For the latest amateur classical music listings in and around Portsmouth, including Fareham, Petersfield, Chichester, Havant and Hayling Island

Chichester Music Press: a new publication by Rosemary Field

Please see the linked page below for this new publication: Veni Creator Spiritus by Rosemary Field (formerly sub-organist at Portsmouth Cathedral). It’s a fusion of traditional plainsong and a George Herbert text from 1633. The piece was written for what was then the Parish Choir at Portsmouth Cathedral, about 20 years ago.

Read about Neil Sands and Chichester Music Press.


Petersfield Musical Festival moves to online retrospectives in 2021

This time last year, preparations for the 2020 Festival’s ten concerts were in full swing and ticket sales were building by the day.

But the news was becoming threatening, and we were only three concerts into the Festival when the curtain suddenly had to come down.

Since then music-lovers have been sadly starved of live performances and musicians have struggled to make ends meet.

Donate to support musicians.

Festival online 12-20 March

Open a daily email to revisit the Festival’s mix of classical and popular music, old friends and new discoveries, inspirational professionals, dedicated local amateurs
and keen, talented youngsters.

PMF’s online retrospectives will feature many of the 73 Festival concerts presented in the Festival Hall and St Peter’s Church between 2011 and 2019.

These are not recordings of the concerts, but expect articles, anecdotes, reviews, photographs and links to websites where you can hear and see more about each year’s music and performers.

They won’t be in chronological order, so discover the featured year when you log in.

Join us from Friday 12 to Saturday 20 March for a daily reminder of the variety and excitement of nine different Festivals!

Donate to Petersfield Musical Festival


Portsmouth Chamber Music Series new dates

I confirm that our February and March concerts also will not go ahead as planned.

However the Guildhall is now hoping to reopen in April. On that basis I have two new dates for you. The Doric Quartet (originally on 22 Feb.) will now come on Wednesday 12 May, and Ensemble 360 (originally on 25 Jan.) will come on Monday 14 June. The Arcadia Quartet is more difficult because they are from Romania and March was going to be part of a UK tour, but I am in discussions with them as to whether we can find a summer date or have to postpone until next year.

Any tickets for the Jan. and Feb. concerts will automatically be valid on the new dates. I would be very grateful if those who have purchased tickets for the March concert or season tickets could hold on for now until the situation is more certain. If this is a problem, however, please let me know and I will sort out.


Festival of Chichester eyes up summer possibilities with major IT upgrade

The Festival of Chichester is planning confidently for the future with a major IT investment – thanks to generous grant support from Chichester District Council.

CDC is giving the festival a grant of £1,600 towards the cost of a new website and a new vastly-improved event registration system.

Festival chairman Phil Hewitt said: “This is brilliant news for the festival in such an uncertain year – and we are hugely grateful to the district council for recognising the importance of what we do, not just in Chichester but in the wider district. The new systems have been masterminded by our committee member Simon O’Hea who has done a wonderful job in envisaging just how much more efficient we really ought to be… and are now going to be!”

Read more at the link below.


Welcome to Ports Fest

After 20 years of being Portsmouth Festivities, we are rebranding the cultural festival to Ports Fest. With the festival’s ever-evolving reputation in the city, we want to refresh our look and name to be on-trend and expand on our offering to the public. Ports Fest has been a well-known abbreviation for the festival for many years as our hashtag.

In the past we have been grateful to host hundreds of well-known artists, speakers, and authors, as well as involving thousands of local community residents, groups and school pupils. As well we have created fun thematic programmes to get the public involved with, such as Play Code City, The World’s Smallest Escape Room and 20 Love.

Although we had to cancel our festival in 2020 this has given us the chance to reflect on our work and think about ways to deliver an outdoor weekend festival in 2021 that will involve as many young people and as much of the Portsmouth community as possible.

The dates for this year’s festival will be July 2nd-4th and the theme for this year “Remember, Reimagine, Reset”.

We will be launching the programme for this year’s festival in May. Please be assured that the festival remains aware of the current restrictions and will always adhere to these forms of guidance locally and nationally, keeping everyone’s health and safety at the main core of this festival going ahead. “Our priority is to work around the stipulations in order to keep absolutely everyone safe. In light of this we are keeping positive that we will be able to deliver Ports Fest this summer. By then we will all need some live arts and cultural sustenance” Erica Smith, Festival Director.

In these unprecedented times, we want to bring to the community this Summer some fun-filled events for all to enjoy. Despite this, we are future planning and hopeful that our fuller programme will be back for 2022.

Head to our new website www.portsfest.co.uk to find out more on what we do and will continue to provide to the community of Portsmouth and the surrounding areas.


The 2021 Petworth Festival previewed

We are doubtless far from being the first to wish you a happy new year, but a happy new year to you all the same from the Petworth Festival team. We really hope that 2021 will turn out to be a different year to 2020. I am sure we are all agreed on that!

But if 2020 was memorable for anything other than the pandemic I hope that most if not all of you will have taken something positive from the Petworth Festival Autumn Special, the fortnight of ‘almost live but definitely online’ events we ran towards the end of October. The response received at the time was overwhelmingly positive, and we came away feeling we had definitely done something to help fill the terrible void Covid-19 has brought to our lives. We also found out just how welcome was the opportunity for the performers and authors whose livelihoods have otherwise been so dramatically affected by the lockdown.

2021 is now upon us of course, and in the same way that we negotiated last year’s white-water ride, we are again looking to lay on a festival we can be proud of and one that continues to build on the momentum we have so happily gathered in the last few years. At the time of writing we can’t wholly guarantee that all our plans will all see the light of day, but in the sincere hope that they will, we invite you to join us at 7pm on Tuesday 2 February for an online event that will give you the first glimpse of what we are planning for July.

‘The 2021 Festival Previewed’ will run for roughly 35 minutes and will tell you where we are, what our plans are and, crucially, invite your continued support. As we said repeatedly at the time, the 2020 festival was only made possible by the support of our Sponsors, Patrons and Friends, and we hope that this event will both whet your appetite for our summer plans, and encourage you to continue or develop your support for what we are trying to achieve in and for Petworth. If you can’t join us on Tuesday, the video will be available on www.petworthfestival.org.uk until 31 March.

So do join us to see some clips of ‘the best of 2020’ as well as to meet some of the performers chalked in for July.


Why live-streaming will never beat live performance…

Chichester Chamber Concerts should have been starting the New Year with a visit from The Bach Players on Thursday 28 January.

Inevitably, it’s not happening – which is hardly the best possible start to The Bach Players’ 25th anniversary year.

But leader Nicolette Moonen (violin) is looking on the bright side. The concert has been provisionally rescheduled to take place on 1 July.

Read more at the link below.


Lockdown organ recital live from St Mary’s Petworth

Matthew Cooke, organist at St Mary’s Petworth, is offering a fundraising live-streamed organ recital from the church.

Featuring French, German and English music, it will take place on Sunday, January 31 at 5pm and will be live streamed simultaneously on St Mary’s Petworth Facebook page and the church’s YouTube channel.

If you can’t listen at the time, you will be able to catch up with it after the event. Hopefully this event will go some way to helping to lift people’s spirits at this time of the pandemic. The programme will last around 35 minutes and is shown below.

The recital will be free to view – however, donations to church funds would be much appreciated at this time – these may be made via the link on St Mary’s website.

PROGRAMME
Coronation March (Le Prophete) Meyerbeer (transcribed by Bryan Hesford)
Chorale Prelude on ‘Abridge’ C S Lang
Violin Concerto in G: 1st movement (Allegro) Prince Johann Ernst of Saxe Weimar (transcribed by J S Bach)
Double Violin Concerto: 2nd movement (Largo ma non tanto) J S Bach (transcribed by Dom Gregory Murray)
Fanfare: ‘Shine, Jesus, Shine’ Christopher Tambling
Le jardin suspendu Jehan Alain
Chanson d’amour Gabriel Faure (transcribed by Martin Setchell)
Litanies Jehan Alain

Read more at the link below.


Chichester Music Society’s February Newsletter

The Covid crisis continues to have a major impact on our programme schedule, with our February and March events postponed until next year. Further details are set out in the Chairman’s Blog, below.

Whilst our February event with Ensemble Reza cannot go ahead, we are pleased to present an update on the activities of one of our favourite groups below.
We are hoping that the Student Showcase in April can proceed as planned. Brief details of all our forthcoming events appear below.

Chris Hough, chair, writes:

It is with real regret that I have to inform you that we are not able to proceed with our concert on Wednesday 10th February. Due to the continuing Covid crisis and lockdown, CMS has had to postpone the event with Ensemble Reza until next year. This event has been re-scheduled to the 10th February 2022. Performers are finding that it is impossible to rehearse in groups and prepare for their concerts and additionally in our case, the University is working remotely with its students with no visitors allowed on campus until mid-February at the earliest.

For the same reasons, the March concert with the University Chamber Orchestra has also been postponed until next year. Our AGM has been postponed until the event with Ashworth & Rattenbury Guitars on 12th May. As was the case last year, members will receive full credit for the postponed events against the cost of next year’s renewal.

Your committee is working hard behind the scenes to ensure a full and rewarding programme of events in 2022. We are planning to include some new faces as well as established friends including the Rosamunde Trio and Margaret Fingerhut.

These are very difficult times and I know how much we all want to get back to normal and enjoy our live music and socialising once again. Do take care and look after yourselves. I look forward to seeing you all again soon!

Ensemble Reza are special friends of ours & we always look forward to their visits which deliver inspired and committed performances. It is very disappointing that we are unable to see them this year. They have an excellent website & members are advised to take a look and check out the many opportunities to hear them perform.  http://www.ensemblereza.com

Hannah Carter, their Managing Director writes:

“As we pass yet another milestone of a missed sextet concert Pavlos reminded us all this weekend of a happier January, when we popped up to London to perform at St Thomas’s Hospital.  We are really looking forward to a time when we can get back together again and take our music out to audiences locally and further afield!

“Talking about further afield, this Tuesday our Midday Music concert will be streamed live from Spain as we are joined once more by the brilliant accordionist Iñigo Mikeleiz Berrade.  This concert will feature music from across the world including Germany, Russia, Brazil and Argentina.

“This Sunday 31st January, we are very excited to launch our unique programme of rehearsals for our Community Orchestra.  We are keen to welcome both our regular members to the orchestra and any new players, so please help us to spread the word by forwarding our newsletter to your friends and family. Thank you!

Finally, we are always keen to support the local Haywards Heath Music Society.  Pavlos Carvalho and Louisa Lam will launch their 79th season of concerts with a pre-recorded programme of music to celebrate Beethoven’s 250th anniversary on Saturday 6th February.  For more information and tickets visit the Society’s website.”


The Renaissance Choir is set to perform more lesser-known music from the Renaissance

The Flemish Phillipe de Monte (1521 – 1603) was one of the late-Renaissance period’s most prolific composers. The Renaissance Choir is set to mark the quincentenary of his birth by rehearsing three of his motets and recording at least one of them at home for public consumption.

He was a fine craftsman as well as being (by all accounts) a lovely man. Some scholars consider him to be as great a composer as Lassus and Palestrina, but he is relatively unknown, despite the fact that he wrote about 40 masses and 1,100 secular madrigals.

He grew up in Mechelen and was a member of the Franco-Flemish School. In his later life he worked in the Habsburg courts both in Vienna and Prague. Lassus says he brought the best-available musicians to the Holy Roman Emperor Maximillian’s court.

He visited England briefly, where he complained that Philip II’s Chapel Royal choir was filled with Spaniards. He met William Byrd and they exchanged pieces based on their shared views on the subjugation of one faith by another. Super flumina Babylonis (double SATB choir) – one of the pieces that the choir is currently learning – is a companion work to Ne Irascaris (a favourite of the choir), with its gentle impassioned crying about the subjugation of the Catholic faith.

The choir will show off De Monte’s versatility of genre in the other pieces it will sing: La Grand’ Amour, a love song, and Miserere mei Deus, a lament.

Peter Gambie, MD, says, “Our main aim is to keep Renaissance music alive for both current and future generations. The Renaissance Choir, known for its innovation and quality, is leading the way in celebrating de Monte’s 500th birthday.”


The Portsmouth Choral Union is recruiting!

Are you looking for a friendly group to share your love of singing? Ever thought about joining PCU?
If the answer is yes, then read on!

If you have some experience of singing in a group and reading music, then you are welcome – even during lockdown.

At the moment we meet each Tuesday evening via ‘Zoom’ video link at 7.30 p.m. for about 1 hour or so. No need to worry about other people hearing you, as singers are muted during the sessions!

The evening includes a fun vocal warm-up; a chance to enjoy singing well known classical music repertoire works e.g., Verdi Requiem, and even some time to work on identifying and pitching musical intervals, finding notes in chords and other elements of music to help with sight-reading.

Feeling daunted? Relax, the PCU registrar is here to help. She is happy to answer all your questions and ensure you feel very welcome.

Email: PCURegistrar@gmail.com


Chichester Music Press: Motets for unaccompanied SATB – introducing composer Charles Paterson

I would like to introduce you to the music of Charles Paterson, and in particular to shine a spotlight on his four motets on texts by George Herbert. Charles was a teacher and conductor for many years in the Leicester area before moving to the Isle of Wight, where he maintains a busy schedule as an organist. His work has recently been published on Chichester Music Press.

All these motets are for unaccompanied SATB (Antiphon is SSATBB).

Virtue 
Virtue (Sweet day) was written in 2014 in response to a commission from Fr Simon Lumby for his choir 8ctave, whose singers are mainly serving priests in the Diocese of Leicester. The poem’s imagery of the cool day, the bright rose, and spring with its promise of sweetness offer opportunities for contrast, while all come to the same end: only virtue is everlasting.

You can peruse the score at http://chichestermusicpress.co.uk/virtue.

Matins
This is perhaps a less familiar poem than Virtue, in which the poet muses on his, and thus all humanity’s, relationship with God, and his redemption. The music in the main part of this setting reflects the sequence of thoughts, and so in performance should seem not too smooth in the joins between sections. With the final prayer, though, there is a recapitulation of the music from the beginning, and this should build to the exultant conclusion.

See and hear the score at http://chichestermusicpress.co.uk/matins.

Heaven
This is a poem unusual in form, where each question about the nature of heaven is answered by an echo, so that the question really answers itself. The setting reflects this idea, with the lower voices as the questioner and the upper voices as the echo, which should be as hushed as possible. The final question then leads to a triumphant echo from all voices, the loudest section of the piece, which gradually diminishes to a single note which fades into eternity.

Hear and see the score at http://chichestermusicpress.co.uk/heaven.

Antiphon
This poem is much the most familiar of the four, being found in most hymn books, and in settings by other composers. Here the refrain is in the style of a fanfare, and it continues as a background to the similarly energetic verses, except for the section ‘But above all, the heart Must play the longest part’: this is hushed to start with and more lyrical, until the fanfare refrain returns to end the piece.

Hear and see the score at http://chichestermusicpress.co.uk/antiphon.

If you have any queries about any of these four, please contact me.

Many thanks for your support. Church music has been rather muted over the last year but composers are still hard at work!

Charles Paterson was born in Ipswich in 1954, and was singing, playing and writing music from an early age. After a Classics degree at Cambridge, he taught at Tiffin School, Kingston upon Thames and then at Leicester Grammar School, where for twenty-five years he was director of the school choir, while also being involved in various local choirs as conductor and/or singer. Since moving to the Isle of Wight in 2018 he has been appointed Music Director of chamber choirs Cantus Vesperi and the Orpheus Singers, and is also active as organist in various churches around the island.

His compositions and arrangements have inevitably mostly been for choirs (several being recorded in 2016 by Leicester Cathedral Chamber Choir), but also include solo songs, chamber music, and music for organ (some of which has been published by fagusmusic.com). The Concertino for Descant Recorder and String Orchestra (published by Peacock Press) has received several performances, and has been recorded by John Turner, with the Manchester Sinfonia under Philip Spratley. Commissions have included a Christmas carol for the Richard III Society, and Christmas is Coming!, a short cantata for choir, children’s choir and piano duet, for Stamford Choral Society. His website can be found at www.charlespaterson.co.uk.


Update to plans for the Festival of Chichester in 2021

We are still looking forward to the 2021 Festival of Chichester between 12 June to 11 July and hoping to be able to return to a lively, eclectic programme of arts events.

However, because of the current circumstances, the festival committee feels that we need to delay our festival entry window from February to March. We will keep in touch with you and confirm closer to the date that the entry window will open on Monday 1 March and will close on Wednesday 31 March. As previously advised, all entries will need to be submitted via a new registration form at https://festivalofchichester.co.uk. You have the usual guidance and information to help you complete your application. If all progresses to plan, the box office at The Novium will open for ticket sales on 1 May.

If the national situation means we won’t be able to progress to a full live festival in 2021, we’ll be planning for a new kind of online festival, perhaps also including some open-air events or socially distanced gatherings, depending on the rules applicable at the time.

We are planning an active publicity programme to develop contacts and to enable us all to work together by supporting each other’s events and maximizing the benefit of all our individual contacts and mailing lists. By working together, we can amplify the message and this will help you to reach a wider audience for the events you are planning.


University of Chichester Conservatoire: download your copy of “Showcase” Feb-Aug 2021

The University of Chichester Conservatoire has one of the largest and liveliest music departments in the UK with a community of over 400 student performers. Its facilities include computerised recording and media studios, well-equipped practice rooms and an acoustically superb performance venue.

Please see Showcase Feb 2020 to Aug 2021 (a 12 MB download) as well as the concerts page.


Support for musicians and the musical community during the pandemic

Established in early 2017, Music in Portsmouth offers classical musicians a voice in the local community. It enjoys around 1,000 unique visits and 3,000 page views per month.

During the current crisis I am:

• Writing profiles of local musicians – whether they be composers, conductors or performers*
• Sharing videos and audio clips, including video-casts and live-streamed concerts – the concert venues are closed but the music goes on
• Sharing articles and other resources which may be of interest.

If you hear of anything you’d like me to share, or if you would like me to write a profile of you, please contact me or message me via Twitter to submit material for inclusion.

Meanwhile, stay well everyone and let’s keep in touch.

* Read about:
Brian Moles
George Burrows
Neil Sands
Philip Drew
Stefanie Read
Susan Yarnall-Monks
Alex Poulton
Stewart Collins
Catherine Lawlor
Crispin Ward
Clive Osgood
Jack Davies
Vincent Iyengar
Jonathan Willcocks
Susan Legg
Lucy Humphris
Nik Knight
Andrew Cleary
Steve Venn
Cathy Mathews
David Price
William Waine
Stella Scott
David Russell
Peter Gambie
Lynden Cranham
Ben Lathbury
Valentina Seferinova
Ann Pinhey
Geoff Porter
Tim Fisher
Terry Barfoot
Angela Zanders
Peter Best
Colin Jagger
Ian Schofield
Matthew Coleridge
Nicola Benedetti
Beryl Francis
Alex Poulton
David Gostick
Stuart Reed
Lucy Armstrong
Roy Theaker
Julia Bishop
Anne White
Wayne Mayor
Stefano Boccacci
Ben Lathbury
Jake Barlow
Penny Gordon
Antonia Kent
John Elder
Simon Wilkins


Preview: Chichester Music Society: “Continuum” presents an Evening of J S Bach and Sons

Concert postponed to January 2022.

We are delighted that Continuum is returning to the University of Chichester. Since they last performed here, Continuum have been busy performing what had become an annual St Cecilia Day concert in Wells Cathedral, and they sorely missed performing there in November 2020. However, their last concert before lockdown was in February 2020 for the Totnes Early Music Society in Devon, where they performed an all J. S. Bach programme to a large and particularly appreciative audience.

Continuum are Elizabeth Walker – baroque flute, Rachel Beckett – baroque flute and recorder, Sebastian Comberti – baroque violoncello, Michael Overbury – harpsichord. In this evenings concert devoted to the Music of J S Bach and his sons, they present a programme that includes two new arrangements by Elizabeth Walker of J. S. Bach’s Organ Trio Sonatas BWV 525 and 529, together with one of the most reliably attributed Trio Sonatas by J.S. Bach for two flutes and continuo, BWV 1039.

Elizabeth writes “we also include the beautiful smaller Trio Sonata, BWV 1038, also likely to have been composed in Leipzig in 1729, for a series of 500 concerts or more that Bach composed for at this time, and in which his pupils and his sons would have performed as soloists.

The six sonatas for organ “à Clav. E Pedal” are extremely beautiful but challenging to play for any organist. It is believed these sonatas were also compiled around 1720, written out by his son, Wilhelm Friedemann Bach and his stepmother, Anna Magdalena.

Johann Nikolaus Forkel (22 February 1749 – 20 March 1818), Bach’s biographer, commented:
“Six sonatas or trios for two keyboards with obbligato pedal. Bach composed them for his eldest son, Willhelm Friedemann, who, by practising them, prepared himself to be the great organist he later became. It is impossible to say enough about their beauty. They were written when the composer was in his full maturity and can be considered his principal work of this kind”.

It is not known exactly when Wilhelm Friedemann Bach wrote his youthful flute duets, but we do know that Quantz would have had them before 1741, because they appear in his book of ‘Solfeggi’ which Quantz compiled for Frederick the Great. Scholars have looked at the manuscripts and detected from the handwriting, that W. F. Bach could have written the first two duets as early as 1724, when he was still in Leipzig with his father.

Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach was the fifth child and second (surviving) son of J S Bach. He became an extremely influential composer working at a time of transition between his father’s Baroque style and the classical and romantic styles that followed. His personal approach, an expressive and often turbulent one known as empfindsamer Stil applied the principles of rhetoric and drama to musical structures. The manuscript Notebook was presented by J S Bach to his second wife in 1725, so C P E Bach was no more than 11 years of age when he composed these Two Marches and Two Polonaises. Simple, but well characterised, they shed an interesting light on domestic music-making in the Bach household.”


Read about how 2020 has gone for The Renaissance Choir. “Covid has made us realise just how much and why music matters.”

It’s fair to say 2020 has not been a typical year for The Renaissance Choir.

A 30-strong ensemble which shares a passion for choral music, we usually sing together every Friday in Emsworth, with a repertoire that spans over five hundred years, from the Renaissance up to the present day. We give concerts in Hampshire and West Sussex, and every year we go on tour, often to Europe.

When Covid hit, we did not stop singing. We’re good friends, as well as good singers, and we wanted to maintain our reputation for making music of a very high standard, even during lockdown.

Music Director, Peter Gambie, said: ‘Being banned from our weekly sing was like a bereavement because we’re all so committed to music and each other. So we had newsletters full of amusing anecdotes, Zoom talks about cacti and planetary motion as well as daily singing exercises and warm-ups’.

We also made a virtual recording.

But there is nothing like physically singing together. In September, when our weekly rehearsals started again, we learnt to sing in masks, and socially distanced. We made a recording of two carols for the Rowans Hospice annual Christmas card. ‘Covid has made us realise just how much and why music matters,’ said one singer.

The end of the year will see us singing more carols together, as well as broadcasting them, and then looking forward to 2021. In our 45th year we hope to perform in Wells and Glastonbury.

We’re looking to recruit new members too. So if you are interested in singing beautiful music in a friendly, welcoming choir do please contact us.


Petersfield Orchestra meets again

Piers Burton-Page reports from the cello section

‘Lockdown’ has just been awarded the accolade of Word of the Year by Collins Dictionaries – an honour it could perhaps well do without. We have probably all had enough of its impact, as well as of the word itself. Over the course of 2020, Petersfield Orchestra has lost not one but three concerts: depriving us of welcome exposure, and most especially, of the joy of communal music-making. Concerts are after all why we exist! So the news that Petersfield Musical Festival, of which Petersfield Orchestra is such an integral part, is determined to go ahead in 2021 is very welcome.

Not that our musicians have been totally silent: from September onwards we began to rehearse in the Assembly Hall at The Petersfield School – socially distanced, one player per desk, strings only, all doors wide open (brrrr!), with a view to a possible COVID compliant-concert before Christmas. Alas, the second lockdown – that word again – has put paid to that project, for this year anyway. It’s been back to practising on our own – with a slight feeling of resentment that the rules seem to be so different for the likes of professional footballers or people who race Formula One cars . . . while professional musicians now find their livelihoods threatened, to the point of possible extinction.

But Government restrictions permitting, Petersfield Orchestra will be there, playing – a rather different programme to the one we originally planned. Certainly the chosen repertoire will be subject to many constraints. I think I’d put my money on Haydn and Mozart, maybe with some Baroque gems, and perhaps with a concerto of some kind just to leaven the texture.

Small is beautiful: we need to leave room for an audience! If the event can be streamed online for a while, so that all our friends – and Festival Friends and Orchestra Friends – can hear us in action, then so much the better for everyone concerned. Goodbye ‘Lockdown’ – we hope!


Petersfield Musical Festival Newsletter Autumn 2020

It’s been the toughest year on record for musicians, with professionals deprived of their livelihoods and amateurs unable to take part in the groups and activities they love.

The Festival was stopped in its tracks by the March lockdown and lost its planned Choral Workshop in September. However, planning for 2021 continues, though necessarily on a smaller scale than usual.

Meanwhile, individuals and groups have found enterprising ways to keep singing and playing – whether online, outdoors, or socially distanced under strict conditions.

Our autumn Newsletter reports on the Festival’s online AGM, and brings stories from local singers and instrumentalists about how they have succeeded in making and sharing music under lockdown,

Read the full newsletter: 46 Petersfield Musical Festival Newsletter_33_Autumn_2020_colour

If you would like to support professional musicians by contributing to Help Musicians (formerly The Musicians Benevolent Fund) please click here.

 


Festival of Chichester annual public meeting switches to Zoom

Organisers of the Festival of Chichester are setting the ball rolling for next year with their annual public meeting.

The plan is for a Zoom meeting on Tuesday, November 17, beginning at 7pm. Drop us an email to infochifest@gmail.com to receive details on how to confirm your attendance.

Read more at the link below.


Portsmouth Choral Union returns to ‘in person’ rehearsals

After more than six months, Portsmouth Choral Union held its first live rehearsal on Tuesday October 20th, at St. Mary’s Church Portsea.

The practice was ‘live-streamed’ for those members still unable to attend. During ‘lockdown’ the choir had been holding regular ‘online’ rehearsals, along with a number of social activities, including a quiz night and even an ‘online’ wine tasting event.

After last night’s practice, an enthusiastic David Gostick commented that it was excellent to at last see singers in the flesh, and hear that tone and musical quality had not diminished over the past months. The rehearsal was very much enjoyed by all who attended. The choir are particularly grateful to the Staff of St. Mary’s Church for their help and cooperation in making this possible.


An obituary of Terry Barfoot

My friend, Terry Barfoot, a widely popular music educator, has died of cancer aged 70. The company he built, Arts in Residence, provided music appreciation courses, mostly three-day events in small country hotels in rural England. He would bring his own high-quality audio system to illustrate his talks and even approved the menus and wine. Civilised discourse would be continued over dinner. Introducing people to a wide range of the classical repertoire was his calling. His engaging manner and dry wit were prized as much as his deep knowledge and passion for the art.

Read more at the external site link below (The Guardian newspaper, 18 September 2020).

Read an interview with Terry on Music in Portsmouth from April 2020.


Plans for the Festival of Chichester 2021

We are looking forward to the 2021 Festival of Chichester, which will run between 12 June and 11 July, and are hoping to be able to return to a lively, eclectic programme of arts events.

It was such a disappointment to be forced to cancel the fantastic plans we had lined up for the 2020 live festival, but we’ve been very pleased with the positive responses to our Virtual Festival, which helped us keep the festival flag flying and stay in touch with our loyal audiences. Now it’s time to start planning for the next festival.

Because of the current uncertainty, the festival committee feels we have to keep our options open to see how the situation develops. We are therefore postponing entries from the usual November to end of January time frame to a month-long entry window in January, which will now be open from 1 to 31 January. We are also developing a new online entry system designed to streamline the process. We will keep you updated with this as work progresses.

This year our usual autumn public meeting will have to be a virtual one. The plan is for a Zoom meeting on Tuesday 17 November, beginning at 7pm, when we can update you with news of what the plans are for 2021 and of course hear all your helpful feedback, suggestions and advice. This meeting is open to anyone to attend and speak. Please email infochifest@gmail.com if you would like to receive the Zoom link.

If the national situation means we won’t be able to progress to a full live festival in 2021, we’ll be planning for a new kind of online festival, perhaps also including some open-air events or socially distanced gatherings, depending on the rules applicable at the time. We are very grateful for the fantastic support we’ve had from our organisers and audience members. You deserve a great festival and we will do all we can to provide the best festival the times will allow.


Obituary: Chris Coote – a fine pianist and accompanist

Fond tribute has been paid to popular pianist and accompanist Chris Coote who was also one of the architects of the new Chichester Music Society.

Chris died peacefully on 5th September in St Wilfred’s Hospice, aged 67, having been diagnosed with a very rare, incurable bone cancer.

Read more at the link below – in addition there’s a tribute here.


Petersfield Orchestra “stringing along”

Anyone passing Petersfield School in Cranford Road last Friday evening would not just have felt the first chill of autumn in the air, they would have heard it, too. For the sounds of Autumn, one of Vivaldi’s famous violin concertos called the Four Seasons, were ringing out loud and clear from the Assembly Hall. After an unprecedented six-month break caused by the coronavirus pandemic, Petersfield Orchestra is back in action: if not quite in full swing, then at least, and at last, allowed to rehearse.

Conductor Robin Browning praised his players for returning. “We know that the arts sector has been one of the hardest hit, in terms of morale as well as money. But we were all desperate to play the music we love. So it’s just great to be back!”

Socially distanced – no sharing of music stands – and taking every precaution – string players only, no-one blowing flutes, clarinets, oboes, bassoons or even their own trumpets – around 20 members duly assembled. Orchestra Chair Steve Bartholomew was pleased with the turnout and with the new venue. “I was not sure how many would be willing to come, especially as it is the start of a new season, with some people shielding, retired or having moved on. There is always room for new players – especially violas! And we were in a new hall: temporarily at least, as our usual home, The Avenue Pavilion which isn’t big enough to allow for distancing. I was thankful that Petersfield School could find room for us – a happy reminder that the Orchestra forms a real part of the local community.”

For the moment, no actual concerts can figure in the diary. But everyone hopes that performances as well as rehearsals will soon be possible, perhaps even before Christmas. With luck, Vivaldi’s Four Seasons along with much else will soon be entertaining Petersfield Orchestra’s loyal local following once again.

Any string players interested in joining should write to mail@petersfieldorchestra.org.uk.


The Renaissance Choir returns to rehearsing and is looking to recruit new singers

Last week The Renaissance Choir reconvened at the Church of the Holy Spirit in Southsea, suitably distanced, wearing masks and following detailed consultation and risk assessment. This was the first time we’d met since March, and it was such a joy to sing together again.

A recording we made of the evening’s rehearsal confirmed that the masks somehow created a sort of veiled sound which really helped the timbral blend!

Given the current constraints, we are not currently planning any concerts but will be rehearsing before making two recordings with carousels of images for online release. One is likely to be of Tomás Luis de Victoria’s masterwork Officium Defunctorum. We had intended to perform this in April this year. Another will be Christmas music to raise funds for Rowans Hospice to replace a concert that has had to be cancelled.

If you have an alto, tenor or a bass voice and would like to sing with us, please get in touch – we are recruiting!


Petworth Festival Special unveils autumn programme

A strong line-up in Petworth this autumn (Friday 16 October – Sunday 1 November) will give us a taste of the summer festival that never was.

Go to the festival web page to view what’s on.

This summer’s Petworth Festival, along with festivals the length and breadth of the country, was forced off the calendar by the COVID pandemic.

But to ensure that this year doesn’t pass entirely festival free, organisers of the Petworth Festival have come up with a special season of highlights, adding a week of performances to the start of what will be Petworth’s tenth literary festival, all under the banner the 2020 Petworth Festival Special.

Watch a preview by artistic director Stewart Collins on YouTube, and visit the festival website to find out more.

Read a profile of Stewart Collins here.

Read more at the link below.


“Lunchtime Live!” returns to Portsmouth Cathedral through the autumn

“Lunchtime Live!” is a series of solo and ensemble recitals on Thursdays through the autumn. Light refreshments are on sale from 12.30 pm. Recitals begin at 1.10 pm. Please see this page or the poster or further details.

17 Sachin Gunga (Portsmouth Cathedral) organ
24 Angelina Kopyrina (University of Chichester) piano
OCTOBER
1 David Price (Portsmouth Cathedral) organ
8 Angelina Kopyrina (University of Chichester) piano
15 Musicians from The Portsmouth Grammar School
22 NO RECITAL
29 NO RECITAL
NOVEMBER
5 Angelina Kopyrina (University of Chichester) piano
12 Speranza string quartet
19 TBC organ
26 Karen Kingsley piano


Live-streaming this season for Chichester Chamber Concerts

Live-streaming will help make up for reduced audience numbers as Chichester Chamber Concerts embark on their 2020-21 season.

The season proper opens on Thursday, October 1, but first the series catches up with last year’s truncated season, offering a concert on Thursday, September 10 from the Trinity Ensemble (leader Ofer Falk, violin) – a date rescheduled from March 26.

Read more at the link below.


Change of guidance, what can you do?

The UK government has reduced the number of people being able to meet socially in a group to 6, from 14 September. However, there is still an open question as to whether music groups would be affected by this or not.

Currently, the list of exemptions from this rule includes sports (indoor and outdoor) and youth activities, but not other community activities, such as music groups.

We have been given to understand that the guidance will be updated by 14 September, so there is a small chance to influence it.

If you feel strongly that music groups should be exempt from the rule of 6, as exercise classes are, then you should write to your MP without delay asking that community arts/community music groups, organised by businesses and charitable organisations, in controlled settings should be exempt from the restrictions on social gatherings, in the same way that sporting and youth activities are.

Here are some of the arguments you might wish to put forward:

  • Research has now been undertaken which shows that musical activities are no more dangerous than loud speaking in close proximity; effective mitigations are therefore now possible, in terms of ventilation, face coverings, rigorous 2m social distancing etc.
  • Musical group activity creates some of the same benefits as sporting activity does, e.g. on respiratory and immune systems, helping many people who cannot undertake other forms of exercise
  • The mental health benefits of group music activity are now proven beyond doubt and are crucial at this time when the nation is reeling from 6 months of pandemic and the prospect of renewed restrictions in the winter, combined with difficult economic prospects; restricting groups again right now would deal a further blow to the mental health of millions across the UK who participate in such activity
  • This is formal activity in strictly controlled settings, rigorously risk assessed by a committee of people or similar, or a business owner, responsible for the well-being of participants, undertaken only with risk mitigations in place and enforced.

Singing to return to Chichester Cathedral

The lay vicars of Chichester Cathedral will return to singing services from Sunday 13 September.

Earlier this year, the Cathedral’s choir, which is made up of six lay (adult) vicars and 14 (boy) choristers, were silenced as the country went into lockdown.

However, following guidance on singing issued by the Government and Church of England, the lay vicars will return to sing their first service at 9.30am this Sunday.

Read more at the link below.


“Discovering Women Composers” With Angela Zanders

A ten-week online music appreciation course, starting on Monday 21 or Wednesday 23 September.

Women have been composing extraordinary music throughout history, yet only now in the 21st century is much of this music being heard and appreciated for the first time.

On this course, Angela explores the stories of numerous women composers who have been forgotten by history, illustrating her talks with some of the sublime and inspiring music which deserves a valued place in the classical music repertoire.

See the poster for details and how to register.


The Orchestra Strikes Back!

Possibly the first local musical ensemble to begin playing despite the threat of Covid-19 is the Meon Valley Orchestra. This brave band of players got their instruments out and began rehearsing in mid-August in the Meon Hall in Pound Lane, Meonstoke.

Although many asserted that they had practised regularly at home other players shamefacedly confessed that the lockdown had eroded their enthusiasm somewhat. Even so, instruments were dusted off and all members said it was great to be playing again even under the strict regime of wearing face masks when socialising and sensible distancing in the hall.

The Meon Valley Orchestra began humbly over ten years ago when a handful of musicians began playing folk tunes in a house in Meonstoke. Although the original players were local, the group soon attracted musicians from further afield. Cathy Mathews, leader of the Havant Symphony Orchestra, conducted the group from the violin at first. But due to other commitments, she handed over the baton to another professional, Lorraine Masson from the Four Strings Quartet.

Within a year or so the group had formed themselves into the Meonstoke Village Band and began playing at summer fetes, flower shows, Christmas events and church services. As the numbers of instrumentalists increased, the band outgrew the original rehearsal venue and moved to the converted church stables at Bishop Waltham. That too became cramped so a move to Soberton Village Hall was called for. To acknowledge the increasing numbers of musicians coming from a wider area, the band was renamed the Meon Valley Orchestra.

In 2014 the MVO, together with the Portsmouth Philharmonia, performed its first charity concert, raising over £2,000 for the Ninewells Cancer Campaign.

Since then the MVO has raised over ten thousand pounds for research into pancreatic cancer, immunology and brain tumour. The UK Gout Society, Parkinson’s and the Solent Diabetes Association have also benefited from the MVO’s charity concerts. Over the last ten years the MVO has received letters of support and encouragement from the actor, the late John Hurt, all civic dignitaries from Fareham, Gosport and Portsmouth, the Attorney General Suella Braverman MP and Caroline Dinenage MP.

Few would deny that over the years the MVO has come of age musically. Instead of simple rustic tunes, it now plays much more advanced light classical music and challenging popular material. It is now a fifty-strong, full-sized rehearsal orchestra.

New players, of any ability, are always very welcome to join. Practice sessions are from 9.15 am till 12.00 noon on Thursdays at Meon Hall, Meonstoke. For more information and advice about joining please email stuartreed28@gmail.com or telephone 07760 176687.


Huw Thomas is new musical director of Havant-based Solent Male Voice Choir

Huw Thomas has been appointed as musical director of Havant-based Solent Male Voice Choir. He will take up the reins in September “assuming we can all go back then,” he says.

Huw will take over from Geoff Porter who is moving on, joining the Hampshire Police Male Voice Choir. Huw had been serving as his deputy at SMVC.

Read more at the link below.


Live music returns to West Meon

While the ongoing Covid-19 crisis has forced the Primrose Piano Quartet to scale back on its plans for the 10th Anniversary West Meon Music Festival in September, the quartet is now going ahead with its alternative “mini-festival”.

West Meon Church is happy to host a socially-distanced audience of up to 65 for three concerts on 11th and 12th September, and with Government confirmation that indoor concerts can take place from 15 August, this means that – barring a sudden spike in Covid-19 cases and an ad hoc lockdown – live chamber music will be heard again in the district.

“Like all self-employed musicians we have seen every one of our scheduled concerts cancelled since lockdown began in March,” says Andrew Fuller, the quartet’s cellist and festival musical director. “We’ve missed performing just as much as our audiences have missed listening to live music.”

The three short concerts (no intervals to avoid unnecessary social contact among the audience) on Friday evening, Saturday afternoon and Saturday evening will include such favourites as Mozart’s Piano Quartet in E-flat and Beethoven’s String Trio in G major. Saturday afternoon’s concert is a tribute to the plight of the musician in lockdown with each member of the quartet performing their favourite solo works – including a Bach cello suite and chaconne for violin, one of Brahms’ piano intermezzo and Stravinsky’s Elegy for Viola. There will also be a distinct French flavour to the programmes with works by Fauré and Chausson reflecting the quartet’s next planned CD to be released in 2021.

Full details of the concert programmes can be found on the festival website (click the link below) with online booking now available for tickets at £15 for main aisle seats and £12 for side aisles. Given the limited number of seats available, early booking is recommended and concert-goers will need to indicate whether they are booking tickets for a single household or bubble to meet track and trace guidelines and allow seats to be pre-allocated. If you are unable to book online then please contact the box office on 01489 891055 for alternative options.

For those looking further ahead the planned “10th-anniversary” festival will now be held from 9-12 September 2021 when guests will include clarinettist Michael Collins, guitarist Laura Snowden and BBC Young Musician Strings winner 2018, cellist Maxim Calver.

The Primrose Piano Quartet is one the country’s leading ensembles and its acclaimed discography includes classical favourites as well as many unjustly neglected works by early 20th century British composers such as Dunhill, Quilter, Bax and Frank Bridge. Their major commissions include piano quartets written for them by Sir Peter Maxwell Davies and Anthony Payne. The quartet appears regularly in London at King’s Place and the Conway Hall and has recently toured Denmark, Germany and Bulgaria.

Named after the great Scottish violist William Primrose, who himself played in the Festival Piano Quartet, the Primrose has been selected for the Making Music Concert Promoters’ Network in 2004/5, 2011/2012, 2014/2015 and 2017/18. Its latest recording of the complete Brahms piano quartets, made in Vienna on authentic pianos of the period, has been highly recommended on Radio 3’s “Record Review”.

Susanne Stanzeleit – Violin
Dorothea Vogel – Viola
Andrew Fuller – Cello
John Thwaites – Piano

www.primrosepianoquartet.org.uk


Petworth Festival announces its autumn 2020 programme

Petworth Festival looks different in 2020 but we are thrilled to bring you something special this autumn. 25 events comprising what we do best – musical performance and literary wonder – all filmed live in our ‘home’ venue St Mary’s Petworth and streamed via our website.

Sheku and Isata Kanneh-Mason were due to play at the festival this summer and we are delighted they can join us in the autumn together with their mother Kadiatu Kanneh-Mason who will be talking about her new book ‘House of Music – Raising the Kanneh-Masons’ as part of our 10th Anniversary Literary Week.

Other names announced so far include: William Boyd, MILOŠ, Vanessa Branson, Mitsuko Uchida, Anthony Horowitz, Patti Boulaye, Michael Morpurgo and Clare Teal.

Artistic Director, Stewart Collins says ‘You’ll understand my excitement I’m sure when I found I was able to secure probably the biggest name in classical music at the moment, the cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason [who will perform with his equally high profile sister, pianist Isata], as well as the solo guitarist MILOŠ who was responsible for the longest waiting list in the festival’s history on his first visit. Add in one of the world’s greatest pianists Mitsuko Uchida and we’re genuinely in unprecedented territory as far as the festival is concerned.’

Full programme announced and booking online from 17 September. Read more.


Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra returns with 12 symphonic concerts this autumn

The BSO is returning to the stage with a series of live broadcast performances from Lighthouse, Poole this autumn.

The Orchestra’s Chief Conductor, Kirill Karabits, will open the series of socially distanced performances, with concerts running from 30 September to 16 December 2020.

Read more at the link below.


Chichester Chamber Concerts promise strong 2020-2021 season

Chichester Chamber Concerts are hoping to get back to normal as soon as possible as they confirm an exciting season ahead for 2020-2021.

Events will all be subject to the government restrictions in place at the time, but the series organisers are hoping for the best – and are even planning on catching up. The two concerts which the series lost during lockdown will now bookend the new programme.

The series will begin on Thursday, September 10 with an almost sold-out concert from the Trinity Ensemble – a date rescheduled from March 26. The series’ April concert, which was also postponed, will go ahead exactly a year later, in April.

Read more at the link below.


Zoom – My Lockdown Lifeline

It seems like a lifetime ago when Covid-19 plunged us all into isolation, quarantine, lockdown or whatever you call this reclusive condition.

Uppermost in my mind was how would I keep up with my regular violin lessons. I prefer to have a schedule and deadlines to work to.

Thankfully, the problem was solved by my neighbour’s son Jack. Jack is a bright lad who’s reading English at Oxford. He posted notes through letterboxes around our close inviting the little community to join in a weekly quiz via Zoom. With some help from the computer-literate people next door we joined in and the online quiz has been going on ever since.

At the very same time my violin teacher, Peter Best, came up with the idea of regular lessons on Zoom. Before retirement, Peter was Director of Musical Training at the Royal Marines School of Music. He’s a superb violinist and a knowledgeable and patient teacher. Because we have been desk partners in the Portsmouth Light Orchestra and the Meon Valley Orchestra he knew all my considerable faults already.

Lessons by Zoom have proved to be very useful indeed for both of us. He can see and hear me and vice versa. If I stand at the right distance in front of my laptop he can see immediately if my posture is not one hundred per cent correct. Dropped wrists or wrongly raised elbows are starkly revealed.

By having his own copy or the music in front of him he can also spot any discrepancies between what I’m playing and what is actually written. Although the tonal quality is not absolutely perfect it’s good enough for Peter to pick out when any notes are not as in tune as they should be. Conversely, he can demonstrate how things should sound on his own instrument.

For some inexplicable reason, Zoom seems to bring everything into sharper focus than reality itself. It’s a very business-like arrangement. However, the use of video does not allow us the play duets as the sounds are out of synchrony. It’s a shame, as this is something we both enjoyed. This is the only drawback I can find with Zoom.

It’s about ten miles from my home in Fareham and my teacher’s house in Southsea. So, from now on there’ll be no worries about traffic or parking. Until the “all clear” from this dreadful virus is sounded I’ll continue to learn and, hopefully, improve through Zoom.


Conclusions from research on virtual rehearsals

Please read this post for the background to the project.

Click this link to read my conclusions from research on virtual rehearsals paper. I trust that these insights are useful for singers and instrumentalists alike, and look forward to continuing the discussion.

In addition, Making Music has written these very helpful notes:
https://www.makingmusic.org.uk/resource/zoom-online-rehearsals-vocal
https://www.makingmusic.org.uk/resource/making-most-online-rehearsals

Here’s another article that caught my eye: https://blog.chorusconnection.com/virtual-learning-taking-your-choir-rehearsals-online


Choral ballads and difficult discussions: Approaching anti-racism in choral culture

In January 2020, I started preparing the University of Portsmouth’s choirs for a concert called Songs of Pride, Freedom and Resistance: Decolonising Choral Culture but I was not at all prepared for the protracted and important debate about racism and white privilege that it would ignite amongst our choir.

Coronavirus and the lockdown of the university put paid to the concert but, to my mind, the discussion provoked by the programming is one that everyone involved in choral music should be having and one that has become all the more urgent with the death of George Floyd and the emergence of antiracist campaigns like Black Lives Matter. I want to share some of that debate with you in the spirit of encouraging an anti-racist choral culture in Portsmouth and beyond. First, I should set the scene.

I am a 44-year-old white-European male conductor and academic who became interested in connections between music and concepts of race during my postgraduate studies at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne in the early 2000s. My PhD (2010) was about figures in jazz culture, like Duke Ellington, who led famous bands and wrote music for those ensembles that represented black history and experience as an act of race pride.

I went on to write a book, The Recordings of Andy Kirk and His Clouds of Joy (2019), which aimed to show how Kirk’s band defied expectations of what an all-black ensemble should sound like and thereby challenged the racism that prevailed in recording and dance-hall cultures of the interwar period. So, it was perhaps inevitable that I would bring such academic interests into my choral direction work but, as we will see, my own identity makes such an enterprise problematic in itself.

The programme I devised for the aborted concert was founded on the Choral Ballads by the black-British composer Samuel Coleridge-Taylor (1875-1912), who is best known in choral circles for his trilogy of works that includes Hiawatha’s Wedding Feast (1898). Coleridge-Taylor composed a set of three Choral Ballads for his 1904 trip to the US to conduct the Coleridge-Taylor Choral Society of Washington DC. Later, he expanded that set to five for the 1905 Norwich Festival and also reworked one of the original movements for female voices and baritone soloist.

All of this music is very well written for choir, with orchestra and soloist. Unlike much of Coleridge Taylor’s other choral writing, which tends to be mostly homophonic, it makes really good use of counterpoint but is nonetheless tuneful and accessible. In many ways, it is a fantastic choice for any mixed-ability choir like ours and a great opportunity to introduce them and an audience to a great black-British composer.

The Choral Ballads are all settings of anti-slavery poetry written 1842 by the white-American poet, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882). Despite their noble intentions, however, the ballads are not without their problems: the lyrics include words used to describe black figures that are now considered highly problematic, albeit archaic, and the exoticism in the musical language is as much rooted in the colonial past. However, it was the words of the Choral Ballads that sparked the debate about whether and how we should perform these works and others in the programme. Here, for reasons of clarity, is a quotation of Longfellow’s text from the opening bars of the third ballad:

Loud he sang the Psalm of David!
He, a Negro, and enslavèd,
Sang of Israel’s victory,
Sang of Zion, bright and free.

To some extent, I had anticipated the debate about the text as I had prepared a presentation about the Choral Ballads which put the language issues in the context of their time and I offered a number of options for the choir to consider. These included, not performing the work at all, acknowledging the historical context and keeping the language as it is, or changing the language as a political act of decolonisation. What I hadn’t anticipated was the way that these options split the choir into factions that each felt very strongly that we should or should not change the language or else not perform the pieces at all.

I tried, as best I could, to please everyone by suggesting in a follow-up presentation that we could overlay words in a glorious and performative cacophony so that singers could make their own decisions but, in retrospect, I can see why that proved unacceptable for some, especially coming from me. On hearing my suggestion, one of our black students stated that if we used the problematic words at all she would leave the rehearsal in offense.

Another was clearly tearful as she explained that she felt she was being told what to do by yet another white figure of power, when her life was full of that sort of experience. That depth of feeling shocked me and I suddenly became aware of my own white privilege and the impossibility of me, in my situation of power, leading us to an agreeable solution on my own. I needed help to get a decision and that lay in much better dialogue both with and between our singers about these issues.

As I realised that I could and should not just impose my will over the choir, we had several meetings in which we discussed the programme and the issues of racial representation that were bound up with its performance. Several of our white singers were of the view that we, as a majority white choir, had no business in performing this repertoire but our black students spoke very passionately about the importance of engaging with such music and pointed to the prevailing problem of white fragility (DiAngelo, 2018) when it comes to addressing such issues.

I also felt that not to perform the work would make us complicit in a long history of effectively, if unconsciously, whitewashing the choral repertoire. There were those that argued that history, however distasteful, cannot be changed and thus the original words of the Choral Ballads should remain but, in the end, we agreed that changing the text marked an important act of de-colonialism and anti-racism. Thus, the passage above became:

Loud he sang the Psalm of David!
He, a brother but enslavèd,
Sang of Israel’s victory,
Sang of Zion, bright and free.

It was an often-difficult and time-consuming discussion but it was one of paramount importance because it caused us all to reflect on how choral-society culture is essentially racist in the way it tends to avoid such matters by effectively excluding black repertoire (apart from the odd token such as Hiawatha) and those who would identify with it. There were some within our choir who despaired that we ‘wasted’ time on this discussion, when there was music to learn, and they urged me to use my power put a stop to it.

That conception of white privilege is, however, a part of the problem and if we are to embrace the challenges set by the Black Lives Matter campaign and dismantle racist structures in choirs as much as in every other part of society, then we need to be brave and have these difficult conversations around such problematic repertoire as a matter of course.

Embracing works like the Choral Ballads and the sorts of discussions about racism that they motivate is but the beginning of a much longer and more difficult journey that will surely challenge many of the established basic principles of ‘good’ choral practice. Such principles include treating the conductor (as much as the composer) as some sort of power-wielding white male god, considering musical rehearsal as more valuable than the discussion of deep ethical issues, and valuing history and traditions of practice and rigour as more important than the rights and feelings of those who are negatively affected by the exercising of white privilege and power. If choirs everywhere took time to reflect on such things and took steps to address them, we would quickly establish a much more inclusive and anti-racist culture.

Read about George Burrows, Reader in Performing Arts and Faculty Research Degrees Coordinator at the University of Portsmouth.

 


Chichester Music Society Autumn Programme

I am delighted to announce that CMS is proposing to run our Autumn Season as planned, including an additional event on Tuesday 29th September. The University recently informed us that the Chapel, our usual performance space, would be available and that the University is intending to live-stream all events. The Chapel lends itself to social distancing so we are hoping that by the Autumn there will be an audience present. In any event, we intend to go ahead with or without an audience, depending on Government guidelines. Further details will be made available in due course.

This is an excellent outcome for CMS as it means that members and friends who felt anxious could watch from home, or everyone could if only small audiences were allowed in the performance space at first.

In my last CMS Update I announced that we had re-arrange the lecture/recital with Ashworth & Rattenbury Guitars to Tuesday 29th September. Unfortunately due to changes in their tour planning the duo are not able to come on that occasion and we will be seeing them next year. However, I am delighted to be able to confirm that Erin Alexander who was due to give our Summer Buffet Concert on 10th June will now be performing on that date. Further details of our first two Autumn events are shown below.

Finally, do take a look at our updated website! We are in the process of making the site consistent with our new CMS image and at the same time introducing new areas which we hope will be of interest to old and new members alike. Please let me have your views and suggestions.

Do look after yourselves over the coming months and try to avoid any unnecessary risks!


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.

Tuesday 29th September, Erin Alexander: “On a High Note”

This concert, postponed from 10th June, will be a special event, with the return of Chichester University graduate and Award-winning soprano Erin Alexander, and pianist Nick Miller, presenting “On a High Note”, the story of soprano Graziella Sciutti. The singer was a contemporary of Maria Callas, and helped pioneer the movement of opera singers becoming actors. Erin will sing the arias by Mozart, Verdi, and Rossini which made Sciutti’s career.

Erin Alexander has recently finished studying on a full scholarship at the Conservatorio Luigi Cherubini. Whilst there she performed the roles of Despina (Cosi fan Tutte) and Rosina (Il Barbiere di Seviglia).


Tune in to BSO@Home

Join the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra from the comfort of your home for a weekly series of artist-led magazine programmes. These regular discussions feature some of the Orchestra’s favourite guest soloists and conductors in conversation as they chat about their musical highlights and appearances with the BSO.

Click the link at the bottom of this page for further info.

You can donate on this page also. We believe that music has the power to transform lives and should be accessible to everyone. Every donation helps to spread the gift of music. Thank you!

Next time: Wednesday 22 July, 7.30pm
2019/20 Artist-in-Residence Gabriela Montero talks to Dougie Scarfe this week: they discuss the communicative power of live performance, her incredible journey into music, and her work in providing a platform for her fellow Venezuelans. Music includes Rachmaninov, Mozart and improvisations by Montero.

Previous episodes

Wednesday 15 July
Pianist Benjamin Grosvenor shares his thoughts, discussing performing both with orchestras and smaller chamber groups as well as his passion for playing Mendelssohn, Chopin and Liszt.

Wednesday 8 July
Clarinettist Andreas Ottensamer catches up with Heather Duncan and chats about his desire to showcase music digitally and how the safe return of live music-making is so important.

Wednesday 1 July
Andrew Burn raids the BSO archive and shares his choices of footage from the past.

Wednesday 24 June
BSO Associate Guest Conductor David Hill talks about life in lockdown and the music that has taken him on a journey through it.

Wednesday 17 June
Kirill Karabits meets up with superstar violinist Nemanja Radulović for an entertaining catch-up chat about life, music and introduces us to an eclectic selection of musical choices.

Wednesday 10 June
Michael Chance talks about his role as Artistic Director of Grange Festival, and the digital projects online including the streaming of the BSO’s Grange concert performance of Bernstein’s sparkling and witty operetta Candide from 2018.

Wednesday 3 June
Marin Alsop talks leadership, how she hopes she can offer opportunties through her Taki Concordia Conducting Fellowship and how she took the BSO’s Rusty Musicians project to Baltimore.

Wednesday 27 May
Cellist Johannes Moser, talks about his memories of the great Mstislav Rostropovich, how he feels he is able to give back something to the community and his creative freedom under lockdown.

Wednesday 20 May
Dougie Scarfe gives an update on BSO plans and introduces some digital content from around the internet produced by some well-loved BSO visiting artists.

Wednesday 13 May
Prior to the broadcast of an archive concert from our 2017/18 season on BBC Radio 3 featuring Kirill and Simon Trpčeski performing Elgar, Tchaikovsky and Walton, Kirill reminisces on the occasion.

Wednesday 6 May
Kirill and Dougie discuss the series of recordings of former Soviet Union composers that the BSO is undertaking with Chandos called Voices from the East.

Wednesday 29 April
Kirill and Dougie are joined by pianist Sunwook Kim and talk about all things Beethoven and Sunwook’s help in choosing the BSO’s new Steinway piano.

Wednesday 22 April
Kirill Karabits talks with Dougie Scarfe about his BSO journey to date, from his first foray with British repertoire to releasing a critically acclaimed recording of Walton and finding musical joy.


Shaking off the Lockdown Lethargy

Former violin techniques teacher at the Royal Academy of Music, London, Julia Bishop is to share her considerable experience of playing and performing in an on-line seminar this month. Julia will give helpful advice on approaching a musical work for the first time, what to do if you hit a snag and how to rehearse immediately prior to appearing on stage.

Once a founder member of the celebrated Baroque ensemble, Red Priest, Julia has played as a soloist or leader with top notch orchestras all over the world. The Hanover Band, the English Consort, the Gabrieli Consort, the Brandenburg Consort are just a few.

Some amateur musicians may have been a bit dormant during the months of lockdown. If so, then this seminar is aimed at those in particular. As many of us know, it’s all too easy to slacken off your personal practice when there are no rehearsals or gig deadlines looming. Julia plans to sound a wakeup call for people to get practising in earnest for the time when quartets, orchestras or bands finally reconvene. In short, Julia’s ready to help shake off those lockdown blues.

Although Julia is a strings specialist, her seminar will be of great benefit to all musicians irrespective of which instrument they play and at what level of ability they have attained.

Julia’s seminar will be via Zoom at 11.00am on Thursday 30 July 2020. It will last for about an hour with time for questions. The cost is a paltry £8 per head which can be paid directly to Julia via BACs transfer.

Participants should apply to Julia by email (julia@redpriest.com) giving their names and the instruments they play. Nearer the time Julia will send out invitations and joining instructions to those involved. Don’t delay as this is a golden opportunity to rekindle your enthusiasm.


How can we bring back music groups?

#BringBackMyChoir and #BringBackMyBand campaign has been set up by Making Music UK.

The UK government guidance on reopening the performing arts published on 9 July has caused widespread disappointment, so we are now giving you the tools to make your views heard.

The guidance prohibits amateur groups or groups with amateur participants – unlike professionals – to play or sing together, except in the numbers of people currently allowed to meet in public.

It goes further to say that singing and playing wind and brass instruments isn’t even allowed in those numbers.

Read more at the link below.


Research on virtual rehearsals

I am doing some research on virtual rehearsals on behalf of vocal and instrumental groups in my area. If you already rehearse virtually or have plans to do so, your input would be most gratefully received.

Please email me at info@musicinportsmouth.co.uk or via the contact form, or fill in the form at https://forms.gle/TgHLmn2HAPCQEQpUA. Please come back to me by Saturday 25 July.

The findings will be published (without mentioning names) on the Noticeboard, for the benefit of all singers and instrumental musicians.

Thank you.

Read the conclusions of the research.

1. What is your group size?
2. Which channel(s) will/do you use (Zoom, Facebook Live, a combination, etc.)?
3. What is the reason for your choice of channel(s)?
4. Do you/will you rehearse in sections or as a whole group?
5. What are the numbers of people that you (will) rehearse with in one session? Have you encountered limitations on the maximum number of people? Please explain why, if you like.

The remainder of the questions assumes that you already have experience of such sessions.
6. How often do you meet for virtual rehearsals?
7. How long do the sessions last?
8. How much time do you allow for breaks, if at all?
9. Do you combine singing/playing sessions with social sessions?
10. What % take-up of your total group have you experienced?
11. What have been the barriers to people getting involved that you have encountered? Access to PCs, etc? The “fear factor”? The limitations of the technology?
12. What do you feel works to keep people “onside”?
13. Are the sessions led by the MD, by another key individual or by individuals working with each other as colleagues, or a mix of these?
14. Do you record the sessions? What do you do with the recordings?
15. Broadly, what works and what (if anything) doesn’t?
16. In these sessions, do you work specifically on vocal or instrumental technique?
17. What else do you focus on?
18. Are you working towards producing performances of complete works as the result of doing virtual rehearsals?
19. Will these be made for public consumption?
20. If so, are you going to use video or just audio?

Please add any other relevant comments or questions. Thank you!


Help with research into safe choir return

Researchers need your input into a survey about safety and risk management for choirs

A team of academics and choir leaders at Brighton and Sussex Medical School is conducting research into helping choirs get back into their regular activities, following coronavirus lockdown.

As well as filling out the survey, the team is also inviting choir members to join them as researchers. If you’re interested, you can fill in your email address at the top of the survey and they will contact you. Or you can leave those fields blank if you’d prefer not to, and you can stay anonymous.

You can also keep up with the research by joining the team’s Facebook group which is automatically open to anyone who has been on Facebook for more than three months.

Click on the link below to complete the survey.


Support the Public Campaign for the Arts!

Something extraordinary just happened.

Against expectations, the government has announced an extensive rescue package for our arts and cultural organisations.

This follows an unprecedented groundswell of public pressure, including 150,000 signatures in support of the Public Campaign for the Arts.

Thanks to the package announced tonight by the government – including £880 million of grants and £270 million of loans in England, plus an extra £97 million, £59 million and £33 million for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland respectively – the cultural sector can begin its journey back to generating £32.3 billion a year for our economy. The arts can help to drive a creative recovery for the UK. And most importantly, they can continue to enrich our communities and all of our lives.

Please see the link below for further info and to read how you can support this initiative.


David Bowerman RIP

Sussex is remembering a “passionate and committed lover” of the arts who created huge opportunities for young and established musicians and artists.

David Bowerman, who has died, was High Sheriff of West Sussex from 1990 to 1991.

He was also the creator of the Music Room at Champs Hill at Coldwaltham – a venue which continues to attract classical musicians from all over the world to the heart of West Sussex. Read about Champs Hill Records.

Read more at the link below.


Open letter: Singing Network UK to the Secretary of State for Culture Media and Sport

An open letter to Oliver Dowden MP, outlining the concerns of the 27 organisations in the Singing Network UK about the return to singing for the 40,000 choirs and their 2.2m participants in the UK.

Read more at the link below.


#SussexTogether – major new arts festival will unite Sussex East and West

A major new Sussex-wide arts festival will capture the spirit of togetherness which is seeing us through the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic.

The new festival will testify to the “talent, strength, endurance and hopes of the people of Sussex in a difficult year,” organisers say.

The festival has been jointly organised by Festival of Chichester committee member The Reverend Canon Dr Dan Inman and Festival Chairman Dr Phil Hewitt.

Read more at the link below.


Accompanist/Assistant Musical Director for the Solent Male Voice Choir

Solent Male Voice Choir has a vacancy for an Accompanist/Assistant Musical Director as from 1st September 2020.

Working closely with our new Musical Director, Huw Thomas, who takes over from Geoff Porter on 1st September, you will accompany practices and concerts. There is an opportunity as Assistant Musical Director to train the Choir in some songs and to conduct a smaller Choir at some private events.

We offer a small remuneration, to cover travelling expenses, for practices and additional payments concerts.

The Choir meets every Tuesday evening between 7.30pm and 9.30pm in Havant. If you are interested in becoming part of a friendly and sociable group who enjoy their singing please send a brief CV to chairman@solentmalevoicechoir.org.


Giving voice – writing to our MPs to ask the government to stand up for the arts

Making Music Chief Executive, Barbara Eifler, outlines what we can ask MPs to support us with as we return to music-making.

Many of our members picked up on the article by Richard Morrison in last week’s The Times, asking why the government was not standing up for choirs and helping them re-open as the coronavirus lockdown eases. And many got in touch with Making Music about this, intending to write to MPs and other contacts, to try and get the government to focus on the problems facing music groups planning to meet again.

Barbara continues – read more at the link at the bottom of this page.

What can you do?

Now is the moment to write to your MP and ask them for help with these issues. There was a time when leisure-time music may not have been a suitable topic to raise, when the nation’s thoughts were focussed on daily deaths and overstretched keyworkers, but it’s now time to act.

Now that things are improving, those of us who have lived experience of the enormous benefits singing and playing together bring us have a duty, almost, to make sure that groups are able to come together again soon, to heal the souls of our members – and of the nation which has been joining virtual choirs and learning the ukulele while confined to their homes.

Not sure where to start with your letter? Download a brief summary of our submission to the parliamentary inquiry for inspiration: Summary of MM submission to DCMS.

Read a letter that Simon O’Hea (editor of Music in Portsmouth) has written to his MP: Letter to Alan Mak MP about music-making and lockdown
Here is the associated technical paper: The relative risks of inhaling virus-laden air for singers and players


How to get the most out of singing online – a guide for singers

Given that it will be just you singing at a screen, what can you do to get the most out of an online singing session?

It can be scary singing by yourself, especially if you normally sing in a choir. Suddenly you find yourself at home staring at a screen without much feedback and without hearing the other singers.

Read more at the link below.


The Organ Project at St Mary’s Portsea appoints Nicholson & Co. Ltd to restore Victorian heritage

The Organ Project Committee is pleased to announce the appointment of Nicholson & Co. Ltd to deliver its capital works programme to restore awe-inspiring Victorian heritage.

Following a competitive tender process involving four IBO (Institute of British Organ Building) accredited organ builders, a newly signed contract with Nicholson & Co. Ltd will see the dismantlement of the 1889 J.W. Walker & Sons organ at St Mary’s Portsea in November 2020, for restoration and re-dedication in late 2021 (this schedule may be subject to change).

Read more at the link below.


Privacy notice | Site design copyright ©2021 Music In Portsmouth. Logos and images of participating performers may subject to additional copyright restrictions. Please be courteous and ask before using.