Monday, 3 December 2018

Devon Music Projects & Live Interview featuring Fiona McLean Buechel - from 2013 to 2018

Fiona McLean Buechel

This is just a selection of the many projects and events featured on the 'Classical Journey' programmes over the years which involved the work of talented musician and educator, Fiona McLean Buechel. The headings link to the full articles - and a fascinating live discussion with Fiona (and daughter Katy) on Soundart Radio.

Fiona McLean-Buechel and South West Camerata
Classical Journey Tuesday 9 July 2013

Jonathan Schranz
& Jack Oades
Many of Fiona's former students are well known to us now for their successful work in music. Jonathan Schranz and Jack Oades, both former students of Fiona got together last December to give a 'Messiah' workshop at St Michael's Church in Exeter - Jonathan directed the music, while Jack provided piano accompaniment for the rehearsals. For the evening concert, Fiona took over from Jack - with South West Camerata. (See 'One Week': 3-10 Dec 2012)
For the evening performance of Handel's Messiah
Fiona McLean-Buechel leads South West Camerata

Classical Journey 10am Tuesday 11 February 2014

Musical Director of
Devon County Junior Choir
Rachel Smith
Conductor and Leader of
Joined Up Thinking Projects Music
(South West Camerata
Tutti & Cameratinis)
Fiona McLean Buechel

Later on Saturday (at 1.30pm) the Treasurer of Exeter Cathedral, The Reverend Canon Ian Morter, was in the Cathedral Quire to introduce three extraordinarily talented Devon youth ensembles, South West CamerataTutti, and Devon County Junior Choir.

For 900 years the voices of children have been heard in the Cathedral Choir. Now the voices of children were joined by the string playing of members of Fiona McLean Buechel's 'Joined Up Thinking Projects Music' - a Devon-wide scheme to teach young people to play in a string ensemble, and to lead and mentor others. In the 10 years that JUTP Music has been in operation, over 20 young people have gone on to study music and become professional musicians. Fiona's 'Emerging Music Leaders' programme has been honoured with the Royal Philharmonic Society's Award for Education.

The opening music was the first movement of J S Bach's "Brandenburg Concerto VI" played by South West Camerata. Fiona McLean Buechel joined five other violinists and violists, but did not lead. The JUTP students were in control throughout. The four 'cellists (including Rosie Lester) created the compelling continuo, while the violin solos were played by students. The resulting sound was beautiful. Fiona plans for South West Camerata to prepare the whole concerto for future concerts.

Young double bass player, Katie Gibbings, introduced the next pieces played by Tutti - the intermediate level ensemble. They played "Black Jack" and "Take it from There" from PamelaWedgewood's "Jazzing About Suite".

Wedgewood's simple hypnotic rhythms allowed the larger group to build a sensational sound. Fiona took control more, but there were plenty of opportunities for the Tutti members to come to the fore. Katie herself joined the continuo with her double bass, alongside music teacher and double bass supremo, Melanie Lester.

Fiona is planning more concerts for the JUTP string orchestras, and Rachel will certainly be back in action with DCJC soon. After the resounding success of South West Camerata at theEdinburgh Festival last year (Vivaldi's "L'Inverno" at St Giles Cathedral) the sky is the limit!

Classical Journey Soundart Radio 21 December 2014 JUTP Music Fiona McLean Buechel & Katy - "Messiah"

Interview on Soundart Radio
A live interview with Luch Càise-Dearg on Soundart Radio discussing Fiona's many projects, including 'Joined Up Thinking Projects Music Devon' founded by Fiona in 2005 as a Summer Youth Programme - Alumni are now successful musicians and teachers. 

JUTP Rehearsals were being held at Totnes Progressive School, and Exeter School, for youth orchestras up to the level of South West Camerata - students were taken on who were as young as two-and-three-quarters years old.

Students were coming from Somerset and Cornwall, as well as Devon. Many received financial assistance. Classes were also available for adults. At JUTP rehearsals Fiona was supported by  assisitants of a very high calibre, and 'Emerging Music Leaders' selected from the existing students.

The radio programme includes extracts from a performance of Handel's "Messiah" by 32 members of South West Camerata, with Exeter University Chamber Choir directed by Michael Graham, including the Orchestra Overture, "Unto Us a Child is Born" and the "Hallelujah Chorus"  accompanied by South West Camerata. Fiona discusses the rehearsal process for that performance.

Fiona's daughter Katie discusses Arts Awards, and what work was involved for her - and the qualifications that can be achieved. JUTP Music Devon was an awards centre. Katy was studying double bass, and in the 'Tutti' orchestra 'on the cusp' of joining South West Camerata. There are also alumni playing in 'Concertante'.

Fiona discusses other projects including 'Earworms' for children at Exeter Northcott Theatre, and giving orchestral concerts at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, and collaborations with Aileen Douthwaite previously Director of West Dumbartonshire Council Music Services, then Relations Officer for the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music (now with Richmond upon Thames Music Trust), and Gabriel Prokofiev who founded Joined Up Thinking Projects Music. Other opportunities for students include vocal workshops for string players with professional singers.

A lovely afternoon conversation covering many topics, and giving an insight into the very creative work of Fiona McLean Buechel!

Conductor: Andrew Daldorph

Orchestra Leader
Fiona McLean Buechel
The orchestra was led by Fiona McLean Buechel with an impressive line-up of first violins - Clare Smith (leader of the EMG Symphony Orchestra in Exeter), Julie Hill (regular violinist withDevon Baroque, and many of her own ensembles), plus Tina Bennet who started the evening with the violas.

Also playing viola in the first half was second violinist Exeter ‘Nonclassical’ & ‘Gypsy Jazz’ star,Rebecca Willson. The other seconds, Lyndsay Miller & Pippa Cotterill, were under Sandra Sutton.

Solo: “Serenade to Music”
Fiona McLean Buechel
After a break, the orchestra came to fore again in a very special performance of Ralph Vaughan
 Williams Serenade to Music. The orchestra leader, Fiona McLean Buechel, stood for an impressive solo performance

Andrew Maries

Her impeccable playing was lovingly wrapped in the combined 
sound of voices, harp glissandi, and her own fabulous orchestra, including oboist Andrew Maries, who arrived during the interval - especially to take part.

Andrew Daldorph & East Devon Choral Society Rossini "Stabat Mater" & Puccini "Messa di Gloria" Lucy Bray, Alison Kettlewell, John Pierce, Tim Mirfin Saint Paul's Church Tiverton Saturday 19 November 2016

East Devon Choral Society
& Orchestra Leader:
Fiona McLean-Buechel
Leading once again, was Fiona McLean-Buechel, with EMG Symphony Orchestra Leader Clare Smith at second desk. Fiona, among her other commitments, now teaches violin and viola as Lead Tutor for Strings at Trinity Laban Conservatoire in London.

Leader & Conductor:
Fiona McLean-Buechel
Andrew Daldorph
Puccini's "Messa di Gloria" opens with a sweetly delicate "Kyrie" for choir, which was beautifully introduced by Fiona's orchestra. With the soprano and alto voices to the fore, and gentle support fromt the men, the traditional plea for mercy became increasingly impassioned - with the insistent addition of Steve Douglas' kettle drums, before being led sweetly back to delicate entreaty by Fiona's string section. Andrew's preparation had been faultless, and the scene was set perfectly.

Following a climactic, and apparently final, "Amen" the action stopped abruptly. Extensive retuning took place in the orchestra. Fully back in tune, the orchestra were then ready for more. The choir launched into a feverishly energetic "Credo". The swooping voices of the sopranos and altos were echoed by the strings - skilfully held under by Fiona and Andrew.

East Devon Choral Society
Choir & Orchestra
Musical Director: Andrew Daldorph
Leader: Fiona McLean Buechel

Orchestra & Choir
Leader: Fiona McLean Buechel
The instrumentation was impeccable as always. Fiona McLean Buechel, who is now based in Bournemouth and working increasingly in London, was nevertheless with us - and playing with her trademark gusto and precision. A joy to watch. Her orchestra were equally impressive. The softer solos were accompanied by the delicious trio of Fiona's violin, Hilary Boxer's 'cello, and Colin Pettet's chamber organ, while the rousing choruses exploited the full power of the orchestra - with the addition of Brian Moore and Matt Frances playing trumpets, and Steve Douglas playing timpani.

Violins: Pippa CotterillFiona McLean Buechel
Sopranos: Lisa HellierSally DaldorphImogen Daldorph
Tenor: George Daldorph

Thursday, 29 November 2018

Clyst Valley Choral Society "Messiah" St Margaret's Church Topsham Saturday 17 November Holy Trinity Church Exmouth Sunday 18 November 2018

Clyst Valley Choral Society
St Margaret's Topsham & Holy Trinity Exmouth
Saturday 17 November & Sunday 18 November
(Trumpet: Chris Gould)

Clyst Valley Choral Society celebrated their Fiftieth Anniversary in style last week with two performances of the baroque masterpiece "Messiah" by Georg Friderick Handel.

Paul Stock was conducting and, having celebrated his own Twentieth Anniversary as Musical Director, was sporting the turquoise cuff-links presented to him by the choir as a token of their appreciation.

The orchestra played magnificently and first vioilinist Chris Gould, as always, rose to the occasion by playing the trumpet parts as well. Swelling that sound were the powerful bass trombone and timpani of Ben Lund-Conlon. Organ accompaniment was provided by Mark Perry, who also opened the singing with the portentous words, "Comfort ye my People" and the resounding tenor aria, "Ev'ry Valley shall be Exhalted".

Other tenor recitatives and arias were taken on magnificently by Jason Bomford, including a beautiful countertenor version of "Behold a Virgin shall Conceive". Mark descended from the organ loft again the second half to perform "Thou Shalt Break Them" with great aplomb. Janet MacDonald shared the soprano solos with Karen Reed. Both were in excellent voice and added greatly to the joy of the whole evening.

It was an additional pleasure to see Myriam Prual back with the choir after a protracted illness. Maybe we will hear her singing solo parts again before long. In the softer passages it was lovely to hear flautist Marcus Carson, oboist Julia Hill. and clarinettist Phillip Bonser, gently supporting the choir and soloists.

Angela Blackwell led the orchestra in style with violinists Sally Bull and Chris Gould (when not playing clarion fanfares on his trumpet) and a new member of the orchestra, Kristina Pavic. Marion Kenworthy and Sue Stock provided viola and 'cello, and Sue was also in charge of announcements, which she dealt with very professionally.

This "Messiah" was an experience to remember. Engaging and inspiring from the first note to the final words, not to mention the spectacular "Hallelujah Chorus", this was the perfect way for the choir to celebrate half a century since their first forays into public performance, and over two hundred great works performed during that time. Congratulations to all involved (including Barbara Scales and Carolyn Keep for her work on publicity and catering) for a very special celebratory concert.

There is more to come, of course. on Thursday 20 December the Choral Society will be at Littlemead Methodist Church in Exmouth at 4pm for their Christmas Concert. The next major work will be Haydn's "Creation" which will be at the usual venues of St Margaret's and Holy Trinity on Saturday and Sunday 4 & 5 May 2019. Do contact Barbara Scales on 07950 021006 for details, if you would like to get involved!

Clyst Valley Choral Society
Musical Director: Paul Stock 

Clyst Valley Choral Society
Littlemead Methodist Church
Littlemead Road Exmouth
Thursday 20 December 4pm
Musical Director: Paul Stock
Soprano: Janet Macdonald
Tickets: details TBC

Clyst Valley Choral Society
Musical Director: Paul Stock
Clyst Valley Choral Society
1 St Margaret's Church Topsham
   Saturday 4 May 7.30pm
2 Holy Trinity Church Exmouth
   Sunday 5 May 7.30pm
- - - "CREATION" - - -
Musical Director: Paul Stock
Soprano: Janet Macdonald
Tickets: Details TBC

EMG Symphony Orchestra Mahler 5th Symphony Exeter Cathedral Saturday 17 November 2018

Leo Geyer
conducts EMG Symphony Orchestra
Mahler's Fifth Symphony
Exeter Cathedral
Saturday 17 November
(photography: Paula Fernley)

The Horn Section prepare in the Chapter House
Principal Horn Beth Osment (3rd from right)
Leo Geyer's musical direction of Exeter's EMG Symphony Orchestra goes from strength to strength. Last Saturday at the Cathedral a capacity audience were treated to a spectacular performance of Mahler's Fifth Symphony which was a sensational experience from start to finish.

Leo introduced the music briefly from the rostrum before conducting. His voice carries well in the Cathedral nave, and his explanations were brief and easy to follow.

Condutor & Leader
Leo Geyer & Clare Smith
In addition violinist Audrey Williams (who is also the organist at the Church of St John the Evangelist in Withycombe Raleigh, Exmouth) had written detailed programme notes outlining the history of the composition and its relevance in Mahler's own life. In particular it was interesting to read that the fourth movement was a love song to Alma Schindler. Gustav and Alma were married in the same year the Fifth Symphony was completed.

Central to the whole composition is the resounding brass and percussion. Brian Moore, the regular principal trumpet sadly was not able to join the orchestra to play the opening trumpet fanfare, and recurring theme, but Tony Hindley stood in magnificently, playing a faultless solo to open proceedings, with powerful support from the other trumpetters, and Charles Dowell's trombones - not to mention Rob O'Byrne's stentorian tuba!

Harp: Susan Sherratt
Other notable contributions were from Beth Osment who is now Principal French Horn, David Lotinga on cor Anglais, and Paul Jones with his rasping contrabassoon. Many others also had a chance to shine, including oboist Kate Osbourne and clarinettist Richard de la Rue. Particularly lovely was the sweet collaboration between Amye Farrell's 'cellos and Susan Sherratt's splendid concert harp.

It had wisely been decided that there would be no interval, and the Symphony would be performed in its entirety with nothing to break up the natural succession of the five movements.

The resulting cascade of sensual sound was not only a marathon performance for the musicians (who all acquitted themselve with distinction) but also a totally immersive experience for the audience.

Mahler was determined to make this a work that would stir souls and leave a lasting impression. In the hands of Conductor Leo Geyer and Leader Clare Smith the Orchestra achieved that very impressively. The Cathedral vaults resounded with mighty and inspiring sound. Congratulations to all involved in bringing such marvellous music to a wider audience.

The EMG Symphony Orchestra have a policy of keeping their seat prices low. Even front row seats are only £16 (for those who order in time!) The music is always of the very highest calibre, and represents a superb way to spend an entertaining and moving evening.

Mahler's Fifth Symphony
Conductor: Leo Geyer

(photography: Paula Fernley)

Their next project, which they will start rehearsing with Leo in January, is Carl Orff's 1935 orchestration of the songs from the twelfth century written by students at the Benedict Beuern Monastery in Bavaria. These "Carmina Burana" are subtitled "Cantiones Profanae" and reflect the observations of the students in their secular life in the local towns - and particularly taverns.

The performance will be at Exeter Cathedral on Saturday 13 April 2019, and the EMG Symphony Orchestra will be joined by the Jean-Marie Lorand Ensemble who are based in Rennes (Exeter's twin city in Ille-et-Vilaine, Brittany) with whom they have collaborated many times in the past.

Rehearsals will be at St Peter's School in Quarry Lane, Exeter. Do look out for those special 'Open Rehearsals' where members of the public are invited to come and see the orchestra at work, and children in particular can learn more and be inspired. Musician at Grade VI or above in their instrument are also invited to participate in the open rehearsal. In addition, any singers who have experience of performing Carmina Burana are invited to join rehearsals and to swell numbers on the big night. Enquiries are welcomed via the EMG Website.

EMG Symphony Orchestra
Éloi Marchand
Ensemble Jean-Marie Lorand
Exeter Cathedral
Saturday 13 April 7.30pm
Chef de Choeur: Éloi Marchand
Orchestra Conductor: Leo Geyer
Orchestra Leader: Clare Smith
Carl Orff: "Carmina Burana"
Cantiones Profanæ (Secular Songs)

Tickets: details TBC

Friday, 23 November 2018

Cygnet Company "His Return" Cygnet New Theatre Friar's Gate Thursday-Saturday 22-24 November Wednesday-Saturday 28 November-1 December 2018

Cygnet Theatre
Thursday 22 November - Saturday 1 December
performed by students of Cygnet Theatre:
Thora Pedersen, Oliver Heaton, Roxanne Eastaugh,
Ed Watterson, Harriet Birks

"The Game" Louise Bryant
Youth (Ed Watterson) prepares to jump into the ocean
Life (Thora Pedersen) & Death (Oliver Heaton)
vie for his soul
Cygnet Theatre Director Alistair Ganley has been working with the current students of that wonderful school of drama to prepare a series of one-act plays which are quintessentially apposite to the current mood of remembrance for the suffering of all Europeans during the terrible conflict of The Great War, which reached it's dramatic conclusion one hundred years ago.

In the uncertain years between the end of that war, and beginning of an even more devastating conflagration, three playwrights from England and The United States created a series of short one-act plays exploring the experience of The Great War from varying perspectives.

"The Game" Louise Bryant
Youth (Ed Watterson) meets another suicide
The Girl (Harriet Birks)
watched by Death (Oliver Heaton)

The Cygnet team have chosen six very different plays by John Galsworthy, Louise Bryant and Percival Wilde, which offer very revealing insights into life and popular perception during The War and the ensuing peace (or inter-war years as we would now see them).

They open with Louise Bryant's "The Game", a supernatural take on life and death, where 'Life' (Thora Pedersen) and 'Death' (Oliver Heaton) are characters playing a game of dice for the souls of humans, determining whether they will live or die. This simple construct provides ample scope for trenchant observations about the the value of human life, and the degree to which it is valued.

The case study in question is two young artists 'Youth' (Ed Watterson) and 'The Girl' (Harriet Birks), both suicidal despite their independently promising lives. This piece is beautifully performed and explores the prospect of life and death systematically, in the context of terrible slaughter on the Western Front.

"Defeat" John Galsworthy
The Officer (Ed Watterson)
newly out of hospital
is schooled on the way of war by
The Girl (Harriet Birks)
The second piece, "Defeat" by John Galsworty, takes the audience to the Western Front and a meeting between a young officer and a prostitute. Despite his own injuries and the death of many of his comrades in arms, 'The Officer' (Ed Watterson) retains an idealistic view of war as an opportunity to demonstrate selfless acts of bravery to protect a way of life.

'The Girl' (Harriet Birks) sees things quite differently. Her experience of soldiers has taught her about the more selfish side of human nature. The officer's arguments for the nobility of war and the quality of human altruism are shredded by The Girl's responses.

All actors must be able to sing and dance, as parts often require these skills. In "The Game" Harriet demonstrated her dancing superbly. Now in 'Defeat' she demonstrates a spectacular ability to sing as, during the final denouement, she must express herself in song against a cacophony of extraneous sounds including several men singing a completely different song.

Cygnet veteran Louise Wilde put together this magnificent moment, but Harriet must take all the credit for her stellar on-stage performance.

"The Unseen Host" Percival Wilde
Orderly (Ed Watterson) brings ghostly news to
The Visitor (Roxanne Eastaugh) and
The Surgeon (Oliver Heaton)
Third is "The Unseen Host" by Percival Wilde. Ed Watterson reappears as a wounded 'Orderly' in a military surgical hospital run by 'The Surgeon' (Oliver Heaton). This American doctor is entertaining a compatriot 'The Visitor' (Roxanne Eastaugh), and recounting the spectral visions of one of his patients.

Life, death, and the possibility of life after death, are debated and analysed in detail in this ghostly story. Scepticism and credulity take turns to dominate the discussion, with a shocking and intriguing final outcome.

For all its simplicity, this short one-act is a very deft piece of theatre and quite rightly takes its place among the impressive line-up of works in this production.

"Mothers of Men" Percival Wilde
'The Caller' (Harriet Birks)
presents with a portentous letter to
Mrs Chepstowe (Roxanne Eastaugh)

After the interval, during which the Cygnet volunteers serve drinks and snacks in the foyer, Roxanne Eastaugh and Harriet Birks return as 'Mrs Chepstowe' and a mysterious 'Visitor', also intriguingly called Chepstowe, in "Mothers of Men" by Percival Wilde.

"Mothers of Men" Percival Wilde
'The Caller' (Harriet Birks)
awaits the response of

Mrs Chepstow (Roxanne Eastaugh)
This simple two-hander gives a very clear image of life for women whose sons are absent for long periods on active service.

Not only are they both very anxious about the fate of their offspring, they also come into conflict about the exact explanation of what has happened to them.

The explanation, when it does come (via a courier, Ed Watterson) is worse than either could anticipate.

"Mothers of Men" Percival Wilde
Mrs Chepstow (Roxanne Eastaugh)
receives terrible news, also affecting
'The Caller' (Harriet Birks)

"Mothers of Men" Percival Wilde
Mrs Chepstow (Roxanne Eastaugh)
shares the grief of
'The Caller' (Harriet Birks)

"The Sun" John Galsworthy
The Girl (Thora  Pedersen)
watches apprehensively as
The Man ( Oliver Heaton) escalates
the conflict with The Soldier (Ed Watterson)
And what of boyfriends, whose lovers have found new love in their absence? The two suitors must eventually meet. What then?

"The Sun" John Galsworthy
The Girl (Thora  Pedersen) is anguished
as The Man ( Oliver Heaton) resorts
to fisticuffs with The Soldier (Ed Watterson)
In "The Sun" by John Galsworthy, 'The Girl' (Thora Pederson) anxiously awaits the return of her former (and blissfully ignorant) boyfriend, with her pugnacious new partner 'The Man' (Oliver Heaton).

"The Sun" John Galsworthy
The Girl (Thora  Pedersen) intervenes
as The Man ( Oliver Heaton) launches his
attack against The Soldier (Ed Watterson)
Despite his sudden and unexpected disappointment, The Soldier (Ed Watterson) is quick to recognise the change in his fortunes and make peace. Sadly The Man is not so flexible and sparks soon fly.

The action in this short play is as exciting as the interactions between the characters are engaging. Oliver and Ed make impressive sparring partners, and cleverly pit quite different personalities against each other. Thora, despite her apparently passive rôle is a very significant driving force in the narrative.

"His Return" Percival Wilde
Helen Hartley (Roxanne Eastaugh)
reflects on her three year separation with
Sylvia Best (Thora Pedersen)
Finally in the eponymous "His Return" by Percival Wilde, officer John Hartley returns to his wife slightly earlier than expected creating domestic confusion.

This lovely comic miniature is the perfect end to a selection of works recalling what was a terrible time for everyone in society.

The humour only accentuates the terrible sadness of the situation, which is brought out in small details of the lives of those left behind by men going to war.

"His Return" Percival Wilde
Helen Hartley (Roxanne Eastaugh)
reads her husband's romantic letter to
Sylvia Best (Thora Pedersen)
as she is dressed for his return by
The Maid (Harriet Birks)
Oliver Heaton appears one last time in the title rôle as 'John Hartley', a war-weary survivor with his sense of humour intact. However, the central rôle is 'Helen Hartley' (Roxanne Eastaugh) who gives a detailed discourse on the experience of war for the wife at home, in conversation with her friend and confidante 'Sylvia Best' (Thora Pedersen).

Not insignificant is the supporting character of Helen's servant 'The Maid' (Harriet Birks) who is perhaps the one most closely connected with the unfolding drama.

"His Return" Percival Wilde
John Hartley (Oliver Heaton)
is joyously reunited with his wife
Helen Hartley (Roxanne Eastaugh)
The actual return of the conquering hero is also the close of the evening's entertainment and is perfectly touching and moving. Oliver gets the last word and it is certainly worth waiting for!

Apart from Louise Wilde's amazing musical contributions, Lucy Corley was supremely in control in the sound and lighting room. Stephen Copp is to be commended on his interpretations of voices and text. Hermione Skrine created lavish and superbly authentic costumes. Most importantly Alistair Ganley once again created and directed a spectacular show which is a credit to all involved.

"His Return" continues for several more days, and intermittently until Saturday 1 December. Doors open at 7pm for a 7.30pm start, and there is a 3pm matinée on Saturday 24 November.

Cygnet Company

Cygnet Theatre
Thur-Sat 22-24 November
Wed-Sat 28 Nov-1 Dec
7 for 7.30pm (3pm matinée 24th)
Director: Alistair Ganley
Music: Louise Wilde
Cast: Thora Maria Bisted Pedersen
- Oliver Heaton - Ed Watterson
- Harriet Birks - Roxanne Eastaugh
Tickets £12 (£10)
Box Office: 01392 277189
Exeter TIC: 01392 665885
Online Booking: WeGotTickets