Monday, 11 June 2012

End of Term Music and Theatre at Exeter University - and Elsewhere

Jenny Rogers
Leader of Exeter University Symphony Orchestra
and Exeter University Chamber Orchestra
takes on five concerts in one week

Many thanks to Katherine Miles, Vice-President and Percussionist of the Exeter University Symphony Orchestra. She contacted Phonic FM to alert us all to the wealth of music and drama being made by students as the University year draws to a close. Some of the students will graduate and leave Exeter. Others will be studying abroad next year. Many will return in the autumn. In the meantime, school's out for summer. As a glorious parting gesture the students have been putting on all forms of entertainment on campus, and in the town. The citizens of Exeter have been made very welcome and have enjoyed several extremely talented performances.

Rotten Apple Express

Back in May, Katherine joined the Rotten Apple Orchestra for their stage musical 'Rotten Apple Express'. There were only two showings, at the Roborough Studios. A very professional show, and great fun.

Cool Guitar: Will Hudson
Soulful Fiddle: Callum Finch
Katherine drums in a dream
while Phil de Iongh narrates

fantastic dancing
and sensational music!
(Guitar: Phil de Iongh  Violin: Callum Finch  Trumpet: Tim Spicer)
Rotten Apple guitarist, Will Hudson, was in the Phonic FM studio a week before their show, and gave us some great music to enjoy - including the incredible 'Rotten Apple' version of Grieg's 'Hall of the Mountain King' - which created a lot of interest. The latest news from Will is: 'The Rotten Apples will be back next year that's for sure!'. Great news!!

Exciting Theatre in a different vein was put on at the Northcott Theatre by the MFA (Masters in Fine Arts) students in a series of plays coordinated by Programme Director, Professor Christopher MacCullough.

The creators call themselves 'We Shadows'. Their series, called 'Shakespeare, No Copyright', extended to six pieces of theatre inspired by the writings of the great Elizabethan playwright William Shakespeare. Even played back to back, the plays had to be divided in programmes A and B. Presented in two separate runs they represented a creative tour de force - and a huge dose of quality entertainment!

Programme A

lithe in leotards
Ben Gilbert, Ellie Chadwick, Faye Hutchinson,
Kathryn Rosenberger and Dan McNiell
combine dance, street theatre, poetry
and incredible shadow mummery
in Ellie Chadwick's 'Vice'
drawing on Macbeth, Othello and Richard III
'Love's Fine Wit'
Combining ancient and modern
Three couples act out contemporary love stories
to the narration of Shakespeare's Sonnets by two muses
Kim Carrell acknowledges technical work of
Noelle Fair Ciccarelli
The two 'muses' (in black) are
Melissa Barrett and the show's author, Laura Baggs
Very disturbing!
Directors Raphael Massie and Faye Hutchinson
reverse the genders in 'Twisted Virtue',
their take on 'Measure for Measure'
Dan McNiell is the madam, Mistress Overdone
and endures abuse from two 'male' characters
Faye Hutchinson is Orlando
Corrupted by power - and ultimately cast adrift
After the show
Programme Director
Professor Christopher MacCullough
introduced the audience members to the students
- over a drink, of course!
In the post-performance Q&A
Kim Carrell fields a question.
Nearest to the camera is - Laura Baggs

A Little Night Music

Rosie Frecker & Charlotte Monk-Chipman
Director and Producer
Stephen Sondheim's 'A Little Night Music'
Meanwhile work on another theatrical spectacular was reaching completion at the Students' Guild. Footlights Musical Theatre Society Producer Charlotte Monk-Chipman obtained funding from the 'University of Exeter Annual Fund' to stage a gorgeous production - in a gorgeous location.

Reed Hall, which was once a student hall of residence (lucky students!) is now a plush wedding and reception venue. With the help of the Annual Fund, and a concessionary student rate, the Guild were able to hire the hall for four nights (4-7 June). The setting was perfect for their musical - Stephen Sondheim's 'A Little Night Music'.

Director, Rosie Frecker, really made the most of the performance area. With the audience on both sides of the reception hall, the actors gave a 'traverse' performance - a very intimate experience, where the observer is drawn into the action, which was disconcertingly natural and realistic - even when the students broke into song! There are many memorable numbers in Sondheim's musical, but the first half closer really took the prize - 'A Weekend in the Country'!

The musical accompaniment was top quality, of course. Instrumentalists from the Exeter University Symphony Orchestra played from a perfect position in the extension of the room behind the audience. Discreet but very effective. The orchestra included Phil de Iongh's double bass and Oli Ritchie's harp - perfect! 

Two experienced musical actors
Stephanie Lysé and Jonathan Wood
Stephanie was Mae Coleman
in 'Reefer Madness'
(Student Guild Shotgun Theatre Company)
Jonathan was Bunthorne in 'Patience'
(Gilbert & Sullivan Society)
The main protagonists:
Ed Johnson and Antonia Vickers are
Frederik Egerman and Desiree Armfeldt
Their farcical romance won the hearts
of the entire audience

Another touching romance
Egerman's son Henrik (Dave Wall)
is a confused curate, in love with
Egerman senior's second wife Anne
(Katie Thomas)

Three generations of Armfeldts
Desiree and daughter Frederika
(Phoebe Mulcahy) under the
watchful eye of grandmother
Madam Armfeldt (Rosamund Frost)
- imperiously clicking her fingers
at her attendant Fred (Will Kellerher)

The count considers his wife 'irrelevant'
(when she's not around)
and resents Egerman's affection for
'his' mistress, Desiree.
Egerman can't see what
all the fuss is about

Unintentionally comic,
the incredibly pompous
Count Carl-Magnus Malcolm
(Nick Kenchington)
is easily cut down to size
by the withering wit of
Countess Charlotte (Rosie Archer)

At Supper, Countess Charlotte
completes Carl-Magnus' humiliation.
However, Madam Armfeldt's
very special Belgian wine
is about to have devastating effects.
Now read on . . .

Exeter University Chamber Orchestra

A star performer
Orchestra oboe & cor anglais player
Sammie Buzzard
plays sweetly on her pear wood treble
 Within a stone's throw of Reed Hall, in a marquee in the Ram Beer Garden at Devonshire Hall, the Exeter University Chamber Orchestra gave an hour's recital from 5.30-6.30pm on Tuesday night - leaving plenty of time for music lovers to get to Reed Hall for the second performance of 'A Little Night Music' at 7.30.

EUCO's Musical Director, Paul Mcclure, brings comedy to his introductions, with stories and one-liners - a great skill for a professional musician. The audience appreciate his bonhomie, and they must surely enjoy the music even more as a result.

Paul McClure plays second recorder to Sammie Buzzard
J S Bach's Fourth Brandenburg Concerto
(They also played Elgar's 'Serenade'
and Ireland's 'Downland Suite')

Conducted by Sammie's fellow oboist
Stephen Martin Mason

The full ensemble.
 In the centre (in pride of place) -
Orchestra Leader Jenny Rogers

Viva Voce

Crediton on Wednesday
- at the Church of the Holy Cross
(and the Mother of he who hung thereon)
James Bellamy conducts a choir of singers
from Tremough campus at Falmouth

Viva Voce
in mediaeval and renaissance choral music

Back There on Earth

Emma Welton
'Between the Moon and the Earth'
by Simon Belshaw
On Thursday evening at Queen's Theatre, Barnstaple, there was an opportunity to hear again the exciting and innovative concert which we enjoyed at Exeter Phoenix on Sunday 27 May. The performers were 'Exeter Contemporary Sounds', the inspired association of violinists Julie Hill (Devon Baroque) and Emma Welton (Music on the Edge) with violist Andrew Gillett (Divertimento) and Jane Pirie (Tasty Music).

They played Simon Belshaw's multimedia classic 'Between the Moon and the Earth', a thoroughly engaging take on the Apollo moon missions with original film footage and recording of the astronauts' voices, with Simon's backing track of percussion and piano, overlaid by live sting playing by  the quartet.

Next came Paul Whitty's 'Bury your Love like Treasure'. Sound picked up by buried micophones in a field above Thorverton were played back through speakers mounted in Emma's double bass and combined with video of Emma burying the phones, and playing her bass in the field (and a recording of a traditional poem being recited) - with more live string playing. This time, however, the instruments were used to echo the sounds from the soil. Scratching, tapping, scraping - every technique was used to extract new sounds from any part of a violin, viola or 'cello.

After the interval 'Exeter Contemporary Sounds' played a more established piece - Steve Reich's 'Different Trains' - combining railway sound with recordings of train-related spoken word. The pitch and rhythm of which was matched by the quartet in their playing - individually and in consort. As the piece approached its 'terminus' the violins and 'cello repeatedly played a single drawn out note - just like a train whistle - while Andrew continued the melody on his viola

Jane Pirie
gently plucks the 'cello part
in the darkness of 

In the eerie light of
a projected image of the inside
of the Apollo capsule
Emma Welton plays
'Between the Moon and the Earth'

The star of
'Bury your Love like Treasure'
Emma Welton's double bass

under a huge video image
of Emma playing her bass
Julie Hill adds violin

Video of Emma burying microphones
outlines Emma herself playing her violin
. . . in very curious ways!

including ricochet!

A very different set-up
No video, just very atmospheric stage lighting
for Steve Reich's 'Different Trains'

Emma Welton, Julie Hill, Andrew Gillett, Jane Pirie
What a combination!!

Programme B

Melissa Barrett and Kim Carrell
return to the Exeter Northcott Theatre
for more Shakespeare inspired plays

Kim (centre) is Prospero in 'Set me Free'
a take on The Tempest,
with mime against recordings of the actors own voices
Faye Hutchinson, Heather Andrews,
Harry Kingscott and Ben Gilbert
(each dressed in white)
collectively play the part of the benign spirit Ariel

The other cast members applaud
James Johnston
for his performance as Timon of Athens

Finally the characters of 'A Winter's Tale'
collude to entertain the audience
- and reanimate the statue of Hermione -
in 'Stone no More'

Classical Night at the Bicton Inn, Exmouth

The Bicton Inn, a small street corner pub in Exmouth, is regularly the venue for 'Classical Nights'. Every second Thursday in the month there is an open night, where local musicians can perform for the enjoyment of the other guests. There are also regular guest nights, when a local player can entertain for the whole evening. On Wednesday Tim Othen took the chair and played a glorious medley of classical works by Bach, Beethoven, Chopin, Debussy, Rachmaninov. It was an unexpected gem of a recital. The Bicton is certainly worth a return visit!

A battered upright in a cosy corner
of the local pub
becomes a thing of beauty

To assist turning the pages
Natasha Iuchanka!

Natasha expresses her appreciation
in song

The last word goes to another
Exmouth resident
Roger Bourgein of the 'Exmouth Shantymen'

Exeter University Chamber Orchestra
Exeter Cathedral Chapter House

The tireless Jenny Rogers
takes the lead again

Joking aside, Paul McClure conducts

Stephen Martin Mason conducts Brandenburg IV

While Paul joins Sammie on recorder

An extra item - a 'cello concerto for former president
Katharine Bardsley
Still jesting, Paul suggests her father might like to accompany

Katharine prefers her Musical Director
Paul McClure

A great orchestra

and two great conductors

Exeter University Symphony Orchestra

Back in the Ram Beer Garden
Jenny Rogers prepares to lead yet another concert
- something very special
President Beca Pennar
distributes scores
for all the violinists

Chris Armitage-Wells
plays a mean tuba
New EUCO president Milly Bowen
joins EUSO - with her 'cello

And, standing in for the guest conductor
- Sammie Buzzard !
On Saturday night
at Exeter's Mint Methodist Church
Richard Gonski takes the rostrum
for Damien Harron's 'Another Street Song'
(Marimba Soloist: Molly Lopresti-Richards)
The violins set the scene

Molly plays perfectly

Richard accepts his applause
and applauds the soloist

Another soloist appears for
Rachmaninov's Piano Concerto No 2
- Veronika Shoot
Oli Ritchie assists
with a very complex score

It's all in Russian
and beautifully scored

All together, there were four amazing soloists

Molly Lopresti-Richards
Veronica Shoot
Jonathan Wood

Johnathan - who sang so beautifully
in 'A Little Night Music'
directed by - Rosie Frecker
Someone is very interested in
what Jonathan will be singing
- Natasha Iuchanka

First - the fourth amazing soloist
Bass Trombonist Tilman Schus-Klinger
plays Steven Verhelst's
'Song for Japan'

Ably supported by the orchestra
- led by Jenny Rogers
Leader of the Second Violins: Abi Jenkins

Richard Gonski congratulates
Tilman Schus-Klinger
The orchestra strikes up again
with Milly Bowen's 'cellos
confidently bowing
and plucking

For the grand finale
Jonathan Wood sings 'Rule Britannia'!

and receives his own bouquet

Jenny Rogers and Richard Gonski
a great leader and a great conductor

Richard Gonski receives his own bouquet

and presents a stem to Jenny Rogers

One for everyone!

Special thanks to one person
for letting Phonic FM know about
all this glorious music-making
Exeter University Symphony Orchestra
Vice-President - Katherine Miles!

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