Music@Ardingly 2014/15 Season
Music@Ardingly 2014/15 Season
Welcome to the seventh season of Music@Ardingly. We are pleased to announce four top-class performances, including both new artists and return visits by old favourites.
Click here for the 2014 - 2015 brochure.
All the events are open to Ardingly pupils, parents, staff and the general public. Single concert tickets are available, or a substantial saving can be made by purchasing a season ticket.
This year we have introduced an online ticketing service. Please follow this link to purchase tickets.
Please contact email@example.com or phone 01444 893230 for more details.
The Allegri String Quartet, Monday 17th November 2014
It was a great pleasure to welcome one of the foremost chamber groups in the country, the Allegri String Quartet, to Ardingly. Celebrating their 60th anniversary in 2013, the Allegri Quartet is the oldest chamber group in Britain.
Following a very informative and useful workshop with some Senior School musicians during the afternoon, the quartet treated a good-sized audience to three chamber works by Beethoven, Shostakovich and Dvořák in an evening concert in the Under.
The first half of the concert featured quartets by two titans of the genre – Beethoven and Shostakovich who wrote sixteen and fifteen quartets respectively. The quartets of Ludwig van Beethoven are highly acclaimed, and Nos. 1-6, Opus 18 are thought to demonstrate his total mastery of the classical string quartet as developed by Haydn and Mozart. No. 5 in A major is very definitely inspired by Beethoven's predecessors and displays many Mozartian characteristics: dancing rhythms, elaborate codas and delicate textures. The quartet play with an immaculate certainty and bring much to the performance with their physical gesticulations – there is a clear, almost telepathic understanding at all times. They are exciting to watch as well as to listen to.
Shostakovich's Quartet in F minor No. 11, Opus 122 has seven movements, played as a continuous whole. It is a much shorter piece than the Beethoven, no less adventurous, but packed full of menace and tragedy. F minor was used by baroque musicians for death and to express great sorrow – this piece is dedicated to the memory of Vasili Pyotrovich Shirinsky, a close friend of Shostakovich. Shostakovich himself was recovering from neurological treatment himself at the time of writing.
The Allegri foursome helpfully played main themes and other musical points of interest to lookout for before the performance. For the second half, the quartet were joined by Ardingly Head of Keyboard, Vicky Yannoula for a performance of Dvořák's Piano Quintet No. 2 in A major, Opus 81. Composed in 1887, it is generally regarded as one of the masterpieces of the form along with those of Schubert, Schumann, Brahms and Shostakovich. The work is something of a tour de force that includes some wonderful elements of Czech folk music as well as a dazzling array of intricate passage-work for all players.
The third movement, marked as a 'Furiant', is a fast Bohemian folk dance, and this was performed with real energy and verve – the fortissimo passages were surprisingly powerful and genuinely exciting. This was a thoroughly enjoyable concert and a very well chosen programme.
Dave Newton Trio with Heather Cairncross review – 25/6/14
Dave Newton is one of the finest jazz pianists in the business – he has been voted the best jazz pianist in the British Jazz Awards 11 times, and has recorded and toured extensively with numerous jazz greats, notably Stacey Kent and Alan Barnes.
As part of Ardingly College Arts Fest 2014, he teamed up with bassist Tom Farmer, drummer Matt Skelton and vocalist Heather Cairncross, whose uniquely versatile voice has allowed her to sing successfully at the highest level internationally in many musical genres. She is a former member of The Swingle Singers, has worked with Stephane Grappelli and Steve Reich, and has appeared at some of the world's top concert venues performing as a member of, and soloist for Sir John Eliot Gardiner's Monteverdi Choir.
A capacity audience in The Under were treated to a selection of songs primarily from the Great American Songbook, a term used to identify some of the most important and influential American popular songs of the 20th century, such as Skylark (Hoagy Carmichael), Embraceable you (George Gershwin) and Some other time (Leonard Bernstein). The odd standard was also thrown into the mix: a highlight for me was Don't get around much anymore which was played as a jazz waltz – an unusual but extremely successful interpretation.
Newton oozes sophistication at the keyboard and the resources at his disposal are seemingly limitless – ideas pour from his fingers effortlessly. His lightness of touch is so refreshing and even the most dazzling passagework is made to sound easy. However, it's his excellent judgement where often 'less is more' that makes him such a standout musician.
Cairncross' voice is so suitable for the genre: her sonorous tone is as clear as a bell and every syllable is so articulate. She achieves incredible control and has the capacity to adjust to any style – we had a delightfully eclectic mix of ballads, fast latin, rumba and swing numbers. Her warm interaction with the audience was perfectly pitched.
There is a clear understanding between Newton and Cairncross and they complement each other perfectly – the empathy between the pair is so natural and makes for a very cohesive musical union. Having the bass and drums was an added luxury and both Tom Farmer and Matt Skelton supported brilliantly.
This was a world class jazz performance and I can't wait to hear them again.
Stephen Hough Review – 29th April 2014
Stephen Hough is without doubt an A-list celebrity of the musical world – he is one of the world's leading concert pianists and also excels as a writer, painter and composer. It was therefore a very exciting prospect and a huge privilege to welcome him to Ardingly College to give a concert as part of his very busy international schedule.
His programme was predominantly a Romantic selection – including works by Brahms, Debussy and Schumann – but also featured his own Piano Sonata No. 2 (notturno luminoso). Mr. Hough's cool, composed entrance was greeted by rapturous applause from a capacity audience, and his playing from the outset was as crisp and clean cut as his appearance (an all black tunic evoking an image not unlike a Bond villain).
The first half of the concert included Brahms' Seven Fantasias Op. 116, which features energetic Capriccios and reflective Intermezzos, each of which is in a three-part form; followed by Debussy's Estampes (meaning "engravings" or "prints"), a set of three brief pieces: Pagodes (Pagodas), La soirée dans Grenade (Soirée in Grenada) and Jardins sous la pluie (Gardens in the rain). Mr. Hough is a musical architect and such an intellectual performer that one can hear every musical line and nuance very clearly.
The second half opened with his Piano Sonata No. 2 (notturno luminoso) – an extraordinary piece that was quite mesmerising. The piece is through-composed and in ABA form, featuring three musical ideas: one based on sharps (brightness), one based on flats (darkness), and one based on naturals (a kind of blank irrationality). His own programme notes were useful in interpreting the work, but there were definite hints of Messiaen, Brahms and even some jazz harmony here – Hough's imaginative and cerebral creativity, together with his clever use of the soft pedal (even in forte passages), made for a very thought-provoking and unique sound world. Schumann's Carnaval followed – a series of 21 tableaux, a masked ball in which one character after another takes centre-stage. This was a masterful demonstration of how to showcase not only his own incredible skill and virtuosity, but also the qualities and subtleties of the instrument. Hough can play with humour, with aggression and bravado, but it is his wonderful ability to play so softly and so sensitively that particularly tickled my aural senses.
After a torrent of applause and two brief encores, the great man slipped away as stealthily as he came. A sensational concert!
Britten Centenary Concert, Thursday 21st November
"A fantastic concert, wonderfully well performed" Lord Michael Berkeley
On the eve of his 100th birthday, 140 Ardingly students, VOCES8 and the LPO's Foyle Future Firsts musicians joined forces for a wonderful celebration of Benjamin Britten's life and music. Britten is one of England's greatest composers and a central figure of twentieth century music, and it was particularly appropriate that the concert was introduced by Lord Michael Berkeley, the renowned composer and broadcaster and Britten's godson. The programme was carefully designed to give a cross section of Britten's output, including his official 'opus 1', the Sinfonietta, and his choral masterpiece Rejoice in the Lamb.
Michael Berkeley's own compositions, Seven and Listen, Listen O My Child, written for the recent Enthronement of the Archbishop of Canterbury, were also performed and the composer said he loved hearing the choir performing the anthem again in the beautiful setting of Ardingly Chapel.
Lord Berkeley went on to say: "It was wonderful to see these young people perform tonight's music, even the difficult parts, with such spirit and joy."
Music@Ardingly Concert Series Review
Mark Stone and Sholto Kynoch
Baritone Mark Stone and his accompanist Sholto Kynoch presented a delicious programme of English songs featuring cycles by three of the finest composers of the idiom: George Butterworth, Ralph Vaughan Williams and Gerald Finzi.
The recital opened with six songs from 'A Shropshire Lad' (taken from eleven settings that Butterworth put to music from a total of sixty-three poems by A. E. Housman). Whilst not directly based on particular folk songs, the music is heavily folk-influenced and Mark Stone captured the style beautifully with his sonorous tones.
The second set of songs comes from the Grandfather of English song, Ralph Vaughan Williams, who was close friends with Butterworth. Written between 1901 and 1904, the Songs of Travel represent Vaughan Williams' first major foray into song-writing and are based on poems by Robert Louis Stevenson of Treasure Island fame. Vaughan Williams was also heavily influenced by folk music and again this is evident in these songs. Mark Stone moved effortlessly between the varying moods of each song and maintained an excellent connection with his audience. The opening song of this cycle The Vagabond was performed by an Ardingly student at a masterclass taken by Stone the previous evening at the College.
After the interval we heard one of six song cycles by Gerald Finzi based on poems by Thomas Hardy: Earth, and air, and rain. Finzi was also friends with Vaughan Williams and this link proved to be an important influence on the next generation of song composers. Finzi's outlook on life was quite bleak and this is evident in his much of his music. However, his musical language is quite different to Butterworth and Vaughan Williams making use of jazzier and more adventurous harmonies. A highlight of this cycle was Rollicum-Rorum which demonstrated the intricate interplay between singer and accompanist perfectly. Mark Stone's interesting and good-humoured introductions were a very useful addition to the song texts in the programme.
Two Tom Lehrer songs as encores concluded a delightful concert in a suitably light-hearted fashion.
Opening Concert: VOCES8 Ardingly College Chapel, Tuesday 18th September
Ardingly’s Musicians in Residence, VOCES8, once again launched the Music@Ardingly series. The ever-popular a cappella group continue their increasingly successful association with Ardingly and a large audience enjoyed a very varied programme.
The programme was a delightful mix of anthems and motets from the Renaissance (Byrd’s wonderful Sing Joyfully opened the concert) to the twentieth century (Bairstow’s sublime Let all mortal flesh keep silence and Holst’s Nunc Dimittis) and arrangements of popular songs ranging from a traditional spiritual, Tippett’s Go Down Moses, to Queen’s Crazy little thing called love.
A highlight for me was the stunningly simple The Lambby contemporary British composer John Tavener. Here VOCES8 scaled down to VOCES6, and the balance between the parts was perfect. This is a very difficult piece to execute well, but the intonation was spot on and the ensemble perfect.
For the first time in concert, the Senior School Chapel Choir joined VOCES8; a performance of Gabriel Fauré’s Cantique de Jean Racine, with the support of the organ, added a lovely dimension to the overall programme.
As an encore, VOCES8 performed an arrangement by Jim Clements of Fever, taken from their new Songbook. It was a typically stylish rendition which featured challenging but wonderful harmonies that the octet mastered beautifully.
This wrapped up another thoroughly enjoyable evening of entertainment and we look forward to VOCES8’s return to the Concert Series next year in our Ardingly Arts Festival.
‘British Isles Music Festival 2014'
Ardingly College Summer School is delighted to be hosting The British Isles Music Festival again this summer, one of the most enterprising and ambitious master class and chamber music courses in Europe.
Since its inception in 2008, the Music@Ardingly concert series has offered an exciting and ambitious range of concerts featuring artists of the highest calibre in the unique setting of the Ardingly College Chapel.
The Gould Piano Trio
The Royal String Quartet
The London Philharmonic Orchestra Chamber Ensemble
Organ Recital by James Lancelot
The National Youth Jazz Orchestra
The Queene’s Concert Baroque Ensemble
‘The Phantom of the Opera’ Silent Movie Improvisation - David Briggs (Organ)
The Schumann Letters: A story of love and music in the shadow of madness
The Chichester Cathedral Choir
Emma Johnson, Julian Lloyd Webber and John Lill
The Guildhall Jazz Band
English Song Recital – Mark Stone and Sholto Kynoch
Arts Festival Concert with members of the LPO, VOCES8 and the Combined Choirs of Ardingly College
Britten Centenary Concert: LPO Foyle Future First Musicians, VOCES8 and Ardingly Choirs
LPO Chamber Concert
Stephen Hough Piano Recital
Dave Newton Trio and Heather Cairncross
Ardingly College, Haywards Heath, West Sussex RH17 6SQ