Cooler Classics, English Symphony Orchestra, Music

ESO “Concerts in Care Homes & Hospices” selected as one of Worcester Waitrose ‘Community Matters’ charities.

The English Symphony Orchestra’s “Concerts in Care Homes & Hospices” programme has been selected as one of the Worcester Waitrose ‘Community Matters’ charities.

So, if shopping at Waitrose in Worcester,  pop a green token in their box!

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ESO Wind Quartet.(From left: Catherine Handley, Graeme Adams,Sara Temple,Rosemary Cow.)(11th October 2018)

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ESO String Quartet.(From far side: Eleanor Cooke,Jacqui Allen,Helen Roberts,Corinne Frost) 12th April 2019.

(Both concerts at Offenham Village Hall for Evesham Dementia Action Alliance.)

English Symphony Orchestra, Events and Shows, In The Cooler, Music, NCCR

2019 Elgar Festival to Celebrate Centenary of Cello Concerto.

Edward Elgar Centenary

 

A four-day Worcestershire music festival, headlined by world-leading classical musician Rafael Wallfisch, is to celebrate Britain’s greatest composer, Sir Edward Elgar from the 30th of May to the 2nd of June, 2019.

At the heart of this summer’s Elgar Festival is the Cello Concerto, performed by the renowned artist in a gala concert at Worcester Cathedral to mark the centenary of the composer’s last masterwork.

And with the theme Elgar for Everyone, organisers are determined to engage people of all ages and walks of life in the legacy and music of Worcester’s greatest son. A jam-packed programme of activities includes the chance to play one of the great man’s own pianos.

Inaugurated last year as a two-day event and immediately gaining Critic’s Pick status with The Guardian and The Times, 2019’s festival has now expanded to four days, reflecting the bid to champion Sir Edward to as wide an audience as possible.

For Raphael Wallfisch the festival’s ethos couldn’t be better demonstrated than through the Cello Concerto, which was conceived during the dark years of the First World War as (he) Elgar recuperated from an operation. However it was initially a flop.

Raphael Wallfisch

Raphael Wallfisch (London 20 March 2013)

“Elgar was to conduct the London Symphony Orchestra and the young British cellist Felix Salmond but the rest of the programme at the Queen’s Hall that October 1919 was conducted by, Albert Coates, who was in fact my wife’s grandfather,” says Wallfisch. “Coates took the bulk of the rehearsal time, and a mere 30 minutes were left for the concerto.

“The performance was not good and the orchestra unprepared. The public and critics were puzzled and unsure about the new work and Salmond never played it again.
“It took a number of years and distance from the Edwardian era and World War 1 to realise how powerfully evocative and nostalgic the music is. I am greatly looking forward to performing this now beloved work in Worcester with the ESO.”

The June 1 gala evening, also sees a first-time collaboration between the English Symphony Orchestra and Worcester Cathedral Chamber Choir, for Donald Fraser’s acclaimed choral arrangement of Elgar’s Sea Pictures, and Vaughan Williams’s Fifth Symphony. Other festival concerts include performances from professional chamber choir The Proteus Ensemble, Elgar and Debussy sonatas from violin virtuoso Zoë Beyers and pianist Philip Moore, and a song recital featuring the original voice and piano version of Elgar’s Sea Pictures.

Alongside this busy programme are educational workshops, talks, poetry readings, a new version of the Elgar Trail, a Cello Day for families and young people and an Elgar for Everyone Family Concert (in Henry Sandon Hall) at Malvern College.

Elgar Festival Artistic Director Kenneth Woods, says:

“Every once in a while, we need to step back from a very popular work like the Cello Concerto and remind ourselves of why it resonates so deeply with so many millions of listeners. We want the 2019 Elgar Festival to create the conditions whereby even the most jaded Elgar fan can hear this most personal work with fresh ears.

“Elgar’s Cello Concerto was my pathway into the world of this great composer whose music has had such a profound influence on my life. “From my first encounter with it as a young cellist in America, it cast a spell on me, and after all the times I’ve since played it, heard it and conducted it, its power and honesty continues to amaze me. To conduct this 100th Anniversary performance in Elgar’s hometown with Raphael, in the shadow of the Malvern Hills, whose profile helped inspire the work’s opening melody, is more than a dream come true. I would never have dared dream something so crazy, so unlikely. I can’t wait.”

For a complete listing of events and booking information, go to www.elgarfestival.org or visit the event’s Facebook page.

English Symphony Orchestra, Interviews, Music, NCCR

“Cooler Classics” Monday 11th February 2019 (Rpt Sunday 17th February 2019 7-8am.)

This week’s “Cooler Classics ”  concludes the “Entartete Music” (or “Degenerate Music, according to the Nazis) that came out of the Holocaust. Kenneth Woods, principal conductor with the English Symphony Orchestra, continues with his selection and observations..and includes music by Hans Gal, Ernst Krenek and Erich Wolfgang Korngold.

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Hans Gal, Ernst Krenek,Erich Wolfgang Korngold & Kenneth Woods.

(Copyrights acknowledged)

Monday 11pm – Midnight.     www.nccr.co.uk

Cooler Classics, English Symphony Orchestra, Events and Shows, In The Cooler, Music

English Symphony Orchestra Bring Music of Wagner’s Epic Ring Cycle to the Swan Theatre,Worcester.(ESO)

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Matthew Sharp, Stacey Rishoi, Brennen Guillory & Kenneth Woods.(Copyrights acknowledged)

Worcestershire audiences will have a rare chance to hear some of the grandest music ever written, sung by some of the most powerful singers in the world, on the 16th of February, when the English Symphony Orchestra, hailed as the International Orchestra of Elgar Country, perform Act One of Richard Wagner’s opera The Valkyrie (Die Walküre) in Worcester’s Swan Theatre under the baton of Kenneth Woods.

Considered by many to be the most perfect act in all of opera, Act One of The Valkyrie opens the second part of Wagner’s epic Ring Cycle, and tells the story of the arrival of a mysterious stranger in a house haunted by tragedy and violence. “It has everything in it – redemption, love, hope, fear, loss, reunion and conflict,” says Kenneth Woods, the ESO’s Artistic Director since 2015.

Wagner was a composer known for composing epic works requiring enormous musical and technical resources, and his complete Ring Cycle, originally intended to be played over four nights, contains well over sixteen hours of music, and were written for an orchestra of over 100 musicians. In its complete form, The Valkyrie is an opera of nearly four hours duration which forms Part Two of the Ring Cycle.

“There is an inherent contradiction in Wagner’s music between the enormity of its scale and the intimacy of its content,” says Woods. “Act One of The Valkyrie, which is often done by itself, has only three characters, and it all takes place in one room of a house. We thought it would be very powerful to emphasise the intensely personal quality of this drama by bringing it into a smaller theatre where the audience can get much closer to the singers. In most opera theatres, there is a huge orchestra pit between the characters and the audience. Here, the connection is as close as we can make it, with the singers standing in front of the orchestra. Even for an avid opera-goer, this may be the closest one ever gets to sit to a great Wagnerian singer in full flight.”

The ESO have brought together an international cast for this performance. American mezzo-soprano Stacey Rishoi was winner of the 1999 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions and the Norman Treigle Award from New York City Opera. Among her many successes are Mahler’s Symphony No. 8 with Leonard Slatkin and the National Symphony Orchestra; Mahler’s Symphony No. 2 with the Pittsburgh and Virginia symphony orchestras; Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 with Virginia and National symphony orchestras, and her engagement by Kurt Masur and the New York Philharmonic for the world premiere of Michael Torke’s Four Seasons. Ms. Rishoi sings the role of Sieglinde. “Sieglinde’s story is one of self-discovery and renewal,” says Rishoi. “The opera begins with her trapped in a loveless and abusive marriage, and by the end of Act One, the choices she’s made and the actions she’s taken have not only changed her life, they have set in motion the end of the gods themselves.”

Tenor Brennen Guillory sings Siegmund, the mysterious stranger who arrives unannounced in the midst of a terrible storm. Guillory made his UK debut with the Orchestra of the Swan singing Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde in a performance recorded for SOMM Recordings which has drawn worldwide praise, and he has previously sung Britten’s Serenade for Tenor, Horn and Strings with the ESO in 2014. “Wagner envisioned a new kind of singer to portray the epoch-shaking heroes his music dramas depict,” notes Kenneth Woods. “He wanted his principal tenors to have a power and depth to their voice that was previously unknown in music, hence he described this ideal voice type as a “heroic tenor” (“Heldentenor”). Even 150 years later, real Heldentenors are rarer than an honest used car salesman. There have been times when even the greatest opera houses in the world couldn’t find a true Heldentenor, but Brennen is the real thing, one of only a handful in the world these days.”

Rounding out the international cast is ESO Associate Artist, Matthew Sharp, who sings the role of Sieglinde’s cruel husband, the hunter Hunding. “Hunding is not a sympathetic person at all,” says Sharp. “His relationship with his wife is depicted as being very deeply abusive and manipulative, but he sees himself as an honourable man living by a clear moral code. In the end, Hunding’s respect for the law, rather than his brutality, becomes Siegmund’s undoing.” Sharp is one of the UK’s most versatile musicians, equally acclaimed as a bass-baritone and cello soloist. His recording of music for solo cello and orchestra by Hans Gál with the ESO was a “Disc of the Week” in both The Times and the Guardian and was recently named a “Recording of the Year” by MusicWeb International.

For this concert, the ESO will be using the acclaimed version of Wagner’s score for chamber orchestra by Francis Griffin. “Wagner wrote for a huge orchestra of over a hundred musicians, where Griffith’s version uses about thirty,” explains Woods. “Of course, using smaller forces changes the sound of the orchestra, but while one loses some depth and grandeur, there is possibly more directness and intensity from the orchestra, and more of the vocal colour and nuance of the singers comes through. And the contribution of every player in the orchestra really, really counts.”

The first half of the concert sees Wagner in gentler spirits as the ESO musicians play his popular “Siegfried Idyll.” The work was written as a birthday present for his wife, and premiered in a surprise performance at sunrise in their house on her birthday. The work takes its title from the name of their newborn son, Siegfried, himself named after another character in the Ring Cycle: Siegfried, son of Siegmund and Sieglinde.

The ESO is the official orchestra of the City of Worcester and the Orchestra in Residence of The Elgar Festival, and resident orchestra of Worcester Live. This concert is generously supported by Arts Council England and the Bransford Trust.

 

 

English Symphony Orchestra, Events and Shows, Music, NCCR

English Symphony Orchestra begin 2019 with celebration of Dvořák in Malvern Theatres

Concert on 26 January to feature leading Czech violin superstar, Pavel Šporcl

After saying goodbye to 2018 with a sold-out performance of Messiah in Malvern Priory, the English Symphony Orchestra will begin 2019 with a celebration of the music of Antonin Dvořák in Malvern Theatres featuring today’s leading Czech violinist, Pavel Šporcl, in a performance of the Dvořák Violin Concerto, a work he has recorded to international acclaim with Vladimir Ashkenazy and the Czech Philharmonic. The concert also includes Dvořák’s melodious and moving Eighth Symphony and a selection of his vivacious Slavonic Dances under the baton of the ESO’s Artistic Director, Kenneth Woods.

Pavel Šporcl has appeared with major orchestras including the Orchestre National de France, Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, Russian National Symphony Orchestra, Orchestre de Paris, Czech Philharmonic Orchestra, Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, and the Hungarian Radio Orchestra, and has worked with leading conductors including Vladimir Ashkenazy, Libor Pesek, Jiri Belohlavek and Andris Nelsons.

Šporcl brings a lifetime of experience to the Dvořák Violin Concerto, a work written for Joseph Joachim and described by ESO Artistic Director Kenneth Woods as “one of the most perfect and beautiful of all Romantic violin concerti.” Gramophone Magazine said of his live recording of the Dvořák that “his tonal variety and expressiveness in the lyrical passages are …magnetic, and the lightness and rhythmic spring of his playing heighten the finale’s Slavonic dance character.”

 

Hailed as an artist with a human touch, Šporcl likes to go beyond the classical music scene and collaborates with many non-classical music artists. His projects Gipsy Way (2008) and Gipsy Fire (2014) with gipsy cimbalom band has been received with great enthusiasm in many countries including China, and was seen in almost 300 concerts by more than 120,000 people. “We’re very excited to be working with Pavel,” says Woods. “He shares with the ESO an ethos that says there ought not to be any divide between quality and accessibility in the arts. He’s passionate about making his music available to everyone, and that is why he is one of the most popular artists in Europe today.”

The second half of the concert will be given over to Dvořák’s Eighth Symphony, a work particularly close to Woods’ heart. “Dvořák 8 was the first score I bought as a young musician curious about the role of the conductor and the art of the composer,” says Woods. “It’s one of those pieces which has been with me at every step of my musical life as student and professional, cellist and conductor.”

Considered by many critics to be Dvořák’s most melodic symphony, Woods describes the Eighth as “one of those very special works in which an embrace of childlike wonder and simplicity underpins a work of deep emotions.” The concert opens with what Woods describes as a “grab bag” of Dvořák’s Slavonic Dances.

The close of 2018 saw the ESO receiving a new round of accolades for their work. Their recording of Woods’ orchestration of the Brahms Piano Quartet in A major was chosen as one of The Arts Desk’s 10 Best Classical CDs of 2018, their recording of the Hans Gàl Cello Concertino was a MusicWeb International Recording of the Year, and their CD “Songs for Strings,” which debuted as Classic FM CD of the Week in August, was chosen a Favourite CD of 2018 by Classical Candor.

The ESO’s next concert, on the 16th of February, will be a concert performance of Act I of Wagner’s Die Walküre on 16 February in Worcester’s Swan Theatre

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PAVEL ŠPORCL

CELEBRATING DVORÁK WITH PAVEL ŠPORCL IN MALVERN THEATRES

Saturday the 26th January 2019   7.45pm

Pre-concert talk at 6.45pm

Forum Theatre, Malvern Theatres, Grange Road, Malvern, WR14 3HB

English Symphony Orchestra
Kenneth Woods- Artistic Director
Pavel Šporcl – Violin

Pre-concert talk at 6:45

Programme

Dvořák – Slavonic Dances (selected)
Dvořák – Violin Concerto
Pavel Šporcl – Violin
Dvořák – Symphony No. 8

Join Kenneth Woods and the ESO for this celebration of the greatest of all Czech composers with today’s most popular and distinguished Czech violin virtuoso, Pavel Šporcl. Šporcl’s recording of his countryman’s concerto has been hailed by Gramophone as “…a warmly idiomatic reading…tonal variety and expressiveness….magnetic.”

The concert opens with a lively selection of Slavonic Dances and ends with a performance of Dvořák’s vibrant and tuneful Eighth Symphony.

TICKETS: from £17.36 (prices include 12% booking fee)

Book online via Malvern Theatres or via eso.co.uk

Phone Booking 01684 892277
In person at the Malvern Theatres box office, Grange Road, Malvern, WR14 3HB

Press enquiries and interview requests: noriko.tsuzaki@eso.co.uk

 

English Symphony Orchestra, In The Cooler, Interviews, Music, NCCR

NCCR “In The Cooler” Friday 14th December 2018 (7-9pm)

This Friday’s programme will include an interview with two “Westenders”, Linda Jarvis & Jill Nalder, ahead of their 16th December show at The Bacon Theatre Cheltenham… a moving conversation with Matthew Sharp (cellist, singer, actor, director) ..Kenneth Woods (ESO Principal Conductor) with some interesting rock music choices ,the legendary broadcaster Charles Nove…and US music Maestro Michael Wheatley..all being well!!

 

Westeenders Jill and Linda  matthewsharpmoodycellocolour 20180112_123200

Jill Nalder &  Linda Jarvis                                      Matthew Sharp    Kenneth Woods

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PSL & Charles Nove                                 Michael Wheatley

 

Be sure to listen on Friday 14th december 2018 on http://www.northcotswoldonline.com “In The Cooler” from 7pm..till 9 pm. Repeated Sunday morning 8-10, and available for a few more days on the “Listen Again” feature.