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

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.


Freelance Musician Mums launch Musical Advent Calendar

Freelance musician mothers have come together to create a uniquely beautiful, socially-distanced musical gift featuring exclusive content and spreading seasonal joy. Gift a musical advent calendar to a friend and get yours for free while also supporting freelance musicians.

Advent is a magical time, full of lights, decorations, bakery, anticipation … and yes, music! In this time we would usually hear seasonal music everywhere, played by buskers in the street, in every shop we enter, in the schools’ nativity plays and in pantomimes, the choir and carol concerts as well as the big seasonal favourites like Messiah and the Nutcracker Ballet. This year it will be different. But while you might not be able to go to the music, we think the music should still happen – directly into your home.

A collective of freelance musicians have come together to create a musical advent calendar that you can purchase for yourself and a friend for £24.99. Once you have obtained your membership, every day a video clip of music will become available behind the day’s window and will remain there to be viewed for 3 months. You will find everything from carol arrangements over fun 1920’s Christmas tunes to excerpts from the big Christmas oratorios. Musicians featured include an award-winning concert pianist, a West End star, a Royal Opera House soprano, instrumentalists from some of the UK’s leading orchestras, new and established ensembles and a few fun surprises.

For musicians, this is usually the busiest season of the year, but most work calendars have been wiped clean since March for the foreseeable future. The idea was born within the supportive community of musician mums who in the best times face the daily challenge of combining flexible work with family, and in times like this are often less eligible for financial support due to maternity leaves and missed incomes. So for us, this is a way to keep connecting to our audiences and keep sharing the joy we usually associate with Christmas while also providing a small income for all performers involved. By purchasing the calendar as a gift which will then automatically become available for yourself too, you are supporting musicians through this time of crisis.

Head to www.musicaladvent.com to get a sneak preview of December 1st, find out more about the performing musicians in the blog and to purchase your membership.

Whether you gift this to a child learning an instrument or your parents or friends whom you can’t visit right now, this gift is guaranteed to spread joy and fun for the whole of December and beyond, and will be a beautiful – and environmentally friendly! – gesture to make your loved ones feel your care every day even across wider distances.

Thank you so much for your support. Happy Christmas to you all!


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.


University of Chichester Conservatoire: download your copy of “Showcase”

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. Our facilities include computerised recording and media studios, well-equipped practice rooms and an acoustically superb performance venue.

Please see 31 Showcase October 2020 to January 2021 (a 12 MB download) as well as the concerts page.


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.

Dr George Burrows is 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.


Peter Cropper’s A–Z of chamber music

In this article, first published at ChamberStudio in 2015, the late and much-missed first violinist of the Lindsay String Quartet pulled no punches with his views about music.

Accompanying

Martin Lovett – one of the best quartet players ever – said that it’s very easy to play chamber music. He explained that you sing the tune when you play the accompaniment and you sing the accompaniment when you play the tune. He said that by doing that he could make someone play exactly as he wanted them to. He’s absolutely right.

Read more at the link below.

Reproduced with permission of Elbow Music and ChamberStudio.


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.

To subscribe for updates, click the link below.


BSO@Home: a weekly series of artist-led discussions on music, memories and the BSO

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 below for further info.


Why coronavirus crisis offers musicians a chance for life-changing reflection

Haywards Heath-based cellist Pavlos Carvalho would have been – as he always is – one of the busiest contributors to this year’s Festival of Chichester.

Sadly, though, the Festival, along with everything else the length and breadth of the country, has been cancelled. Overnight the diaries of musicians everywhere suddenly emptied. However, now the shock has subsided, Pavlos is relishing a chance to rethink and to reassess.

Read more at the link below.


The great bond of friendship between Cathedral and Festival of Chichester

Chichester Cathedral Chancellor Daniel Inman joined the Festival of Chichester committee – for a festival which was forced off the calendar, along with countless other arts, sporting and community events when the coronavirus crisis hit.

The Festival of Chichester quickly vowed to be back again next year, all the stronger, and Zoom meetings are already underway as the festival committee starts to ponder 2021.

Here Daniel shares his thoughts about the festival that never was; looks forward to happier times next year; and reflects on the close bond which has always existed between the Festival and the Cathedral.

Read more at the link below.


Unsung Heroes – let’s applaud amateur musicians!

In these fraught times, let’s have a round of applause for all those amateur musicians who, in their professional lives, are also helping to combat the lethal virus gripping the country.

As written about before on Music in Portsmouth, nearly every local orchestra has a sprinkling of medical people in its ranks. Several are already in the NHS but others have stepped up to the plate and volunteered to help. To save their blushes, their names have been omitted whilst giving a glimpse of their activities. These are just some of the unsung heroes and heroines of today.

A community nurse who plays the ‘cello is doing her bit by working on the district. This means visiting people in their homes and in care homes. Many are elderly and, sadly, some are receiving end of life care. It’s a risky business. Rightly, she describes her area of work as the new front line.

A violin playing doctor, who is a specialist dermatologist was redeployed onto the wards of a busy hospital as a medical registrar. She is now back in her own area of work trying to catch up on cancer referrals.

Non-cancer patients are now being seen through a virtual clinic. This is a complete change of working routine for her but it keeps as many people at home as possible while dealing with their dermatological needs.

Another violinist, a surgeon, is studying for her PhD. Despite this she has worked occasionally at her hospital filling in for colleagues who are off sick.

One viola player, a former GP in his 70’s, retired eleven years ago. Realistically, he feels that he has little to offer but takes his hat off to all those who’ve put themselves forward to help. Even so, he is helping to save lives by self-isolating.

A paediatrician who is equally at home on viola or violin is now retired. She has had her licence to practice reinstated. She has volunteered to help in a non-frontline role because the NHS is not putting anyone over 60 in that situation. So far, she has not been called forward to help. However, her main contribution is to continue to work for the Tribunal Service. All the hearings are on conference calls now.

It’s a similar story with a retired doctor who is a clarinet player. The General Medical Council wrote to him, giving him back full registration. He filled in the forms but has not heard anything more. His son, who is a violinist, filled in the forms to volunteer to help at a local hospital. Again, no response. As John Milton put it, “They also serve who stand and wait.”


Poignant new song becomes NHS fund-raiser in Sussex

A beautiful new song by University of Chichester head of voice Susan Legg salutes the NHS in these difficult times.

The whole experience – as Susan says – was a happy whirlwind, everything falling into place quickly and easily, from the moment of inspiration right through to the moment of release.

Voice tutor Susan is now using the song, entitled Hold On Tight, to raise as much money as she possibly can for the NHS.

Hear it here: https://youtu.be/NWE7EbKZRhM

Donate here.

Susan says:

I’ve written a song and want us all to make as much money together for the NHS as we can. Let’s do this!

I woke up early one day during Lockdown with a tune in my head. I thought I’d better get up and write it down.

My background: I’m a trained opera singer and vocal tutor at the University of Chichester where we are supporting our wonderful students during Lockdown.

If you watched Endeavour Series 7 you may have seen me as the tragic opera heroine – I’m not really that dramatic in real life!

I was lucky that our great friend and neighbour, the legend Guy Fletcher (Dire Straits) agreed to play the guitar, produce and mix the track. How lucky was that!!

I wrote the melody, lyrics, piano and string parts. When Guy recorded guitar on the track I was so excited to hear what he had done! When I heard it, I realised that his playing had completely dictated the direction the song would take.

It has been an incredible experience to have enlisted the support of extraordinary musicians in the recording of this song. Andy Brown (viola soloist and Director of London Metropolitan Orchestra) and celebrated cellist Caroline Dale both contributed fantastic performances. Composer and our dear friend Matthew Slater gave invaluable help in overseeing and producing the remote recordings.

I also have a great debt of gratitude to my husband, Film, TV and Games composer Stephen Baysted, who recorded my song and worked hard with Anne Miller and Frankie Videtta of Accorder Music our publishers to get it out on all digital platforms as quickly as possible to support our wonderful NHS.

We will beat this virus and save lives.

Please donate generously and I hope you find the song uplifting. I really do!

See also https://www.chichester.co.uk/whats-on/arts-and-entertainment/poignant-new-song-becomes-nhs-fund-raiser-sussex-2552552


Scala Radio’s Unfinished Symphony

Scala Radio, the self-styled “classical music station for modern life” has come up with a great idea to lighten the mood of the music lovers during lockdown. It’s a feature called Unfinished Symphony. It’s on their morning show just after nine o’clock. The whole concept is to encourage listeners to fashion an entirely new piece of music together from their own homes.

Every Monday morning there is a “starter track” to provide some inspiration for their own compositions. It’s only a few bars, about five seconds. Scala will then play the track every morning to see what new and exciting compositions listeners have created.

The idea is beautifully simple. Tune into Scala Radio online after nine in the morning and follow the instructions for Unfinished Symphony. There’s a link to help budding composers hear what others have created so far. The links are:

https://www.facebook.com/watch/scalaradiouk

https://twitter.com/ScalaRadio/status/1255052787186110464

You can also get in touch with Charles Nove, who selects soothing and vibrant music, via charles@scalaradio.co.uk.

It really is fun. Don’t forget that sometimes simple things can snowball and lead to unforeseen major achievements. Your new creation could become a great success. It could end up being played at the Albert Hall with you conducting a vast orchestra. So, if you fancy yourself as Portsmouth’s answer to Puccini or Southampton’s answer to Sebelius, why not have a go?

Charles Nove selects a blend of vibrant and soothing music for your morning with a light look at the day’s news. Search Scala Radio on Facebook and @scalaradiouk on Twitter and Instagram.


News from the Solent Male Voice Choir

Vacancy

Solent Male Voice Choir have 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 for 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.

New beginnings

Any day now the directors of the area’s amateur stage and music groups will be getting their actors, singers and musicians to lend a hand removing the dust covers from the project marked Spring 2020 to see what can be salvaged from the debris of lockdown.

With collaboration arrangements already postponed to the autumn or next year and some concerts and performances reluctantly abandoned group leaders must shrug off the disappointment and re-energise the troops with new initiatives and plans.

Spare a thought then for groups trying to rescue their programmes while welcoming new leaders at the same time so that they are fit and ready when rehearsals resume. Two choirs in the Solent area face this challenge with new faces wielding the baton.

Geoff Porter is moving from his post as musical director of Havant-based Solent Male Voice Choir to join Hampshire Police Male Voice Choir, who rehearse at Sarisbury Green. And stepping up at Havant is his former deputy Huw Thomas.

Geoff says that, while he is sad to be leaving, “I am excited about the prospect of conducting a large choir and directing them in the Cornwall International Male Voice Choir Festival next year. I am delighted that Huw Thomas is taking over SMVC and l know the choir is in safe hands”.

Solent chairman Dave McVittie says that among many memories of Geoff Porter’s stint as MD, the choir will never forget the way he navigated them through the 2016 Welsh Festival of Choirs at the Royal Albert Hall when seven songs on the programme had to be sung in Welsh by the 13 choirs involved.

“We thank him for the way he has extended the choir’s repertoire during his tenure and wish him continuing success. We are all excited to have such a talented replacement for Geoff as Huw. He will bring a new direction to the SMVC.”

Born in Llanelli in South Wales, Huw studied music at the local grammar school, where he played piano, organ and trumpet. An honours graduate in music from Bath University, he gained his diploma as Associate of the Royal College of Music after moving to London. He now lives in Southbourne with his wife Anne-Marie and family.

 


Chichester Singers keep singing together during the lockdown

Many performing groups feel like a family, and their members will be missing their weekly meet-ups and often various additional social occasions, too. Furthermore, their loyal audience will be missing their regular dose of live music whilst lockdown is on.

To combat this, the Chichester Singers has recently released a video of 68 of their choir members singing Mozart’s short choral motet Ave verum corpus in isolation.

Jonathan Willcocks explains. “I asked our accompanist Sue Graham Smith to make a selfie-video playing the accompaniment. I then asked all our singers, while listening to the accompaniment through headphones, to sing their own soprano, alto, tenor or bass part while filming themselves on their phones, and to send the video to me. We had 68 videos back, and my son Charlie then undertook the Herculean task of mixing them all into a single video.

“You can see the result at https://youtu.be/IQ5WC_zR6_4.

“I think it has been a great deal of fun for everyone involved, even though quite a few said that they found the experience of singing alone to a camera terrifying and humbling! I was even accused by some of subjecting them to a form of covert cyber-re-audition, and some who didn’t send me a video have admitted that they did film themselves singing but were too horrified by what they saw and heard to send the video to me!

“As with all amateur choirs, there are some singers who are much more able than others, but the result is living proof of the miracle of large-choir choral singing – that the whole is so much more than the sum of the individual parts.”

Alone but together beautiful, soul-enriching singing. Thank you” – Louise Goldsmith


Editing and mixing the Chichester Singers’ Ave verum corpus video – by Charlie Willcocks

The first stage was for the choir’s accompanist Sue Graham Smith to record a video of the piano accompaniment to the piece, which was circulated via a YouTube link amongst the choir, ‘locked down’ in their own homes. The singers were invited to record their own video, singing their own part of the piece, whilst listening to the accompaniment in earphones. This ensures that all singers are kept in time, but that each individual video features their voice alone, which can then be combined with all the singers’ videos to produce a performance as a unified choir.

Once all videos were received, there were two quite separate jobs which run in parallel. The sound from each video was stripped away to create an audio file for each singer – all the resulting audio files were imported into Apple’s Logic Pro X specialist audio editing software which gives you fine control over the sound. All files are “lined up” and synchronised with the accompaniment, then the sound of a choir can be created firstly by balancing the volume of each singer against everyone else, also using panning to scatter the singers around the left-to-right stereo spectrum, adding reverberation to create the feeling of a “space” the singers are in, and automating various parameters like volume, to create an overall blend.

Meanwhile, all the video files are imported into Apple’s Final Cut Pro X video editing software which allows you to line up and synchronise all videos so they are in time with each other, then to trim and resize each video to give them all a roughly uniform perspective (i.e. head-and-shoulders shot), and then to arrange them in any way you want on the screen, cutting and rotating between videos that are visible and those that aren’t at any one time. Then further automation can be used to have videos moving around the screen, while at the same time zooming each video out, to allow all faces to be visible on the same screen by the end, enabling you to gradually to build a collage of faces. When you get to the end, everyone’s individual video will finish at a different moment, depending on when they happened to press the stop button on their video recording at home. These could all be trimmed to finish at the same time, but I chose to let them all finish naturally, similar to lights being turned out one by one in a building. The software also enables you to put short video transitions, such as fade-ins and fade-outs, on the start and end of each video clip, which takes away any abruptness from changes in clips.

The final audio is then exported as a stereo mix from Logic, and this resultant master sound file is imported to the Final Cut session, lined up with the existing video, and replacing the sound from the individual videos.

 


Enjoy the London Mozart Players at home during the coronavirus crisis

Jess Gillam and the London Mozart Players were to have been one of the highlights of this year’s Festival of Chichester.

But with the Festival cancelled and gigs everywhere pulled amid the coronavirus crisis, the London Mozart Players have come up with an innovative way of making sure you can still enjoy them. LMP have gone virtual, launching At Home with LMP in response to the Covid-19 outbreak.

As spokeswoman Jo Carpenter explains, the new online video feed will keep audiences across the globe connected with their music.

Donations made to the At Home with LMP campaign will be used to help compensate LMP musicians who now have no income due to concert cancellations – the orchestra has no core funding. See the At Home with LMP page.

Access the LMP’s YouTube channel.

Read more at the link below.


Weekly live-streaming from Ensemble Reza is proving a musical hit

Mid-Sussex-based Ensemble Reza is seeing a great response to its weekly lockdown streaming initiative.

Midday Music – the Tuesday Series offers a live-streamed lunchtime concert every week, and numbers are growing nicely.

Ensemble Reza managing director Hannah Carter said: “In just over three weeks we have had over 2.5k viewers and over 300 subscribers to our YouTube channel. During the concert I am able to communicate with our audience through our live chat and know people of all ages including children are listening all over the country from Cornwall to Scotland and as far as France! We have had some lovely feedback and know our welcoming and friendly series is brightening up people’s lives.”

Read more at the links below.

Link to Ensemble Reza’s YouTube channel.

Link to article in the Chichester Observer.


How to Set Up for Online Music Lessons

Whether you like it or not, in order to keep busy and still have a music tuition business after this Corona crisis has settled, you might be forced to do online lessons for some time.

If you’ve never done it before and you’re used to regular face-to-face lessons, the thought of this can be scary. This crisis came so suddenly, out of the blue, and caught us all off guard. We’ve had to adapt super quickly.

I’ve been doing online lessons for a while and have discovered what works and doesn’t work for a range of instruments. In this short guide, I will introduce you to the webcam angles and setups that you will most likely need. If you are playing an instrument that I’m not mentioning, you can easily translate one of these setups to suit your own instrument. The piano has the most advanced setup, so that gets most of my attention.

In my opinion, the setup is one of the most important factors for a successful online lesson. That’s why I have chosen to dedicate a whole post just for this topic. If you’ve got the setup right, the rest will be a walk in the park. Or perhaps more appropriately nowadays – a walk in the garden…

Read more at https://franspianostudio.me/2020/04/21/how-to-set-up-for-online-lessons

This article originally appeared on Frances Wilson’s A Piano Teacher Writes…thoughts on piano teaching and beyond website.

Sindre graduated from Rose Bruford College with a degree in Actor-Musicianship in 2015. He is a multi-instrumentalist and has been a private music teacher for 4 years. In 2018, he co-founded Beyond Music in order to provide a supportive and rewarding platform for music tutors to advertise their tuition services.


Innovative ways of staying musically connected during the coronavirus crisis are springing up online

While recitals, events and concerts are being postponed and cancelled as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, there are still ways to stay musically connected at a time when many of us will feel isolated.

Click on the link below for up to date information and new virtual initiatives for choral and/or organ enthusiasts, courtesy of Rhinegold Publishing.


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