I am very much looking forward to playing two Bach works this Saturday (18 March) in the Lady Chapel of St Albans Abbey. I will be joined for the Double Concerto for violin and oboe by James Clark, violin, and for the Cantata Ich habe genug, by baritone Julian Godlee. The concert will also feature the Brocket Consort conducted by Nicholas Robinson singing Handel’s Dixit Dominus and two works by Purcell, Hear my prayer and the Funeral Sentences for Queen Mary.
It is great to welcome everyone to the Kammermusik Workshop 2016 in Oxford. Starting today, we look forward to five days of chamber music for woodwind and strings. As there was no summer workshop in Santa Fe this year it has been a pleasure to see our friends arriving from the USA – we hope you all have a marvellous week in the UK! Thanks to Will Buss, Janet Yaker Murray, Keith Bowen and all the team who have prepared the week ahead – a lot of hard work but much appreciated. I look forward to working with Roger Coull, Jane Salmon, Robert Manasse, Marie Ross, Stephen Stirling and Julie Price and especially to our concert on Wednesday!
It is a real pleasure to be back conducting and playing with The Oxford Sinfonia after my last concert with them in 2010. Having played and directed the Mozart Oboe Concerto on that occasion, it seems a natural development to play and lead Dvorak’s wonderful Serenade for Winds, Op 44 between Rossini’s Italian Girl in Algiers overture and Beethoven’s 7th Symphony. The concert will take place in the University Church of St Mary the Virgin, High Street, Oxford on Saturday (16 July) at 7.30pm.
As you can see from its website (www.oxfordsinfonia.co.uk), this is a fine and established orchestra that makes a great contribution to music in Oxford. Their video from the Venice Biennale in 2015 is a good example of their work and vision, which combines adventurous music making with fund-raising for charities. I have enjoyed working with the orchestra very much indeed and look forward to an exciting concert!
Incidentally, my 2010 concert with The Oxford Sinfonia featured Louise Alder singing two arias from Die Entführung aus dem Serail (including Welche Wonne which corresponds to the last movement of the oboe concerto) and Ruhe Sanft from Zaide. It was thrilling to see and hear her starring as Ilia in Garsington Opera’s brilliant production of Idomeneo this month, in a fantastic cast and with exquisite playing from the Garsington Opera Orchestra.
The 4th Barbirolli International Oboe Festival and Competition has now been announced for 1 – 8 April 2017 at the Erin Arts Centre, Isle of Man. One of the most prestigious oboe events in the world, it is named after the celebrated oboist and writer Evelyn Rothwell, Lady Barbirolli. Her vision to encourage a wider appreciation of the oboe, to advance excellence in playing and to expand the repertoire for the oboe is mirrored in an event which gives young emerging oboists the chance to compete for one of the coveted prizes whilst also participating in a week of recitals, masterclasses, ensembles and other activities.
The 2017 jury will be:
Neil Black (former Principal Oboe, English Chamber Orchestra and former Professor RAM) George Caird, chair (oboist and former Principal, Birmingham Conservatoire) Elaine Douvas (Principal Oboe, Metropolitan Opera New York and Head of Faculty, Julliard School) Diethelm Jonas (Professor, Lübeck Hochschule and former solo oboe, Stuttgart, Essen, BRS Orchestras) Celia Nicklin (Professor, RAM and former Principal Oboe, Academy of St Martin-in-the-Fields)
There will be recitals by Rossana Calvi (Italy) and Diethelm Jonas (Germany) and masterclasses from Rossana Calvi, Diethelm Jonas and Celia Nicklin (UK). In addition there will be seminars taken by Jeremy Polmear (Oboe Classics) and by members of the jury. The set work is by the the celebrated English composer Colin Matthews who will attend the competition and take part in a forum event.
The Festival and Competition is supported by Howarth of London, The Isle of Man Arts Council, Hugh and Sandra Davidson and Jim Mellon.
More details and entry procedure are available now on : http://www.erinartscentre.com/oboe.html
It was a real privilege to be adopted as an honorary viola player in chairing the jury for the twelfth Tertis International Viola Competition from 12 to 19 March. Well-established through the patronage of the Tertis Foundation and managed in Port Erin, Isle of Man by John Bethell and his team, the festival and competition is one of the leading events for viola players in the world. Whilst the primary aim is to run the tri-annual competition, the week achieves much more than this: promoting the viola as a solo and chamber music instrument, promoting and expanding the repertoire for the viola, encouraging young viola players and supporting research about the viola and its repertoire.
This year’s competition was a remarkable one. From over 90 applicants from more than 20 countries considered in the first recorded round, 44 were selected to compete in the Isle of Man. Coming from leading conservatoires and orchestras around the world, the standard was extraordinarily high and we heard many very fine performnaces during the week. The second round, for example, required all contestants to play solo Bach, the set piece, fenodyree by Stuart MacRae and either a Paganini Caprice or the Bach/Kodaly Fantasia Chromatica. Here the consistency of playing, much of which was memorised was an indication of the professionalism of the players and a sign of what would follow in the subsequent rounds.
The third round contained many good performances from the choices offered and for each judge there were individual highpoints in works by Johannes Brahms, Ernst Bloch, Rebecca Clarke, Paul Hindemith, Franz Schubert and York Bowen all accompanied by the trio of top accompanists, Sophia Rahman, Caroline Dowdle and Antony Hewitt. The semi-final was a fascinating one in that the eight selected contestants were required to play Beethoven’s Trio in C minor Op 9 No 3 with the two resident trio members, Krysia Osostowicz and Jane Salmon. In would be true to say that all the performances had distinct strengths and showed real insights into the art of chamber music playing.
In the end three fine violists came through to the final and, after two performances of the Walton Concerto and one of the Bartók together with performances of the set work and the Beethoven Trio, the jury selected Timothy Ridout as the winner, Manuel Vioque-Judde as second prizewinner and Wenhong Luo as third prizewinner. Congratulations to these players and to the semi-finalists for their success in such a strong field. This strength was reflected in the numerous extra prizes that were awarded to participants. The prizewinners received their awards from the Lieutenant Governor of the Isle of Man, His Excellency Adam Wood.
I was delighted to spend the week working with the amazing jury – Yuri Bashmet (President of the Festival and Competition), Garth Knox, Thomas Riebl and Wing Ho all of whom gave a recital and masterclass during the week. Their commitment to their younger colleagues was exemplary.
The Festival was equally interesting with a recital by Sarah-Jane Bradley and John Lenehan, talks by Tully Potter, Chris Milton and David Hume and a daily viola workshop run by the tireless and brilliant Louise Lansdowne. The Gallery bookshop with Comus Edition and Bishop Instruments and Bows was open for the week and David Hume was available to contestants for instrument repair and maintenance.
All in all, this was a marvelous week and the weather in the Isle of Man responded with daily sunshine such that Thomas Riebl was able to take daily Qigong warm-ups at 8.00am overlooking the beach.
Thanks go to all involved for making Tertis 2016 such a successful one.
One of the new incentives set up by Okke Westdorp at Codarts Rotterdam is the series of department Open Days that began in January with brass and continued on 5 March with the Woodwind Open Day. It was a privilege to be involved in running this day which combined masterclasses by Juliette Hurel, Julien Hervé, Nancy Braithwaite and Pieter Nuytten with large ensemble playing under the direction of Wim Steinmann. Virtually all the woodwind players of the department took part with fine performances of Strauss’ early Suite (Op 4) and Serenade (Op 7), the Georg Schmitt arrangement of Beethoven 1 (edited by Martin Harlow) and Gounod’s Petite Symphonie. In addition, there was a concert of solos featuring Daphne Caffa (clarinet), Bénédicte Zeitoun (flute), Letizia Maulà (clarinet) and Friederike Bassek (English Horn) with accompaniment from Federico Mosquera. Visitors were able to play chamber music too and to join in the large ensembles. A true Open Day with a lot of good music-making.
It was a great pleasure to play a Sunday afternoon recital at Mansfield College, Oxford on 21 February. Now that Jane and I have moved back to Oxford, it was easy to accept the invitation and our plan to do some playing with pianist Jonathan Higgins was finally realised.
The recital took place in the Lecture Room where my father used to give his lectures during his years as Senior Tutor and later Principal of the college. It was also in the same room that I asked to listen to a holiday orchestra rehearse as an eleven-year-old and found myself invited to play – my first introduction to Schubert 8! The conductors that day were Christopher Robinson and Sydney Watson.
Thanks go to John Oxlade, Director of Music for his kind hospitality and to Chaplain, John Ovenden who has asked me to join the committee to renovate the Mansfield Chapel organ – donations will be gratefully received…….
Thanks to the connection that I made with Jörg Linowitzki two years ago when he visited Codarts Rotterdam to undertake the review of the String Department, I was invited by his Hochschüle in Lübeck to visit the class of Diethelm Jonas on 28 and 29 January. I gave a talk on British and Dutch oboe playing and taught some of the class over the two days. It was great experience for me! Getting to know Diethelm and seeing him in action with his really fine class was a treat.
For the record, I heard Gonzalo Meija playing the Britten Metamorphoses, Risa Soejima playing the first movement of Bach’s first cello suite, Francesco Monteagudo Garde playing the Mozart concerto, Alexander Krimer playing Schumann Romances Nos 1 and 2 and Marco Cegarra playing Telemann’s d minor Fantasia. In addition I heard an excellent performance by Johans Camacho of the Pavel Haas Suite – what a great and powerful work this. Alexei Ogrintchouk’s recording of this with his father playing the piano is worth hearing (Bis Records).
I was treated to a very fine meal by Diethelm Jonas and we were joined by Jörg Linowitzki for this. All in all, it was a most worthwhile visit and a very good way to complete the Erasmus exchange between Rotterdam and Lübeck, thanks to Asia Ross and Alexandra Kwiatkowski.
I returned to Rotterdam on Monday 25 January now in my new role of supporting the Classical Music Department and its new Head, Okke Westdorp. Monday evening was taken up with a very full Open Podium with some excellent perfromnaces from students, notable a delicious Ma Mère L’Oye from Ellyne Wieringa and Elise de Gast, a piano duo that is really coming into its own. Another interesting contribution came from Katharina Kauruff (oboe) and her guest from Berlin, Laura Schreyer (piccolo). They played the Rucke di Gluck of Giacinto Scelsi in an impressive performance in preparation for Laura’s final exam in Berlin. Friederike Bassek (oboe) also played Pasculli’s La Favorita in a first outing of this demanding work……
I am now working to plan the Codarts Woodwind Open Day for Saturday 5 March. All interested prospective woodwind students should apply to Sophie Hopman at Codarts. The information for this is on the Codarts website. With Juliette Hurel, Wim Steinmann, Julien Hervé, Pieter Nuytten, Nancy Braithwaite, Jan Jansen and myself there, we should have a good time!
Thanks to the kind inviation of Jan Dobrzelewski, Jane and I spent four very enjoyable days in Sion, Switzerland from 20 to 24 January. The invitation came to give a lecture on the instrumental and chamber works of Benjamin Britten in the regular series of the conservatoire HEMU. Leading up to this we rehearsed Britten’s Phantasy Quartet for two days with violinist Ruslan Apostolov and violist Elise Lehec – a most enjoyable time working with these fine players. We performed the quartet at the end of the lecture on Saturday 23 January.
Sion is a most beautiful place and we had brief chances to see the town and the area surrounding. The conservatoire has just 60 students but all very high level string players working with distinguished teachers. An ideal place to work intensively and away from the rush of city life!
Thanks to Jan Dobrzelewski for wonderful hospitality (the food was amazing!) in Sion.