Review: Chichester Music Society: Virtuoso Finale!

Chris Hough, CMS Chairman writes:

It was lovely to see many of you at our concert on 14th November and enjoy a wonderful evening of music performed by Simon Callaghan & Miloš Milivojević, a brilliant end to our autumn series of concerts! A review of the concert by Chris Linford appears below.

As reported in our last newsletter, your committee is currently discussing proposals with the University Music Department for two workshop/concerts involving students and professional musicians, the first of these to take place in April next year. I will write again with further details next month.

I would like to take this opportunity of thanking you all for supporting the Society over the years and hope that you will continue to do so as we refresh our relationship with the University and continue to support the musical life of the City.

Pictured: Simon & Miloš, Virtuso Duo!

Concert Review – 14th November

The final concert of Chichester Music Society’s autumn programme was held at the University of Chichester on 14 November. The programme was fully in the tradition of the Society as this was an unusual concert, with a pianist, Simon Callaghan, and accordionist, Miloš Milivojević, a rare combination of musicians. 

The concert opened with a performance of two movements from the Six Duos Opus 8 composed by Camille Saint-Saens. The first movement chosen was a wonderful example of virtuosic piano playing by Simon Callaghan, with the whole keyboard being brought into use with flowing, racing, scales.

The second piece was from another French composer, Felix-Alexandre Guilmant, called Pastorale, where both musicians created a calm and tranquil scene in complete contrast to the opening piece. It was in this movement that for the first time one could hear the versatility of the accordion. 

The next piece by Guilmant was Scherzo Capriccioso, Opus 36 which lived up to its title, and became an animated conversation between the two instruments. it quickly became obvious that the two musicians worked so well together, and that they had such special talents on their own respective instruments.

Milos then stood for a Q and A session, where he explained how his accordion worked, taking questions throughout. Quickly the audience realised what a difficult and challenging instrument this was to play. The weight was 15 kg, there are buttons on each side, and on the left the musician cannot see them, and there are even buttons for his chin to push. It was an eye-opener for everyone, not least having it explained that it could produce sounds for instance, from the classical to jazz, from the organ to the oboe. We also learnt that in Serbia where Miloš grew up the accordion is popular in pop music and is widely available in schools where Miloš started to learn his trade.

The first half ended with Miloš playing Libertango by the 20th century South American composer Astor Piazzolla. This influential piece again showed the versatility of the instrument as the sounds produced were reminiscent of an orchestra playing music that crossed musical boundaries of jazz and classical. In fact, this tune transformed the tango from the “tango classical” to the “tango neuvo”, which is largely the tango we know today. The audience were very appreciative.

The second half opened with a piece by Franck. Simon Callaghan then spoke about the next piece, which was written by a little-known French composer, Nicode. This had been written in homage to Schumann and was also probably played by Clare Schumann. Simon, as a soloist, played both movements with consummate mastery of keyboard technique, in the first with its strong chords and flowing notation, and in the second, after a relatively tranquil start, the playful and spontaneous conclusion.

The concert ended with two final pieces by Guilmant, which were well chosen as a finale as they showed the two instruments to real effect. The first Priere, Opus 16 was delicately lyrical, and the final piece, Final alla Schumann ended with a helter-skelter musical experience.

As Chris Hough, Chairman of CMS said, “This was an amazing concert where both musicians showed consummate mastery of their instruments and played with imaginative and virtuoso skill. It was a fitting conclusion to our programme.”

Closing the evening, Jenny Linford, daughter of CMS (formally Funtington Music Group) founder Robert Headley, expressed her sincere thanks to the Chairman and to members of the committee for all their hard work in continuing to run the Society since David Tinsley the longstanding Chairman retired in 2018. 

Chris Linford

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