Sunday, 31 October 2010

'Living Room in London' - in Exeter

'Living Room in London':
Violinists, Tom Norris and Ellie Fagg
Hang-Player, Manu Delago
'Cellist, Gregor Riddell
On Saturday evening Sallie Buck of 'Friends of Buburi' brought the extremely talented chamber ensemble 'Living Room in London' to St Matthew's Church in Exeter for a benefit concert.
Many thanks to Gill and Tina for giving us the information about the concert on their 'Mighty Book' programme this Tuesday.  (As always the Mighty Book took over from the Classical Journey on the last Tuesday of the month.)
The Friends of Buburi fund a malaria clinic in Kenya, providing four nurses, diagnostic equipment and medicines.  Proceeds from Saturday's concert (and CD sales) will go to support this work.
But who are 'Living Room in London'?  The story begins in Austria where Clarinetist/Saxophonist, Christophe Pepe Auer joined forces with Manu Delago, master of the recently invented Swiss instrument, the 'Hang'.  Bernese Swiss for 'hand', the name refers to a case hardened and tuned steel pan invented by Felix Rohner and Sabina Schärer in Berne in 2000.  The instruments are very hard to obtain as they must be hand-made to order, and orders are given priority according to the inventors' own criteria!  There is even concern that production may have stopped completely.  The hang is extemely difficult to play.  (I tried a few experimental taps and produced absolutely no sound at all.)
Manu has not only become the world's greatest virtuoso hang player, he has also introduced many of his own original compositions the the repertoire.  With Christophe Pepe Auer providing extraordinary Saxphone and Clarinet playing, the duo have been touring the world as 'The Living Room'.  The name reflects the intimate concerts they like to give on their instruments.
The London element is provided by three highly skilled musicians whose professional work include playing with the London Symphony Orchestra.  Recently married couple Ellie Fagg and Tom Norris play violin with equal virtuosity and passion while Gregor Riddell is a remarkable 'cellist of quite breathtaking skill.
Unfortunately, Pepe had to be in his home town of Vienna this weekend and was not able to join us, but the remaining four players managed magnificently in his absence.
Ellie and Tom strode purposefully onto the stage and launched immediately into the wonderful seventeenth century baroque Violin Sonata for Two Violins by Jean-Marie Leclair the elder.  The opening vivace was just that - fun, fun, fun.  Each player providing continuo for the other's melody before rushing in with their own version of the same tune.  The duet sections were quite incredible.  As is sadly often the case, the audience did not know that there were three movements and showed their appreciation by applauding the opening movement heartily.  This was all right, as Ellie and Tom naturally paused between the first and second movements.  However, the final prestissimo follows hard on the heels of the lento middle movement, and the eager applause of the audience in between the two rather spoiled Tom's energetic opening note.  Despite that small hiccup nothing else marred the performance.  In contrast to the opening movement the lento was silky smooth throughout - a romantic dream of a piece.  The last movement brought back the urgent echo and re-echo between the two players, but now the element of pizzicato was introduced making this even more fun than the first movement.  Leclair's employer's certainly got their money's worth!  And did I mention that the playing was to an amazing standard that is always a joy to behold - full of life and passion.
Ellie was very forgiving about our overenthusiastic applause and made sure we knew what was coming next. From the late seventeenth century we moved directly to the late nineteenth.  Josef Suk's Duo for two violins was gentle, lilting and melancholy.  Then we were in Russia between the wars.  Two movements from Sergei Prokofiev's 1932 masterpiece 'Sonata for two violins'.  The andante cantabile was incredibly skilled with both players sliding between notes rather than using different fingers.  How many hours practice must that need?  The Allegro con brio was incredibly fierce, almost a race between the two players with sparkling pizzicato sections.  The audience (having waited their turn this time) erupted in delighted applause at the final climactic notes.
Ellie and Tom had been standing throughout the performance so far, putting the energy of their whole bodies into the playing.  Now they sat, Ellie on the left, Tom on the right and, taking up the seat in the middle, was an unassuming young man called Gregor Riddell with his 'cello.  Ellie explained that pieces for two violins and a 'cello are quite rare and any pieces we could suggest would be very welcome (contact  Their choice, however, was inspired.  More Russian music, this time from the St Petersburg nobleman Alexander Borodin.  A skilled doctor and professor of chemistry, Borodin was also a prominent member of Mily Balakirev's 'Mighty Handful' which included Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov and Modest Mussorgsky.  His 'Trio Sonata' is an arrangement of a traditional Russian folk song with six variations, all fiendishly complicated.  Ellie, now confined to a chair, swung from side to side in her seat with the incredible energy and enthusiasm she put into the playing.  Gregor, quite equal to the task, responded in kind and performed wildly fast and complex sections on his 'cello, in response to the violins, without turning a hair.  Once again we were treated to lively pizzicato sections, now on the 'cello as well - a really gorgeous sound!  The first half ended to rapturous applause.
In the intermission, wine was served to the audience - an audience which included Mowenna Del Mar and family.  Morwenna was at St Margaret's Church in Topsham on Wednesday, 30th October, to play her 'cello at the Devon Oxford and Cambridge Societies' Annual Concert.  (See previous posts).  Gregor, like Morwenna, is a Cambridge graduate and the two have known each other from their early teenage years when they both travelled to London each weekend to the Junior Royal College of Music.  Gregor, who is also a pianist, has more recently performed with Morwenna in a piano trio.
During the interval several odd-shaped instruments were placed on chairs on the stage.  These were clearly the 'hanghang' we had heard about.  They looked oddly simple - more like a wok with a lid on than anything else - but clearly carefully sculpted with a series of depressions hammered into the surface, which seemed to have been hardened and oil-blacked in some way.  An experimental tap or two produced absolutely no sound at all, so it was not clear how these instruments would be used.
As the audience returned to their seats Manu Delago came onto the stage and, totally focussed, sat with one  hang on his lap and one to either side.  He sat deep in concentration for several minutes before beginning his first piece by drawing a few notes from the hang with his finger, much as we might make a wine-glass 'sing'.  He was able to produce different notes from different parts of the hang.  By tapping and flexing the steel 'carapace' of the hang he added in a series of microtonal notes.  Subtly introducing more and more sounds, and bringing in each hang in turn, Manu built up his enchantingly beautiful opening piece which was called 'Another Change'.  If I heard Ellie's introduction correctly earlier on, the title was inspired by the change in programme (because Pepe couldn't be with us) and the composition was completed on the way to Exeter on the train!  The piece was, nevertheless, fully developed and utterly entrancing.  The skill involved was clearly equal to that required for any classical instrument.  And Manu is clearly very skilled.  After a brief explanation of the history of the hang, Manu treated us to his now world-famous composition 'Mono Desire' (available on the internet and receiving millions of plays).  Gregor stood in for Pepe, who would normally play bass saxophone, playing the 'cello arrangement with great skill.
There is a slight metallic slapping sound involved in hang playing, which is reminiscent of a steel band, but behind that is an exquisite harmonic sound which is quite unique.  I was reminded of Isaac Asimov's short story 'The Singing Bell'. In it, a lunar prospector Albert Cornwell is murdered by his business associate Louis Peyton in order that Peyton might obtain Cornwell's cache of priceless extraterrestrial geodes. These 'singing bells', through there unique structure, could be made to produce a haunting and ethereal sound - so irresistible that a person might commit murder to obtain them.  That may be going a little far, but I think you get the idea.  The hang really is a unique and special instrument, and needs to be heard live to really appreciate the sound.  Manu Delago, by all accounts, is the world's primary exponent of this remarkable new instrument.
Manu then welcomed the other players onto the stage for a performance of another of his own compositions, 'Don't Forget'.  Although Manu plays without sheet music, and may appear to be improvising at times, his compositions are fully scored and All three performers were playing from the printed page.  This was a really wonderful combination of sounds.  Manu increased his volume to be heard alongside the other instruments and introduced a 'thump and slide' technique for yet another new sound.  The piece ended with a series of gently stroked tones on the hang - and tumultuous applause from the now loving audience.
Before we knew what was happening, the quartet had launched into an oddly familiar theme - Irish perhaps? The hang was now clearly treated as a regular chamber instrument as the beautiful tune unfolded. And then Tom put down his violin and began to sing!  The familiar nonsense poem from 1867 by Edward Lear, 'The Owl and the Pussycat' had been set to music (by Tom himself).  Each verse was in a slightly different style and interspersed with inspired instrumental parts for the other players - including Tom himself on the violin.  We were all by now quite familiar with Tom's skill on the violin (not mentioning the skill of the other players) but the addition of his beautiful singing voice was an amazing revelation.  Not only sweet and melodic, but wonderfully comic as well.
You may wonder what could possibly finish a fantastic concert like that.  For a final piece the group really excelled themselves!  Everyone loves Mozart's 'Rondo alla Turca' of course.  It excites and dazzles on any instrument.  (I have never forgotten Tristan Fry's Vibraphone arrangement from 1980 with 'Sky 2'.)  Now we were going to hear something new and unique, the Rondo arranged for string trio and hang!  The familiar theme really rang out on the hang, while the other players had clearly introduced some incredible variations of their own.  Long pizzicato sections on violin and 'cello which were pure fun, and Gregor amazing us all with yet another specialist technique - 'Ricochet'!  Rather than stroke the strings with his bow, he bounced it across all four strings with manic energy.  Most other people trying this would just make a racket, but not Gregor!  Almost incredibly, the music of Mozart continued to pour from the battered strings.  The two violinists were equally impassioned, Ellie grinning and winking at the audience as she rocked in her seat and flew into each new elaboration.  As the final notes crashed out the audience leapt to their feet to give a passionate and heartfelt standing ovation to this incredibly talented band of musicians.  We are lucky to have so much great music to enjoy here in Devon, but this concert was really special!
After the performance there was a rush to buy CDs of the performers (proceeds from sales also going to the 'Friends of Buburi' charity in Kenya).  The very last 'limited edition' CD of 'Living Room in London' including the amazing 'Rondo A La Turk' went to George Eamer who made a special trip from Exmouth to see the concert.  He has very generously offered to try to get his copy to the Phonic FM studio for us to listen to on 'Classical Journey' - after he's had a chance to enjoy it himself, of course!  Also Tom Norris will be striving to find another copy for us to have here at the station.
Not only great musicians, but also delightfully friendly, the group members stayed after the concert to chat with audience members and answer questions - especially about the ever-intriguing 'hang'.  Considering their international reputation and other professional commitments it is difficult to find words to express our immense gratitude to these amazing performers for taking the time to come all the way to Exeter, and play for us absolutely free of charge.  The entire entrance fee from each person in the audience went straight to 'Friends of Buburi', as did the profits from CD sales.  Deepest gratitude to all four players.  And thanks also to Sally Buck, and everyone else who helped to organise this special benefit concert and make it such a success.

For more information about 'Friends of Buburi' and their work click here.

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

And in Exmouth as Well!

Frances Waters (piano)
and Helen Organ (flute)
in perfect harmony
As if Monday's lunchtime concert of flute and piano joy were not enough, this Thursday in Exmouth we had another extraordinary performance of flute and piano duet at the Glenorchy United Reformed Church in Exeter Road, Exmouth.
Frances Waters and Helen Organ thrilled an adoring audience with their lunchtime programme.
The recital started with a delightful sonatine by American composer William Popp - quite an eye opener.  All three movements were greeted with a huge round of applause.  As the rondo concluded  we realised with surprise and pleasure that the concert had only just begun.
Richard Rodney Bennett's 'Summer Music and Siesta' was sheer honeyed joy, followed by the very distinctive sound of Joseph Haydn's Concerto in D major.
A series of shorter, but equally wonderful, pieces came in quick succession after that - another forty minutes of pleasure.  Filmscores, traditional songs, tone poems and, most exciting of all, three amazing Jazz arrangements by Paul Hart.  This was a real treat for Thursday lunchtime and, guess what, no charge!  A retiring collection for those feeling flush, but otherwise free entertainment for all.
And this is no one-off.  Glenorchy has been hosting lunchtime concerts every Thursday since 6th October, when Carolyn Harries, soprano and Susan Steel, piano, performed together.  (Don't worry if you missed that.  Carolyn and Susan will be appearing again for a tea-time concert in the Exeter Central Library music room very soon (Friday, 12th November, 5.40pm).  Watch this space for details.)  And, except for a short break for Christmas, the series continues until 27th April 2011!  I can't begin to mention all the wonderful musician who will be performing.  A few stand out already.  Ruth Avis (flute) with Iain McDonald (baritone) and Rebecca Willson (piano) on 2nd February - Ruth kept very quiet about that!  And Ruth's partner in the 'Piazzolla Duo', Clive Betts, playing solo on 8th December.  (Don't forget they are playing together at St Stephen's Church here in Exeter High Street next Thursday evening - 4th November).  Finally on 27th April 2011 we come full circle and Helen Organ and Frances Waters will perform again for a final concert - not to be missed!

Guitarist Clive Betts
As I was leaving the concert, full of the joys of spring despite the autumn weather, who should I meet?  None other than guitar giant Clive Betts himself - in the flesh!  He immediately suggested we head to a well-known coffee shop to talk music.
Clive is, of course, a very accomplished solo and session guitarist of long experience, well known to us all from his performance with Ruth Avis at the Chapter House recently as the 'Piazzolla Duo' - soon to be repeated at St Stephen's Church in Exeter next Thursday evening.  He is also in the process of starting a guitar society in Exeter which promises to be a great opportunity for local guitarists to meet and develop their skills and repertoire.
No need to go into all the details here.  Clive will be joining us, live, on the Classical Journey from about 11am next Tuesday (2nd November).  We can hear all about his amazing career, current projects and - biggest thrill of all - hear him play live in the Phonic FM studio - and he may be joined by the wonderful Ruth Avis!  Please do your utmost not to miss this!

Nicholas Marshall
Musical Director
Exeter Bach Society
And, as if that weren't enough, we also have two distinguished members of the mighty Exeter Bach Society in the studio between 10 and 11 am on Tuesday to talk about their work and the imminent performance of 'Autumn Baroque' .

At 7.30pm on the evening of Saturday, 6th November, their regular members will be joined at St James' Church, Exeter, by four vocal soloists from the Guildhall School of Music for a breathtaking selection of baroque masterpieces, including:
Henry Purcell: O sing unto theLord
J. S. Bach:       Lobet den Herrn
                         Himmelskönig, sei willkommen
                         Brandenburg Concerto No. 5
                                                                  G. F. Handel:   Let God arise

Sky Ingram, soprano
Ashley Riches, baritone

Clement Hetherington, tenor

Marta Fontenals -Simmons

To give us the full details, and the full inside story of Exeter's great baroque music society, their Chairman, Chris Parrish, and Musical Director, Nicholas Marshall, will be in the Phonic FM studio on Tuesday.

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Better Photographs of Ruth and James

Monday's concert, 'Songs for Flute and Piano' with Ruth Avis and James Keefe, was attended by Ruth's father Chris.  He did a much better job of snapping the two performers relaxing after the concert.  Many thanks to Chris for these photos.

Monday, 25 October 2010

Another Triumph for Ruth (and James!)

James and Ruth after their excellent concert
This lunchtime Ruth Avis (flute) and James Keefe (piano) performed to a delighted audience in the music room at Exeter Central Library.
Following her professional debut with guitarist Clive Betts as the 'Piazzolla Duo' at the Chapter House on 6 October, Ruth teamed up with James to give us 'Songs for Flute and Piano', a very modern classical selection of pieces.
The room was packed as a very appreciative audience crowded in to hear this wonderful recital.  The opening duo by Aaron Copland (which used a very special technique to resonate the notes of the flute in the strings of the piano in the opening bars) was so moving that the staccato close to the the second, 'poetic', movement (briliantly synchronised by Ruth and James) drew a rapturous round of applause from the audience.  Although this would normally be a terrible faux pas - pre-empting the final movement - we were not disappointed, as the last, 'lively' movement was even more brilliant.
Samuel Barber's 'Canzone', which followed, maintained the standard we had now come to expect, extremely mellow and pleasing.
Ruth then very generously left the floor to James who introduced us to the work of Frédéric Chopin - after the style of Vincenzo Bellini - in his 'Etude in C# minor for Piano' based on the 1841 opera 'Norma' which has featured many times on the 'Classical Journey'.  Chopin's arrangement represents the 'cello in the left hand and violin in the right, as James explained so succinctly.  I am hoping that we can hear the full recording, with James's introduction, on the Journey quite soon!
Then came the moment we had all been waiting for.  'Orange Dawn' a tone poem depicting an African sunrise, for flute and piano, composed in 1992 by Guildhall professor of music, Ian Clarke*.  The exotic mood was enhanced by special fingering effects introduced by Clarke, which Ruth executed perfectly.
Ruth then gave us the 'staple' of the flute, 'Syrinx' by Claude Debussy.  Each time I hear that I am reminded why it is so popular.
The final Sonata by Francis Poulenc in three movements was so lyrical and joyful that the audience would not let Ruth and James leave it at that.  They were persuaded to give and encore - the entr'acte from Georges Bizet's opera Carmen, before they were finally allowed to leave the stage to ringing applause.
The audience contained many musicians and everyone agreed that Ruth, and fellow musician James, have started as they mean to go on - an accomplished level of excellence!

(* We can enjoy the work of other Guildhall Alumni very soon.  The Exeter Bach Society have invited four Guildhall students to appear as vocal soloists at their forthcoming 'Autumn Baroque' recital at St James' Church on Saturday 6 November.  Full details will be posted to this site and feature in the 'Classical Journey' on Tuesday 2 November.)

A very different look for Ruth in the next 'Piazzolla Duo' concert
And what's next for Ruth?  She and Clive Betts will team up again as the 'Piazzolla Duo' to present not only Argentine, but also Spanish, French and even German music.
Their evening concert at St Stephen's Church in Exeter High Street will include music by Debussy, Ravel, Piazzola and Bach.
The date for the show is Thursday 4 November, so listen out for more details on the 'Journey' on Tuesday the second!

Requests:  please keep those requests coming to  Christine, who came to today's lunchtime concert, requested a song by Elgar which she remembered singing as a trainee teacher at Craiglockhart College in Edinburgh.  She could only remember the opening line - something like "My love dwelt in a foreign land."  Just the kind of challenge we like here at Phonic FM!
Well, good news Christine.  That song has already been located and we can enjoy it on the next 'Classical Journey' programme - during the late Romantic section of the show at about 11.30am.  Don't forget that the next show will be on Tuesday 2 November.  Tomorrow, as at the end of every month, we have the wonderful 'Mighty Book'.

Thursday, 21 October 2010

That Monday Lunchtime Concert Programme in Full (compiled by Ruth Avis)

See James Keefe (Piano) and Ruth Avis (Flute) on Monday
12.30-1.30pm in the Exeter Central Library Music Room

Songs for Flute and Piano

'A bird doesn't sing because it has an answer.
It sings because it has a song.'
Maya Angelou

Aaron Copland      Duo for Flute and Piano (1971)
                               I   Flowing       
                                                   II  Poetic, somewhat mournful  
                                                   III Lively, with bounce

Samuel Barber      Canzone (1959)

Frédéric Chopin    Etude in C sharp minor, op. 25, no. 7 (1837)  

Ian Clarke             Orange Dawn (1992)
            "Orange Dawn was originally inspired by the vision of a dawn scene in the Great Rift Valley of East Africa.  Awakening exotic life, particularly birds such as pink flamingos, were envisaged silhouetted against a dramatic rising sun. From here the piece grows, taking on a range of emotions and reactions to Man's involvement in this 'other world' (or more accurately - 'real world'). These may range from serenity to awe and anger; the latter unfolding in the first part of the piano cadenza." - Ian Clarke

Claude Debussy     Syrinx  (1913)

Francis Poulenc     Sonata for flute and piano (1957)
                               I Allegretto malincolio               
                                                   II Cantilena
                                                  III Presto giocoso
Ruth Avis, flute
Ruth read Music and English Literature at Cardiff University, studying flute with Susan Buckland. Since graduating she has had tuition from Anna Noakes (of The Fibonacci Sequence) and Michael Cox (Principal Flute, BBCSO) and has played in masterclasses with Jonathan Snowden. She regularly performs throughout the South West in orchestras (including Exeter Symphony Orchestra), chamber ensembles, pit orchestras and as a soloist in venues including Exeter Cathedral, the Northcott Theatre, Cardiff Millennium Centre, and the Barnfield Theatre. Ruth has worked with and performed music by postgraduate composers at Cardiff University and the Dartington College of Arts and recorded the musical The Day Will Come for BBC Radio Devon. She is a member of The Piazzolla Duo with the guitarist Clive Betts. As well as performing, Ruth teaches flute and piano, works in Exeter Performing Arts library and nurtures a small family.

James Keefe, piano
James graduated from the Birmingham Conservatoire last year with a First-Class Honours degree and the Fourth Year Piano Prize. He has for the last two years been pianist for the Thallein Ensemble, performing contemporary works in such places as the Royal Festival Hall, and has also been orchestral pianist, harpsichordist and celeste player for the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra Youth Orchestra, performing regularly in Birmingham's Symphony Hall and Town Hall with conductor's such as Sakari Oramo, Michael Seal and Andris Nelsons. James also won the Conservatoire Lieder Prize with singer Anders Falbe, and was highly commended in the Accompaniment Prize. To add to this, James has played in masterclasses with pianist's Andrew Ball, Jacob Leuschner and Daniel Höxter, and has had lessons with the esteemed Peter Donohoe. James now works for the CBSO as a repititeur and accompanist for their many choruses, and has had the pleasure of working with conductors Simon Rattle and Simon Halsey in recent months on Bach's St. Matthew Passion and Birmingham's complete Mahler Symphony cycle for the 2010/11 season.

Devon Oxford and Cambridge Societies Annual Concert
'Cellist Morwenna Del Mar and pianist Alex West gave a sublime recital at St Margaret's Church on Wednesday evening.
Morwenna with Alex and Lily
Alex at the Nicholson Organ
There was a very special concert at St Margaret's Church in Topsham on Wednesday evening.
Philippe Obussier brought together members of the two great Devon Alumni societies, Oxford and Cambridge, to hear an extraordinary recital by two young, Devon based, Cambridge graduates.
Morwenna Del Mar, who was formerly a pupil at the Maynard School in Exeter, has completed further music study at the Royal Academy and the Eastman School, NY, since leaving Cambridge. She now plays with the London Symphony Orchestra and the Philharmonia Orchestra.
Alex West, formerly a pupil at Exeter School, graduated in mathematics and now works for the Met Office in Exeter developing models to predict the behaviour of sea ice - something we urgently need to understand!

He attended Cambridge as an organ scholar and now also has a diploma from the Royal School of Music as a pianist and is working towards his membership of the Royal College of Organists which, going by Wednesday's performance, he richly deserves.
Morwenna started the evening with a solo performance of Bach's Suite No. 2 for 'Cello, which we heard in part on last week's 'Classical Journey'  She played all six parts faultlessly and delightfully, before being joined by Alex on the piano for an unusually beautiful arrangement of Woldemar Bargiel's Adagio for 'Cello and Orchestra.
After the interval they played us a 'Song without Words' by Felix Mendelssohn before Alex gave us an absolutely incredible virtuoso performance on the new Nicholson organ.  Two Bach masterpieces (one originally by Vivaldi) sandwiched an incredible 'Sketch for Pedal-Organ' by Robert Schuman.
 The Organ console was, sadly, locked in position on Wednesday,  Only those who squeezed over to the right side of the church were able to see Alex in action.  He showed amazing skill managing the vast array of controls while playing separate parts on the three manuals and the pedal keyboard.  Even for those who could not see, the sound was equally impressive!
Credit should also go to his able page turner, St Peter's schoolgirl Olivia Segal.  Even keeping track of the music on the page is quite an achievement!
Finally Alex and Morwenna joined forces again for Robert Schumann's moving Adagio and Allegro for 'Cello and Piano.
Special mention must go to former Phonic FM presenter, Lily Neal, ('Light Bites') for her informative and entertaining introductions to the players and the pieces - and two of her own, now legendary, poems which she recited as an extra special treat before each half.  (Who can forget 'Rita' and her uplifting experience in Cheltenham Promenade?)
Many thanks to all the organisers and especially to the two star performers, Morwenna Del Mar and Alex West.

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Classical Journey Tuesday 19th October

James Keefe, piano and Ruth Avis, flute
who will be performing 'Songs for Flute and Piano'
in the Music Room at Exeter Central Library
on Monday 25th October from 12.30-1.30 pm

The programme will include pieces by
Aaron Copland, Frédéric Chopin,
Ian Clarke and Francis Poulenc
Entrance only £4.00
Tel: 01392 384217 for reservations
Organiser Clare Greenall
The special guest on this Tuesday's show is Exeter Flautist Ruth Avis.  You can see Ruth playing live next Monday lunchtime from 12.30-1.30.  She will be accompanied by James Keefe in a selection of pieces called 'Songs for Flute and Piano'
Ruth will join us at about 10.10am to chat about herself and her music and to play us four pieces for solo flute:

1. Presto and Allegro from Fantasia No 5 in C major for solo flute by Georg Philipp Telemann.
(Hamburg 1733)
2. Second allegro from Sonata in A minor for solo flute by Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach
(Berlin 1747)
3. 'Syrinx' from Claude Debussy's incidental music to Gabriel Mourey's play 'Psyché' 
(Paris 1913)
4. Waltz in C sharp minor opus 64 No. 2 by Frédéric Chopin (sequel to the 'minute waltz')
(Paris 1847)

At the start of the show we will have a telephone visit by former presenter Lily Neal to talk about the Annual Concert of the Devon Oxford & Cambridge Societies, which she will be presenting at St Margaret's Church in Topsham on Wednesday evening (20th October) at 7.30 pm.
The soloists will be Morwenna Del Mar, 'cello, and Alex West, piano and organ, who play a varied programme of baroque and romantic pieces:

'Cello suite No 2 by Johann Sebastian Bach (Which we heard played by Hilary Boxer at the beginning of last week's show).
(Köthen 1723)
and music by Antonio Vivaldi, Felix Mendelssohn and Robert Schumann.- plus works for solo organ.

Music to watch out for on Tuesday's show:

1808 Beethoven, Fantasy for Piano Chorus and Orchestra
1867 Grieg, Den Blonde Pige
1882 Stanford, Elegiac Symphony
1887 Saint-Saëns, Second Symphony
1910 Kreisler, Caprice Viennois
1974 Piazzolla, Libertango
1982 Glass, Vessels
1989 Françaix, Second Quintet for Flute, String Trio & Harp
1999 Pärt, Cantique des Degrés
1992 Alleyne-Johnson, Concrete Eden

OK. We didn't manage those last two, or the Stanford, or the Saint-Saëns, but we can enjoy them next week.  Instead we heard the scherzo from Schubert's 'Great' Ninth Symphony (which will be performed in full by the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra at Exeter Cathedral next Thursday evening, 28 Oct.)
Huge thanks to Ruth Avis for playing four beautiful pieces for flute so beautifully on the Classical Journey this morning.  Despite limited space, and difficulty setting up her music, she performed brilliantly.

Next Monday (25th October) you can see her play live music with pianist James Keefe (see above for details):
Aaron Copland: Duo for Flute & Piano,
Francis Poulenc: Flute Sonata,
Frédéric Chopin, piano piece (TBA),
Claude Debussy, Syrinx,
Ian Clarke, Orange Dawn.

More details as they become available.

Monday, 11 October 2010

Classical Journey Tuesday 12th October

Author Kate Ellis
This morning's guest is Crime Author Kate Ellis.  She if very fond of baroque music, so there will be plenty of music from the early eighteenth century: Bach, Telemann, Santiago de Murcia, and of course Vivaldi. In keeping with Kate's mystery writing there's a theme of 'lost and found' in this week's show.  Great music lost through combinations of circumstances and then turning up by strange coincidence centuries later - for us to enjoy!  Kate will discuss her life, her writing, and the wonderful characters in her novels, many of which are set in the beautiful Devon countryside.  That's enough clues.  Tune in to find out more!

And here's another mystery.  Hilary Boxer's husband Alan sent me this photo of Hilary and Jane in the Music room on Monday.  Look carefully.  It's taken at exactly the same moment as my photo.  How did he manage that?

It must be done with mirrors!
(Photo: Alan Boxer)

It was Wonderful!

Mellow 'Cellos: Jane Pirie and Hilary Boxer at Exeter Library today
(photo: Luch Càise-Dearg)

At 12.30 this lunchtime, just 100 yards from the busy high street of Exeter, there was a wonderful 'cello duet concert in the music room of the Central Lending Library.  If you weren't able to make it you missed a very special performance.
After relaxing with complimentary chocolates and fresh coffee, the audience were treated to an hour of superb playing by newly formed 'cello duo Hilary Boxer and Jane Pirie.
We started smartly with Kummer's under-appreciated 'cello duets from the nineteenth century.  Alternatively lively and languid they evoked the feeling of Handel's famous Water Music Suite from a century earlier.
'Song of the Vulgar Boatman' by 'Deranged' provided an interesting contrast.  This arrangement (or rather 'derangement') of an earlier piece, possibly by Arthur Sullivan, had Hilary and Jane taking turns to play continuo while the other performed the melody.
'Jazz on Rye' by the cryptically named 'Chateau' (Pierre-Louis D'Aquin De Château-Lyon, perhaps?) was a series of very short and exciting pieces with sudden stops and starts that required the two players to be perfectly coordinated..
The Sonata number 3 in A minor by Vivaldi was perfect in every way.  Jane took over the talking and gave us a great introduction about 'The Red Priest' (born during an earthquake it seems) and his work at the Ospedale della Pietà.  When she faltered over that name a voice from the audience helped her out.  Composer and conductor John Byrt!
And it was John Byrt's music we heard next.  Two variations on the tune of the 1960's pop song based on Cecil Sharp's 1916 poem 'Searching for Lambs'.  Jane read us the original poem very beautifully and then we heard John's variations.  Two gentle and lyrical movements were greeted with rapturous applause - but there was more!  A further section of pizzicato by both players took the variations to a whole new level of brilliance.
Then Hilary, who grew up in Scotland, introduced a set of reels and jigs which we would usually expect to hear played on a violin.  Then we had the traditional Irish piece 'Twisting the Rope'  and finally the Swedish folk music of Roger Tallroth in 'Josefin's Waltz'.
Finally we had two bourrées by Johann Sebastian Bach, arranged for two 'cellos by one of the greatest British 'cellists, Professor Christopher Bunting of the Royal College of Music.  During these two delightful dances the players took turns to play pizzicato while the other played with the bow.
Don't despair if you weren't able to get to this dazzling performance.  Sound engineer, Mike Gluyas, managed to make a recording and I hope to share some of that on future 'Classical Journeys' on Phonic FM.  'Josefin's Waltz' is one of several pieces on Hilary's Collaborative CD with guitarist David Cottam, 'Nocturne'.  I'll find out how to get copies and let everyone know on the 'Classical Journey'.
Guitarist David Cottam and 'Cellist Hilary Boxer
During recording of their 'cello and guitar CD 'Nocturne'
Hilary will be back in the music room with David at 12.30 on Monday 8 November for the second of her three 'Tasty Music' lunchtime concerts, CELLO+GUITAR.

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Library Concert Series

Don't miss tomorrow's concert!

'Cellist Hilary Boxer
is appearing in CELLO+CELLO
Monday 11 October 12.30-1.30 pm
'Cellist Jane Pirie
Photograph Simon Keitch

Don't forget Hilary Boxer (above left) and Jane Pirie (above right) will be performing their lunchtime concert CELLO+CELLO live in the Exeter Central Library Music Room tomorrow, Monday 11th October from 12.30-1.30pm.  Entrance only £4, so if your working or shopping in Exeter tomorrow and fancy more than just a bite eat in your lunch break come and enjoy an hour of gorgeous music ranging from classical to jazz.

Hilary's music will also feature on the 'Classical Journey' on Phonic FM on Tuesday from 10am.

And two weeks later in the Music Room Ruth Avis (Flute) and James Keefe (piano) will be performing a lunchtime concert of  'Songs for Flute and Piano' from 12.30-1.30pm on Monday 25th October.

If you can't wait that long Ruth will be performing live in the Phonic FM studio for the 'Classical Journey' next Tuesday, 19th October, from 10am.

See the earlier posts for more details.

Click here for details of all the events at Exeter's Central Lending Library.

Friday, 8 October 2010

Kate Ellis

Author Kate Ellis
who will be talking on air next Tuesday morning
about her Wesley Peterson novel
'The Flesh Tailor'
If you love a good detective novel, and you love Devon countryside and history, the novelist for you has to be Kate Ellis
Born and brought up in Liverpool, A graduate of the Manchester Faculty of Drama, and currently living in North Cheshire, Kate nevertheless chose Devon as the setting for her Wesley Peterson series of novels, which now runs to fourteen volumes.
Wesley, originally from Trinidad, graduated in archaeology at Exeter University and is a police detective in Tradmouth (which is loosely based on Dartmouth, but has a large police headquarters).
With each mystery that Wesley tackles we find that his fellow graduate, Neil Watson, who is now working as a professional archaeologist, has a historical mystery of his own.  Interesting parallels and connections arise between the two sleuths' investigations.  The Devon history which Kate introduces is always meticulously researched, detailed and accurate.  The history alone would make Kate's work a compelling read.  Her wonderful contemporary stories and characters make her novels truly compelling reading, full of drama and suspense.

Hear about Kate and her novels in her own words.  She will be joining the 'Classical Journey' at 10am next Tuesday, 12th October, to discuss her work and - as a very special treat - read a selection from her latest Wesley Peterson novel, 'The Flesh Tailor', live right here on Phonic FM.  Tune in to 106.8 FM or go to (click the link on the right) and be sure not to miss the wonderful Kate Ellis!

And Kate is working on a new Wesley Peterson novel  apprearing soon, 'The Jackal Man'.

To find out more about Kate and her novels click here.

Thursday, 7 October 2010

Piazzolla Duo

In Exeter on Wednesday Evening flautist Ruth Avis and guitarist Clive Betts performed as the 'Piazzolla Duo' in the Chapter House of Exeter Cathedral.  Their recital included Spanish and South American classical pieces.
They opened with a wonderful medley of Brazilian, Chilean, and Mexican folk tunes which were delightful.  Clive then played solo three of Heitor Villa-Lobos' beautiful preludes, which the composer dedicated to his beloved Arminda Neves d'Almeida.  Ruth came back in for J S Bach's Siciliana from his second sonata for flute and harpsichord (guitar for these purposes) which lead us neatly into Villa-Lobos' jungle-inspired Bachianas Brasileiras.  Two lively Tangos by Astor Piazzolla  led up to Carlo Domeniconi's Sonatine Mexicana in three movements ending on a thrilling vivace to complete the first half.
Clive opened the second half with the traditional Spanish piece 'Romanza' closely followed by Isaac Albéniz' lyrical Spanish tone-poem, Asturias.  Ruth played a perfect solo, Jacques Ibert's 'Pièce pour Flûte Seule' which she explained was unashamedly French in style - but no less enjoyable for that!  Clive joined Ruth for Ibert's 'Entr'acte' before they finished with two more of Piazzolla's tangos from 'Histoire du Tango', first the gentle 'Café' from 1930 and finally the very energetic 'Bordel' from 1900.  In response to the audience's rapturous applause Ruth and Clive came back and played and encore.
Ruth will be playing again in Exeter at the Central library in conjunction with Hilary Boxer's 'Tasty Music' series of lunchtime concerts.  In the upstairs music room at the Central Library from, 12.30 to 1.30 pm on Monday 25 October, for the modest admission price of £4.00 we can listen to Ruth, accompanied by James Keefe at the piano.  They will play a selection of songs for flute and piano by Aaron Copland, Frédéric Chopin, Ian Clarke and Francis Poulenc.


Ruth will play flute music live on 'Classical Journey' on Tuesday 19th October. She did mention that she might transport us to Hamburg in 1733 with one of Georg Philipp Telemann's Fantasias for solo flute.  She might have up to three other solo pieces for us, including something special by J S Bach.

Try not to miss it!

Details of her next live concert again:

Title:               Songs for flute and piano
Date:               Monday 25th October
Time:              12:30-13:30
Description:   Ruth Avis (flute) will be accompanied by James Keefe (piano)
                        at a lunchtime concert in the Exeter Central Library Music Room.
                        The programme will include pieces by Copland, Chopin, Ian Clarke and Poulenc.
                        Refreshments are included.
Audience:       All welcome.
Cost:               £4.00 (no concessions)
Bookings:       Tel: 01392 384217 for reservations.
Organiser:      Clare Greenall

And we mustn't forget the first lunchtime concert which is only next Monday - Hilary Boxer's 'Mellow Cellos' where Hilary and Jane Pirie will play an hour of delightful 'cello duets while the audience enjoy delicious chocolates!  (See yesterday's post.)

Title:               Tasty Music presents Cello+Cello
Date:              Monday 11th October
Time:              12:30-13:30 (doors 12:00)
Description:   Mellow cellos - melodies sweet and dark with Hilary Boxer and Jane Pirie.
Audience:       All welcome.
Cost:              £4.00 (no concessions) includes light refreshments.
Bookings:      Tel: 01392 384217 for reservations.
                       Tickets can be purchased from the Performing Arts Library.
Organiser:     Clare Greenall

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Mellow 'Cellos

'Cellist, Jane Pirie
Photograph by Simon Keitch
'Cellist Hilary Boxer phoned in to the show this morning to tell us all about her latest series of 'Tasty Music' lunchtime concerts.
The first is called CELLO+CELLO.  It will take place next Monday in the music room of Exeter Central Lending Library at 12.30.  Entrance is only £4 for an hour of eclectic music for 'cello duet.
Hilary will be joined by Jane Pirie for what promises to be a memorable concert.
The concert is sub-titled 'Mellow 'Cello' and the entertainment involves chocolates as well as music.
The CELLO+ series continues with CELLO+GUITAR on Monday 8 November, when Hilary will be joined by guitarist David Cottom, and CELLO+PIANO on Monday 6 December, when Hilary will be joined by pianist Susan Steele-Wiggins.

'Cellist Hilary Boxer rehearsing for
'Annelies' at St Peter's, Budleigh
 violin:     Brenda Willoughby
 clarinet:  Michael Greenwood
(photo:    Luch Càise-Dearg)

That evening Hilary was at St Peter's Church in Budleigh Salterton to take part in the dress rehearsal for the UK premiere of James Whitbourne's chamber ensemble arrangement of his masterpiece 'Annelies'.  This very moving choral work traces the life and tragic death of Ann Frank with extracts from Anne's diaries and huge projected images of photographs taken in Amsterdam  and Belsen during the Second World War.
The St Peter's Church Choir give a very moving performance.  The music and lyrics are very beautiful and terribly sad.
Soprano Amy Haworth 's solo performance as Ann Frank is quite exquisite..
The chamber quartet are:
Jonathan Watts, piano;
Brenda Willoughby, violin;
Hilary Boxer, 'cello;
Michel Green wood, clarinet.
The conductor is St Peter's Director of Music, Sylvia Prichard.
The public performance is on Wed 6 Nov at 7.30pm at St Peter's Church.