Tewkesbury was featured on BBC Gloucesteshire this week, as research into the descendants of members of William Shakespeare's family, buried in the graveyard behind the Old Baptist Chapel, has discovered relatives living not far away in the Forest of Dean. Exciting stuff!
Schubert at Syde is a new venture from the Cheltenham Festival - immerse yourself in a whole weekend of music. This is a rare and special opportunity to hear Schubert’s most beloved chamber works performed in four adjacent concerts, all in the intimate and beautiful surroundings of Syde Manor near Cheltenham.Tickets include dining, drinks, concert introductions from Stephen Johnson and the chance to enjoy the gardens and sweeping views of an unspoilt Cotswold valley.
Full details on the Cheltenham Music Festival website
Each year the CBSO is joined by all its various choruses for a grand Christmas celebration, compered by a well-known figure - for this winter's concerts it was again Alan Titchmarsh, who says in The Telegraph
"It must be more than 20 years since I was first invited to compère the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra’s Christmas concerts under the baton of Simon Halsey, its chorus director. I have been asked back every three or four years since. The venue is one of the best concert halls in Britain – Symphony Hall in Birmingham – a space that not only has a brilliant acoustic but a warm and friendly atmosphere, too."
Take a look at what's on in this fantastic hall here
On Saturday 16 January at 7.30pm at Huntingdon Hall, Worcester there will be a concert given by Chamber Winds, an ensemble of senior wind students from Cardiff’s Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama. These fine young musicians can be heard on the brink of launching their professional careers in an evening of music by two great composers. They will perform a Haydn serenade, re-scored for wind instruments, as well as music from Mozart’s Don Giovanni, plus the première of Derek Smith’s Creation Suite based on Haydn’s great choral masterpiece. Composers often endorsed the re-scoring of their works to facilitate performance by other groups of instruments, and Josef Triebensee, a fine oboist and a contemporary of Mozart, wrote the transcription of music from Don Giovanni in 1788, three years before Mozart’s death. Malvern resident Derek Smith is a well-respected composer and arranger and his superbly crafted Creation Suite provides an opportunity to hear much of the wonderful music from Haydn’s Creation played by wind ensemble, a combination of instruments loved by Haydn himself. Tickets at £12 (students £6) can be purchased from the Worcester Live Box Office on 01905 611427 www.worcesterlive.co.uk The concert is supported by the GEMMA Classical Music Trust Regd Charity No. 1121090
Special offer for teachers - bring 3 students, and receive a free ticket for yourself
January is often rather a quiet month for the arts, so the Wye Valley Chamber Music Festival is there to cheer us all up! This year's runs from 9 until 17 January, and this year celebrates close personal and musical relationships, from the Schumann and Mendelssohn families through that of Fauré and his pupil Ravel to the pioneering folk collections of Bartok and Kodaly. Directed by co-founder Daniel Tong with fellow pianist Simon Crawford-Phillips, the Ruisi Quartet are in residence this year.
I've been rather preoccupied by work over the last six weeks or so, running the singers agency I manage, Concert Directory International. I took it over in 2009 and it has been supplying vocal soloists mainly for choral societies all around the UK for well over 30 years now.
I try to go to as many concerts as I can - and because of the way rehearsals are organised, many choirs have a concert in mid-November followed by a Christmas event in December. There's always a huge amount of enthusiasm and excitement and a real sense of occasion at these events and I always find much to enjoy. Since mid-October I have heard:
- Grimsby Philharmonic Choir singing Mozart's C minor Mass (with Birmingham-based soprano Katie Trethewey stepping in at short notice)
- Malvern Festival Chorus singing CPE Bach's Magnificat and Zelenka's Missa Paschalis (that was new to me)
- Bedford Choral Society singing Mendelssohn's Lobgesang and "Die Erste Walpurgisnacht" (also new to me, and great fun)
- Oxford Harmonic Choir singing Beethoven 9 and Bruckner's Te Deum
If I added up the number of singers involved in all these concerts it would be well over 500 - and one of the singers on my list, Alex Ashworth is soloist in no less than 4 performances of "Messiah" just this week! A love of singing indeed.
It's not possible to live close to the Malvern Hills as a music-lover, and not hear Elgar's music resounding across the fields - and the English Symphony Orchestra is presenting an Elgar Pilgrimage this October, a mini-festival including some of his greatest works.
On 7 October in Hereford Cathedral they'll play the Introduction and Allegro and a new version of Sea Pictures for choir and strings.
On 8 October at Malvern Theatres there's a chance to hear how Brahms influenced Elgar, with his Third Symphony set against Elgar's Violin Concerto.
Chamber music by Brahms and Elgar for piano and strings is played by some of the finest young performers on 9 October at the Elgar Hall, Birmingham University: Alexander Sitkovetsky and Tamsin Waley-Cohen, violins, Louise Lansdown, viola, Matthew Sharp, cello and Clare Hammond, piano
And on 10 October, again in the stunning new Elgar Concert Hall at Birmingham University, there's the world premiere of a symphonic realization of Elgar's Piano Quintet in A minor, opus 84 together with Mahler's Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen (Songs of a Wayfarer) with soloist Njabulo Madlala
BBC Music Magazine has chosen as its Choral and Song recording of the month The Song of the Severn by Ian Venables, with Roderick Williams, pianist Graham Lloyd and the Carducci Quartet.
'Venables's songs... find in Roderick Williams a deeply sympathetic interpreter, who lavishes as much attention on the words as the notes.'
Jill Davies has spent most of her life immersed in music, from sitting under the piano while her mum gave lessons to taking up the ukulele a couple of years ago. She's an agent (mainly for singers) by day, has a personal record of going to 12 concerts in 3 days, and can't decide whether it's more fun to sing Elgar partsongs or play Gibbons viol consorts.