Chichester Music Society’s June newsletter

This month’s edition discusses:

• Our excellent start to the year with the Navarra Quartet opening the special season celebrating the 250th anniversary of Beethoven’s birth. Their concert was too early to appear in our new Newsletter and the press review of their outstanding performance.
• The impact of the Coronavirus pandemic on our programme. The CMS Committee held a virtual meeting on 4th May & discussed this and the effect on members subscriptions.
• This year’s Summer Buffet Concert which was to mark the launch of CMS will be postponed until June 2021.
• How we are helping to develop the musicians of the future through our bursary scheme, prizes and instrument library.

Intense Navarra!

The Navarra String Quartet opened the Funtington Music Group’s 2020 Programme with a concert at the University of Chichester on 15 January.

The concert opened with a performance of Andreas Romberg’s String Quartet Opus 59 No 2. Romberg was a contemporary of Beethoven, but his music is far from well-known, and is still based in the pre-Beethoven era. However, the piece was more than a suitable introduction to the programme which was commemorating the 250th Anniversary of Beethoven’s birth, and the audience certainly enjoyed the performance.

The Navarra, with Magnus Johnston [violin], Marije Johnston [violin], Sasha Botha [viola], and Brian O’Kane [cello], gave a highly polished interpretation, as the music rotated from the joyous introduction in the first two movements to a melancholic start of the third movement, before it moved into a more romantic phase, and concluded with the capricious finale of the fourth.

The second piece was Three Idylls by Frank Bridge. This English composer wrote the piece in 1906, as a gift to his future wife. Perhaps he was in a melancholy mood as the first two Idylls are rather dark, whereas the last is animated and lifts the entire work out of its moody introspection. The Navarra caught the spirit of the music absolutely and were particularly adept at portraying the transforming emotions from frost and winter in the first two movements, to the sun and summer of the third.

The climax of the evening was a stunning performance of Beethoven’s String Quartet in F, Opus 59, No 1 “Razumovsky”. This was a revolutionary work when first played. Passages of sublime beauty are often offset by rough hews, spectacular fiddling, tension-filled sections, and striking changes in colour and mood. The Navarra were excellent, playing with an energy and intensity where it was particularly noticeable how they listened to each other and responded effectively to the challenging development of the music.

The audience were extremely appreciative, particularly enjoying the final movement, which probably rates as one of Beethoven’s most celebrated. Chris Hough, Chairman of Funtington Music Group, said, “This was an outstanding concert and we are so grateful to the Navarra for their intense and committed playing, and particularly for commemorating Beethoven in such style and in such a memorable manner.”

Chris Linford, 16th January 2020

Chairman’s Blog

The Coronavirus continues to have a major impact on all social activities, especially the performing arts. We unfortunately had to cancel the Student Showcase Competition on 15th April and have made an award to all finalists due to appear. The recital by Ashworth & Rattenbury Guitars has been postponed until 29th September. We are postponing our special CMS launch event due to take place on 10th June until 9th June 2021.

We are hopeful that our programme will resume after the summer break. If this is not possible we will try wherever we can to postpone and re-arrange events to the 2021season. Members will be offered full credit for any events not taking place to be used against next year’s subscription. Further details will be announced in due course.

These are very upsetting times for all of us. We are fortunate that CMS has a strong financial position and an excellent relationship with the University of Chichester which should help us to weather this unprecedented storm and continue our contribution to the musical life of the City.

Do take care and look after yourselves. I look forward to seeing you all again soon!

Charity and Bursary News

Last year seven students received bursary awards to help them pursue post-graduate musical studies and we are currently in the process of purchasing two natural trumpets for the University Chamber Orchestra.

Rachael Ford is a recent recipient of a CMS bursary. She thanks all Society members who contribute to the bursary scheme explaining that: “I am currently halfway through a two-year Masters in Instrumental Performance at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire specialising on cornet. I am being taught under two of the finest cornet players, Richard Marshall, who is currently principal cornet of the world-famous Black Dyke Band, and Ian Porthouse, who is an award-winning cornet player and also professional conductor conducting one of the most successful bands, Tredegar Band.

“This postgraduate course has enabled me to receive specialist tuition from leading UK and internationally-renowned performers, including cornet soloist and principal trumpet of the London Symphonic Orchestra, Philip Cobb. Not only do I have frequent opportunities to perform, including performance classes and Brass Band concerts, but I also have chances to take modules which allow me to concentrate on aspects of becoming a professional musician. These include the ‘Career Development’ module, which allowed me to reflect ambitiously yet realistically on my professional aspirations, and, additional ‘Professional Development’ Options, including the ‘Self-promotion project’ and ‘Professional Music Criticism’.

“I am grateful for these generous bursary awards from the Chichester Music Society which have helped significantly to assist me through my Masters course. These bursary awards will significantly assist me to enrich my musical career aspirations of being a professional musician. It has given me the opportunity to work with top-level musicians, with the exposure to professional views through individual tuition and masterclasses with distinguished visiting guest musicians.”

The newsletter’s must-reads, recommended listens, local musical events

Local events continue to be severely disrupted by Covid19. This year’s Summer Buffet Concert on 10th June marking the launch of CMS has had to be cancelled. Next year’s Summer Buffet Concert on 9th June will be a special event providing an opportunity to celebrate the launch of CMS, so put it in your diary! We hope to present Erin Alexander and Nick Miller in their special show during the year.

Autumn Season

We are hoping to run our Autumn season as planned. Our first event on 9th September features Pavlos Carvalho discussing and playing Bach’s Cello suites (details below).

As previously announced, the programme by Ashworth & Rattenbury Guitars, due to take place on 13th May, has been postponed until Tuesday 29th September 2020. This concert will feature duets performed on three types of instrument: the Baroque guitar, the Early Romantic guitar, and the modern classical guitar.

In October, Angela Zanders will be continuing our Beethoven theme with an examination of his life and place in the history of Western music. This year’s Christmas Special on 9th December with David Owen Norris discussing Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata should also be firmly in everyone’s diary!

As noted above, if we are not able to present our events as planned, wherever possible they will be postponed until next year.

Next event: 9th September – Pavlos Carvalho, Bach Cello Suites

Pavlos Carvalho is probably best known to CMS members as the cellist with Ensemble Reza. However, he is a distinguished soloist and his recitals of the Bach Cello Suites have become something of a special feature of the Festival of Chichester. Anyone fortunate enough to attend the concerts at St John’s Chapel will need no encouragement to come and hear him at the University.

In addition to fine musicianship, when talking about these wonderful pieces he is able to add many insights which bring them to life. In an interview with Phil Hewitt which appeared in the Mid Sussex Times a few years ago, he noted that “You get into the mind frame if you play Bach. There is perhaps a difficulty particularly with the awareness of period performance, but for me, whether consciously or unconsciously, it is all about the clarity of the voicing. Even when he is writing for the cello, he is writing for different voices, and the challenge is to make the voicing clear. If you look at the score, you are faced with a barrage of notes. You have to find out which ones are of primary importance, which ones of secondary importance. The idea is to put in that hard work so the end result appears simple. But you will always see new things. You can spend your entire life trying to find out the definitive version, but you won’t. That’s both the joy and the frustration!”

This is a great opportunity to hear him in this remarkable music.

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