Tag Archives: Handel

A Christmas cracker of a Baroque concert

The Cecilian Choir and Sinfonia rose to the occasion in splendid fashion last Friday, and delivered a scintillating concert full of festive Baroque favourites to launch Christmas music-making from the Music department.

BaroqueChristmas_Dec2015

Excerpts from Part One of Handel’s Messiah were combined with instrumental concerti by Vivaldi, with four out of the five soloists being drawn from the School of BioSciences – second-year oboist and National Youth Orchestra member Jonathan Butten, second-year singing Scholarship students Charlotte Webb and Ruth Webster, and Senior Lecturer in BioSciences, oboist Dan Lloyd. Vivaldi’s Double Oboe Concerto had a crisp vigour, and Elina Hakanen‘s performance of Winter with the Sinfonia combined moments of drama with expressive lyricism in a sure-footed and musically articulate performance.

WP_20151204_007
The Cecilian Choir

The Cecilian Choir were in rousing form in the Handel choruses, aided by the Sinfonia, directed from the department’s new harpsichord by Your Loyal Correspondent, and the enthusiastic audience even rose to its feet for the concluding ‘Hallelujah Chorus.’

WP_20151204_003
The String Sinfonia

Bravo to everyone involved; the festivities continue this Saturday as the Symphony Orchestra and Chorus come together in music by Vaughan Williams, Shostakovich and Sibelius – details here.

WP_20151204_009
The BioSciences team: Jonathan Butten, Ruth Webster, Charlotte Webb, Dan Lloyd

Winter is coming: the Sinfonia in rehearsal

In rehearsal yesterday, the String Sinfonia as it prepares for its first concert of the year next month.

IMG_0283The players were working on sections of Handel’s Messiah, as well as Vivaldi’s ‘Winter’ with soloist Elina Hakanen, developing some of those rigorous and dramatic tutti sections alongside the more lyrical central movement. The group is also preparing Vivaldi’s Double Oboe Concerto with soloists second-year Jonathan Butten and lecturer in BioSciences, Dan Lloyd (pictured).

The concert on Friday 4 December opens the Christmas season in Colyer-Fergusson with some sparkling music of the Baroque; details here, come and launch the festive period with us and some popular musical favourites.

High-voltage Baroque from CantiaQuorum

An electrifying performance of the Bach Double Violin Concerto from Alexandra Reid and Kathy Shave and the musicians of CantiaQuorum was the centrepiece of a concert bursting with energy on Friday.

A rapturous ovation from an enthralled audience greeted an agile reading of Bach’s concerto that bristled with vigour – the enthusiasm shared between the soloists was reflected by the ensemble as a whole.

WP_20150220_20_02_07_ProThe evening opened with Handel’s Silete Venti, conducted by Alex Caldon, with Susanna Hurrell’s bright, spinning soprano a perfect foil for the supremely accomplished Ilid Jones on oboe; the performance deftly captured the wide range of both the drama and the melodic grace of the piece, delivered with stylish aplomb.

WP_20150220_20_05_29_ProThe second half alternated movements of Telemann’s Tafelmusik with Cage’s Living Room Music; gathered around a dining-table, various members of the ensemble took turns to wield chopsticks, cutlery and even children’s toys to realise Cage’s exploitation of household objects, at one point updating it to deploy iPhones and an iPad to reflect the twenty-first century – an energy-drive reading of a different kind.

WP_20150220_21_06_24_Pro

A fantastic evening, with an ensemble of professional players in tip-top form.

Listen here: Handel’s ‘Silete Venti’

Ahead of CantiaQuorum‘s concert next week, listen to Handel’s Silete Venti which will appear in the ensemble’s programme next Friday.

HandelThe wonderfully bustling fugato opening, depicting the wind scurrying through the branches, is interrupted at two and a half minutes into the opening sinfonia by the soprano, as she bids them ‘be silent.’

Just before the six-minute mark, the wonderful aria Dulcis amor shows Handel in sublime melodic form, as does Date serta, date flores (Give garlands, give flowers), starting at 13′ 09”, which later becomes dramatic and highy flamboyant for both soloist and ensemble alike, before the piece concludes with a sprightly Alleluia.

Soprano Susanna Hurrell (currently to be heard in the Royal Opera’s production of L’Ormindo) will be the soloist with CantiaQuorum next week; it promises to be wonderful opportunity to hear this astonishing piece performed live. Tickets and details here.

Scholars learn from the great Dame

Several of the University’s singing Music Scholars had the opportunity to learn from one of the country’s leading singers last week, in a masterclass with Dame Anne Evans.

Dame Anne put several singers through their paces, in arias by Mozart and Handel and a piece by Cole Porter, sharing tricks of the trade in front of the audience in the Colyer-Fergusson Hall; as she said, later that evening when appearing In Conversation, ”If you can sing Mozart, you can sing anything.”

Later on, she talked about her career on the national and international stage, looking in particular at her performances at Bayreuth under the baton of Daniel Barenboim, taking the audience from her first professional engagements through the various stages of her career, accompanied by some extremely rare recordings and footage of her in the role of Brunnhilde in scenes from Götterdämmerung.

When asked what her secret was to preparing herself before performances of the epic Wagnerian role, she answered candidly: ”A large bowl of pasta two hours before the performance, and bananas in the interval.” Asked about advice for young singers starting out: ”Start with Mozart,” and ”In auditions, always sing pieces that you are really comfortable with.”

Performers, in order: Kathryn Cox, Philippa Hardimann, Olivia Potter, Vicky Newell, Paris Noble, Marina Ivanova and Steph Richardson, accompanied by Deputy Director of Music, Dan Harding:

Images © Matt Wilson / University of Kent

An en-Choir-ing mind…

It’s been a busy week with All Things Choral – the University Chorus continues its exploration of Orff and Handel, the Chamber Choir engages with Tavener and Finzi, and the first rehearsal for this year’s Cecilian Choir sees them getting to grips with Britten’s Ceremony of Carols.

Seeing stars…

And cake and biscuits…

Confused ? Check out all that’s been happening on the choral blog, Cantus Firmus, where you can listen to some of the pieces and see photos of cake. And biscuits too…

It’s all kicking Orff tonight…

With rehearsals for the University Concert Band and Big Band having begun last Wednesday, and those for the Symphony Orchestra last Thursday, it’s all choral this week – the University Chorus starts rehearsing this evening, and the Chamber Choir tomorrow night, whilst Sing! starts rehearsing this Thursday.

Tonight, we’ll be getting to grips with Handel’s Coronation Anthem The King Shall Rejoice and Orff’s riotous Carmina Burana with the Chorus – both pieces will feature in the Grand Gala concert which will officially launch the new music building at the inaugural concert in December (details online here).

7.30pm this evening, Grimond Lecture Theatre II; open to staff and students of the University without audition, and auditioned external members as usual – see you then!

And to whet your appetites, here’s Seiji Ozawa and the Berlin Philharmonic in a performance from 1989…

N.B. For those interested in Sing! – it starts on Thursday, Rutherford Music Room, 6pm. Be there…

Bear-faced cheek: singing for Children in Need

Many thanks to everyone who came along to the Gulbenkian Theatre at lunchtime, and joined in to sing Handel and raise money for this year’s Children in Need appeal.

The Yellow Bear turned up and conducted the massed ranks of visitors and musicians in a rousing rendition of the ‘Hallelujah Chorus,’ whilst members of the Music Society charged around with buckets and balloons to take the collection.

After some lively warm-ups and a run-through of key moments in the piece, the performance was delivered with gusto and vibrant enthusiasm.

Pudsey with violinist Jo Pearsall

Afterwards, Pudsey was almost swamped by a crowd of eager…err… grown-ups all clamouring for a picture with the Great Bear: and not a child in sight!

Our thanks to Pudsey for coming along, to the Gulbenkian for throwing its theatre doors open to the massed and eager rabble, to the ever-enthusiastic Music Committee for being on hand to help (and rattle collection-buckets), and to everyone who turned up, made a donation, and took part. We raised £270 for a very worthy cause.

Keep an eye out on local BBC at 6.30pm and possibly 8.30pm tomorrow night: that’s all I’m saying…