ALL SAINTS CHURCH HASTINGS ORGAN CONCERT SERIES IAIN QUINN 26TH July 2021

One of only four UK dates this year, US based British organist, Iain Quinn, gave this latest concert in the Hastings series bringing a programme of mostly lesser known organ music. The opening piece, JS Bach’s three movement Piece d’Orgue, BWV 572, most notable for the dramatically different final Lentement. The remainder of the first half consisted mostly of shorter pieces mostly from the romantic period. The second of two Preludes by Czerny was an interesting variation on God save the Queen. Other composers here were Mendelssohn (Andante) and Robert Papperitz (Schmucke dich, O liebe Seele). Iaian Quinn’s own arrangement of a piano piece, Barcarolle, by Rachmaninoff was very effective and like many of these pieces allowed opportunities for a range of softer registrations to be employed. The culmination of the first half was Sonata in D minor by J Frederick Bridge, a long-serving organist of Westminster Abbey.

Unusually for these concerts the second half also included two further Sonatas, making three in total. Whilst Bridge’s was unashamedly Romantic, CPE Bach’s A minor, opening the second half and complementing the opening of the concert by linking father and son, took us back to the Classical period. The final Sonata for Organ was the most interesting for me, written for this organist by Wilfred Josephs, often known for his film and television work. Taking us into a very different sound world where dissonance and dramatic rhythm are very much to the fore it also includes a quirkily beautiful Andante with a wide ranging angular melody that is at the same time surprising and haunting. A very dramatic Toccata on ‘Victimae Paschali Laudes’ composed by the performer brought proceedings to an end. I was very pleased that this concert featured these more modern pieces alongside much older works as I strongly believe that audiences should always be introduced (in sensible proportion) to newer works which can sometimes be a little challenging together with more traditional fare.

A mellow rendition of Florence Price’s Adoration provided a surprising and also very welcome encore concluding another enjoyable recital. This was Iain Quinn’s first time at All Saints. He already seemed very at home.

Further details of the remaining concerts in the series can be found at
www.oldtownparishhastings.org.uk

Stephen Page

CDs July 2021 (2)

DIFFUSION
VERONA QUARTET
AZICA RECORDS ACD-71339

This beautifully packaged CD is described as “An album celebrating cross-cultural connection and migration through the music of Janacek, Szymanowski & Ravel”. Whilst containing some fine recordings of music each standing well in its own right the concept of the album is a very worthy and timely one. Music has always been a clear signpost for our connectivity throughout the world, celebrating difference and in turn influencing and developing new styles. There are three String Quartets featured here: Janacek’s No 2 “Intimate Letters”, Szymanowski’s No 2 and Ravel’s F major. Fine performances from this well-travelled and experienced Quartet who champion this repertoire.

DIALOGO
JOHN-HENRY CRAWFORD, cello
VICTOR SANTIAGO ASUNCION, piano
ORCHID CLASSICS ORC100166 62’27

The accompanying booklet makes for interesting reading, shedding some light on the background of the three pieces that make up this disk. John-Henry Crawford gives some wonderful performances together with Victor Santiago Asuncion exploring the concept of dialogue. Beginning with Brahms’ Sonata for piano and cello No 2 in F major the programme then moves on to Ligeti’s Sonata for Solo Cello and finally to the Sonata for Cello & Piano in D minor by Shostakovich.

INVISIBLE CITIES – CHORAL & ELECTRONIC MUSIC BY MARCO GALVANI
SANSARA
TOM HERRING, director
RESONUS RES10280 54’47

This fusion of choral and electronic timbres makes for compelling listening. Taking familiar Latin liturgical texts including Lamentations and Ubi caritas and treating them in this blended way is very successful. Galvani’s music opens us up to new possibilities whilst still remaining rooted in the traditional. More!

FERNANDO LOPES-GRACA – SONGS & FOLK SONGS 2
SUSANA GASPAR, soprano, RICARDO PANELA, baritone
NUNO VIEIRA DE ALMEIDA, piano
NAXOS 8.579082 65’04

Prolific twentieth century Portuguese composer Fernando Lopes-Graca has created some arresting and sympathetic settings of texts, crossing folk and contemporary art music forms. Included here alongside Portuguese poetry are Greek, Czech and Slovak texts in sensitive performances from pianist and singers.

ALBERT KETELBEY – A DREAM PICTURE
ROSEMARY TUCK, piano
NAXOS 8.574299 80’39

There have been many recent recordings of Ketelbey’s orchestral music which seems to be enjoying a renaissance. There has been less attention given to his piano music, which is what many of us grew up with. Only one of his really popular pieces, In a Monastery Garden, is included here. Incredibly, considering how popular Ketelbey’s music once was, the remaining twenty four pieces are premiere recordings! For me, that makes this an almost essential disk for anyone interested in early 20th Century British light music. Rosemary Tuck gives a lovely recital of descriptive movements including A Dream Picture which gives the title to this release and Oh! Look at the rabbits! (from A Woodland Story). I like that as a title…

JOHN PHILIP SOUSA – MUSIC FOR WIND BAND 21
ROYAL BIRMINGHAM CONSERVATOIRE WIND ORCHESTRA, director KEITH BRION
NAXOS 8.559863 66’05

More unfamiliar music from a very popular composer in this 21st volume which is part of the American Classics stream from Naxos. Comprising Selections from Chris & the Wonderful Lamp (a re-telling of Aladdin), Sisterhood of the States and Showing off Before Company these pieces make a welcome addition to Sousa’s popular march repertoire. The latter item was apparently featured as an opening to matinee concerts and incorporates a number of familiar tunes. Good fun!

JOAN TOWER – STRIKE ZONES
EVELYN GLENNIE, percussion, BLAIR McMILLEN, piano
ALBAN SYMPHONY, DAVID ALAN MILLER, conductor
NAXOS 8.559902 53’16

Another American Classics release features the music of contemporary composer Joan Tower. These fabulous premiere recordings give a good representation of the range of music Tower has been producing over recent years. It is particularly good to hear performances from Evelyn Glennie as one of a cast of top rate musicians here. The earliest work, Strike Zones, dates from 2001 and the latest, Small from 2016. Both these feature percussion. Still/Rapids combines piano and orchestra with the final piece, Ivory & Ebony being a test piece for an international piano competition.

JORIS ROELOFS – ROPE DANCE: Light-footed music for all and none
BRAM VAN SAMBEEK, bassoon, JORIS ROELOFS, bass clarinet & clarinet
BRAM DE LOOZE, piano, CLEMENS VAN DER FEEN, double bass, MARTIJN VINK, drums
BIS BIS-2453 52’06

This is a fascinating production. Striking artwork is used alongside an interesting background essay which explains the influence of Nietzche’s philosophy behind this music. The instrumentalists give tight, often highly rhythmic performances and create a very distinctive soundworld in what is essentially interesting and entertaining music from the Dutch composer and performer.

JOHANN PACHELBEL – ORGAN WORKS VOLUME 1
MATTHEW OWENS, Frobenius organ of The Queen’s College, Oxford
RESONUS RES10285 71’03

Matthew Owens gives fine performances of this staple (but often not very well known) baroque organ repertoire. Organist and instrument are well suited to this music in the first volume of what promises to be another well executed series from Resonus. A number of Chorale Preludes and Partitas sit alongside Prelude in D minor, Fugue in D minor and Toccata in F major.

WORDS ADORNED
THE CROSSING, conductor DONALD NALLY
AL-BUSTAN TAKHT, music director HANNA KHOURY
DALAL ABU AMNEH, soloist
NAVONA RECORDS NV6356

This is a very interesting release. The Crossing choir is dedicated to performing and promoting new music which pushes the boundaries of choral writing. Collaboration with composers and other performers is a key aspect of their work. Here are two immersive performances of new works setting Andalusian poetry. Kareem Roustom‘s Embroidered Verses & Kinan Abou-afach’s Of Nights and Solace are joined together with a traditional setting by Muhammad ‘abad al-Rahim al-Maslub Lamma Bada Yatathana (‘When he appeared’).

DOUBLE ECHO – NEW GUITAR CONCERTOS FROM THE AMERICAS
DAVID TANENBAUM, guitar
NEW CENTURY CHAMBER ORCHESTRA, conductor AARON JAY KERNIS
ADDITIONAL MUSICIANS conducted by THOMAS DERTHICK
NAXOS 8.574298 56’46

The works here were commissioned by the soloist David Tannenbaum, much of it written by Aaron Jay Kernis, who also conducts for some of the recordings. Alongside his Concierto de ‘Dance Hits’ are the shorter Lullaby and Soliloquoy. The other substantial work here is the typically infectious Double Concerto for Guitar and Bandoneon ‘Hommage a Liege’ by Astor Piazzolla. The CD also features Pequeno concierto by Roberto Sierra. Lively and entertaining.

MARK ANDRE – MINIATUREN / HIMMELFAHRT/ WOHER…WOHIN
MUSICA VIVA #37
ARDITTI QUARTET
STEPHAN HEUBERGER, organ of St Ludwig, Munchen
SYMPHONIEORCHESTER DES BAYERISCHEN RUNDFUNKS, conductor MATTHIAS PINTSCHER
BR KLASSIK MUSICA VIVA #37 66’56

Mark Andre’s music definitely falls into the more experimental/avant garde camp. Pushing the boundaries of sound production on all of the instruments is a large part of the compositional process. Contrasting extremes of duration and dynamics are also to be found on this CD with the opening Miniaturen comprising 12 short movements for string quartet followed by Himmelfart for organ, a single movement work lasting nearly 20 minutes. The final Woher…Wohin (Where from…Where to?) is for orchestra. The music draws on ideas of the inner being, transcendence and divinity. An immersive experience throughout.

RICHARD DUBUGNON – KLAVERIANA / CHAMBER SYMPHONIES
NORIKO OGAWA
MUSIKKOLLEGIUM WINTERTHUR, conductor THOMAS ZEHETMAIR
BIS BIS-2229 64’18

Although 2 of the works here by Swiss composer Richard Dubugnon are Chamber Symphonies this is all music on a grand scale. Much of it is very exciting with exburenat rhythmic passages contrasting with gentler moments. As the title would imply Klavierana has a prominent piano part (here played by Noriko Ogawa) alongside the orchestra, together with a part for Celesta. Fine performances of this fresh repertoire.

SP

GRIMEBORN OPERA FESTIVAL 2021

Arcola Theatre today announces the full programme of productions in the 2021 Grimeborn Opera Festival, which is
returning for its 14th year.

Grimeborn 2021 opens with a new staging of Die Walküre for three performances at Hackney Empire, 291 Mare St, London E8 1EJ, from Wednesday 4 – Saturday 7 August. Following Julia Burbach and Peter Selwyn’s thrilling version of Wagner’s ‘Das Rheingold’ in 2019, Arcola is producing the first London performances of Jonathan Dove’s acclaimed reduction of
‘Die Walküre’ since its Birmingham premiere in the 1990s, when it caused a sensation.

It features an exceptional cast of singers, led by Mark Stone, who will be singing Wotan in this country for the first time, Finnur Bjarnason (Siegmund), Natasha Jouhl (Sieglinde), Simon Wilding (Hunding), Harriet Williams (Fricka), Laure Meloy (Brünnhilde), Elizabeth Karani (Helmwige), Bethan Langford (Waltraute), Katie Stevenson (Rossweisse). With 18 live
musicians from the Orpheus Sinfonia. Julia Burbach (Director), Peter Selwyn (Conductor).

The other Grimeborn productions at Arcola Outside are:

25 – 29 August Alcina, Music by George Friedrich Handel

1- 4 September Hopes & Fears, Music by Claude Debussy

5 – 8 September Orfeo ed Euridice / Zanetto, Music by Christoph Willibald Gluck and Pietro Mascagi

11 September The Tango Collective: The Piazzolla Project

Tickets can be booked at https://www.arcolatheatre.com

Hastings Philharmonic Orchestra Open Doors

The Hastings Philharmonic Orchestra has organised a series of free classical music events entitled ‘Open Doors’ which has something for everyone. The orchestra’s survival through Covid and its ability to perform for free owes much to the generosity of its sponsors, Fairlight Arts Trust and Penn Elcom, with further funding from the Lottery and the approval of the Arts Council.

Live classical music was endangered by the length of Covid lockdowns, but the Orchestra is pleased to be able to contemplate a full new 2021/22 Season with confidence, of which more details will be available soon. Meanwhile, try and take in one or more of these free events and show your support for live classical music in Hastings by joining the HPO mailing list to be kept informed of future events:

HPO String Quartet – Wednesday 14 July, 2pm at Priory Meadow, Queens Road, Hastings TN34 1PH. HPO’s princial string players offer this exciting, free of charge summer highlight – an opportunity for you to listen to their wonderful rendition of two chamber music gems: Haydn’s Emperor Quartet, and Mozart’s Eine Kleine Nachtmusik.

Rachmaninoff’s All-Night Vigil (Vespers) Thursday 15 July, 8pm, in
Christchurch, Silchester Road, St Leonards-on-Sea TN37 6AY. Sung by HPO Singers and Cantemus Choir conducted by Marcio da Silva, running time 75 minutes including interval. Free performance.

HPO Songbirds inaugural concert Friday 16 July, 7pm at Christchurch. Children aged 5–11 perform their first brilliant repertoire!

Masterclass and Workshop Day. Saturday 17 July, from 11am, with an informal student performance at 3:15pm. Principal HPO players will host East Sussex Music Students, working at approximately Grade 5 and above, and invite them to play their current repertoire at Christchurch.

HPO Wind Quintet. Saturday 17 July 7:00pm at Christchurch. This includes the world premiere of a work by local composer Keith Beal; some people may remember his opera Merlin shown at St Mary in the Castle in 2018.

Concert in the Park Saturday 14 August, 3pm, at the bandstand in Alexandra Park, Hastings TN34 2LQ. A glorious celebration of short, well-known and greatly loved pieces of classical music, perfect for a family picnic!

This ‘outdoor’ concert is guaranteed to be a family favourite with something for everyone to enjoy!

Christopher Cormack

ALL SAINTS CHURCH HASTINGS ORGAN CONCERT SERIES MATTHEW JORYSZ 12TH July 2021

The second concert in the series was given by Matthew Jorysz, assistant organist of Westminster Abbey. Matthew has performed here on the Willis before and seemed at ease to be here once again. He brought a programme of popular works and a few lesser known items delivered in a calm and assured manner, bringing out the best of the newly restored organ. He described the opening Toccata & Fugue in D minor as probably the most famous organ piece. Whilst it is often heard in a range of contexts I remarked afterwards to a fellow organist that it is some time since I have heard it in a concert and that it made for a very good opening to the programme.

The rest of the first half made links to the opening JS Bach with Mendelssohn’s Sonata IV, Langsam from Schumann’s 6 Fugues on B-A-C-H and ending with a Mozart Andante in F major for mechanical clock. It was particularly interesting to be able to observe via the screen the use of different registrations and the frequent changing of manual. This was a lovely performance, showing something of Matthew’s dexterity on the keyboard, his well prepared musical phrasing and good working knowledge of an instrument such as this.

The second half consisted of music written for or inspired by Westminster / London. Opening with a rousing rendition of Handel’s Overture from Music for the Royal Fireworks he concluded with Vierne’s Carillon de Westminster. In between we were treated to transcriptions of Eric Coates’ once well-known 3 movement London Suite. Perhaps now it is just the final movement that remains in the popular repertoire. Knightsbridge was used as a radio theme (‘In Town Tonight’) and is a wonderful March to round off the suite. The preceding movement Westminster gave an opportunity to utilise some softer combinations to great effect. A return to the rousing brought the evening to an exhilarating close with Matthew’s encore, a second offering from Vierne, Finale from Symphony No 1.

Details of forthcoming concerts can be found on the organ concerts section of the parish website

www.oldtownparishhastings.org.uk

Stephen Page

ALL SAINTS CHURCH HASTINGS ORGAN CONCERT SERIES GORDON STEWART 5th July 2021

All Saints Church, Old Town, Hastings was recently the setting for a double celebration. Not only did 5th July see the resumption of the long-running summer organ series after the cancelled previous season due to Covid but it also provided the first major platform for the organ since it has been restored by B C Shepherd & Sons. Throughout the evening, stalwart of the series, popular concert organist Gordon Stewart presented a programme that showed off many of the beautiful tonal colours of this instrument. He paid tribute to the Shepherd brothers, who carried out the restoration work, who together with other team members were present for the concert and Malcom Lock, Director of Music, who organises the concerts and spearheaded the restoration.

The audience were enthusiastic and despite current restrictions it was good to be able to gather once more for a concert such as this. The programme included the big and brash – WT Best’s arrangement of Handel’s Overture to the Occasional Oratorio, Bach’s Fantasia & Fugue in G minor and Widor’s Toccata. The chance to show off individual stops and quieter combinations came with Toccata for the flutes, an arrangement of John Stanley by Harry Wall, Harrison Oxley’s beautiful Clarinet Tune and Basse et Dessus de Trompette by Clerambault. The 2nd half opener Dance Suite by Noel Rawsthorne combined both with the beautiful shimmering flutes to the fore in Danse des Papillons and the opening and closing March and Line Dance romping away with popular tunes including Ilkley Moor baht’at, The Sailors’ Hornpipe and Old MacDonald!

Of particular interest was the inclusion of Four Short Pieces by Reginald Goss-Custard. Rarely heard and with the family connection to the area this was a lovely element of a programme that provided something for everyone – the known, the unknown, the old and the new, the reflective and toe-tapping. A beautifully restrained encore brought to an end this concert which heralds the beginning of another promising summer series with the instrument sounding better than it has done for many years and with an audience eager for more.

Details of forthcoming concerts can be found on the organ concerts section of the parish website

www.oldtownparishhastings.org.uk

Stephen Page

Oriole String Quartet -St John the Baptist Church, Mersham, Ashford 3rd July 2021

It is a great pleasure to see and hear young artists at the very beginning of their careers making and sharing fine music. The Oriole String Quartet – Emmanuel Webb, Mira Marton, Hattie Quick and Elizaveta Lessoun – met at the Royal College of Music. This afternoon concert was their first public event since the pandemic and it was good to see so many people (masked and distanced) from the local community there to support them and to rejoice at the rebirth of Real Music in their church.

A rather neatly programmed concert, the focus was on pupils and teachers so we got Britten and Mozart in the first half and Bridge and Haydn in the second.

The plaintive third movement of Britten’s Simple Symphony (“Sentimental Sarabande”) was the starting point with Emmanuel Webb telling the audience that it seemed like a suitable lament for many months of lost time. I liked the dynamic attentiveness to each other which was clear from the first note. The sound was very rich too because the acoustic in this attractive old church is warm without being fuzzy. The same qualities sang out, later in the concert, in Frank Bridge’s Three Idylls for String Quartet, the first of which included some very well managed crescendi and some richly arresting viola work from Hattie Quick.

The two main works were Mozart’s String Quartet no 16 in E flat and Haydn’s String Quartet op 33 no 2 in E Flat, “The Joke”. I suppose the choice of two quartets in the same key was deliberate although it will, I suspect, have passed most of the audience by.

Well, in a very amateur way, I play a lot of Mozart and Haydn Quartets for fun (“consenting adults in private”!) and I know how relatively easy it is to get the notes and rhythm right and just how difficult is to make it sound like music. These musicians play with oodles of sensitivity and technical panache particularly in the first movement of the Mozart. I admired the lyrical slow (second) movement too with its leaned-on chromatic notes and the evocatively underscored lilting 6|8 beats especially from Elizaveta Lessoun on cello. The minor key trio was beautifully played too.

Then they injected all the right spiky froth into the opening movement of the Haydn and had fun with the unexpected chords and some cheeky little glissandi from Emmanuel Webb in the second movement. And their take on the finale danced along with Haydnesque wit until it reached the famous series of false endings – smiles all round.

Only very occasionally in 90 minutes of music did the odd note (strained or slightly out of tune) remind you that these young players are not yet fully professional. I look forward to hearing more of them both as a quartet and individually.

Susan Elkin

CDs JULY 2021 (1)

FRANZ SCHREKER – DER FERNE KLANG
JENNIFER HOLLOWAY, IAN KOZIARA
CHOR DER OPERA FRANKFURT, TILMAN MICHAEL
FRANKFURTER OPERN-UND MUSEUMSORCHESTER, SEBASTIAN WEIGLE
OEHMS OC980 (3 CDs) 2’17”

Austrian composer Franz Schreker may not be a particularly familiar name but the release now of the recording of this opera, first performed in 1912 and recently revived points to the reassessment and rediscovery of his work. He has left a number of orchestral pieces as well as a few smaller scale works. It is in the field of opera, though, that he has probably made the more significant contribution. Der Ferne Klang (The Distant Sound) was regularly performed for nearly 2 decades before Schreker’s music was proscribed by the Nazi regime. Well presented here, with each of the three Acts occupying one disk, together with full libretto this is worth exploring.

PRESTEIGNE PREMIERES – NEW MUSIC FOR STRING ORCHESTRA
VARIOUS ARTISTES
PRESTEIGNE FESTIVAL ORCHESTRA, GEORGE VASS, conductor
RESONUS RES10279 80’37

This is a lovely collection of new music, all written for the Presteigne Festival and all premiere recordings played by the Festival’s resident orchestra. All linked by the strings there is still much variety with songs and works with different soloists including saxophone and flute. A set of Variations on ‘Lovely Joan’ opens the CD with eight composers each providing a variation. Two works are by Hugh Wood together with two other standalone works by Martin Butler and Joe Duddell.

JESPER KOCH – CHOIRBOOK
DANISH NATIONAL VOCAL ENSEMBLE. FLEMMING WINDEKILDE, conductor
DACAPO 6.220627 51’09

31 settings of often very short poems by Frank Kjorup make up this work for acapella choir. Arranged in seven chapters this is an extended “meditation on nature”. Drawn really for the first time to write for the voice the composer has created a beautiful reflective work which speaks of beauty and simplicity. A world premier recording.

CON ARTE E MAESTRIA
MONTEVERDI STRING BAND IN FOCUS
OLIVER WEBBER, violin STEVEN DEVINE, organ & harpsichord
RESONUS RES10282 78’45

This CD (‘With art & mastery’) highlights a musical style from around 1600. The embellishment of simple melodies with virtuosic ornamentation was known as diminution. Here are a number of authentic works from that time – some of which were already treated in this way and some which have been embellished in the style for this recording. It is interesting to see this revival and extension of an ancient tradition.

SINGING SECRETS
VARIOUS ARTISTES
DACAPO 8.226585 67’51

This collection of works by Per Norgard is a very welcome release. Chamber music and vocal works written between 1953 and 2004 are featured here, many of them premiere recordings. The larger works here are Kvintet Op 1- Hommage a Marc Chagall, Libro per Nobuko: I Sonata- The Secret Melody and Cantica.

PENDERECKI – COMPLETE MUSIC FOR STRING QUARTET; STRING TRIO
TIPPETT QUARTET
NAXOS 8.574288 52’58

This is a lovely disc of this engaging music. Covering a period of 56 years Penderecki’s string writing is collected here in a disc recorded in the year he died. The extended String Quartet No 3 is subtitled ‘Leaves from an Unwritten Diary’. The 4th, final quartet returns to the length of the first two but this time has two short movements instead of the through-composed earlier works. The String Trio dates from 1990, revised 1991, and is also a longer work in two movements.

NATE WOOLEY – MUTUAL AID MUSIC
VARIOUS ARTISTES
PLEASURE OF THE TEXT RECORDS POTTR1309 (2 CDs)

It is well worth reading the accompanying booklet alongside listening to this recording. Seeking to develop a musical style that “lives outside the dialectic bubble of improvisation/composition” It also explores the idea of cooperation – mutual aid – in terms of relational working between performers and composer. There are obvious parallels with jazz and experimental/improvisational techniques. Listeners to this double CD can decide for themselves exactly where this music fits.

SP

Dr Brian Hick BA(Hons) MA PHD

Brian sadly died on 30th May 2021. It is difficult to summarise such a full and active life as his. Here is a little about him.

Brian was born in Shrewsbury in 1945, but the family soon moved to Fulham where he lived until he married Sally in 1966 and went to live in Camden Town. Then he was working in the BBC Music Department near Broadcasting House, and soon after starting with the BBC commenced an Hons English Degree at Birkbeck College which led to post-graduate training as a Director at The Drama Centre. He worked briefly in the theatre and then moved to Redhill and taught drama. He says, “The two essential professional strands of my lengthy career evolve at this point. In Education I taught drama and English, while running numerous drama and music groups. I ran the local Arts Festival and was invited to write as arts correspondent for the Surrey Mirror”.

In 1980 the family moved to Hastings. Brian held a number of senior educational posts, while becoming increasingly involved working with Special Education Needs Students – a field only just opening up in its own right. After work based in particular schools he started a long association with Russell Education Trust as their Senior Special Needs Consultant, travelling widely, covering schools across the South of England and into South Wales.

In Hastings he met up with Denby Richards, Editor of the oldest international music magazine Musical Opinion. He started to write regularly for the magazine and was soon acting as Deputy Editor. In 1992 he was invited to become Editor of The Organ which he happily took on – significantly updating and broadening the scope of the publication. He remained Editor for 15 years and then became Editor Emeritus.

With a local group of interested musicians, led by Denby Richards, he helped run the early St Leonards Arts Festival. He was invited to become a member of the Critics Circle – “I had waited many years for this and it was a real honour as they invite you, and you have no idea who has proposed you”.

He was involved in Glyndbourne’s community Opera on the Pier and was also invited to direct and conduct with different local groups on a fairly regular basis. This included working with BLODS in Bexhill and directing the world premiere of Kenneth Roberts Quel weekend for Hastings Opera (now Opera SouthEast). He directed a number of plays for the Stables Theatre, and formed a small company to set up an open-air summer theatre at Batemans.

He has written intermittently for Hastings Observer over the years and recently, during the time of Covid wrote a weekly column which was well read and appreciated by many. In it he talked about the frustrations and difficulties for musicians but also some of the pleasures and creativity to be found online. He also featured many reminiscences of past musical experiences.

He founded Lark Reviews website in 2012. It has grown to be well used as a source of information and a promotional tool by individuals and groups with the more local 1066 sections as well as covering a diverse range of musical activity in other parts of the country   and now also online. CD and occasional DVD reviews also appear regularly with releases from many of the major producers as well as some produced on a smaller scale.

Brian wrote and published a number of books – including the detailed rebuilding of the 1763 Hastings Snetzler organ, a three volume survey of all the Organs of 1066 Country, and the biography of Edward Wyon, architect and poet who built and designed St John’s Hollington. There is also a range of personal publications A Lark on …..which are essentially autobiographical poems. He had a number of poems featured in Wild Goose Publications from the Iona Community.

He was involved in a number of organisations, musical and otherwise. He was for a number of years a trustee of the Seaview Project, working with homeless and other vulnerable people in St Leonards. Brian would often speak to other organisations about the work of Seaview. He was more recently invited to become a trustee of the newly organised Hastings Philharmonic Orchestra. Locally he was a particular champion of the Hastings Philharmonic Choir, Hastings Sinfonia and the Opus Theatre. He was also connected with Garsington Opera, English National Opera and the Oxford Lieder Festival.

He championed the restoration of the Snetzler organ in Hastings Unitarian church and was very supportive of young organists beginning a professional career. One of these, Tom Bell, now a successful concert organist and teacher for the Royal College of Organists writes this,

Brian was a lovely man with a refreshingly broad interest in and love of music. I first met him in connection with a recital I was awarded as a teenager, in the 1999 Three Choirs Festival (in Worcester). Five young organists were invited to give recitals during the festival, following a Royal College of Organists event earlier that year. Brian featured all five performers, and some reflections on their programmes, in The Organ. This was wonderfully kind, encouraging, and the reviews themselves were pitched just right given the age of the performers. Since that time my meetings with Brian have usually been in connection with recitals at All Saints Hastings, where I have played several times. It was also a very great pleasure to perform at Hastings Unitarian Chapel at Brian’s behest, both before and after the little Snetzler organ there was restored. Brian invited me to give those concerts when I was a student and it was a real thrill to reopen a restored historic organ. I am grateful to Brian for that opportunity and for plenty of other encouragement over the years.

We send our love to Sally and the family at this time and are thankful for Brian and his many legacies.

 

ALL SAINTS CHURCH HASTINGS – 1878 FATHER WILLIS ORGAN

The 32nd series of these popular organ concerts begin on 5th July at All Saints Church in Hastings Old Town. Many distinguishged organists have taken part in these concerts over the years and have said how much they enjoy playing this particular instrument, tonally unchanged since its construction almost 150 years ago. As with previous years there is an impressive lineup of cathedral, church and concert organists.

Concerts take place on Monday evenings until the final concert, which as with the first in this year’s programme will be given by series favourite Gordon Stewart.

All concerts begin at 7.30pm

Further information available from
Malcolm Lock – Mobile: 0780 106 8156