Bognor Regis – Guitar Gala with friends

On Saturday afternoon I trundled off to London Victoria for a train to Bognor Regis. I did my usual impression of someone very disorganised, very nearly missing the train. Indeed, if it hadn’t been for the friends I was travelling with, who were waiting for me on said train, I would certainly have missed it. One of them stuck his foot in the door, annoying a train guard. So I collapsed into a seat, after having plonked down the masses of gear I had attempted to run through the station with. I only decapitated two or three unwary tourists en route. There were six people, and about 22 guitars.

Sam and Duncan performing Dowland songs in Bognor Regis

Sam and I making soulful music with soulful eyes

We were travelling to the Bognor Regis school of music to perform in the Guitar Gala at the West Sussex Guitar Festival. Four of us were guitarists, the other two there in collaborative capacity. It was a perfect group of six – while studying together at the Royal College of Music, we had formed strong bonds of friendship, meeting in the canteen every Monday at 3 for Fika.

The Music

Ioannis Theodoridis and Laura Snowden

Laura and Ioannis

We had a smorgasbord of beautiful music, all excellently played. There were lute and theorbo duets, including a ‘Canary’ dance. The four guitarists each played beautiful solo pieces, including Three Pieces by Rodrigo (the third we nicknamed the ‘Piece of piece’), two of which appear in the video below. Irena Radić chipped in for a piano and guitar duet with Jonatan Bougt. My contribution was some songs by Dowland accompanied on the lute by the excellent Sam Brown. I got a frog in my throat during the third song – for all I know, it’s still there.

Jonatan Bougt and Irena Radić

And finally, here are Jonatan and Irena

We were lucky on the way back – delayed trains didn’t mean missing the two connections we had to catch to find our way safely back from Bognor Regis to London. Upon arrival, we tottered off in ones and twos to our various abodes.

The event was recorded and filmed (that was me, the bloke with all the gear), so a future post will no doubt show me croaking through ‘Unquiet Thoughts’ or ‘Flow My Tears’. Fortunately, my usual Sunday morning service was replaced by afternoon Vespers for an RSCM award ceremony. The luxury of a long lie-in meant I was fit to sing another day.

Do take the time to listen to this recording – Ioannis is a splendid guitarist and has been my partner in crime for many recordings. Also, check out Laura’s website – she’s a fantastic guitarist, involved in much contemporary guitar music, and has composed a beautiful piece called Anpao which she performed in the concert. Laura will be performing at the Wigmore Hall (again!) in November – click here to find out more and to book tickets. Don’t miss this concert!

Finzi’s Piano Concerto – Autumn 2015 News

Looking out towards Derwent Water from the slopes of Skiddaw

Looking out towards Derwent Water from the slopes of Skiddaw

I have just returned from the beautiful Lake District, where I saw not a single piano, probably the first such holiday I have had in years. Out there, usually beyond the range of cell towers, I spent many hours at a stretch with just myself for company; without the ceaseless input of interesting but unnecessary words, it was easier to return more frequently to a semi-meditative state, which complemented my regular morning meditation session. I was lucky that some friends were able to join me too, and we hiked and canoed in the fine weather.

Performances in Autumn

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Ranita Klimach, Paul Milhau, and Duncan Appleby. Photo © Ioannis Theodoridis

There are several dates already fixed for the upcoming term which you can put in your diaries – I shall be performing with my horn trio, named Trio Heitschi Bumbeitschi (you’ll have to attend one of our concerts to find out why!) on the 29th of October in St. John’s, Notting Hill as part of a Piano Trio Festival. The main item on the programme will be Brahms’ massive Trio for Horn, Violin and Piano, with its exceptionally difficult piano part. Later that day I’ll be singing in my first concert with the Iken Scholars at St. Mary-le-Bow. The following day I shall be accompanying Joel Williams in a lunchtime recital of English song in Leeds. I worked with Joel on several occasions earlier this year, and he is well worth making an effort to hear; he is a lovely chap so I’m looking forward to working with him again.

First performance as concerto soloist

Eclogue (piano concerto) - Gerald Finzi

Finally, I’m very excited to announce that I shall be playing the solo part of Finzi’s Eclogue with the Edinburgh University String Orchestra on Saturday the 21st of November. I played cello with them in my gap year before moving to London, and am thrilled to be playing with an orchestra as soloist for the first time, especially with such gorgeous music. The Eclogue (a name given posthumously by the publisher) is believed to have been intended as the slow movement of a piano concerto. Finzi was unable to finish it before he died, and the rest of the material was published under the name Grande Fantasia and Toccata.
Since I’ll be in the area, I’ll also be singing with Octavoce the following evening in one of the St. Giles at 6 concerts.
That’s it for now in terms of single events – however, after auditioning at short notice before travelling up to Edinburgh at the beginning of August, I’m happy to have been offered the post of Tenor Lay Clerk at St. George’s Cathedral, Southwark, and am enjoying the prospect of singing regularly again.

News for Summer 2015 – opera and more

There are a few things I’m involved with over the summer, including opera, Lieder, and a guitar.

Honey and James in Dulwich Opera Company's production of La Bohème

Honey and James in Puccini’s La Bohème – Dulwich Opera Company (Photo by Fritz Curzon)

First, I shall be accompanying Honey Rouhani and James Schouten on Sunday the 19th of July titled ‘Night at the Opera’, or NATO as I have taken to calling it, much to the initial confusion of friends. An operatic extravaganza, I shall be sharing the accompaniment duties with Rebecca Cohen. The concert takes place at Burgh House (LINK) in Hampstead, built over 300 years ago as a private residence, now open to the public. Honey and James will be singing solo arias as well as duets, from Italian, German, and French operas. To buy tickets, please go the Eventbrite page. Shortly afterward, I shall apear with a good friend, guitarist Sam Brown, in a lunchtime recital at St. James’s Piccadilly, playing Schubert’s Arpeggione Sonata, and he will also play some Dowland and Tarrega, a Spanish romantic composer. There’s no admission fee, but a retiring donation is suggested.

St. James's Piccadilly, London

St. James’s Piccadilly, London

Then I’m up to Edinburgh for a couple of lunchtime recitals in St. Mary’s Cathedral; some Schubert, Brahms, and Mozart on the 6th of August, and then Schumann’s Dichterliebe on the 11th.

Iken Scholars

I had the pleasure recently of singing for the director of the Iken Scholars, a group which performs early choral music, and happily I will be joining them for the foreseeable future. My first appearance with them shall be in a concert near the end of October, and I will post more details nearer the time. Since September, the only choral singing I have done is a few services, and a performance of the Rachmaninov Vespers at Christmas which, although it is a big sing, hasn’t satisfied my fervent love for that particular genre. Please do visit: Honey Rouhani’s website Rebecca Cohen’s website Sam Brown’s website