Monday, 4 November 2019

Devon Philharmonic Orchestra & Philippa Mo, Violin, Ligeti, Dvořák & Shostakovich Exeter Cathedral Saturday 2 November 2019

Philippa Mo
Antonin Dvořák
Violin Concerto in A minor

(Photography: Guy Carpenter)

This weekend's inaugural concert by Leo Geyer's 'Devon Philharmonic Orchestra' was an outstanding success, to say the least. After several months of painstaking preparation, Leo brought the musicians - and several impressive guest players - to the Cathedral in Exeter to play three spectacularly atmospheric pieces to an enraptured audience.


Contrabass Clarinet
Sarah Watts.
Their opening work was György Ligeti's 1967 atonal masterpiece, 'Lontano'. After leaving the repressive musical regime of Communist Hungary following the revolution in 1957 Ligeti was free to experiment in new and innovative styles. 'Lontano' is certainly different! Initially a single note is passed from instrument to instrument, the ambient sound modified by the subtle introduction of new tones and rhythms by successive sections of the orchestra. Sitting centre-stage Catherine Clements leading the flutes seemed to be the focus of the ever-changing mêlée of sound. John Welton's bass clarinet made several notable incursions into the fray, but was ultimately eclipsed by visiting woodwind specialist Sarah Watts and her contrabass clarinet - 'The Beast'!

For everyone involved, this, initially apparently simple, concoction involved quite extraordinary precision and cooperation. Each section of the orchestra responded perfectly to Leo's skilled direction to produce a fabulous and unexpected tapestry of sound which perfectly introduced the many talents of the Devon Philharmonic Orchestra to its appreciative audience.


Dvořák Violin Concerto
Philippa Mo

(Photography: Guy Carpenter)
Almost immediately Leo returned to the rostrum, followed by the evening's soloist - violinist Philippa Mo. Philippa first featured on Phonic FM when she appeared on exactly the same platform at Exeter Cathedral with 'cellist Mats Lidström in June 2014. Philippa's  recordings with Harriet MacKenzie as the violin duo 'Rhetorica' have also featured many times. Philippa has since created concert series at The Shortwave Café (Bermondsey's Biscuit Factory), Sladers Yard in Dorset, and the Tate Gallery in St Ives - where she played the première of Leo's own composition 'Guarea'.

Working together again Leo and Philippa launched into an impassioned performance of  Dvořák's exlosive Violin Concerto in A minor. Under Clare Smith's leadership the string section gave Philippa one of the most rousing introductions any violinist could wish for. And she responded with exquisite precision and poise. 
Rapturous Applause
Philippa Mo

There followed three gripping movements of amazing music, with the superbly professional playing of the orchestra framing Philippa's incredibly stylish performance. Long passages seemed to be played using only her left little finger racing back and forth to the very end of her violin's fingerboard. Hypothenar eminance indeed! What a very special treat for an Exeter audience to enjoy such a performance by an international star of Philippa's calibre.

The first half of the concert ended in near-pandemonium as the Leo and Philippa - and then Philippa alone, made repeated returns to the stage to receive well-deserved acclaim from a thrilled audience.


Dmitri Shostakovich
In an inspired programme choice, Leo returned to the outpourings of another musician who had known suppression and control behind the Iron Curtain. Dmitri Shostakovich's Fifth Symphony was written to appease the ultimate arbitrator of Soviet musical creativity, Joseph Stalin. Despite being in the life-threatening dog-house of Stalin's disfavour following the poorly received première of his opera 'Lady MacBeth of Mtensk District', Shostakovich managed to combine orchestral compliance with delightfully imaginative musicality. There were even some subtle musical gags slipped in along the way. A very daring move by a man for whom incurring Stalin's displeasure could mean certain death!


Flute: Catherine Clements
The introduction is somewhat more sombre than Dvořák's, and the opening movement more ponderous. But each section of the orchestra has its chance to shine. Clare Smith amazed the audience again with her own delightful violin solo. There were also special moments for Catherine Clements and her flautists, who included Robert Stephenson and his trademark piccolo, for Isabelle Woollcott's double basses, for Ben Edmond's oboes, Richard de la Rue's clarinets, and the wonderful solo bassoon playing of Prue Tasman.


Trumpet: Myles Taylor
Myles Taylor of the Exeter Symphony Orchestra stood in for Brian Moore (who sadly seems still to be out of action) to lead some splendid trumpet fanfares. High on the stage Harrison Coomber led the three mighty trombones, including Charles Dowell's bass - and the stentorian roar of Rob O'Byrne's tuba. Less visible, but equally prominenet musically, was Beth Osment and her small band of French horn players. Beth and Catherine playing horn and flute duet was a particualarly memorable and beautiful moment.
Harp: Susan Sherratt

Shostakovich also called for special performances on on harp and piano, provided by Susan Sherratt and Dodie Bowman, which were as delightful as they were impressive. Dodie also joined Alfie Pugh and Alex Sadler to provide the most high profile and challenging rôle of all - the percussion. With military precision they punctuated the performance with timpani, snare, vibraphone, cymbals and - to top everything - the big bass drum.

Leader: Clare Smith
Conductor: Leo Geyer
This mesmerising cornucopaea of sound was the perfect foil to Philippa and Dvořák. The overall effect was as stunning as it must have been in Leningrad in 1937. Every section received praise from Leo and the audience for their impassioned performance. The Leader, Clare Smith, in particular was to be praised for her overall contribution as well as her delicate solo performances.

Many thanks to Leo, Clare, Philippa, and all the musicians and supporters of Devon Philharmonic Orchestra for creating such a dazzling evening of music to mark their launch. Rehearsals begin again almost immediately, of course - this time for performances of Nicolai Rimsky-Korsakov's orchestral suite 'Scheherazade' and Igor Stravinsky's ballet score 'The Firebird' in a double bill at Exeter Cathedral on Saturday 25 April next year. A spectacle worth waiting for!

Devon Philharmonic Orchestra
Exeter Cathedral
Saturday 25 April
SCHEHERAZADE
Conductor: Leo Geyer
Leader: Clare Smith
Nicolai Rimsky Korsakov:
"Scheherazade"
Igor Stravinsky: "The Firebird"
Tickets: £17/£14/£12/£10
          (student/U16 half-price)

Friday, 11 October 2019

Devon Philharmonic Orchestra Exeter Cathedral Saturday 2 November 2019 Press Release from Ellen Stratton

Devon Philharmonic Orchestra
(formerly EMG Symphony Orchestra)
Saturday 2nd November 7.30pm
Exeter Cathedral

(Photography Paula Fernley)

Leo Geyer Conducts
Rehearsals at St Peter's School

(Photography Paula Fernley)
On Saturday 2 November the orchestra formerly known as EMG Symphony Orchestra is excited to return to Exeter Cathedral for their first performance as Devon Philharmonic Orchestra under their Music Director, Leo Geyer.  The concert marks the official launch of the orchestra's rebrand, which reflects the quality, energy and scale of its 80-strong membership, which is drawn from across the county.  Devon Philharmonic and Leo are delighted to welcome violinist Philippa Mo, who joins the orchestra for Dvořák's lyrical Violin Concerto.  The programme also features Ligeti's atmospheric, dream-like Lontano and Shostakovich's politically brave, emotional Symphony No.5.

Violin Soloist for Dvořák
Philippa Mo
There will be a retiring collection in aid of Children's Hospice South West, who provide a wide range of hospice care for children with life-limiting conditions and their whole family across the South West, including respite and short breaks, emergency care, palliative care and end of life care.

Tickets for this concert cost £17, £14, £12 and £10 (concessions for students and under-16s) and are available from Exeter Tourist Information, Dix's Field, Exeter, 01392 665885 (9.30am – 4.30pm, Monday – Saturday), online from TicketSource or on the door (cash payments only please).  For more information about Devon Philharmonic Orchestra please visit the Devon Philharmonic Website find us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.

Two Moors Festival: Exeter/Wiveliscombe/Dulverton/Ashburton/Tiverton Parkway/Blundell's/Brompton Regis/Higher Ashton/Chagford/Okehampton/Hatherleigh/Crediton/Powderham/Dunster/South Molton/Barnstaple - - - Friday 11 - Sunday 20 October 2019

Penny Adie
Joint Founder (with John Adie)
& Retiring Artistic Director
Two Moors Festival


Friday 11 October

Royal Albert Memorial Museum 7.30pm
MIGRATION
Baritone: Ashley Riches
Piano: Joseph Middleton
£25 (student/child £5)

Saturday 12 October

White Hart Wiveliscombe 11am
MUSICAL QUIZ
Quiz Master: Penny Adie
Admission FREE

St Andrew's Wiveliscombe 2pm
CELEBRATION OF SONG
Baritone: Roderick Williams OBE
Soprano: Elizabeth Watts
Piano: Roger Vignoles
Schubert/Strauss/Rachmaninov
Britten/Vignoles
£10-35 (student/child £5)

All Saints Dulverton 7.30pm
LORNA DOONE
Blundell's School Chamber Choir
Blundell's Prep & Dulverton Junior Pupils
Wells Cathedral School String Quartet
Narrator: John Nettles
Music Director: Dr Oliver Leaman
Tenor: Eamonn Mulhall
Soprano: Juliette Featherstone
£10-32 (student/child £5)

Sunday 13 October

St Lawrence Chapel Ashburton 10.30-2.30
THE ART OF SINGING PSALMS
Director: David Davies
Organist: Jonathan Delbridge
(A preparation for Evensong at 3pm)
£15 (student/child £5)

St Andrew's Ashburton 3pm
EVENSONG
President: Rt Revd Mark Rylands
(Former Bishop of Shrewsbury
  Diocesan Missioner Exeter Diocese
     2002-2009)
Musical Director: David Davies
Organist Jonathan Delbridge
An Anglican Church Service
No charge for admission

St Andrew's Ashburton 7.30pm
THE PLEYEL ENSEMBLE
Piano: Harvey Davies
Violin: Sarah Ewins
Horn: Laurence Davies
Cooke/Berkeley/Mozart/Brahms
£10-32 (student/child £5)

Monday 14 October
 

Blundell's School Main Hall 11am
THE PLEYEL ENSEMBLE
Mathias/MacMillan/Cooke
£15 (student/child £5)

Blessed Virgin Brompton Regis 2-3pm
St Nicholas Brushford 4.30-5.30pm
TWO ORGAN RECITALS

Organist: Heather Easting
Bach/Franck/Boellmann/Vierne/Langlais/Bach
MacMillan/Part/Hindemith/Nalle/Bach
£10 (student/child £5) 2 Adults £18

All Saints Dulverton 7.30pm
IMOGEN COOPER
Piano Recital
Beethoven/Schubert
£10-35 (student/child £5)

Town Hall Dulverton 10pm
ACCORDION RECITAL
Accordion: Iosif Purits
Vivaldi/Mendelssohn/Zolotarev
Tchaikovsky/Poulenc/Prokofiev
Piazzolla/Schedrin/Rizol/Vlasov
£10 (student/child £5)

Tuesday 15 October

Tiverton Parkway 11.30am-12.10pm
WELLS CATHEDRAL SCHOOL
BRASS QUINTET
Rossini/Handel/Farnaby/Butterworth
Berlin/Trad Gospel
Admission FREE (booking required)

John Lewis Sidwell Street 4pm
WELLS CATHEDRAL SCHOOL
SAXOPHONE QUARTET
Francais/Piazzolla/Karen Street
£15 (student /child £5)

Exeter Cathedral 7pm
THE ENGLISH CONCERT
Musical Director: Harry Bicket
Mezzo Soprano: Dame Sarah Connolly
Rameau/Charpentier/Gluck/Handel
£10-42 (student/child £5)

Wednesday 16 October

Great Barn Higher Ashton 10am-4.45pm
A DAY OF FOOD & CONVERSATION
10am Dartmoor's Daughter
(Emma Cunis: My Hidden Dartmoor)
11.30am Chris Chapman
(Higher Shilstone: Memories of a
  Mediaeval Farmstead on Dartmoor)
1.15pm Lunch
(Pop-Up Restaurant: Tom's Pies)
2.30pm John Varley OBE TD
(Disruption to Opportunity:
   Management of Land in Uncertain Times)
3.45pm Ivor Gurney Composer
(Tim Kendal English Professor
   Philip Lancaster Baritone
      Timothy Noon Cathedral Music Director)
£10 each £15 for Lunch All-In £45

St Michael's Chagford 7.30pm
THE ELIAS STRING QUARTET
Violin: Sara Bitlloch
Violin: Conald Grant
Viola: Simone van der Giessen
'Cello: Marie Bitlloch
Haydn/Hindson/Schubert
£10-35 (student/child £5)

Thursday 17 October

Okehampton College 11.45am
PIANO MASTERCLASS
Director: Harvey Davies
Students of Okehampton College
£10

Okehampton College 2.30pm
THE PLEYEL ENSEMBLE
Mendelssohn/Mozart/Schumann
£15 (student/child £5)

John the Baptist Hatherleigh 7.30pm
LUTOSLAWSKI PIANO DUO
Piano: Bartlomiej Wasik/Emilia Sitarz
Bach/Debussy/Chopin/Liszt/De Falla
Rachmaninov/Lutoslawski/Brahms/Ravel
£10-35 (student/child £5)

Friday 18 October

Tiverton Parkway 11-11.20am
TOBY HUGHES: DOUBLE BASS
Francais/Tabakov/Berio/Bach
Admission FREE (booking required)

Holy Cross Crediton 2.30pm
PIANO & VIOLIN
Violin: Sophia Rosa
Piano: Martin Roscoe
Schubert/Ravel/Brahms/Gershwin
£10-32 (student/child £5)

Powderham Castle 7.30pm
THE NEXT GENERATION
(Previous Platform Winners)
Double Bass: Toby Hughes
Desenclos/Bottesini/Dubognon/Gliere
Piano: Clara Sherratt
Bach/Beethoven/Chopin/Debussy
'Cello: Rebecca McNaught
Britten 'Cello Sonata in C major Op 65
Accompanist: Harvey Davies
£18

Saturday 19 October

Yarn Market Hotel Dunster 11am
CONVERSATION WITH . . .
Artistic Director: Penny Adie
Pianist: Harvey Davies
His Life - Davies Duo (with mother Helen)
Pleyel Ensemble - Royal Northern
Arnold Cooke Revival etc
£5

Priory Church of St George Dunster 2.30pm
YOUNG MUSICIANS COMPETITION
WINNERS
Flute: Amelie Donovan
'Cello: Isabella Farleigh
Clarinet: Daisy Hickson
Oboe: Ella Leonard
Violin: Rachel Stonham
Accompanist: Aleksandra Myslek
£12 (student/child £5)

Tithe Barn Dunster 7.30pm
THE TITHE BARN DINNER
Soprano: Lorena Paz Nieto
Baritone: Malachy Frame
Piano: Harvey Davies
Massenet/Mozart/Puccini
Rodgers & Hammerstein
Bernstein/Sondheim/Gershwin/Kern
£45 (Black Tie Optional!)

Sunday 20 October

Town Hall South Molton 2pm
BAROQUE DANCE
The Bach Players
Baroque Violins: Anna Curzon
                     Nicolette Skamletz
Viola da Gamba: Reiko Ichise
Harpsichord: Silas Wollston
Baroque Dancers: Mercurius Company
(Ricardo Barros & Gudrun Skamletz)
Couperin/Rebel
£15 (student/child £5)

St Peter & St Mary Barnstaple 6pm
NORTH DEVON SINFONIA
Conductor: Emma Kent
Von Suppe/ Beethoven/Tchaikovsky
Beethoven Piano Soloist: Piers Lane
£10-32 (stuent/child £5)


Box Office: 01392 665885
(Tourist Info Dix's Field Exeter)
9-12.30//1.15-4.30pm
(4pm Thur & Sat)
Closed Sunday
Online Booking: Festival Website

Wednesday, 9 October 2019

St David's Players "The Grand Duke" Barnfield Theatre Tuesday-Saturday 8-12 October 2019

St David's Players
Gilbert & Sullivan "The Grand Duke"
Exeter Barnfield Theatre
Tuesday 8 October - Saturday 12 October

Herald: Lee Andreae - Grand Duke: Tim Hunt
Princess of Monte Carlo: Nicola Wood
Prince of Monte Carlo: Dominic Rousseau
Baroness von Krakenfelde: Amelia Hall
Ernest Dummkopf: Mark Hurford
Julia Jellico: Penny Daw - Ludwig: Adam Carpenter
Lisa: Sheena Galpin - Costumier: Joe McNulty

After 33 years the St David’s Players return to Gilbert & Sullivan’s last, and arguably most comedic operetta – “The Grand Duke”. There are many overlapping stories in this epic farce, involving more than the usual number of comic characters and partnerships. A cavalcade of St David’s Players stars take on these many roles with great artistic flare.

Grand Duke Rudolph: Tim Hunt
Baroness von Krakenfeldt: Amelia Hall
(Photography: Christopher Wilson)
Tim Hunt is the Grand Duke Rudolph of Pfennig-Halbpfennig, a hilariously effete character who nevertheless exudes confidence and authority when necessary. A masterful performance, ably countered by Amelia Hall as the Grand Duke’s fiancée The Baroness von Krakenfeldt. Amelia’s stage presence is quite overwhelming as she downs magna of ’74 and lurches through the members of chorus like a behemoth – while singing angelically throughout.

Penny Daw, as Julia Jellico, is also billed to marry the Duke, but only as part of a thespian takeover coordinated by theatre director Ernest Dummkopf (Mark Hurford). Details of the plot are carefully outlined by company member Ludwig (Adam Carpenter) with instructions for plotters to identify themselves by eating the, otherwise unappetising, sausage rolls.

Julia Jellico: Penny Daw
(Photography: Christopher Wilson)
Adam it should be mentioned, is appearing in a Gilbert & Sullivan operetta for the very first time, as well as this being his first project with the St David’s players. Adam has recently graduated in languages at the University and is now teaching, but singing and acting are clearly his first love. As a student he performed regularly with the a cappella group ‘Semi-Toned’, even joining them for a live performances on Phonic FM.

The plot thickens as Adam changes places with both the Duke and Dummkopf in a strange local custom of ‘The Statutory Duel’ (an alternative title for the operetta). Now he is engaged to Penny and Amelia, leaving his original fiancée Lisa (Sheena Galpin) bereft. Just when it seems things can’t get any more complicated, Dominic Rousseau arrives as the Prince of Monte Carlo, with his daughter – played by Nicola Wood – who, it seems, has been engaged to the Duke since childhood.

Nicola (the actress) is now married to Jonathan Lucas Wood, who has featured in these reviews many times as a tenor. He plays a minor, but very entertaining, character in the action himself (look out for the striped jersey!) Nicola was formerly known as Nikki Wilkes, and was the star of the St David’s Players’ production of ‘Patience’ in 2016 opposite Tim Hunt.

Ludwig: Adam Carpenter
(Photography: Christopher Wilson)
Needless to say, all is resolved satisfactorily in the end, but it is a fabulously tortuous path they all travel to their final destination. En route there are the most fabulous song and dance numbers, all spectacularly choreographed by Director Susan Gunn-Johnson. The dancing becomes more flamboyant and entertaining with each scene, with all the characters and chorus joining in with gusto. Even the dignified notary Dr Taunhäuser (Nick Lawrence) turns out to be a most stylish mover!

The costumes and lighting, as always with the St David’s Players, turn this production into a sumptuous whirl of colour and excitement. The story confuses and excites, ultimately delivering the most absorbing and hilarious display of comic confusion one could wish for. The singing is delightful and memorable, especially with so many leading voices, all performed by such star players, and the mini orchestra is as wonderful as ever – under the skilled direction of Andrew Curtis.

For an evening of top-flight entertainment, at a traditional venue in the heart of Exeter, the St David’s Players production of Gilbert & Sullivan’s “Grand Duke” would be hard to beat. Performances continue nightly at 7.30 until Saturday this week - with an additional 2.30 matinée on Saturday.

St David's Players
Barnfield Theatre
Tues 8 - Sat 12 October 7.30pm
(Matinée Saturday 2.30pm)
THE GRAND DUKE
Gilbert & Sullivan
Director: Susan Gunn-Johnson
Musical Director: Andrew Curtis
Ludwig: Adam Carpenter
Lisa: Sheena Galpin
Ernest Dummkopf: Mark Hurford
Julia Jellico: Penny Daw
Dr Tannhäuser: Nick Lawrence
The Grand Duke: Tim Hunt
Baroness von Krakenfeldt: Amelia Hall
Prince of Monte Carlo: Dominic Rousseau
Princess of Monte Carlo: Nicola Wood
Herald: Lee Andreae
Viscount Mentone: Pete Fances
Costumier: Joe McNulty
Tickets: £16.50 (£15 Tues & Matinée)
Box Office: 01392 271808
Online Booking: TicketSolve

Friday, 27 September 2019

Substance & Shadow Theatre Company "Walking with God" St Nicholas Priory 19-29 November 2019

Walking with God
(Photography: Matt Austin)

From Whitechapel to Exeter Digby Mental Asylum

This autumn Substance and Shadow offer up a spine chilling slice of immersive theatre with Walking With God, a dark original play by Midge and Rosie Mullin set against the backdrop of the terrifying Jack The Ripper murders that took place in Whitechapel in 1888.

Centring around the investigation of a genuine Ripper suspect who was incarcerated at EXETER DIGBY MENTAL ASYLUM, Walking With God is a reimagining of the frequently told Ripper story. Exploring elements of alleged corruption and deceit the play provides a unique perspective on the unsolved murders that took place in 1888 and serves up a spine chilling twist in the inimitable style of Substance and Shadow Theatre!

Proudly funded by Exeter City Council, this intimate stylised theatre show for adults will be performed at Exeter's iconic St Nicholas Priory (Exeter's oldest building and home to Benedictine Monks for over 400 years) Prepare to be thrilled with an eerie mix of theatre, burlesque, original soundscapes and projections!



Midge Mullin
(Photography: Matt Austin)
Substance & Shadow Theatre Company
St Nicholas Priory
Tuesday 19 November 7&9pm
Wednesday 20 November & 7pm
Thursday 21 November 7&9pm
Wednesday-Friday 27-29 November 7&9pm
"WALKING WITH GOD"
Writers: Midge Mullin & Rosie Mullin
Starring: Midge Mullin, Nathan Simpson
Tickets: £10
Online Booking: TicketSource 

Monday, 23 September 2019

La Vie en Rose Topsham Brewery & Taproom Friday 18 October 2019

LA VIE EN ROSE
Topsham Brewery Haven Banks Exeter
Friday 18 October 8-10pm


Django Reinhardt & Stephane Grapelli
The heartfelt wail of the blues; the sultry heat of the campfire; the crazy swirl of the bal musette, all fused together ​with virtuosity and passion in the melting pot of 1930’s Paris: the result was gypsy jazz.

Now ‘LA VIE EN ROSE’ play this exuberant, toe-tapping music with a swing and joie-de-vivre as fresh today ​as when Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grappelli first conjured it from the back streets of Pigalle.

' L A V I E  E N  R O S E ' . . . five musicians with wide-ranging individual backgrounds in classical music, traditional jazz, rock, blues, country, ragtime and roots, pulled together by the shared pleasure of gypsy jazz and hot swing.

David Jones, Rebecca Willson, Nick White,
Yann MahdjoubLaurie Light
After the closure of our original and much-loved venue 'The Globe' we have searched for another equally good and welcoming home, and we think we have finally found it at Topsham Brewery and Taproom on Exeter Quay.

There is also a monthly jam session and the specific dates will be announced on Facebook: Gypsy Jazz Sessions Exeter.