Monday, 28 September 2009

Jennifer Pike joins first winners of London Music Masters Awards

"... with phenomenal tuning, pace, control of timbre and range of dynamics, she brought the house down with Saint-Saens' Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso.' Robert Maycock, Independent

Recently signed to Chandos, violinist Jennifer Pike has just been presented with London Music Masters Award.

London Music Masters is a registered charity which aims to build bridges to excellence through the Bridge Project, a long term music education programme for children, and the LMM Awards which are given every three years to three extremely talented violinist aged 18-28. During their tenure the award holders recieve substantial financial support, performance opportunities, and mentoriing from important individuals in the arts industry.

London Music Masters works in partnerships wiht the London Philharmonic Orchestra, the Royal College of Music and Wigmore Hall.

Hear Alison Stephen's podcast for Classic FM

Today's Classic FM Arts Daily Podcast is with Alison Stephens. Have a listen

Friday, 25 September 2009

The Fanfare Archive - treasure trove for classical enthusiasts

I've just come across the Fanfare Archive and felt that I just had to share this with you.

You'll soon find a wealth of information and opinions about tens of thousands of CD, SACD, and DVD recordings of Classical, Jazz, and Film music that have been reviewed in Fanfare in recent years. The Archive is a work in progress, and it will eventually encompass every issue of Fanfare

Exclusive Chandos Film Music Feature and Sampler on ClassicsOnline

Follow this link to this exclusive film music bundle available on ClassicsOnline. For only $2.99 USD you can get a flavour of the music released on Chandos Movies, and sure to inspire you to purchase future recordings on this innovative label. But hurry, this sampler is only available for one week!

Delius Song inspires new album dedicated to the memory of Richard Hickox

This coming Monday, 28th September will see the launch of Within a Dream. This beautifully compiled 2-CD set is released to coincide with the launch of the charity, The Richard Hickox Foundation.

The inspiration behind the album came from Ernest Dowson's words, used in the concluding passage of Songs of Sunset by Frederick Delius.

They are not long, the weeping and the laughter,
Love and desire and hate:
I think they have no portion in us after
We pass the gate.
They are not long, the days of wine and roses:
Out of a misty dream
Our path emerges for a while, then closes
Within a dream.
Ernest Dowson (1867–1900)

The profits of this CD set will go to the newly founded, Richard Hickox Foundation.

Richard had a long and deeply fulfilling relationship with Chandos, which enabled him to realise his artistic vision. His recorded legacy remains as a testament to his musical ability and the excerpts on this two-disc set have been chosen to capture all aspects of his art. It was difficult to know what to leave out as Richard seemed never to make a poor recording. However, here we have some of his greatest achievements, from the recording of the original version of Vaughan Williams’s A London Symphony to the poignant setting of Delius’s Songs of Sunset from which the title of this celebration, ‘Within a Dream’, is taken. In between there are excerpts from Britten operas and from the Grainger, Arnold and Holst series, as well as much repertoire from beyond the British isles, including Mendelssohn, Menotti, Hummel and Schubert. The achievements of Richard Hickox reached an astonishing breadth and depth, as this brief selection of his music making demonstrates. Through the recordings represented here we can continue to marvel at the consistently high level of his interpretations whilst wondering what more he might have achieved had he lived to the age of eighty. It is our deeply held hope that The Richard Hickox Foundation will build on his legacy in the years to come.

An introduction to Richard Hickox and The Richard Hickox Foundation

The premature death of Richard Hickox on 23 November 2008, at the age of just sixty, deprived the musical world of one of its greatest conductors. The depth and breadth of his musical achievements were astonishing, not least in his remarkable work on behalf of British composers. His recorded legacy – more than 280 recordings with Chandos alone – will ensure that his art will never be forgotten. The Richard Hickox Foundation, by supporting those causes about which Richard felt passionately, will sustain those interests into the future. The Foundation aims to enhance what is already a remarkable legacy.
Richard Hickox was an inspiring figure, a guiding light to his friends and colleagues. He had a generosity of spirit and a wonderful quality of empathy for others. For someone of his musical achievements, he was never arrogant, never pompous. Indeed, there was a degree of humility about Richard that was as endearing as it was unexpected. He was light-hearted and, above all, incredibly enthusiastic for those causes which he held dear. His determination to make things happen for these passions was astonishing – without this energy and focus he could not have achieved all that he did. He was able to take others with him on his crusades, and all in the pursuit of great music. It is hard to see how he could haveachieved more during his life. His early death leaves it to The Richard Hickox Foundation to carry on, with equal energy, determination and focus, the desire to achieve his vision.

Thanks to gifted and musical parents, Richard Hickox quickly realised his early promise. At the age of seven he was playing the organ in the church in which his father was the vicar. Very early he showed those special talents which later distinguished the man, including a capacity for hard work and an enthusiasm which seemed to carry all before it. In his teens he was conducting at the Wooburn Festival, and in 1973 – at the age of just twenty-five – he became the youngest person to conduct at the BBC Proms. He formed his own orchestra in 1971, the City of London Sinfonia, and was quickly taken up by record companies. His English National Opera debut, with Dido and Aeneas, followed in 1979, his operatic achievements broadening what was already a remarkably wide range of musical interests. Closest to his heart, however, was British music. His performances of works by Elgar, Vaughan Williams, Britten, Delius and others showed profound musical insights, the interpretations big-hearted, expressive and rooted in the colours and contours of the English countryside.
Richard was a completely rounded musician with a patience, kindness and charisma that endeared him to players and singers alike. His enthusiasm bred its own energy and this, in turn, inspired performers. He was superb at marshalling large forces. He cared about the development of the artists with whom he worked and they repaid this loyalty by giving of their best for him.
An unassuming man who was always a delight to meet, Richard was a tireless musical explorer who was able to create a wonderful sense of spirituality, which lifted performances to become special, memorable events. For all these reasons, Richard was loved as well as respected.

The goals of the Foundation
The Richard Hickox Foundation will continue to cherish and support those interests that were close to Richard’s heart. These interests were very catholic – who can forget Richard’s recordings and performances of the music of Bach, Haydn, Mendelssohn or Dvořák? However, the focus will be, rightly, on British music, for this repertoire brought something extra from Richard. The Foundation will also acknowledge and develop a genuinely international approach that reflects Richard’s own worldwide activities and success.
The goals of the Foundation can be summarised as follows:
1) To commission and financially support recordings of British composers, focusing on those of importance, who have been neglected by record companies and concert promoters. This will include composers such as Holst, Leighton and Stanford;
2) To identify and support young conductors and singers worldwide, through grants to enable the appointment of Associate Conductors (known as Richard Hickox Conducting Fellowships) and through grants for concert training for young singers (known as Richard Hickox Singing Fellowships);
3) Through grants and other forms of support to encourage performances of British music outside the UK. Richard Hickox pioneered British music from Sydney to San Diego – this objective will maintain the momentum;
4) To communicate information about the life and
work of Richard Hickox, mainly through a new website:
To help us realise these ambitious objectives and plans, the Richard Hickox Foundation has been set up as a company limited by guarantee (number 6858087) and
will be registered as a charity under UK law.
Partnerships with organisations that worked closely with Richard Hickox will be developed in support of our objectives.
Our goals can only be achieved by raising funds from those organisations and individuals who cared about Richard Hickox and who want to see his legacy enhanced. To keep costs to a minimum, no salary or fees will be payable to anyone associated with the Foundation. Those involved will give of their time freely, out of love for Richard, the man and musician.
How you can help
To realise our vision for The Richard Hickox Foundation we need the help of those organisations and individuals who believed in Richard and who cherish his memory. Many will want to support the Foundation even if
they did not know Richard personally, for they
responded wholeheartedly to his music making, which touched their hearts. To support the Foundation,
perhaps by becoming a Friend or by making a donation, please contact us at:
The Richard Hickox Foundation
Crystal Wharf
36 Graham Street
London N1 8GJ

Leadership of the Foundation
The Richard Hickox Foundation will appoint a strong and committed group of Officers, Patrons and Trustees to offer leadership, guidance and wisdom.
The Foundation’s President and Vice President are Richard’s widow, Pamela Helen Stephen, and Richard’s eldest son, Tom Hickox. The Foundation would not exist without their joint determination to build on Richard’s remarkable musical legacy.
Patrons and Trustees from all spheres of Richard’s life will be appointed over the next twelve months.

Thursday, 24 September 2009

Chandos artist Paul Watkins is appointed Principal Guest Conductor of the Ulster Orchestra

Sulivan Sweetland is delighted to announce the appointment of Chandos artist Paul Watkins as Principal Guest Conductor of the Ulster Orchestra with immediate effect for an initial period of three years.

Recently appointed Music Director of the English Chamber Orchestra, Paul Watkins has previously conducted the Ulster Orchestra in BBC concerts and last November in the Orchestra’s own series at the Belfast Waterfront Hall. Watkins returns to the Ulster Orchestra at the Ulster Hall next March where he will conduct a programme of Schumann and Brahms.

David Byers, Chief Executive of the Ulster Orchestra warmly welcomed the appointment: “Paul Watkins is a great communicator who enjoys the respect of the orchestral players, thanks to his innate musicality and his attention to detail without losing any of the music’s spontaneity.”

Paul Watkins has acquired a reputation as an insightful and communicative conductor in the years since winning the Leeds Conductors’ Competition in 2002. He has conducted all of Britain’s leading orchestras including the London Symphony, London Philharmonic and Philharmonia orchestras, and is increasingly in demand abroad working regularly with orchestras including the Royal Flemish Philharmonic, Ensemble Orchestral de Paris, Norwegian Radio Orchestra, Queensland Orchestra and Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra.

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Nordic Voices Lamentations tour - buy your tickets now!

Nordic Voices is a six-voice a cappella group blending solo and ensemble qualities. They have received glowing praise for their concert performances, and their initial release on Chandos (CHSA 5050) received praise from around the world. Washington Post wrote, ‘Intonations? Impeccable. Ensemble? Unfailing precision in phrasing, dynamics, colour – everything finely tuned. A succession of works ever-changing and expressing in meaning.’ Gramophone noted ‘ringing, clear timbres and an impressive blend.’

In this current tour Nordic Voices perform works from their new album, Lamentations. This current collection, superbly sung by these Norwegians, draws attention to the idea of global conflict. An idea inspired by the Offices of Tenebrae. The offices of Tenebrae (on the last three days of Holy Week) have always been celebrated with a sense of the drama appropriate to their commemoration of Christ’s Passion. The texts are about conflict and are as relevant and moving today as they must have been to the composers of the sixteenth century. Most major composers active in Catholic Europe in the late sixteenth century wrote at least one set of Tenebrae lamentations and/or responsories, partly because of liturgical demand but also because their highly-charged texts provided an opportunity for expressive writing.

The four composers represented here present a fascinating contrast to approaches to text setting. Luis de Victoria was born in Avila but spent his formative years in Rome where he published his Officium Hebdomadae Sanctae in 1585, containing a complete set of music for Holy Week. The lessons sung here come from all three days and show Victoria’s careful setting of the text and his ability to control texture by a constant grouping and regrouping of different voices. Perhaps unexpectedly, a significant group of Latin lamentation settings was composed in the England of Elizabeth I. The lamentation texts, with their undertones of religious persecution, could speak to both Protestants and Catholics alike. Robert White worked at Ely and Chester Cathedrals before moving to Westminster Abbey as Master of the Choristers by 1570.

Nordic Voices will donate a portion of their royalties for this recording and tour to UNICEF.

Oslo: Paulus Kirke 25.09
Haugesund: Var Frelsers Kirke 27.09
Bergen: Bergen Domkirke 28.09
Arvika: Ingesund Musikhogsk 29.09
Stockholm: Adolf Fredriks Kyrka 30.09
Helsinki: Gamla Kyrkan 03.10
London: St John's, Smith Sq 08.10

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Richard Hickox Foundation launches 15 October

The Richard Hickox foundation will be launched on 15 October with a concert by the City of London Sinfonia and the London Symphony Chorus.

Celebrated conductor Richard Hickox died prematurely in 2008, one of the world's greatest conductors and a pioneer of British music. The Foundation aims to continue Richard's work by supporting recordings of British composers, especially those who have not received the recognition which they deserve, to support young conductors and singers, to encourage British music outside of the UK and to communicate the life and work of Richard Hickox.

The concert is being held at the Barbican with a programme of British music by two ensembles which Richard was closely associated with. Richard founded the City of London Sinfonia in 1971 and was Music Director until the end of his life. He was Chorus Master and Music Director of the London Symphony Chorus from 1976-1991 and Conductor Emeritus until his death.

The programme is as follows:

Britten Four Sea Interludes from Peter Grimes
Elgar The Music Makers
Holst The Hymn of Jesus
Vaughan Williams Toward the Unknown Region

Felicity Palmer mezzo soprano
London Symphony Chorus
City of London Sinfonia
Joseph Cullen and Andrew Litton conductors

Chandos will be releasing a two-disc set of highlights of Richard's recording career, ‘Within a Dream - A Celebration of Richard Hickox' at the price of one CD with proceeds being donated to the Richard Hickox Foundation.

Win Tickets to Gala Fundraising Concert

Win 2 tickets to Alison Stephens and Craig Ogden Fundraising concert! Simply reply to with the answer to this question - which novelist inspired their previous duo CD - and you will be entered into the draw!

Thursday, 3 September 2009

MacMillan Cancer Support presents Alison Stephens and Craig Ogden - Gala Fundraising Concert

Macmillan Cancer Support presents Alison Stephens and Craig Ogden with special guest The Cambridge Chord Company.

Fascinating and eclectic mixture of works played by the acclaimed mandolin & guitar duo from the newly released Souvenirs CD (Chandos CHAN 10563) and favourite barbershop style show-stoppers from the award winning Cambridge Chord Company.

Friday, October 2, 2009
7:30pm - 10:30pm
St John's College Chapel, Cambridge
St John's Street
Cambridge, United Kingdom

September releases now available!