Christmas performances 2014

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.

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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.

 

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Charity concerts in Sheffield 2014

This year I am putting on two concerts in Sheffield, on 14th June and 20th September, to raise money for Marie Curie Cancer Care. Both events will take place in St Andrew’s Church, Psalter Lane, and tickets for the June concert are now on sale.

 

Marie Curie Cancer Care, originally known as Marie Curie Memorial Foundation, has been an official charity in the UK since 1952 and is dedicated to alleviating the suffering of terminally ill patients and supporting their families. It provides hospices and nursing for patients in their own homes and is committed to research into the best possible care and how to provide it. It is named after the scientist Marie Curie (1867-1934) who carried out pioneering research into radioactivity and was the first woman to be awarded a Nobel Prize.

 

The concert on June 14th will be a violin and piano recital and I will be joined by York-based pianist David Hammond. The programme for the evening is as follows:

 

Brahms – Sonata movement in C minor

Saint-Saëns – Havanaise

Debussy – Violin Sonata

Mozart – Sonata in G, K301

Mendelssohn – Sonata in F

 

Please use the contact page to purchase tickets (£10/£5 concessions) and support this worthy cause.

 

Saturday 14th June 2014, 7.30pm

St Andrew’s Church, Psalter Lane, Sheffield S11 8YL

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Piano trio in Chesterfield Library

This week I braved Snake Pass for the first time and travelled to Rochdale, where, fuelled by some delicious cheese and onion pie provided by the church, David and I performed sonatas by Franck and Mendelssohn to an appreciative audience in St Mary in the Baum.

As the saying goes, there’s no rest for the wicked, and I am straight on to preparing for my next performance in a couple of weeks. The programme will be Haydn’s Trio in G major ‘Gypsy Rondo’, Giordani’s Duetto I, Grieg Andante con moto and Revolucionario by Astor Piazzolla. I will be joined by Catherine Strachan (cello) and David Hammond (piano) both of whom studied at the University of York at the same time as me.

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The Grieg is a particularly interesting piece. Composed in 1878, the same year as the G minor string quartet, it is a single-movement work, probably the beginnings of a complete piano trio. It was discovered after his death by his friend and colleague Julius Rontgen, but, like the Mendelssohn sonata I performed this week, it was not published until more recently, in the complete Grieg edition of 1978. The whole movement is constructed from a single theme which uses just 6 notes, but at the same time includes a huge amount of variety in its tonality, texture, use of instruments and tempo. Rontgen wrote: “What a solemnity it conveys! How he can’t get enough of that single theme, that even in the major mode retains its mourning character, and then develops so beautifully its full power”.

Grieg is one of my favourite composers and in the past I have performed two of his violin sonatas (G major and C minor), so I am very much looking forward to presenting this trio in Chesterfield Library. The concert begins at 11.45am and entry is free.

 

 

Projects for 2014

Happy New Year to you all! As 2014 begins there are a number of exciting projects on the horizon for me.

Over the next few weeks I will be giving two lunchtime concerts, the first in the church of St Mary in the Baum in Rochdale on Wednesday 22nd. This will be my first appearance in their regular concert series and, together with my pianist David Hammond, I will perform two great 19th-century sonatas by Franck and Mendelssohn.

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Franck’s only sonata for violin and piano was written in 1886 and is in cyclic form; this means that the same themes are used in different movements to unify the work’s structure. It was first performed by the violinist Ysaye, to whom it is dedicated. Vincent d’Indy, a pupil of Franck, described it as ‘the first and purist model of the cyclic treatment of themes in the form of the instrumental sonata’.

The second work in our programme is Mendelssohn’s third Violin Sonata in F major. His first two were written during the early 1820s shortly after he began to learn the violin and he may well have composed them in order to aid his development as a player. The third dates from 1838, at which time Mendelssohn was working in Leipzig and presiding over the concert life of the city. He was not happy with the work, describing it as a ‘wretched sonata’ and in 1839 he began a revision of the first movement. It remained unknown until 1953 when Yehudi Menuhin obtained and published it. It is full of drama and beautiful melodies and, in my opinion, deserves to be better known.

On 8th February I will give another lunchtime recital in Chesterfield Library, where David and I will be joined by cellist Catherine Strachan in a varied piano trio programme. Later in the Spring I have been invited once again to take part in the York Schubert Day, organised by the Schubert Institute UK. On this occasion my colleagues and I will perform the String Quintet in C major. Later in the year I will be putting on two concerts in Sheffield (in June and September) to raise money for Marie Curie Cancer Care. Keep visiting my site for regular updates about all these events.

Charity concert for Friends of St Nicholas Fields in York

On Friday 6th December I will be performing in a concert in the Unitarian Chapel in York to raise money for Friends of St Nicholas Fields, along with David Hammond (piano), Catherine Strachan (cello and bass), Ellen Jordan (cello) and Thea Jacob (soprano).

St Nicks (as it’s more commonly known) is an environmental charity and York’s leading organisation in promoting sustainable living. It has an award-winning environmental centre and a thriving nature reserve and also provides services such as kerbside recycling, advice on composting and education programmes.

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Following on from our 4 ‘seasonal’ concerts for St Nicks last year, this programme will be full of variety. I will be performing Corelli’s Sonata ‘La Follia’ and arrangements for violin and piano of the Intermezzo from Mascagni’s Cavalleria Rusticana and the Mazurka from Delibes’ ballet Coppelia.

The Italian composer Archangelo Corelli (1653-1713) published a set of 12 sonatas for violin and continuo, op.5, in Rome in 1700. The 12th is a set of variations on the theme of ‘La Folia’ a 16-bar chord progression commonly used by composers during the Renaissance and Baroque periods. It originated as a Portuguese folk dance (note the difference in spelling in the Italian version) and gradually evolved into the form used here by Corelli. This sonata is in D minor, the most commonly used key for a Folia, and Corelli’s 23 variations transform the basic theme in many different ways, by use of rhythms, double-stopping and interplay between the instruments.

The beautiful Intermezzo is taken from Mascagni’s one-act Cavalleria Rusticana. It was written in only 2 months for a competition which was open to all young Italian composers who had not yet had an opera performed on stage. Mascagni’s entry won first prize and it remains the most popular of his 15 operas.

A mazurka is a traditional polish dance in triple time and it became popular as a dance in ballrooms throughout Europe during 19th century. Delibes composed the music for Coppelia in 1870; the plot of the ballet involves an inventor, Dr Coppelius, and a life-size wind-up doll. The mazurka features in a lively street scene in Act 1.

Our concert will also include Rossini’s Duetto in D major for Cello and Double Bass, Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue and a selection of songs performed by Thea Jacob.

Tickets are available in advance through the St Nicks website or on the door.

Workshop: Six Centuries of Church Music

I will be performing in Purcell’s Funeral Music for Queen Mary as part of this ‘Come and Sing’ day in St Clement’s Church, York on 19th October.

The event will be a fast-paced day of choral singing which charts the development of liturgical music in the English church, from its origins in plainsong through to the worship songs of the 21st century!

This whistle-stop tour will cover:

– plainsong (sung from original notation), plainsong elaboration and fauxbourdon
– music in English and Latin from reformation and counter-reformation
– Purcell’s funeral music for Queen Mary, with strings and continuo
– the development of psalmody
– West Gallery music and the cathedral/parish split
– hymns
– the Victorian revival (Stanford)
– the 20th century (Vaughan Williams) and beyond

This is the third in a series of highly successful Come & Sing days organised by the South Bank Singers, directed by Toby Wardman and with David Hammond at the piano and organ.

There will be a fee of £15 to cover sheet music and refreshments. The day will end with an informal performance of highlights from the workshop to a very small audience!

To book and pay, contact John Guest (green.lane@phonecoop.coop) or Toby Wardman (toby@wardman.org)

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