Music for Springtime

I am delighted to have been invited to perform in this year’s Belper Music Festival, part of Belper Arts Festival 2017. Beate Toyka, the festival director, and I will entertain you with light classical music, perfect for a spring evening. The concert will take place in St Peter’s Church in Belper, and before it begins a traditional, fruity ‘May Punch’ will be available on the terrace. The start of the concert will be announced by a trumpet voluntary, inviting you into the church.

Following on from our recent performance of Beethoven’s ‘Kreutzer’ Sonata at the Classical Weekend in Sheffield, Beate and I will be including movements from his Sonata in F major, ‘Spring’ Sonata. The programme will also include Mendelssohn’s Spring Song, Elgar’s Chanson de Matin and Chanson de Nuit, Liszt’s ‘Un Sospiro’ and the theme from Ladies in Lavender, by Nigel Hess.

Tickets are £10 for adults, £8 for over 60s and £1 for under 16s. Tickets and more information can be found on the Belper Arts Festival website.

Concerts in the Belper Music Festival 2017 run from 29th April to 2nd June and include a varied and exciting line-up. Highlights include a performance by ‘The Younger Kanneh-Masons’, the very talented siblings of Sheku Kanneh-Mason, winner of BBC Young Musician of the Year 2016, and the Belper ‘Last Night of the Proms’ starring Opera Babe Karen England.

 

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Clara Schumann and friends

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.

Music for spring

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.

Spring flowers

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!

Fundraising success

On Saturday the second of my two charity concerts this year took place in St Andrew’s Church in Sheffield and I’m delighted to announce that £714.58 was raised for Marie Curie Cancer Care.

The concert opened with Boyce’s Symphony no. 1 and a joyous sound from the string orchestra under the baton of Robin McEwan. I then performed Mendelssohn’s Concerto for Violin and Piano with the wonderful Tim Horton (pianist in Ensemble 360 and the Leonore Piano Trio). This work, composed when Mendelssohn was only 14, was new to many members of the audience, but several commented that it ought to be better known.

Lucy Phillips and Tim Horton

After the interval and a chance to enjoy some delicious cupcakes the fabulous Abbeydale Singers took to the stage and treated us to some more Mendelssohn in the form of his Four Sacred Part Songs. It is always a pleasure to hear the choir perform, especially in such a beautiful acoustic.

The orchestra then concluded the concert with Dvorak’s wonderfully atmospheric Nocturne for Strings and the rousing Capriol Suite by Peter Warlock.

This is the largest event I have organised to date and, although there were stressful moments along the way, it was all worth it for the amazing experience and to be able to give so much money to such a great cause. Many thanks  to all the performers and those who helped behind the scenes and of course to the audience for supporting the event.

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.