“The five step roadmap given to us last week”, Stephen Maddock tells me, “could have been written by any of us on the back of a fag packet in March. It gave no details, no timescale and no cash.” The Chief Executive of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra is by no means universally critical of the authorities, praising Darren Henley at the Arts Council and saying that “the Chancellor has played a blinder in the last six months”. But his patience is beginning to run thin as he plans half a dozen different scenarios for the CBSO’s future in the next six months. It’s not just that there’s a vacuum of information: “because that implies a degree of neutrality. It’s like a sort of Pullman-esque parallel universe”.Live performance is in mortal peril. Now is the time to shout.
Read more from David Karlin at Bachtrack here
24 - 26 July 2020
"This year the Corbridge Chamber Music Festival will be streamed in real time on the Corbridge Chamber Music Festival YouTube channel. Recordings made especially for the festival, in our own homes, will be brought to you online, to enjoy in the safety and comfort of your own.
There is no charge to access these concerts but we would be hugely grateful for donations to contribute towards the cost of producing this event and to ensure a secure future for our festival."
Gould Piano Trio
Robert Plane, clarinet
Elias String Quartet
Heidi Rolfe, piano
Florence Plane, bassoon
Kate Gould, cello
David Stark, double bass
Piers Hellawell, composer-in-residence
Kenji Wilkie, dancer
Sinéad Morrissey, poet
There's not so much about the classical music world in this article from the Guardian, but keep reading...
"In the classical music world, things are just as uncertain. Outside Britain’s big “portfolio” orchestras, most musicians are precariously employed. One conductor I recently spoke to drew my attention to an awkward fact: that audiences for classical music tend to be older, and will therefore be anxious about any return to past concert-going habits. He also mentioned his work with a choir in Yorkshire that has lost two of its members to Covid-19, and how important collective singing is to so many people’s lives. That simple pleasure, he reminded me, is suddenly reducible to “people in a room where everyone’s breath is repeatedly coming out”.
Of course, to write about this in the midst of an international emergency might seem misplaced. But beyond the superstars, a lot of musicians are actually more vulnerable than people in other professions. To help them, you can buy the odd CD and record from an independent shop by mail order. Have a look at Bandcamp, the platform for independent musicians that supports them to a much greater extent than the services hosted by corporate record companies and big tech firms. The Musicians’ Union is hosting a crowdfunder for members facing hardship, offering emergency payments of up to £200. But all of us should also think about the wider context of this cultural crisis. Amazon’s share price has recently rocketed by a third. Netflix, all of whose offerings feature an ocean of music, is in the middle of a boom. Big tech, which has built so much of its power on downloading and streaming, will emerge from this period comparatively unscathed. Somewhere in those facts there may lie the key to how we keep music and musicians going, and avoid a dreadful silence that would make this crisis even harder to bear." (John Harris)
Thank you to The Telegraph for this - and you'll need a subscription to read the full article online, but...
"Music to our ears: how Britain's rallying around the classical music community
In these dark times for orchestras, Chipping Campden is showing the way. Ivan Hewett reports
Read the article here
Some potentially positive effects of the corona virus on classical music from Classic FM
- Classical music is going online and being seen by more people
-Arts funding is in the spotlight and carries an important message
- Music education is at the forefront
-People have the chance to help musicians through hard times
Thank you Classic FM!
Sadly another cancellation - but good comes out of bad once again...
At this moment we should have been taking our seats for the opening concert of the 2020 festival! Toll Gavel United Church would have been a-buzz with chatter and anticipation, and the sound of performers warming up would have been drifting through from the green room. This afternoon we would have had the chance to hear the concluding performance of our primary schools’ project, the children’s voices filling the Minster as they’ve already been filling their own school halls in rehearsals. The wonderful Katy Hamilton would have challenged us to think about how creative process and personal suffering can go hand in hand (oh how ironic at this time!). Our free rush-hour concert would have taken us to the heart of our Celtic theme, and would have been followed by a jovial meal at what is surely the best branch of Carluccio’s in the country (for whom we keep our fingers firmly crossed this week….). A glass would doubtless have been raised in the East Riding Theatre’s bar before our Poulenc concert there, and then we would have made our way back to the Minster, whose late night events have become such a treasured part of New Paths, where the day would have ended with Libby and Maria playing some of Bach's most profound music. And that would have been just Day One!
Sadly it was not to be, and we – like you – have been mourning what might have been. But one of our artists wrote to us this week, “I'm so sorry that your wonderful events can't happen this spring. But spring will come again.” How right he is! Let us all hold onto that in this strange and difficult time!
We have been absolutely overwhelmed by kind words and generous donations in the past weeks, and are enormously grateful for both, in equal measure. We have been reminded what a community New Paths is: performers, volunteers, audience and partners all come together in such a special way, and we’ve been touched by the kindness shown to us by all of those people.
Whilst nothing is the same as a festival in person, we thought at least we would offer a little reading material to fill the hours of self-isolation! We have uploaded the programme notes for a small representative sample of our concerts, along with links to YouTube performances and Spotify playlists (take your pick or listen to both and compare!). We hope you enjoy discovering some new music this way, and hope it helps alleviate the boredom.
Click here for reading materials and playlists
We wish you well at this strange time, and look forward to seeing you again once circumstances have changed.
With all best wishes
Roland and Libby
Many thanks to Bachtrack for this:
For us and for many of you, the world has gone dark. One by one, as concert halls and opera houses have closed, each has announced that they would make performances from their archive available online, free of charge. These are performances from which they would have earned royalties.
We have been adding these events – over 500 so far – into our video database in order to support everyone in this industry we care about so deeply – again, free of charge. The videos are really good quality and we think your main problem will be how to sift through them and not miss anything wonderful. So for the duration of Covid-19, we will send you a weekly update with our pick of what's on offer to watch online both when you want (on demand) or at a set time (streamed).
As you watch these performances and you mourn the cancellation of yet another event for which you had tickets, we also make a special plea: donate your ticket price to the performers who have lost their earnings. Many will have no income during this period, yet they are gifting you access to their best work. We are truly humbled by the generosity of everyone in this industry and urge you to support them in any way you can. Tweet about the performances, share your thoughts on Facebook and on Instagram so that everyone will appreciate what the arts offer us.
When this dreadful time is over, we want larger numbers of people to gravitate towards live performance to enjoy the unique thrill and wonder that it inspires.
Alison and David Karlin
Dear Friends and Leamington Music concert-goers,
It is with great sadness that we announce that, as with many other Festivals in May and beyond, the Leamington Music Festival cannot go ahead as planned – Warwick District Council has closed all its venues, including the Royal Pump Rooms, for an undetermined period, and with the country now effectively in lockdown we cannot say with any certainty that this situation will have changed in five weeks’ time.
Your health and well-being are of utmost importance to us; so, too, your cultural health and so we are currently exploring the possibility of some of the Festival going ahead in late September. We are talking to all the artists and trying to form a mini-Festival based on the May programme.
The great news to keep you going is that Tasmin Little has announced today that she will be postponing her retirement from the concert platform, and from the start has particularly wanted to come back to Leamington one last time!
In the short term, while we are still in conversation with the box office and Warwick District Council, we ask those of you who have already bought tickets to please hold on them and look out for our updates on where we go from here… we hope to have news for you very soon!
We trust that you appreciate our positive efforts to keep a cheerful note in these difficult times and to offer our wonderful audience a glimpse of the musical future ahead - please do keep in touch with us as we will with you, and stay safe and well in the meantime.
With our very best wishes,
The Leamington Music Team
A festival that sparkled: two weeks on
A fortnight has elapsed since the town of Beverley was swept up in the whirlwind that was the 2019 Beverley Chamber Music Festival. Featuring exceptionally high-quality musicians in profoundly moving performances, the festival was noteworthy in particular for its large, warm, engaged audiences – some of the biggest in its 27-year history. This was no more the case than in the closing concert, The Lark Ascending, which saw St Mary’s packed to the rafters – lifelong music-lovers cheek by jowl with those who'd never set foot in a classical music event before, in turn alongside children taking advantage of our Golden Ticket scheme – all a-buzz to hear Jennifer Pike and Martin Roscoe. From the audience’s response it was clear they were not disappointed!
Earlier in the day, only fourteen minutes after stepping off the train at Beverley station, Jennifer had played to the team of forty teenage string players who were in the middle of the Inspire! workshop. Led by a team of players from the BBC Symphony Orchestra, headed up by cellist Michael Atkinson, this day brought together young musicians from across Yorkshire – students from ArtsForm Leeds joining their counterparts from the East Riding Youth Orchestra. Feedback told us the students left ‘buzzing’ and ‘inspired’, and told us how valuable they had found the day. Certainly the audience of friends, family, and festivalgoers who gathered to hear the group’s performance in the Minster were struck by the committed playing and heartfelt sound of these young players, in music ranging from Britten to Piazzolla. Have a look at the photos of the day which feature in our festival photo gallery, now live on our website.
View festival gallery
The Inspire! day was one of several ways in which the festival extended its reach this year: another innovation was the new night-time event, where any fears that audiences might not come out for a 10pm concert were assuaged by the queues to get in the door! Two particularly profound moments of the festival came when each of the two Co-Artistic Directors played solo piano music: Libby with Bach Preludes and Fugues on Thursday lunchtime, and Martin with Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata in this late-night concert, preceded by a touching spoken tribute to the late Dr Anthony Hedges, composer and long-time supporter of the festival. The two pianists had also taken the chance to play to local children, performing to St Mary’s Primary School – whose students learnt a Tudor dance to Warlock’s Capriol Suite, and were practically dancing too to Rossini’s William Tell Overture!
Our two festival talks were hugely popular, and it was a privilege for the town of Beverley to welcome two such distinguished speakers. Marina Frolova-Walker and Katy Hamilton held their full houses spellbound as they discussed Shostakovich and Elgar respectively, and both entered into the spirit of the festival with gusto. We’re very much looking forward to welcoming Katy back in April to give another talk as part of the Spring Festival…. Watch this space!
We were fortunate to welcome two outstanding ensembles to the festival. The shorter of the two visits was from Onyx Brass, whose time in Beverley may have been fleeting but whose impact was significant! The mellifluous tone of the group fitted the acoustic of St Mary’s like a glove, players and audience alike reveling in this wonderful match, and the combination of comedic anecdotes from the players and a programme covering over 400 years was a treat.
The longer residency of course featured the Brodsky Quartet, who performed three concerts for us, collaborating variously with Martin, Libby, and with cellist Laura van der Heijden. The Brodskys were absolutely at the heart of the festival, and the intensity of their Elgar performances, the utter serenity of their Schubert Quintet with Laura, and the hilarity of their Boccherini japes will stay with us for a long time. They too posted a video after their Beverley visit. Following their moving rendition of Shostakovich’s Quintet with Libby, the group explained that the funeral of a young family friend had been taking place as they played, and they wished to dedicate their encore – Schumann’s Träumerie – to the memory of that boy.
Encores were a pleasing thread through the festival. Jennifer and Martin brought our Elgar journey to a close with Salut d’amour, whilst Laura and Libby brought our Russian theme to a close with Rachmaninoff’s Vocalise. This followed hot on the heels of a virtuosic and lyrical performance of the Rachmaninoff Sonata – a real tour de force from both players.
We were honoured to host a world premiere: American composer Juliana Hall’s Godiva (monodrama for mezzo soprano and piano on a text by Caitlin Vincent) was a characterful retelling of the traditional Godiva legend, from the viewpoint of the woman herself. The work was commissioned by mezzo-soprano Kitty Whately; she reprises the piece in the Oxford Lieder Festival, which opens today. Another favourite composer in this programme proved to be Rebecca Clarke, alongside which were the ever-popular songs by Brahms and Bridge, featuring also the beautiful playing of violist Sarah-Jane Bradley.
An added dimension to the festival this year was the chance to celebrate the work of Beverley man Andrew Anderson, whose works have graced the South Transept of St Mary’s in our first art exhibition. We are thrilled so many people enjoyed the chance to view these remarkable linocuts. The prints of The Rock of Cashel have been sold, but it is still possible to purchase St Barnabus, if anyone has fallen in love with this magnificent work – and, crucially, has a 7’ space for him!
All told, there was a palpable buzz as the town was swept up by the energy of the festival. As well as many local people, the audience comprised people from all over the country – a number of whom discovered this hidden gem of a corner of England for the first time. The bunting fluttered, the audience cheered, and the fairy lights sparkled.
The 2020 Beverley Chamber Music Festival takes place 23rd - 26th September. If you can’t wait til then, join us for our Spring Festival, which runs 2nd - 5th April.
Jim Page, who put together the Chamber Music Plus brochures for many years, has sent us this history of the treasured publication:
History of Chamber Music Plus
"When I retired from teaching in 1989, I was roped in as Regional Secretary of the West Midlands Region of the NFMS (now Making Music) and with a lively committee, go-ahead chairmen in Jennie McGregor-Smith and Malcolm Rowson and shrewd treasurers in Ken Hewitt and Mike Spencer the committee organised a succession of enterprising regional events. Over a period of 17 years, workshops for singers were held annually led by all the top choral conductors of the day. John Rutter, who had just written his Requiem, was the first in 1993 and he generously agreed to give the workshop without a fee, so with over 400 singers signed up at £7.50 including lunch, success was guaranteed. What’s more, a healthy surplus resulted and with this money in the bank an ambitious project was planned for 1996 to celebrate NFMS’s Diamond Jubilee by giving simultaneous performances of Verdi’s Requiem in the three cathedrals of the region with the three top amateur orchestras. Michael Lloyd conducted Chandos Symphony Orchestra in Worcester, Nicholas Kok the Birmingham Philharmonic in Lichfield (rehearsed by Paul Spicer) and Guy Woolfenden the Warwickshire Symphony Orchestra in Coventry. Six rehearsals were held in each region and with almost 1,000 participants the occasion was uplifting for both performers and audience.
In its early days Arts Council grants were distributed by West Midlands Arts but its lack of understanding of the work done by NFMS Societies led to many crazy decisions. I remember uproar when the City of Birmingham Choir was refused a grant towards performing Tippett’s Child of Our Time. Yet, perversely the next year Birmingham Singers were given £5,000 towards a performance of Elijah! We published a Regional Newsletter three times a year and in the 49 issues that I edited there was much interesting local news and reports on concerts that Societies put on – some sent in, some written by me - and many a Saturday evening I spent listening to performances of very varied quality. In my mind I used to divide choral societies into four divisions and it always puzzled me as to why some “lower division” societies stuck with conductors who were both uninspiring and technically pretty incompetent!
We used to have Regional Committee meetings twice a year and travel expenses were paid to those who claimed (for which Head Office reimbursed the region) but this came to an end when the Yorkshire Region’s claims became so over-the-top that the new NFMS Director decided to abolish regional committees. This was a great pity as we had done much good work in the West Midlands (including buying a Steinway Model B which was available for hire in the region) and holding singing workshops for so many years. In regional committee meetings Choral Society representatives were in the majority, so inevitably many of the discussions were irrelevant to music society members. Hence the decision to have meetings of Music Societies on their own!
In 1992 (27 years ago!) this group decided to publish a booklet of chamber music concerts in the region and called it “Chamber Music Choice”. It featured concerts put on by NFMS Societies in the region and it was sad that once-successful organisations such as Birmingham Chamber Music Society, Droitwich Concert Club, Bromsgrove Junior Concert Club, Bromsgrove’s Mixing Music, Friends of Dudley Music, Walsall Music Circle and Wolverhampton Music Society have fallen by the wayside. In that 1992 issue there were 59 concerts listed, but in 2010 it was decided that entries would be accepted from non-NFMS Societies. By then NFMS had changed its name to Making Music and in the current issue, edited with panache by Jill Davies and Chris O’Grady, there are almost 300 concerts listed plus 24 full page advertisements. What’s more they also produce a Northern edition and with 11,000 of each brochure printed and a mailing to 1,114 addresses in the central region and 567 in the north they do an amazing job. So in those statistics I think we have the answer to those who say chamber music is dying!"
Blog written by Jill Davies, who runs the Severn Muses project as well as Chamber Music Plus.
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