Garsington Opera World Premiere


On 5 July 2018 Garsington Opera stages its first festival world premiere. Based on award-winning novel The Skating Rink by Chilean author Roberto Bolaño, the opera tells a thrilling tale of jealousy, political corruption and passion.

Set in a seaside town on the Costa Brava, the production will feature live figure-skating and an exceptional cast. The story of The Skating Rink is told by three narrators, revolving around Nuria, a beautiful young figure-skating champion. When she is dropped from the Olympic team, Enric, a besotted civil servant, pilfers public funds and builds her a secret practice rink in a deserted mansion. Nuria has affairs and the plot soon spins into blackmail, bad faith and treachery; the skating rink becomes a crime scene.

Leading British composer David Sawer, whose previous operatic work includes From Morning to Midnight (ENO 2001), has composed a score which is full of character, drama and beauty, drawing on Spanish and Latin American styles, set to a libretto by award-winning playwright Rory Mullarkey.  David Sawer said: “Immediately what grabbed me about the book was its structure. The fact that it is a story told from multiple viewpoints; that there isn’t just one linear narrative, that there are interlocking stories and that the events are told from different perspectives…that was very interesting for me, musically. There are lots of different themes in the narrative. What I think I’ve written is almost like a filmstrip, which will come to life when it is staged.”

Performances: 5, 8, 10, 14, 16 July 2018 (Start time 6.50pm)

Tickets:  01865 361636  or


The Skating Rink            David Sawer (composer)
Sung in English              Rory Mullarkey (librettist)           
Based on the novel by   Roberto Bolaño
Conductor                       Garry Walker
Director/Designer           Stewart Laing
Costume Designer          Hyemi Shin
Lighting Designer           Malcolm Rippeth
Movement Director         Sarah Fahie
Enric                              Neal Davies
Gaspar                          Sam Furness
Remo                            Ben Edquist
Carmen                         Susan Bickley
Caridad                         Claire Wild
Nuria                             Lauren Zolezzi
Rookie                          Alan Oke
Pilar                              Louise Winter

Visual Sonorities

Visual Sonorities is a dual-art experience brought to London after their debut success last month at venues across  Sao Paulo, Brazil. In everyday film and TV, music accompanies pictures: now the roles are reversed, rewardingly for the audience.

Two Russian solo piano masterpieces, inextricably linked with paintings, are performed in concert, with simultaneously projected interpretative images, preceded by an illuminating narration.

Italian, Francesco Comito, will play Mussorgsky’s original solo suite ‘Pictures at an Exhibition’, then Russian, Anna Bulkina, will play the less often-heard Opus 39 set of Rachmaninov’s ‘Études-Tableaux’, which are landscape impressions and sketches.

These two performing artistes connect strongly at multi-level with the intensity, not to mention the technical terrain, of these big compositions which are among the pillars of the Russian piano repertoire.

London performance on April 21 2018 at St Sepulchre Church at Holborn Viaduct EC1, right across the street from St.Paul Cathedral. The concert starts at 6 pm. There are two internet websites where the public can get tickets:



Garsington Opera is delighted that Annette Campbell-White was awarded the prestigious 2018 Philanthropist Prize at the International Opera Awards last night.

A major beneficiary of Annette’s generosity, energy and advice over many years, the whole team at Garsington Opera offers huge congratulations to her for this award.

Annette Campbell-White has provided transformational support to Garsington Opera, most recently as Lead Production Supporter for John Cox’s 2017 Le nozze di Figaro.  A key member of the Advisory Council, Garsington Opera benefits deeply through her broad experience, knowledge of young singers and positive force in the international opera world.

Douglas Boyd, Artistic Director of Garsington Opera said: “I am over the moon that Annette Campbell-White’s extraordinary impact and contribution to the world of opera has been recognised by the International Opera Awards. Annette embodies an inspiring combination of supporter, adviser, confidante and friend that any company would be so proud to have in their family.  I want to thank and congratulate her on behalf of all at Garsington Opera for such a wonderful achievement – BRAVA!”


The Grand Tour – A European Journey in Song

The seventeenth Oxford Lieder Festival (12-27 October 2018) will celebrate a rich tapestry of music, words and performance in European song and will showcase the pinnacles of the repertoire while exploring wider cultural influences.

International stars including Louise AlderSarah ConnollyVéronique GensJames GilchristThomas OliemansChristoph PrégardienKai RüütelCarolyn SampsonToby Spence and Camilla Tilling, together with prize-winning young artists, take part in a wide range of concerts and related events.

Sholto Kynoch, founder and Artistic Director of the Festival, has just been been elected a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Music in the Academy’s 2018 Honours.


In a new collaboration with the Bodleian Library, Oxford Lieder is co-hosting the Albi Rosenthal Fellowship: a three-month residency at the Bodleian, this year specifically for a composer. American composer Ross S. Griffey has been appointed and, as well as his residency at the Bodleian Library, in October he will lead a composition workshop at the Oxford Lieder Festival and give a talk on his research, with some of his existing work being heard. Following the residency, Oxford Lieder will commission a major new cycle – based on his research in the Bodleian – to be premiered at the 2019 Festival.


Oxford Lieder presents other events throughout the year, including a Spring Weekend of Song, as well as recitals across the country through the Oxford LiederYoung Artist Platform. Exceptional young professional duos apply for the Young Artist Platform, and this year’s winners – selected through 45-minute audition recitals at the Spring Weekend – are: Harriet Burns (soprano) and Michael Pandya (piano) and Jessica Dandy (contralto) and Dylan Perez (piano). They give a series of recitals in music clubs, societies and festivals nationally, as well as showcase recitals at the Festival in October.

Festival passes are already on sale from  / 01865 591276 General booking opens on 1 June 2018
3 April 2018

‘The violin will take you’ International Interview Concert

Kamila Bydlowska (Poland) violin
Varvara Tarasova (Russia) piano
St Paul’s Worthing on Easter Day
(1 April) at 4pm – doors 3.30pm)

(Simpler Easter joys after the intense season of Passions, Requiems, Masses and Oratorios)

‘The violin will take you’ is a musical foreign destination tour of Spanish rhythms and aromas; of exotic night music and tarantella dancing that’s half-Polish, half-Iberian, half-Middle Eastern; of authentic Argentine tangoing; of full-blown German Romanticism; and blues-jazz from America’s 1920s Deep South. Four continents . . .

In the above order it’s de Falla’s Andalusian Serenade, Szymanovski’s Nocturne And Tarantella, one of Piazzolla’s Tango Etudes, Robert Schumann’s tossed and torn First Violin Sonata, and Frolov’s showpiece Concert Fantasy on Themes from Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess. Some is duo, some solo.

Plus the amusement, insight and extra surprises for which Worthing’s International Interview Concerts are already cherished. The interviewing both illuminates the music and the lives, minds and hearts of young musician role models such as these. Unexpected questions also spring from the audience.

Some surprises are musical. Varvara Tarasova in her 2016 solo piano appearance at these concerts, suddenly got up and sang an opera love aria as her second encore.  Other stimulating elements which enmesh audience and performers include the action close-up seating format In The Round and the cafe concert ambience.

Tarasova’s debut CD of Brahms and Schumann on Champs Hill, first admired by Gramophone, has now just been lauded in America by Fanfare who compares it equally to the work of seasoned recording artistes. This is rare, by serious reviewers.

Bydlowska comes from the Nigel Kennedy school of versatility and wide personal musical horizons. She plays classical concertos and chamber music, contemporary acoustic-electronic, jazz, and has a Tango band, La Tango Terra Quartetto. Combined, Bydlowska and Tarasova have an armoury to excite. Formerly at the Royal College of Music, now London-based, both are already international artistes playing on several other continents.

Tarasova reveals: “These Interview Concerts are a wonderful opportunity to communicate to the public, not only though music but friendly conversation. I performed solo in 2016 and was in the audience for the last one, in November. I’d never been to that type of concert with such a relaxing informal atmosphere. I wished for it to last longer. It was extraordinary.”

See the St Paul’s Worthing website blog:

Tickets include concession for adult & young people in tandem, and Under-19s for £1

All available from the venue in person or online at

Other links:  (including Fanfare review of her CD)

City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra announces appointment of David Burbidge CBE DL as Chair

After an extensive search the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra has appointed David Burbidge CBE as its Chair, succeeding Bridget Blow CBE who stands down after completing her successful six-year term of office.

David recently led Coventry’s successful bid to win the UK City of Culture title for 2021, and continues his role as Chairman of the Coventry City of Culture Trust.  He has previously served as Chairman of the Belgrade Theatre and Coventry Cathedral Development Trust, as a trustee of the RSC, and on the development boards of Garsington Opera and Compton Verney.  He holds a CBE for services to cultural philanthropy having led five multi-million-pound fundraising campaigns including the Central Campaign for the £112 million rebuilding of the Royal Shakespeare Theatre.

In his business career David was Managing Director of Burbidge & Son (a manufacturer of bespoke quality kitchen and bathroom furniture, of which he remains Chairman), Chairman of Burbidge Capital Ltd and a director of Coventry Building Society.  He was High Sheriff of the West Midlands in 1990-91, is a Deputy Lieutenant of the West Midlands, and holds two honorary doctorates.

Bridget Blow CBE commented “David is a nationally-admired advocate for the arts and will bring to the CBSO strong governance experience and a formidable fundraising track record.  I have enjoyed my time as Chair immensely and am pleased to be leaving the orchestra in such capable hands”.

During Bridget Blow’s time as Chair the CBSO has maintained its position as one of the world’s great orchestras and the flagship of musical life in Birmingham and the Midlands despite a challenging series of cuts to national and regional funding for the arts. As well as sustaining a wide-ranging concert programme at Symphony Hall and expanding its work in the region’s communities and schools, the CBSO has also more than doubled its fundraised income during this period.  In February 2016 the organisation appointed Mirga Gražinyt?-Tyla (described by BBC Music Magazine as Europe’s most exciting young conductor”) as its Music Director, and her work to date has won global acclaim.

Stephen Maddock OBE, Chief Executive added “Bridget Blow has been a transformative Chair, having modernised our governance and helped us to significantly strengthen our finances over the last six years.  We are delighted that David has agreed to join us as we build on her legacy.  These are challenging times, but we have great opportunities ahead in the run-up to our centenary in 2020 and David promises to be an outstanding champion for our work.”

David Burbidge CBE said “I am honoured to have been invited to become Chair of the CBSO. I will do all that I can to secure and enhance the standing of our region’s world-class orchestra.”

Peter Knott, Area Director, Arts Council England, said: “We’re delighted to welcome David as the Chair of CBSO. His extensive knowledge and commitment to arts and culture has been key to shaping the cultural landscape of the Midlands including Coventry securing the City of Culture 2021 title.

“CBSO has an outstanding national and international reputation and his wealth of experience working in business, heritage and culture will stand him in good stead to continue their excellent work.

“Bridget has been instrumental in leading the orchestra over the past six years. These are exciting times for Birmingham as we approach the CBSO’s centenary in 2020 and the Commonwealth Games 2022 and we look forward to seeing what the future holds for top-class music in the city.”


Brighton Philharmonic Orchestra

The Brighton Phil’s season draws to a close on Sunday 25 March when Conductor Laureate Barry Wordsworth returns for a memorable concert full of brilliant music to celebrate his 70th birthday with the orchestra and loyal Brighton Dome audience.

The concert opens with the Karelia Suite by Sibelius – written very early in his career as a commission it is based on folk tunes from South East Finland, and Sibelius noted that he wanted it to sound like folk music. It has become one of his most popular works and includes the exhilarating ‘Alla Marcia’.

The virtuosic piano duo Stephen Worbey & Kevin Farrell join the orchestra to perform Malcolm Arnold’s Piano Concerto Op.104 – on this occasion for four hands on one piano. It was a BBC Proms commission for the three-handed piano duo Cyril Smith and Phyllis Sellick (Steven Worbey’s teacher) and was first performed by them with huge success at the Proms in 1969. The concerto is typically Arnold at his very best, from dark and tragic in the first movement, through a melting romantic melody in the slow movement, to a glorious Rumba in the last movement, full of wit and unashamedly popular.

For this concert Barry Wordsworth wanted to include ballet music, which has been such a great part of his conducting life, and he has compiled a short suite from Delibes’ comic ballet Coppélia. The orchestra will play Prelude, Valse and Czardas – these are brilliantly orchestrated and based on dance tunes Delibes found in his native northern France.

Finally Worbey & Farrell rejoin the orchestra to perform Saint-Saëns’ Carnival of the Animals, a hugely entertaining composition that conjures up a musical parade of creatures using instrumental groups and orchestral soloists, as well as four hands on one piano, with imagination and insight. In this performance the narration will be brought up to date with modern-day cultural references by Worbey & Farrell. As Barry Wordsworth writes in the programme for this concert: “I cannot wait to perform for you all with Steven Worbey and Kevin Farrell. This will be fun, and will provide an excuse for celebration at the end of another wonderful season.”

Tickets from £12-£38 (50% discount for students/Under 18s) are available from Brighton Dome Ticket Office in Church Street, (01273) 709709 and online:

Discounted parking for Brighton Phil concert attendees can be found in NCP Church Street, a couple of minutes’ walk from the Dome, costing just £6 between 1pm & 6pm.

On the morning of this, the final concert of the season, the orchestra will be holding its annual free Open Rehearsal for Children in Brighton Dome Concert Hall, 10.15-11am – an exciting introduction to classical music and the instruments of the orchestra using extracts from Carnival of the Animals and Coppélia. As part of the orchestra’s Education Programme interactive workshops are being held in local schools this term and the Open Rehearsal is the culmination of the work done there.Places for the rehearsal are free but must be booked in advance via Brighton Dome Ticket Office.

STOP PRESS: The Brighton Phil is deeply saddened to have learned of the recent death of D V Newbold, CBE, a long-standing and passionate supporter and generous sponsor of the orchestra, who has sponsored this concert, which we will be dedicating to his memory.

WNO: Rhondda Rips It Up!

In an exciting change to its usual summer main scale season, WNO will present the world première of a new commission, Rhondda Rips It Up!

Rhondda Rips It Up! is unlike anything previously presented by WNO. Performed in a classic music hall style, with original songs inspired by the suffragette slogans, this tongue-in-cheek production takes audiences on a whirlwind tour of the inspiring activist’s mission.

This production will tell the story of the remarkable suffragette, Margaret Haig Thomas, who tirelessly campaigned for equal rights for women. The show will premiere in Haig Thomas’s home town of Newport before touring Wales and England during summer and autumn 2018.

The production marks the centenary of the first, partial women’s suffrage bill of 1918 and will feature an all-female cast and creative team, and is composed by Elena Langer with a libretto by Emma Jenkins and will be led by director Caroline Clegg and music director Nicola Rose.

Soprano Lesley Garrett stars as Master of Ceremonies (Emcee) and Madeleine Shaw as Lady Rhondda joined by female members of the WNO Chorus performing all the roles including the male politicians of the time.

On the opening day of the tour Thursday 7 June WNO will host a symposium in Newport on the challenges faced by women in the classical music world. The tour will also be accompanied by extensive programme of free community and youth projects on protest, rebellion and human rights and an ambitious digital project bringing Lady Rhondda to life through a Mixed Reality (MR) installation.

We will presenting a series of films showing the progress of the production. To watch episode 1 please click the link here

English National Opera appoints new Chief Executive

Stuart Murphy, former Director of Sky Entertainment Channels, has been appointed Chief Executive of English National Opera (ENO). He will take up the post on the 3 April, joining Daniel Kramer and Martyn Brabbins on ENO’s leadership team. He succeeds Cressida Pollock who announced in September last year that she would be stepping down from the role this summer.

In 2013 Stuart took charge of all Entertainment Channels at Sky, including Sky 1, Sky Living, Sky Arts and Sky Atlantic. Under his tenure Sky won its first Emmy Awards and Oscar nominations as well as multiple BAFTA’s, British Comedy Awards and Royal Television Society Awards. He oversaw the substantial expansion of Sky Arts, increasing the channel’s commissioning budget by more than 40% and turning it into the biggest on-demand library of arts and cultural content in Europe. Stuart spearheaded Sky’s huge increase in investment in original productions, the budget for which tripled during his tenure.

In senior management positions at both Sky and the BBC, Stuart has brought to the screen some of the UK’s best-loved titles, from Penny DreadfulSky Arts’ Portrait Artist of the Year Competition and Torchwood through to Little Britain and Game of Thrones.  He was on the board of BBC TV, the Executive of Sky and was made a Fellow of the Royal Television Society in 2016.

Dr Harry Brunjes, Chairman of ENO, said:

“I have been thrilled by the calibre of the candidates who applied for this position, and know that Stuart’s history of enabling great creativity alongside his commercial acumen will perfectly complement ENO’s artistic and musical excellence. We were impressed by the significant growth in both Sky’s audience and output under Stuart’s direction, and by his proven ability to unite and motivate his teams through a clear and inspiring vision. Under the leadership of Cressida Pollock, and through the hard work of every single member of the company, ENO has regained its financial stability and position in Arts Council England’s National Portfolio. I look forward to seeing the company continue to prosper and grow with Stuart at the helm.”

Speaking of his appointment, Stuart Murphy said:

“I’m absolutely delighted to have been appointed Chief Executive of English National Opera. For a long time now I have wanted to pursue my passion for classical music and opera in a professional capacity, and so it is a privilege to lead an organisation that is so committed to world-class artistic, musical and technical excellence. I very much look forward to joining Daniel, Martyn and the whole ENO team. I am personally committed to ensuring that ENO continues to develop new audiences, new partnerships and on new platforms in order to ensure that the company remains as thrilling and vital now as it was when it was first founded.”

Daniel Kramer, Artistic Director of ENO, said:

“I am very excited that Stuart will be joining ENO. His decades of experience working with award-winning creative teams and enabling world-class work against a background of challenging financial realities will be hugely valuable at ENO. I look forward to working with him from April.”

Martyn Brabbins, Music Director of ENO, said:

“Stuart Murphy impressed me as a man of great integrity. He has the confidence borne of being a highly successful leader, while at the same time he displays a refreshing humility in his willingness to listen and learn from all those around him. We are looking forward to the new dynamism he will bring to ENO at this time of renewed energy within the company.”

Darren Henley, Chief Executive of Arts Council England, said:

“Stuart will bring a wealth of experience and energy to the role, building on all the dedication and hard work of Cressida and the team which has enabled English National Opera to return to our National Portfolio.”