PULL OUT ALL THE STOPS – 3

Stephen Farr, organ, Royal Festival Hall
Monday 24th April 2017

Programmers of organ concerts often fight shy of much contemporary repertoire. It is often said that people will not come when they see what is to be played. Last evening’s latest instalment in the excellent Pull out all the stops 2016-17 season proved that a high calibre performer coupled with an excellent instrument will still draw a good crowd, even  when the programme is entirely of 20th and 21st Century music.

There is no doubt that some of this music is challenging. It is equally true that hearing music in such surroundings as the RFH, with detailed enough (but not excessively so) programme notes allows the listener to be immersed in each piece and offered the opportunity of a focussed and all-encompassing musical experience.

Beginning with a world premiere, of Judith Bingham’s Roman Conversions, the listener was soon aware that throughout the evening a myriad of sounds will be heard from this amazing instrument at the expert hands and feet of Mr Farr. This programmatic piece charts a journey through some of the sacred buildings of Rome, a journey from darkness into light. Very effectively structured I hope this piece will get the exposure it deserves.

The second piece was Jehan Alain’s Trois Dances. These three contrasting pieces  were brilliantly brought to life. As in the first piece moments of passion and vitality sat alongside more sustained moments and delicate figures.

The final item in the programme was familiar territory for those who have embraced the 20th Century organ repertoire. One of Messiaen’s best known and most substantial organ works Les corps glorieux is an extended meditation on death and resurrection, portraying the composer’s Christian convictions in a structure that draws on his varied musical influences and worked out techniques.

Stephen Farr was completely at home with this music and drew a marvellous array of sounds from the organ. His energy at times was phenomenal, with frenetic percussive passages and huge chords. He was equally convincing in the slower moving and monophonic sections.

After this impressively moving performance the audience was treated to a beautifully understated encore which rounded off the evening in a sublime way, not undermining the experience of what had gone before.

I hope that more of this music – the completely new, and that “new music” that is now a number of decades old – will be given more exposure. Whilst some of it undoubtedly needs organs of the scale of the RFH and performers of Stephen Farr’s calibre there is also much that can be effectively played with more restricted resources. There is such a vast repertoire embracing music of different styles and periods that deserves to be heard.

The final instalment of this series takes a different turn with David Briggs improvising a soundtrack to Hitchcock’s The Lodger (1927) on 24th June.

SP

 

Official Opening of The Stoller Hall: Manchester’s Newest Performance Space at Chetham’s School of Music

This weekend (Friday 21 – Sunday 23 April) The Earl of Wessex, Patron, Chetham’s School of Music, opens The Stoller Hall: Manchester’s newest performance space at Chetham’s School of Music. It offers a flexible, professional venue which is the ideal place for recitals, chamber concerts, jazz, folk, pop and spoken word events as well as recordings and conferences. The city of Manchester is a vibrant hub of culture with a plethora of music venues catering to a variety of genres: The Stoller Hall adds to this by filling the gap for a dedicated chamber music space, combining the intimacy of a small venue with impressive visual and acoustic design.

Situated in the New Building, which opened in 2012, a void was deliberately left in this new part of the school for a planned for concert hall, with the assumption that years of fundraising still lay ahead before that could become reality. The total cost of The Stoller Hall is £8.7m, and £7.5m of its overall cost has been generously donated by Sir Norman Stollerthrough the Stoller Charitable Trust: Chetham’s are delighted that this means the doors are opening just five years after the original conception, with additional support from the Garfield Weston Foundation. The remainder of the funds have been raised through various arms of the Encore Campaign: from donating a Round of Applause or the Name a Seat scheme to establishing a Wall Plaque or exploring Naming Opportunities.

The concert hall provides:

  • State-of-the-art 482-seat auditorium
  • Flexible acoustics, designed by industry experts Arup, for different types of performance
  • An extendable concert stage
  • High quality, brand new PA and lighting with in-house technical support
  • In-house Steinway D grand piano
  • Two large dressing rooms & two Green rooms with en-suite facilities
  • An intimate yet impressive setting providing a unique audience experience in the heart of Manchester

ENO and Grange Park Opera announce partnership

English National Opera (ENO) and Grange Park Opera (GPO) have today announced the formation of a three-year partnership, beginning in June 2018. Each year ENO’s award-winning Orchestra will play for productions presented by Grange Park Opera at West Horsley Place. West Horsley Place, the first opera house to be built in the UK in the 21st century, is the new home of Grange Park Opera and will open on 8 June 2017.

Described as ‘the finest opera orchestra in the country’ (The Stage), the ENO Orchestra is at the heart of the company’s artistic life. The repertoire that they perform is extremely diverse, ranging from baroque opera to world premieres. Their performances are regularly broadcast by BBC Radio 3 and have been screened live to cinemas worldwide as part of ENO Screen. In 2016 the ENO Orchestra and ENO Chorus were joint winners of the Olivier Award for Outstanding Achievement in Opera.

BBC Proms 2017

122 years since it was founded and 90 years since the BBC took over the running, financing and broadcasting of the world’s largest classical music festival, the BBC Proms today announces its 2017 season. Presenting over eight weeks of events and more than 90 concerts the festival continues its founder-conductor Henry Wood’s aim of bringing the best classical music to the widest audience.

The festival marks major composer anniversaries in 2017, including Monteverdi at 450, Handel’s Water Music at 300 and John Williams at 85.  The birthdays of two pioneers of American Minimalism are also celebrated – John Adams’ 70th birthday is marked throughout the festival including the First and Last nights, and Philip Glass’ 80th birthday is celebrated with the first complete live performance of Passages, the 1990 studio album he created with Ravi Shankar, performed by the Britten Sinfonia, conducted by Karen Kamensek with sitar soloist Anoushka Shankar. 

Following its launch last year, the ‘Proms at…’ series returns, matching music to five different venues and for the first time in recent history travels outside of London to Stage@TheDock in Hull, the UK’s 2017 City of Culture, for a concert inspired by the 300thanniversary of the first performance of Handel’s Water Music. As well as eight Proms Chamber Music concerts at Cadogan Hall, the series presents choral music at Southwark Cathedral, music theatre at Wilton’s Music Hall, new and experimental music at the Tanks at Tate Modern, and returns to Bold Tendencies Multi-Storey Car Park in Peckham for a wide-reaching programme featuring The Multi-Story Orchestra and Youth Choir

The Proms explores the ways in which politics has inspired and influenced composers across the ages through two big historical anniversaries in 2017 – one hundred years since the Russian Revolution, featuring the music of Shostakovich, Prokofiev and Rachmaninov, and the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, which is marked with a special day of concerts curated by Bach specialist John Butt.

Engaging new audiences remains a vital part of the BBC Proms mission as the festival opens its doors through special initiativesincluding the first ever Relaxed Prom. Presented in collaboration with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales (BBC NOW) and the Royal Albert Hall Education & Outreach team, the concert offers an informal environment for people with autism, sensory and communication impairments and learning disabilities as well as individuals who are Deaf, hard of hearing, blind or partially sighted. The Prom, which follows BBC NOW’s first ever Relaxed concert in Cardiff on 2 July, is led by conductor Grant Llewellyn and musician Andy Pidcock. Other concerts designed especially to present classical music to new audiences include Gerard McBurney’s Beyond the Score, which combines actors, projections and live musical examples who explore the history of Dvo?ák’s ‘New World’ Symphony, and Beethoven’s ‘Eroica’ Symphony, deconstructed live on stage by Tom Service and conductor Nicholas Collon, before a performance from memory by the Aurora Orchestra. A series of weekend matinees also offer engaging concerts that present the perfect introduction to classical music at a time of day that is convenient for those who may not be able to attend evening events.

As always the Proms presents a wide range of the very best music, with jazz and soul music a focus in the 2017 season. The festival marks 100 years since the births of Ella Fitzgerald and Dizzy Gillespie with a concert starring vocalist Dianne Reeves and trumpeterJames Morrison.  The music of jazz giant Charles Mingus is celebrated by conductor Jules Buckley and his Metropole Orkest, BBC Radio 2 presenter Clare Teal returns with bandleaders Guy Barker and Winston Rollins for a concert celebrating big band legends including Duke Ellington, and Jools Holland & His Rhythm and Blues Orchestra pay tribute to the legendary Stax/Volt Revue, credited for its championing of Southern and Memphis soul music.

The refreshed Proms websitebbc.co.uk/proms – reflects the entire festival offering. The ‘Proms Unplucked’ Podcast, presented by comedian and composer Vicki Stone, offers a unique backstage view of the whole festival.

Tickets are available via bbc.co.uk/proms or 0845 401 5040 and in person at the Royal Albert Hall as follows:

  • General booking opens at 9.00am on Saturday 13 May
  • Season and Weekend Promming Passes are available to purchase from 9.00am on Thursday 11 May.
  • Proms Chamber Music Series Passes are available to purchase from 9.00am on Thursday 11 May.
  • Tickets for the Ten Pieces Presents…Proms (Proms 11 and 12) are available to purchase from 9.00am on Friday 12 May.
  • Tickets for the Relaxed Prom (Prom 19), including a limited number of Promming tickets, are available to purchase from 9.00am on Friday 12 May.

SCREENINGS ON BEACHES, RIVER BANKS AND PARKS

Following Garsington Opera for All’s successful second year of free public screenings on beaches, river banks and parks in isolated coastal and rural communities, Handel’s sparkling masterpiece Semele will be screened in four areas across the UK in 2017. Free events are programmed for Skegness (1 July),  Ramsgate (22 July), Bridgwater (29 July) and Grimsby (11 October).  In each location a large-scale programme of education and outreach work is firmly integrated with the free public screenings and will provide ground-breaking opportunities for communities to be involved in creating, learning about, and performing opera.  Semele will also have a free public screening as part of Oxford Festival of the Arts (1 July) and  Garsington Opera’s 2016 production of Tchaikovsky’sEugene Onegin will be screened this year at the Buckingham Film Place community cinema (17 June).

Opera for All is a programme which challenges expectation by uncovering the ingredients and foundation of opera – drama, music, story-telling and expressive emotion.  In 2016 Opera for All worked with 25 schools, reached 1,000 young people, working directly with artists in residencies, and provided skills development for 50 teachers. Over 2,500 people attended the opera screenings. For the students in each location, the experience of working alongside a team of professional artists to create and perform their own pieces in response to the opera was transformative.  For many it was their first experience of live professional singing and evaluation of the project has shown significant positive impact on confidence and social cohesion

Opera for All is a three-year partnership project between Garsington Opera, the charitable trust Magna Vitae, and the Coastal Communities Alliance, and is supported by Arts Council England’s Strategic Touring Fund.  As a result of this partnership an online network – the Coastal Culture Network – has been formed.

Semele a love story in which the god Jupiter (performed by British tenor Robert Murray) is captivated by the beauty of the all-too-human Semele (sung by  Heidi Stober making her UK debut).  It features some of Handel’s most exquisitely beautiful music, with soaring choruses and splendid orchestral writing.

SCREENING DATES FOR SEMELE   

SKEGNESS        Saturday 1 July                                SO Festival

OXFORD            Saturday 1 July                              Oxford Festival of the Arts

RAMSGATE       Saturday 22 July                              Ramsgate Festival

BRIDGWATER   Saturday 29 July                            Bridgwater Quayside Festival,

GRIMSBY           Wednesday 11 October                 Grimsby Auditorium

 

SCREENING DATE FOR EUGENE ONEGIN

BUCKINGHAM   Saturday 17 June                           The Film Place

 

CDs / DVDs April 2017

Handel: Messiah
Bach Consort Wien, Ruben Dubrovsky
NAXOS 2.110387

Interesting for those of us so used to English singers performing an essentially English composition, to hear it in a German recording. The Bach Consort Wien draw on a very different background and yet come to surprisingly familiar conclusions. If the ornamentation in places is refreshingly different the main thrust of the work is entirely – and pleasingly – conservative. Soloists are secure, even where they are obviously not singing in their first language. Ruben Dubrovsky conducts with a clear ear for Baroque temperament and the whole is entirely pleasing.

Verdi: Un Ballo in Maschera
Bayerische Staatsoper, Zubin Mehta
UNITEL 739408

This production, recorded a year ago, is set in the 1930s with a sense of inter-war decadence to it which proves convincing, enabling the disparate elements to gel in a convincing way. It is well sung throughout and was extremely well received when first seen in Vienna. It is so good these days that an unusual presentation can be released so soon after the original staging and while the singers are still very much with us for the performance to be still in the repertoire.

Wagner: Der Ring des Nibelungen
Staatskapelle Weimar, Carl St Clair
ARTHAUS 109319

It almost seems unfair to try to comment on a complete recording of The Ring within a review page such as this. There is so much one could say of this fascinating and at times infuriating interpretation that one would hope for far more. However, to sum up, the approach which Michael Schulz takes is to include the gods far more frequently and to allow late 20th century iconographic to inhabit Wagner’s world. The Valkyries march on like the Von Trapp children, the final act of Valkyrie being set in a girls’ dorm. The gods in Rheingold are eminently human, with human needs and fallibilities. The strong pro-feminist line throughout finds its fulfilment at the end of Gotterdammerung when Brunnhilde walks off with her confidant, Grane, and leaves the, newly enfranchised, women to bask in the spring rain.

Much of this is splendidly accomplished. Das Rheingold is intimate and often compellingly naturalistic. If Die Walkure has a slightly weaker Wotan it does not inhibit an excellent overall performance, with a stunning visual climax. Siegfried is let down by a weak Wanderer, thought the staging as a whole is less effective here – no forging, no dragon, no fire.

Gotterdammerung works better, with Catherin Foster a fine Brunnhilde and Norbert Schmittberg equally secure as Siegfried. The staging works here, if only because it reflects what we had come to expect and never undervalues the score.

Carl St Clair is adept at keeping the long paragraphs of the score moving effortlessly and allowing the text to cut through with ease. Worth a look and possibly worth keeping if not quite up there with some of the finest we now have.

AMERICAN VOICES
St Thomas Choir of Men & Boys, Fifth Avenue, New York
John Scott, conductor
RESONUS RES10187   74’18

This recording features some now well-established sacred choral works by American composers including Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms, Copland’s In the beginning and Barber’s Agnus Dei. Alongside these are lesser known and more recent works by Randall Thompson, Nico Muhly, Daniel Castellanos & Ned Rorem, as well as an arrangement of Deep River by Gerre Hancock. The recording beautifully captures the choir in performances of conviction and emotion. A lovely production.

KODALY & DOHNANYI – Chamber Works for Strings
Simon Smith & Clare Hayes (violins), Paul Silverthorne (viola), Katherine Jenkinson (‘cello)
RESONUS RES 10181   70’19

This is a very welcome release of lesser known but significant works for strings from the first half of the twentieth century. The performances are fresh and polished. Two pieces are by Zoltan Kodaly – Duo for Violin & Cello, Op 7 and Serenade for 2 Violins & Viola, Op 1.Erno Dohnanyi’s Serenade for String Trio, Op 10 completes the CD.

LABYRINTH – Mozart, Ligeti & Bach
Dudok kwartet, Amsterdam
RESONUS RES 10180   55’24

More music for strings makes up this CD which presents a fascinating programme with music from different eras linked together by the theme of counterpoint and labyrinth. There is a shocking but delightful juxtaposition as Mozart’s String Quartet No 14 in G major leads into String Quartet No 2 by Ligeti which features the micropolyphonic structures which he pioneered. The recording ends with a return to what we may regard as more traditional music but which in themselves are boundary-pushing compositions: four Canons by the master of musical simplicity-in-complexity, JS Bach. Highly recommended listening.

TOCCATA: TOUCHED
Alex McCartney, theorbo
VETERUM MUSICA VM015

A sublime recital of works by G G Kapsberger (c1580 – 1651). Although complex music this is a very relaxing listening experience as Alex McCartney breathes life into this ancient and mostly forgotten music. A lovely production.

HANS LEO HASSLER – Orgelwerke (Suddeutsche Orgelmeister Vol 5)
Joseph Kelemen,
Freundt organ (1642), Stiftskirche, Klosterneuburg & Gunzer organ (1609), St Martin, Gabelbach
OEHMS CLASSICS OC658   79’51

This recording presents wonderfully authentic performances matching this music to near contemporary organs. The music is played with feeling and with great variety in registration. There is a good contrast of style and structure throughout the programme which includes an Orgelmesse, chorale preludes, introits, canons and ricercares. I am left wanting to listen to further volumes in this series.

MARCO ENRICO BOSSI- Complete Organ Works Vol 12
Andrea Macinanti, organ (with Giovanni Battista Fabris, violin & Elena Perera,’ cello)
Organ of Duomo di Thiene
TACTUS TC862790 (2CDs)   59’11 & 56’07

At first glance this recording seems an unnecessary volume in a series dedicated to the works of a single composer. However, on reading the notes and listening to the music I have come to see how important this volume is! Bossi championed the music of many of these ‘Old Masters’ and by doing so breathed new life into them, cherishing the musical structures and ideas from past generations but not being afraid to develop them further and incorporate his own ideas alongside them.  The CD is an enjoyable listening experience in its own right but the value lies more in helping others to appreciate how composers draw on the legacy left before them.

Borodin: Piano Quinter in C minor; Cello Sonata in B minor;
String Quartet No2 in D major
Goldner String Quartet, Piers Lane piano
HYPERION CDA 68166

A pleasure throughout, and even more so to have the rare cello sonata in addition to more familiar works. Hyperion have done it again – filling gaps in the market and proving their choice right!

Shostakovich: Piano Concertos Nos 1 & 2; String Quartet No8 arr Giltburg
Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, Rhys Owens, trumpet, Vasily Petrenko
NAXOS 8.573666

Boris Giltburg is a most convincing soloist for the two Shostokovich piano concertos with a lively trumpet in the first concerto from Rhys Owens. The additional pleasure here is the arrangements of two string quartets for piano solo. We have two movements from the Op68 quartet – the Waltz and Allegro – and a complete performance of the String Quartet No 8. This later was made with the permission of the Shostakovich family and proves to be a darkly defined composition which is not out of place as a solo piece.

Johan Botha
ORFEO C 906 171 B

These recordings were made in Vienna between 1997 and 2014. Johan Botha was an heroic tenor, most at home in Wagner and Strauss, both of whom are represented here, plus a fine recording of Gott, welch Dunkel hier when he appeared as Florestan in Beethoven’s Fidelio. He was seen most recently via the Met’s cinema links as Walter in Die Meistersinger which is reflected here in a live recording of the Prize Song. His untimely death last autumn robbed the opera world of a fine singer.

The excellency of hand: English viola da gamba duos
Robert Smith & Paolo Pandolfo
RESONUS RES10186

This cd is a delight throughout, bringing together 22 pieces of early music, most of which will be unknown to the majority of listeners. There are works by Christopher Simpson, John Jenkins, Simon Ives plus the gentle intervention of a single work by Robert Smith which is totally in keeping with the seventeenth century surroundings. The sheer grace and delight here speak for themselves – just hear it for yourself!

Medtner and Rachmaninov Piano Concerti
London Philharmonic Orchestra, Marc-Andre Hamelin, piano, Vladimir Jurowski
HYPERION CDA 68145

The Rachmaninov is of course very familiar and here equally well performed. The novelty is the Medtner which is far less well known and manages to keep its place surprisingly well alongside its more familiar partner. The two composers knew each other and Rachmaninov helped his younger friend who never had the same level of exposure or following. The differences are obvious even in the brief consideration of these two works. Medtner is a pianist and composes from the point of view of the soloist, while Rachmaninov’s ear is for the whole orchestra.

Max Bruch: String Quintets and String Octet
The Nash Ensemble
HYPERION CDA 68168

What is it about Octets that make them so satisfying? The great ones are out of this world and I have to include the Bruch Octet alongside them. Those who are besotted by the violin concerto – overplayed but never quite outstaying its welcome – will surely delight in this. When put alongside the two string quintets this it surely a most attractive recording.

Luigi Legnani: Works for Guitar
Raffaele Carpino, guitar
TACTUS TC 791201

I have to admit to knowing nothing of Luigi Legnani but these really are lovely works and so easy on the ear without ever being obviously populist. Working within the early part of the nineteenth century he was a friend of Rossini and both played and sang tenor as well as composing. He died almost forgotten in 1877 having composed 250 opus numbers plus a large number of unnumbered pieces, many of which are now lost. This recording should go a long way to restoring his name if only because it is a pleasure to listen to and beautifully crafted throughout.

Music for the 100 Years’ War
The Binchois Consort, Andrew Kirkman
HYPERION CDA 68170

This recording comes out of a collaboration between the Binchois Consort and the Castle Museum, Nottingham. The detailed notes include a wide range of photos of medieval alabaster carvings which reflect the music and life of the period. The notes are detailed and the translations are precise for each item. This alone makes it something of a rarity when notes can be skimped or often non-existent. To this one must note the fine recording itself and the close relationship between music, text and image. A very welcome recording of works by Alanus, Dunstable, Forest and Power plus anonymous items.

Opera South East: The Magic Flute

White Rock Theatre, Hastings, Saturday 8th April 2017

The Magic Flute is a disarmingly complex work. A fairy-story with wicked queens, pure princesses and evil Moors is under-pinned by a rationalist attack on superstition which is itself uncomfortably allied to misogyny and racism. That Fraser Grant chose to highlight the fantastic elements made sense, even if it skated over the deeper moments rather too easily. His production is set in a school, where the students are surrounded by gigantic alphabet blocks. It is a well-focused approach, and his use of immaculately drilled school children to move the blocks around is very impressive.

Characterisation is kept simplistic, allowing the narrative to unfold without asking too many difficult questions. In this James Williams’ gentle bird catcher is particularly effective and his final duet with an equally appealing Papagena from Marina Ivanova, is one of the highlights of the evening.

Mark Bonney’ school boy Tamino sings the arias with aplomb but never quite convinces us he is the hero of the piece. Thankfully his future is obviously in safe hands given the forthright and beautifully sung Pamina from Lucy Ashton who will guide him in future – just one of the ironies when the work is so strongly anti-feminist.

Fae Evelyn has the coloratura for the Queen of the Night but is given little to do other than sweep on and off majestically. Jeremy Vinogradov’s incisive Monostatos is turned into a black rat which works well for much of the time even if it waters down the real sense of menace.

The most challenging change in presentation is that of Sarastro who is presented as a mad scientist. That he is a scientist fits with the Enlightenment approach to reason, but that he is verging on the insane seems to tip him over into the other camp. Toby Sims sings with conviction but it was difficult to fit the noble outpourings to O Isis und Osiris within a Rocky Horror laboratory.

The orchestra provided well balanced accompaniment throughout with some fine individual solo playing. Kenneth Roberts kept tempi brisk and light, in keeping with the production itself.

It was very pleasing to see the White Rock comfortably full, though we are all too aware that no opera performance today can rely solely on its income from the audience, which makes the roll of benefactors all the more important.

English National Ballet: My First Ballet – Cinderella

Orchard Theatre, Dartford  

This miniature production presents Prokofiev’s ballet in an hour long version intended for children of three and over. The story is told in pictograms in the programme, ballet movements are reinforced with borrowings from British Sign Language and there’s a narrator to translate verbally. You couldn’t do more to make the story clearer to children of all abilities and levels – including those with special needs.

This is the fifth such show English National Ballet School – with choreography by 2010 alumnus, George Williamson – has mounted in collaboration with English National Ballet since 2012. It works at several levels. The production provides invaluable on-the-road and on-the-boards experience for second year ENBS students.  At the same time it has all the advantages of ENB’s production values including its costumes and sets – stunning outfits in muted dark blue for the eight-strong corps de ballet at the ball, for example. It’s a pity about the pre-recorded music (Moscow Film and TV Symphony Orchestra) which inevitably leads to occasional choreographic imprecision but it’s hard to see how they could get this show affordably on the road in any other way.

Sarah Goddard narrates the story as an older Cinderella, dressed as a princess recalling her past. She uses a rather odd (faintly irritating) lispy voice although there’s a warmly wistful smile in it too. The words are well paced against the music although, inclusivity issues apart, the show would work perfectly well without commentary as its original creators intended.

Each episode is very short and even the youngest most fidgety audience (and the one I was part of was actually very quiet and engaged) doesn’t need a 15 minute interval after only 25 minutes. High spots include two entertaining duets by Cinderella’s step sisters dancing “badly” in heavy 3/4 with the Prince and a lovely dance full of youthful energy and good leaps by the Prince’s four (male) friends. The final love pas-de-deux is very pleasing too.

It’s the graphic colour and beauty of Prokofiev’s evocative score which really carries the show, though. It may be less well known than his Romeo and Juliet but it is every bit as fine. The production is on tour until 27 May.

Susan Elkin

GARSINGTON OPERA SHORTLISTED FOR RPS MUSIC AWARD

Garsington Opera is delighted to announce that it has been shortlisted for a prestigious Royal Philharmonic Society Music Award, in the category of Opera and Music Theatre, for their 2016 production of Idomeneo, director Tim Albery, designer Hannah Clark.  The cast included Toby Spence, Caitlin Hulcup, Louise Alder, Rebecca von Lipinski, Timothy Robinson, Robert Murray and Nicholas Masters and was conducted by Tobias Ringborg.  The lighting designer was Malcolm Rippeth and movement director Tim Claydon.

RPS Music Award winners will be announced on Tuesday 9 May.   The annual RPS Music Awards, presented in association with BBC Radio 3, are the highest recognition for live classical music in the UK.  Awards, in thirteen categories, are decided by independent panels consisting of some of the music industry’s most distinguished practitioners. The awards honour musicians, composers, writers, broadcasters and inspirational arts organisations. The list of previous winners reads like aWho’s Who of classical music. This year’s RPS Music Awards celebrate outstanding achievement in 2016

Garsington Opera has established an enviable reputation for producing opera of the highest professional quality performed in a setting of extraordinary beauty.   A programme of well-known operas with discoveries of lesser-known works is presented over two months each summer and the very best performers from around the world are engaged and rising stars from within Britain are showcased.

This year’s festival that runs from 1 June – 30 July presents Handel’s seductive masterpiece Semele, Debussy’s enigmatic Pelléas et Mélisande, Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro, Rossini’s Il turco in Italia and will conclude with Silver Birch, a large-scale work for a professional cast with local community participants of all ages, commissioned by Garsington Opera from leading British composer Roxanna Panufnik and librettist Jessica Duchen.