Tag Archives: cello

Retrospect: The Protecting Veil

St John’s Smith Square was lit up with Christmas decorations and filled with festive cheer on Saturday 2 December, all ready for an exploration of Sir John Tavener’s musical vision of Mary, the Mother of God – a work of ‘such overt mysticism’ (Bachtrack). What an end to our Modern Mystics trilogy!

Our series finale saw world-renowned cellist Matthew Barley present fun, thought-provoking and educational living programme notes in the first half, and bring ‘to life the depths and contrasts of this deceptively simple piece’ (Bachtrack) – Sir John Tavener’s The Protecting Veil – in an entrancing second-half performance.

December 02, 2017_ProtectingVeil_046
Matthew Barley: living programme notes (image © James Berry)

In Barley’s living programme notes, our musicians were directed to get into groups – spread among our audience and onstage – to play parts of the music in different styles and forms, to show how Tavener used musical devices and techniques to ‘create intensely moving music’ (Bachtrack). Barley also demonstrated how Tavener was influenced by Indian music, performing a solo excerpt of the music over a recording of Indian soundscapes. In the spirit of Christmas, the Orchestra applied compositional techniques such as retrograde, inversion, augmentation and canon to well-known Christmas tunes – and you could hear the cheerful humming and recognition from our audience throughout.

‘[Living programme notes are] a great way to help more casual listeners appreciate the hidden depths of the music.’ – Bachtrack

In the second half, the talking had come to an end, but the education continued as our audience were able to hear those techniques in action in a full performance of The Protecting Veil. Matthew Barley’s solo cello represented the Mother of God, which ‘never stops singing throughout’ (Sir John Tavener), with our magnificent strings responding in ‘sensitive ways in which they complemented the solo instrument’ (Bachtrack).

‘City of London Sinfonia seemed alive to the composer’s sense of the spiritual significance of each of the work’s sections.’ – Bachtrack

The music moved seamlessly between movements, and between moments of emotional power and meditative calm – a calm that prolonged in a consensus of zen throughout the Hall, before Barley’s dropping of the bow cued a rapturous applause.

The standing ovation that followed prompted an encore from Matthew Barley, who demonstrated even more charisma and astonishing technique in Giovanni Sollima’s Lamentatio.

Relive some of the concert in photos from the night, taken by James Berry.

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All images © James Berry Photography.

Tell us about your Modern Mystics experience

If you’ve been to any or all of our Modern Mystics concerts, we would love to hear about how much you enjoyed them! You can write a review on our Facebook page or on Google, tweet us @CityLDNsinfonia, or send us an audio recording to info@cls.co.uk which we can feature in one of our podcasts.

#ModernMystics

 

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The Lullaby Tour October 2013

We are incredibly proud of our Meet the Music outreach initiatives, one of which is our Lullaby Concerts tour which occurs twice a year.  Lullaby concerts bring classical music to children in areas where live orchestral music is a rarity. This series is run in partnership with Orchestras Live, and provides an interactive way of introducing young children (typically under 6) to classical music.

I’m sat in a town hall in Suffolk jam-packed with preschool children and their parents, when a labcoat-clad Claire Bloor appears astride an orange spacehopper, wearing a single yellow glove and brandishing a long green balloon. Moments like this are wonderful reminders that working in the arts is exciting, surreal and, crucially, fun.IMG_0855

The theme of October’s tour was “The Mad Professor” and featured Claire, our wonderful Animateur in Residence, playing the part of an eccentric scientist who tries to build instruments for the Orchestra members. However, this was not just a children’s show with an orchestra in the background. The Orchestra themselves are always complicit in the fun; they have costumes of their own and spend the concert teasing Claire and larking around for the children’s amusement. Claire, seemingly, has boundless energy, making the children (and adults) laugh with delight as she took them through the musical programme. The fact that she is nothing more than a labcoat-wearing blur in eighty percent of the photos I took of her is a further testament to her dynamism (rather than to my poor photography skills).

IMG_0839I caught up with Claire, Gillian (our Education Manager) and our musicians in between concerts, to ask them about what Lullaby means to them and find out about their own childhood experiences of classical music.

AJ: Why is it important to introduce very young children to classical music?
Gillian Hunter: Kids this age don’t have any preconceptions about genres of music, nor are they old enough to worry about what is ‘cool’ – all they hear is music. This is an opportunity for them to be exposed to high quality playing of real repertoire in an environment they wouldn’t normally expect to find it!

AJ: What’s the best thing about Lullaby?
Mark Paine: It’s a lot of fun for the kids, and they get to see exactly how these instruments are actually played – it teaches them about the mechanics of it.

AJ: Is the transition from formal concert playing to these more informal children’s concerts difficult?
Susan Dorey: Not at all! We are, after all, entertainers, and this is just another element of working in the entertainment business!IMG_0857

AJ: What were your first experiences of classical music?
MP: Hearing the pipe organ in church, and being told my legs were too short to play!

CB: When I was five, a girl in my school assembly played the flute and I thought it was the most beautiful thing (probably because it was shiny). I pestered my parents for one and they gave me a recorder instead, which I promptly turned on its side. Eventually they bought me a real flute!

MP: Initially my school in Australia didn’t have a music programme until a new music teacher arrived and wanted to start an orchestra. He gave me a horn to take home over the weekend to try out. By Monday I had figured out how to play a scale and the rest, as they say, is history.

GH: My first experience was a bit mad – my parents signed me up for the Suzuki violin program before I was born! It was so oversubscribed that you had to get in there early to get a place.075_Thurrock, Lullaby Concert_high-res (Paul Coghlin)

AJ: What’s been your favourite Lullaby moment to date?
MP: Talking to the fish during the April 2013 tour.

CB: This tour, it’s when the new instruments come on and I get really excited. Last time, it was wearing flippers and kicking my legs in the air!

But don’t just take our word for it! Have a look at our video from one of last week’s concerts to get a sense of the fun for yourself.

More information about our Lullaby tours, upcoming events, our Community and Education work and our Community Partners can be found on our website.

The Score: Katie Heller

Ever wondered what our players listen to in their spare time? Whether they prefer Bach or Berlioz? Which instruments they admire? What makes their mouth water?! 

Find out more about string player Katie Heller in our quick fire round…

Composer
J.S. Bach and then Robert Schumann

Opera
Beethoven’s Fidelio

Instrument
If not my own, the cello

Concert venue
The Concertgebouw in Amsterdam

Cake
Chocolate Guinness cake introduced to me by fellow CLS viola Becky Jones!