Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Chris Gradwell and Friends - 'Le Jazz' Quartet Sidmouth Sunday 25 September

Ever since 'Chris Gradwell and Friends' started their series of Sunday evening concerts in the Cellar Bar of the newly refurbished Kennaway House in Sidmouth, the new venture has been going from strength to strength.

On 27th March Chris and Co, going under the name 'Le Jazz Quartet', made their debut (see details). They returned on 14th May for another concert with the addition of poetry and sketches by local authors and performers. On 28th August the saxophonist and the pianist - Chris Gradwell and Andrew Daldorph respectively - joined forced with soprano Kate Walker for an evening of cabaret as 'Music Deco'. (see details)

Chris Gradwell plays Tenor Saxophone
 On 25th September the series came full circle and Chris and Andrew got  together again with guitarist Andrew Barrett and double bass player Mike Thorne for another instrumental jazz evening as 'Le Jazz Quartet'.

Andrew Daldorph is well known in the Exeter area as a pianist, a harpsichordist - and also as an organist, both at his local parish church of St Cyr and St Julitta and at Exeter Cathedral. He is also musical director of the Exeter Chamber Choir. Only a couple of months ago, on 21st July, Andrew conducted the ECC in his own 'Mass for Life' at St Cyr & Julitta. (see details). Andrew is also an extraordinarily talented jazz pianist, improvising and composing with equal style.

Andrew and Chris got together at St George's Hall, Bristol, in 2005 to record their amazing improvisations on the jazz greats - and several of Andrew's own compositions - for the album 'Jewels of Jazz'. Add Mike Thorne and Andrew Barrett to this combination and you have - 'Le Jazz'.

Andrew Daldorph adds sensitive harmony on keyboard
Word of the first concert must have got around because the Cellar Bar was packed for the return of 'Le Jazz'.

Picking up where they left off, the band started Sunday's set with a piece from 1936 - 'Pick Yourself Up', which Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers made famous in that great depression-era movie 'Swing Time'. Jerome Kern's musical accompaniment for Dorothy Fields' words - "I'm going to learn to dance or burst!" lifted everyone up. Following a perfectly timed ending to the final improvisation the band, and the audience, were ready to "Start all over again"!

The unmistakeable sound of Mike Thorne's double bass
One thing everyone had come to hear was the mesmerising virtuoso sound of Mike Thorne's double bass playing. There was not long to wait. Oliver Nelson's 'Stolen Moments' written for the 1960 movie 'Trane Whistle' calls for a trumpet solo, but Mike's solo on bass was every bit as good. His runs and glissandi to the very highest notes on the fingerboard just don't seem possible - but Mike amazes everyone with his endlessly innovative solo improvisations.

'Les Feuilles Mortes' ('Autumn Leaves') by Joe Kosma introduced a French flavour. The song was made polular by Edith Piaf just after the war - and later by American jazz pianist Nat King Cole. Played on piano and tenor saxophone by Andrew Daldorph and Chris Gradwell, the haunting melody had the smoothness of liquid gold. In the background, as the tempo slowly increased, Andrew Barrett and Mike Thorne added their support with the gentle strumming of strings.

In memory of 'Acker' Bilk's recent appearance at the Sidmouth Folk Week on Monday 15th August, Chris added solo clarinet numbers to Sunday's programme. Chris played Acker Bilk's theme for the 60s TV drama 'Stranger on the Shore' and Sidney Bechet's 'Petite Fleur' - originally made famous by Monty Sunshine with the Chris Barber Jazz Band in the 50s.

A tribute to the great 'Acker' Bilk - Chris Gradwell plays clarinet

An essential part of the 'Le Jazz' line up is guitarist Andrew Barrett.
Andrew B. took the floor for an all time blues classic - from the big daddy of blues himself, William Christopher Handy - 'St Louis Blues'.

In his introduction Andrew made the classic reverse mistake - correctly pronouncing the French name 'Louis'. In fact Missourians are notorious for their mispronunciation of foreign words and call their capital 'Saint Lewis'. To complicate matters this great blues number was made famous in part by the great Louis Armstrong - who also preferred to pronounce his name 'Lewis', identifying himself with African Americans rather than the socially superior New Orleans Creole community of the time - who would say "Loo-ee".

Whether St 'Lewis' or St 'Louis', this piece really taxes the players - and the audience. After a beautifully slow and lugubrious start the time signature and rhythm suddenly changes - confusing but exciting to the ear - repeated again and again. Add Andrew D's apparently limitless ingenuity on keyboard and Chris G's clarion blast on the saxophone and you've got the ingredients for a Blues masterpiece - topped off in style by a stunning guitar solo by Andrew B which drew a massive response from the now enraptured audience.

Andrew Barratt's soulful guitar - St Louis Blues
During a splendid performance of 'Moonglow and Love' by Irving Mills and Will Hudson (originally performed with Eddie DeLange's words by Joe Venuti in 1933, but made famous by Benny Goodman and his orchestra the following year . . . ) Chris G started to prepare a third instrument - his slender and delicate straight soprano saxophone. He then surprised everyone by giving another glorious solo - on the clarinet!

The soprano sax got its outing in the next piece, however. Andrew B and Mike sat out while Andrew D and Chris relived a piece of recording history. From the 'Jewels of Jazz' session, with no rhythm section - just freedom and that special Daldorph-Gradwell magic, they played Andrew's own composition - L'Apres Midi. Possibly the sweetest performance yet!

Andrew Barrett takes a break during Chris's impassioned solo
on soprano saxophone - L'Apres Midi by Andrew Daldorph
As the night progressed the music continued and the audience were enjoying themselves more and more. Jerome Kerr's 'All the Things You Are', from the otherwise disastrous 1939 musical 'Very Warm for May', featured Mike Thorne crooning over his double bass as he gave one of his most extreme solos.

Mike even attempted the impossible - Victor Young's wartime jazz classic 'Stella by Starlight' (a hit for saxophonist Charlie Parker in '52) - on double bass. After an impressive foray into the upper reaches of the fingerboard, Mike was relieved at his post by Andrew Barrett on guitar, after which Andrew D's piano solo led to the familiar saxophone solo from Chris Gradwell.

There were more solos all round, in a latin american style, for the 1962 collaboration between American Stan Getz and Brazilian Tom Jobim - 'Jazz Samba'!

In an echo of last month's 'Music Deco' evening, 'Le Jazz' finished with Duke Ellington's 'Do Nothing Till You Hear From Me'. Instead of Kate Walker's voice the sound was filled out with guitar and double bass. Mike claimed not to remember the tune, ratcheting up the tension. The audience nearly fell for it, but in reality this was yet another superb performance. It was just as gorgeous as the sung version and Andrew D, eyes closed and carried away by the music, gave one of the most complex and exhilarationg solos of the evening.

The audience had loved every moment of the night's entertainment, and showed their appreciation with enormous vigour. Chris acknowledged that Sunday's audience had been the best so far. Their reward - more Duke Ellington! The encore was Ellington's sensational 'It don't Mean a Thing, if it ain't got that Swing'. The audience were really into the swing by this time and added Irving Mills words - "Just give the rhythm ev-ry-thing you got!" A perfect end to a thrilling and fun evening of jazz - not to mention blues, and samba!

Le Jazz will return to the Cellar Bar of Kennaway House in Sidmouth on Sunday 30th October. As always the doors will open at 6.45pm for a show that starts at 7.30. The Cellar Bar not only serves spirits and beer, but also an impressive selection of wines. Audience members can share and enjoy a bottle at their table while they are entertained.

October's 'Le Jazz' concert will include poetry and theatre, provided - and in some cases performed - by another performer who lives in Chris Gradwell's home town of Beer, John Torrance. Actually an economics lecturer, but also a prolific author, John has brought together a wonderful line-up of local stars:

Wally Cotgrave, Barbara Farquharson, Kairen Hooker, Francis Lee,
Rowland Molony, Trudy Morgan and John himself of course.

Next time - poet and performer John Torrance
There is also the promise of a guest appearance by actor James Pellow. Currently touring with Philip Meeks' 'I met a man who wasn't there' (based on Hughes Mearns' 1899 'Psycho-ed') in the part of Edgar Ryme, James is also playing the lead (Andrew Wyke) in the Idle Theatre production of Anthony Shaffer's 'Sleuth' at the Manor Pavilion in Sidmouth.

The divine Kate Walker will return for a vocal number or two with the full band - a little preview of the next 'Music Deco' evening, which will be on Sunday 27th November.

Tickets for both performances are available from organiser Glyn Holford. (Telephone 07538 796855, email Price per seat - £7!

'LE JAZZ' with Poetry and Sketches
Kennaway House Sidmouth
Sunday 30 October 6.45 for 7.30pm
Chris Gradwell and Friends
Tickets: £10
Glyn Holford: 07583 796855

Cabaret with 'MUSIC DECO'
Kennaway House Sidmouth
Sunday 27 November 6.45 for 7.30pm
Soprano: Kate Walker
Clarinets/Saxophones: Chris Gradwell
Piano: Andrew Daldorph
Tickets: £8
Glyn Holford: 07583 796855

Thursday, 22 September 2011

The Festive Flutes 'Overnight Sensations' Concert: First Performance Thurlestone Saturday 17 Sept Second Performance Tavistock Sunday 18 Sept

'Festive Flutes'
Joss Campbell, Melanie Orriss, Elizabeth Walker, Sarah Murphy
The 'Festive Flutes' are a delightfully entertaining quartet of woodwind players including a familiar Devon orchestral flautist, Melanie Orriss. In addition to orchestral work Mel loves to get together with three other flute players from her alma mater (The Guildhall School of Music) to create and play their favourite music - many of the pieces arranged for four flutes by Mel herself.
The musical connection between the members of Festive Flutes goes back even further than college. Mel met Joss Campbell when they were both aspiring sixteen year olds at Chetham's School of Music, and Elizabeth Walker and Sarah Murphy were only twelve when they met at the Royal College of Music Junior Academy.

This long association comes across in the way the players complement each other musically, and in their shared sense of fun and adventure. Their concerts can always be relied upon to take us on a journey of excitement and discovery.

On 15th December last year these four fabulous flautists gave a benefit concert for the NSPCC at the Exeter Cathedral Chapter House. On a frosty winter day they put us all in a festive mood with seasonal music including 'Winter' from Vivaldi's 'Four Seasons' and 'The Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy' From Tchaikovsky's 'Nutcracker Suite' - beautifully arranged for four flutes by Mel Orriss. Their comedy number 'Santa Baby', played in costume - and in character, was perhaps the most entertaining part of all! (Full details? - here)

The Festive Flutes create a sensation at St Eustachius Church, Tavistock
Mel Orriss - alto, Sarah Murphy - 'C', Liz Walker - piccolo, Joss Campbell - Bass
We have had to wait a while, but this week saw the welcome return of the 'Festive Flutes' to Devon. On Saturday evening they played a music society concert at Thurlescombe in South Devon, and on Sunday they gave a repeat performance at the Church of St Eustacius in Tavistock.

Their concert came as the perfect end to a day of festivities. 20th September is the annual Festival of St Eustachius. What better way to finish of the Patronal Festival than with four Festive Flutes!

In an unconscious reference to our weekly ' Classical Journey' on Phonic FM they opened with our original theme tune - The Overture to Mozart's 'Marriage of Figaro'. A thrilling start to any musical adventure, the overture in Mel's flute arrangement was especially exhilarating, the piercing and emotive high notes contrasting deliciously with the deep and langorous bass line, creating just the right mood of excited anticipation.

After their trademark 'reshuffle' and exchange of instruments, Joss Campbell opened a medley of songs from Georges Bizet's opera 'Carmen' - this time arranged for flutes by their old college friend Jason Carr. Liz Walker provided the provocative bass continuo for a truly seductive 'Habanera'

For Arthur Sullivan's 'The Sun Whose Rays (are all ablaze)', from the 1885 Gilbert and Sullivan Opera 'The Mikado', Mel took up the big bass flute. 'A cold piece of plumbing' she called it, but in her hands it's sound was very very warm and restful, and very controlled, sustaining just the right mood for this sensuous celebration of beauty - and vanity.

Was this to be an evening of classical opera? Not a bit of it. Next came Jason Carr's arrangement of 'James Bond' theme tunes ('Licence to Trill') - all familiar but beautifully transposed for four flutes. Each player got a solo. Mel got to be Shirley Bassey in 'Goldfinger', while Liz (now holding the bass flute) followed up with Monty Norman's original theme. Mel and Sarah joined forces for the unmistakable sound of 'Live and Let Die'. To die for!

Carrying on the film theme, but now with a classical flavour, Mel had prepared a flute arrangement of the adagio from Mozart's Clarinet Concerto - as played by The Academy of St Martin in the Fields for the movie 'Out of Africa'. (NB we can hear the Academy playing live at Dartington on Sunday afternoon 30th October! - go to concert listings for details - jump) With Liz playing the melody over Sarah's continuo, and a special alto solo by Mel, this piece flowed like liquid gold. "I had a farm in Africa . . . "

Henry Mancini's 'On the Trail of the Pink Panther' needs very little introduction. On four flutes it's something very special. Liz and Joss somehow managed to provide the familiar jazz percussion using flutes, and the audince needed need little encouragement to join in as well!

Mel seems to have an almost unlimited appetite for movie themes, and their potential for use in a flute quartet. In fact she is on the look out for projects to keep her going this winter. If anyone wants to send her any suggestions - You could hear your own personal favourite some day soon. For example, the next piece was a request from Liz who simply adores Bergman and Legrand's 'Papa Can You Hear Me? as sung by Barbara Streissand in the 1983 film 'Yendl'.

Mel's arrangement beautifully expressed the sentiment of Isaac Beshevis Singer's original short story, 'Yendl the Yeshiva Boy'. Poor Yendl, craving the intellectual stimulation of the Hebrew Yeshiva school, she defies Hebrew tradition by pretending to be a boy to join that all male institution. Can even her father forgive her? Very moving, especially in this unforgettable flute arrangement - heart-rending.

The group had prepared something light to bring us down to earth after the emotional tumult of Yendl - but then disaster struck. The alto flute developed a fault. The essential G key would not operate properly. 'Is there a doctor in the house?' By happy chance Michael Wood of 'Jessica Rance Woodwind Instrument Repairs' at Thornmoor Cross had come down from Launceston to hear the quartet play. He didn't have his tools, but during an early interval he was able to free the G key, get the alto back into action, and rescue the concert!

The quartet returned for Mel's arrangement from her own personal favourite. "The Wizard of Oz". Judy Garland as we've never heard her before! Mel had reinvented Arlen and Harburg's 'Somewhere Over the Rainbow' and 'If Only I Had a Brain/If Only I Had a Heart/If Only I Had the Nerve'.

'Somewhere over the Rainbow' was sweet and delightful as the original, and for 'If Only . . . ' we were treated once again to wonderful comedy characters. Sarah, in felt hat with straw in her hair, was the scarecrow yearning for a human brain. Liz, as tin-man complete with silver funnel helmet, craved a human brain. Finally Mel, skulking in from the wings in an extraordinary lion costume (Please can we have a photo of that Mel?), played her own solo begging for an ounce of courage.

A brilliant performance all round. Joss had no costume, but she must have been Dorothy Gale - complete with magic shoes!

Clearing up, especially getting the straw out of Sarah's hair, took some time (this is when we would have had the interval), but before long all was ready for something completely different. The Festive Flutes are rightly remembered for their scintillating interpretation of Tchaikovsky's 'Nutcracker Suite'. With three piccolo flutes in place of the traditional celeste they produce a startlingly nimble dance. The opening hops between bass flute and piccolo are quite mesmerising.

Although capable of incredibly high and sweet notes, the piccolo also has a surprisingly deep range, which is equally beautiful. Mel's arrangement of the overture and the acrobatic 'Dance of the Reed Pipes' used the range to full effect.

Shostakovich's Ballet Suite may not be quite so well known as Tchaikovsky's, but Mel made it supremely memorable in her flute version. The 'Lyrical Waltz' was very lyrical and the 'Romance' was irresistably romantic. The 'Waltz-Scherzo', with the continuo cleverly split between Joss and Mel, was no joke - rather a real tour de force!

Mel had even prepared Walton's 'Facade' for flute. Although rarely heard these days we did have a performance here in Devon just before the Festive Flutes last visit. Lympstone Entertainments brought in John Welton's 'Clarion Clarinet Quartet' (minus Barry Parsons) and a host of local musicians for a performance of the whole suite at a concert called 'Verses and Music' on 27th November. Ruth Avis was flautist on that occasion and was seen feverishly alternating between flute and piccolo as she followed a very difficult score. Meanwhile Tony Hindley was doing likewise with trumpet and piccolo trumpet!

Without the traditional megaphone narration or percussion, the flute reigned on Sunday night. For 'Popular Song and Tango' the only narration was a series of hisses, kisses, sneezes and petulant stamps of the feet from the performers, which told us all we needed to know, and complemented the music perfectly. Mel's controlled crescendo in the 'Yodelling Song' led perfectly to the falsetto high notes - on the piccolo of course. The final 'Tarantella' was a mesmerising delirium of feverish dance - enormous fun for players and audience.

Opera, movies, ballet, poetry - what's next? - Musicals!  The first Broadway classic was a piece of 'Festive Flutes' history. While they were all still at college, fellow student Jason Carr wrote an arrangement of a musical number for them to play on 'Bob Says Opportunity Knocks' (the 1987 revival of Hughie Green's original, hosted by Bob Monkhouse). Incredibly they lost out to one of the other acts (outrage). One Mark Mudd (who has since reappeared as a candidate on 'American Idol') took the prize, but the 'Flutes' were given a consolation spot of 30 seconds, for which Jason prepared a special arrangement of Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov's 'Flight of the Bumblebee' from his opera 'The Tale of Tsar Saltan' - a very complicated piece, to be performed in bumblebee costumes - surely a sign of things to come!

Their first musical number, which so nearly opened the door of opportunity, was Cole Porter's 'I Love Paris', made famous in the 1953 Broadway musical 'Can-Can' and the 1960 film of the same name. Originally the theme of the movie, The song was made famous by the film's star, Frank Sinatra, who sang it on the sound-track album. Jason's arrangement cleverly weaves in another Cole Porter song which featured in the film - 'Let's do it (let's fall in love)'. Who could forget that?  A lovely light-hearted piece showcasing the skill and emotion of all four players.

The 'musicals' theme continued. In 1993 Randy Newman reworked Johann Goethe's classic play in the musical 'Faust'. Not quite a Broadway spectacular, 'Faust' opened at the Goodman Theatre in Chicago. One memorable song from Newman's musical version was 'Sandman's coming', which built on the sandman character in 1954 song by Pat Ballard and The Four Aces, and was performed in the original musical by Randy himself with Linda Ronstadt.

For their album 'Overnight Sensations' the Festive Flutes included athe lyric, sung by Elanor Maynell. On Sunday Mel provided the vocal line - on flute of course. How did it make us feel? - lovely and sleepy!

Speaking of Chicago, at one of the group's recent rehearsals Mel and Sarah discovered their shared love for one musical in particular, 'Chicago'. Based on the play from 1926, this story of the windy city in the era of prohibition, gangs and corruption became a hit musical on Broadway in 1975. Revived in the late nineties, it was made into a movie in 2002.

Infected by Sarah's enthusiasm, Mel immediately set about cleverly rearranging John Ebb's scores for the songs 'All that Jazz' and 'Me and my Baby'. Her version of 'All that Jazz' is very lively, and the alto part - taken on by Joss Campbell for Sunday's concert - holds it together beautifully. 'Me and My Baby' is very fast and Mel and Sarah shared parts of the melody line with incredible coordination.

Over a period of just two hours the 'Festive Flutes' had given us a lot to think about. Sean Sweeney, the Director of Music at St Eustachius put our feelings into words in his heartfelt thanks to four exceptional musicians. We were all wondering, of course, whether they would return to the stage for just one more 'flute fantastic'. To everyone's delight they reappeared and began to play - 'So Long, Farewell, Auf Wiedersehen, Good Night . . . ' from 'The Sound of Music'. One by one they left us, just like the Von Trapp children.  Joss bobbed a curtsey first and slipped away. Then Liz ran from the stage. Finally Sarah made her sober exit still playing her bass flute. Only Mel remained at the end sitting on the props basket playng mournfully on her tiny piccolo flute (although the other instruments could still be heard playing on at the back of the church.)

What a finish! And what a wonderful evening of music - a gloriously festive end to a great Devon festival. Of course, it really was 'farewell'. The four flautists went their separate ways. Mel is the local player working and teaching from Okehampton. Joss and Liz live in London, while Sarah comes all the way from Derry in Norther Ireland to bring her own special talent to the quartet. Despite the logisitical difficulties, we hope they will be able to get together for a concert or two in Devon again before too long. We may even be lucky enough to see and hear them in Exeter again some time. I certainly hope so!

So long, farewell . . . but come back soon!
In order that we might relive the delights of the 'Overnight Sensations' tour, the Festive Flutes have put together a CD recording including the numbers we heard on Sunday. There's a bonus track as well - 'Embraceable You' by George Gershwin.

Tchaikovsky's 'Nutcracker Suite' plus Vivaldi's 'Winter' and 'Santa Baby', together with a generous selection of seasonal favourites, are all recorded on their 'Christmas Crackers' CD.

The two CDs are available from (and £5 from each purchase goes directly to NSPCC).

Elizabeth Walker is also well known as a baroque orchestral flautist. She has played with several of the great baroque orchestras, whose music has featured on the 'Classical Journey' many times. Among others she has played with 'The Sixteen', 'The English Concert' and 'The Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment'. OAE are, of course, well known in Devon where they hold performance workshops for South West Music School students at Dartington. (See 'Young Musicians Showcase' Sunday 9 January 2011.) OAE also performed 'A Celebration of Handel' at Dartington Great Hall on 29th May (snapshot).

Elizabeth appears on the New London Consort recording of Matthew Locke's 1675 Opera, 'Psyche', and London Classical Players' 'Water Music' and 'Music for the Royal Fireworks' by George Frederic Handel.

Her solo albums include Twelve Fantasias for Flute by Georg Philipp Telemann (two of which Ruth Avis has played so memorably on the 'Classical Journey' programmes!) and her July 2011 release, Five Flute Sonatas by Johan Sebastian Bach.

Copies are available from the usual outlets or from Liz's own website, or contact Liz herself:

Listen out for extracts on the 'Classical Journey'!

But, to really appreciate the sheer presence and personality of this superb ensemble, you can't beat a live performance. So let's hope they can manage a return visit soon!

Monday, 19 September 2011

Classical Journey Tuesday 20 September with Special Guest, Pianist Joyce Clarke

Pianist Joyce Clarke in concert at the
Arsenale di Venezia
This Tuesday we have a very special guest in the Phonic FM studio for the 'Classical Journey' programme. Joyce Clarke is a professional concert pianist, who also gives up her time to provide local concerts in Devon, and to raise money for local charities.
Joyce regularly gets together with violinist Anna Cockroft and 'cellist Ruth Lass to form the 'Beacon Piano Trio'. The trio gave a delightful concert on Wednesday 9th February this year (details). Joyce also performs many beautiful solo recitals. Before her recent concert at the Arsenale in Venice, she gave us a very enjoyable preview of that programme at a concert on Wednesday 4th May (details).

This Tuesday morning on the 'Classical Journey', we can enjoy two hours of Joyce's superb recordings - all made at Harewood in East Devon. We shall start with some of her favourite pieces from the classical repertoire, recorded between November last year and February this year. We can also hear some very special recordings, made in 2009, of Joyce playing music composed by the great British composer, Harold Noble - Joyce's father.
(Credit, of course, to the recording engineer - Ian Loud - for the impressive sound quality on the recordings!)

As we enjoy the music we can also hear from Joyce about her life as a musician - and of course about her father, Harold Noble.

Here's what we can look forward to hearing this Tuesday morning:

Beethoven -      Pathetique Sonata 2nd movement                   
Chopin -         Nocturne in C sharp minor 
Brahms -         Intermezzo in A  
Rachmaninoff -   How Fair is this Place    
Harold Noble:
Sentimental Tune 
Morning Song                       
Midsummer Days                     
Tomorrow's Lullaby                 
Party Piece

Concert Run-Down until next broadcast (4 October)

Guitarist David Cottam
Dreams and Dances for Classical Guitar
St Swithun's Church, Sandford
Friday 23 September 7.30pm
Guitarist: David Cottam
a new guitar made by Crediton Luthier
Shaun Newman
Tickets: £6 (accompanied child Free)

Classical Guitar Recital
Exeter Cathedral Chapter House
Saturday 24 September 1.15pm
Guitarist: Scipio Mosley
Admission Free: retiring collection

Le Jazz
Kennaway House Sidmouth
Sunday 25 September 7.30pm
(in the cellar bar - open from 6.45pm)
Clarinet: Chris Gradwell
Keyboard: Andrew Daldorph
Guitar: Andrew Barrett
Double Bass: Mike Thorne
Tickets: £7
07583 796855

Baroque Masterworks
Glenorchy Church Exmouth
Saturday 1 October  7.30pm
West Barok Singers
West Barok Players
Conductor: Brian Northcott
Organist: George Pratt
Jan Zelenka: Missa Votiva
Tickets: £12 (advance £10)
01395 272401 9am-9pm
or from Alison Burnett

The Well Tempered Clavier
King's College Taunton
Sunday 2 October 3.30pm
Following the release of his
critically acclaimed recording
of Bach's 'Well Tempered Clavier'
with 'Celestial Harmonies' records
Australian pianist Roger Woodward
will give a live performance
on the King's College
Yamaha grand piano
Tickets: £15 (U18 £5)
from King's College Reception:
telephone: 01823 328200

(Hear Roger Woodward's interview 
with 10radio's breakfast show
presenter Philip Knighton on Thursday,
Listen in from 7-9am Thur 22 Sept
105.3FM or online at

Sounds of Spain
at Ian and Yta Batchelor's new venue:
The Corn Barn, Sutton Barton, Cullumpton
Sunday 2 October 4-5pm
Guitar: David Cottam
'Cello: Hilary Boxer
Tickets: £5 (child £3)
from Yta: 01884 32107
or 'on the door'

Exeter Bikeshed Theatre
Sunday 2 October 7.30pm
The Cutting Edge of Modern Classical Music!
South West Camerata
play Gabriel Prokofiev 'String Quartet No 1'
Violin Soloist: Emma Welton
(daughter of EMG Chair John Welton
and violinist with 'Icebreaker' and 'Black Hair')
plays 'Koan' by James Tenny)
New work by composer Michael Tenny
(Representing Devon in this year's
BBC Proms 'Inspire Young Composers')
Admission: £3 (concessions £2)

'Music Deco' at Kennaway House Sunday 28 August (becomes 'Le Jazz Quartet' Sunday 25 September)

Music Deco
Piano Andrew Daldorph, Clarinet Chris Gradwell, Voice Kate Walker
 Following their celebrated debut at Kennaway House in Sidmouth on Sunday 27 March this year (details), the 'Le Jazz' quartet have appeared again in Kennaway's cellar bar with authors and actors performing 'Poetry and Sketches' on Sunday 14 May.
On Sunday 28 August two of the musicians joined forces with soprano Kate Walker to form 'Music Deco'.
Music Deco is a revival of a revival. Chris Gradwell enjoyed great success in the seventies and eighties with his group 'Music Deco' playing great jazz numbers from the twenties and thirties - the period of 'art deco'. More recently, at a benefit concert a couple of years ago, Chris and his new piano accompanist Andrew Daldorph met the beautiful soprano Kate Walker - and Music Deco was reborn!
At Kennaway House Chris and Andrew played magnificently as always, and Kate introduced something very new and exciting to the mix. From the very first number (Paul Reade's 'Bien Venu!') Kate amazed us all with her extraordinary scat singing, using her voice like an instrument to pour out nonsense syllables in a breathtaking torrent of sound. Very much in keeping with the tradition of the great scat exponent Ella Fitzgerald!
Kate's pure soprano voice also excelled in the classics, including songs only recently rediscovered, like Gershwin's exhilarating 'Naughty Baby' - such high notes!
Chris and Andrew gave us some impassioned solo performances on clarinet, sax and piano keyboard, including Sid Phillips' theme tune from his fifties radio show, 'Clarinet Cadenza', and Bix Beiderbecke's 'In a Mist' written for the Paul Whitemen Orchestra, and now lovingly reconstructed for piano and played with exquisite delicacy - by Andrew Daldorph.
Things really started to buzz when Kate started to interact with her entranced audience. Walking the room, embarrassing every man by inspecting his 'pedal extremities', she brought a new meaning to Fisher and Benson's 'Your Feet's too Big' - already so well known from Fats Waller's 1929 cover.
In the perfect setting of the Kennaway House Cellar Bar
Kate sings Noel Coward's 'I went to a Marvellous Party'
" - I couldn't have liked it more! "
After a relaxed interval Kate returned, apparently drunk (consummate acting of course!) and told us all about a simply  marvellous party she'd attended. ('I went to a Marvellous Party' by Noel Coward) Half spoken, half sung, the words flowed endlessly as she recounted to crazy pranks of the inter-war party set. A masterpiece of acting and interaction with the audience, this number was an absolute joy to watch - and to hear. Andrew and Chris in the background kept up an incredible volley of inspired musical creativity, quite equalling Kates vocal virtuosity.
More great jazz followed even including a whistling solo from Kate. For the second half Kate's microphone had been abandoned - it had been playing up in the first half - and it was clear that she simply did not need it. Her stunning voice coped easily with the acousitic of the cellar, and just as easily matched the sound of the keyboard and clarinet.
After a very tender Duke Ellington number ('Do Nothing 'Til You Hear from Me') Kate treated us to another 'spectacular'. Ian Macpherson's arrangement of 'The Waltz' by ascerbic poet and wit, Dorothy Parker, recounted the interminable horrors of dancing with an unattractive and incompetent male suitor. Acting out every outrage - and her dissembling reassurances to her invisible dancing partner, with vicious asides to the audience - Kate held us in her thrall as we all relived every moment of that terrible dance. The dance music, of course was perfect - provided by Andrew and Chris. Every time Kate thought her nightmare dance was over, her invisible tormentor would call for an encore - and the band would oblige.
After so many encores in 'The Waltz' the time finally came for Music Deco's own encore, and it was a perfect choice, Fats Waller's 1925 jazz classic 'Squeeze Me'. A perfect end to an evening showcasing not only the skill and talent, but also the playful nature, of these three great musicians.

If you missed that great concert - or would like to see 'Music Deco' again - they will return to the Kennaway Cellar Bar on Sunday 27th November.

The full jazz instrumental line-up - 'Le Jazz'
Double Bass Mike Thorne, Keyboard Andrew Daldorph
Clarinet Chris Gradwell, Guitar Andrew Barrett
An the meantime on 25th September (that's this Sunday!)
and on Sunday 30th October
Andrew and Chris will be back at Kennaway house for two more evenings of Jazz, together with Mike Thorne on double bass and Andrew Barrett on guitar - 'Le Jazz Quartet'.
(The concert on 30th October with include more uplifting poetry and sketches)
For more information call Glyn Holford on 07583 796855 or watch the Classical Journey Concerts website which can be reached using the link at the top right of this webpage (jump) or looking out for the 'Concert Run-Down' on this page (e.g. the post above this one).

Andrew and Chris are also very accomplished, and very active, classical players. Andrew's 'Exeter Chamber Choir' are at the Cathedral in Exeter on 8th October (more details on 'classicaljourneyconcerts' and on the next 'Classical Journer' broadcast - 4th October) and both play in many orchestral settings. But their jazz collaborations are an additional gift to us all which is truly outstanding -
Thanks so much to you both - and to the vivacious  and amazing Kate Walker!

David Cottam and Hilary Boxer in Concert

Guitarist David Cottam
Exeter Library Tuesday 16th August
Guitarist David Cottam will be appearing in concert twice in the next two weeks.

This Friday, 23rd September at 7.30pm he will be giving a solo guitar recital at St Swithun's Church in his home village of Sandford (near Crediton). The title, 'Dreams and Dances for Classical Guitar' tells us just what to expect, beautiful guitar pieces, most, if not all, of which will be composed or arranged by David himself. Anyone who made it to David's last recital, in the Exeter Library Music Room on Tuesday 16 August (details), will know just how delightful David's recitals are. 

The new guitar created for David by
Crediton Luthier Shaun Newman

In the music room David played a guitar made by Crediton luthier Shaun Newman. That guitar has since been sold to a very lucky customer. However, Shaun has made another guitar especially for David. The very best materials and methods have gone into its construction:

Indian rosewood body,
Englemann spruce top,
African ebony fingerboard,
Cuban cedar neck and head,
Brazilian rosewood headstock
(with ebony veneer and bindings)
sycamore and black maple for the
'purflings' and 'backstrip'
classic 1880 Christian Martin design.

This is a magnificent instrument to see - and to hear!

Tickets are only £6 and any children you bring along can listen for free.
What a treat!

(This concert will be repeated on Wed 12 Oct at Bicton College, and possibly on Mon 7 Nov - if a venue can be found - all as part of Hilary Boxer's 'Tasty Music' concert series. See post below for details.)

'Cellist Hilary Boxer & Guitarist David Cottam
Delight the crowd with Argentine Tango
Exeter Central Library Music Room
 Monday 8th November 2010
A week later on Sunday 2nd October at 4pm David will be playing in duet with the founder of 'Tasty Music', Kentisbeare 'Cellist Hilary Boxer. Both musicians have been heard many times, together and separately, on Phonic FM's 'Classical Journey'. They have also appeared together playing live music in the Exeter Central Library Music Room. Who could forget their lunchtime concert 'Tango' on Monday 8th November last year (details).
Next Sunday's concert is entitled 'Sounds of Spain', and will include the stirring classical Spanish, Brazilian and Argentine guitar music of Granados, Villa Lobos and Piazzolla, specially arranged to combine David's guitar virtuosity with the special magic of Hilary's deep, rich 'cello sound.
This will be the first concert of Hilary's new 'Tasty Music' concert series which continues for the rest of this year. The venue will be Ian and Yta Batchelor's new concert space, 'The Corn Barn' in Sutton Barton, Cullompton.
Tickets are only £5 (£3 for children) and can be obtained in advance by telephoning Yta Batchelor on 010884 32107

Further information about the Tasty Music Concert Series are available at

(Also see post below)

Hilary Boxer's New 'Tasty Music' Concert Series

At the end of 2010 'cellist Hilary Boxer created a sensation with her series of 'Tasty Music' concerts. She brought together delicious musical combinations - 'cello with 'cello, with guitar and with piano - not to mention the delicious food she provided. 'Mellow 'Cellos' with chocolate was something really special!

This year's series is even more adventurous, and takes in venues across Devon - including Barnstaple, home of pianist Susan Steele.

In brief the concerts will include:

Sounds of Spain:
Hilary Boxer & David Cottam (guitar) - Granados, Villa-Lobos and Piazzolla
originally heard on Monday  8th November last year.
details: 'Tango!' 8/11/10
Sun 2 Oct, 4pm, The Corn Barn (Yta Batchelor 01884 32107)
Wed 12 Oct, 12.30pm, Bicton College (with lunch) 01395 562300
Mon 7 Nov, 12.30pm, TBA*

Sonatas Spirited and Serene
Hilary Boxer & Susan Steele (piano) - Beethoven, Bach and Boccherini
originally heard on Monday  6th December last year.
For details scroll down the post: 'And it came to pass . . . ' 6/12/10
Wed 5 Oct, 1pm, Queen's Theatre Barnstaple (01271 327357)
Wed 19 Oct, 12.30pm, Glenorchy URC Exmouth (free admission!)

'Cello Chaconne
Hilary Boxer & Jane Pirie (also 'cello) - classical/ trad/folk/jazz
originally heard on Monday 11th October last year
details: 'It was Wonderful!' 11/10/10
Wed 9 Nov, 12.30pm, Bicton College (with lunch) 01395 562300
Sun 13 Nov, 4pm, The Corn Barn (Yta Batchelor 01884 32107)
Mon 21 Nov, 12.30pm. TBA*

Festive Flute**
Hilary Boxer & Ruth Avis (flute) - Bach, Villa-Lobos, seasonal tunes
A new collaboration for Hilary, but Ruth is a well known local artist -
details: 'Songs for Flute and Piano' with pianist James Keefe 25/10/10
Also scroll down 'A Week of Music' 7/11/10 for details of
Ruth's 'Piazzolla Duo' concert with guitarist Clive Betts
Sun 4 Dec, 4pm, The Corn Barn (Yta Batchelor 01884 32107)
Mon 5 Dec, 12.30pm. TBA*
Wed 7 Dec, 12.30pm, Bicton College (with lunch) 01395 562300

Full details of all 'Tasty Music' concerts are available at

Superb work - top marks to Hilary and her fellow musicians!!!

*   Music Room not available owing to staff cuts at Exeter Central Library?

** Not to be confused with flautist Mel Orriss's flute quartet 'Festive Flutes'!

Friday, 9 September 2011

The Champagne Flutes play at the Holy Cross Crediton Sunday 27th August

On the last Sunday of August the Church of the Holy Cross in Crediton (usual venue for St Boniface Society concerts) was the venue for a concert by Tina Guthrie's 'Champagne Flutes'. Returning after four years for a fundraising event, they performed a delightful evening of woodwind music - with Tina's husband Nigel adding his keyboard skills on the piano and organ.

The Champagne Flutes arrive at the Church of the Holy Cross
Celia Waghorn, Jan Cave, Tina Guthrie, Jane Kimberley
The concert opened with the glorious baroque sound of Luigi Boccherini's 'Minuetto', which was followed by Anton Rubinstein's nineteenth century romantic masterpiece, 'Melody in F'. Originally written for piano, the version we heard was arranged for flute quartet by late twentieth century jazz pianist and flautist, Ricky Lombardo. Although contrasting in style the two pieces were a perfect combination to showcase the exceptional skills of this very stylish woodwind ensemble.

The 1921 Harrison and Harrison Organ

A further contrast was provided by Nigel Guthrie who played us the wonderful 1895 'Suite Gothique' by Léon Boëllmann on the mighty Harrison and Harrison organ. Alex West entertained us with this wonderful piece at Glenorchy on 27th April, on the rather more modest Bevington organ (details). Nigel got the very best from the organ with its penetrating bass and ominous treble swell. He divided the suite into two parts to be played in each half of the concert. The initial introduction and minuet ended with a sustained throbbing bass note which filled the entire building. Then silence. The organ and console are out of sight in a side aisle, and the audience were unsure whether he would continue. Fortunately Tina was on hand to explain that the last two movements were to come later - a very welcome prospect.

Nigel Guthrie plays Boëllmann's Suite Gothique
assisted by his son Robbie

The four flautistss then played another two contrasting peices - this time in reverse order. Their arrangement of the 1953 piano and oboe 'Pastorale' by Eugène Bozza 'Jour d'été à la montagne' ('A summer's day on the mountain') ended with an impression of sweet birdsong from Jane Kimberley and Jan Cave, while Celia Waghorn and Tina Guthrie priovided the sound of fluttering birds' wings. This was immediately followed by an arrangement of 'Greensleeves'. Often attributed to King Henry VIII, this is actually in an Italian style popular in England during the reign of his daughter, Elizabeth I, the earliest published version being from 1580. The familiar tune was immediately recognisable, but embellished by a wealth of contemporary harmonies by the four flautist - a very clever arrangement.

Filling the Church of the Holy Cross with sound
The lead flautist, Tina Guthrie, then treated the audience to another of her great talents. Tina is the Musical Director of the Torbay Singers, and an accomplished soprano singer herself. Accompanied by her husband Nigel on the grand piano (with son Robbie turning the pages), Tina sang the traditional Dorset song 'Linden Lea', with nineteenth century words by Dorset poet William Barnes and set to music in the twentieth by Ralph Vaughan Williams. Tina's clear and carrying voice was strong and consistent, conveying the tender emotion of the words with smooth dynamics - wonderfully audible to everyone in the church.
By popular demand - from those with fond memories of Tina's last performance - Tina then sang the traditional (18th/19th century) American folk song 'Oh Shenandoah'. The lyric is compelling but confusing, the hero, crossing the Missouri on his trek to the West with his beloved, reminisces nostaligically about the rolling waters of the Shenandoah in his native Virginia. Tina's highest notes were impressively powerful - and skillfully matched by Nigel, deftly swelling the volume on the piano.

Tina Guthrie sings soprano solos

Tina's soprano solos were followed by another solo - by Jane Kimberley on the alto flute. (The picture below shows Jane playing her piccolo flute.)
'Romance Number 1', by nineteenth century La Scala flautist and composer Giuseppe Rabboni, was a lovely choice of tune and played by Jane with a lovely carrying sound. Modest and unassuming, Jane stayed in her usual place at the back of the stage and couldn't be photographed while she was actually playing this piece - but the sound was gorgeous!

Jane Kimberley plays piccolo flute

 The first half ended with a collection of pieces composed specifically for flute quartet by contemporary American composer Catherine McMichael. 'Gaelic Offering' includes  four spirited pieces in a traditional Irish Gaelic style. 'Rose Cottage', is a gentle piece in the mould of Jane Ross' nineteenth century Northern Irish arrangement of a traditional folk tune, 'Londonderry Air'. It was opened hauntingly by Celia Waghorn and Tina, augmented with gentle harmonies by the other players - and ended on a perfect high harmony.
'The Doubtful Wife' was a brisk dance led by Jane Kimberley, with additional power provided by Jan Cave. A series of complex runs led to an inspired ending by Jane - on the piccolo flute. (See photo above!) Jan then bagan the soft and resful 'Lake Solace', and the first half ended with the fast and choppy sound of 'Describe a Circle'. Wonderful stuff.
After the interval - and refreshments - the quartet returned to the late nineteenth century for 'Notturnino' ('Nocturne'), opus 37 by Vincenzo de Michaelis, and 'Traumerei' ('Dreams') from Robert Schuman's 'Kinderszenen' ('Scenes from Childhood'). Nigel completed Boëllmann's 'Suite Gothique' with the gentle 'Prière à Notre-Dame' ('Prayer to Our Lady') and the thrilling 'Toccata' ('Touch') where Nigel's virtuosity evoked the excitement and terror of an early silent horror movie. The audience were very impressed!
Then there was another modern piece written specifically for flute quartet - by Ricky Lombardo in 1997. 'A Flûtée Celebration' included three pieces for the full range of flutes (bass, alto, 'C' and piccolo). 'Creation' involved a teasing interaction for bass and alto on one hand, with 'C' and piccolo on the other. 'Moods and Styles' was another fun interaction with a solo section for Tina on the 'C' flute. 'Jubilation' was softer and more spiritual - hinting at wide open spaces, with each flute going its own way.
Jane Kimberley added a special arrangement of her own - this time of a song by a Canadian composer - 'Hallelujah' from the 1984 album 'Various Positions' by Leonard Cohen. This involved another wonderful solo by Jane - this time on the bass flute. (Sorry. No picture again!)
Tina gave us another stunning soprano solo with Vivian Ellis' 1929 hit 'Spread a Little Happiness'. Whether people were remembering the original or Gordon Sumner (a.k.a. 'Sting')'s version from the seventies, there was a distinct element of audience participation - great fun.
Even more fun was Celia and Jan's duet for two piccolos - Robert Burke's 'Piccolo Polka' - followed by an arrangement of the Gilbert and Sullivan classic 'Three Little Maids' from 'The Mikado', for three flutes. The fascinating harmonies on Arthur Sullivan's tune sounded just like three voices singing William Gilbert's song.
To complete the concert everyone joined in. All four flautists, and Nigel on the piano. 'Flutes play Fledermaus' is one of Suffolk flautist Sylvia Fairley's delightful takes on orchestral classics - in this case Johann Strauss' 'Die Fledermaus' ('The Bat'). The selection of themes were so familiar that a certain amount of joyous audience participation was inevitable - and welcomed - followed by very sincere applause.
There was just time for a little encore - 'something pastoral'. The theme was immediately recognisable: 'Londonderry Air', beautifully arranged and ending with a glorious improvisation on the last note.
Not only a wonderful treat for concert-lovers during the relatively 'concert-free' summer months, this was also one of the very best concerts this year. Holy Corss in Credition is definitely a venue to watch - and 'Champagne Flutes' have once again shown themselves to be a truly superb musical ensemble. Many thanks to all concerned.

Many thanks to Tina and the Champagne Flutes
 Mike Gluyas  his wife Wendy were at the concert with all their equipment, and made a first class recording. After editing, and with Tina's permission, we hope to hear some of this concert on air on Phonic FM. (Listen in to the 'Classical Journey' on Tuesday mornings for an update on that.) Meanwhile we can hear the studio version of some of the pieces we heard at Crediton - and others - on the brand new 'Champagne Flutes' album, 'Perfectly Chilled', also painstakingly recorded and edited by audio maestro Mike Gluyas. Listen in to the 'Classical Journey' this Tuesday when we can hear them playing a little Mozart - between 10.30 and 11am.

Tina Guthrie, as Director of the Torbay Singers, will be joining forces with Andrew Daldorph and the Exeter Chamber Choir - and the Torbay Symphony Orchestra - for an Autumn Concert including Richard Strauss' 'Four Last Songs' and Johannes Brahms' 'German Requiem' . . . with soprano soloist Catherine Hamilton. (Catherine sang Mahler's 'Resurrection' at Exeter Cathedral on 14 April this year. See CJ website for full details) This concert will be held at Totnes Civic Hall this Sunday evening, 11th September, as the grand finale of the Totnes Festival.  Not to be missed!
(Scroll down below the 'Compagnie Giulia' post below (jump), or follow the link to 'Concert Listings' on the right of this blog for full details of that concert.)

Apologies to Tina, but I must mention for the benefit of all flute quartet fans, there will be two more concerts of music for flute quartet on 17th & 18th September by the 'Festive Flutes'. This is a completely different group headed up by Devon concert flautist Mel Orriss. Mel is familiar as lead flute with the Exeter Bach Society. (Scroll down post on 7th November last year for details.) Mel also heads up her own flute quartet 'Festive Flutes' whose members work in various places across the UK (See 19th December post for details of their Christmas concert last year.)
Their concerts on Saturday and Sunday will a little 'far country' (Thurlestone and Tavistock) but well worth the trip from Exeter to see this superb ensemble. See the post below, or the 'concert listings' link from this site, for details of the two concerts.

Long live the flute quartet!