Serenade to Music

Thursday 21st January, 7.30pm

City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra

Programme

  • Grainger  In a Nutshell, 20′
  • Vaughan Williams  Serenade to Music †, 14′
  • Varese  Ionisation, 8′
  • Judith Weir Storm †, 18′
  • Grainger  The Warriors , 20′

Imagine warriors of all times and all lands, gathering in one place to drink and dance; imagine jazz breaks, three pianos, and a super-sized orchestra… and you’re starting to get some idea of Percy Grainger’s jaw-dropping The Warriors. Add Vaughan Williams’ ravishing, Shakespeare-inspired Serenade, 16 brilliant young soloists, a spirited showcase for the CBSO’s world-beating young choruses and a “Gum-Suckers’ March”, and…well, what can we say? You’ve simply got to hear it!

Available on BBC Radio 3 Live in Concert here for a month

.

Review by Christopher Morley, Birmingham Post:

Click here for full review

…     “And because of these forces we had a remarkable bonus, Edgard Varese’s Ionisation for 13 percussionists and piano, crisply, precisely directed by Seal, and beautifully phrased and coloured by the players.

By contrast, a tiny instrumental ensemble (including many of the flute family) accompanied the expert CBSO Youth and Children’s Choruses in a revival of Judith Weir’s Storm, keenly imagined and with a lovely serene ending. Under Simon Halsey the youngsters sang with confident projection and brilliant diction, and all from memory, to the delight of the composer, interviewed engagingly onstage, like the two conductors, by presenter Tom Redmond.

The texts came from The Tempest, this performance a contribution to the CBSO’s Shakespeare quatercentenary thread. And particularly heartwarming was the presentation of one of the most beautiful Shakespearean works ever penned, Vaughan Williams’ Serenade to Music.

This setting of the Belmont Scene from Act V of The Merchant of Venice requires 16 solo singers, and for its premiere celebrating Sir Henry Wood’s Golden Jubilee as a conductor in 1938, the composer specified 16 named soloists at the top of the professional tree.

Here Simon Halsey presented 16 students from Conservatoires UK-wide, and what a wonderful sound they created, both in their individual contributions and in their melding together as a choral group.”     …

Summer Prom: National Youth Orchestra

Birmingham International Concert Season 2011/12

Part of Birmingham International Concert Season 2011/12… more events…

Wednesday 1 August

Symphony Hall

National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain
Vasily Petrenko conductor
Joanna MacGregor piano
Cynthia Millar ondes Martenot

Programme includes

Varèse Tuning Up 5’
Nico Muhly Gait (BBC commission) 20’
Messiaen Turangalîla-Symphonie 75’

encore -Anna Meredith – Hands Free

– (video here)

Described by The Times as ‘the most uplifting orchestra in the world’, the vast National Youth Orchestra comprises 165 of the country’s most talented teenage stars. Hear them here first with their equally exuberant Principal Conductor Vasily Petrenko, pianist Joanna MacGregor and ondes Martenot expert Cynthia Millar. Together they awaken the wonders of Messiaen’s uplifting testament to time and love, the breathtaking musical kaleidoscope that is Turangalîla-Symphonie.

BBC Music magazine’s Editor, Oliver Condy, recommends tonight’s concert: “Vasily Petrenko is one of the UK’s fastest-rising conducting stars. He’s already worked wonders with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic and he’s expected to do the same for the fabulous National Youth Orchestra. Bringing together musicians from every corner of the country, tonight’s concert has a true Olympic feel.”

Before the performance, see the NYO’s Creative Hub perform compositions by talented teenage composers at 6pm.  www.thsh.co.uk

Full report on the youngest ever leader of the National Youth Orchestra – here

**********

Review by John Quinn, SeenandHeard:

Click here for full review

…     “The other great exuberant showpiece in this work is the last movement, ‘Final’. After some seventy minutes of demanding performance the NYO still had reserves of energy, enthusiasm and, one suspects, pure adrenalin, to deliver a performance of this movement that was full of vitality and sheer joie de vivre. Petrenko, conducting with the clarity and energy that had galvanised his players throughout the evening, inspired them to bring the symphony to a triumphant conclusion. The ovation from the audience was richly deserved.

The NYO brings this programme to the BBC Proms on Saturday next, 4 August (19:30). The concert will be broadcast live on BBC Radio 3 and will be well worth hearing.”

Review by Fiona Maddocks, Observer:

Click here for full review

…     “This was a whirlwind performance, tubas, trombone and trumpets blasting out thrillingly, cymbals crashing with a celestial grandeur the composer would have loved. At the end, the swooning, elastic, electronic cries of the ondes martenot rode these torrents of sound like a storm-tossed Neptune surfing the waves. As an encore the NYO performed part of Anna Meredith’s HandsFree, in which instruments are abandoned and the body – clapping, stomping, hissing, clicking – becomes music, ending with nearly 200 teenagers thrusting their arms in the air in perfect unison.”    …

 

Review by Christopher Morley, Birmingham Post:

Click here for full review

…     “This ten-movement kaleidoscope puts huge demands of concentration and stamina as well as technique upon the players, and these musicians rose to the challenge magnificently under the irresistible personality of conductor Vasily Petrenko’s direction. Stentorian brass, sensuous woodwind, strings both sumptuous and flickering, percussion clicking, shimmering, affirmative, all worked triumphantly in the cause of this amazing, life-enhancingly erotic piece (will someone please unearth a recording of its 1948 premiere under Leonard Bernstein?).

The two ever-present soloists, Joanna MacGregor’s pianism florid and discreet by turns, Cynthia Millar bringing a lifetime of experience in this piece with the gallimaufry of kit which makes up the Star Trek-sounding Ondes Martenot, knew how to balance their contributions to the work of the orchestra, and acknowledged their young colleagues genuinely at the end.”     …

 

Review by Nick Breckenfield, ClassicalSource, (for performance at Royal Albert Hall – Prom 29)

Click here for full review

Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring – 3D Performance

Thursday 21 April 2011 at 6.30pm

Symphony Hall, Birmingham +44 (0)121-780 3333

City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra

Ilan Volkov conductor
Julia Mach dancer
Klaus Obermaier concept, artistic direction, choreography
Ars Electronica Futurelab interactive design & technical development
Alois Hummer sound design
Wolfgang Friedlinger lighting design

Varèse:  Tuning Up (sketch, completed by Chou Wen-Chung)

Ligeti: Lontano

Stravinsky: The Rite of Spring

Any live performance of Stravinsky’s infamous Rite of Spring is a mind-blowing experience – the music alone is brim-full of raw emotion and ritualistic frenzy. Tonight, experience an astonishing interplay between reality and fantasy, as dancer Julia Mach’s live performance interacts with real-time computer-generated stereoscopic projections, translated into virtual reality with the aid of 3D spectacles for the audience. Digital wizardry meets the primeval world of Stravinsky’s ballet score! www.cbso.co.uk

http://riteofspring3d.thsh.co.uk/

Blog posts / review by Zyls:

http://zylszevo.wordpress.com/2011/04/21/stravinskys-rite-of-spring-in-3d-the-symphony-hall-birmingham-thursday-21-april-2011/

http://zylszevo.wordpress.com/2011/04/22/review-of-stravinskys-rite-of-spring-in-3d-the-symphony-hall-birmingham-thursday-21-april-2011/

…     “Tonight’s performance was very, very clever – the technology, commitment and work put into creating such a feast was impressive – the CBSO are truly world class, the dancer incredible and the capability of the technology – a brave mix of classical music, art and dance – hugely inspiring.”     …

Review by Roger Clarke, BehindtheArras:

http://behindthearras.com/perform.html#window

“ANY visit to a theatre or concert is an experience but this is a theatrical experience that really means it. I defy anyone to leave at the end unscathed. Once in your mind you will never forget it.   […]

[…]  This takes 3D into whole new realms though, way beyond the fun and novelty stages. This 3D is a thing of art and beauty, of disturbing images, of despair and darkness, light and hope.Emotions and fears distilled on an electronic matrix.

It is astounding, fascinating, enthralling, stunning stuff – a new art form has been discovered. Classical music and ballet meets virtual reality.”     …

Review by Andrew Clements, Guardian:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/2011/apr/22/rite-spring-3d-review

…     “It is the account of the music, though, that proves to be the show’s saving grace. It is quite superbly played by the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra under Ilan Volkov, and their hour-long programme begins – thankfully without glasses or choreography – with two more 20th-century classics. ”      …

Review by Christopher Morley, Birmingham Post:

http://www.birminghampost.net/life-leisure-birmingham-guide/birmingham-culture/theatre-in-birmingham/2011/04/25/review-the-rite-of-spring-cbso-and-julia-mach-at-symphony-hall-birmingham-65233-28580263/

…     “This extraordinary presentation of Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring was a total triumph, from the confident orchestral opening by the CBSO under the clear direction of Ilan Volkov (what fabulous delivery by Gretha Tuls of that notorious high bassoon solo!), through the mesmerically controlled movements of dancer Julia Mach, and the brilliant realisation of his own choreography by the concept-designer and artistic director Klaus Obermaier.”     …

Review by Geoff Read, MusicWeb:

http://www.seenandheard-international.com/2011/04/26/stravinskys-rite-of-spring-3d-performance-plus-varese-and-ligeti/

…     “The swaying sensations of Spring Rounds were emphasised by the visions of Obermaier: the compulsive rhythm was synchronised to an undulating floor. Mach reminded me of a gymnast trying to keep her balance on a trampoline bed that’s been given a life of its own. This particular effect together with the computer enhancement as the dancer arms become elongated may be seen on www.riteofspring3d.thsh.co.uk. Weird enough in two dimensions, the addition of the third made it even more mind-boggling. It was a magic carpet-ride on which Volkov wound up the CBSO strings and brass players to engage in the lethal blitz that followed, strains of Stravinsky that foreshadowed World War I. The flying 3D shapes returned, penetrating missiles akin to a game of paintballing, such was the suggestive power of Obermaier. I emerged unscathed from the battering.”     …