Ensemble 360 Summer Stories – Adrian Wilson

Adrian Wilson, oboist of Ensemble 360, has just been appointed principal oboe of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra – on which we all congratulate him! Here Adrian gives us an insight into his summer as he prepares to take up his new position

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Without doubt the highlight of my year so far is the birth of my gorgeous son Theo. He was born in the early hours on the day before my birthday and he is giving us the most amazing and precious times imaginable.

Musically it has been a very busy year with the Ensemble and with guesting in a variety of orchestras. I feel very lucky! Being offered the Principal oboe job in the Royal Scottish National Orchestra has to be a highlight! Earlier in the year I performed Schubert and Brahms with them, conducted by my old teacher and big inspiration Douglas Boyd. There’s also been more Schubert with Andrew Manze and the RLPO, a visit to China with the RPO, a TS Eliot-inspired project with Psappha (Manchester’s contemporary-music group), the first concert at CAST with the Ensemble, and of course Music in the Round’s very own May Festival.

And a couple of weeks ago we performed a couple of Paul Rissmann’s children’s pieces in a packed-out Crucible Theatre – a great day! For me it’s always a pleasure to perform to young children, especially with such well crafted and performed music! Children love a good a story, and when it is supported with up-close live music you can see from their faces what an exciting experience it makes. This feedback is immediate and unbridled so as performers we receive it honestly and directly.

Settling in Sheffield was a no-brainer: my wife was brought up here, and it’s a very friendly city with easy access to the beautiful Peak District. Geographically it is very well placed for getting to most of the other artistic hubs in this country. At the moment I’m in the middle of 4 weeks in the Buxton Festival with the Northern Chamber Orchestra, performing (amongst other things) operas by Gluck, Dvorak and Rossini.

After that, the new adventure begins: I’ll move with my family straight up to Glasgow to begin the Edinburgh Festival with the Royal Scottish National Symphony Orchestra – so no holiday for me this year! It is a very exciting opportunity to join a great orchestra and to continue playing all the great repertoire that it offers an oboe player! Glasgow is a very vibrant city with a great cultural scene that also gives easy access to glorious countryside – in fact, it is very similar to Sheffield in these respects! Fear not: I will definitely be back to Sheffield when I can to perform with Ensemble 360 and of course to see the in-laws!

Theo

Thanks also to Emily Moss for her help with this article

Guest post: “an unforgettable experience” at PowerPlus

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PowerPlus is a unique composition project led by members of Ensemble 360 and Robin McEwan (Sheffield Music Hub) in partnership with Music in the Round.  It primarily focuses on pre-GCSE music students from secondary schools across Sheffield and their compositions.

Under the guidance of Robin McEwan, the students are asked to compose for a variety of ensembles as part of their assessment.  Throughout the year, workshops are held where the students are invited to have their work performed by members of Ensemble 360.  Here, they can talk to the players one-on-one and vice versa and get feedback from the musicians and Robin on their work.  Across the eight hours of performance, over fifty original pieces are recorded by a professional sound engineer so students can submit the performances as part of their composition portfolio and also use them for promotional work.  The workshops are held at the Upper Chapel, one of Music in the Round’s prestigious venues.  This building has great acoustics and is perfect for small ensembles.

I was lucky enough to attend a PowerPlus session for String Quartet and experience how significant this project is.  Preceding the compositions, the second movement of Ravel’s Quartet in F was played to demonstrate a variety of different textures that can be used when writing for this particular ensemble.

PowerPlus has been running for over a decade now and some schools have been involved since it began.  Robin says: “One great thing is the change from beginning to end. I look at the school and see it develop throughout the year and the impact of participation resonates back at the school.  The students pass it down the line to the years below them.”  When asked why he started this programme Robin replies with: “Lots of teachers are asked to teach composition but they themselves have no training.  I like to bring people up to a good standard of composing by embedding skills in both students and teachers.  The best thing to do is to teach high skills at the earliest possible time.”

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“Although there is less pressure for the Ensemble in these workshops, it doesn’t mean that they don’t struggle with the occasional piece!  However, the most important thing is that they get the chance to communicate and influence the students across the barrier.  The musicians are able to impart their knowledge to the people who are really listening at the level they need and you can feel the link between composer and player.  The Ensemble treats the students as equals which shows that they believe in them giving the composer the confidence to do things.”

Robin has been working with King Edward VII School for over 10 years and I spoke to three students from there about their experience with PowerPlus.

“It’s been an unforgettable experience; very entertaining and well-organised.”    Angus

“It’s been great, really enjoyable.  I feel really proud and the musicians made it sound better! I’m so impressed how much effort they put in.”    Ilya

 “After hearing it live there are a few things I would change but it made me proud and it was good to listen to it off a screen.”    Angus

In forthcoming years, schools will host PowerPlus concerts over the year making the students’ work even more accessible to their friends and family; the project itself will be fundamental to music-making in schools.

To me as a composition student at University, projects like these are enormously valuable and helpful. Hearing your work performed live by professional musicians is completely different to listening to it in a tiny room through a computer.  I have participated in things similar to this and it is a wonderful opportunity and privilege as not many students get the chance to do it.  Receiving feedback from the musicians is great as they can give advice on how to improve technique and playability, and it also gives the composer the option to ask questions and change things on the spot.

Elizabeth Lees was doing work experience in the MitR office. She is a composer and second-year music undergraduate in Liverpool. Follow her on Twitter

Guest post: Sofia on our ‘Listen Up’ conference

Yesterday an exciting event took place at the Crucible Theatre, Sheffield called ‘Listen Up!’ 70 delegates: early-years staff, Key Stage 1 teachers, and music leaders & co-ordinators from across the region – along with others who find it of interest from across the country came to attend inspiring practical workshops, talks and engage with one another creating networking opportunities. Not only did the day include a talk with music education consultant, Sue Nicholls who gave the delegates creative and interesting ways to bring stories to life through music and the importance of music for children between the ages of 3 and 7, it also showcased two children’s concerts with Polly Ives narrating excellently and the very talented Ensemble 360. The concerts were called The Lion Who Wanted To Love and Giddy Goat, both very engaging for the 1,600 nursery and primary school children who attended throughout the day.

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My busy first day of work experience began with helping set up displays for Sheffield Music Hub, Out of the Ark – a musical resource company, Rhyme and Reason – a Sheffield based bookshop who specialise in musical books, ESCAL – the awardwinning Citywide Literacy Strategy ensuring that ‘Every Sheffield Child is Articulate and Literate’ and the SongBuds project which offers a music group for 0-7 year olds, weekly meetings, child-sized instruments, giant piano mats, live music and singalongs for kids. These displays were for the delegates to get more information and resources and ideas about how to interact with children through music.

My next task was to greet the delegates, some of whom had travelled all the way across the country to be there, and to give them their goody bags which included a kazoo, play-doh, and music resources for kids. Then after they wandered around the displays, they attended a talk in the Adelphi Suite whilst 800 children from primary schools around Sheffield from the ages of 3 to 7 arrived to watch the outstandingly animated performance of The Lion Who Wanted To Love by Polly Ives and Ensemble 360 which they were all singing and clapping along to and they all thoroughly enjoyed.

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Meanwhile the delegates and I then attended a workshop ran by Sue Nicholls where we learned a Japanese song, a train song and about cuckoo cadences and call-and-response singsong conversations that children respond well to. This was a very interactive workshop where everyone was involved in some way whether they were shaking a maraca or joining in with the actions and making a ‘Crazy Creature’.

Then, after a short pause for lunch it was time for another 800 infants to arrive and watch the second concert of the day: Giddy Goat which I also managed to watch. All the children were engaged, having learned the songs prior to the performance – some of which were very catchy such as ‘Rock Rounders’. I enjoyed myself as much as the children and so did there teachers. The colourful projections and amazing musicians as well as a captivating story told by a great narrator made for a fabulous performance!

When I had said goodbye to all the children, helped to pack away music and help the various organisations to take down their displays, it was time to go home. It was an exhausting, yet truly amazing day!

Sofia, 16, is currently doing work experience in the MitR office

Guest post: Jack Hardwick

Jack, 17, is a student at Greenhead College and has spent the last week working in the Music in the Round office.

Crazy Creature

As well as all the hard work, I also spent some time making a Crazy Creature.

I’d just like to start this off with a note of thanks. Thanks to everyone here at Music in the Round for this week. It’s been absolutely amazing. I’ve been welcomed so readily and I am very sad that it has to end so soon.

The main thing I’ve gained this week is insight; insight into the behind-the-scenes working of a music business. I’m ashamed to admit that I’ve long been under the impression that working in music is all concerts, touring and practicing. I now see that this is not the case and for that I am eternally grateful.

Also concerning the scope of this business, I’ve seen the merits of teaching music. Until this week I had been completely set on performance, but now, not so much. Teaching now seems like an amazing alternative to 24/7 performance and it something I would very much like to participate more in going forward from now. Educating minds in the ins and outs of music appears incredibly hence rewarding I can’t wait to get involved in it. The life of a music teacher – a balance of teaching and performing – sounds like a great job to me.

So what have I experienced this week that makes this the case, I hear you wonder? The short answer to that is there is no short answer. Sorry about that. The long answer, however, is that it is a combination of things. Primarily among them is seeing the feedback from teachers and students who participated in various projects and programmes. Teaching seems like such an amazing experience for all involved, and the opportunity you are given to change someone’s life really is a privilege. In few professions can one have such a profound impact on the life of others, and combining this with music looks just fantastic.

So to reiterate what I have already said, for no purpose other than to say it again because it’s so completely true, I want to give a huge thank you to everyone at Music in the Round for such a wonderful week and for revolutionizing my view of the music business.

Jack Hardwick

Guest blog: David Shapiro, Friend of Music in the Round, on Ivor Gurney

David Shapiro, Friend of Music in the Round and guest blogger, talks about a recent discussion group meeting that focused on the poet and composer Ivor Gurney

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Ivor Gurney

At the suggestion of Music in the Round, a small group of Friends formed a music discussion group. We’ve been meeting every couple of months for lively and informal discussions of chamber music.  Sometimes we talk about music to be performed in an upcoming concert, listening together to recordings of the works. Or we hear an informal presentation on a related topic.

Our most recent discussion was about the poet and composer Ivor Gurney, in anticipation of the concert At the Front on 17th May with pre-concert talk by Tim Kendall.

“I knew little of Gurney, and was eager to learn from others in the group more familiar with his work.”

Jane Clements, who had sung Gurney’s songs, introduced us to Severn Meadows, the only published setting by Gurney of his own words, and played recordings of By a Bierside, In Flanders, and Sleep. Jane found a similar relationship between voice and piano as in Schubert’s songs. Geographer Margaret Roberts brought along a recent book by her colleague and friend Eleanor Rawling: Ivor Gurney’s Gloucestershire: Exploring Poetry and Place.  Writer and creative writing teacher Liz Cashdan shared her responses to some of Gurney’s poems, noting for example the musicality of their rhythms, reflecting the influence of Gerard Manley Hopkins. We talked about Gurney’s experience of the Great War, including both comradeship and trauma. As a retired clinical psychologist, I was drawn to speculate about the nature and origins of the mental health problems that resulted in his long-term hospitalisation, during which he wrote many fine poems, long unpublished. By coincidence, Tim Kendall’s BBC4 programme, Ivor Gurney, the poet who loved the war, went out that evening so we watched it together.

“It was exciting to bring together our disparate strands of insight into Gurney’s music and poetry.”

Music in the Round’s concerts have informed my lifelong musical learning for 30 years, extending and challenging my appreciation of a widening repertoire. The discussion group adds a new dimension, as I learn from fellow audience-members, some of whom I thought I knew quite well, things I didn’t know they knew.  This can only deepen the bonds amongst us.   These bonds add to the intense quality of shared concentration we’ve been said to communicate to the musicians playing for us in the Studio.   Music in the Round plays a big part in all our lives.

David Shapiro

@DavidAShapiro

Visit our website for more details of the At the Front concert on Thursday 15 May at 7.15pm, featuring music and songs by Schumann, Barber, Butterworth and Gurney, performed by Matthew Brook (baritone), Anna Markland (piano) and Ensemble 360.

 

Ivor Gurney and the poetry of the First World War

By Tim Kendall

One of the anthologist’s greatest pleasures comes from discovering previously unknown pieces to jostle with the familiar classics. Editing The Poetry of the First World War, I knew that I should need to accommodate ‘Dulce et Decorum Est’, ‘The Soldier’, and ‘For the Fallen’. Whatever their qualities, these have become so inextricably part of our understanding that to omit them would be perverse. Yet I wanted to believe that other poems, no less worthy, have been unfairly neglected, either because they tell the kinds of truths which we are unwilling to hear (such as that war can occasionally be enjoyable or exhilarating), or because they have endured the simple bad luck of never having been brought to public attention. This was, after all, a literary War, and poetry was produced in such quantities that the good sometimes sank with the mediocre and the inept.

No war poet better illustrates this fact than Ivor Gurney (1890-1937). Gurney fought in the War with the Gloucesters. He was shot, he was gassed, he was invalidated out, and he spent the last fifteen years of his life from 1922 in the City of London asylum at Dartford, suffering from acute schizophrenia. Gurney was an accomplished composer before he was ever a poet, and his music is regularly performed. He started writing poetry during the War, publishing Severn & Somme in 1917 and War’s Embers in 1919. These were perfectly good books, but with few exceptions they demonstrated no unusual talent. Only after the War, and particularly in the early asylum years, did Gurney become a great poet. Writing with unprecedented intensity—sometimes producing the equivalent of four books of poetry in a single month—Gurney returned to war experiences as a way of escaping the misery of his incarceration. Idiosyncratic and often gauche, these poems were nevertheless stamped with the peculiarity of genius. But publishers showed no interest. Gurney wrote over a thousand poems between 1922 and 1927, the vast majority of which remain unpublished to this day.

Stokes trench mortar with team. Group of soldiers posing with a trench mortar, Salonika, taken by Capt Philip Rolls Asprey, whilst serving with 2nd Bn The Buffs (East Kent Regiment), nd, 1916 © National Army Museum.

I have included several new poems by Gurney in the anthology. One of my favourites, which he wrote in 1925, has languished amongst his papers at the Gloucestershire Archives until now:

The Stokes Gunners
When Fritz and we were nearly on friendly terms—
Of mornings, furtively, (O moral insects, O worms!)
A group of khaki people would saunter into
Our sector and plant a stove-pipe directed on to
Fritz trenches, insert black things, shaped like Ticklers jams—
The stove pipe hissed a hundred times and one might count to
A hundred damned unexpected explosions,
Which was all very well, but the group having finished performance
And hissed and whistled, would take their contrivance down to
Head quarters to report damage, and hand in forms
While the Gloucesters who desired peace or desired battle
Were left to pay the piper—Cursing Stokes to Hell, Montreal and Seattle.

The Stokes Mortar was the latest thing in military technology. Introduced during the second half of the War, it had the great virtue of being portable—a modestly-sized artillery gun which could fire more than twenty rounds per minute. Gurney’s hostility to its arrival in his part of the line can best be explained by his fellow poet Charles Sorley’s comment several years earlier: ‘For either side to bomb the other would be a useless violation of the unwritten laws that govern the relations of combatants permanently within a hundred yards of distance of each other, who have found out that to provide discomfort for the other is but a roundabout way of providing it for themselves’. Small wonder that Gurney should denounce as ‘moral insects’ those form-filling jobsworths who bring down the enemy’s wrath onto the Gloucesters’ heads.

In war anthologies, we have heard little of this humour. Gurney’s is not the voice of heroic derring-do, nor of the officer pleading the sufferings of his men or denouncing High Command as incompetent or callous. Gurney offers us the common private who wants to be no more courageous than strictly necessary in achieving his ambition to survive the War. The poem befits a remark which Gurney made of his fellow Gloucesters when he reported that they sang ‘I Want to Go Home’ while under heavy artillery bombardment. ‘It is not a brave song’, he acknowledged, ‘but brave men sing it’.

Tim Kendall will be giving a pre-concert talk on Ivor Gurney’s achievements with reference to other First World War poets and taking part in a post-concert Q&A session with baritone Matthew Brook and Angus Smith on Thursday 15 May 2014, as part of our Love & War Festival of Chamber Music. Both events are free to ticket holders for the 7.15pm concert At The Front, for more info about the concert visit our website.

Tim Kendall has taught at the universities of Oxford, Newcastle, and Bristol before becoming Professor and Head of English at the University of Exeter. His new book is Poetry of the First World War: An Anthology. His other publications include Modern English War Poetry (OUP, 2006), and The Oxford Handbook of British and Irish War Poetry (ed.) (OUP, 2007), and he is writing the VSI on War Poetry (forthcoming, 2014). He is also co-editor of the Complete Literary Works of Ivor Gurney, (forthcoming, OUP).

– This blog post was originally published on the Oxford University Press blog.

Image credit: Stokes trench mortar with team. Group of soldiers posing with a trench mortar, Salonika, taken by Capt Philip Rolls Asprey, whilst serving with 2nd Bn The Buffs (East Kent Regiment), nd, 1916 © National Army Museum. – See more at: http://blog.oup.com/2013/10/ivor-gurney-first-world-war-poetry/#sthash.HO4q1rnt.dpuf

Music from the time of the civil wars, or the wars of the three kingdoms

Fretwork musician Richard Boothby sets the scene for their Sheffield concert on 13 May

The Fretwork musicians

The Fretwork musicians

War and music are not happy bedfellows, and the immense and complex struggle which took place in Britain and Ireland between 1640 and 1651 is not an exception to that rule.

The conflict had profound effects on the musical life of the nations and most of all, on that of England. One of the most noticeable was the decentralisation of musical establishments and composers: where, before the war, musical life had been concentrated in London on the royal court, the dispersal of the court and the uncongenial nature of the city to musicians during and after the war meant that many fled the capital and rid out the conflict in remote parts of the country.

England had known an exceptionally long period of peace and prosperity since the accession of Elizabeth I in 1558, through her long reign, the peaceful accession of James V of Scotland and I of England, and the passing on of the crown to his son, Charles I in 1625. But, while Elizabeth had been abstemious and relatively moderate in her expenditure, James was used to a much more pliant Scottish parliament, and spent money immoderately and passed this unfortunate characteristic on to his son.

Of course, what was to be ruinous for the monarchy was rather good news for musicians employed by the court: James’s eldest son, the much lauded Prince Henry, built up an
avant-garde musical establishment employing the best composers and players of the day: Coprario, Lupo, Ferrabosco and Gibbons were all writing stimulating, advanced music, and, when Henry unexpectedly died in 1612, this establishment was taken over by Henry’s brother, the much less confident Charles.

It is claimed that Charles himself could play ‘exactly well’ on the bass viol, and that he was taught the instrument by Giovanni Coprario – who started life as plain old John Cooper, until a trip to Italy turned his head – and that he and a young William Lawes, only 2 years his junior, learnt the instrument together. Lawes was certainly close to the king, but his consorts of five and six parts were not composed until the 1630s, when Charles’s difficulties with parliament were coming to a head. It seems he must have stopped composing by 1642 in order to devote himself to the royalist cause. His end came in September 1645 at the siege of Chester, where he was shot in a skirmish. The king dubbed him ‘The Father of English Music’.

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Most musicians were going to be on the royalist side in this war: it was where they were most likely to gain employment. Matthew Locke, a generation younger than Lawes, was a boy treble in Exeter Cathedral (his carving ‘Mathew Lock 1638’ was recently rediscovered in the cathedral organ loft – above) and was conscripted into the royalist army there, to leave with the king for France and the Netherlands in 1648. He came back to England a Catholic and spent the Commonwealth in London contributing much music to plays and publishing his ‘Little Consort of Three Parts’. By the Restoration in 1660, he was England’s leading composer. While it’s not clear when his ‘Consorts of Fower Parts’ were written, they represent music of the old style brought to a modern and elegant perfection. Charles II was famously intolerant of music he couldn’t tap his foot to: Roger North said he had ‘an utter detestation of Fancys’, which suggests that his consort music was written during the Interregnum.

The one composer who seemed to thrive in all circumstances was John Hingeston, who studied with Orlando Gibbons and became Cromwell’s Master of Music. His ‘Protectorate Household’, established in 1654, was similar to the royal court, and where Hingeston had a band of 8 musicians and two boys. At the Restoration, he was appointed a viol player in the King’s Private Music and taught a young Henry Purcell.

YouTube: Music by William Lawes, performed by Fretwork

Simpson was a contemporary of Lawes, though he avoided a violent end, and thus lived through the war, the Interregnum and the Restoration. But he did fight on the royalist side early in the war, retiring to Scampton in Lincolnshire at the house of Sir Robert Bolles, a friend and patron. He was without doubt the most prominent virtuoso viol player of the age and wrote the first and best viol tutor published in English. John Jenkins was similarly an exceptional viol player, patronised by the great families of the nation, in particular the Derham and L’Estrange families of Norfolk. He thus was able to avoid the dangers of the war and at its end he was with the North family in Cambridgeshire. By the Restoration he was a venerable elder statesman of English music and lived on until the ripe age of 86. He wonderfully crafted consorts for 4, 5 & 6 viols are examples of a mature style that he created, extending the techniques of Byrd, Coprario and Ferrabosco.

Another immensely long-lived composer of the age was Thomas Tomkins, surely one of the greatest of all Welsh composers, born in St Davids. He was appointed to the Chapel Royal in 1620, and was friends and colleagues with Gibbons, Byrd, Coprario, though he also retained a position in Worcester Cathedral. As the war began to take its toll on court life, he retired here. In 1646 the town surrendered to Parliamentary forces and cathedral services were suspended. His famous ‘Sad Pavan for these distracted times’ is dated 14th February 1649, a fortnight after the execution of the king. He lived in the cathedral close until 1654, when he moved to the nearby village of Martin Hussingtree, where he died aged 82.

Richard Boothby will be performing with the internationally renowned viol consort, Fretwork, as part of our Love and War Festival of World Class Chamber Music on Tuesday 13 May at 7.15pm. A version of this article is featured in our Festival Souvenir Programme, available to buy throughout the Festival for £3.50.

The musicians will also be taking part in a Q&A session with our Artistic Director, Angus Smith, free to all concert ticket holders.

For more information about the concert, visit our website.

Guest blog: singer Carol on One Equal Music

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I spend so much of my time encouraging other people to sing that it’s wonderful to find an opportunity to sing myself, especially under Angus’ expert direction. In Sunday’s rehearsal he really put everyone at ease, and helped us to feel comfortable with the music.

It was a lovely surprise to start moving around the cathedral during the Gorecki! It worked brilliantly, bringing the sound alive. When this moment comes around in the concert, the audience will be totally absorbed by it. It really helps to bring the music off the page.

The rehearsal inspired me to go straight home and do some practice!

I came all the way from Buxton because you don’t often get the opportunity to take part in music of this calibre. You’ve got to take the chance when it comes up.

In my day-to-day life I spend time thinking about the practicalities of teaching repertoire and singing technique to my singers, so it came as welcome reminder to find myself in the vulnerable position of a choir member who is feeling insecure about singing particular phrases.  I hope it will remind me to be more tolerant and patient as I try to build singers’ confidence.

Above all, being one of over 60 singers who were prepared to give up precious leisure time on a Sunday afternoon, I felt part of our wonderful community of choral enthusiasts who share their love of wonderful music.

 

Carol Bowns is a freelance musician based in Derbyshire who spends her time enthusing, training, and developing singers. She leads Kaleidoscope Community Choir, directs The Tideswell Singers, and creates passenger choirs on cruise ships – amongst much else! www.carolbowns.co.uk

The One Equal Music concert features a programme of music, both ancient and modern, for choir and string quartet, and takes place at Sheffield Cathedral on Sunday 11 May at 6.30pm. Further details at www.musicintheround.co.uk

After going global Transformations returns to South Yorkshire for its last hurrah

“This was one of the most exciting evenings I have been to with MitR.” 

Many of you will remember our innovative Transformations event at the Showroom Cinema as part of our last May Festival. It was an incredible evening that celebrated two significant centenaries – that of the discovery of stainless steel and that of composer Benjamin Britten – through bringing together film and music in a way that we hope Britten himself could have been proud off.

 “Loved the ‘drama’” Audience member

Since the Sheffield premiere elements of the programme have been touring the country and have been broadcast on the internet. Adrian Wilson and Katie Goodwin‘s collaborative version of Britten’s Six Metamorphoses after Ovid and Charlie Piper’s piece With Stolen Fire for chamber ensemble and film, have reached over 2000 people in over 24 countries – our widest reaching programme to date.

 “A very different experience. All aspects super quality.
Adrian was stunning!”
Audience member
Ensemble Charlie 5

If you’re not one of those 2000 people it’s not too late; there’s still one last chance to see it. The final performance takes place in Penistone Paramount in Barnsley on 4th April at 8pm. It seems only fitting that it returns to its South-Yorkshire home for its grand finale.

For those of you who don’t know Penistone Paramount, it’s a beautiful, traditional two-tier cinema/music hall with a small bar and a kiosk for popcorn and ice-cream – the perfect place to end this incredible tour. It’s on the edge of Barnsley and Sheffield, has its own free car park, ample free on-street parking and is just a very short walk from Penistone railway station. Perfect!

You can book online at www.penistoneparamount.co.uk.

By Tracy, Project Manager (@tracyMitR)

Coal Face, A Tale of the Working Class – coming to Barnsley

In 1935, the General Post Office (GPO), commissioned a film that looked into the everyday working lives of the coal mining industry – Coal Face. The film looked at the processes used within the industry, and the methods of extraction and treatment of coal. Aside from this, is had the aim of exploiting new methods of sound recording.

The film looks at the structure of the coal industry and the processes used. Coal Face was an important film both for its innovative style and its ability to express critical social comment.

ImageThis was the first time that poet W.H. Auden and composer Benjamin Britten worked together, and the result has since been well documented, as ‘one of Britain’s most avant-garde documentary films’ and a long-term collaboration between the two men. At the time Britten was an up-and-coming student at the Royal College of Music.

Music and film is something Britten explored on more than one occasion. Some listeners may be familiar with other works of his, such as ‘Night Mail’, or ‘The Way to the Sea’. As part of the on-going celebrations of Britten’s life, Coal Face is coming to Penistone Paramount next on 4th April.

What more appropriate space than the beautiful surroundings of the Paramount, a traditional two-tiered cinema and music-hall in the heart of coal-mining country. Britten was a great believer in collaboration, bringing together different artforms and communities and taking music out of its traditional setting. In that vain, on 4th April Coal Face will be shown in the good company of some of Britten’s chamber music performed live by Ensemble 360, new film created to go with some of that music and a new piece of music with film written to celebrate a different element of Yorkshire’s industrial heritage; steel. Hopefully Britten would have approved!

The premiere of ‘Transformations’ took place last year in Sheffield’s Showroom Cinema last May and since then, elements of the programme have been on tour across the country.  Due to the success of the event, Music in the Round, the UK’s leading promoter of chamber music outside of London, are bringing it back to its South-Yorkshire home for this final performance – not to be missed.

For more about the event or to book please click here

Listen to some of Britten’s music and find out more about it at www.britten100.org 

By Tom Hobson, @tomhobson

@musicintheround
#musicandfilm #transformations #britten100 #BarnsleyisBrill