Monday, 13 February 2012

Classical Journey Tuesday 14 February Reviews: Counterpoint Choir, Divertimento String Quartet, Nocturnes by Candlelight (Hilary Boxer & David Cottam) Interviews: Exeter University Choral Society, Somerset Chamber Choir, Exeter University Theatre Company, Shotgun Theatre Company

Counterpoint Director of Music, David Acres
in the PHonic FM studio
(Photo: Cecil Hatfield)
Last Tuedsay David Acres, Conductor of the Counterpoint Choir, came into the Phonic FM studio to discuss their concert, 'In Memoriam'. The recital included fifteen songs and anthems from the funeral of Henry, Prince of Wales, in 1612.
Warmly and elegantly dressed
and fully prepared for an evening's work
Soprano Nini Davies at Washington Singer
 On Thursday there was one last rehearsal at the University - in a science classroom in the Washington Singer building. Warmly dressed in anticipation of another chilly evening's work, the singers stood at their desks like dutiful pupils and sang beautifully - to the blackboard.

David Acres with Counterpoint Choir
at Buckfast Abbey Saturday 11 February
(Photo: Dorota Turowska & Cecil Hatfield)
On Saturday night at Buckfast Abbey their beautiful singing benefitted from a more conducive atmosphere. The wonderful architechture and acoustic of the abbey and an appreciative, capacity audience.

The verdict? - A truly enchanting evening's singing.

Want to hear Counterpoint? They will be at Exeter Cathedral on Saturday 19th May for Mozart's 'Requiem', Morten Lauridsen's 'Lux Aeterna' and Ola Gjeilon's 'Sanctus. David Davies will provide organ accompaniment for another enchanting evening. (details at

'Cellist Vicky Evans
with violinist Lindsay Braga
in Exeter Cathedral Chapter House
(Photo: Cecil Hatfield/Dorota Turowska)

Also on last week's programme - by telephone from rehearsals in Totnes - was Divertimento founder and coordinator, 'cellist Vicky Evans. She told us about the long and illustrious history of the group. Divertimento have perfromed in various permutations - string piano and woodwind trios & quartets, larger ensembles and full orchestras - for twenty years.

The full Divertimento Quartet
'Cello: Vicky Evans, Viola: Andrew Gillett
Violins: Mary Eade & Lindsay Braga
(Photo: Cecil Hatfield/Dorota Turowska)

On Saturday 4th February the full Divertimento Orchestra were with the Exmouth Choral Society at Holy Trinity Churh for Bach's St John Passion with Laurence Blyth conducting (see last week's post). The Divertimento Quartet were in the Chapter House at Exeter Cathedral on Wednesday 8th February for a wonderful concert of string quartets - Haydn, Schubert and the amazingly tortured Shostakovich.

After opening the second half with Shostakovich, the four played on with increasingly light-hearted music from the twentieth century - Frank Bridge, Edward Elgar and Cole Porter - 'Making Whoopie'. They finished with Bill Thorpe's folk song medley dedicated to Finula Sherry, 'Irish Sherry'. Finally, as an encore they played Norwegian/Irish folk duo Secret Garden's 1995 Eurovision Song Contest winner, 'Nocturne'. Vicky strummed her 'cello like a guitar while Mary beat time on her violin like a bodhran - perfect!

This was the third performance of this recital which had already been heard at Calstock and Totnes. This Sunday they were in Taunton, and next Sunday (19th February) they will be at Kingskerwell. They are also booked to play again at Totnes the following Friday (2nd March) and in Kingskerwell on Sunday 29th April. Full details at

As a perfect sequel to the closing 'Nocturne' by the Divertimento Quartet, Hilary Boxer and David Cottam played 'Nocturnes by Candlelight' at Hockworthy Village Hall on Saturday evening (11th February). In the magical atmosphere of the candlelit hall the audience sat at table - with food and drink provided - to hear a sensational recital.
Val Cole introduces 'Nocturnes by Candlelight'

They started with two nocturnes written sspecially for guitar and 'cello by nineteenth century german pianist Friedrich Bergmüller. After that they journeyed far and wide, sampling the music of two continents - all arranged or written by David Cottam especially for us.
Hilary Boxer and David Cottam
'Cello and Guitar by candlelight

After three gorgeous songs, and a 'moment musicale', by Schubert (who played the guitar in bed) there was David's 'Caprice for Maša' from the Czech Republic, his Spanish inspired 'Flamenquita', the lovely 'Libertango' from Argentina, a suite of Irish Ceilidh music, English folk songs, David's 'Balcony Scene' (Romeo & Juliet?) and Bach's 'Air on a G-string' (Hamlet?). Finally a whistlestop tour through the countries of Latin America including Mexico, Peru, Uraquay and Cuba - finishing with Pablo Casals' lament of exile from Franco's Spain - 'The Song of the Birds'

Deep 'cello
and high guitar

The music was so beautiful the audience were transfixed. And so were the musicians. Unable to leave the stage because of the audience crowding round to hear them, Hilary and David stayed put for an encore - a third nocturne by Bergmüller. A sweet 'cello melody backed by delicate staccato guitar chords. Absolutely superb.

The full programme:
Friedrich Bergmüller: 2 Nocturnes in C major & A minor
Franz Schubert: 'An Die Musik', 'Serenade', 'Litanei', 'Moment Musicale'
David Cottam: 'Caprice for Maša', 'La Flamenquita', 'Balcony Scene'
José Serrano: 'Donde Estas Corazon' ('Where are you, heart')
Astor PIazzolla: 'Libertango'
Turlough O'Carolan: 'Planxty Irwin'
Irish Ceilidh: 'Two Polkas', 'The Kid on the Mountain', 'Banish Misfortune'
Stanley Myers: 'Cavatina'
English Folk: 'Greensleeves', 'Annie's Song', 'Josefins Waltz'
J S Bach: 'Air'
Latin American Journey:
'La Campursita' (the Tango from Argentina)
'La Llorona' ('The Weeping Woman' - from Peru)
'Villancico' ('Christmas Carol' - Iberian traditional)
'Punto Cubano' (Cuban pizzicato music - punteando - of Andalusian and African origin)
'Paisillo' (sounds Italian - from Brazil perhaps)
'La Cuccuracha' ('The Cockroach' - from Mexico!)
Encore: Bergmüller's Third Nocturne

Don't forget to buy the CDs!
'Cantico' and 'Nocturne'
- Contact Hilary Boxer at

Hilary and David appeared again at Exeter Libary on Monday 13th February for a lunchtime concert in the Music Room - 'Sounds of Spain' which is part of the wonderful 'Tasty Music' series of concerts.

'Tasty Music' will continue with:
'Cello Chaconne' (Hilary Boxer and Jane Pirie, 'cello+'cello) on Monday 27th February
'Festive Flute' (Hilary Boxer and Ruth Avis, 'cello+flute) on Monday 12th March
- both at 12.30pm in the Central Library Music Room.

- and the Beare Trio (Hilary Boxer, Chris Gradwell and Andrew Daldorph, 'cello, clarinet & piano)
  will be at Exeter Cathedral Chapter House on Wednesday 21st March at 7.30pm.

Full details of all Hilary's concerts at

Hockworthy continue their 'Villages in Action' series with:

Dimitris Dekavallas & Samantha Pearce (Guitar & Flute) Saturday 24 March 7.30pm
Phil Beer (Instrumentalist with 'Show of Hands') Sunday 13 May 7.30pm

Details at

This Tuesday's 'Classical Journey'

 This Tuesday we have three University groups, and a Taunton Choir, as guests in the Phonic FM studio:

10.00am: Michael Willmott, Final year English student & Exeter University Choral Society member,
                  will be in the studio with Choral Society President, Lily Hawker-Yates,
                  and Steel Drum Society President, Jade Mckensie
                  to discuss 'Sound of the South West with Exeter University'
                  -  a weekend of eclectic music making to celebrate the 2012 Olympic Games
                  (Workshop Saturday 3 March 2-6pm, Concert Sunday 4 March 7pm)

10.30am: Tim Donaldson, a tenor with the Somerset Chamber Choir, will join us by telephone
                 to discuss the choir's concert at King's College Chapel Taunton Sunday 19 February 3pm
                 'Out of the East' with choral music from Russia, Estonia, Lithuania, Finnland & Poland

11.00am: Zac Price, Director of Exeter University Theatre Company's new production
                 Berthold Brecht's 'The Resistable Rise of Arturo Ui' at the Northcott Theatre,
                 will bring cast members to discuss their work - Wed 29 Feb - Sat 3 March 7.30pm

11.30am: Hollie Morgan, Director of the Student's Guild 'Shotgun Theatre Company'
                 will bring members of her company to discuss their second production
                 'Reefer Madness' which is on at Kay House in Druryard (Exeter University campus)
                 Wednesday 22 February - Saturday 25 February 7.30pm (2pm matinée on Saturday)

Full details of all these events at

Time permitting, music will include: Handel, Glinka, Górecki, Tchaikovsky, The St Nicholas Choir, Ensemble Hermitage, Counterpoint, Elizabeth Jane Baldry and 'Oberon', Elgar, Holst, Nocturnes by Candlelight, DollyO, Clive Betts, Philip Henry, Music on the Edge . . .

I hope you'll be with us!

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