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A Summer of High Notes at Birmingham Conservatoire

Subscribe to RSS RSSTuesday, 1st June, 2010

From Mahler to Holman, Birmingham Conservatoire?s summer gala concert schedule has something for everyone. Seven concerts, presented as part of Birmingham City University?s 2010 New Generation Arts (NGA) Festival, will cover vocal music, new composition, jazz, concerts of orchestral and piano classics, and chamber music, ending with Mahler?s ?tragic? Symphony No.6 in Town Hall.

An evening of song and piano music devised by Prof Julian Pike, Head of Vocal and Operatic Studies, follows the unusual theme of ornithology on Wednesday 9 June. The event, one in the Conservatoire?s popular ?Liederabend? series, draws together staff and student talent for what is sure to be a popular start to the music strand of the NGA Festival.

Walsall?s New Art Gallery provides a unique venue for a concert of ?Freshly Squeezed? new music on Thursday 10 June. Since December 2009, students from Birmingham Conservatoire?s Composition Department have been gleaning inspiration from the Gallery?s Epstein Archive, a companion to its Garman Ryan Collection. The Archive comprises over 30 works, including many by sculptor Sir Jacob Epstein, and the resulting original compositions cover a broad range of musical styles, from opera to jazz, musical theatre to electronic music; each will be performed amongst the Garman Ryan Collection.

Two unmissable Performance Platforms feature the Conservatoire?s Junior Fellows The Boult Quartet (Tuesday 15 June) and accomplished alumna pianist Di Xiao (Tuesday 22 June). While the Boult Quartet present two thrilling Quartets by masters of the genre (Haydn and Mendelssohn) Di Xiao gives a concert of pianistic favourites ranging from Beethoven?s ?Moonlight Sonata? to Debussy?s Clair de lune, taking in Mendelssohn and Chopin along the way.

Presenting an option to the England football game on Friday 18 June, Elgar Howarth conducts the Conservatoire?s full forces in a programme of British music that packs a brassy punch. Holst?s The Perfect Fool begins the concert with a fanfare, followed by the world premiere performance of Howarth?s own composition for brass quartet and chorus, A Menagerie for Reverend John Beauchamp. The concert?s grand finale is Belshazzar?s Feast, a work of grandiose complexity that has become one of the choral repertoire?s most exhilarating oratorios.

The works of tenor saxophonist and composer Bill Holman (b.1927) insert a bit of swing into the concert schedule. Closely associated with Stan Kenton as a writer for his band, Holman had a remarkable ability to integrate counterpoint and dissonance in subtle yet distinctive ways. Exploring the music Holman wrote for his second solo album, In a Jazz Orbit (1958), the Conservatoire Jazz Orchestra invites you to swing in for the afternoon on Friday 25 June.

Birmingham Conservatoire?s final concert of the year, on Friday 25 June, will be given under the distinguished baton of Lionel Friend, who leads the Symphony Orchestra in Gustav Mahler?s emotional and devastating Symphony No.6 in A minor, otherwise known as the ?Tragic? symphony. While so much of Mahler?s music is deeply personal and despairing, he plumbed new depths in the Sixth. The specific meaning of the Symphony will perhaps never be resolved, but its passion, veracity and ingenuity remain extraordinarily powerful more than 100 years after its completion.

Underlining the reasons why Birmingham should be UK City of Culture in 2013, the Conservatoire?s gala June concerts present a diverse and high-quality slate of performances for music lovers. Tickets for all performances are available on the door one hour prior to evening performances and 30 minutes prior to afternoon performances.

Performance Summary

Freshly Squeezed: Music Composition in the Epstein Archive
Thursday 10 June
Venue: New Art Gallery, Walsall WS2 8LG
Admission: Free
Performance Time: 6.30pm

Performance Platform: The Boult Quartet
Tuesday 15 June
Venue: Adrian Boult Hall, Birmingham Conservatoire B3 3HG
Admission: £5.50 (£3)
Performance Time: 1.05pm

Friday Orchestral Series: ?Balshazzar?s Feast?
Friday 18 June, 7pm
Venue: Adrian Boult Hall, Birmingham Conservatoire B3 3HG
Admission: £6 (£4) on the door

Performance Platform: Di Xiao
Tuesday 22 June
Venue: Adrian Boult Hall, Birmingham Conservatoire B3 3HG
Admission: £5.50 (£3)
Performance Time: 1.05pm

Jazz Orchestra Plays Bill Holman
Friday 25 June
Venue: Recital Hall, Birmingham Conservatoire B3 3HG
Admission: £5.50 (£3)
Performance Time: 1pm

Mahler: Symphony No.6 (?Tragic?)
Friday 25 June
Venue: Town Hall, Birmingham B3 3DQ
Admission: £10 (£8), £2.50 students
Performance Time: 7.30pm
Pre-concert Talk: 6.30pm