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George Caird Oboe Quartet

By on June 18, 2024 in CHAMBER MUSIC, George Caird Oboe Quartet

I am looking forward to our concert with the Caird Oboe Quartet in the Ludlow Assembly Rooms on Wedensday 19 June. This will be part of the Assembly Rooms new partnership with the Ludlow Music Society which has promoted chamber music in Ludlow for more than 30 years. Having already played for the Society some years ago, it is a privilage to be making a return visit. And it’s great to be playing again with Simon Blendis, Douglas Paterson and Jane Salmon who played together for so many years in the Schubert Ensemble.

We are playing three quartets: the C major Mozart (K285b) that has the Theme and Variations movement from Mozart’s Gran Partita, begins the evening. We will end the first half with the E.J. Moeran Fantasy Quartet, which is included in our An English Renaissance recording, and we end the concert, naturally, with the Mozart F major Quartet, K370.

Between these, I will be performing Britten’s Six Metamorphoses after Ovid for solo oboe – a work that I have enjoyed so much for many years. And Simon, Douglas and Jane will be playing Beethoven’s String Trio in G major, Op 9 No 1, one of the greatest from the string trio repertoire.

George Caird Oboe Quartet
George Caird Oboe Quartet

Royal Society of Musicians

By on May 28, 2024 in Royal Society of Musicians of Great Britain

It has been a busy spring for the Royal Society of Musicians. In May, we were delighted and honoured that His Majesty The King has accepted the Patronage of the RSM, continuing his association with us following his visit to open our building in Fitzroy Square in 2018. This announcement also continues our long history of support from the Royal Family dating back to 1790 when King George III granted the Society its Royal Charter. More recently, Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother was our Patron from 1937 until her death in 2002 and Her Late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II granted Patronage in 2013.

In addition to our regular meetings, we have continued our bi-monthly Members’ meetings at 26 Fitzroy Square with growing numbers attending. Continuing our new policy of including some live music in our meetings, on 12 April cellist Ben Tarlton gave a brilliant mini-recital for us, playing on the Society’s William Forster cello.

On 14 April, the annual Jacqueline du Pré Charity Concert at the Wigmore Hall attracted a capacity audience to hear the distinguished Swiss flautist Emmanuel Pahud perform with Trevor Pinnock (harpsichord) and Jonathan Manson (cello) is an enthralling programme of Bach and Telemann. Given in aid of the RSM, we are indebted to these marvellous musicians for generously playing for this concert, which also remembered the life and work of Benedict Cruft.

On 12 May, the RSM was at the Royal Albert Hall for The Really Big Chorus Mozart Requiem conducted on his 80th birthday by Brian Kay. Given in aid of the RSM, our staff and members were there selling porgrammes to raise a significant amount for the Society’s beneficiaries. We are indebted to Brian Kay and all those who performed for their support for the RSM.

The Society continues to work hard in responding to the many applications it receives for assistance. Our Grants team take great care in assessing every application and in the last year 482 beneficiaries were helped with an average grant size of £1,020. Committed to providing vital financial assistance, advice and guidance to music professionals who are unable to work due to physical or mental ill health, this is a significant level of support that the Society can provide.

His Majesty KIng Charles signing the Attendance Book at the Royal Society of Musicians

Neville Marriner 100

By on April 22, 2024 in Academy of St Martin in the Fields

It was such a treat to attend the celebrations for Sir Neville Marriner’s Centenary from 15 April. Brilliantly devised by his family and by the Academy of St Martin in the Fields, this week-long ‘festival’ was a remarkable tribute to Neville, his achievements and his legacy.

I attended two of the three concerts that week, beginning with ASM’s return to its church, St Martin-in-teh-Fields on 15 April. As a past member of the orchestra it was such an evocative evening with repertoire that brought back the orchestra’s history so vividly. From Handel’s Concerto Grosso Op 3 No 2 from the earliest days of the orchestra, to Mozart 25 that was such a striking part of the Amadeus film and then to the Academy Chorus and St Martin’s Voices performing of sections of Haydn’s Creation it was an evening to remember. It was great to hear Errolyn Wallen’s Parade, too, offering new input to ASM’s repertoire. Perhaps the most touching moments in this concert came in Vaughan Williams’ Fantasia on a Theme of Thomas Tallis – quintessential Academy and its unique string section. With direction form Joshua Bell, Jaime Martin and Tomo Keller and with soloists Sarah-Jane Brandon, Ben Johnson and Matthew Rose, this was a vintage evening.

I had a chance to look at the exhibition in the Crypt of St Martin’s that night, where photographs, programmes, letters and other memorabilia were displayed. Here, and in speaking with so many former and current members of ASM, I felt drawn back into this remarkable ‘family’ of musicians.

I missed the ASM Chamber Ensemble in the Wigmore Hall at which Sally Beamish’ String Octet was performed along with the Mendelssohn Octet and Schumann Piano Quintet but I did make it to the Royal Festival Hall on the 18 April where ASM celebrated Neville’s love of Mozart and also performed Brahms 2 Symphony and Saint-Saëns’ Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso, played and directed by Joshua Bell. Wonderful playing all round. Most memorable though was Vince Mendoza’s Flight of Moving Days in which Joshua Bell was joined by Neville’s grandson, Douglas Marriner for a concerto for violin and drum kit – beautifully sensitive playing and a fascinating way of acknowledging the three-generation Marriner family of musicians. The concert included touching tributes to Neville from Brian Kay, Sally Beamish and Bob Smissen all finely done with charm and the humour that Neville would have expected.

Behind all these performances the guiding spirit of Neville’s son, Andrew, was ever-present to those who know ASM. And, of course Molly Marriner too – without whom ASM could never have flown so high…

What an inspiring week and what memories…….

A photograph portrait of Neville Marriner
Sir Neville Marriner
Andrew Marriner
Douglas Marriner

Radcliffe Orchestra

By on March 3, 2024 in ORCHESTRAS, Oxford, Radcliffe Orchestra

I am very much looking forward to my concert this year with the Radcliffe Orchestra which will take place in the Tingewick Hall at the John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford on Saturday, 9 March at 7.30pm.

The programme will begin with Weber’s Overture to Der Freischütz, a brilliant opener to introduce Grieg’s Piano Concerto featuring pianist Adelaide Yue. Our programme will end with Sibelius’ 2nd Symphony.

The concert is given in aid of the Thames Valley Air Ambulance. I hope as many people as possible will come to hear Adelaide and also to support the orchestra and the charity.

Adelaide Yue, piano

Royal Society of Musicians

By on February 3, 2024 in Royal Society of Musicians of Great Britain

I have been a member of the Royal Society of Musicians of Great Britain since 1996 and have been proud to be a part of the UK’s oldest music charity over the years. It is a remarkable organisation that provides vital financial assistance, advice and guidance to those professionally active in the wrold of music but who are unable to work due to accident, illness, stress or anxiety. Founded in London over 300 years ago by a group of musicians including G.F. Handel, we are a charity run by musicians for musicians and we are a charity that is open to membership from across all areas of the music sector.

The Society is run from its home at 26 Fitzroy Square in London by its professional staff headed by Chief Executive, Charlotte Penton-Smith. Regular members meetings are held there whilst the Society also organises regional meetings to ensure as wide as possible engagement across the UK. A successful meeting in Cardiff in October 2023 will be followed by meetings in Northern Ireland and Scotland in 2024.

Last year, I was elected as one of the twelve Governors and in this time have greatly enjoyed working with the Chair for 2023, Clare Tyack, Vice-Chair, Clare McCaldin, Honorary Treasurer, Jonathan Rennert and all Governors. In January, I was elected as Chair for 2024 and have been joined by two Vice-Chairs, Carl Jackson and Jacoba Gale, while Jonathan Rennert continues as our Honorary Treasurer.

I am looking forward to a very active year not least in welcoming guests to our annual Jacqueline du Pré Charity Concert at the Wigmore Hall on 14 April when flautist Emmanuel Pahud will perform with harpsichordist Trevor Pinnock and cellist, Jonathan Manson.

I hope that I can assist in growing the membership of the Society and this is to invite as many musicians as possible to join. Details of membership can be found on the Society’s website at

Charlotte Penton-Smith
Chief Executive, Royal Society of Musicians
Clare Tyack,
Chair of RSM 2023 in front of the Society’s portrait of founder, G.F. Handel

Lenthall Concerts recital

By on November 13, 2023 in Concerts

I was so pleased to be asked by Michael Bochmann to play a recital for his Lenthall Concerts series in Burford. The recital on 11 October, proved to be a most rewarding project in combining a full programme with pianist Charles Matthews and a workshop and performance by the Grendilla Double Reed Ensemble directed by Joanna Rhind-Tutt.

I visited two rehearsals of the Grenadilla Ensemble before the day and worked with Joanna Rhind-Tutt to prepare an improvisation and a performance of Elizabeth Sharma’s Samba from Permutations. I was really impressed with the ensemble of oboists and bassoonists and enjoyed playing with them, joining Joanna on cor anglais in the Liz Sharma work.

The recital featured works by Bach and Handel, including the Bach Oboe and Violin Concerto which Michael Bochmann joined us for. Charles Matthews and I also played Finzi’s Interlude and recital pieces by Alan Richardson (Roundelay), John Mayer (Abhut Sangit), Madeleine Dring (Italian Dance) and Ennio Morricone (Gabriel’s Oboe). And Charles gave a beautiful performance of the Handel Harmonious Blacksmith. My teacher, Janet Craxton, was married to Alan Richardson and this was a chance to celebrate the huge influence that she (and he) had on me. John Mayer taught for many years at Royal Birmingham Conservatoire and wrote his Abhut Sangit for me in 1994. I was delighted to have this chance to play this evocative work.

It was so good to play with Michael Bochmann again after many years. We recalled that we had performed the Bach E Major Violin Concerto together in Oxford over 50 years ago!

Michael Bochmann

Charles Matthews, piano

Kammermusik 2023

By on November 13, 2023 in CHAMBER MUSIC, Kammermusik

It was a great moment in August when we gathered in St Edmund Hall, Oxford for this year’s Kammermusik Workshop after a four-year pause due to the pandemic. Our visit to Santa Fe in July/August 2019 seemed an age ago as we caught up with our friends Will and Daren, Janet and William, Keith and all the Kammermusikers who made the journey for another Oxford week.

Kammermusik is a very special organisation. The music making combines playing well-known works with a fearless approach to new and unusual repertoire which this year included the Martinu Nonet, Onslow Septet, Farrenc Nonet, Amy Beach Piano Quintet, Vincent d’Indy Septet, Holst Sextet, Copland Sextet, and Khatchaturian Trio. It was a real treat for me to work on Martinu’s La Revue de Cuisine, amongst other works.

It so enjoyed working alongside Robert Manasse, Marie Ross, Steve Stirling, Anthea Wood, Roger Coull, Jane Salmon and other coaches. Our coaches concert, put together in the small amount of time available, was huge fun – with the Linckelmann quintet arrangement of the Magic Flute Overture starting us off and followed by the Reicha E flat Quintet. Steve Stirling’s Mozart Horn Quintet was a joy to hear and Roger Coull’s direction of Colin Touchin’s Sinfonietta proved to be a moving ‘in memoriam’ for the composer.

Many thanks to Will Buss, Janet Yaker Murray, Keith Bowen and all those involved in organising this week.

The spirit of Kammermusik 2019: Oboist and President, Will Buss, in rehearsal with GC

York Wind Chamber Course 2023

By on November 5, 2023 in CHAMBER MUSIC, York Wind Chamber Music

I hugely enjoyed my return to the York Wind Chamber Music Course in August this year. Not quite as blisterlingly hot as in 2022, the venue and campus at York University was a perfect one for a week’s coaching, playing and spending time with so many committed and interesting chamber musicians. Thanks to Richard Ingham, Suzie Palmer and all those involved with the excellent organisation, the week ran beautifully with large and small chamber groups discovering the huge range of wind music on offer in the course’s library.

One highlight for me was having the chance to explore Strauss’ Sonatina No 1, ‘Invalid Workshop’, with a very fine ensemble. I also admired some lovely Mozart playing in the C minor Serenade as well as some more unusual repertoire including the Theodore Gouvy Petite Suite Gauloise.

Some of the most enjoyable sessions, though, were with smaller ensembles – trios and quartets – and here Malcolm Arnold’s Divertimento for flute, oboe and clarinet stays with me as a long standing favourite of mine.

It came as sad news in the summer that Jim Parker had died and I was moved to hear two ensembles play his Mississippi Five for wind quintet to remember an oboist and composer who wrote so brilliantly for wind instruments (let’s not forget House of Cards!).

Thanks to string players Eric Clark, Alison Major, Ruth Addison, David Brereton and Thomas Rushton the course was able, as ever, to explore music for wind and strings. Bax’s Quintet for oboe and strings, the Beethoven Septet, Spohr Nonet ansd many other works kept the strings very busy all week. Mention needs to go to Andrew Black (piano) who played a full week of piano and wind chamber music including, of course, K452 and the Beethoven Quintets, Poulenc Sextet and trio, Ludwig Thuille Sextet and many more.

YWCC is a most impressive course for wind players. I so enjoyed working with colleague-coaches Stephen Reay, Ken Smith, David Campbell, Fergus Kerr and Bob Ashworth in a memorable week. It was a social joy too – with breakfasts (Quarks), lunches and dinners (Derwent), trips to the pub, the tutors dinner out in York and the highly diverting informal concert at the end offering much camaraderie and sheer fun. Thanks to all for a brilliant week.

Richard Ingham, Director, York Wind Chamber Music

Gloucestershire Double Reed Day

By on October 16, 2023 in Oboe matters

Looking back over a busy summer of music-making, I have fond memories of my day at the Gloucester Double Reed Day held at Pate’s Grammar School, Cheltenham on 2 July. Brilliantly organised by Caron de Burgh and her amazing team, the day was packed with events including masterclasses for oboe and bassoon, chamber music and double reed band, reed making classes (Liam Fleet and George Bailey), Alexander Technique (Jenny Steele) and more. The trade stands included Crook and Staple, Wiggins Music, Army Recruitment and the British Double Reed Society as well as a highly-supportive presence by Howarths and I enjoyed my conversations with Will Ring and Iona Walker whilst trying out a range of new oboes!

The classes that I gave that day included some lovely oboe playing from Helen Venn, Daniel Ho , Sue Newman, Leandra Gorgulu, Iona Nettleton, Barney Ratcliffe, Nicola Leitao, Hugh Major, Aidi Lu and Isaac Stringer. Beautifully accompanied by Kit Perona-Wright, I also enjoyed playing the first movement of the Rubbra Sonata with him in our performnace at the end of the day. It was great to share this event with the wonderful Jarek Augustyniak whose performances of many famous orchestral bassoon solos were captivating!

Well done all and thank you to Caron for masterminding an event that had done so much for double reed playing!

Bromsgrove International Music Competition

By on June 9, 2023 in Bromsgrove International Music Competition, COMPETITIONS

It was a privilege to join the jury with Sarah Bruce and Christopher Glynn for the 2023 BIMC held at Bromsgrove School between 30 May and 3 June. From a large entry, 24 fine musicians came through to the final rounds in Bromsgrove and twelve excellent semifinalists were chosen: Raymond Brien (clarinet), Ezo Dem Sarici (violin), Robert Finegan (saxophone), Gerard Flotats (cello), Adam Heron (piano), Vanessa Hristova (viola), Anna Im (violin), Hiroki Kasai (viola), Yu-Chieh Lin (piano), Matthew McLachlan (piano), Marika Tsuchiya (marimba) and Arthur Yiu Chung Yu (piano).

Many wonderful performances from these musicians come to mind: Raymond Brien’s playing of Salvatore Sciarrino’s Let me die before I wake for solo clarinet, cellist Gerard Flotats’ reading of Janacek’s Pohádka, saxophonist Robert Finegan in Ryo Noda’s Maï, Adam Heron in Bach’s Italian Concerto, Vanessa Hristova’s playing in Rebecca Clarke’s Viola Sonata, Hiroki Kasai, viola, in Reger’s Suite No 1, Rosenblatt’s Carmen Fantasy played by Eso Dem Sarici, violin, Marika Tsuschiya in Christopher Norton’s November Evening for marimba solo and Arthur Yiu Chung Yu’s pianism in Schumann’s Symphonic Etudes, Op 13.

After careful consideration, three finalists came through to play on the 3 June in the Routh Hall at Bromsgrove School. Performing with distinction throughout the competition, I remember especially Yu-Chieh Yu’s moving performance of Scriabin’s Valse Op 38 and Prokofiev’s 8th Sonata, Anna Im’s intense and personal playing in Amy Beach’s Romance for violin and piano and Matthew McLachlan’s outstanding performance of Stravinsky’s Petrushka.

All three finalists contributed to a memorable concert with highly positive responses from the audience. In the end, the 2023 BIMC winner was Matthew McLachlan. Congratulations to him and to all those who participated at such a high level.

In the afternoon of the final, the Bromsgrove Young Musicians Platform was held in Routh Hall featuring some outstanding young talent from 9 -17 years. Congratulations to Junior section winner, Izaac Bazlov (piano) and runner-up, Nathaniel Ming-Shun Law (oboe) and Senior Section winner, Hugo Svedberg (cello) and runner-up, Casey-Joan Whyte (violin) for their impressive performances.

With thanks to Chair David Saint, former Chair Ian Morris, Young Musicians administrator Monica Toso, Beverley Needham and all the Bromsgrove School administration, Young Musicians Platform adjudicators Alastair Moseley, Richard Jenkinson and Sarah Oliver, as well as the brilliant competition accompanists Jonathan French, Janine Parsons and Kate Thompson this was a week to remember.

Matthew McLachlan, piano
Yu-Chieh Lin, piano
Anna Im, violin

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