Review: Winchester Summer Music 2018

Winchester Summer Music is a week-long, chamber music course for strings, brass and woodwind players. Usually it’s held every year in August. For the second year running its customary venue of Peter Symonds College was out of bounds due to building work. So, once again, it was held in the tranquil setting of Park Place in Wickham.

WSM attracts musicians from far and wide. Nearly all of the fifty or so mature students who were there came from the UK. But this year two lovely, teenagers came all the way from Seoul, the capital of South Korea. Haeri and Kyuri Kim are twins. Haeri is a promising, talented violinist studying music at Sookmyeong University. Kyuri is studying Social Science in Tokyo, Japan. Haeri played in the first violins of the chamber orchestra while her sister, Kyuri, listened intently from the sidelines.

Under the encouraging gazes of the tutors, the players honed their skills in string quartets, wind bands, flute choirs, mixed ensembles, a string orchestra and a chamber orchestra. This year’s tutors were Michael Mace (‘cello), Judith Young and Alexandra Urquhart (violin and viola), Amanda Kibble (bassoon) and Nick Cartlidge (flute).

To end the course the string orchestra performed Glazunov’s Theme and Variations. Judith Young conducted. This was followed by the chamber orchestra, under the baton of Michael Mace, playing a whole host of goodies including Franz Schubert’s delightful Italian-style Overture. This exciting work has some tricky corners for the woodwind section, particularly for the first and second oboists who are totally exposed when they launch into the transition from the opening slow section to the brisk allegro. Their flurry of notes has to be played very precisely in unison. With admirable determination Lorraine Rawson and her sidekick Rachel Jarvis practised the run over and over again in private so that it was beautifully synchronised and note-perfect at the actual concert.

Violinist Darren Beard played a tuneful and lyrical violin concerto by the Sardinian composer Giovanni Battista Viotti. An accomplished musician, Darren also included a virtuoso style cadenza which he had written.

As usual, the course was a complete success. This was due to the relentless, hard work of the organisers, Barbara Hathaway, herself a French horn player and Martin Overington, a bassoonist.

The charming and devout Franciscan Sisters at Park Place made sure that all the residents and daily visitors were well fed and comfortably accommodated for the entire period. The students departed as well practised and better-informed players. Roll on next year’s course.

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