Monday, 5 March 2012

Classical Journey Tuesday 6 March

Marion Wood conducts
Exteter University Symphony Orchestra and Choral Society
in rehearsal for 'Music to Celebrate the Olympics'
Exeter University Great Hall
This weekend the Exeter University Director of Muric, Marion Wood, was working very hard - as usual.

On Saturday afternoon she was in charge of a 'rhythm workshop' at Kay House. Members of the public - regardless of previous musical experience - were invited to take part in a rehearsal of 'Olympic Rings'.

Five groups developed rhythmic performances from different continents. Taiko from Japan was melded with Djembe from Africa, Samba from South America, Maoiri 'Spearstick' from New Zealand and 'Sea Songs' from Eastern Europe (Lithuania to be exact).

On Saturday evening, something very different was happening. Matthew Cann had reconvened 'Antiphon', the choir which sang so beautifully at Buckfast Abbey at Christmas (3rd December). Saturday's concert was just as beautiful, and was recorded on video - so, we can look forward to seeing and hearing samples of that concert before too long.

On Sunday Marion Wood was back at work, this time in the Exeter University Great Hall. All afternoon she worked with the many musical societies of the Student Guild, and members of her own 'Exeter Music Group Symphony Orchestra', to prepare a ocncert of music 'for the 2012 Olympics'. In addition to the Holst (Jupiter and Mars) and Elgar (Nimrod) which she covered at Thursday's rehearsal with EMG 1st March (for the full performance of both suites at the Cathedral on 21 April) Marion also developed 'Ode to Joy' from Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, with the University Orchestra and Choral Society.

Prue Tasman is joined by Miranda Cunis
Despite the absence of the EMG Orchestra, the University Symphony Orchestra did feature one or two EMG regulars. John Welton was playing clarinet, Prue Tasman was playing bassoon, and the percussionist was Ali Board.  Other players were familiar from the Brahms Requiem which we enjoyed on World Aids Day last year (1st December).

In a bewildering series of personnel changes the University Concert Band, Flute Coir, Clarinet Choir, Brass Ensemble, Scholars Ensemble, Choral Society and Symphony Orchestra each participated in the musical work of the afternoon. Choral Society president Lily Hawker-Yates was there all afternoon with the sopranos. Kit Fotheringham, Leader of the Symphony Orchestra also doubled as tenor and tenor soloist. Michael Willmot, another Choral Society tenor, also doubled as Tuba player witht he Brass Ensemble - with the biggest and best tuba of all!

Five Soloists
Anya Williams, Kathernie Emery, Barbara Hofer,
Jonathan Woods, Martin Yates
(not to mention Kit Fotheringham)
There were five student soloists for the Beethoven - Orchestra Leader Kit Fotheringham, plus Katherine Emery, Barbara Hofer, Jonathan Wood and Martin Yates - and the wonderful Anya Williams - who was so impressive as Sally DeBanis in the Student Guild Shotgun Theatre Company's production of 'Reefer Madness' last week at Kay house.

The premiere performance of 'International Songs of Sea and Water' featured nine songs put forward by foreign students, which featured allusions to the sea of water. From St Ives we had 'Lowlands Low', featuring the story of Tobago Smith from the Caribbean. From Lithuania a Sodauto. From Brunei a story of sheeets thrown to the wind - 'Cabuk-cabuk Bertali Rambai'. From Russia a story of Lake Baikal. From China, 'Boats'. From Thailand 'Loy Loy Gradong' - 'Float little boat' - a song about votive offerings floated downstream on banana leaf rafts during the November New Moon Festival.

Marcelina Gilka sings 'Hej Żeghujźe'
'Hej Żeghujźe' ('Hello Sailor') from Poland was sung by soloist Marcelina Gilka, while 'Cancao do Mar' ('Sea Song') from Portugal was sung by Hannah Berney. Beautiful performances by both singers.

While the full performance of 'Music to Celebrate the Olympics' was taking place in the Great Hall in the evening, there was yet more music to enjoy at the Northcott Theatre. In the fourth and last in the current 'Classical Concert Series', the Navarra Quartet played three quartets. First, there was Haydn. The programme listed Opus 76 No 4, the 'Sunrise' quartet. But in the event the musicians played Quartet No 1. The second movement featured the theme of Mozart's Jupiter Symphony, mirroring the performance of Holst's 'Jupiter' from the 'Planets Suite' which was playing next door.

Navarra Quartet
Simone van der Giessen
Marije Ploemacher
Magnus Johnson
Nathaniel Boyd
All four musicians played perfectly, and with incredible passion. In the subsequent quartets by Brahms and Schubert ('Rosamunde'), Simone van der Giessen had some gorgeous moments to herself on the viola. Magnus Johnson and Maije Ploemacher had some special moments too on their violins. However, Nathaniel Boyd, playing 'cello, was teh star. Utterly transported by the music he expressed every musical idea with his face and body. Each opening 'cello phrase was directed at the other musicians as a question. Every 'cello response was personal and emphatic. When the instruments joined forces, Nathaniel leapt into the fray with boundless energy.

Meanwhile Marion Wood
recovers from a taxing concert
The final 'Classical Concert' by the 'Navarra String Quartet' was  sensation - faultless and incredibly expressive - and the audience, although somewhat depleted by the competing attraction of Marion's concert in the Great Hall, were thoroughly entertained throughout.

Catherine Cartright
introduces Al Mutanabbi
On Monday Night there was something very different happening. Cathering Cartwright of the 'Al Mutanabbi Street Coalition' organised an evening of poetry and discussion in the 'Double Elephant' print workshop in the Phoenix Basement. Tyrrell Jones, Dr Suaad Genem George, Emily Williams, and Catherine Cartwright herself, recited prose and poetry relating to and commemorating the terrible terrorist attrocity in the Al Mutanabbi Street literary quarter of Baghdad on 5th March 2007.

Tyrrell Jones

Tyrrell recounted the terrible story of Mohammed Hayawi, book-seller killed in the Al Mutanabbi attack - 'The Bookseller's Story, Ending Much too Soon' by Anthony Shadid.

Blood, Ink . . .

Tyrrell's extract compared the attack to the Mongol invasion of 1258 - when the river ran red with blood, then black with the ink of destroyed books. He finished with a chilling demonstration - pouring red and black ink into glass bowl of clear water, before setting fire to a sheet of printing paper and throwing that in too. A very clear message.

Suadd recited in Arabic, 'A Half-Burned Page on Al Mutanabbi Street' by Dunya Mikhail.

Simultaneous translation
Cathernine Cartwright &
Dr Suedd Genem George

Catherine gave a running translation, allowing English speakers to understand the words, while appreciating the poetic rhythms and intonation of the original.

. . . and Fire!
Many thanks to Emily Williams who stood in for Melica Lewis, who was unable to attend. Her prose piece, al Mutanabbi Street by Lutfiya Al-Duleimi (translated by Hasam About-Ela), told us more about the terrible significance of the Al Mutanabbi attacks. She also recited the poem 'Rocks' by Aram Saroyan which Catherine read on 'Classical Journey' on Tuesday 21st February.

Emily Williams
stands in for Melica Lewis
Catherine revisited Tyrrell's theme with Maysoon Pachachi's 'The River Turned Black with Ink'. Tyrrell gave us some of Julie Brick's translation of Sudarsan Raghavan's Washington Post report on the massacre only four days after it happened. - some may remember Catherine sharing htat reading on Phonic FM on 24th January.

Suadd finished with 'The Needle Sings the Book' by Lois Marie Harrod, Behind her a sheet of Arabic script had been burned, creating a hole in the paper, and then stitched together. The imagary was easy to follow.

Dr Suedd Genem George stayed after the recital to discuss issues of politics in the disputed Arab regions - and related political issues in this country. Suedd is Palestinian, and also familiar with the situation in Iraq. Her professional life is concerned with confronting and overcoming racial discrimination in this country.

Suedd also drew our attention to the 102nd 'International Women's Day', which will be on Thursday. Originating in 1909 as 'National Women's Day in the USA, the event gained international recognition by 1911 and, following the (sadly ineffctual) peace demonstrations in 1913 by Russian women, the date fo the event was moved to it's current date of 8th May.

'Cellist Hilary Boxer &
Flautist Ruth Avis
Exeter Central Library
Monday 12 March
Suedd will join us on Tuesday Morning to raise awareness about National Women's Day, issues of racial discrimination, and to remind us about the terrible Al Mutanabbi atrocity and its consequences. We shall be listening to local music by 'Compagnie Giulia', featuring the Saz and Oud playing of the late, and much missed, Simon Cassell. Suedd will also have Iraqi Oud music for us, and renaissance music by Thomas Tallis - one of her favourite English composers.

Later, following a run-down of local musical (and theatrical) events, there will be time for music by local musical luminaries - harpist Elizabeth Jane Baldry, guitarist Chris Glassfield, 'cellist Hilary Boxer, flautist Ruth Avis.

Plenty to look forward to!

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