Tomorrow evening I will be performing in Millhouses Methodist Church in Sheffield to raise funds for Friends of the Rowan School Music Therapy.
I will be joined in the concert by Caccia Wind Quintet, violinist Hannah Thompson-Smith and pianist Roy Phillips and we have prepared an extremely varied programme. My contribution includes the Theme from Ladies in Lavender (Nigel Hess), some excerpts from Bizet’s Carmen and a sonata by Telemann.
I must admit that prior to rehearsing for this concert I knew very little about Telemann. Born in 1681 in Magdeburg, his mother tried to prevent him studying music, so he was largely self-taught. He was able to play a large number of instruments including violin, recorder, keyboard, flute, double bass and trombone. By the age of twelve he had written an opera and he went on to become one of the most prolific composers of his time, despite being somewhat overshadowed by the popularity of J.S.Bach.
The sonata I will perform is part of his Essercizii musici, an anthology of chamber music for various instruments published around 1739. The collection comprises 10 sonatas, 12 trios and two suites for harpsichord.
The concert begins at 7.30pm a tickets are £8, £7 concessions and £2 under-16s. All proceeds will be donated to Rowan School Music Therapy. For more information on the charity visit http://www.fotrs.org.uk.
This Friday is the third concert in my series which includes the complete Beethoven Violin Sonatas. On this occasion I will be joined by Derbyshire-based pianist Beate Toyka and our programme includes the 6th and 7th sonatas (Op. 30 numbers 1 and 2).
We have chosen also to perform a work by Beethoven’s student and friend Ferdinand Ries, his Grande Sonata in F minor.
Ferdinand Ries (1784-1838) was born in Bonn and was the son of the violinist Franz Ries. His father (who had also been Beethoven’s teacher) taught him piano and violin and he studied cello with Romberg. In October 1801 he travelled to Vienna where he lived and studied piano with Beethoven, acting for many years as his secretary and copyist. He made his debut as a solo pianist there and several years later went on a number of concert tours around Germany, Scandinavia and Russia. In 1813 he moved to London where he lived for 11 years. He became a member and then director of the London Philharmonic Society and, on its behalf, he commissioned Beethoven’s ninth symphony. He spent the final years of his life in the Rhineland where he co-wrote one of the first biographies of Beethoven.
As a composer Ries was prolific, but nowadays his music is not especially well-known. His output included sonatas for piano, violin, cello, flute and horn and the Grande Sonata in F minor dates from 1810. Despite their friendship Beethoven was critical of Ries’ compositions complaining that ‘he imitates me too much’.
Tickets are still available for the concert, which begins at 7.30pm in St Andrew’s Church, Psalter Lane, Sheffield – £12/£8 concessions.
On Saturday 2nd July I will be taking part in the annual Sparkle Night Walk to raise money for Ashgate Hospicecare in Chesterfield.
Ashgate Hospicecare is an independent registered charity that provides care to patients across North Derbyshire at the hospice, in the community and at Chesterfield Royal Hospital.
Its aim is to allow anyone in the Derbyshire community who needs it to enjoy their last days without suffering and in the company of people who care. Caring for very ill people is expensive and can only be done from generous donations from the community, through donations, legacies and income raised from the 16 shops.
The Sparkle Night Walk is a 10km walk at 10pm in Chesterfield. Last year it raised £127,000, which made a huge difference to the charity and helped enable them to care for over 2000 people and their families.
If you would like to help me reach my fundraising target you can do so on my supporter page.
The second concert in my series which includes the complete Beethoven violin sonatas is coming up on Saturday 13th February, 7.30pm, in St Andrew’s Church, Psalter Lane, Sheffield. This concert will include Beethoven’s 4th and 5th sonatas, Opp. 23 and 24.
In this concert I will be accompanied by pianist Emmanuel Vass. Emmanuel studied at the Royal Northern College of Music and he now has a busy performing schedule around the country and also lectures at Leeds College of Music. Last year he released his second solo album, Sonic Waves, which was funded entirely through a Kickstarter campaign and reached number one in the specialist classical charts. His music has been played on Classic FM and Radio 3.
Our concert will also feature romantic works by Brahms, Dvorak and Elgar, making it an ideal outing to celebrate Valentine’s Day! Tickets are £12/£8 concessions and seating is unreserved.
A few months ago I performed Clara Schumann’s beautiful Three Romances for Violin and Piano Op.22 and, on Saturday 30th January, Catherine Strachan, David Hammond and I will include her Piano Trio Op. 17 in our lunchtime concert in Chesterfield Library.
Born in Leipzig in 1819, Clara began learning piano at the age of five with her father and she went on to become one of the most famous pianists of her time, making her solo debut in the Leipzig Gewandhaus when she was just 11. She married the composer Robert Schumann in 1840 (at the time she was the better known of the two) and she premiered all of his works for piano. Following his death she concentrated on promoting his music in her concerts.
Of all her compositions the Piano Trio (1846) is thought by many to be her masterpiece. Felix Mendelssohn, who had been appointed conductor of the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra in 1835, was greatly impressed by the work, praising in particular the fugato section in the fourth movement. Clara and Mendelssohn knew each other for many years and he dedicated a number of his pieces to her, including the fifth book of Songs without Words Op.62, from which I will be playing the Spring Song on 30th January.
Another great friend of Clara was Johannes Brahms. He first made the acquaintance of the Schumanns in Dusseldorf in 1853 when he came to them for advice on his compositions. He and Clara remained firm friends until her death and he was a great support during the difficult periods in her life, such as Robert’s illness and death and later the deaths of a number of her children. Brahms greatly appreciated her opinion and sent many of his scores to her. David Hammond will perform his Intermezzo Op. 118 No. 2, which Brahms dedicated to Clara.
The concert begins at 11.45am in Chesterfield Library on Saturday 30th January and the performance will last around 45 minutes. Doors open at 11.30am and admission is free.
Christmas is finally here and I’m looking forward to my final performance of 2015 at H&F Vintage Tearooms in Chesterfield on Christmas Eve at 1pm. Accompanied by Roy Phillips on the piano, I will be playing well-known songs by Ivor Novello and Irving Berlin and there will be an opportunity for everyone to sing along to Christmas carols. H&F Vintage Tearooms, winner of Cafe/Tea Room of the Year in the Chesterfield Food and Drink Awards 2015, is the perfect place to escape to and relax with a glass of mulled wine and a mince pie, or one of the loose-leaf teas and stunning cakes.
I am also pleased to announce that my debut CD ‘The Lark in the Chapel’ is now ready for sale (information on how to purchase it will follow). The disc includes Vaughan Williams The Lark Ascending, along with works by Biber, J.S.Bach and Messiaen.
I hope to see many of you at my concerts during 2016, which will feature Clara Schumann’s Piano Trio (30th January, Chesterfield Library) and the second instalment in my series of the complete Beethoven Violin Sonatas (13th February, St Andrew’s Church, Sheffield). In the meantime I hope you all have a happy and peaceful Christmas and New Year.
The excitement is growing in Sheffield, as we are just days away from the first ever Classical Sheffield Festival of Music. Numerous events, from short pop-up concerts to full-length performances, will be taking place in venues around the city centre from Friday 23rd to Sunday 25th October. The festival includes orchestral, choral and chamber music and even two mini operas performed by Opera on Location at the Crucible (Saturday 24th, 8.45pm).
I will be taking part in a short concert in the beautiful Winter Gardens with Sheffield Chamber Orchestra at 12pm on Saturday 24th. It is free to come and watch and our programme will include music by Mozart, Strauss and Ronald Binge.
Other highlights for me will be seeing Platform 4’s concert of new music in the Cathedral and having another chance to see Tim Horton perform Notations by Pierre Boulez (Saturday, 6pm in the Crucible); I first heard these 12 short pieces during Music in the Round’s May Festival and they form an exciting collection.
Full details of the festival can be found on the Classical Weekend website.
I am excited to announce that I will be recording my very first CD this summer with organist Mark Swinton. The main work will be Vaughan Williams’ The Lark Ascending, the piece which first inspired our collaboration when we were still students at the University of York and which we have included in every concert we have given together. Although it is originally for violin and orchestra it works very well in this version too, with the organ able to imitate the sustained sounds of the strings and create interesting colours throughout the score.
As we are combining the violin with the organ and the latter is primarily associated with the church, the rest of our programme consists of music written for or inspired by christianity, from 17th-century Biber’s Mystery sonatas to William Lloyd Webber’s Benedictus, first performed on the occasion of his own wedding in 1942.
We will be recording during August in St Mary’s Collegiate Church in Warwick. Release date to be announced.
Following a fairly quiet winter season I have a number of orchestral performances coming up in the next few weeks. After helping out in Worksop College’s orchestral concert on Thursday I will be heading back to Lincolnshire to play in the Boston Orchestra’s Spring Concert in St Mary’s Church, Frampton. The programme includes Spring from Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, with soloist Mauro Maglioni, Ernest Tomlinson’s Suite of English Folk Songs and Haydn’s Symphony no. 104 ‘London’. The orchestra will be conducted by my dad, Roy Phillips, in what will be his last concert with the orchestra after many years of involvement with the group both as musical director and player. Tickets are available on the door (£8 or free for under-16s) and proceeds will be donated to the church.
On Saturday 16th May Sheffield Chamber Orchestra presents its final concert of the season at High Storrs School, Sheffield. Local student Lily Frascina will be the soloist in Franz Strauss’ Horn Concerto and the evening will end with Schubert’s 3rd Symphony. Tickets are available in advance from the orchestra’s website.
The concert comes at the end of an eventful week of music in Sheffield, as Music in the Round’s May Festival will be taking place in the Crucible. I always enjoy attending events there and this year I am particularly looking forward to seeing the Marmen Quartet team up with Ensemble 360 in Mendelssohn’s wonderful Octet on Friday 8th.
I have a number of exciting projects coming up later this year, so keep checking back to see what I’m up to!
The festive season is almost upon us once more and I am looking forward to my annual appearances in the Long Gallery at Castle Howard. This year I will be performing on 5 dates: 30th November and 7th , 13th, 16th and 18th December, from 12pm until 3pm each time. I will be joined by my two York-based accompanists Laura Jones (on 30th, 7th and 16th) and David Hammond (13th and 18th) for our usual selection of classical, jazz and Christmas music. The house will be decorated with fabulous trees, garlands and floral arrangements and a new display this year of a traditional ‘toy twig’ in the Garden Room. For more information, including admission prices, visit the Castle Howard website.
After performing in Karl Jenkins’ The Armed Man’ to a packed Lincoln Cathedral last month I will be returning there at the end of next week for Handel’s Messiah with the Cathedral Choir under the direction of Aric Prentice. Amazingly this is the first time I have ever had the opportunity to play the entire work, so it will be another highlight as the year draws to a close. See the cathedral website for ticket information.
Thank you to all of you who continue to support my work and visit my website. I have a number of projects in the planning for 2015, so keep coming back to see what I am up to.