Friday 17 March 2023

Bringing song to South East London: Jocelyn Freeman's SongEasel celebrates its fifth anniversary with Quintessential Song

SongEasel's 2020 project, 'MiniWinterreise' with Nigerian soprano, Francesca Chiejina
SongEasel's 2020 project, MiniWinterreise with Nigerian soprano, Francesca Chiejina

Pianist Jocelyn Freeman's SongEasel, tag-line 'Bringing song to South East London', is celebrating its fifth anniversary (and the achievement of charitable status) with Quintessential Song, a series that presents seven recitals across South East London. Quintessential Song is launched by baritone Stephan Loges and pianist Jocelyn Freeman on 22 April 2023 at Blackheath Halls where they will be performing Brahms, Robert & Clara Schuman, plus Marie von Kehler and Ethel Smyth. Also at Blackheath Halls, soprano Lorena Paz Lieto and pianist Sholto Kynoch will be performing songs by Walton, Poulenc and Ginastera.

Britten's Canticles are being performed at lunchtime concerts at St Laurence's Church, Catford, where SongEasel first began. Stuart Jackson (tenor) will be joined by George Strivens (horn) and Jocelyn Freeman (piano) for Canticle I & III, Ben Johnson (tenor), Theo Platt (baritone), Tim Morgan (countertenor) and Keval Shah (piano) perform Canticle II & IV, and Aoife Miskelly (soprano) and Anne Denholm (harp) perform Canticle V as part of a recital for voice and harp.

And celebrating the anniversary proper, a larger ensemble gathers at St Catherine’s Church, Hatcham, when James Newby (baritone), Leon Bosch (double bass), the Piatti Quartet and Jocelyn Freeman (piano) will perform Schubert’s Trout Quintet alongside songs by Schubert and Finzi.

As always, SongEasel programmes recitals in tandem with education and outreach projects that engage the local community. This series includes a schools programme exploring songs from around the world, exploring  Britten Pears Arts' Friday Afternoons library. Shakespeare's Full Fathom Five from The Tempest is the inspiration for a Young Artist Programme at Blackheath Halls themed around the sea in all its power and variety, with English settings alongside Brahms and some watery Chinese songs. 

SongEasel also offers an informal Fringe Programme, which Freeman conceived during the first year of the pandemic as a way of combatting isolation. 'I wanted to recreate the normality of the musical café culture of 19th-century Paris, where friends could gather for drinks and enjoy light entertainment: basically the musical equivalent of going down the pub to the footy! We launched the programme last year and the response has been amazing.'

SongEasel's Quintessential Song runs from 22 April to 2 July 2023, further information from their website.

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