Friday, 31 August 2012

Dartington Outdoor Film Festival is a total success Sunday - Wednesday 26-29 August 2012

The Dark Knight Rises
Christian Bale is Bruce Wayne
under a magnificent full moon
What a spectacular end to the
Dartington Outdoor Film Festival

Congratualtions to Dartington Cinema Manager Jim Whittle for courage and resourcefulness.

In the face of possible downpours, and with the usual venue already waterlogged, Jim switched the outdoor film festival from the Tiltyard (a beautiful venue, but just too sodden) to the hard surface at Dartington Space. The big screen was repositioned on the tarmac-covered 'Tennis Courts', and the Barn Cinema put on stand-by in case audiences were driven indoors by a deluge.

In the event, each night was a huge success. Capacity audiences enjoyed great movies, old and new. The crisp cinematography and engaging comedy of Tony Curtis and Jack Lemon in 'Some Like It Hot' was a sell-out sensation on the first night. (Marilyn Munroe as Sugar Kane Kowalczyk might have had something to do with it.) Everyone was in party spirit and got a much more intense experience than originally planned, sitting so much closer to the 40 foot screen. That's a big screen!

On the next two nights the rain continued to hold off and audiences enjoyed Ridley Scott's brand new block-buster 'Prometheus', and Alfred Hitchcock's classic 'North by North-West'. On the final night extra tickets had to be issued, and the old stand-by, the hand stamp, had to be introduced - as an unprecedented number of cinema fans flocked to see Christopher Nolan's three hour epic 'The Dark Knight Rises'

Heavy clouds swirled in the sky, threatening imminent inundation but, right on cue, the full moon rose flooding the outdoor auditorium in its baleful light. The audience's attention was torn between the incredible opening action sequence (Tom Hardy as 'Bane' leads a sabotage team who dismantle a light aircraft in flight!) and the incredible atmospheric and astronomical effects in the sky above.

As a few spots of rain fell umbrellas were erected and eyes stayed glued to the film - or the firmament! As the cinematic tension built - with the appearance of Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine, Liam Neeson and Tom Conti - the roiling clouds kept everyone guessing what would happen next. Would there be a sudden exodus to the Barn?

In the event the film ran to the closing credits without incident (except on screen), deck chairs were packed up and the the audience left well satisfied with their evening's entertainment - at ten minutes to midnight! Just as everyone was in their car and filing out of the Dartington car park, the skies opened flooding every surface - what impeccable timing!

Many thanks to Jim and his team. Another wonderful film festival. Let's look forward to another next year - when the Tiltyard may be back in operation. Dartington Space has its advantages though . . .

Another Film Festival - at Chagford

News has just arrived of more movie fun at the Chagford Film Festival.

(Monday - Saturday 24 - 29 September)

Louise Brooks
The Lost Girl
This festival will involve many exciting extras including an evening of vintage Pathé news reels with accompanying talk, a museum of movie memorabilia and a mobile movie bus.

But movies in Chagford can only mean one thing - live harp accompaniment by Elizabeth-Jane Baldry. On Wednesday 26th Elizabeth-Jane will accompany Georg Pabst's 1929 film 'Tagebuch einer Verlorenen' (Diary of a Lost Girl) at Jubilee Hall in Chagford. Tragic beauty on screen, matched by the beautiful sound of Oberon the concert harp.

There will be outdoor film too. Extracts from Chagfrod Filmmaking Group's forthcoming film 'The Ballad of Mary Whyddon' will be projected onto Mary's former home (now the Three Crowns) and St Michael's Church on the evenings of 27 and 28 September.

On Wednesday 26th there will also be another chance to see this year's Fairy Film, 'The Laidley Worm of Spindleston Heugh' with accompaniment conducted by Elizabeth-Jane and featuring Emma Graham playing Oberon.

Find out more - Chagford Film Festival website

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Exeter Music Group prepare for 'Mahler 8' Sunday 16 September 5pm at Exeter University Great Hall Press Release from Claire Penhallow

Marion Wood
Conducts the EMG Orchestra at St Peter's School

EMG Symphony Orchestra Concert
Saturday 16 September, 5pm
Great Hall Exeter University

On Sunday 16 September at 5pm, EMG Symphony Orchestra will mark its return to Exeter University's Great Hall with the biggest concert in the orchestra's 45-year history; a performance of Mahler's rarely-performed Symphony No.8 "Symphony of a Thousand".  EMG Symphony Orchestra, under the baton of Musical Director Marion Wood, will be joined by two adult choirs, the Devon County Junior Choir and a range of instrumentalists, with harps, mandolins, piano, celeste and organ, as well as an additional off-stage brass section.  The concert promises to be a once-in-a-lifetime event which is not to be missed!

Tickets are priced at £15, £12 and £10
(discounts available for students and groups of 10+ for bookings made by telephone)
and can be purchased from the Northcott Box Office
telephone 01392 493493

For further information about EMG Symphony Orchestra, please visit


Exeter Music Group Symphony Orchestra
St Peter's School Exeter
Friday-Sunday 7-9 September
Full rehearsal of Mahler's Symphony VIII
Hymn: Veni Creator Spiritus (Come Creator Spirit)
Scherzo: (closing scene of Goethe's Faust)
Final rehearsal - Friday 14 September
Conductor: Marion Wood
Leader: Clare Smith
(Performance: Great Hall, 16 September)
Info: Carol Galton 01392 410660

Friday, 24 August 2012

Dartington Outdoor Film Festival 2012 is now ON! Sunday - Wednesday 26 - 29 August

'Some Like it Hot'
Tony Curtis is Joe/Josephine, Jack Lemon is Jerry/Daphne
Marilyn Munroe is Sugar Kane Kowalczyk
Dartington Outdoor Film Festival Sunday 26 August 8.30pm
Endless rain has adversely affected a number of outdoor events this year - what about Dartington's outdoor film festival?

The Tilt Yard (the perfect venue of a summer evening film show) has, sadly, become too waterlogged to be useable. However, the Cinema management have a backup plan.

In the extensive rehearsal complex called 'Dartington Space' there is a perfect place for outdoor films, which is unaffected by rain - the 'Tennis Courts'. The tarmac surface is perfect to seat up to 400 people, and surrounded by verdant ornamental gardens and borders, bounded by a tall box hedge - perfect!

Dartington Cinema Manager, Jim Whittle, has been hard at work rigging up a big screen on the courts, and has provided seating for a capacity audience (but we are welcome to bring our favourite chairs for total self-indulgence!). And if it rains on the night? Jim has the equally comfortable Barn Theatre lined up for an indoor performance - just 100 yards from the courts.

In conjunction with the Totnes Festival, which will be going on in the daytime this week, outdoor films at Dartington are the icing on the cake. Rain or no rain!

In a delightful secret garden at Dartington
something is afoot . . .

Cinema Manager Jim Whittle
gets 'hands on' rigging up the
outdoor movie screen

Plenty of room for everyone!

the big screen
in Dartington Tilt Yard
Dartington Outdoor Film Festival 2012
Tennis Court, Dartington Space
Sunday 26 - Wednesday 29 August 8.30pm
Sunday: Some Like it Hot
Monday: Prometheus
Tuesday: North by Northwest
Wednesday: The Dark Knight Rises
Tickets: £7.75/6.50 (student £5.25 U18 £4)
Box Office: 01803 847070
Dartington website

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

An open invitation from soprano Josie Walledge: Evening workshop & recital with 'Schola Cantorum' Topsham St Margaret's Tuesday 11 September

I would like to invite you to a Choral Workshop and Recital at 7.30pm on Tuesday 11th September at St Margaret’s Church in Topsham.

James Burton
Choral Director of 'Schola Cantorum'
An evening of fun and vocal gymnastics with dynamic choral director, James Burton, and Oxford University’s ‘classy intercollegiate choir’ Schola Cantorum. Whether you are a singer, a conductor or just passionate about choral music, this evening is guaranteed to educate, energise and entertain!

Come and learn more about vocal technique, choral singing and directing, then sit back and relax with a glass of wine as Schola perform choral masterpieces from their South West tour.

I sang with Schola for many years, most recently with Jamie, who is one of the most exciting and inspiring choral directors in the business. He is an expert in vocal technique and choral conducting, a great communicator and brings huge passion and energy to his rehearsals and concerts.

Schola Cantorum of Oxford ( was founded in 1960 by the Hungarian dissident, László Heltay. The choir has an impressive history of concerts, recordings and broadcasts, and has also built up an international reputation through tours and competitions in Europe, the Far East, Latin America and the Holy Land. The choir has recently featured in John Bridcut’s BBC4 film biographies of the composers Vaughan Williams, Elgar and Parry.

Tickets cost £10 (including refreshments) and there are discounts for groups of 10 or more. I do hope you can come for an evening guaranteed to “educate, energise and entertain”!

Best wishes


PS I am also helping to organise home stays for the students. If you could accommodate one or two students on the night of 11th/12th September, I would love to hear from you!

( 01392 823508
Ë 07790 908394


Monday, 20 August 2012

Run down until the next Journey: 21 August - 4 September 2012

Something very special at Totnes Festival
Saturday 1st September
The Society of Strange and Ancient Instruments
Clare Salaman: nyckelharpa
Clara Sanagras: renaissance guitar
Joy Smith: gothic harp

(click here for the full run-down into September - and October)

Christopher Kent
Luchtime Concerts
St Paul's Church Honiton
Tuesday 21 August 1pm
(resident organist at Bowood House Wilts
and authority on the Bryce-Seede Organ
at Powderham Castle - visited with his
St Nicholas Consort on Friday 18 May)
Organ Recital
Light Lunch (from 12.00) £4.50
Concert (1.00 - 2.00) £5.50

Pantaloons Theatre Company
The Importance of being Earnest
Pantaloons Theatre Company
Killerton House Gardens
Tuesday 21 August 7pm
Oscar Wilde:
Tickets: £15 (child £10)
Pre-show supper: £12.50
01392 881345  book online

Show of Hands
Miranda Sykes
Phil Beer
Steve Knightley
Show of Hands
Exeter Phoenix
Wednesday 22 August 8pm
guitar/voice: Steve Knightley
violin/voice: Phil Beer
double bass: Miranda Sykes
supported by:
The Urban Soul Orchestra
Phillip Henry & Hannah Martin
Tickets: £17
Exeter Phoenix Box Office
01392 667080
seetickets (10% booking fee)

Counter Tenor James Armitage &
Coloratura Soprano Lizzie Drury
made up for 'Welt-Parlament'
James is New Zealand
Lizzie is Congo 
Mittwoch aus Licht
Argyle Works Birmingham
Wednesday 22 - Saturday 25 August 4pm
Birmingham Opera Company will perform
the world premier of
Karlheinz Stockhausen's 6 hour Opera
(one of seven - one for each day of the week)
Part of the London 2012 Festival
Director: Graham Vick
Director of Music: Kathinka Pasveer
Part 1 - Welt-Parlament: Ex Cathedra
(Musical Director Jeffrey Skidmore)
Features coloratura soprano Elizabeth Drury
as 'Temporary President'
Part 2 - Orchester-Finalisten
Part 3 - Helikopter-Streichquartett
The Elysian String Quartet
and 'Grasshoppers' Helicopter display team
Part 4 - Michaelion: London Voices
(Musical Director Terry Edwards)

Dr Matthew Wright
St Stephen's Project - Lunchtime Concerts
St Stephen's Church Exeter High Street
Thursday 23 August 1pm
(Fundraising lunch 12 noon)
Piano: Matthew Wright
(Dr Wright is Senior Lecturer in
Classics and Ancient History at Exeter University
and has just returned from a year as
Blegen Fellow at Vassar College in Poughkeepsie)
Admission FREE
(fundraining ploughman's lunch £5)

Sam Richards
Totnes Music Now
St Mary's Church Totnes (2.30pm)
Soundart Studio Dartington Hall (6pm)
Friday 24 August
A New Composition by Sam Richards
Totnes Improvisers Orchestra and Friends
Admission FREE

Steve Gordon
Steve Gordon's Exeter Guitar Ensemble
Exeter Phoenix
Saturday 25 August
Sir Edward Elgar: Serenade for Strings
(Arranged Alison Smith & Ivan Andrews)
Gerald Garcia, Mark Ashford, Mark Eden,
Helen Sanderson, Chris Stell - and David Cottam
Details to follow at esgmusic

conductor: Malcolm Latcham
The Pressenda Ensemble
at Totnes Festival
St John's Church Totnes
Sunday 26 August 3pm
Arcangelo Corelli: Concerto Grosso in F
J S Bach: Fugue in B minor (on a theme
of Corelli) Double Violin Concerto
Felix Mendelssohn: String Symphony 12
Percy Grainger: songs from UK & Ireland
Astor Piazzolla: Autumn in Beunos Aire
Director of Music: Malcolm Latcham
(founder Academy of St Martin in the Fields)
joined in the double concerto by
violinist Catherine Hayek
Hosts: Divertimento Entertainments
Tickets: £12 (student/child FREE)
Box Office 01803 863677
Totnes TIC 01803 863168

 - stay in the area for the opening of:

the big screen
Dartington Tilt Yard
Dartington Outdoor Film Festival 2012
Tennis Court, Dartington Space
Sunday 26 - Wednesday 29 August 8.30pm
Sunday: Some Like it Hot
Monday: Prometheus
Tuesday: North by Northwest
Wednesday: The Dark Knight Rises
Tickets: £7.75/6.50 (student £5.25 U18 £4)
Box Office: 01803 847070
Dartington website

N.B. because of this year's excessive rain, the screen has been moved to the 'tennis courts' at Dartington Space - just 100yds from the Tilt Yard - Rain on the night? Simply move next door to the luxury of the Barn Theatre! (read details)

Adrian Partington
Director of Music
Gloucester Cathedral 

Organ Recital
Exeter Cathedral
Wednesday 29 August 7.30pm
Director of Music,
Gloucester Cathedral: Adrian Partington
J S Bach: Prelude & Fugue in Am 543
Orlando Gibbons: Fantasia for Double Organ
Gustav Merkel: Sonata No 8 in B minor
Henri Mulet: Exquisses Byzantines (Vitrail, Rosace)
Patrick Gowers: Toccata and Fugue
Henri Mulet: Carillon Sortie
Tickets: £7 (student £3 U18 FREE)
Exeter Cathedral Shop: 01392 271354

Jemma Webb
Memorial Variety Concert
Reed Hall Exeter University
Friday 31 August 7.30pm
Featuring local artists, including
new pairing: guitarist Clive Betts
and flautist Martha Soffker
Guitar: Isaac Albeniz 'Chants d'Espagna'
Guitar & Flute:
Astor Piazzolla 'Histoire du Tango'
Jacques Ibert 'Entr'acte'
(from Pedro Calderón's
'El Médico de su Honra)
They will discuss the concert on
'Classical Journey' Tue 21 Aug
Tickets: £5 - in aid of the Eve Appeal
Booking/Further Details (or to take part):
Sylvia Costigan 07914 617877
(Ellen Milford: 07872067673)

(Other performers in the Eve Appeal concert include: Katherine & Marina Kostigan, James Tomlinson, Luke Friend, Lauren Ross, Molly Emmerson - all performers under twenty five)

The Society of Strange
and Ancient Instruments -
gothic harp: Joy Smith
renaissance guitar: Clara Sanabras
hurdy-gurdy: Clare Salaman
The Society of Strange and
Ancient Instruments
at Totnes Festival
St Mary's Church Totnes
Saturday 1 September 7.30-9.30pm
trad: 'Blessed be the Maid Marie'
Mateio Fecha: 'Rui, Rui,chui'
Thoinot Arbeau: 'Belle qui tiens ma vie'
François Francoeur: Rondeau
trad: Joseph and the Angel Oxford
anon: 'Lullay, lullay - als I lay on Yoolis Nigh'
trad: 'When righteous Joseph wedded was'
John Playford: Doves Figary
Sarum Chant (Salisbury 15th Century):
A solis ortus cardine
The Play of Daniel (Beauvais 13th Century):
Angelus admonebit Abacue prophetam
Cantiga de Santa Maria
(Galician-Portugese 13th Century)
Cantiga 131: En tamanna colta non pode seer
Arcangelo Corelli: La Follia
double bass: Peter McCarthy
trad: The Three Ravens
trad: Devil Stick the Minister
trad: The Devil in a Bush
trad: The devil's Dream
Cantiga 115: Con seu ben sempre ven
trad: Buillo, pran ton tamborin!
trad: Pease Branle
trad: Candlestick Branle
voice, renaissance guitar, oud: Clara Sanabras
hurdy gurdy, nyckelharpa,
hardanger violin: Clare Salaman
harps & percussion: Joy Smith
basses: Peter McCarthy
Hosts: Totnes Early Music Society
Tickets: £12 (student/U18 £5)
Non-TEMS members (only), pay at the door.
Further enquiries/membership:
Chair: Jill Tomalin 01803 849414 email
Mem Sec: Jasper Solomon 01803 868883 email
TEMS membership webpage

Le Jazz
double bass: Mike Thorn
piano: Andrew Daldorph
clarinet/sax: Chris Gradwell
guitar: Andrew Barrett
Chris Gradwell and Friends
Blue Ball Inn, Sidford
Sunday 2 September 7.30pm
Clarinet/Sax: Chris Gradwell
Keyboard: Andrew Daldorph
Guitar: Andrew Barrett
Double Bass: Mike Thorn
Tickets: £8  Box: 07583 796855
Chris Gradwell Website

Musical Premiere
Station Theatre, Hayling Island (Hampshire)
Tuesday 4 - Saturday 8 September 7.45pm
OOPS for Theatre Productions
(original productions for . . . )
present 'For the Love of Undine'
by Chris and Alex Poulton
(Baritone Alex Poulton performed
'Opera through the Ages' with
Wing Wing Lam at St Mary Arches
on 19 October last year - and
Schubert's 'Winterreise' on 23 November
accompanied by Andrew Daldorph
Tickets: £10
Box Office: 02392 718718
Mobile: 07946 740958
Station Theatre website
oopsfortheatre website

When we return in September 2012

It's nearly time!
Marion Wood continues preparation
for Mahler's Eighth Symphony
Exeter Music Group
Symphony Orchestra
Sunday 16th September 5pm
Exeter University Great Hall

David Davies
Organ Recital
Exeter Cathedral
Wednesday 5 September 7.30pm
Assistant Director of Music,
Exeter Cathedral: David Davies
programme TBA
Tickets: £7 (student £3 U18 FREE)
Exeter Cathedral Shop: 01392 271354

Flute: Suki Trussler
Guitar: Alex Knight
Appassionata Guitar and Flute Duo
Temple Church Budleigh (EX9 6NN)
Wednesday 5 September 7.30pm
(repeated Shaldon, 7 Sept - see below)
Guitar: Alex Knight
Flute: Suki Trussler
Bach, Vivaldi, Handel, Albeniz, Scarlatti,
Granados, Faure, Ibert, Dompierre and
Piazzolla among others.
Tickets: £10
Budleigh Salterton TIC: 01395 445275
Alex Knight: 01364 644400 / 07896 438242
or wegottickets

'Cello: Mary Harris
Harpsichord: Adrian Davis
Soprano: Louise Turner
Oboe/Cor Anglais: Hazel Todd
St Boniface Concert Society
Church of the Holy Cross, Crediton
Thursday 6 September 7.30pm
John Dowland
Peter Philips
Ralph Vaughan Williams
Georg Philipp Telemann
George Frederic Handel
Johann Sebastian Bach
Tickets: £10 (children FREE)
Info: Mrs Isolde Summers 01363 773472

Alex Knight
Appassionata Guitar and Flute Duo
St Peter's Church, Shaldon (TQ14 0ET)
Friday 7 September 8-10pm
Doors open 7.30, interval with refreshments
(repeat of Budleigh, 5 Sept - see above)
Guitar: Alex Knight
Flute: Suki Trussler
Bach, Vivaldi, Handel, Albeniz, Scarlatti,
Granados, Faure, Ibert, Dompierre and
Piazzolla among others.
Tickets: £10
Alex Knight: 01364 644400 / 07896 438242
or wegottickets

David Sawyer and the Chill Acoustic
Arthaven@redearth Gallery Bickleigh
Friday 7 September 6-9pm
Exhibition in Memory of Daphne Cartwright
with music by 'The Chill Acoustic'
who played at Gallery 36 on Sunday 22 July
Exhibition continues 8-22 September
11am-5.30pm on weekdays, -6pm weekends
Work by 9 artists - including Daphne Cartwright
Information: telephone Steve 07989 343121
Redearth website

Marion Wood
Conducts the EMG Orchestra
at St Peter's School
Exeter Music Group Symphony Orchestra
St Peter's School Exeter
Friday-Sunday 7-9 September
Full rehearsal of Mahler's Symphony VIII
Hymn: Veni Creator Spiritus (Come Creator Spirit)
Scherzo: (closing scene of Goethe's Faust)
Final rehearsal - Friday 14 September
Conductor: Marion Wood
Leader: Clare Smith
(Performance: Great Hall, 16 September)
Info: Carol Galton 01392 410660

A very special musical visitor from Kobe in Japan: Naoko Maeda plays Newton St Cyres church organ

Naoko Maeda
visiting organist from Japan
assisted by daughter Haruka
Only twenty four hours after Paul Morgan's wonderful organ recital at Exeter Cathedral, there was another special recital - this time at the Chruch of St Cyr and Julitta in Newton St Cyres. The church organist, Andrew Daldorph (himself a very accomplished musician), welcomed a very talented visitor from Kobe in Japan.

Naoko Maeda grew up in Aberdeen, and has a special fondness for the UK. She is here to revisit her Scottish home, but found time to entertain us here in Devon as well.

Mike Brett with the clapper board
'video rolling'
Master of Ceremonies
Andrew Daldorph

Mike Gluyas and Mike Brett were at the church for her performance, so we can expect high quality audio and video recordings in the near future. Naoko also brought her own studio CDs - so we have some recordings to enjoy straight away.

In a strange audience set up, Andrew Daldorph introduced Naoko from the front of the church with everyone facing him. Naoko then played at the console at the back of the church, sitting back to back with the listeners.

This didn't seem to matter, however, because the sound of the organ filled the church and seemed to come from all directions at once.

Naoko opened with Jeremiah Clarkes 'Trumpet Voluntary', a baroque classic, followed by a lesser known but familiar baroque piece - Bach's Toccata and Fugue in D minor. Her organ interpretation of three of Bach's Schubler Chorales was a delight to hear. "Wake for night is passing", "My soul magnifies the Lord" and "Come, Jesus, from Heaven" made a beautiful combination.

Naoko's 'favourite' piece - the Largo from Handel's 'Xerxes' - soon became ours too, when we heard Naoko play her own arrangement so beautifully. Mendelssohn's Sonate No 1 finished the first half perfectly.

Naoko Maeda
plays Jeremiah Clarke's 'Trumpet Voluntary'

In the interval the refreshments were delicious and very welcome. For an entrance fee of just £5 we were served sandwiches, canapes, and drinks. (Wine cost extra - but still very generous.) Naoko and her two children Haruka and Timoki met the audience. Sadly the children could not speak or understand much English, but with mum's help they soon understood how happy everyone was to see them. (The Daldorph children, George and Imogen, had particularly enjoyed their company over the previous couple of days.)

Haruka assists turning the pages
and operating the stops

After the interval the musical entertainment went from strength to strength. Naoko immediately launched into the incredible funfair sound of Louis Lefebure-Wely's Sortie in B flat (fun, but dignified). Mozart's Andante for mechanical organ used a very high register, like a celeste. Again there was the sound of the fairground, but lots of other ingenious inventions cleverly overlaid - and very cleverly arranged for one person to play.

pedal and manual keyboards
two manuals

Unfreid's arrangement of 'Amazing Grace' brought a religious tone to the proceedings, appropriate to the church setting, and was followed by a traditional Japanese song, 'Sakura Sakura' (Cherry Blossom). Naoko, using her own prepared notes, introduced the song in English, translating for us. "The cherry blossom is beautiful. Why don't we go out and see the cherry blossom?" Naoko's arrangement imitated traditional Japanese styles.The opening was deep, just like the version by the male voice choir 'Chanticleer' which we nearly heard on Tuesday. Later a strange high staccato led to a sudden and unexpected end - to a very moving piece.

three keyboards
In an odd echo of Paul Morgan's recital the night before, Naoko ended with Louis Vierne's 'Final' from  Symphony No 1. (Paul actually played Vierne's 'Lied' from '24 Pieces' followed by the 'Final' from Guilmant's Sonata No 1). The Vierne 'Final' was very different from Guilmant's - lively and comical with staccato embellishments. A beautiful finish to a very enjoyable concert.

As the audience applauded, and craned round to see the person who had been playing to them so beautifully, Naoko introduced a special encore. To the great pleasure of everyone, she played another traditional Japanese piece - Rofu Miki's 'Aka Tombo' (Red Dragonfly) with music added by Kosaku Yamada in 1927. A little translation: "I think of my young days when I was carried on my mother's back."

As in many of the other pieces in the recital, Haruka not only helped by turning the pages for her mother, but also controlled the stops - allowing Naoko to play seemlessly. Aka Tombo was a perfect addition, emphasising the Japanese musical heritage Naoko was bringing to her music.

Then, just to return us to the music of Europe, Naoko finished with the familiar and ever-popular 'Jesus, Joy of Man's Desiring' from 'Heart and Mouth and Deed and Life'. Closing with a very Western feel - but equally beautiful.

A wonderful concert - and, of course, we can hear some of Naoko's music on Tuesday's show - recorded at Toyonaka Church in Kobe.

A happy musical family
Timoki, Naoko and Haruka Maeda

Ruth Molins and James Keefe - back together again: St Stephen's Church Thursday 16 August 2012

Pianist James Keefe & Flautist Ruth Molins
a very enthusiastic duo

After Ten years of hard work, the St Stephen's Project has achieved its primary aim. At a cost of £1.5 million, the Church of St Stephen in Exeter High Street has not only been saved from dilapidation and ruin - but has been redecorated inside and out to make it a thing of beauty.

The lunchtime concerts at St Stephen's, an important part of the fund-raising effort for all those years, continue - raising more money and support for the continued maintenance of this historic building. There is no charge to attend, but the generous donations from audience members are always welcome. Also a simple, but satisfying, lunch is provided before each concert - providing a little extra profit.

Since the the church reopened, on Thursday 19th July, there have been two concerts already. On 2nd August the wonderful mezzo soprano Rebecca Smith gave a recital accompanied on the piano by her father Ron Smith - former Head of Music at QE school in Crediton. On 9th August Hilary Boxer's 'cello student Michael Dawson was there with his 'cello to give a recital accompanied by Andrew Daldorph. Michael is also well known for his Tenor singing and for playing the piano and organ himself. His 'cello playing is especially popular.

For the third concert (Wednesday 15th August) a very popular partnership were reunited - pianist James Keefe and flautist Ruth Molins.

James Keefe
chats with audience members
before the concert
Ruth Molins
the co-star arrives
right on cue

Back in 2010 James and Ruth (then known by her maiden name of Ruth Avis) delighted an audience in the Exeter Central Library Music Room with 'Songs for Flute and Piano' - Copland, Barber, Poulenc - and the exquisite 'Orange Dawn' by Ian Clarke (not related to our local pianist Joyce Clarke but, incredibly, Joyce and Ian worked together on the premiere).

Now James and Ruth were back with a new repertoire - some very exciting music.


'Out of the Cool'
Dave Heath 1979

and grace


After the initial announcements, Ruth did all the talking. Her first choice was 'Out of the Cool by Dave Heath. Heath composed the piece soon after he graduated at the age of 21 - at the request of flautist Richard Blake. The first performance was at the Cookham Music Festival (Berkshire) in 1979. Although carefully notated in classical style, the piece plays, as intended, like a jazz improvisation.

James played with delicate control providing a gentle undercurrent to Ruth's dancing melodies. Occasionally the flute led us gently into a passage for piano alone - when we could appreciate James' economic style to the full.

perfect posture
perfect embouchure

Despite all the work put into the building, there was clearly something still not right with the electrics. As Ruth and James played the lights first went out one by one, they came on together - as if someone were trying to distract the players. The duo, however, did not turn a hair, but carried on playing as if oblivious to all distractions.

From modern we moved swiftly to baroque and the music of J S Bach. In the B minor Sonata James' touch was supremely delicate, with nothing forced. Ruth was poised and confident. Each concentrated on an apparently independent tune - combining in perfect counterpoint. Ruth's short isolated phrases integrated perfectly into James's continuous melody. There was a fascinating echo of Michael Colquhoun's 'Framing the Silence', which Ruth played at 'Nonclassical' night on 11th December last year. Instead of silence, the flute now framed a piano melody, in an endless stream of polished perfection.

The Largo e Dolce really was 'dolce'. James remained impressively composed while Ruth enraptured the audience right up the the tender last note. A slight crisis with the manuscript pages delayed the final movement - and allowed Ruth a to take a break for a much needed drink of water. The final movement was just as advertised. Presto. James calmly moved up a gear while Ruth became increasingly animated. As the speed increased, so did the passion. A wonderfully moving conclusion.

passion and movement
Finally we heard Philippe Gaubert's 'Sonate', the first piece that Ruth really fell in love with - at the age of fifteen. Now, a few years later, Ruth gives her debut public performance.

James' piano part rippled like Ravel's 'Ondine' while Ruth's flute carried on an independent conversation against the piano background. Occasionally James would have a little 'chat' of his own on the piano keyboard. As the pace picked up, Ruth performed amazing runs up and down the scale on the flute - almost the 'glissandi' of Heitor Villa Lobos' 'Assobio a Játo' (Jet Whistle) which we heard Ruth play on Tuesday's programme. Unexpectedly, the very delicate end to the opening 'modéré' came not on the flute - but the piano.

The following 'lento' was a gentle heartbeat on the piano, and a delicate sound like falling leaves on the flute - which drops out completely from time to time. As James slowed and increased the intensity on the piano, Ruth prepared to re-enter the piece. A painful, but beautiful process to watch - and to hear.

The 'allegro moderato' was initially relaxed, but built up to a piano cadenza, matched by Ruth's flute as the piano line dissolved back into those delicious ripples. a wonderfully harmonious finish.

The Reverend Sheila Swarbrick
Sheila Swarbrick of the Central Exeter Parish Team Ministry was quick to take the stage and express the thanks of everyone for a wondeful concert.

Sheila reminded us also of the contribution that Ruth and James have made in the past, with other concerts in aid of the St Stephen's Project.

The audience concurred with Sheila's sentiments - especially about the incredibly high standard of music we had just heard.

Ruth and James are both professional musicians - Ruth with at least two local orchestras, while James is principal keyboard player with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. We are all extremely grateful to them both for giving up their time to entertain us - and charge nothing for admission. Heartfelt thanks.

Deepest gratitude to James Keefe of the
City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra
for coming to entertain us in Exeter
and his talented music partner
Ruth Molins
Piano and flute in perfect harmony

A very interested audience member
Jazz guitarist Jesse Molins
- Ruth's husband of course
(Watch this space for news of where
Jesse will be playing in the near future)

Dr Matthew Wright
One more concert remains in the series - another pianist, this time playing solo. Dr Matthew Wright Senior Lecturer in Classics and Ancient History at Exeter University has just returned from a year as the specially invited 'Blegen Fellow' at Vassar University in Poughkeepsie NY.

We have missed his piano recitals and comic songs - not to mention his 'musical chairs' with Tony Yates at the console of the St Margarets organ in Topsham on Sundays.

We are all very interested to hear what he has in store for us this Wednesday. Don't forget - charity lunch at 12 noon, just £5, followed by a free recital at 1pm. Donate what you feel appropriate at the end. The venue in St Stephen's Church, Exeter High Street.

(photo: Chris Avis)