Friday, 14 February 2020

Justin Newland Phonic FM 2pm Friday 14 February & Exeter Library 2pm Sunday 16 February 2020


Local Author To Drink Coffee
in Exeter Central Library

Somerset author, Justin Newland, will be visiting Exeter Central Library from 2-4 p.m. on Sunday 16th February 2020.

You'll find him in the Ground Floor Café drinking coffee and eating cake, and signing copies of his latest novel, The Coronation. Set during the Enlightenment, the novel is a historical fantasy and reveals the secret history of the event that shaped our modern world – The Industrial Revolution.

He'll also sign copies of his other novels: The Genes of Isis and The Old Dragon's Head.

The event is free. Just drop in.

- - - - -

Justin writes supernatural thrillers and secret histories in which real events and historical personages are guided and motivated by numinous forces.

He gives library talks, does book signings and appears on radio and in literary festivals.

A Doctorate in Mathematics, he lives with his partner in plain sight of the Mendip Hills.

- - - - -

About The Coronation -

Andrew Deane: "... explores the themes of belonging / outsiders, politics, religion / spirituality, war and the lives of everyday people, all of which are filtered through the lens of the other-worldly."

For more information, visit the Justin Newland Website

Thursday, 13 February 2020

Leo Geyer and the Devon Philharmonic Orchestra 'Music in the Galleries' Royal Albert Memorial Museum Saturday 7 March 2020 - Press Release from Andy Henderson

Trumpet: Brian Moore

Music in the Galleries

Royal Albert Memorial Museum

& Art Gallery
7th March 2020

Doors and bar 6.45pm
Concert 7.30pm
Tickets: £10 (or £5 if under 16)

Explore the galleries of the museum to hear specially commissioned music performed by the musicians of Devon Philharmonic Orchestra and Chorus, inspired by objects in the museum's collections. Instrumentalists and singers will perform in ensembles around the museum during the evening, as the audience choose their route through the galleries and stop to listen to the performances.

The composers have taken their inspiration from a wide range of objects including microscopic diatoms, an Inuit map carved onto a bone, a Chinese gown, pocket watches and RAMM's famous Gerald the Giraffe. The new compositions will reflect a range of musical styles with influences from Indian music, jazz and other genres.

At the end of the performance, a finale composed by Devon Phil's Music Director Leo Geyer will be performed by all the players and singers and heard all around the museum.

This performance is part of the CoMA Festival of Contemporary Music for All.
Tickets available from the RAMM Website

Wednesday, 12 February 2020

Tamsin Waley-Cohen appointed as Artistic Director of The Two Moors Festival

The Two Moors Festival is delighted
to announce the appointment of
Tamsin Waley-Cohen
as Artistic Director of the Festival

Two Moors Festival Artistic Director
Tamsin Waley-Cohen
(Benson Russell Photography)

Tamsin Waley-Cohen is an outstanding violinist with a major British and international career, playing with top orchestras worldwide, as well as being a member of the Albion String Quartet. Known to West Country audiences from her many appearances at the Festival since its early days and from her own Honeymead Festival, she knows and loves the West Country well.

This is an exciting time for the Two Moors Festival with Tamsin on board to lead it in this celebratory 20th season and to further develop it in the future. This builds on the outstanding work of the Festival and its founder, Penny Adie who, with her husband John Adie, established it to serve the people of Exmoor, Dartmoor and Devon in the face of the dreadful foot and mouth outbreaks of 2001, becoming the major music festival of the South West.

Tamsin Waley-Cohen, Artistic Director:
"I am thrilled to be working with the Two Moors Festival, a festival that I have had the pleasure of playing in since its very inception, and whose home is some of the most beautiful and wildest landscape in England."

Penny Adie, Founding Artistic Director:
"She has all that it takes to propel the organisation on to the next phase of its journey."

Richard Fletcher, Chairman, the Two Moors Festival:
"Tamsin is the ideal choice for our new Artistic Director and she is already bubbling over with new ideas."

Tuesday, 24 December 2019

Stephen Beville "Box of Delights" Piano Recital South Street Baptist Church Saturday 21 December 2019

Stephen Beville
"Box of Delights"
Saturday 21 December

On Saturday afternoon, as Storm Elsa drenched the streets of Exeter, South Street Baptist Church offered a welcome refuge - and inside, Stephen Beville provided a spectacular piano recital.

Stephen had prepared a selection of music he called his "Box of Delights". Over two hours the audience enjoyed Mozart's Sonata in A major, with its distinctive closing rondo in the style of Turkish zanissary bands, eight intricate nocturnes by Francis Poulenc, Beethoven's stand-alone piano movement "Andante Favouri" and three waltzes and a polonaise by Chopin.

The opening Mozart was controlled and precise, with sudden injections of power creating a world of contrasting moods. The minuet introduced complex trills and the spirit of the vivacious 28 year old Mozart shone through in Stephen's playing. The final Turkish rondo was feverish, exhilarating, and great fun - like a very well coordinated fireworks display.

With Poulenc's nocturnes Stephen demonstrated a variety of moods and styles from restful and languorous to strident and filled with vigour. Some portrayed specific images - lightly skipping girls at a ball, solemnly tolling bells, an eerie phantom and delicately fluttering moths.

Stephen kept the energy and enthusiasm of Poulenc's inventiveness and imagination alive with each successive piece, finally wrapping up the story with the reflective and clarifying coda. An engaging musical journey.

Many thanks to the Church Warden for teas and coffees in the interval and, as promised, every flavour of Turkish delight - to reflect that Turkish rondo that was so enjoyable in the first half.

Stephen recreated the musical atmosphere after the break with Beethoven's Andante. Each phrase seemed to build into a dance, full of energy and excitement. This lovely piece was the perfect precursor to Stephen's virtuoso finale - the music of Frédéric Chopin.

The first two of his waltzes were in turn intricate and sparkling, then smooth and melodious. The last was amazingly virtuosic with endless showers of elaborate trills. Stephen performed it perfectly, and was clearly in his element. The polonaise opened in grand style and seemed to involve an endless succession of complex and inventive musical ideas. Stephen conveyed the perfect combination of frenzy and control thoughout. "Box of Delights" was a perfect description!

Stephen Beville creates a dazzling impression every time he plays. His performances are full of thrilling showmanship, delivered with impressive skill. More recitals will follow before long and, in the meantime, Stephen is working on new recording projects. He is working on a new Beethoven CD, and will also be releasing recordings of his own compositions later in the year. As the date of publication approaches, Stephen will be discussing his work on Phonic FM.

We can hear his flamboyant exposition of Beethoven - plus Chopin, Schumann and Boulez - on his 2012 album "In Karlsruhe", which is available from the Stephen Beville Website.

Thank you Stephen for another rousing recital of piano wonders. - Until next time!

Monday, 2 December 2019

East Devon Choral Society 'Mozart Requiem' St Paul's Church Tiverton Saturday 23 November 2019

Orchestral Leader: Fiona McLean-Buechel
Musical Director: Andrew Daldorph

'Cello: Hilary Boxer
Double Bass: Graham Tuck
Sue North's most recent assignment as Vice-Chair of the East Devon Choral Society was a glorious night of music by Mozart, with a smattering of Bach thrown in.

Chairman Martyn Green made an impromptu appearance on the conductor's rostrum, standing in for the incumbent Rev Andy Humm, and introduced the evening's entertainment. Sadly he had to announce that Nicholas Yates was not able to sing the Tenor solos. Happily, the very capable Matthew Jeffrey was available to take over.

Matthew is a Physics student at Exeter University, sings in the Exeter Cathedral Choir, and is the Musical Director of the Exeter University Singers. Needless to say, his contribution throughout the evening was of the highest standard.

Also in the solo line-up were soprano Rebecca Yates, mezzo soprano Louise Mott, and bass Tim Mirfin.

First Violin:                
The music started with the choir singing Mozart's delightful and moving 'Ave Verum Corpus' (Hail True Body). The sound was impressive, and all credit must go to Andrew and the choir for their meticulous preparation. The mighty orchestra which accompanied them is only available for rehearsal on the day. It is amazing what the singers accomplish with just Andrew, conducting, guiding, and providing piano accompaniment all at the same time.

The orchestra, led by Fiona McLean-Buechel was as superb as ever. Fiona was in Exeter for many years running musical classes under the banner of 'Joined Up Thinking Music Devon'. Now she is based in Bournemouth, but still leads the orchestra regularly for Andrew. Throughout the entire programme, Fiona's fiery energy, spectacular precision, and interpretive flair, infused every piece with excitement and energy.

Soprano Rebecca Yates
The first half ended with Mozart's 'Laudate Dominum' (Praise Ye the Lord, O Ye Servants), with Rebecca Yates singing the soprano solo. A perfect close to beautiful selection of music.

Mezzo: Louise Mott
Also in the first half Louise Mott regaled us with Cherubino's aria from 'Cose fan Tutte': 'Voi che Sapete che Cose e Amor' (You Ladies who Know what Love is). After the solomn Ave Verum, Louise's playfulness as Cherubino came as a refreshing diversion. The orchestra support was subtle, involving no brass, and with all the string players playing soft pizzicato - the violinist and violists holding their instruments like classical guitars.

Tenor: Matthew Jeffrey
Rebecca Yates had been planning to perform the duet 'Domine Deus' from Bach's Mass in B minor with husband Nicholas Yates. With Nicholas unable to join us, Matthew Jeffrey stepped into the breach with supreme confidence. With sensational flute accompaniment by Tina Guthrie, they sang together as if they had been rehearsing for months.

Bass: Tim Mirfin
Finally, Tim Mirfin's solo performance was something else entirely! In Leporello's aria from Mozart's 'Don Giovanni' he sings to Elvira about the many thousands of woman who have been seduced by his master the Don: "Madamina, il catalogo è questo delle belle che amò il padron mio" (Dear Lady, this is the list of the beautiful women whom my master has loved). Tim brought a mighty tome, to which he referred for details.

In his introduction, Tim was a little hazy about the exact number of hundreds (or thousands) in each country, but once he was singing in Italian he was word perfect. Also, to add to the outrageousness of Leporello's revelations, Tim drew out from between the pages items of lingerie varying in size to illustrate the catholic tastes of his master. A magnificent example of opera buffa, and a very stark contrast to the sacred mass that was to follow in the second half.

Musical Director: Andew Daldorph
After the interval, the choir and orchestra regrouped for the big event of the evening, Mozart's Requiem in D minor. For a full hour the audience were bathed in the sublime music and emotions of Mozart's very last major work. The soloists formed a quartet and performed in harmony with the great voice of the choir. The instruments of the orchestra had many opportunities to shine, to which they rose admirably. Especially note-worthy was the resounding trombone solo by Glyn Bowen in the Tuba Mirum. The two other trombonists, Jeremy Loysen and Rick Wall, and the trumpeters Phil Makin and Brian Moore, provided a surfeit of rousing fanfares.

The choir were in fine voice and brought enormous vigour and passion to the music. Andrew drew out every last ounce of expression from the choir and orchestra, and each part of the mass was equally exciting and moving. There was a brief break in the music after the closing words of the Hostias: "Fac eas, Domine, de morte transire ad vitam, quam olim Abrahae promisisti et semini ejus" (O Lord, let them pass from death to life, as you promised Abraham and his decendants).

Orchestra Leader:
Fiona McLean-Buechel
The orchestra members carefully re-tuned their instruments and the choir took a collective breath before delivering the climactic words of the mass: "Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus, Dominus Deus Sabaoth!" (Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of the Heavenly Host!). After the exultant "Hosanna in Excelsis" (Praise in the Highest), the gentle "Agnus Dei" (Lamb of God) entreated He, who takes away the world's sins, to have mercy - and to let eternal light shine on all departed souls.

This was another triumphant outing for the East Devon Choral Society, and an extremely impressive display of vocal skill and style for the audience. Thank you to Sue North, Martyn Green, Fiona McLean-Buechel (and Peter McLean-Buechel who also come over from Bournemouth, to sing tenor) and, of course, to the choir's Musical Director Andrew Daldorph. Everything was perfectly prepared - not just the music, but also the warm welcome at the door from Vic North in tie and tails, the helpful ushers, right down to the efficient provision of wine and soft drinks in the interval

Many thanks, and well done everyone!

Next year the East Devon Choral Society return to Exeter Cathedral on Saturday 9 May to commemorate the 75th anniversary of VE Day, with "The Armed Man" by Karl Jenkins and another chance to hear Andrew Daldorph's own composition "Songs of Hope and Creation", first performed in the Cathedral in 2009. Ticket information will appear here soon, and further information can be obtained from Sue North on 01884 253494.

Don't forget, Andrew's Exeter Chamber Choir will be in concert three times before Christmas - at Buckfast Abbey, The Church of St Michael and All Angels, Alphington, and The Great Barn, Higher Ashton.
Exeter Chamber Choir
Buckfast Abbey
Saturday 7 December 7.30pm
Musical Director: Andrew Daldorph
Heinrich Schütz: "Magnificat"
(Meine Seele erhebt den Herren)
Heinrich von Herzogenberg: Motets
Traditional Carols - for all
Tickets: £10
Online BookingAbbey Website
Exeter Chamber Choir
Conductor: Andrew Daldorph
Exeter Chamber Choir
St Michael's Alphington
Saturday 14 December 7.30pm
Musical Director: Andrew Daldorph
Heinrich Schütz: "Magnificat"
(Meine Seele erhebt den Herren)
Heinrich von Herzogenberg: Motets
Traditional Carols - for all
Tickets: £10
Exeter Chamber Choir
Exeter Chamber Choir
Great Barn Higher Ashton
Wednesday 18 December 7.30pm
Musical Director: Andrew Daldorph
A candlelit carol service with
readings by Maynard students
Tickets: £12 (child £6 family £30)
Online BookingTicketTailor
East Devon Choral Society
East Devon Choral Society
 Conductor: Andrew Daldorph
Exeter Cathedral
Saturday 9 May 7.30pm
A Shared Moment of Celebration
Musical Director: Andrew Daldorph
Orchestra Leader: Fiona McLean-Buechel
Karl Jenkins:
"The Armed Man: A Mass for Peace"
Andrew Daldorph:
"Songs of Hope and Creation"
Tickets: TBC
Information: 01884 253494

Friday, 22 November 2019

Philippa Mo 'Classical Journey' Phonic FM 2pm Friday 22 November 2019

Violin: Philippa Mo
(Photography: Guy Carpenter)

Violin: Philippa Mo
(Photography: Guy Carpenter)

On Saturday 2 November this year Leo Geyer held the inaugural concert of his 'Devon Philharmonic Orchestra'. In addition to the sensual and evocative 'Lontano' by György Ligeti, and the mighty Fifth Symphony of Dmitri Shostakovich, Leo and the orchestra had also prepared the Violin Concerto in A minor by Antonin Dvořák.

For the Concerto, Leo was able to call on the very skilled playing of a former musical collaborator, Philippa Mo.

Violin: Philippa Mo
(Photography: Guy Carpenter)

Philippa graduated from the Royal Academy of Music to the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing. She has since returned to Beijing to teach - and given performances in Turkey, Kazachstan and even Mongolia.

Philippa has given the premiere performance of works specially composed for her by modern composers, including the founder of Nonclassical, Gabriel Prokofiev. On October 26th this year Philippa was in Anglesey to perform a special composition dictated by the shipping forecasts, "I bawb yn y môr", to commemorate the loss of 460 lives when the 'Royal Charter' was dashed to pieces on the east coast of Anglesey on 26 October 1859.

Philippa played for a similar memorial at the Tate St Ives on 9th April 2016. Exactly 40 years earlier the Barbara Hepworth Sculpture Garden was created at the Tate, featuring her six sculpture suite, 'Guarea'. After the death of her son on an RAF mission in Thailand in 1953 Barbara took a trip to Greece and was inspired to create the six sculptures. They are all carved from the trunk of a single guarea tree from Nigeria.

Leo Geyer composed 'Guarea' to reflect the form and symbolism of three  - Delos, Corinthos & Delphi.

'Delos' is played on two strings, just as the sculpture extends from the two central piercings. 'Corinthos' is played on the bass string with 'woody' microtonal harmonics relating to the great mass and solidity of the sculpture. 'Delphi' responds to the lyre-like internal strings of the sculpture. The pizzicato sequence reworks the First Delphic Hymn - one of the earliest notated pieces of music.

We will have a chance to enjoy Gaurea on today's 'Classical Journey' programme, with commentary by Philippa herself. From the Leeds College of Music, Philippa will phone in to discuss this and many other projects. Her recordings of rarely heard works for two violins with Harriet MacKenzie (as the Rhetorica Duo) have featured on several programmes this year. She has also created several concert series. At Sladers Yard in Dorset Philippa performed the complete violin repertoire of Bach, and all the Telemann violin Fantasies.

There have now been ten '@Shortwave Nights' recitals involving Philippa's violin in duet with a wide range of musicians playing a variety of instruments - not to mention the countertenor voice of Will Towers. Today's show will also include recordings of Philippa playing Handel Sonata in A in London with guitarist (and arranger) Martin Fogel - and a recording made in Rio de Janeiro of 'Nightclub 1960' from 'L'Histoire du Tango' by Astor Piazzolla, and 'Praeludium and Allegro' (in the style of Gaetano Pugnani) by Fritz Kreisler arranged and played with Philippa on the marimba by Ronni Wenzell.

Classical Journey airs today, Friday 22 November, from 2-4pm on Phonic FM (106.8 FM and online at

Tuesday, 19 November 2019

Substance & Shadow Theatre Company "Walking with God" St Nicholas Priory Tue-Thur 19-21 & Wed-Fri 27-29 November 2019

Midge Mullin
is Donald Swanson
"Walking with God"

(Photography: Matt Austin)

Queen Victoria:
Ronnie Kerswell-O'Hara
The ancient Benedictine Priory of St Nicholas in Exeter was built shortly after the Norman Conquest and has been the scene of nearly a thousand years of history. This November, for a few nights only, there is a chance to have a chilling encounter with some more recent events. In 1888, a three year spate of violent murders began in the Whitechapel district of London. In the atmospheric confines of the Priory, Substance and Shadow Theatre Company recreate the story of those harrowing times.

Donald Swanson: Midge Mullin
Voice of Jack the Ripper:
Philip Kingslan John
Midge Mullin is Inspector Donald Swanson, the real life detective whose unswerving devotion to Queen Victoria (portrayed briefly and imperiously by Ronnie Kerswell-O'Hara) drove him to pursue the murderer with unrelenting determination. Midge is magnificent in his performance as the single-minded hunter - but his masonic lapel pin hints at conflicting interests at work in the case. The actual words of the killer (or was it a contemporary hoaxer?) are voiced over by the wonderful Philip Kingslan John as Swanson reads the now infamous letter from 'Jack the Ripper'.

Mary Jane Kelly:
Lola Pawlikowska
Lola Pawlikowska is Mary Jane Kelly, who was the fifth of the first five murder victims ('the canonical five'), still considered to have been killed by the same person. Her descriptions of life in Whitechapel, and the destitution and crime which were already commonplace there, starkly set the scene for the carnage that follows. Lola's playfulness is mixed with the ground-glass of dark experiences. She perfectly depicts the gallows humour of terrified Londoners living in daily fear of death.

Inspector Swanson (Midge Mullin)
tracks down his man
John Smith Sanders (Al Wadlan)
There was a suspicion at the time that the murders had been committed by a London surgeon - the mutilation of the bodies being likened to an autopsy. Al Wadlan, as the surgeon John William Smith Sanders, is very much under suspicion.Within a month of his appointment in 1888, Swanson had identified three medical undergraduates who had been declared insane. Sanders was the hardest to trace - he had been transferred from Holloway to Exeter. In a brilliant plot twist his story is changed. The Sanders in this story makes his own way to Exeter where, for reasons which are at first unclear, he is committed to Digby Hospital, and the care of Rosie Mullin.

Reviewing news of the case
Michael Maybrick:
Richard Pulman
Our narrator, and confidant of  Sanders, is the very dignified Michael Maybrick, played by Richard Pulman. Maybrick was a popular composer and singer in the 1880s, who used the pseudonym Stephen Adams. As Maybrick, Richard guides us unerringly through the machinations of the plot using prose and song - and some magic lantern slides provided by his assistant Cecil (played by Alex White - who is also in charge of the lighting back-stage). Maybrick also gives some insight into Sanders background - as fellow Cambridge alumni they are familiar with each other's careers. Keep an eye on Maybrick though. He has more than a passing interest in Sanders, and he also sports a masonic lapel badge - suggesting a more sinister interest in the case.

Enhanced Interrogation
Inspector Swanson: Midge Mullin
John Smith Sanders: Al Wadlan
This dramatisation not only evokes the terror of nineteenth century Whitechapel, it also blurs and confounds the details of story, characters and interactions. It is hard to keep track of where history and drama diverge. The writers and directors, Midge and Rosie Mullin, have created something profoundly moving in this transfigured reenactment of a true tale of horror.

Digby secrets
Inspector Swanson: Midge Mullin
Nurse: Rosie Mullin
With just one set, and a few props, the actors take us from a travelling freak-show to a comfortable gentlemen's club, then to the fearful back streets of Whitechapel and the cloistered confines of Digby Hospital. As always in Substance and Shadow productions, lighting, sound effects and voice-overs (all controlled by Alex White and Samantha Bearder) create a captivating and compelling atmosphere. On this occasion, the atmosphere is one of dark dread and suspicion.

A portentous gift
Michael Maybrick: Richard Pulman
John Smith Sanders: Al Wadlan
This magnificent piece of theatre is a delight for lovers of history and horror alike. The venue is perfect, and the stagecraft quite magical. It is worth arriving early - drinks are available in the bar downstairs and the actors are already in character, waiting to greet you. Anyone who appreciates a gruesome murder mystery will be well satisfied by the experience of Substance and Shadow's latest production

The macabre spectacle of 'Walking with God' is showing at St Nicholas' Priory for five more nights. After a single 7pm performance tomorrow there will be two performances on Thursday, and two per night from Wednesday to Friday next week.

Midge Mullin
(Photography: Matt Austin)
Substance & Shadow Theatre Company
St Nicholas Priory
Tuesday 19 November 7&9pm
Wednesday 20 November 7pm
Thursday 21 November 7&9pm
Wednesday-Friday 27-29 November 7&9pm
Directors: Midge Rosie Mullin

Starring:  Midge MullinAl Wadlan

              Richard Pulman, Rosie Mullin
              Jola Pawlikowska, Fern Stone
              Ronnie Kerswell-O'Hara
Lighting & Projections: Alex White
Tickets: £10
Online BookingTicketSource

Richard Pulman is Michael Maybrick
- opening monologue

Jola Pawlikowska is Mary Jane Kelly
- opening monologue

Fern Stone is Molly
Jola Pawlikowska is Mary Jane Kelly
- life in Whitechapel

Midge Mullin is Donald Swanson
Al Wadlan is John William Smith Sanders
- interrogation at Digby Hospital

Midge Mullin is Donald Swanson
Ronnie Kerswell-O'Hara is 'Dark Annie'
- dream sequence

Monday, 4 November 2019

Devon Philharmonic Orchestra & Philippa Mo, Violin, Ligeti, Dvořák & Shostakovich Exeter Cathedral Saturday 2 November 2019

Philippa Mo
Antonin Dvořák
Violin Concerto in A minor

(Photography: Guy Carpenter)

This weekend's inaugural concert by Leo Geyer's 'Devon Philharmonic Orchestra' was an outstanding success, to say the least. After several months of painstaking preparation, Leo brought the musicians - and several impressive guest players - to the Cathedral in Exeter to play three spectacularly atmospheric pieces to an enraptured audience.

Contrabass Clarinet
Sarah Watts.
Their opening work was György Ligeti's 1967 atonal masterpiece, 'Lontano'. After leaving the repressive musical regime of Communist Hungary following the revolution in 1957 Ligeti was free to experiment in new and innovative styles. 'Lontano' is certainly different! Initially a single note is passed from instrument to instrument, the ambient sound modified by the subtle introduction of new tones and rhythms by successive sections of the orchestra. Sitting centre-stage Catherine Clements leading the flutes seemed to be the focus of the ever-changing mêlée of sound. John Welton's bass clarinet made several notable incursions into the fray, but was ultimately eclipsed by visiting woodwind specialist Sarah Watts and her contrabass clarinet - 'The Beast'!

For everyone involved, this, initially apparently simple, concoction involved quite extraordinary precision and cooperation. Each section of the orchestra responded perfectly to Leo's skilled direction to produce a fabulous and unexpected tapestry of sound which perfectly introduced the many talents of the Devon Philharmonic Orchestra to its appreciative audience.

Dvořák Violin Concerto
Philippa Mo

(Photography: Guy Carpenter)
Almost immediately Leo returned to the rostrum, followed by the evening's soloist - violinist Philippa Mo. Philippa first featured on Phonic FM when she appeared on exactly the same platform at Exeter Cathedral with 'cellist Mats Lidström in June 2014. Philippa's  recordings with Harriet MacKenzie as the violin duo 'Rhetorica' have also featured many times. Philippa has since created concert series at The Shortwave Café (Bermondsey's Biscuit Factory), Sladers Yard in Dorset, and the Tate Gallery in St Ives - where she played the première of Leo's own composition 'Guarea'.

Working together again Leo and Philippa launched into an impassioned performance of  Dvořák's exlosive Violin Concerto in A minor. Under Clare Smith's leadership the string section gave Philippa one of the most rousing introductions any violinist could wish for. And she responded with exquisite precision and poise. 
Rapturous Applause
Philippa Mo

There followed three gripping movements of amazing music, with the superbly professional playing of the orchestra framing Philippa's incredibly stylish performance. Long passages seemed to be played using only her left little finger racing back and forth to the very end of her violin's fingerboard. Hypothenar eminance indeed! What a very special treat for an Exeter audience to enjoy such a performance by an international star of Philippa's calibre.

The first half of the concert ended in near-pandemonium as the Leo and Philippa - and then Philippa alone, made repeated returns to the stage to receive well-deserved acclaim from a thrilled audience.

Dmitri Shostakovich
In an inspired programme choice, Leo returned to the outpourings of another musician who had known suppression and control behind the Iron Curtain. Dmitri Shostakovich's Fifth Symphony was written to appease the ultimate arbitrator of Soviet musical creativity, Joseph Stalin. Despite being in the life-threatening dog-house of Stalin's disfavour following the poorly received première of his opera 'Lady MacBeth of Mtensk District', Shostakovich managed to combine orchestral compliance with delightfully imaginative musicality. There were even some subtle musical gags slipped in along the way. A very daring move by a man for whom incurring Stalin's displeasure could mean certain death!

Flute: Catherine Clements
The introduction is somewhat more sombre than Dvořák's, and the opening movement more ponderous. But each section of the orchestra has its chance to shine. Clare Smith amazed the audience again with her own delightful violin solo. There were also special moments for Catherine Clements and her flautists, who included Robert Stephenson and his trademark piccolo, for Isabelle Woollcott's double basses, for Ben Edmond's oboes, Richard de la Rue's clarinets, and the wonderful solo bassoon playing of Prue Tasman.

Trumpet: Myles Taylor
Myles Taylor of the Exeter Symphony Orchestra stood in for Brian Moore (who sadly seems still to be out of action) to lead some splendid trumpet fanfares. High on the stage Harrison Coomber led the three mighty trombones, including Charles Dowell's bass - and the stentorian roar of Rob O'Byrne's tuba. Less visible, but equally prominenet musically, was Beth Osment and her small band of French horn players. Beth and Catherine playing horn and flute duet was a particualarly memorable and beautiful moment.
Harp: Susan Sherratt

Shostakovich also called for special performances on on harp and piano, provided by Susan Sherratt and Dodie Bowman, which were as delightful as they were impressive. Dodie also joined Alfie Pugh and Alex Sadler to provide the most high profile and challenging rôle of all - the percussion. With military precision they punctuated the performance with timpani, snare, vibraphone, cymbals and - to top everything - the big bass drum.

Leader: Clare Smith
Conductor: Leo Geyer
This mesmerising cornucopaea of sound was the perfect foil to Philippa and Dvořák. The overall effect was as stunning as it must have been in Leningrad in 1937. Every section received praise from Leo and the audience for their impassioned performance. The Leader, Clare Smith, in particular was to be praised for her overall contribution as well as her delicate solo performances.

Many thanks to Leo, Clare, Philippa, and all the musicians and supporters of Devon Philharmonic Orchestra for creating such a dazzling evening of music to mark their launch. Rehearsals begin again almost immediately, of course - this time for performances of Nicolai Rimsky-Korsakov's orchestral suite 'Scheherazade' and Igor Stravinsky's ballet score 'The Firebird' in a double bill at Exeter Cathedral on Saturday 25 April next year. A spectacle worth waiting for!

Devon Philharmonic Orchestra
Exeter Cathedral
Saturday 25 April
Conductor: Leo Geyer
Leader: Clare Smith
Nicolai Rimsky Korsakov:
Igor Stravinsky: "The Firebird"
Tickets: £17/£14/£12/£10
          (student/U16 half-price)