic, Iberian context, Bartolo's immuring of his ward seems even more arbitrary and cruel, and this inevitably skews the perception of this plot. Every generation re-interprets the classics, and different perceptions come and go. What counted here was not so much the dramaturgy as Morrissey's very inventive approach to the production.

Rossini: The Barber of Seville - Sarah Champion, Michel de Souza, Liam Bonthrone - Nevill Holt Opera 2022 (Photo Genevieve Girling)
Rossini: The Barber of Seville - Sarah Champion, Michel de Souza, Liam Bonthrone - Nevill Holt Opera 2022 (Photo Genevieve Girling)

Saturday 25 June 2022

Poetic drama & real musicality: highly imaginative Rusalka from Jack Furness at Garsington with Natalya Romaniw as a compelling water nymph

Dvorak: Rusalka - Natalya Romaniw - Garsington Opera (Photo Clive Barda)
Dvorak: Rusalka - Natalya Romaniw - Garsington Opera (Photo Clive Barda)

Antonin Dvorak: Rusalka; Natalya Romaniw, John Findon, Henry Waddington, Christine Rice, Sky Ingram, director: Jack Furness, Philharmonia Orchestra, conductor: Douglas Boyd; Garsington Opera at Wormsley,
Reviewed 24 June 2022 (★★★★★)

Musically superb, dramatically convincing and highly poetic account of Dvorak's fairy-tale that combined a poetic approach with a mining of the work's darker element and a highly imaginative staging

Garsington Opera planned its production of Dvorak’s Rusalka for 2020 with Natalya Romaniw in the title role. Cancelled and re-scheduled for 2022, thankfully still with Romaniw, the production debuted last week with a new director at the helm.

We caught Jack Furness’ new production of Dvorak’s Rusalka at Garsington Opera on Friday 24 June 2022. Douglas Boyd conducted the Philharmonia Orchestra with Natalya Romaniw as Rusalka. Illness the cast meant that John Findon (previously Hajny) sang the Prince, Henry Waddington sang Vodnik and Dominick Felix sang Hajny. Christine Rice was Jezibaba, Grace Durham was Kuchtik, and Sky Ingram was the Foreign Princess. Designs were by Tom Piper, lighting by Malcolm Rippeth, choreography by Fleur Darkin with Lina Johansson as circus choreographer.

Dvorak’s opera debuted in 1901, over 20 years after his Slavonic Quartet, the work in which he crystallised his style, combining Czech folk-style rhythms and melodies with Romantic structures. In Rusalka, Dvorak might owe something to Wagner but the sound-world with its rhythms and melodic outlines is pure Czech. And even the story is a similar synthesis, combining elements of Romantic tales like Undine with traditional Czech characters and the poetry of K.J. Erben whose main work, A Garland (1853) created a new style of Czech poetry influence by, but not strictly copying folk poetry. Thus Rusalka is not strictly a traditional Czech folk-inspired work, but a Romantic synthesis.

Obsessed by voices: pianist Dylan Perez on recording the complete songs of Samuel Barber

Pianist Dylan Perez at the recording sessions for the complete Samuel Barber songs on Resonus Classics
Pianist Dylan Perez at the recording sessions for the complete Samuel Barber songs on Resonus Classics

In May 2022, pianist Dylan Perez released Samuel Barber: the Complete Songs on Resonus Classics, a comprehensive survey of all of Barber's songs, both those published in his lifetime and those published posthumously, performed by sopranos Mary Bevan, Samantha Clarke, Louise Kemény, and Soraya Mafi, mezzo soprano Fleur Barron, contralto Jess Dandy, tenor Nicky Spence, baritones Julien Van Mellaerts, and Dominic Sedgwick, bass William Thomas, and the Navarra String Quartet. Dylan has been making a name for himself both as a pianist and as a curator of concert series, his Re-Sung at St John the Divine in Kennington, recently finished its latest season and with baritone Julien van Mellaerts, Dylan has again curated the Opera in Song recital series at Opera Holland Park. I recently met up with Dylan by Zoom to catch up.

The Barber song project came about partly because Dylan was bored during lockdown and was looking for a project. He had the complete Barber songs on his shelf, and loved the Barber songs that he had played. Add to this, many of the posthumously published songs were unrecorded. The Resonus set contains 36 songs which were published in Barber's lifetime and 29 that were published posthumously, including 19 that were previously unrecorded. 

Dylan loves Barber's music, it has a very specific sound-world and is very American, and the posthumous songs give a real sense of how Barber ploughed his own furrow with his sound-world and harmonies. From Barber's early songs, Dylan thinks we can see how his is going to develop, pushing boundaries. And beyond the music, the song texts are very musically inclined; Barber was a great reader of poetry and great with languages, so that two of the songs set French texts. As with all great composers, Dylan feels that some of the songs are less amazing, but all have something to offer.

Pianist Dylan Perez and tenor Nicky Spence at the recording sessions for the complete Samuel Barber songs on Resonus Classics
Pianist Dylan Perez and tenor Nicky Spence at the recording sessions for the complete Samuel Barber songs on Resonus Classics

Friday 24 June 2022

Closeness & distance: Friedrich Cerha's evocation of Viennese traditional music in a new version for Viennese Schrammel quartet

Friedrich Cerha:  Keintate I, II (parts); Holger Falk, Attensam Quartett (Annette Bik & Gunde Jäch-Micko, violins, Ingrid Eder, button accordion, Michael Öttl, contra-guitar); Kairos
Friedrich Cerha:  Keintate I, II (parts); Holger FalkAttensam Quartett (Annette Bik & Gunde Jäch-Micko, violins, Ingrid Eder, button accordion, Michael Öttl, contra-guitar); Kairos
Reviewed 24 June 2022 (★★★★)

An amazing discovery, Cerha's 1980s work evoking the Viennese traditional music of his youth, reworked for a traditional ensemble, displaying great affection yet also a certain distance and in superb performances

When I first came across this recording I wondered what kind of instrument a Schrammel was! Luckily, the booklet explains, "a Viennese Schrammel Quartet owes its name to its name to the brothers Johann and Josef Schrammel, who became Vienna's musical calling card at the end of the 19th century alongside Johann Strauss and his waltzes. In memory of the legendary 'Schrammeln', their name became synonymous with exactly this line-up, in which polkas, marches, dances and waltzes were played in Vienna – and are still played". So we have two violins, Viennese button accordion and Viennese contra guitar, and the Attensam Quartett was founded to play both old and new Viennese music.

On this disc from Kairos, the Attensam Quartett (Annette Bik & Gunde Jäch-Micko, violins, Ingrid Eder, button accordion, Michael Öttl, contra-guitar) play Friedrich Cerha's Keintate I, II (parts) with baritone Holger Falk.

The whole project requires some explanation, particularly for a non-Viennese audience. The Attensam Quartett has an interest in more modern repertoire to exist alongside the tradition. A request to Friedrich Cerha to write for them took some years to come to fruition before he started arranging movements from his Keintate I & II for the quartet. In a booklet note Cerha explains that one of the attractions was the challenge of written for the particular type of accordion used in the Schrammel Quartet, different from a usual one. What we hear on this disc is a selection of movements from Cerha's original Keintate I & II (originally written in the 1980s) chosen simply according to their suitability for arrangement for Schrammel Quartet.

Thursday 23 June 2022

London Handel Orchestra at BST Hyde Park Open House

BST Hyde Park - Open House
BST Hyde Park is a large scale open-air event taking place in Hyde Park over three weekend, presenting names such as Elton John, the Eagles and Adele, and as part of this Open House presents a variety of other types of event - Joe Wicks' with the world's largest HIIT workout, anyone?

In what might be something of a first, on Monday 27 June 2022 the London Handel Orchestra, led by music director Lawrence Cummings and associate music director Adrian Brown, will be appearing at the festival with presenter YolanDa Brown in an all-Handel programme, including the Music for the Royal Fireworks, the Water Music Suite, four of the Coronation Anthem, and arias from Rinaldo and Solomon with solo soprano Rachel Redmond.

Further information from BST Hyde Park's website.

Returning to Bridgewater Hall for the first time since the pandemic, 200 young musicians from Chetham's School in Stravinsky & more

Musicians from Chetham's Symphony Orchestra rehearsing
Musicians from Chetham's Symphony Orchestra rehearsing

More than 200 young musicians will come together on the stage of Manchester's Bridgewater Hall on Friday 8 July 2022. Conductor Ben Palmer conducts Chetham's Symphony Orchestra and chorus that marks the end of the academic year and for many the end of their current musical education at Chetham’s School of Music before heading off to take up places at the UK's leading conservatoires and universities. The concert will also be the orchestra's first live concert since before the pandemic.

The programme includes Stravinsky's Rite of Spring plus Palmer's own Urban Fox, written specifically for the students of the orchestra, along with Korngold's Violin Concerto with Jordan Brooks (who is in the sixth form at Chetham's) as violin soloist, and RVW's Toward the Unknown Region.

Performing with Chetham’s Symphony Orchestra is a major performance opportunity for students at Chetham’s School of Music, the UK’s leading specialist music school for young people aged 8-18. More than 90% of students at the school receive financial support through bursaries, ensuring that entry is fair and accessible based on musical potential rather than financial background.

Full details from the Bridgewater Hall's website.

Never such innocence: Benjamin Hewat-Craw & Yuhao Guo in RVW, Butterworth & Gurney

Never such innocence - Vaughan Williams: The House of Life,  George Butterworth: Six songs of A Shropshire Lad; Ivor Gurney: Five Elizabethan Songs; Benjamin Hewat-Craw, Yuhao Guo; ARS Produktion
Never such innocence - Vaughan Williams: The House of Life,  George Butterworth: Six songs of A Shropshire Lad; Ivor Gurney: Five Elizabethan Songs; Benjamin Hewat-Craw, Yuhao Guo; ARS Produktion
Reviewed 21 June 2022 (★★★½)

An enterprising disc from the young German-based English baritone, bringing to the fore three highly poetic English song-cycles from the decade prior to World War One

Benjamin Hewat-Craw is a young English baritone based in German. His latest disc, Never such innocence on ARS Produktion, is a recital of English song with pianist Yuhao Guo, combining Vaughan Williams' The House of Life with George Butterworth's Six songs of A Shropshire Lad and Ivor Gurney's Five Elizabethan Songs.

Craw moved from England to Germany at the age of 22, studying at Cologne conservatoire from 2015-2018 with Christoph Prégardien, and his debut recording was Schubert's Winterreise released on ARS Produktion in 2020.

Wednesday 22 June 2022

The Firebird: an opera for puppets by Noah Mosley & Michael Rosen produced by English Touring Opera & the Little Angel Theatre

The Firebird takes a familiar story, reworked by Michael Rosen, and creates something charmingly different. Co-produced by English Touring Opera and the Little Angel Theatre, The Firebird is a puppet opera with music by Noah Mosley

Directed by Valentina Ceschi and designed by Little Angel Theatre's Ellie Mills, the film features puppets, a narrator, singers and instrumentalists coming together to tell a story. The story is familiar perhaps from the ballet; a magical fable about a selfish prince, a menacing king, and the eponymous firebird – a mystical creature of Russian folklore. Here we have a charmingly naive approach with the opera recorded live at the Little Angel Theatre, and there is some beautifully lyrical music by Mosley, with Aimee Louise Bevan as narrator and puppeteer, singers Rose Stachniewska, Richard Dowling, and Bradley Travis, and an instrumental ensemble of violin, horn, accordion, double bass plus Mosley on piano.

The video is available from ETO at Home.

The Lost Art of Frances Cole: recordings from the 1970s provide a glimpse of the art of the Black American harpsichordist

The Lost Art of Frances Cole: Bach, Scarlatti, Rameau, Gottschalk, Bartok, Ligeti, Howard Swanson; Frances Cole, Parnassus
The Lost Art of Frances Cole: Bach, Scarlatti, Rameau, Gottschalk, Bartok, Ligeti, Howard Swanson; Frances Cole, Parnassus
Reviewed 21 June 2021 (★★★)

Live recordings of a brilliantly eclectic recital by the Black American harpsichordist Frances Cole whose early death deprived us of a striking talent

The American harpsichordist Frances Cole (1937-1983) is not a particularly well-known name and her early death at the age of 45, after a long illness, did not help. Cole’s only commercial recording used her in a supporting role, Songs of Early Americans, featuring baritone Gordon Myers (Golden Crest RE 7020). But now the producer Leslie Gerber has resurrected private recordings that Cole made at Westminster Choir College in Princeton where she taught.

The Lost Art of Frances Cole on Parnassus Records' Black Swans (an imprint showcasing rare classical recordings by Black artists) features Frances Cole in a wide-ranging recital of music by Bach, Scarlatti, Rameau, Gottschalk, Bartok, Ligeti and Howard Swanson, all recorded live in 1974. 

Tuesday 21 June 2022

Bertie Baigent appointed Principal Assistant Conductor at Rotterdam Philharmonic after win at International Conducting Competition Rotterdam

Bertie Baigent (Photo Marije Schot)
Bertie Baigent (Photo Marije Schot)

Congratulations to conductor Bertie Baigent who, having won the Grand Prix at the International Conducting Competition Rotterdam (ICCR) earlier this month, has been appointed Principal Assistant Conductor of the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra. The appointment is for a term of one year, commencing this August, and he will lead a variety of family concerts and educational performances. as well as assisting Chief Conductor Lahav Shani in four concert weeks.

At the ICCR, Baigent won not only the Grand Prix, but the Classical and Symphonic prizes for performances with the Orchestra of the Eighteenth Century and Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra respectively.  Bertie Baigent is currently Music Director of Waterperry Opera Festival and Assistant Conductor with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra where he has assisted Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla on tour. Next month he makes his NHK Symphony (Tokyo) debut.

More on the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra's new season at its website. Waterperry Opera Festival runs from 12 to 20 August 2022, and Bertie Baigent conducts a new production of Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro, full details from the festival website.

A snapshot of music under lockdown: NMC's music map for The Big Lockdown Music Survey

NMC's Big Lockdown Music Survey
Lockdown changed the way we both produced and listened to music. In order to capture something of this, NMC Recordings held an open call for music created during lockdown, and the result is NMC's interactive music map released as part of its Big Lockdown Music Survey.

Creators of all ages and all levels of experience from across England submitted their music of all genres, some 200 pieces in all. 71 selected tracks have been included on the lockdown listening map whilst six regional partner organisations selected and curated album-length selections of music representing their region. The organisations involved include Psappha (North), Birmingham Record Company (Midlands), Spitalfields Music (Greater London), Stapleford Granary (East), October House Records (South East), and Bristol Beacon (South West).

You can explore the map with interactive filters including mood, genre, weather, and location, exploring lockdown in recorded sound. Contributing creators and artists whose tracks are selected were paid for their work according to a Musicians Union-approved fee scale, remunerating composers/performers whose work was cancelled as a result of the pandemic.

For those interested in more detail, there is detailed data analysis compiled by RNCM PRISM, available from NMC's website. NMC has also developed a free educational resource pack to share knowledge and expertise on home recording techniques, aimed at those who may have recently begun recording their own music for the first time or are studying music technology at school or college but have limited access to equipment. This comprehensive, free guide full of techniques and top tips from industry experts is available to download from the NMC website.

Read more about the map and explore it on the NMC website, and you can also explore the curated listening lists,

Celebrating 60 years of the Delius Society with new music and recent Delius discoveries

Frederick Delius in 1897 by Christian Krohg (1852–1925)
Frederick Delius in 1897 by Christian Krohg (1852–1925) 
The Delius Society is marking its 60th birthday with a concert at the Angela Burgess Recital Hall, Royal Academy of Music on Sunday 26 June 2022 which combines three newly commissioned pieces by Bo Holten, Ian Venables and Roderick Williams with Delius songs and chamber music including newly re-discovered pieces performed by Milly Forrest (soprano), Roderick Williams (baritone), Timothy Ridout (viola), Chiao-Ying Chang (piano), Eric McElroy (piano), The Carice Singers and the Coull Quartet.

There are three works written specially for anniversary concert. Bo Holten describes The Delian Madrigal as a "composition that expands and elaborates one of Delius’s ‘Two Songs for Children’.  Performances are rare, and my recomposition/arrangement is a way to have this charming piece more often performed by madrigal groups or choirs." Ian Venables's Hermes Trismegistus is a scena for soprano, viola and piano that sets a text by Longfellow. Roderick Williams' To be sung on a winter night on frozen water was born out of lockdown while the composer was holed up in Amsterdam when a cold snap caused the canals to freeze over, paying tribute to Delius' choral work. Williams' describes his new piece as "a lot of fun … and a little bit naughty here and there!"

Also in the programme will be the recently rediscovered Six Piano Pieces, two lost songs which were recently acquired in New York by the Delius Trust, and the first movement of Delius' String Quartet (from 1889) the manuscript of which was only found in 2020, plus the Violin Sonata No. 2 transcribed for viola by Lionel Tertis, and three songs arranged by Roderick Williams.

Further details from EventBrite

Giving voice to unconventional instruments: the Lawrence Graduate Bayreuth Tuben Quintet

Eve Beglarian, Alex Temple, Moondog, Rei Colman, Arvo Part, John Cage; Lawrence Graduate Bayreuth Tuben Quintet

Eve Beglarian, Alex Temple, Moondog, Rei Coman, Arvo Part, John Cage; Lawrence Graduate Bayreuth Tuben Quintet
Reviewed 14 June 2022 (★★★½)

A quintet of Wagner tubas in a remarkable reinvention of repertoire, demonstrating the instrument's versatility

Lawrence Graduate Bayreuth Tuben Quintet is a Wagner tuba quintet that is "comprised of at least six members who identify as, know, or would like to know, someone who is LGBTQ+. By queering Wagner, we celebrate and give voice to unconventional instruments and non-traditional ensembles.". The ensemble's eponymous first disc was released in May 2022 (somewhat disrupted by the pandemic), and it features contemporary music by Eve Beglarian, Alex Temple, Rei Coman and Arvo Pärt alongside music by two 20th century disturbers of the standard order, Moondog and John Cage.

The Wagner tuba (German plural 'tuben') is a four-valve brass instrument commissioned by Richard Wagner, inspired by his experience of Saxhorns. The size and bore is midway between a euphonium and a French horn, and the instrument is played with a horn mouthpiece. Most of the music on the disc was not written for Wagner tuba quintet, and each piece creates its own distinctive sound-world.

Monday 20 June 2022

From Father Willis' last organ to English musical life around 1700 and the musical coal-merchant: King's Lynn Festival's Early Music Day

Thomas Brittain, the musical small coal-man
Thomas Brittain, the musical small coal-man
The King’s Lynn Festival takes place from Sunday 17 July until Saturday 30 July 2022, presenting a range of classical music, recitals, choral performances, jazz, folk, talks, walks, exhibitions and films. On Saturday 23 July, the festival is presenting its 2022 Early Music Day with three concerts at St Nicholas Chapel.

The day begins with a lunchtime organ recital from Coventry Cathedral’s director of music, Rachel Mahon. She will play the chapel's Henry Willis organ, the last instrument on which Father Willis worked on before his death.

Period instrument ensemble Spiritato will be joined by mezzo-soprano Ciara Hendrick for The Taste of the Nation, a programme that explores English music at the juncture of the 17th and 18th centuries, following Henry Purcell's death in 1695, giving a vibrant picture of the changing fashions and astonishing success of Italian styles, genres and indeed musicians at the dawn of the 1700s.

For the late-night concert, Ensemble Hesperi, paint a picture of London’s vibrant musical scene in the early 1700s, through the lens of the extraordinary coal merchant Thomas Britton, one of London’s first concert promoters!

Full details from the festival website.

Composers Alexander Papp, Darius Paymai, Florence Anna Maunders, James Banner, and Robert Crehan join LCO New

London Chamber Orchestra (LCO) has announced the new cohort for its LCO New scheme
London Chamber Orchestra (LCO) has announced the new cohort for its LCO New scheme, which supports emerging composers who haven’t yet heard their work performed by a professional orchestra. The five composers being supported are Alexander Papp, Darius Paymai, Florence Anna Maunders, James Banner, and Robert Crehan.

These composers will take part in meetings and collaborative group workshops throughout the summer with LCO's 21/22 Composer in Residence, Freya Waley-Cohen, offering participants the opportunity to work with LCO musicians to compose a new piece for LCO. All five new pieces will be performed and recorded at LCO’s 22/23 season opening concert.

To open its 2022-23 season, Christopher Warren-Green conducts the orchestra in Dani Howard's Fanfare, Dvorak's Symphony No. 9 and the five new works from the LCO New composers at St John's Smith Square on 23 September 2022.

Full details from the LCO website.

New season, new venues: the North-West's longest-standing chamber orchestra, the Northern Chamber Orchestra's 2022-23 season

Northern Chamber Orchestra in Macclesfield, January 2022
Northern Chamber Orchestra in Macclesfield, January 2022

The Northern Chamber Orchestra is the North-West's longest-standing chamber orchestra and its recently announced 2022-23 season features a series of concerts in two contrasting venues in Macclesfield, the brand new, purpose built, auditorium at The Kings’ School and the beautiful, intimate St Michael’s Church, along with Christmas appearances at Tatton Park.

The season opens with the Hallé’s assistant conductor Delyana Lazrova directing an all-Beethoven programme including the Violin Concerto with Jennifer Pike. Other highlights including Jamie Phillips directing Finzi's Clarinet Concerto with soloist Elizabeth Jordan, cellist Guy Johnston in Haydn's Cello Concerto No. 2 in a concert directed by Guy's brother Magnus Johnston which also includes music by RVW and Shostakovich, Rudolf Karel’s Nonet (written in Theresienstadt prison during WWII) alongside Spohr's Nonet, Four Seasons from Piazzolla and Vivaldi, and a Baroque sequence directed by Christopher Jones and with soprano Caroline Taylor and countertenor Ralph Thomas Williams in Pergolesi's Stabat Mater alongside music by the Soviet-born American composer Lera Auerbach.

The season ends with a pair of concerts contrasting old and new, a focus on wind instruments pairs Mozart's Gran partita with music by Joachim Raff and the 20th century British composer Ruth Gipps. Then Spanish violinist Jorge Jimenez directs the orchestra in three of Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos alongside two 20th century works, Arvo Pärt's Fratres and Alfred Schnittke's Suite in the Old Style.  

Full details from the orchestra's website.

Youthful enterprise: Longhope Opera is presenting Donizetti's L'elisir d'amore with an entire company under 30 years old

Longhope Opera
Longhope Opera

Longhope Opera is an annual event on the Longhope Estate in Newton Valence, Hampshire, which not only gives guests the experience of enjoying opera and other events in the grounds of the beautiful estate, but also provides support for emerging professionals. This year, Scherzo Ensemble, artistic director Matthew O'Keeffe, will be presenting staged performances of Donizetti's L'elisir d'amore with an entire company (performers, creatives, technical staff and management) under 30 years old. 

In October 2021, I caught Matthew O'Keeffe, Scherzo Ensemble and the Strand Consort in Bach's St Matthew Passion [see my review] and Matthew is also the artistic director of Brixton Chamber Orchestra [see my article]

The aim is to help young practitioners gain paid professional experience and build their confidence to create and produce projects independently. Everyone involved also contributes to areas outside of their specialism, enhancing team-spirit and insight into the artistic process.

This year's performances include Astrid Joos as Adina, James Beddoe as Nemorino, Benoît Déchelotte as Belcore and William Stevens as Dulcamara. There will also be a special performance for children; working together with the Hampshire Music Service, Longhope Opera have invited hundreds of children to enjoy the opera and a picnic dinner at the charming estate.

In previous years, Scherzo Ensemble has presented Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro, Rossini's The Barber of Seville and Il turco in Italia at Longhope.

Donizetti's L'elisir d'amore is at Longhope Opera on 2 and 3 July 2022. Prior to the opera performances, there are chamber performances in the grounds. Full details from the Longhope Opera website.

Sunday 19 June 2022

Madcap theatre & magnificent music: Janacek's The Excursions of Mr. Brouček at Grange Park Opera

Janacek: The Excursions of Mr. Brouček  - Robin Horgan as Spotcek on the Moon - Grange Park Opera (Photo Marc Brenner)
Janacek: The Excursions of Mr. Brouček  - Robin Horgan as Spotcek on the Moon - Grange Park Opera (Photo Marc Brenner)

Considering that it is mature-period Janacek, his opera Výlety páně Broučkovy (The Excursions of Mr. Brouček) is a remarkable rarity. And whilst the work is problematically challenging, this sort of selective view of a composer is typical of the way we can be rather reductive in our view of them, concentrating on a few favoured works. Recent performances in the UK include English National Opera in 1992 and Opera North in 2009, and in concert by Jiří Bělohlávek and the BBC Symphony Orchestra in 2007.

That 1992 performance was directed by David Pountney, and Pountney was again at the helm for Grange Park Opera's enterprising staging of Janacek's The Excursions of Mr. Brouček (seen Saturday 18 June 2022). Conducted by George Jackson with the BBC Concert Orchestra, and with designs by Leslie Travers and Marie-Jeanne Lecca, choreography by Lynne Hockney, lighting by Tim Mitchell, the performance featured Peter Hoare as Brouček, plus Fflur Wyn, Mark Le Brocq, Andrew Shore, and Clive Bayley

Janacek's route to creating opera was neither direct nor straightforward. He wrote Jenufa between 1894 and 1903 (in fact his third opera), it premiered 1904 but Janacek revised it in 1908 and 1915, and the work became popularised in a version not the composer's, ironing out the perceived eccentricities. That he was trying for a different type of opera is seen by his next one, Osud (1903-1905, revised 1906-1907) which has a libretto by one of his students and by Janacek himself. The experimental nature of the libretto meant that the work was never produced in his life time. Next came The Excursions of Mr. Brouček, which Janacek worked on from 1908 to 1917. It's premiere in 1920 was not a great success, and for his next opera Janacek returned to something less experimental, Káťa Kabanová (1920-21), based on an Ostrovsky play. The Cunning Little Vixen (1921-1923) returned to the more experimental manner, short scenes moving into each other and less focus on the 'well-made-play' aspect of Jenufa and Káťa Kabanová, with their focus on their heroines. The Makropoulos Affair (1923-1925) is fascinating, but never quite achieves take-off until the final scene. With From the House of the Dead (1927-1928), Janacek managed to achieve his perfect synthesis, short, filmic scenes, plenty of character but no single overall focus, a miraculous portrait of a community.

Janacek: The Excursions of Mr. Brouček  - Peter Hoare, Fflur Wyn - Grange Park Opera (Photo Marc Brenner)
Janacek: The Excursions of Mr. Brouček  - Peter Hoare, Fflur Wyn - Grange Park Opera (Photo Marc Brenner)

Saturday 18 June 2022

A strong affinity to melodic music: I chat to composer John Brunning about his works for guitar

John Brunning (Photo Classic FM)
John Brunning (Photo Classic FM)

John Brunning
is perhaps best known as one of Classic FM's longest-serving presenters, but his background also takes in rock including performing in bands such as Mungo Jerry. John is also a composer, and now classical guitarist Xuefei Yang [read my 2020 interview with Xuefei] has recorded a disc of his works for guitar. Recorded in Dolby Atmos and released by Platoon on 27 May, the album features Xuefei alongside the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra and conductor Clark Rundell, with a  guest appearance from cellist Johannes Moser. I recently met up with John to find out more.

The disc features two major works, Concerto Magna Carta for guitar and orchestra, and Five Romances for guitar and orchestra, plus Lacrimosa for guitar and cello. John admits that the name of the concerto is largely irrelevant. Wanting to avoid yet another Concerto for Guitar, John asked the listeners of his Classic FM show to suggest titles. He wanted a title which made it clear that it was an English work, to distinguish it from the many Spanish guitar concertos. As the work is quite traditional and was completed in 2015 (the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta), the name seemed obvious. 

John Brunning & Xuefei Yang
John Brunning & Xuefei Yang

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