Penelope Thwaites is interviewed about her latest CD, From Five Continents
Penelope Thwaites is interviewed about her latest CD, From Five Continents
The studio recording of ‘The Roaring Whirl’ is being released 27 years after its recording. Composer Sarah Rodgers (left) and Geraldine Allen (middle left) live in Holme Hale, near Swaffham. Picture: Roy Cuckow
Sarah Rodgers and Geraldine Allen – who live in Holme Hale, near Swaffham – have finally unveiled The Roaring Whirl, a music narrative commissioned for Ms Rodgers to write in the early-90s.
Set in the north Indian Punjab of Rudyard Kipling’s novel, ‘Kim’, the final product featured Ms Allen as clarinettist and brought together a wide range of cultures and musical styles.
It was completed in 1992 and set to be premiered at the Nottingham NOW Festival, but tragedy struck when Ms Allen was involved in a car crash and suffered serious neck injuries.
Her recovery took far longer than expected and The Roaring Whirl’s commercial release was put on hold – until now.
The Roaring Whirl CD, recorded in 1992, which is now being released by composer Sarah Rodgers and clarinetist Geraldine Allen of Holme Hale. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY
“Sarah was commissioned to write this piece of music and part of the process was having a recording made,” said Ms Allen.
“What was exciting for me as a western player was the crossover of cultures. It was a learning curve for both of us in the most creative of ways.
“Six months after the recording I had an accident and it became evident I could no longer physically cope with playing the clarinet. Ultimately I couldn’t carry on my professional career.”
Composer Sarah Rodgers, left, and clarinetist, Geraldine Allen, of Holme Hale, who are now releasing a CD called The Roaring Whirl which they recorded in 1992. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY
Nearly three decades later, the recording is being made available to a wider audience and will be released on Divine Art Recordings Group’s contemporary music label, Métier.
During a special launch at the Royal Society of Musicians next month, the album will be presented and Ms Allen will play an extract from the opening narrative, ‘India Awakes’.
Having moved to Norfolk 11 years ago and embraced the county’s blossoming music scene, the musical maestros are excited for the public to finally hear this intriguing musical showpiece.
“I’m particularly pleased this CD has come out because it is Geraldine playing at the height of her career,” added Ms Rodgers. “It’s there forever now and that can’t be taken away.
“One of the great things about the recording process in those days is that most of it was done in one take. It has a terrific freshness to it and gives you a flavour of a real live performance.”
– The Roaring Whirl will be released on September 18 and can be pre-ordered via divineartrecords.com.
Naxos is releasing a 20-CD Boxed Set of the Maggini’s recordings of British string quartets on 13 September 2019.
From Alwyn and Arnold to Vaughan Williams and Walton, via Bax, Bridge, Britten, Elgar, Ireland and Moeran, to name but a few. This is diverse and wonderful repertoire and remains central to the Quartet’s programming and ongoing commitment to bringing it to new audiences.
These acclaimed CDs have received international awards including Gramophone Chamber Music CD of the Year, Diapason d’Or of the Year, and two Grammy Nominations, and have been frequent Editor’s choices in Gramophone and also BBC Music Magazine.
The London Philharmonic Orchestra announces the appointment of Edward Gardner as its next Principal Conductor, the first British Principal Conductor of the Orchestra since the late 1960s. Gardner will take up his position at the start of the 2021/22 season. His initial five-year contract will see him working with the Orchestra for a minimum of 10 weeks per season, including its London season as Resident Orchestra at Southbank Centre’s Royal Festival Hall, on international tours and with the Orchestra’s many ground-breaking Education & Community programmes.
Currently Chief Conductor of the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra, Gardner first conducted the London Philharmonic Orchestra in 2003 and has since returned for concerts at the Royal Festival Hall, Snape Maltings and Glyndebourne. Most recently he has conducted the Orchestra both in London and on tour in the United States. During the 2019/20 season Gardner will appear four times in London with the Orchestra and he will also open its 2020/21 season.
Much in demand as a guest-conductor, Gardner’s recent seasons have included performances with the Metropolitan Opera, New York Philharmonic, Chicago Symphony, San Francisco Symphony, Gewandhausorchester Leipzig, Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, Orchestra del Teatro alla Scala di Milano, Wiener Symphoniker and his debut at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, where he returns in September to conduct Massenet’s Werther.
Edward Gardner said:
“I’m thrilled to have been appointed Principal Conductor of the LPO. I worked with the Orchestraearly in my career and I was quite overwhelmed by the brilliance and virtuosity of the musicians. Returning to the Orchestra recently I’ve felt a sense of pleasure and privilege working with this inspiring group of musicians and relished the passion and hunger the LPO brings to performance. I’m looking forward to our collaboration with huge anticipation and excitement.”
Pascal Quoirin, who restored the famous organ in 2017, announced that there was no damage to the instrument. He spent two hours examining the electronic components and pipes, and could see no effects of the fire, stating that the temperature inside the organ did not reach above 17°C on the day of the blaze.
Notre-Dame Cathedral has been home to an organ since the 14th century, but has since been subject to many renovations and rebuilds. In 1730 the original organ was replaced (and survived numerous attempts to vandalise it during the French Revolution, the scars of which can still be seen on the organ case.)
In 1963, improviser extraordinaire Pierre Cochereau oversaw a replacement of the console, and further renovations of the instrument followed in 1990, 1992, 2012 and 2014.
One of the cathedral’s three resident organists, Vincent Dubois, said that the organ had been worked on by some of the world’s great builders and said that ‘the synthesis of all that work is just a miracle’.
It is also a miracle that the instrument survived the flames, as well as the enormous volume of water that went into the attempt to save the cathedral. It was thanks to the slanted stone roof above the organ, which created an umbrella over the instrument, that the water from the hoses slid over it.
This year’s programmers have clearly given thought to female composers, from the 12th-century Hildegard of Bingen, via Barbara Strozzi and Fanny Hensel, to significant figures of our own day such as Judith Weir, Errollyn Wallen and Anna Þorvaldsdóttir. Indeed, last year the BBC promised that by 2022, half of all Proms commissions would be given to women.
The headcount of more than 30 female composers in the programme this year looks impressive – at least compared with previous festivals. On the other, their contribution adds up to only around six hours of music, spread over 75 concerts (most of which last a couple of hours or more). Crucially, around half of these six hours of music will be performed outside the Royal Albert Hall – in much smaller venues, including Cadogan Hall.
Women still aren’t taking up enough time, or space, in the Proms and for no good or plausible reason. Here are some suggestions for the programmers: a semi-staging of Weir’s Night at the Chinese Opera; an encore for Wallen’s music for the opening of the 2012 Para-Olympics; a further performance of Grime’s Woven Space composed for the LSO. That is already well over the 6 hours being allocated to 30 composers.
Isata Kanneh-Mason, the pianist and sister of the acclaimed young cellist Sheku, has signed with Decca Classics to record an album of music by Clara Schumann in the composer’s 200th anniversary year. Kanneh-Mason, 22, is the eldest of seven siblings, all extraordinarily talented musicians. She was a finalist in the piano category for 2014’s BBC Young Musician of the Year, and was awarded the competition’s Walter Todds Bursary for most promising musician.
Clara Schumann, born Clara Wieck in Leipzig in 1819, was a piano prodigy who made her public debut aged 11. Acclaimed across Europe, she was one of the 19th century’s foremost concert pianists, and, in the early years of her adult life, she also composed – a piano concerto (written when she was 14), songs, chamber music and solo piano pieces.
Kanneh-Mason’s all-Schumann album, set for a July release, includes the piano concerto (with New Zealand conductor Holly Mathieson and Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra), solo piano works and the composer’s three romances for violin and piano, with US violinist Elena Urioste. Clara Schumann’s music will also feature in two of this year’s Proms, only the second season in which it has been programmed.
German composer Kurt Weill is ranked high among the best of the 20th century and his music remains popular outside the classical world, from the enduring jazz standard Mack the Knife in his Threepenny Opera, to the Alabama Song covered by the Doors and David Bowie. But not all of Weill’s melodies survived the Nazi clampdown on Jewish culture.
Now, thanks to the work of an academic at University College London, a suppressed Weill stage hit that posed a puzzle for modern musicians is to be revived and performed in a fresh translation. The research of Michael Berkowitz, professor of Jewish history at UCL, in collaboration with the show’s new translator and director, Leo Doulton, has unlocked the mystery of The Tsar Wants His Photograph Taken and made it clear why this satirical work of 1927 was once so heavily suppressed. A performance on 4 May, the first with a full professional cast and orchestra for almost 40 years, will at last set the opera in its proper context, after 80 years of being largely ignored both in Germany and elsewhere.
It tells the story of a woman photographer working in Paris in 1914 who is asked to take a portrait of the tsar as part of an assassination plot. The Nazis stopped it being performed not just because of what then would have been its obvious Jewishness, but because it was not a black-and-white story.
The Bloomsbury Theatre production of The Tsar Wants His Photograph Taken has been commissioned by UCL Culture as part of Performance Lab, a season of symposiums and live performances.
Odaline de la Martinex heads up the latest outing of this fascinating festival launched in 2006. The festival explores and celebrates the work of major American composers and reflects the variety of style that is so characteristic of contemporary American music today.
With a wide selection of well-known and successful composers, the festival reflects new music in America today, as well as diversity of gender, generation and geography. Some of the composers Ruth Crawford Seeger, John Harbison, Florence Price, George Crumb, Samuel Barber and Aaron Copland are Deans of American Music. Others though well known in the States, are emerging voices outside their native North America, and were selected specifically to treat UK audiences to a broader spectrum of the best of American music today. Featured are world premieres by Barbara Jazwinski, James Lee III, Elena Ruehr, and Sarah Rikus as well as UK Premieres to include Augusta Read Thomas, Fred Lerdahl, Jorge Sosa and many more. Many of the composers featured will be attending the festival. Most of the pieces presented will be UK or European premieres.
A special celebration of the bi-centenary of the birth of John Ruskin sees dual performances in London and California of Rodgers’ The King of the Golden River. The performance in London is part of a scripted evening told about and by John Ruskin, featuring actor, Michael Palin. Rodgers has also provided settings for three new songs to Ruskin texts and other incidental music for tenor and string quartet.
The nominations fall into 12 categories including orchestral, jazz, sonic art, chamber ensemble, stage works and wind or brass band.
Many of this year’s works give a voice to marginalised or disadvantaged groups in society, such as Solace by Conall Gleeson, written for an orchestra in recovery from drug and alcohol addiction. Others take inspiration from other art forms, such as Dee Isaacs’s The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, which applies the themes of Coleridge’s poem to the plight of refugees today.
A record-breaking year for entries, 2018 saw over 560 submissions. ‘As ever it’s hugely exciting and inspiring to see the fresh passion represented by our first-time nominees,’ said Crispin Hunt, chair at BASCA. ‘Congratulations to everyone nominated.’
The winners in each category will be announced at a ceremony at the British Museum on 4 December 2018. Presented BBC Radio 3’s Andrew McGregor and Sara Mohr-Pietsch, the ceremony will include a performance in memory of nominated composer Oliver Knussen.
BBC Sounds has been officially launched at an event at London’s Tate Modern, with the Director-General promising that the new offering would support a ‘whole new generation of talent’.
The corporation’s new app and online platform launches with 20 new podcasts, 40 playlists curated by artists and the BBC’s music experts, and more than 100 hours of classic BBC comedy and drama from the archives.
It also provides live and on demand access to BBC radio stations (replacing BBC iPlayer Radio), and for the first time also showcases a back-catalogue of non-BBC podcasts including award-winning series such as Griefcast and Beef and Dairy Network.
Director general Tony Hall is expected to say the move will mean historic and recent performances are “returned to the public”.
They will be available on services such as BBC iPlayer and the BBC Sounds app.
Lord Hall is expected to reveal the plans at the launch of the BBC’s year-long classical music project, Our Classical Century on Thursday evening.
The project will look back at 100 years of classical music in the UK and will be covered online and on BBC Four, BBC Two and Radio 3.
The corporation has one of the biggest classical music archives in the world, with recordings from the BBC Proms, BBC orchestras and choirs along with BBC Young Musician and BBC Introducing.
Lord Hall is expected to say: “In time, you will also be able to find them by using voice activation technology to make your own journey through classical music.
“Whilst the way we consume and share content is changing rapidly, music’s ability to bring us together has stayed the same, and classical music’s role in that should not be underestimated.”
Monday 19th May, 2018, saw the world premiere of Labyrinths by Sarah Rodgers, for 8 hands at 2 pianos, performed by Piano40 at the Purcell Room on London’s Southbank.
Three other contemporary works were in the programme: Botanic Gardens, by Edward McGuire; Tronow by Richard Nye; and Piano Forty, by Cecilia McDowall.
A new work for ensemble, Piano40, has been commissioned by them for their Purcell Room concert in May.
A commission from Orchestras Live brings Rodgers together with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment for a new work which is part of the Norfolk Paston Papers celebrations.
Later in the year, Sarah will be editing and contributing to a collection of new compositions for publishers, Stainer&Bell. To find out more, visit Sarah Rodgers’ website
Singers and players are invited to participate in a performance of Handel’s The Messiah in aid of those affected by the fire at Grenfell Tower.
The performance will take place at 7pm in the Holy Trinity Church, Prince Consort Road, South Kensington on 8 October.
Organised by David Meacock and the A40 Choir, the event will follow the same format as the Messiah 4 Haiti and Messiah 4 Philippines performances.
Players and singers will rehearse at 2.30pm before performing that evening. Further information may be found here
Tickets cost £15 for singers, £10 for audience members, and £5 for students under 21. Amateur players (grade 8+) are asked to make a voluntary donation of £15, but music college and professional players can participate for free.
The long and vibrant tradition of art-song in England has seen many great composers from Finzi to Vaughan Williams, Gurney to Moeran and Warlock and countless more, supported for many years now by the English Poetry and Song Society.
This is the fourth of four albums of live EPSS concert performances made by Dunelm for private use and now on general release due to demand; it contains works by major composers and several talented members of the EPSS, some of whom have recently become much better known and successful, including Jeffrey Whitton, Laura Shur and Sarah Rodgers. Based around music by Ivor Gurney, E.J. Moeran and Sulyen Caradon, the recital is wide ranging and a fine demonstration of English art-song.
These EPSS recordings were made on portable recording equipment and with less than ideal microphone placement and are not to our usual modern standard. However they contain fine performances and many very unfamiliar and exquisite songs, which will delight any lover of late-Romantic vocal music.
Lights Out: English Art-Song is released by Divine Art (DDV 24165) on 18th August.
Chinese students attending the Newark School of Violin-making are facing deportation, not due to Brexit (come on – they’re from China) but due to the College failing aspects of its Ofsted and losing the necessary status to be able to sponsor overseas students. This puts the students, who are part-way through their courses, in a financial and career-path mess. They came in good faith and now through no fault of their own are put in a position of having to leave the country. Hopefully, someone with some influence can intervene and protect not only the careers of these young people but also the reputation of the college and the UK.
The Octava app trialled by the RPO just a couple of months ago is already dividing opinion. Are you ready to sacrifice the sanctity of the concert hall to allow new members of the audience to ‘get into classical’ by receiving information about the performance as it happens, using this US-developed app? The jury may be out but the RPO has said it received positive feedback. Not to be outdone, the Philharmonia has used virtual reality headsets to expand the experience of listening to Sibelius 5th symphony.
Jeannin, who is currently musical director of la Maîtraise de Radio France and the French Radio Chorus, will be the first female conductor of the BBC Singers. She will take over in July 2018 from current chief conductor David Hill, who has held the post for ten years.
The only full-time professional chamber choir in the UK, the BBC Singers have a broad repertoire, performing music from across the centuries.
‘The BBC Singers represent a performance level which is any conductor’s dream,’ says Jeannin. ‘They are a truly marvellous group and working with them is a joyful experience. The values of excellence, of a rich and varied season, of the closeness with the audiences in the halls and through our radio broadcasts are missions that one cannot treat lightly.’
As chief conductor designate, Jeannin will lead the BBC Singers in a performance at this summer’s BBC Proms, as well as in performances around the UK.
‘We’re thrilled to welcome Sofi to our BBC Orchestras and Choirs family,’ says Alan Davey, controller of BBC Radio 3. ‘I look forward to watching the Singers continue to grow and thrive under Sofi’s direction.’
A lunchtime concert including Adès’s Piano Quintet and his second string quartet, The Four Quarters, together with piano duets by Walton and Lutosławski, was followed by an evening concert, featuring the Calder Quartet and Birmingham Contemporary Music Group, with Adès himself and Nicolas Hodges sharing pianistic duties.
There were just two of Adès’s own works. The bright, brash Concerto Conciso, which he wrote for BCMG in 1997, packs three movements into just eight minutes of brittle polyrhythms, while his first quartet, Arcadiana, now more than 20 years old, still serves as a perfect demonstration of how he can weave a whole tapestry of musical and extra-musical allusions into his works yet create something that is utterly distinctive and entirely his own.
Other works performe were by Kurtág, Janáček and Gerald Barry.
The results of the election were announced at the end of March by the independent scrutineer. The ballot of members was held between 6 and 27 March 2017 and there were two candidates: MU Executive Committee member Kathy Dyson and MU Assistant General Secretary Horace Trubridge.
Horace Trubridge says:
“I am absolutely delighted that the members have chosen me to take the Union forward following John Smith’s retirement in July. Having spent the last few months travelling around the country and talking to the members, I have a very clear vision of where the Union should be heading – building on John’s fantastic work of the last fifteen years – and I am eager to get started. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Executive Committee and all the members of our Union for their tremendous support, I look forward to justifying that support and meeting the difficult challenges that lay ahead.”
The first ever Scottish Awards for New Music have been awarded at a ceremony in Glasgow. The new awards, backed by Creative Scotland, aim to celebrate and champion Scottish composers, musicians, sound artists and ensembles which are creating innovative and experimental work.
‘These are the [people] who are driving forward one of Scotland’s most exciting and experimental music sectors,’ said Alan Morrison, head of music at Creative Scotland.
Over 180 artists were nominated for the awards by fellow artists, audience members and the general public, and the nominees ranged from amateur musicians to household names.
The award winners are:
Red Note Ensemble
Help Musicians UK Award for New Music Performers of the Year, presented by Claire Geveaux
Ailie Robertson, composer and curator
Royal Conservatoire of Scotland Award for Achievement in New Music, presented by Janet Archer, chief executive of Creative Scotland
Hanna Tuulikki for SOURCEMOUTH: LIQUIDBODY
Holiday Inn Award for Sound Art / Electroacoustic Work, presented by Oliver Searle, chair of New Music Scotland
Robert Irvine for Songs and Lullabies, Delphian Records
EVM Award for Recorded New Work, presented by Alan Morrison, head of music at Creative Scotland
Drake Music Scotland – Wagner’s School of Cool
Royal Conservatoire of Scotland Award for Community/Education Project, presented by Gordon McPherson, head of composition at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland
David Fennessy for Panopticon
Dorico Award for Small/medium Scale Work sponsored by Steinberg, presented by Richard Llewelyn
Helen Grime for Two Eardley Pictures: Catterline in Winter and Snow
Large Scale Work sponsored by PRS for Music, presented by Stuart Fleming and Harriet Wybor
Continuing the BBC Concert Orchestra’s commitment to new music, Dobrinka takes the reins from Associate Composer Guy Barker, who over four years with the orchestra premiered works including The Lanterne Of Light at the BBC Proms with soloist Alison Balsom in 2015 and his Soho Symphony, based on London’s Soho region, as part of the 2014 EFG London Jazz Festival.
Tabakova’s new role will see her work with the orchestra for an initial period of three years, with her first orchestral commission scheduled for the orchestra’s 18-19 season, to be premiered at Southbank Centre’s Queen Elizabeth Hall, where the BBC Concert Orchestra is Associate Orchestra.
As well as exploring Tabakova’s existing compositions, the role will include three orchestral commissions from BBC Radio 3 for the BBC Concert Orchestra. Tabakova will also participate in the artistic planning and direction of the orchestra’s work as a whole, including concerts, recordings and learning projects.
It was an immense pleasure and no small privilege to attend the unveiling ceremony of the newly commissioned sculpture to commemorate the life and work of Sir John Tavener. On Friday 11th November, a packed Winchester Cathedral listened to extracts from the Veil of the Temple, sung by Patricia Rozario. Sir John’s Evensong settings were performed by the Cathedral Choir under Andy Lumsden and the congregation participated in chants and responses throughout the service.
A smaller gathering continued after the service to the act of dedication including prayers led by Metropolitan Kalistos at the Federov icons before the sculpture itself was unveiled. Created by Angela Conner, the sculpture is fashioned in glass and represents the fluidity of art and life. If you want to find it, walk past the chancel on the south side and look to the wall on your right.
Lady Tavener gave a moving dedication as the sculpture was unveiled. Several composers were present including Judith Weir, Master of the Queen’s Music and John Rutter, an alumnus with Tavener of Highgate School and a lifelong friend.
The evening concluded with a sublime performance by Andrew Watts and Fretwork of Tavener’s Nipson, commissioned by the BBC in 1998.
The evening celebrations had been preceded by a Symposium on Sir John’s music at Winchester University, led by ISM member Professor June Boyce-Tillman.
As a line from the Veil of the Temple says, ‘You struck fire in my heart and I have been consumed!’ Such is the power of music.
The first complete performance of Spectrum 5 will be given in the Britten Theatre at the Royal College of Music on Saturday 5th November at 5.30 p.m. The concert will be hosted by the RCM Junior Department and performers of these fifteen concert miniatures will be JD student pianists, present and past. Tickets are required but they are free and they will be available from the RCM Box Office 020 7591 4314 from 8th October.
The composers of the specially commissioned pieces in Spectrum 5 are Victoria Borisova-Ollas, Philip Cashian, Chen Yi, Michael Finnissy, Cheryl Frances-Hoad, Graham Fitkin, Helen Grime, Gavin Higgins, Gabriel Jackson, Harold Meltzer, Poul Ruders, Timothy Salter, Howard Skempton, Karen Tanaka and Huw Watkins. The level of difficulty ranges very approximately from ABRSM Grade 6 to Diploma. The aim of this collection, as with every volume in the Spectrum series, has been to commission some of the world’s most distinguished composers to write pieces of modest length and difficulty, whilst preserving the essential characteristics of their compositional style.
A recording of all 15 new works, performed by Thalia Myers will be released early in November ((USK 1233DL).
Buy USK recordings at tutti.co.uk
Click below to go to the BBC Composer of the Week web site, where you can play or download a one hour-long podcast, summarising the 5 previously broadcast programmes in honour of the 100th anniversary of Bernard Stevens’ birthday:
The broadcast times are:
Monday July 4th – 12 noon & again at 6.30 pm (repeat)
Tuesday July 5th – 12 noon & again at 6.15 pm (repeat)
Wednesday July 6th – 12 noon only – no repeat
Thursday July 7th – 12 noon & again at 6.30 pm (repeat)
Friday July 8th – 12 noon only – no repeat
Each programme will also be available (after the live broadcast) online via i-player. Just go to the Radio 3 “Composer of the Week ” section of the BBC website: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b006tnxf/episodes/player
This is also available from outside the UK, for example in Germany, where the Bernard Stevens Trust is now located. It is also possible to listen to BBC R3 live from outside the UK on the “Tune-In Radio” an app available for all major mobile phone & tablet platforms – if you have any difficulties with listening live on the BBC website.
The works will be performed as follows, in the order listed below:
Monday July 4th: Liberation Symphony 2nd movt, Aria for Solo Piano, Kyrie & Gloria from the Mass for Double Choir, Violin Concerto
Tuesday July 5th: Piano Trio, Liberation Symphony (complete), Suite from the music for the film “The Mark of Cain”, Theme & Variations for String Quartet
Wednesday July 6th: Fantasia on the Irish Ho-Hoane for 2 Pianos, Cello Concerto, Andante from String Quartet no. 2, Dance Suite for Orchestra
Thursday July 7th: Agnus Dei from the Mass for Double Choir, 2nd Symphony, Horn Trio, “Ballad no 2” for Solo Piano
Friday July 8th: “The Birds Know This” from “The True Dark” Song Cycle, Opening section of the the opera “The Shadow of the Glen”, “Nocturne on a Note-Row by Ronald Stevenson” for Solo Piano, Piano Concerto
Follow the link to read a feature by Penelope Thwaites on the music of Percy Grainger, published in ‘Limelight’, the leading music magazine in Australia.
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