A ST ANDREAN HANDEL EXTRAVAGANZA
There's nothing quite as lovely as having a home gig! I'll be joining the St Andrews Chorus and the Heisenberg Ensemble under the baton of Michael Downes for some delicious Handel - Dixit Dominus, and parts of his Four Coronation Anthems. I haven't sung in the Holy Trinity Kirk in St Andrews since I was in Madras College Senior Choir, so I'm looking forward to reacquainting myself of the town landmark's inner beauty.
STUDENT LIFE AT THE SILBERMANN HAUS
Well, it's always a pleasure to take a programme on holiday, and this time I get to take the lovely Telemann and Bach programme with Henry Fairs to Freiberg! A bit like taking coals to Newcastle, giving a programme of Telemann and Bach in Germany, but I love the unusual programme we created. It promises to be a lot of fun!
STUDENT LIFE AT THE LAIDLAW
How excited am I?? A local gig with someone from life way back*!! Henry Fairs (organist extraordinaire) and I have been invited to do a lunchtime concert at the St Andrews University Laidlaw Music Centre in the McPherson Recital Room - an acoustically miraculous hall. We're going to be playing music by Telemann and Bach based on the theme of student life as we [almost] remember it!
*Birmingham Conservatoire a 'decade' or so ago!)
I SILENTI, JUST ABOUT...
Just one performance of this gem, instead of a wee tour. What did I say in the last entry? Mind you, it's pretty fabulous that we get to work this magical piece again. Antwerp, we'll see you soon!
More cancellations, more postponements, more 'wait-and-see's. The performing arts are suffering still, trying to catch-up with almost two years of pandemic shut-downs. It feels like we spend our time waiting to hear whether our next production, concert, project will be going ahead or whether it has unfortunately been cast aside due to lack of time, space or funding.
It continues to be a difficult and anxious time for musicians, actors, and everyone involved with live performances.
THE SILENT ONES CONTINUE...
It's pretty fabulous that we get to spread the musical journey that is I Silenti again over the next few months! We'll be in Namur, Brussels, Grenoble and Orléans with our amazing troupe that includes the American soprano Claron McFadden, Argentinian tenor Jonatan Alvarado, multi-instrumentalist Tcha Limburger, accordionist Philippe Turiot, double-bassist Vilmos Csikós, and dancers Shantala Shivalingappa and Tijen Lawton.
CANCELLED EEN NEDERLANDSE KERST
Back with the Dudok Ensemble for a few goes at Bach's delicious Christmas Oratorio! I love this piece more every time I have the honour to sing it. It's also one of the few choral pieces I still wish I could get to sing, along with the solos! What an excellent blast is it! Can't wait!
A LOCAL MESSIAH!
How marvellous to be asked for a local gig! A lovely wee Messiah with the Cupar Choral Society at St John's Church on the Bonnygate. Conducted by Michael Segaud, it will be fun to be surrounded by a lot of Scottish musicians at last!
MUSICAL AND AMICABLES AT LAST!!
Last year saw our concerts covidly cancelled, but we are delighted to be able to entertain live audiences again at St Catherine's Church in Hoarwithy, Herefordshire. (And what an amazingly beautiful church it is, too!) Purcell, Telemann, Lambert a/o... At last, indeed! And, happily, there will be more of this programme in Devon and Gloucestershire in September! JOY!!
TOP SECRET REVEALED!
We finally FINALLY get to premiere our wonderful I SILENTI, written by Fabrizio Cassol. And because I find it so extraordinary, I need the professional words of production notices to tell you what it's about...
"With projects like Coup Fatal and Requiem pour L., Cassol has proved to be a master at ‘recomposing’ existing music and magically transforming it into a new story.
And this new story is special: through the figure of Tcha Limberger, a blind Roma musician, I Silenti makes a connection between the Porajmos, the forgotten genocide of the Roma during WW II, and excerpts from Monteverdi’s madrigals that speak of love and war. Two worlds that conduct a dialogue and flow into each other.
Tcha Limberger is joined by Claron McFadden, Nicola Wemyss and Jonatan Alvarado for the vocals and recitation. Philippe Thuriot, Georgi Dobrev, Ezgi Elkirmis / Simon Leleux and Vilmos Scikos are accompanying them on an arsenal of instruments from very diverse musical traditions. In this hybrid universe, director Lisaboa Houbrechts evokes echoes of the lost mother, the lost Indian origins of Tcha and the Roma, through the appearance of Indian dancer Shantala Shivalingappa.
I Silenti is like a poem that not only tells about the Roma but also everyone who has been silenced. A homage."
This season will see us performing our amazing piece in Luxembourg, Lyon, Marseilles, and Antwerp. How fortunate am I?
CANCELLED MUSICAL AND AMICABLES
I'm getting to sing with some of my oldest musical friends! I'm so excited! A little Maundy Thursday action in Worcester Cathedral, plus a trip to the delightfully teeny Old Baptist Chapel in Tewkesbury, to sing some Reflective Music for Eastertide with the Musical and Amicable Society - Purcell, Telemann, Handel... Delish!
CANCELLED JOHANNES IS IN DA HOUSE
Yes indeed. This is Part III of the Apollo Ensemble's Brockes Triptych, and, well, wow. Mr Bach brings you all his favourite bits from Telemann and Handel, and works them all together in his own scrumptious way.
I can't tell you a thing. Nothing. Nada. But on-and-off for the past year I've been in rehearsals for something mind-blowing. And I can't tell you a thing about it, which is both frustrating (because it's going to be SO AMAZING) and also rather cool, (because who doesn't want to be a part of something super-secret and super-wonderful?)
I just wanted you to know that I'm here, I'm singing, and boy, you're going to love this project a whole lot. Watch this space - rehearsals continue for another year, with performances beginning in January 2021! Wheeeee!!
BACH CANTATA BWV 54 FOR... TENOR?
I jest, but just a wee bit, for BWV 54 'Widerstehe doch der Sünde', is as beautiful as it is low! Oof! But so much fun to play about with my tenor register... otherwise known as chest voice, but that doesn't sound so impressive!
I'm delighted to be singing this, as well as the alto solos in Handel's Dixit Dominus, with Edward Caswell, directing the lovely Dudok Ensemble.
WE'RE ALL GOING ON A SUMMER EVENSONG
Evensong? Indeed, and for the first time in... oof, many, MANY years, I'll be part of a cathedral choir - The Cathedral Church of the Redeemer, Calgary's Cathedral Choir, to be precise, as they tour Salisbury and Dublin Cathedrals! Under the direction of Vicki St Pierre, and organist extraordinaire Neil Cockburn, it'll be good to get those psalms up-and-running again!!
TELEMANN IS MAD AND I LOVE HIM
It's true. Telemann is bonkers. You have to come and hear it for yourselves! If you heard the Handel Brockes Passion last year, then you'll know that these early passions were admired and copied by a fair few peer composers, but Telemann... oof! All the way through this version you hear music that is still to come. Rameau, Mozart, and very obviously Bach. It's all here, and it's all astounding!
The Apollo Ensemble has hit gold again! I can't wait for the public get to know this amazing music!
BACH AT CHRISTMAS
It's my pleasure to go back and sing with the Dudok Ensemble again, directed by Edward Caswell! A wonderful opportunity to get my throat around some more new alto Bach! Yum! Nothing like a Christmas Oratorio to get you in the mood!
AN ENGLISH REQUIEM
Actually, this isn't quite what it seems - the English part is because I'm going to be singing in England on the 23rd of June for the first time in absolute yonks! Mozart, of course, with the North Devon Sinfonia, conducted by Emma Kent (you'll probably remember their names as they were the winners of the BBC4/BBC2 TV programme 'All Together Now: the Great Orchestra Challenge').
It's going to be extra special for me, as I've known Emma since our first day at Birmingham Conservatoire :: coughty-cough :: years ago, and it's going to be a real treat to sing for her, and have a jolly good catch-up!
BROCKES WHAT NOW?
Handel's Brockes Passion. You've never heard of it? Neither had I, and WHAT WERE WE MISSING OUT ON? The Brockes Passion, or 'Der für die Sünde der Welt gemarterte und sterbende Jesus' (translated to English is: 'The Story of Jesus, Suffering and Dying for the Sins of the World', which kind of lets you in on the strength of some of the text...) is a libretto written by Barthold Heinrich Brockes in 1712, and used by many composers as the basis of their Passiontide musical offerings.
This version by Handel is the more famous of the extant oratorios (if you don't count Bach's St John Passion, which uses a fair amount of Brockes text throughout) and begins a three-year project with my dear Apollo Ensemble. This year Handel, next year Telemann, and the year after will see Bach's St John. Utter bliss.
AN ENGLISH CHRISTMAS
An English Christmas in the Netherlands, in fact, with my dear Apollo Ensemble, under the masterly direction of David Rabinovich. My contribution will be the delicious alto solos from Handel's Messiah, plus a little Rejoice stealing and transposing! What fun!
SCHUBERT, THE BARD & THE LADY
What a way to begin the holiday season! A pile of scrumptious Schubert songs to lyrics by Ossian and Sir Walter Scott, with the enviable talents of Mattijs van der Woerd and Alistair Shelton-Smith (baritones) to sing with (including myself singing mezzo, alto, *and* tenor throughout the programme) accompanied by the divine musical hands of Shuann Chai at the piano. You have to see and hear this programme - it's just fabulous!
I LOVE UTRECHT IN THE FALL
Another chance to take part in a Utrechtcantate Dienst service - how lovely, and what a delicious piece of music to sing - Bach's cantata BWV 188.
AN ENGLISH SUMMER
The first setting of a rather delicious English blend of arias and concertos with my lovely Apollo Ensemble directed by David Rabinovich. If you can't see us now, then come again in December. This is a wonderful programme that you just can't miss!
A NEW MESSIAH
Well, a new Messiah for me - Handel's Dublin version of 1742, with the Euterpe Baroque Consort directed by Dmitry Goethals. I love getting to sing different versions of well-known works as I get to discover them anew! Wonderful stuff!
A NOT SO HOHE MESSE
More new Bach alto solos to add to my repertoire! It's really rather lovely to see this music anew in the form of singing the lower solos, instead of my trusty Soprano 2! And this time it's Bach's 'Mass in B Minor' with the Dudok Koor en Orkest, under the direction of Edward Caswell.
POLISHING MY POLISH
A new Polish city for me - Gliwice - where I'll be the only singer in their Bach Festival this year! What fun! And more Bach! Delicious!
THE PASSION OF SAINT MATTHEW
At last!! My first ever outings as the alto soloist in this beautiful setting by Bach are coming up tomorrow and Wednesday evening in Leeuwarden, with the Stendenkoor and the Nationaal Symphonisch Kamerorkest, directed by Hans de Wilde. There's so much history with this piece in The Netherlands, and I'm excited to be able to add my own interpretation to the mix!
There's a lovely tradition to include a Bach cantata in pertinent service dates of the church calendar, and this is the first time I've been invited to take part in one. And how lovely it will be to sing Bach's Cantata BWV 23 tonight in Dordrecht with Accademia Amsterdam, and the Drechtsteden Bachkoor under the direction of Nico van der Meel!
What a treat! Singing some music written for the Three Ladies of Ferrara with Claron McFadden and Nora Fischer, with the expert harp-handling of Sarah Louise RIdy, recording both audio and video for a production in May in the Rotterdams Operadagen. Watch this space for further details...
I'm about to spend a couple of weeks in Israel with some old college friends based there, and we are sure to indulge in a lot of music-making. It's going to be an amazing experience, for sure!
Yes, you read that correctly! Mozart's rather witty, classical additions to the baroque favourite was a real thing at the time, and although we're doing this project in English (and not with Mozart's German text) it's a great musical time capsule!
I'll be singing the alto solos (and stealing much of the soprano and tenor's music, as per Mozart's instructions - you've got to love his musical irreverence!) with the Apotheosis Orchestra, directed by Korneel Bernolet, down in Belgium. What a fun end to the year!
BACH PLUS KUHNAU
Mmmmmore Bach! I get the chance to sing solo with the Belgian ensemble BachPlus again, in a programme of Bach (cantatas 30 & 50) and a lovely work by Kuhnau called 'Wenn ihr fröhlich'. It's always a pleasure to work with these guys!
Yes indeed, 40 singers - or 8 choirs of 5 singers - to perform the ever-glorious 'Spem in alium' by Thomas Tallis. An extended Vox Luminis, under the accomplished direction of Lionel Meunier, will be one of the last performances of this year's Utrecht Early Music Festival. It's something you really can't miss!
Oh my goodness! The Spirit Of Gambo and myself will be performing some beautiful English consort music this coming Sunday on Podium Witteman. And if you don't get to see that, we'll be performing the same programme, and more, with the addition of the ever-inspiring Claron McFadden, in June!
What fun! The month starts off with the delicious Mass in D by Dvorak, and my first ever time singing his music as a soloist! La Pellegrina celebrates it's 25th anniversary with its conductor, Dirkjan Horringa, and this project is going to be a blast!
Later on in the month it's back to Bach (and back to Belgium) with the Flanders Baroque Academy, directed by Paul van Loey, and my debut as the alto soloist for the St John Passion. Such delicious music! I can't wait!
A DAY-FUL OF BACH
It's back down to Belgium soon to sing with the ever-professional BachPlus directed by Bart Naessens, to sing cantata 83 – Erfreute Zeit im neuen Bunde, and the beautiful Missa brevis in F. 2 concerts in one day but always worth it to sing such such beautiful music, and with this lovely ensemble!
REQUIEM VOOR MOZART
After a month at home, it's now time for a little Mozart to start the year off in good style! With Dirkjan Horringa conducting his Trajecti Voces and the Arezzo Ensemble, I'll be singing the alto solo of Mozart's Requiem.
Oh my! It's finally here - it's time to sing with The Apollo Ensemble, directed by David Rabinovich, with Ton Koopman and Tini Mathot playing the obbligato organ parts in Bach's beautiful alto cantatas BWV 35 (Geist und Seele wird verwirret) and BWV 170 (Vergnügte Ruh, beliebte Seelenlust).
And in the middle of this wonderful Bach project, I have the pleasure of singing with a new group - Yellow House Baroque - in a concert of Scottish and English baroque music. Hoots, mon, it'll be braw!
More ensemble singing with ARSYS Bourgogne - this time Haydn's 'Creation' in Luxembourg with the Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin, then it's off to Scotland for my first ever solo singing tour of my home country, with the Leids Barok Ensemble. Handel and Vivaldi will be the name of the game! Can't WAIT!
LIGHTS, CAMERA, ACTION!
Something unusual for me next: film music by Bruno Coulais (composer of 'Les Choristes', 'Himalayas' amongst many other beautiful and haunting film scores) with ARSYS Bourgogne in La-Roche-Sur-Yon in France. It's going to be spectacular!
START SPREADING THE NEWS
... we're leaving very soon to make a musical, if not actual, visit to New York with the Ribattuta Ensemble. Copland, Bernstein, Whitacre, and Ives shall be our guides to the city that doesn't sleep!
The New Year shall be welcomed in in Venitian style, with ARSYS Bourgogne, in Metz this time, performing more Vivaldi and Caldara.
MORE MAGNIFICENT MAGNIFICATS
Huzzah - 5 more concerts around The Netherlands with this wonderful programme! The Apollo Ensemble, directed by David Rabinovich, will again be delighting the senses this Christmas-time with beautiful Bach! Come and listen - it's going to be wonderful!
A BELGIAN B MINOR
Concerts with BachPlus, directed by Bart Naessens, are now coming up in Belgium. This will be my first time as alto soloist in this piece, and I'm really looking forward to what promises to be a brilliant experience!
Oh, this is what concert-making is all about - beautiful music sung and played with amazing performers. Bach's cantata BWV110 plus his original version of the Magnificat (in Eb) with The Apollo Ensemble directed by David Rabinovich, to be precise, with a concert this weekend, then five more over Christmas! Not to be missed!
Then, just a few days later, it's off to France for some more singing with ARSYS Bourgogne, directed by Pierre Cao, this time two separate programmes: one of Vivaldi and Caldara, the other of 20th and 21st century music for vocal ensemble and solo cello.
It's off to Portugal (Mosteiro da Batalha, Mosteiro de Santa Maria de Alcobaça, and Penalva do Castello) with the LBE to perform the beautiful cantata 'Il Pianto di Maria' by Giovanni Battista Ferrandini a few more times. I've enjoyed singing with this lovely group of musicians since 2003, and it's always a pleasure to make more music with them!
HAPPY FIFTH BIRTHDAY, MANNHEIM
This coming weekend sees more lustra! Het Nieuwe Mannheim Koor en Orkest (directed by the ever-talented Quentin Clare) is celebrating its 5th birthday on Dutch soil (although it is 18 years since the first Mannheim concert in Birmingham) with a fabulous programme including Bach's Missa Brevis in g, and Vivaldi's Magnificat. It's always a pleasure to work with these guys.
THE TEARS OF MARIA
I'm glad that Mr Ferrandini is now being correctly attributed for the composition of the beautiful dramatic cantata 'Il Pianto di Maria' now instead of Mr Handel, who has been wrongly getting the credit for this amazing piece for too many years. I'm also glad that I am getting to perform this piece a couple of times over the coming weekend with the lovely Leids Barok Ensemble, an ensemble, may I add, that is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. Lustrums aplenty indeed!
Celebratory concerts appear to be playing left, right, and centre! I'm currently taking part in Vocaal Ensemble Coqu's 30th anniversary project: Bach's B minor mass, directed by Erik van Nevel, with players from his excellent ensemble, Currende. As well as myself, there is a plethora of wonderful soloists: Francine van der Heijden, Peter de Groot, Kevin Skelton, and Marc Pantus. Too much fun! (Almost!)
It's time for a spot of Beethoven's last symphony. This epic piece, for symphony orchestra, choir, and 4 soloists will be performed as the lustrum set of concerts with the Nijmeegs Studentenorkest directed again by Quentin Clare - his final project as music director of this group. With Sarah Helsby Hughes, Nicholas Sales, Pieter Hendricks, and myself as soloists, we're bound to give him a splendid send-off!
BRAHMS IN A SERIOUS MOOD
After a June concert in de Vereeneging in Nijmegen with the Nijmeegs Studentenorkest directed by Quentin Clare, it's now time to tour Germany and Denmark with the same programme of Schumann, Raff, and some Brahms for myself - the wonderful 4 ernste Gesänge (4 Serious Songs) in an orchestrated version by Sir Malcolm Sargent.
UN INTERLUDE FRANÇAIS
It's May, so that must mean it's time for more 20th century French choral and organ works with the Ribattuta Ensemble and organist Hayo Boerema. This year sees some Messaien, Langlais, Fauré and a rather fabulous Messe Solonelle by a student of Langlais: Naji Hakim.
It's all good, clean, noisy fun!
A NORTHERN REQUIEM
Next week sees my first visit to Trondheim in Norway. Concerts of Mozart's Requiem with the Trondheim Symfoniorkester directed by Richard Egarr will be performed in the Nidarosdomen - the northernmost mediæval cathedral in the world.
(And, of course, I shall be taking a camera with plenty of memory!)
Coming up is a project full of the flavours of Bach - one including the beautiful motet BWV 226 and a set of new works by Chiel Meijering inspired by Bach for choir, organ, violone and saxophone - with the Ribattuta Ensemble, David Jansen - organ. Henk van Twillert - saxophones, and Catherine Bahn - violone.
Mmmm - Tasty, tasty Bach!
LANG MAY YER LUM REEK
(Which means 'long may your chimney smoke, and is a traditional Scots greeting for the New Year and other celebrations!)
Happy New Year!
WE VOUS SOUHAITER EIN FRÖHLICHES NATIVITATIS
After more Mozart in divers countries, it's time for a real change... Between the Holland Baroque Society and the Ribattuta Ensemble, I'm going to have a December filled with music spanning almost 7 centuries, several languages and a plethora of styles! Palestrina, Gabrieli, Tunder, Poulenc, Matthias, Lauridsen, McCartney and el-Roumi.
Crazy, yes, but completely divine!
Pergolesi and Stravinsky are matched perfectly in the next set of concerts with Het Nieuwe Mannheim Koor en Orkest conducted by Quentin Clare. First up is the relatively unknown (yet wonderfully forward-looking) 'Missa Romana' by Pergolesi, followed by Stravinsky's 'ballet with song' 'Pulcinella', in which Stravinsky uses music by Pergolesi as the basis of his own neo-classic work.
It's all pretty fabulous, I must say!
MASSES OF MOZART
Did you see what I did there? Heh! I'm just back from the first set of concerts of Mozart's Mass in c minor and the Requiem with Arsys Bourgogne and Camerata Saltzburg down in France, conducted by Pierre Cao. Steamy temperatures and very impressive thunderstorms in both Burgundy and the Auvergne did nothing to dampen some wonderful performaces of these great works. More of the same coming up in October, this time in Brittany.
THE CRICKET RECOVERS
A little departure from the norm: I'm helping out with language coaching for the Holland Festival production of 'The Cricket Recovers' by English composer Richard Ayres. I've never been this close to contemporary music before, but I have to admit I'm thoroughly enjoying the experience! Even the cracking the language-whip part!
MUSIQUE du 20ème SIÈCLE
I know, I know - TWENTIETH CENTURY FRENCH MUSIC? But really, glorious gorgeousness is to be found in the 12-part 'Cantique des Cantiques' by Daniel-Lesur I'm currently singing with the Ribattuta Ensemble. Wow. Also in the same programme is the Requiem by Alfred Desenclos, which is pretty scrummy too.
And I have to admit to totally revelling in this lower singing. I feel like I've come home! Marvellous!
A BELATED WELCOME
I had completely forgotten that my old site had a mini blog/news/welcome thingy on the introduction page! How terribly remiss! This site generator pretty much thinks of everything you'll ever need, although I have yet to see a blog entry tool. Not to worry, as I can play about with this and see what works!
So, as it says on the title, I wish you a belated welcome to this new website. I hope you enjoy looking and listening and don't feel shy in dropping me a line or two via the contact page, or sign the guestbook!