Music and Reviews from Clare, Limerick, Waterford and sometimes further afield

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Voci Nuove: Cork Choral Group Raising the Bar




My preview piece on a coral concerts taking place this weekend, featuring the combined efforts of two excellent choirs is in today's Irish Examiner. You can read it here http://www.irishexaminer.com/lifestyle/artsfilmtv/love-loss-and-hope-in-horror-of-war-299528.htm.

MY e interview with MD Lynsey Callaghan and member Brendan Long is here.  Voci Nuove can be heard at the Unitarian Church in Dublin and at the Cork Vision Centre on Saturday this week.
  Can you expand  a little on  the process in finalising  the programme? 

Given the historical significance of this year, I was eager to reflect on this through music. The programme includes a mixture of contemporary works and older pieces, but, for me, all are in some way connected to war and adversity that has occurred throughout history. As well as this, there is great hope in many of the pieces so that while they comment on suffering, they also express the belief in eventual peace.

Among the predominantly 20th century/ contemporary,  Schutz represents the historic period . What is special about this  piece that earned it a slot?

This biblical text (Revelation 14:13) has been used in funeral music of many German-speaking composers. Heinrich Schütz’s six-part motet comes from Geistliche Chormusik (1648), an important collection of 29 of the composer’s motets using German-texts. The collection represents a transition in his writing and while its stylistic roots are in the Renaissance, the expressive contrasts within the piece clearly represent the Baroque era to which it belongs. The year of publication of Geistliche Chormusik is significant because during this year a series of peace treaties were signed which ended the Thirty Years’ War in the Holy Roman Empire and the Eighty Years’ War between Spain and the Dutch Republic. Although the treaties did not entirely restore peace throughout Europe, they created a base for national self-determination and their principals became central to international law and the prevailing world order. The Thirty Years’ War was one of the most destructive conflicts in European history and it was against this backdrop that Schütz composed his tribute to the dead. Presumably Schütz was not untouched by these horrors that were Raging through Europe and his words and yet in this piece we see faith prevailing, claiming 'blessed are the dead, that die in the Lord'.

only 3 years old and already much lauded. Can you fill us in on the accolades the choir have garnered to date;

Voci Nuove was formed in October 2011. It was originally comprised of  9 voices from Cork School of Music, with the goal of performing alongside Cois Cladaigh in the Galway Jazz Festival. The choir quickly rose to the heights of  receiving a choral  workshop with The King's Singers in Dublin. Voci Nuove has grown from strength to strength and in September 2012 they held auditions to expand the choir. They began performing at concerts, and in Spring 2013 they completed their first series of concerts in Cork, Ennis and Galway entitled Pitches be Crazy, hosted by and collaborating with Cantare Chamber Choir (Ennis) and Cois Cladaigh (Galway). As a part of this tour, Voci Nuove performed Spectrum by Sam Perkin, Cork, an exciting choral work which was composed for the choir. 

They began competing, winning several categories at Cork's Feis Maitiú, 2012. In 2013, the group were awarded 2nd place in the Sacred and Chamber choir categories at the Cork International Choral Festival, and were awarded the John Mannion Perpetual Trophy for their performance of Ave Regina by György Orbán. They opened this Cork Choral Festival by singing for the Shandon Sunrise, and following this they performed a challenging programme in the beautiful surrounds of Triskel Christchurch.

In October 2013, they competed at the inaugural City of Derry's International Choral Festival. Here, they were awarded first prize in the International category, and placed first in the National Sacred Music category. In November 2013, they travelled to Vienna for their first choral exchange, hosted by Amerlingchor.  This was a valuable experience for Voci Nuove, to broaden their musical artistry, by working with a new conductor, collaborating with another choir, performing instrumental music, and exploring genres not in their typical repertoire.

Voci Nuove's 2014 is already proving to be a busy and exciting year. In February we had the chance to perform Spectrum again at a Cork School of Music concert which celebrated the new music of composer Sam Perkin. The following week, Voci Nuove participated in a workshop with Grammy-award winning ensemble Chanticleer in the Cork Opera House. On 11th February, Voci Nuove supported Chanticleer in concert also at the Cork Opera House. This same week, Voci Nuove appeared on RTÉ's The Today Show to promote their concert with Chanticleer.

In April 2014, Voci Nuove launched their Spring-Summer 2014 tour, Cardboard Pocket Rag, in the Dublin Unitarian Church. On this day they were grateful to receive a pre-recital choral workshop with Michael McGlynn. Other stops on this concert tour included the Mitchelstown School of Music & Arts and the Triskel Arts Centre in Cork City. For this Triskel concert, Spizzrag, Voci hosted The Yale Spizzwinks(?), a dynamic young male a cappella ensemble from the US.

Following Voci Nuove's weekend at the City of Derry International Choral Festival 2013, Voci Nuove were invited by Cork International Choral Festival's artistic director, John Fitzpatrick, to compete in the Fleischmann International Trophy Competition 2014. Here, Voci Nuove's performance of Come Sleep by Daniel Brinsmead won the Lady Dorothy Mayer Memorial Trophy award in the Fleischmann International competition. They also received the Trofaí Cuimhneacháin Philib Uí Laoghaire award for their performance of Molaimís go léir an tAon-Mhac Chríost by Ben Hanlon. They were awarded second prize in the Ireland's Choir of the Year competition.

What have been the highlights / most proud moments 

Winning the International competition at the inaugural Derry International Choral Festival, performing in Vienna, and opening for Chanticleer in Cork Opera House all stand out.

 What direction does VN hope to go in with new MD at the helm? 

Onwards and upwards, continuing to tackle exciting new projects and music, and raising our profile in Ireland and beyond. 

Is new music a particular priority for VN ?  

I am constantly impressed by the standard of music that is being written in Ireland at the moment and the great work that organisations like the Contemporary Music Centre and the Irish Composers Collective are doing to champion the products of our composers. I think it's important for composers to have an instrument to write for and if we want more music to be written we really have to encourage this through performance. We are very lucky to have composers writing pieces with our choir specifically in mind. This is very exciting and mutually beneficial.

The venue  Cork Vision Centre  is not one I have been in before. What is the acoustic like for vocal groups/  Any particular reason for choosing this venue?

We've always striven to do things a little differently from the typical classical ensemble. Not that there's anything wrong with performing in big established venues, we just like to bring an audience to lesser explored places, both in music and location. The acoustic is perfect. The Vision Centre is a re-purposed church with high ceilings and flat walls that lend themselves nicely to acapella choral music. 

How did the collaboration with new Dublin choir come about?

It is a very exciting time for both choirs as Laetare Vocal Ensemble has just begun its journey and Voci Nuove has taken on a new musical director. It made sense for both groups with so many similarities to join up and share an exciting concert of so many 'firsts'. The choirs already have many connections: a number of past Voci members who moved to Dublin are singing with Laetare, the conductor of Voci is also a member and there are many friendships between members of the two choirs through participation in other musical activities (Irish Youth Choir, Irish Youth Chamber Choir). The collaboration works on so many levels: it means each choir gets to perform both at home and in a different city and so early on in the year; the members of each choir get to bond both within their choir and with another group; the themes can be explored more thoroughly with potentially two different perspectives or interpretations; there will be a connection between the two choirs so, should members relocate, there will hopefully be a place for them to continue their singing. There is so much musical talent in Ireland and these concerts hope to celebrate young chamber choirs and their musical achievements. It makes perfect sense for two exciting choirs to work together to create something special for all involved.

Are any of the composers involved in the rehearsal process?  

The Irish composers have been so generous with their time and talents. We have remained in touch throughout the process of learning their music and if I have any questions i know that i can drop them an email or call them and they will be willing to help.

What is your rehearsal schedule over the next few weeks leading up to the concert 

With really only one week to go, we will have our final rehearsal the night before the Dublin concert. We will rehearse in the Vision Centre and can get a feel for the acoustic and the layout. I am really looking forward to this rehearsal because, with the concert so close, I am expecting that there will be great focus and energy.

Are all your members Cork based.

We recently acquired a bass 2 who travels from Limerick and for this we are very grateful. 

How does a choir of young musicians who have not been exposed to  war approach preparing to perform works on a war theme. 

The programme is a challenging one with very sombre themes but there is also hope. Many of our pieces look to an end to war and suffering. Luckily, I don't think that any of us have had first-hand experience of war. Each piece, however, tells a story and we will try to create a scene, bringing our own experiences and emotions to the music. i think empathy is crucial for performing, so while we might not have experienced war, everyone has experienced suffering in their lives. It is our challenge to take our experiences and use them to make us better, more genuine performers. 
New MD Lynsey Callaghan

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Pathos and Gaiety: Piano Trio at Waterford~Music Chamber Series

Hunka , Tinney and Johnston at Waterford City Hall
Katherine Hunka, violin
Hugh Tinney, piano
Guy Johnston, Cello (UK)
Franck: Sonata for violin and piano in A major, M. 8
Glière: Duos for violin and cello, Op. 39
Schubert: Piano Trio No 2 in E flat, D929  


Following fast on the heels of the Contempo Quartet, Waterford~ Music presented another top class evening of chamber music in the elegant Georgian Room at City Hall. There was a sense of Modern and Classical spirits converging on the Romantic in a recital given by Katherine Hunka, Hugh Tinney and Guy Johnston under the aegis of Classical Links Irelnad last week My review is in today's Irish Examiner (Weds 19 Nov).

Here is the second movement of the Schubert E flat piano featuring a glorious cello solo played here by the Beaux Arts Trio. Guy Johnston, BBC Musician of the year in 2000 gave a spine tingling performance of this movement based on a Swedish folk song.

Excellent programme notes by Enda Rohan were supplemented by introductions by Tinney and Hunka

How wonderful to be able to hear musicians of this calibre on our doorstep this great venue. More terrific evenings are lined up in the series. Looking forward to hearing pianist, Joanna MacGregor and pianist Michael McHale is teaming up with ace clarinettist Michael Collins. . Check out the details here


Friday, November 14, 2014

A Tsunami of Black Porter and a Skip Full of Blaas



Thanks to John Cloono for this colourful report on the Booze Blaas and Banter. I am proud to have been included on the bill for this annual event


Photos Ciarán Conneely
The crackling of sizzling sausages blended with the pleasant aroma from Jack Molloy's spicy breakfast beverages as early house punters gathered around the side door of Jordan's Pub, at Waterford's Quay's on Saturday 25th. last for the 2014 Booze,Blaas N' Banter gig.  A wisp of light white smoke rose gently from Jordan's beer garden,where Peter and Noel Atkins prepared the culinary delights which awaited the restless,gathering crowd.  City gulls crossed from the river to view the proceedings as other avian scavengers flew in and watched for any easy pickings, from atop Greyfrairs and The French Church.
Within seconds of the doors opening at exactly 9am, pints were being pulled and corks softened on large bottles from the shelf and cooler. Balls of white flour from Michael and Dermot Walsh's bakehouse caressed the results of the Atkins brothers labours, but now embellished with a wonderfully flavoured aromatic sauce, specially blended by Waterford's answer to the ' Roux Brothers ' or Hairy Bikers.  These warm blaas  and their savoury fillings, which passed around the bar, were quickly consumed by the hungry early morning revellers, some who claimed to have been on half rations since the previous Thursday. Pat Galvin on box and Tom Casey on banjo are quickly into their stride as the crowd settle in for a few hours of Booze,Blaas N' Banter.
By 9.30am local journalist, renaissance man and MC for the event, Ciaran Murphy,formally gets proceedings under way. Those in attendance were regaled with stories of Olde Waterford, Redmondism and Ballybricken,The Glass Factory, The Larkin Tapestry,  The Clyde Shipping Co. River Craft and Navigation as well as the Fenor Melee and 1922-1923 Farm Labourers Strike.  Dermot Power sang ' The Black Leg Miner ' docker, Dyksie Walsh gave us ' Don't Forget Your Shovel' and other Christy Moore songs. Paul Dillon played guitar and elevated us to an other dimension, whilst Cathy Desmond played Lilly Marlane and 'She through the Fair' on a magic fiddle.  Mathew Roche recited Oliver Goldsmith and Johnathan Swift whilst Louis Quinlan read from his punk poet repertoire.  Marcus and Michael Power covered anti-war and love poems and in a rip-roaring, Agi-Prop critique of Kenny's Government, Joan Burton and water tax, Konor Halpin, had the crowd roaring ' Can't Pay,Won't Pay - Water Charges, No Way ', a cacophony of sound that surely echoed all the way to the Fine Gael offices on Ballybricken.
By One O'clock,a fleet of taxi's were ferrying some of the early revellers home to their beds,whilst hardier souls retreated to the beer garden, where an informal session had started. All through the morning an overflowing crowd enjoyed their drinks and Baccy,in the late Autumn sun in front of the Central Hall, in a scene reminiscent of Hogarth's Gin Lane.  Andy Jordan agreed with the crowd that "this was the best Booze,Blaas N' Banter to date" and that apart from Blaas "there was a tsunami of black porter consumed".
The event was organised by the Waterford Council of Trade Unions as part of the Imagine Festival. The WCTU wish to thank all the readers and performers as well as all who contributed to insuring the event was a success.
Ends.
JC, for the organising committee.
John Power,has pics. johnpowerphotography@gmail.com

























Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Short Movies at the Waterford Film Festival



By Guest Blogger John Hartery

The 8th Waterford Film Festival went about its business this weekend with a series of sessions in Garter Lane. The venue is a good one, centrally located and with a fine cinematic set of equipment.
The festival features short films of c10 mins which are presented in batches of 6 or 7 at one sitting.
 I caught one screening which included 8 movies. They ranged from a menacing hostage revenge drama as gaeilge via an hilarious comedy set in a gym to a fine drama about grief and loss set on a river boat.

I was lucky  enough to catch the winner ' They Call Me The Kid' a sort of coming of age drama set in a fun fair. This tracked a day in the life of a 12 year old boy. He was accompanied by his imaginary guardian, a cowboy, as he overcome the challenge of his day. 
I liked Open Mic a take on the world of the London stand up comedy scene with a nice twist at the end. 

My favourite was Waterway written and directed by Carrie Crowley. This was wonderfully shot on the Shannon and captured the hidden world of the Irish inland waterways.  The piece featured National Treasure Michael Harding and Druid Theatre veteran,  Marie Mullen. Amongst the credits was somebody who had the wonderful title of Cast Mammy!
Who knows what future famous screen directors or actors were amongst the movies we saw?

Bravo to all involved and great value at €6 a session.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

The Rise And Fall Of Little Voice at the Lime Tree, Limerick

By Guest Blogger John Hartery 

The long established College Players Theatre Company present its latest offering in the Lime Tree in Limerick this week.The Rise and Fall of Little Voice is revealing as a title but belies a work of poignancy and hindered lives.
Set in the North of England it's about a mousey young woman, Little Voice, played by Jean McGlynn who is immersed in her world of LPs of female singers such as Bassey and Garland. She is exceptionally shy but possesses a wonderful voice. The mother, Mari, terrifically played by Mary O'Sullivan is the opposite-  loud and brassy in a Bet Lynch way. Enter would-be  impresario Ray Say, Brian McNamara, who identifies Little Voice's talent and spots a chance for an earner. Added to the mix is an hilarious performance in the largely silent role of Sadie (Rebecca Murphy). Nigel Dugdale nicely played the  love interest, Billy, and David Griffin was a very believable MC. 
Written by Jim Cartwright, the play   captures the working class Coronation Street  world of; working mens' clubs, two up two down, kitchen sink, heavy drinking, northern bluntness  and with lots of black humour. 
On the first night, the accents drifted a bit and the enormous range of scene changes were largely on cue. 
The set by Garry Lombard was inventive and cleverly including an alleyway. That rarest of theatrical props a cherry picker got a run out!
Direction was by Michael Finneran. This was an ambitious venture but the seasoned group of actors and production team   did a fine job. Runs till Saturday 14th November

A Limerick Leader article  here

Friday, November 7, 2014

Jacob Deaton's Tribulation at Garter Lane

Jacob Deaton, Andrew Czibi, Kevin Lawlor 
Live jazz is a rare enough treat in Waterford so we went along to hear visiting American jazz guitarist, Jacob Deaton at Garter Lane last night. Deaton a  young man from Atlanta seemed unfazed by the low turnout and backed by a home team of Kevin Lawlor on drums and Andrew Czibi on bass gave a committed virtuoso performance of mostly original material with a standard. The extended numbers gave all three space to show their mettle and the mood was introspective, thoughtful. In the introductions, Deaton set the context of the numbers and was personable and charming and seemed genuinely delighted to be in Ireland. We could have forgiven a touch of grumpiness but there wasn't a trace in the Atlanta native's sunny mien. Kevin Lawlor was admirably restrained on drums and his subtle special effects fully exploited the possibilities of his standard drum kit with some lovely brush work. Andrew Czibi gave a virtuoso performance on bass. His extended solo in the introduction to No Sunshine was tricky using some avant garde playing techniques. All the more remarkable in that it is work Czibi is only very recently aquainted with. There was a touch of Ry Cooder's work on the soundtrack of Paris Texas on My Home blending folk and jazz.

Venue Notes: The presence  of a clearly identified front of house person to welcome  patrons was lacking.  It is disappointing to see no representative from WIT Music Department either staff or students or indeed any representative from the Jazz Weekend fraternity. Were any phone calls made by either promoter or Garter Lane to boost audience numbers?  It seems Waterford music lovers will turn out for a festival but not on a damp midweek evening in Winter. Such a pity




Set List

Tribulation
I have my reasons
Sketches of Trains
My Home 
I Remember You
No Sunshine  Bass solo Andrew Czibi
Inside Out 

Friday, October 31, 2014

Waterford Music in the Large Room


I rarely buy tickets in advance for concerts preferring not to commit myself until the last moment. The early booker is not rewarded and is sometimes penalised by extra booking fees on top of the the ticket prices and there is always the chance of discounted tickets for performances with a low turnout.  Arts centres might do better to go for the budget airline model where early bookers can snap up the cheapest deal with roll ups paying the full whack.  However I broke the habit of a lifetime and took out a family subscription for the Waterford Music chamber music series. Why? Well of course I wanted to support performances of top class artists in Waterford  but what made me whip out my cheque book was that the subscription was fantastic value at €140 for 8 concerts for two people, offering  greater than 50% discount on the door price.

http://www.waterford-music.org/events.html


To date we have heard three concerts.  Contemporary  Dublin Guitar Quartet were followed by a Baroque programme by  Camerata Kilkenny .
Last night the newly appointed RTE String Quartet, The Contempo Quartet presented two distinct elements in a programme of standard Classical string quartet repertoire and  Argentinian tango. The storms and squalls of  a Beethoven Quartet in F minor were followed by golden beams  of Haydn's Sunrise Quartet. A short piece written for the quartet by Jane O Leary featured an array of modern playing effects. In the absence of programme notes, cellist Adrian Mantu and Dermot Dunne introduced the items .  The Contempo play with such a bristling energy and panache, they are always good to watch and hear. They had just the right sort of Latin edge for the collaboration with Dunne on five pieces by  Piazzola although at times they overpowered the accordion particularly in the opening number. Particularly lovely was the sultry third piece with muted strings  So beguiling was this combination of accordion and luscious strings  that I would love to have heard more and could happily haver listened to them all over again. Wonderful and all as it was to hear Haydn and Beethoven so superbly performed, it did seem a waste to have a virtuoso accorddionist sitting on his hands in the audience for the larger part of the evening.You can hear one of the pieces in the video below .

There are five concerts remaining and concerts take place on Thursday evenings in the elegant Georgian Room in City Hall. Next concert features another combination of top notch musicians -cellist Guy Johnston, Katherine Hunka (Leader ICO) and Hugh Tinney. Pianist Michael McHale with clarinettist Michael Collins and Joanne McGregor are all down for later dates. It is fantastic to have these artists perform on or doorstep.  I recommend this series highly.



Tuesday, October 28, 2014

63rd Wexford Festival

I spent a couple of days in Wexford at the 63rd Opera Festival. My reviews on two of the main house productions are filed with The Irish Examiner .. My review of opening night went into print on Saturday and a second review  will be in Wednesday's edition. I may not have been ''Wilde; about a French version of Salomé but  it looked gorgeous and a Silent Night from across the Atlantic was all the things that made for a thrilling evening of opera and lived up  to high expectations. Both Mark Campbell and composer Kevin Puts were in Wexford to add a bit  of transatlantic pzazz to the occasion. Campbell tells me  he has no less than 13 opera libretto projects on the go at the moment. Clearly a very busy man. It was good to read Tom Mooney's moving piece Forgotten Voices on the Wexford men who went to war including the Wexford Echo editor's  own grandfather.
Salomé Beautiful ciaroscuro effects Lighting Design DM Wood







Marty with Silent Night team
After a couple of ho hum years, it was good to see a festival buzz back in the foyer in Whites Hotel with the Lyric FM crew ensconced in a corner. Liz Nolan in pearls and little black dress added glamour chatting to the stars and Marty Whelan looked sartorially splendid with lilac  tie  matching the station banner. Such attention to detail . We like it ! Good also to see the short works reinstated here after the years of grim exile in a local school hall. I saw a terrific double bill of English works. The cast of a G&S piece, Trial by Jury hammed it all up beautifully and the ensemble at full throttle sounded like a much  larger chorus . Holst's  The Wandering Scholar was a hoot and the cast extracted every ounce of the comedy with energetic madcap performances.  Musical director, Janet Haney's piano accompaniment was light and sparkling. An afternoon tea-time delight. .

The international contingent were well represented. Remarkably, critic, Michael Kennedy was attending for his 63rd time having attended every festival. 

Heather Humphreys was back in Wexford to announce the anointing of the house as the National Opera House to great cheers. ( I commented on the minister's rather anticlimactic post curtain call address after the IYO production last month in my Examiner review here. Little did we realise what a harsh spotlight would be shone on the Arts Minister in the week's that followed.)  Quite what the designation as national opera centre will mean in practice, nobody was quite sure. One thing puzzled me though about  the announcement quoted here. 

 And I am delighted to be able to give my full support tonight to the renaming of Wexford Opera House as The National Opera House. I have asked my officials to work with Wexford and the Arts Council to put this into effect, in recognition ofWexford’s position as the home of Ireland’s only custom built Opera House.

Now where have I seen that phrase or something very like it before? This is the description on the website of Cork Opera House '
'The Cork Opera House is the only purpose built Opera House in the country'


''only custom built opera house in the country
'only purpose built opera house in the country;



Purpose built / custom built. If there is a distinction, it seems very subtle. I do hope for the Minister's sake that the Leesiders won't take umbrage.


I didn't see Don Bucefalo, a comic opera but I gather it was great fun. It will be broadcast on Saturday on LyricFM. Silent Night goes out on the 8th November also on Lyric FM .

Wexford Festival continues with all sorts of fringe  activities to suit high and low brows from Singing Pubs, short operas, art exhibitions and recitals in addition to the three  main house productions. 

Related posts on Cathy's Reviews 

http://cathydesmond.blogspot.ie/2011/10/wexford-festival-2011.html

http://cathydesmond.blogspot.ie/2012/11/the-trimmings-wexford-festival-opera.html


http://cathydesmond.blogspot.ie/2013/11/mighty-mighty-wexford.html

Nov 07, 2011
Having successfully dipped into the fringe events earlier this week I returned to Wexford Opera House for one of the main events and attended the last night of Maria by Polish composer Statkowski. Some very useful context ...
Oct 27, 2010
Wexford with its attractive seaside port position looks very pleasant in the autumn sunshine. The first sounds ... The fringe festival is what brings me to Wexford annually and there is plenty to amuse and entertain . One of the ...
Oct 24, 2013
The 62nd season of opera productions at Wexford opened in fine style with Il Capello di Paglia di Firenze, a fizzy light hearted comedy from the 20th century Italian composer, Nino Rota, better known for his film scores than ...
Feb 18, 2012
I loved the quirky production of Dido and Aeneas at Cork Opera House but if I have to choose one of the shorter works I enjoyed the opera production of Gianni Schicchi directed by Roberto Recchia at Whites Hotel,Wexford.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Goethe Sandwich with a Schiller Crust : Schubertreise Continues






One of my top pick's of last year was a recital marking the start of an audacious musical odyssey by bass baritone, Conor Biggs and pianist Michel Stas, a long distance voyage through all 600 or so of Schubert's songs over ten years - an epic Schubertreise. My report on the occasion is here .  Part seven of the series took place in the Kevin Barry Room at the National Concert Hall last Sunday afternoon and featured the set of the  composer's songs that exist in several versions . Songs based on Goethe's novel Wilhelmeister formed the mainstay of the programme and  most of which we learned were originally set for female voices.We heard no less than five  distinct versions of Goethe's Nur Wer die  Sehnsucht kennt  better known to me from Tchaikowsky's None But the Lonely Heart.  In his introduction, Biggs  likened them to being like different versions of Van Gogh's Sunflowers.You can read the singer's detailed programme notes and more about the project here  

If the venture seemed arduous before, the task of committing to memory several not all that  dissimilar  melody lines, to the same set of words struck me as being an extreme challenge. The mood was dark and  melancholy   with most of the songs  hovering around themes of  longing and maiden's lamentations .  Biggs tackled each one with whole hearted commitment.  His drole asides ( a tiresome burglar alarm became a 'cantus firmus')  lightened the mood and gave a  fascinating  glimpse into Schubert's compositional journey with some settings from the composer's earliest work in the lied genre.  It was good to be there for another  stage of  an incredible journey with this compelling duo. The next recital is in January Dublin , surely a highlight of the NCH, new year calendar.

A taste of the endeavour included in  the video below with extracts from Schubertreise Part 7

Next recital: Sunday 11th Jnauary 3pm


Venue Notes

Checking the nch.ie  for details, I was surprised not to see this feature on the main page of 'events of the month'. Details  were carried but  required further clicking to uncover them. I felt such a remarkable series should have featured more prominently alongside events in the John Field Room if not in the main auditorium  . 

Perhaps it was the mild weather but the Kevin Barry Room was over warm on Sunday afternoon. 

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Top Brass for Waterford1100



As readers of this blog will be aware, I have been fortunate to attend many remarkable events, some good and some superb and have attempted to describe most of them, as best I can.  I am not often stuck for words but  I feel at a loss to know what to say about last night. Leaving the Cathedral in Barronstrand Street Waterford, tingling all  over from the musical perfection presented by the ensemble and the palpable sense of occasion, just one problem niggled. Attempt to record it in mere words I must-but just how to do justice to the ladies and gentlemen of the Black Dyke Band.

Expectations were high. Would they live up to the hyperbole. Perhaps there was an element of exaggeration in the accounts?  Not a bit. No one in the 800 strong audience can have been in any doubt as to why Black Dyke  are described as the best brass band in the world. This was Olympian gold medal perfection in silver and brass performance.

Apart from the jaw dropping technical virtuosity, the impossible pianissimos, the shimmering warmth of the timbre, the  thrilling climaxes, we loved the choreography with the ensemble slickly reforming to suit each  number and a bit of  big band shaping in lighter numbers. Soloists emerged at the front to do their bit before being reabsorbed in the brass fold. The stereo effect of a group located in the organ loft engulfed us further in rich sonority.

This is an ensemble of soloists. How warm and pleading was Katrina Marzello's baritone solo in the Mario Lanza number, Be My Love. Richard Marshall conjured up a pirouetting Miss Blue Bonnet on cornet. Still a teenager, Jonathan Bates excelled in a tenor horn solo. In a change to the programme, Christopher Binns presented a fresh jazzy version of Danny Boy. the Work by Karl Jenkins and the extraordinary Triumph of Time by Peter Graham represented the 20th century in thrilling and unfamiliar new work. The biggest cheers were reserved for Cork man Gary Curtin who did impossible things on his euphonium. Carnival of Venus was full of technical fireworks but it was the baritone duo in encore piece, Highland Cathedral with twin snare drummers  that will live in my memory. Mere words added another layer in a narrative on the band's history in Paul Lovatt-Cooper's Immortal. Amid the bravura, Crimond featuring the hymn, The Lord's My Shepherd resonated perfectly  with the cathedral setting.

Despite the professionalism of  playing standard, there was a sense of the amateur in the best sense of the word,  in the sheer joy and exuberance. The band beamed at us and at each other. Everyone from Musical director Nicholas Childs down throughout the ranks seemed to be having thoroughly marvellous time. I can report that in true amateur spirit, there was no roadie crew and each member picked up their own stands and packerd up the van just like an ordinary village band  .

Just to show my critical faculties are working, I note that the programme carried listing and biographies but was  light on programme notes on the pieces. It would have been good to read some background on the unfamiliar pieces.

As Caroline Senior, director of Garter Lane Arts Centre said in her introduction this was a fitting way to celebrate Waterford 1100. We say thank you to Liam Daly and Symphony Club of Waterford, Waterford Cathedral  and Imagine Festival Waterford for presenting such a wonderful evening in one of our most historic churches. Bravo tutti!.