Thursday, 21 February 2013

Classical Journey on Tuesday 21st February 2013 Two forthcoming concerts: The St Peter's Singers Exeter Cathedral Friday 8 March, Nonclassical with Exeter Contemporary Sounds, Exeter Bikeshed Theatre Sunday 3 March

Soprano Mary O'Shea
(photo: Cecil Hatfield)

I WAS GLAD (St Peter's Singers, Friday 8th March)

Many thanks to soprano, Mary O'Shea, for a very interesting interview on Phonic FM about the forthcoming concert by the St Peter's Singers under David Davies at Exeter Cathedral on Friday 8th March.

We heard recordings of some of the music the St Peter's Singers will be singing on Friday 8th. The recording of 'Zadok the Priest' was from 'An Evening of Handel' at Buckfast Abbey with the Counterpoint Choir last year (and included in that choir was Mary herself). We also heard a recording of Mozart's 'Ave Verum Corpus' by the Stockholm Chorus (details in very small print, which only Mary could read).

At 10.30 we had a lovely sonata by Luigi Boccherini. (It was his 260th birthday.) The phone lines and email were somewhat flooded by messages from internet listeners who had not been able to hear Mary's interview.
Mary very kindly repeated all the information for us - and added a few extra interesting details. What a star!

Devon's Young Composer of the Year
Michael Brailey
Nonclassical Coordinator
Rebecca Willson

Exeter Bikeshed Theatre
Sunday 3rd March
featuring Exeter Contemporary Sounds

Forewarned and forearmed, the guests for the second half of the programme were able to make themselves heard by using the presenter microphone. The presenter meanwhile made himself heard by a little 'projecting'!

Musicians and composers Michael Brailey and Rebecca Willson were in the studio to discuss their exciting contemporary live music project, in conjunction with Gabriel Prokofiev in London, 'Nonclassical'. We heard about the broader work of 'Joined Up Thinking Projects' and their connection with Fiona McLean-Buechel, who is the Creative Director of 'South West Camarata' (and helping to support the development of 'Emerging Music Leaders').

'The Locrian Quartet plus two'
Michael Brailey, Fiona McLean, Rebecca Willson,
Melanie Lester, Hannah Willson, Suzanna Stevenson.
(the man at the back is involved in a lively game of 'Monopoly'!)

We listened to two pieces for sextet which were played by the 'Locrian Quartet', plus two, at the very first Exeter Nonclassical night on 2nd October 2011 - Michael's own compositions 'Prokingrass' and 'Figures are bound to emerge'. (Hear Michael's music on 'Soundcloud'.)

The title of the second track was a quote from Jackson Pollock's description of his own work:

"I'm very representational some of the time, and a little all of the time. But when you're painting out of your unconscious, figures are bound to emerge."

Michael discussed the excitement of being involved in the 'Young Composer' competition, and his new exciting venture. He has been accepted onto the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain composer's programme.

Emma Welton
'Between the Moon and the Earth'
In between those two tracks we enjoyed Simon Belshaw's 'Between the Moon and the Earth' - a fabulous multi-media composition with sounds from the Apollo 8 mission mixed with midi piano recordings - and a live overlay by the 'Exeter Contemporary Sounds' quartet of Emma Welton, Julie Hill, Andrew Gillett and Jane Pyrie. For over ten minutes we basked in the eerily evocative sound of astronauts in space in 1968.

We also heard some of Rebecca's own music. We toyed with the idea of 'Solgata' by Rolf Hind, with whom Rebecca has worked in the past. Rebecca discussed the various ways in which the piano is 'prepared' for a performance of Solgata. (All of which were demonstrated by Rebecca at her recital in Knightley Seminar Room at Exeter University on 21st November last year.)

Who could forget . . .
piano: Rebecca Willson
Rebecca Willson
Knightley Seminar Room, Exeter University
Wednesday 21 November 3.30pm
Rolf Hind: "Solgata"
Paul McGuire: "Scatter/Gather"
George Crumb: "Five Pieces for Piano"
Jonathan Harvey: "Tombeau de Messiaen"
Admission FREE - with tea and cake!

In the end we chose the wonderful 'Tombeau de Messiaen' by Jonathan Harvey. The combination of a recording ('tape') of twelve differently tuned pianos and Rebecca's incredibly skilled live overlay created an amazing array of acoustic effects. Microtonal discords produced thrilling resonances, and Rebecca's part alone was incredible to hear. Chord sequences without any convenient repeating pattern or rhythm, getting louder in one hand and simultaneously softer in the other. She has played this at Nonclassical, and at Knightley, looking relaxed and confident, but this is a real work of virtuoso skill - and sounds it.

Exeter Contemporary Sounds
'Diff'rent Trains' at Queen's Theatre Barnstaple
Finally we heard another piece by Exeter Contemporary Sounds - 'Diff'rent Trains' by Steve Reich. Once again recorded sound is combined with the live sound of the string quartet. The voices of railway announcers are sampled and the precise melody of their voices reproduced on the instruments. The 'echo' in the strings was so accurate that it was hard to tell the two apart.

And that was the main import of Michael and Rebecca's message on Tuesday morning: Exeter Contemporary Sounds will be at the Bikeshed Theatre in Fore Street, Exeter on Sunday 3rd March to play 'Diff'rent Trains' in full. The performance will be during the Nonclassical night (8-11pm) - probably at about 9pm. There will also be a workshop with Exeter Contemporary Sounds from 1pm - also in the Bikeshed.

Anyone is welcome to bring their instrument(s), or any objects with which they can make musical sounds, and join in with these star-quality professionals. There is even the option to take part in the live performance in the evening as well.

The cost? The Nonclassical evening at the Bikeshed Theatre costs £5 admission (on the door, or book in advance at the Bikeshed Box Office, tel. 434169) The workshop also costs £5 to attend, and workshop members attend the evening performance free.

There will be three sets in the evening, so in addition to the Exeter Contemporary Sounds quartet, there will be two other great acts before and after them. The Locrian Quartet might be involved - perhaps Ruth Molins with her flute (listen out for Ruth's live performance on 'Classical Journey' on 5th March!) Rebecca will confirm details soon - Watch this space!

Just to recap . . .

Sir Hubert Parry
"I was glad"
St Peter's Singers &
Exeter Cathedral Chamber Orchestra
Exeter Cathedral
Friday 8 March 7.30pm
Spring Choral Concert:
Sir Hubert Parry: 'I was glad'
(1902 - coronation anthem -Psalm 122
used at Prince William's wedding)
George Frideric Handel: 'Zadok the Priest'
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: 'Ave Verum Corpus'
Tickets: £8 (child £1)
Cathedral Shop: 01392 271354 & online

Exeter Contemporary Sounds
Emma Welton, Julie Hill,
Andrew Gillett, Jane Pirie

Knightley Hall, Streatham Drive
Exeter University Campus

Sunday 3 March 1pm
(see 'Buried Treasure' June 2012)
Steve Reich: Diff'rent Trains
Bring your own instruments and join:
Violins: Julie Hill & Emma Welton
Viola: Andrew Gillett
'Cello: Jane Pyrie
Tickets: £5 - for workshop and
evening performance (see below - 8pm)
details: Emma Welton 01392 257066
Exeter Contemporary Sounds blog

Exeter Bikeshed Theatre
Sunday 3 March 8pm
(see 'Buried Treasure' June 2012)
Steve Reich: Diff'rent Trains
Violins: Julie Hill & Emma Welton
Viola: Andrew Gillett
'Cello: Jane Pyrie
DJ sets by Michael Brailey
Tickets: £5
details: Emma Welton 01392 257066
Exeter Contemporary Sounds blog

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