Monday, 18 June 2012

'Classical Journey' this Tuesday, 19th June 2012 - 'Gown' gives way to 'Town'

Guitar is king
Musical Director of
Exeter Guitar Ensemble
Stephen Gordon
The Royal School of Church Music
hold the ace
James Bowman, Countertenor

As the students gave their triumphant parting performances, before taking their summer break (see last week's post), hundreds of new performers stepped forward to continue the extraordinary musical life of Exeter.

Exeter University Choral Society and
Composition Scholars Summer Concert

On Tuesday evening the Exeter University Choral Society (some students - but mostly post-graduates, alumni, staff, and regular citizens) assembled in the very magnificently appointed 'Alumni Auditorium' in the newly built Forum at the University. Marion Wood conducted Mozart's Missa Brevis in C major - and new works by the composition scholars.

St David's Players: Princess Ida

Meanwhile, at Kalendar Hall in South Street, the rehearsal facilities were fully employed by the St David's Player. With auditions now complete, rehearsals started on Tuesday night, for this year's Gilbert and Sullivan musical (Princess Ida: opening at the Barnfield on Tuesday 9 October). Soloists Tim Hunt (King Hildebrand), Penny Daw (Princess Ida) and Mark Hurford (Hilarion) were there to practice the newly choreographed dance moves (conceived and directed by Susan Gunn-Johnson), which were synchronised with the chorus - very clever stuff, and already hypnotic and exciting to watch! Tim even sang one of his arias as King Hildegrand. What a voice! More details to follow on this blog . . .

Tuesday: First rehearsal of 'Princess Ida'
(Gilbert & Sullivan's 'Castle Adamant')
Susan Gunn-Johnson directs the choreography
standing on her chair
Behind Susan, Nicky Perry conducts the singing
Front Row: Paul Luffman (Scynthius)

St David's Players' President Susan James
Right: Adrian Fox (Florian), James Dunk (Cyril)


Fresh from the triumph of 'Back There on Earth' with Exeter Contemporary Sounds at Queen's Theatre Barnstaple, violist Andrew Gillett was in Budleigh Salterton with Divertimento for a baroque and classical recital on Wednesday.

Elysium Theatre Company

On Saturday Elysium Theatre did battle with Henry V in Poltimore House gardens - in questionable weather conditions - while Voces renaissance choir sang a selection of sixteenth century music by Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina and Orlande de Lassus - in the exquisite setting of Buckfast Abbey.

Starling Octet

Almost slipping under the radar, there was another recital of Palestrina and Lassus - plus Wilkes, Sheppard, Montiverdi &Tallis - by the Starling Octet. Tucked away in a back room at Knightley Hall at Exeter University, they sang beautiful a capela madrigals and songs to a delighted capacity audience.

The Starling Octet
Knightley Hall, Streatham Campus, Exeter Uni
Altos: Sarah Pennington, Sophie Nicholson,
Basses: Michael Willmott, Malcolm Field,
Tenors: Jonathan Croley, Ben Pennington,
Sopranos: Marion Wood, Zoe Fitzsimmons.

A member of the Knightley music staff
distributes roses to the members of the octet
- Natasha Iuchanka!

Schola Exe

On Sunday, just before Evensong, there was another delightful little concert, by equally new 'Schola Exe' Choir. Singers aged thirteen to nineteen, who have sung with the Cathedral Choir, Devon Junior Choir, or similar, have been brought together to perform major concerts - with a little help from adult singers, plus a very accomplished accompanist (David Davies) and an inspiring musical director (Rachel Smith). There were several impressive soloists - some of whom we can see below. Not shown here are Georgie Allen who sang an assured and awe inspiring contralto solo in the traditional folk song 'O Waly Waly' - and Emily Edwards, who took over the piano keyboard from David Davies to play the Andante from Joseph-Hector Fiocco's Harpsichord Suite.

Musical Director Rachel Smith
Introduces a new choral ensemble
Schola Exe
(choristers from Exeter Cathedral Choir
and Devon County Junior Choir)
Just off camera is the Joint Musical Director
Organist and Pianist - David Davies

Two Sopranos:
Rebecca German & Emma Nelson
sing solo from the ranks
And then unsupported - very brave!
Simon Lindley's 'Ave Maria'
(a highly polished performance!)

Rachel Smith manages to
get another soloist into the limelight
Lauren McKenna
who played a fin de siècle

clarinet masterpiece -
Otto Goldschmidt's 'Evening'
from 'Two Pieces' Opus 26
(with piano accompaniment by
David Davies)

Royal School of Church Music

As Schola Exe finished their glorious recital, Evensong began - and there was even more wonderful singing. The Royal School of Church Music choir sang Sir Charles Stanford's Magnificat in C and 'How lovely are thy Dwellings' from Johannes Brahms' 'German Requiem'. As if to 'guard a title that was rich before', the RSCM were joined by one of their honorary members - counter-tenor James Bowman! James sang Henry Purcell's 'Evening Hymn' with glorious emotional intensity. Through all, David Davies continues his sterling work as accompanist - on the organ. (Jump to David Acres facebook page to find a recording of James in action!)

Steve Gordon's Exeter Guitar Ensemble

Even as the RSCM and James Bowman poured out their choral perfection, another ensemble were making music in another place of worship. The Exeter Guitar Ensemble, a magnificent instrumental collaboration coordinated by local guitar luninary Stephen Gordon (Dartington College, Exeter University, Royal Welsh), brought together a glorious guitar recital at the Quaker Meeting House in Wynards Lane (Magdalen Street). A baker's dozen of talented guitarists played - in ensemble, duets, and solo numbers. Steve Gordon coordinated all with skill and style, led the ensemble playing and - in a guitar orchestra arrangement of Bach's  double violin concerto - provided the basso continuo on a specially constructed 'bass' guitar (a normal six string classical guitar with the pitch lowered by one octave) - 'Big Bertha'!

More mystery artists:
members of Steve Gordon's
Exeter Guitar Ensemble
"Your Name Here"
playing the theme from
Stephen Spielberg's 'Schindler's List'
(John Williams arr. Geoff Kelly)
and Cuban studies by

Juan Leovigildo Brouwer Mezquida 

Duet: Maurice Ravel
'Pavanne' arr. Chris Susans
Ensemble: Agustín Barrios Mangoré

Duet: François Couperin
'Les Barricades Mystérieuses'
arr. Steve Gordon
And finally - Ensemble!
Sir Edward Elgar: 'Serenade'
J S Bach: 'Double Violin Concerto'

A great ensemble player
Louise Appleby

of Torbay Latin jazz band
'Latino Jalapeno'

And master of ceremonies:
Steve Gordon
with 'Big Bertha'

Did you miss any of this wonderful music - and/or do you want to hear more?

David Acres' Counterpoint Choir, apart from their long-awaited 'Journey from Mediaeval to Renaissance, Part III' which will be at Buckfast Abbey on Saturday 7th July, will be in concert with James Bowman (and the Divertimento ensemble) on Saturday 13th October (Three weeks before James' 72nd birthday!). The Choir will sing Handel's Messiah, while James will sing delicious counter-tenor arias from Handel's operas. (See details on the Counterpoint website.) The venue? - Buckfast Abbey!

Exeter Guitar Ensemble are still working on Ivan Andrews and Alison Smith's arrangement of Elgar's 'Serenade'. From the one movement we heard on Sunday, they will progress to the full work, for guitar sextet, at Exeter Phoenix on Saturday 25th August. What a treat that will be - especially as one of the players will be - David Cottam!

Sandford Guitar Genius
David Cottam

Classical Journey Tuesday 19th June

On this week's show we have a chance to hear some of the wonderful music that's been going on over the last seven days - and to hear about what's to come. If we can make contact, and the equipment cooperates, we should hear from:

-  Josh Lucas of Elysium Theatre Company about more plays in the 'Wars of the Roses' series - Henry IV and Richard III at the Forum Piazza this Friday and Saturday.

- Thomas Brooman, founder of WOMAD (World of Music, Arts & Dance), who is Artistic Director of the Dartington 'HOME' festival - also this Friday and Saturday.

- One of the 'Reduced Shakespeare Theatre' team, who are performing 'The Complete World of Sports' at the Exeter Northcott Theatre this Tuesday and Wednesday (19/20 June).

- Maggie Bourgein and/or Flip Webster who are 'Women of an Uncertain Age' at the 'Theatrefest' week at Queen's Theatre, Barnstaple this Thursday, Friday and Saturday - and at the Exeter's 'Ignite' festival at the Bikeshed Theatre on Monday, Tuesday and Saturday, 2nd, 3rd & 7th July.

We also have some music provided by Chris Wilkinson of the Zazou Cowboys (who appeared at the Northcott late on the night of Saturday 21st April, amazing everyone, and this week were at the Queen Vic in Camber Sands for a 1pm set on Sunday as part of the 'Rockabilly Rave' in Essex). Amazing Rockabilly guitar and slide - with sensational double bass by Yann Mahdjoub and the mellifluous violin playing of - Rebecca Willson!

Yann Mahdjoub: double bass, Chris Wilkinson: guitar
Willy Briggs: slide guitar, Rebecca Willson: violin

No comments:

Post a Comment