If you've been to Birmingham Symphony Hall you have probably seen this painting - I've just come across the latest entry in the artist Norman Perryman's blog: "A few weeks ago, with over two thousand others, I was shuffling towards the exit of Birmingham's Symphony Hall, slightly dazed, the sounds of Mahler 1 still going through my whole being. Mirga Gražinyté-Tyla had just conducted the CBSO in another fabulous concert. They brought the house down! We pass by my painting The Mahler Experience - Symphony Hall. "Look", a woman in front of me says to her group, "I think that may be Mahler 2, with Simon Rattle". "That's right", I mutter. "Are you sure?" "Yeah, I painted it". The crowd comes to a standstill. "You painted it! Hey, he painted it!" Handshakes all round. I find this reaction rather amusing, but it happens every time I'm in Birmingham. A group of teenagers is hanging around. I try not to feel prejudiced about their demeanour. One of them eventually approaches me and says: "Sir, I just have to tell you: that painting changed my life. I now love classical music"."
Norman Perryman is an "English artist born in Birmingham, living in Amsterdam. Painted many great musicians. Forty years ago started painting kinetic visuals live in concert, with major orchestras. 1993 BBC Television documentary with Sir Simon Rattle. “A musician who makes music with his paintbrush” (Yehudi Menuhin)."
Stile Antico first came to my attention when they won the audience prize at the York Early Music Festival Young Artists Competition back in 2005 - they're now recognised as one of the world's finest vocal groups, with many critically acclaimed recordings under their collective belts. There's an opportunity to hear them at Malvern Concert Club on Thursday 24 November, in a programme celebrating Shakespeare's 400th anniversary. In my opinion, a concert not to be missed!
Reviews of a similar programme they performed at this year's BBC Proms said "Stile Antico brings a fresh, intelligent and collaborative approach to vocal polyphony...The beauty of the tone was exceptional,...stunning vocal selections" (Classical Source) and "Robert Ramsey’s ‘Sleep, fleshly birth’...was stunning. Ramsey, director of music at Trinity College Cambridge, is probably a name less familiar to us than that of Morley, Byrd, Tomkins et al: his dramatic madrigal in six movement, Dialogues of Sorrow upon the Death of the Late Prince Henry, is only partially extant, but ‘Sleep, fleshly birth’ is almost certainly a tribute to the Prince. Stile Antico milked the chromatic piquancy for all it was worth, without the slightest hint of mannerism, and this performance has sent me scurrying to find recordings of Ramsey." (Opera Today)
To mark the performance by the 12 Ensemble in Birmingham University's Bramall Hall on 16 November, Christopher Morley has interviewed Alessandro Ruisi, Max Ruisi and Roberto Ruisi for the Birmingham Post about their Birmingham roots: "The remarkable thing is that there is no previous history of musical talent in the Ruisi family, yet the brothers have already achieved so much. Max has a busy career both in chamber music (in which he also coaches student ensembles) and orchestral music, performing with a range of major professional orchestras; Alessandro has developed an enviable reputation in both chamber and orchestral music, and is co-leader of the European Chamber Orchestra as well as Ensemble 12, and Roberto’s lift-off has been truly dazzling, from being appointed the youngest concertmaster in the history of the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain, through taking a year off his studies to play as a member of the hand-picked John Wilson Orchestra, to guest-leading as concertmaster of both the Orchestre National Bordeaux Aquitaine, and the RTÉ Concert Orchestra in Dublin."
The Ruisi Quartet play for Wye Valley Music on 27 November, and for Ludlow Music Society on 1 April.
"Festivals of this scope need a motivator who’ll go to the ends of the earth for the full works, and a team willing to follow him; in Kynoch and his staff the Oxford Lieder Festival has both. Mahler and Vienna is the theme for next year; already it seems ripe in inception."
David Nice reviews the finale of the Oxford Lieder Festival for The Arts Desk
This Saturday, 5 November Gloucester Music Society hosts the premiere of the Piano Trio by Adrian Williams, commissioned by the Piano Trio to mark its 21st anniversary and played alongside music by Moeran and Stanford by the Fidelio Trio. There's an article in the current issue of Classical Music about Williams' new work:
"Writing a piano trio had been a lifelong dream for Adrian Williams, so he didn’t hesitate when the chance arose. ‘For some reason, it became a very important thing to do – perhaps because I’m a pianist,’ he says. ‘I was delighted when an opportunity came up, especially since it was to write for the Fidelio Trio.’ Williams says that the work came naturally. ‘I didn’t really struggle with it, but once certain things are on the go, things start moving around; certain ideas you’d set aside for the end find themselves in the middle. Sometimes I had to go for a long walk and hope I’d have sorted it out by the time I get back!’ Part of the reason for the work’s untroubled genesis could be its single movement form. ‘I like working with that form. I put all the ideas in there and they all start doing things; and then before I know it, I’ve come to the end!’"
Tickets for Birmingham classical music promoters Birmingham Contemporary Music Group, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Ex Cathedra and Town Hall and Symphony Hall are now available to students via the Student Pulse app, the easy way to purchase student tickets for Birmingham’s best concerts, all in one place. Search for 'Pulse Brum' in the app store or text 'Brum' to 07860 063251 to get a link.
Roderick Williams talks about opera, prior to his forthcoming title role in Britten's Billy Budd with Opera North, in an interview for Opera Now. Roddy is a regular concert recitalist not least in the Chamber Music Plus area - hear him in Warwick for Leamington Music on 13 November (Schubert Winterreise), and at Malvern Concert Club on 26 February (Schubert Die Schöne Müllerin). On both occasions Roddy is accompanied by Iain Burnside.
Also a composer, the Choir of Clare College, Cambridge will be performing one of his pieces for Leamington Music on 17 December.
We're pleased to include some Oxford concerts in this year's Chamber Music Plus - they include the wonderful Oxford Lieder festival, which runs from 14 to 29 October. Artistic director Sholto Kynoch is interviewed in The Guardian about his musical loves.
What’s been your most memorable live music experience as an audience member?When I was at school, my mum worked in Cheltenham and during the holidays I would go the music festival. I cut my musical teeth there and have countless amazing memories, hearing Alfred Brendel, Grirgory Sokolov, the Florestan Trio, the premiere of Thomas Adès Powder Her Face and much more besides. Playing there for the first time recently was the fulfilment of a long-held ambition.
If you had to pick one work to introduce someone to the wonders of classical music, what would it be?
Bach's B minor Mass
(which you can hear performed at Birmingham Town Hall on Sunday 6 November by Ex Cathedra)
I had the pleasure of hearing the first Stratford concert this season by the Orchestra of the Swan, conducted by David Curtis - the repeat performance at Birmingham Town Hall the following day was reviewed by David Hart for the Birmingham Post: "it’s this chamber music experience that has made OOTS so distinctive. Over the years Curtis has moulded his players into a unified ensemble of individual musicians untrammelled by the histrionics of an egocentric conductor...One of Curtis’s greatest strengths has always been his empathy with soloists. On this occasion the lucky recipient was Laura van der Heijden who, in Haydn’s D major Cello Concerto, displayed a maturity and technical assurance far beyond her nineteen years.
In this remarkable performance (beautifully supported by Curtis and OOTS) the work’s technical difficulties were subsumed by the warmth, elegance and sheer poetry of van der Heijden’s playing. Even the obvious virtuosity of her own first-movement cadenza took the underlying poignancy of Haydn’s original material to new levels of expressive power, while the Rondo’s lilting charm and grace were delivered with the lightest of touches. Absolutely delightful."
The next concerts by OOTS are on 11 October (Artshouse Stratford) and 12 October (Town Hall Birmingham)
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