Sad news

The death of Terry Barfoot

Society members will be sad to hear that Terry Barfoot has just died, aged 70.  Terry did several presentations to the Society the most recent of which was on Bruckner.  This was a difficult assignment in the context of a Society evening as Bruckner’s works are expansive shall we say, and putting together a programme to show the range of his oeuvre was not easy.

Terry and I spent some time discussing this and needless to say he came up with a programme of musical selections combined with visual material as well which was extremely well received.   He had a natural gift for presentation and combined with a deep knowledge and love of music and composers meant his presentations were both erudite and entertaining.

His Arts in Residence weekends were also hugely enjoyable and very popular.  He will be a sad loss to the music world.

Peter Curbishley

Jan Dismas Zelenka

The second meeting of the Society using a combination of Zoom and YouTube took place on 19 October 2020 and concerned the Czech composer Zelenka presented by Peter Horwood. There are many who may not have heard of this composer, born in the town of Lounovice near Prague in 1679. His problem – if it can be described thus – was to be around at roughly the same time as Bach and Handel and so his fame was eclipsed after his death.

We listened and watched his Missa Votiva in E minor performed by Collegium 1704 under the energetic baton of Václav Luks. The playing and singing was of a very high standard and the conductor kept to a brisk tempo. The YouTube video was not of a high quality and may also have been compressed so that the full range of sound was not fully available. The recording took place in a large church yet there were no dynamic problems one usually experiences in these large spaces.

Although the music was harmonically rich, it did lack much in the way of memorable melody which might explain his low profile after his death. He was nevertheless a composer of great talent and does deserve to be heard more. As we have said before, one of the roles of the Society is to bring to the fore some of these lesser lights who sometimes get swept aside by musical titans of Bach, Mozart or Beethoven etc.

For those who want to know more there is a Website which tells you more and also lists recordings available on CD or for download.

Peter Curbishley

Re restarting

Zoom meeting planned

After the problems which we are all aware of, we were unable to restart earlier this month but the committee has been active in thinking up a solution.  So, on the 5th October at 7:30 pm, we shall be doing an experiment with Zoom and YouTube built around some early work by Sibelius.

This is an experiment of course and members are invited to get in touch with Committee member Ruth for details and the necessary links.  If you haven’t used Zoom before, it’s quite easy if you follow some fairly straightforward steps.  YouTube is likewise pretty easy.  You will need a little camera for your pc if that is your system: laptops and Apple machines have one installed, not all monitors do.  They are cheap at under £30 and you just plug it in.

You might need to ‘mute’ when someone is speaking because interference or noise builds up if you don’t.   Hover over the bottom of the screen and a microphone symbol will appear and you can ‘mute’ or ‘unmute’ by clicking it.

We look forward to as many of our members as possible joining this innovative solution in these troubled times.

We’re restarting!

We were planning to restart but new government restrictions and the rule of 6 has meant – along with many other organisations – we are unable to do so.  Various ideas are being looked at and the committee has a meeting this Friday (18 September) to look at options.  So for now, it means we shall not be restarting.

Previous post no longer valid.

[We shall be restarting on 5th October at a new venue!  This will enable us to meet Covid 19 requirements.  Details later today!]

New season starting

We hope to restart meetings in the Autumn

We need hardly note that the programme at the start of this year had to be abandoned so it is with pleasure that – tentatively at least – we hope to restart in the Autumn with a programme up to Christmas.  The first session will be on Monday 21 September and will be  The Legend of Orpheus and the Birth of Opera by Jeremy Barlow.

Starting at 7:30 as usual and at the usual place which if you haven’t been before is at the rear of the Guide’s Centre in St Ann St.  By car go down to the end of Exeter St and left before the roundabout into Carmalite Way.  Then left and almost back to St Ann St and there are some green gates on the left into a free car park.  Access is easy for those with disabilities.

It is a modest £3 for non-members.

Please keep an eye on this site or on Facebook in case we have to cancel.

Once we have finalised the remaining evenings we will post the full programme here.

Look forward to seeing you or welcoming new members in September!

Peter Curbishley

 

 

Rest of the season

Cancellation

Since our last email it has become clear that we are very unlikely to be able to resume any of our sessions this season, and so we have regretfully decided to cancel the rest of this season’s sessions.
We plan to re-schedule the two sessions with a presenter (Peter Horwood and Richard Langham Smith) into the 2020-21 season.
If it happens that things ease sufficiently in the next 2 months (one can but hope) we might look at arranging a session, perhaps a special members’ evening in June to round off the season.
The committee is endeavouring to prepare the 2020-21 programma which we hope will commence as usual in September 2020.
Meanwhile, I hope we all stay healthy and safe.

POSTPONED MEETING

We regret to say the meeting planned for Monday 23 March has been postponed because of the current Covid-19 situation.  Things are obviously changing fast – COBRA met this morning – so what happens in the future is in the lap of the gods.

We will let you know what we plan to do once we know more of what is going to happen.

PC

Next Meeting

Our next meeting will be on Monday 24th February at 7.30pm in our usual venue
where Jon Hampton, chair of Music in Salisbury and a good friend of our Society, will be presenting “From Art to Music – how great art has inspired great music”.

Jon will deliver a wide ranging survey of how great works of art have inspired composers to write great music with a few surprises in store.

I hope you will be able to attend.

Free parking outside the venue.  Only £3 for non-members.

Behold the sea …

It is perhaps not too surprising that an island nation should feature the sea in the compositions of its native composers.  Examples of these – from well known and some less well known composers – featured in the last meeting of the Society on 27 January 2020.

Society member Ed Tinline kicked of the second half of the season with a wide selection of pieces composed by British composers, all with the sea as their inspiration.

We started with part of Vaughan William’s Symphony No 1, A Sea Symphony composed in 1909.  Inspiration for the symphony came in part from Walt Whitman.  It was premiered when he was 38 and established him as a leading composer.

Brighton born Frank Bridge was next with his Symphonic Suite: The Sea composed in 1910.  Then a piece by Judith Weir with her Lament, Over the Sea from her The Bagpiper’s String Trio first performed in 1989.  Judith was the first woman to be appointed Master of the Queen’s Music.

Next – another woman – Ethyl Smyth with her Overture: The Wreckers from 1906.  I wrote ‘jaunty’ at one point with some interesting orchestral colours.  Dame Ethel Mary Smyth attained prominence as one of the most accomplished female composers in a male dominated environment, and as one of the main representatives of the suffragette movement.  Tchaikovsky said of her ‘[she] one of the few women composers whom one can seriously consider to be achieving something valuable in the field of musical creation’.  Source: British Library.

The first half ended with Arnold Bax’s On the Sea-shore And Elgar’s Sea Pictures.

The second half started with the unfamiliar Mass of the Sea composed by Paul Patterson composed in 1983.  Next was By the Sleepy Lagoon written at Selsey by Eric Coates – who like Frank Bridge, was born in Brighton – looking across the bay and is used as the theme for Desert Island Discs on Radio 4.

The Kent coast inspired David Matthew’s Overture: From Sea to Sky composed quite recently in 1992.  The Sea Interludes from Britten’s Peter Grimes are very familiar.  Interestingly, Britten was taught composition by Frank Bridge.

The penultimate piece was The Needles by Matthew Taylor commissioned by the LSE Music Society in 2000.  Finally we returned to Elgar and another of his Sea Pictures composed at the end of the nineteenth century.

A fascinating evening and a wide range of music based on this one idea.

Peter Curbishley


Next month’s meeting is Berlioz’s vocal music and is on Monday 10 February.