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

CDs June 2021

ALEXANDER ZEMLINSKY ANNIVERSARY EDITION
VARIOUS PERFORMERS
CAPRICCIO C7360 (6 CDs) 6’37

If, like me, you know little of Zemlinsky’s music this is an excellent introduction to his output. Orchestral music, songs with piano or orchestra and opera are all to be found here. It is clear that much of Zemlinsky’s work incorporated the voice, even in some of his large scale orchestral work such as the opening Lyric Symphony, Op18 for soprano, baritone and orchestra. A progression can be heard in later compositions which, whilst not embracing stark serialism certainly display an interest in adventurous harmony and less traditional tonality, for instance in the String Quartet No.2, Op 15. Purists might wish for more opera to be included here but I found the final CD of opera highlights to be an enjoyable listen in its own right and at the same time perhaps providing a sampler for those who would wish to experience fuller versions of the five works included here.

MOZART – SONATAS FOR VIOLIN & PIANO, K301, 304-5 & 454
PETER HANSON, violin
ANDREW ARTHUR, fortepiano
RESONUS RES10281 79’07

A fine period instrument recording of these sonatas which are each dedicated to women who supported Mozart in his musical endeavours. The duo of Peter Hanson and Andrew Arthur work very well together in the performances here.

NIKOS SKALKOTTAS – DANCE OF THE WAVES
ATHENS STATE ORCHESTRA, STEFANOS TSIALIS, conductor
NAXOS 8.574182 73’01

Described as “the most popular work of Greek art music today” Skalkottas’ 36 Greek Dances is a lovely work. Lasting just over 25 minutes these short dances combine in a lovely sequence that is often light and playful but with contrasts throughout. The disk also includes excerpts form the folk ballet The Sea and a premiere recording of the Suite No 1 for large orchestra, a work dating, in its final form, from 1935. Very enjoyable and probably unfamiliar repertoire for many listeners.

BRITISH LIGHT MUSIC 1 – RICHARD ADDINSELL
BBC CONCERT ORCHESTRA
PHILLIP MARTIN, RODERICK ELMS, piano
KENNETH ALWYN, conductor
NAXOS 8.555229 68’16

I have long had an affection for what has become known as British Light Music. Although Naxos have released a number of recordings of the genre already this appears to be the first in a new series of single composer CDs. Richard Addinsell was a prolific composer for films, radio and of standalone music. All are represented here including reconstructions and arrangements by various musicians where the original manuscripts have been lost. As with much of this music there are memorable melodies and beautiful orchestrations. The CD sets out to prove that there is more to Addinsell than just Warsaw Concerto. Shades of this are to be heard in the new-to-me theme from A Tale of Two Cities which ends the collection. A very welcome and enjoyable production.

ETHEL SMYTH – STRING QUARTET/STRING QUINTET
MANNHEIMER STREICHQUARTETT
CPO 999 352-2 68’29

This is a lovely pairing of the String Quartet in E minor with the String Quintet in E major. These two works were published 30 years apart and consequently show development in Smyth’s compositional approach. In these recordings this music of a pioneer and innovator who bridges the 19th and 20th Centuries sounds fresh and invigorating. It pushes forward whilst at the same time remains firmly in the tradition of English string writing, with wider European influences.

CARL PHILIPP EMANUEL BACH – THE SOLO KEYBOARD MUSIC VOL 40
KEYBOARD TRANSCRIPTIONS 1
MIKLOS SPANYI, harpsichord
BIS 2387 81’51

This monumental survey of the solo keyboard music of this son of JS reaches volume 40 with original keyboard transcriptions of orchestral works. Spirited performances from a performer who knows this repertoire very well include many shorter works alongside the Symphonies in E minor and D major and the Concerto in F major.

BRAHMS PIANO SONATAS & RHAPSODIES
GARRICK OHLSSON, piano
HYPERION CDA68334 69’11

The 2 Rhapsodies, Op 79 have long been favourites of mine. Sitting neatly between the longer Piano Sonatas No 1 & 2 and shorter works I find the way these pieces have room to develop without overstaying their welcome very appealing. Both have characteristic melodies and the way they play with rhythm and harmony bring out the best of Brahms’ pianistic writing. Lovely performances throughout by Garrick Ohlsson.

VOYAGE OF A SEA-GOD:
The Bassoon leading a musical journey through the 20th Century
LAURENCE PERKINS, bassoon
CITY OF BIRMINGHAM SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA
WILLIAM GOODCHILD, conductor. MICHAEL HANCOCK, piano
CARDUCCI STRING QUARTET
HYPERION CDA68371/2 (2 CDs) 144’21

Both the title and the concept drew me to this release. From an early age I was intrigued by the sound of the bassoon (Ivor the Engine?) both by its sound and, later on when a classmate was a player, by its looks! I am afraid to say that despite this I knew none of the music on this splendid double CD collection. A roll-call of prolific 20th Century composers each provide a single piece, together making a wonderful compilation of diverse music linked by this most magical timbre. Longer works such as Arnold Bax’ Threnody and Scherzo, Richard Rodney Bennett’s Bassoon Sonata, Andrzej Panufnik’s Concerto for bassoon & small orchestra and Elizabeth Maconchy’s Concertino for bassoon & string orchestra sit alongside shorter works including the brilliantly titled Minuet:Grace for a fresh egg written for a friend at the end of the 2nd World War by Herbert Howells. There was one composer I did not know, Richard Henry Walthew, whose Introduction & Allegro opens the whole set. Expertly played, Laurence Perkins’ solos enable different moods and atmospheres to be conveyed ably supported throughout by the other musicians. The booklet adds some interesting background to the music and this chronological progression.

KORNGOLD – SONGS -2
BRITTA STALLMEISTER, soprano SIBYLLE FISCHER, mezzo-soprano
UWE SCHENKER-PRIMUS, baritone KLAUS SIMON, piano
NAXOS 8.573083 57’55

This second volume includes quite a variety of settings. The more serious Drei Gesange fur mittlere Singstimme und Klavier, Op 18 ventures into the realms of more experimental harmony and form. This contrasts with some of the other songs which are in lighter style more reminiscent of Musical Theatre. A very good collection.

MUSIC FROM THE PROMISED LAND – DUO MANTAR
JACOB REUVEN, mandolin ADAM LEVIN, guitar
NAXOS 8.573962 73’02

This is a very enjoyable compilation of contemporary music from Israel for the less usual combination of mandolin and guitar. Pieces include Yehezkel Braun’s Sonata for Mandolin & Guitar (2004) and Paul Ben-Haim’s 3 songs without words (dating from 1952 and arranged more recently). Includes a number of premiere recordings.

VITEZSLAVA KAPRALOVA – WAVING FAREWELL
NICHOLAS PHAN, tenor AMY I-LIN CHENG, piano
UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN S O, KENNETH KIESLER, conductor
NAXOS 8.574144 58’57

It is a tragedy that Vitezslava Kapralova died so young. The music here is superb. Reaching only the age of 25 what more might she have gone on to achieve? The most substantial works here are Vojenska symfonieta (‘Military Sinfonietta’) and Piano Concerto in D minor, Op 7. Well worth investigating.

XIAOGANG YE – MOUNT E’MEI
WEI LU & DAN ZHU, violin SHENGNAN HU, percussion XIAOTANG TAN, piano
ROYAL SCOTTISH NATIONAL ORCHESTRA, GILBERT VARGA
DEUTSCHE STAATSPHILHARMONIE RHINELAND-PFALZ
STEFAN MALZEW & FRANK OLLU
NAXOS 8.579087 63’51

This very evocative music from one of China’s leading current composers makes for a very enjoyable listening experience. I am personally very drawn to the mixture of timbres , particularly the percussion. In the first and longest track from which the CD takes its name, also scored for violin and orchestra. Scent of Green Mango for piano and orchestra follows, together with Lamura Cuo for violin and orchestra and the string work The Silence of Mount Minshan. A very welcome addition to the Naxos range.

THE BEST OF ARNOLD – MALCOLM ARNOLD
VARIOUS ARTISTS
NAXOS 8.578360 76’30

Released to celebrate the centenary of Malcolm Arnold’s birth this collection is a very good introduction to his music with single movements from symphonies and concertos, the well-loved English Dances, Set 1 and the 3 Shanties and other shorter works. There is also a premiere recording of his Grand Fantasia from 1940. But to really be the ‘best’ doesn’t it need The Padstow Lifeboat?

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The Hastings Sinfonia

The Hastings Sinfonia will be celebrating 10 years of a very successful and uninterrupted existence next year. This exciting orchestra is well known for its strong commitment to the community as well as for its accessible concerts with popular music both old and new being performed.

The friendly orchestra, founded includes in its ranks both professional and good standard amateur players is now looking to include even more members to join them – as well as with guest soloists!

Having prepared well to avoid any risks caused by the covid pandemic, the Hastings Sinfonia is restarting rehearsals every Wednesday evenings at St John’s in Pevensey Road.

The Hastings Sinfonia was founded in 2012 by local composer Polo Piatti who remains as its Artistic Director and has been conducted for most of its existence by London maestro Derek Carden, who travels regularly to Hastings to hold rehearsals every week.

And there is some more exciting news! Due to the pandemic’s lockdown, the Sinfonia had to remain silent and unable to rehearse for over a year. Nevertheless, always inventive, the organisation has managed to create one very positive outcome from the situation. Lead by David Bottom, one of their clarinettists, they have formed a brand new, associated ensemble, the ‘Hastings Sinfonia Wind Quintet’. The new group has started rehearsing together on zoom and then together as soon as Covid rules have permitted. Members of the new and very promising ensemble are Annabel Noton (flute), Gail Taylor (oboe), Adam Rawlinson (bassoon) and Tim Egan (French horn). Their first public performance will take place on Sunday 22nd August at 2pm at the bandstand in Hastings’s Alexandra Park. Why not come along, listen to beautiful music and meet the musicians!?

If you are interested in joining the very welcoming Hastings Sinfonia Orchestra please email its chair Sandra Goodsell on: [email protected]

Faiths in Tune World Music Day 20/21st June

Celebrate World Music Day 2021. Experience music and dance by artists and groups from 13 different faith backgrounds and more than 15 different countries at this global online live concert event!

Faiths In Tune is the largest interfaith music initiative in Europe, reaching over 20,000 people of over 20 different faiths every year with its Interfaith Music Festivals and events in the UK, Germany, Italy and beyond. It promotes respect and dialogue through music and personal encounters that can be experienced in the safe spaces of the festivals.

www.faithsintune.org

Make Music Day on Monday 21 June Brighton Dome

Monday 21 June sees the return of Make Music Day; a worldwide celebration of music in person, online and beyond. Brighton & Hove Music & Arts (BHMA) and East Sussex Music (ESM) will be celebrating in style with an all-day virtual event that everyone can be a part of.

Giving music-makers a platform to showcase their work, BHMA and ESM are inviting everyone, from beginner to expert, to submit videos of their own performances, which will be shared on social media throughout the day, as well as showcasing videos from their talented teachers, learners and more. On top of this, there will be competitions and giveaways, live streams with free teachings and performances, messages from special guests and awards for the best performers, all to be announced soon.

To submit your videos, visit bit.ly/MusicDayForm and to stay up to date with announcements, join the official Facebook event page at bit.ly/MusicDayEventFB.

Make Music Day began in France as Fête de la Musique in 1982 when the Ministry of Culture imagined a great popular event that would allow all musicians to express themselves and make themselves known. This worldwide phenomenon first came to the UK in 2012 and the number of gigs taking place has been growing year on year. 2017 was the first UK-wide coordinated event with support and funding from national organisations resulting in 147 performances. In 2020, there were 1,739 performances live and online and it’s still growing. This is an opportunity to get involved in the world’s largest grassroots music movement – it’s a wonderful way to celebrate the longest day of the year.

The Royal Opera House announces full details of the 2021/22 Season

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The Royal Opera House today confirms details for its 2021/22 Season, the first full Season since 2019. Opening on Monday 13 September, the Season includes five world premieres from The Royal Ballet and The Royal Opera, classic revivals and an exciting roster of international and UK talent performing across the two stages of the Royal Opera House.

In its 90th anniversary year, The Royal Ballet presents a Season that respects the past and heralds the future. Three world premieres, including Wayne McGregor’s The Dante Project, Christopher Wheeldon’s Like Water for Chocolate and a new work by American choreographer Kyle Abraham, are performed alongside much-loved 19th-century classics and heritage ballets by Frederick Ashton and Kenneth MacMillan. The Linbury Theatre hosts a raft of partnerships and co-productions including with Ballet Black, Alessandra Ferri, Yorke Dance Project and a world premiere from Company Wayne McGregor. Creative opportunities for emerging talent will also feature with Draft Works and the Next Generation Festival. The Season culminates in July 2022 with The Royal Ballet making a welcome return to international touring with a three-week tour of Japan where the Company will perform Kenneth MacMillan’s Manon and Peter Wright’s Giselle.

The Royal Opera Season will open with a new production of Verdi’s Rigoletto, directed by Oliver Mears – his first production since becoming The Royal Opera’s Director of Opera in 2017. This new production will receive its premiere in September 2021, with Royal Opera Music Director Antonio Pappano conducting the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House. In its 75th year, The Royal Opera strengthens its commitment to the works of Benjamin Britten, George Frideric Handel and Leoš Janá?ek with new productions of Peter Grimes, Theodora and the long-awaited premiere of Jen?fa. Also given its premiere this Season is a new production of Camille Saint-Saëns’s grand-opera Samson et Dalila, while international and British talent are cast in repertory favourites including Tosca, La traviata and Così fan tutte.

The Linbury Theatre presents two opera world premieres: Laura Bowler’s The Blue Woman, directed by Katie Mitchell, and Wolf Witch Giant Fairy – a magical new family show in collaboration with Little Bulb opening in time for Christmas. Spring 2022 will see director Adele Thomas bring Vivaldi’s Bajazet to life in a new production – the first Vivaldi opera to be staged at the Royal Opera House. In June 2022 Tom Coult’s Violet will be presented off site at the Hackney Empire with co-producers Music Theatre Wales and Britten Pears Arts.