TORBAY SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA
Leader: Chris Eastman
Conductor and Musical Director: Richard Gonski
Live 5’s – A Weekend Festival of Classical Music
Concerts, Recitals, Workshops, Talks, Masterclasses
The Ariel Centre, Totnes
Saturday 3rd & Sunday 4th December, 2022
Saturday 3rd December
9.30am - 12.30pm
Composer Workshop with Tom Vignieri and SaMM students
2.00pm - 5.00pm
Open Rehearsal with the TSO (Vignieri, Webern, Shostakovich)
6.30pm - 7.00pm
Pre-Concert Talk: Pathways in 20th Century Music
Anton Webern: Symphony op. 21
Tom Vignieri: American Suite for String Orchestra and Tenor Saxophone
Shostakovich: Symphony No. 5
Sunday 4th December
10.00am - 11.30am
Piano Masterclass with Catherine Miller
12.00pm - 1.00pm
Piano Recital - Henry Lewis - Beethoven Sonata op. 10
2.00pm - 5.00pm
Open Rehearsal with the TSO
6.00pm - 7.00pm
Beethoven 5 Explained (with LIVE orchestra)
Beethoven: Symphony No. 5 in C minor
Beethoven: Piano concerto No. 5 ‘The Emperor’ in Eb Major
Welcome to this weekend of music with the Torbay Symphony Orchestra. We hope you enjoy it!
In the TSO strapline we have the words: classical - contemporary - community. Each of them means a great deal to us – classical music is the bond that ties us all together; contemporary highlights our desire to perform new music, but also to embrace new ways of performing and presenting it; and community reflects our wish to include our community in everything we do.
The programming over the weekend embraces all three of these ideas – Saturday is all 20th century – Anton Webern’s seminal Symphony op. 21 and Shostakovich’s 5th Symphony. Tom Vignieri’s ‘American Suite’ links into the community heading too – he is a local composer and we are totally delighted to be playing his music. The soloist is Andy Williamson who is the inspiration behind the Ashburton Arts Centre. Tom will also give a composer workshop to SaMM students, the local Saturday Morning Music School which runs at KEVICC every week.
Sunday is devoted to Beethoven with an evening concert of the 5th Symphony and the 5th Piano Concerto as well as a recital by our soloist at 12pm and ‘Beethoven 5 Explained’ with the TSO at 6pm. A masterclass with renowned piano teacher Kate Miller at 10am gives some of our younger musicians a chance to shine and to benefit from her immense experience, knowledge and musicianship.
In the current climate where creativity and the arts have all but been stripped from the curriculum in our primary and secondary schools and where the arts are marginalised in our public life, it is up to all of us, young people, musicians, teachers, music lovers and audiences to come together and do our utmost to keep that flame alive – hence this weekend as a small offering towards that manifestation of music, creativity and community.
Thank you for being part of it!
Symphony op. 21 – 1928
Anton Webern (1883 – 1945)
Arnold Schoenberg turned the Classical music world upside down in the early 20th century. Acknowledging that the musical language of tonality had been pushed to breaking point, he created a new framework of pitch organisation, often called the 12 tone or dodecaphonic system. In essence, the 12 tone framework states that all notes are equal and the concept of a key (like C Major) no longer applies. The 12 notes in an octave are arranged in a ‘tone row’ and this series of notes becomes the root from which the whole work grows.
These ideas were not universally welcomed by audiences or musicians, and many people still struggle with his music and the system more than a 100 years later. Many musicians reject it as being arbitrary and unnatural. Many audience members simply hate it, labelling it as dissonant and unfathomable.
This is unfortunate as Schoenberg was an unbelievably gifted composer and, more importantly, 12 tone music can be very beautiful. Schoenberg’s early works (before his ‘atonal’ period) are late romantic, gorgeous and beautiful and didn’t raise an eyebrow – try Gurrelieder or Verklärte Nacht if you don’t believe me. The idea that he suddenly became a ‘bad’ or ‘poor’ composer when he embraced the 12 tone system is not borne out by the evidence.
Luckily for us, he did have two phenomenally talented pupils (Anton Webern and Alban Berg) who unreservedly adopted dodecaphony and laid the foundations of serialism which was an inevitable outcome of the original idea. (In music, serialism is a composition using series of pitches, rhythms, dynamics, timbres or other musical elements.)
Berg and Webern were chalk and cheese – whereas Berg wrote music that was dense, complex and ultra-romantic, Webern’s music was minimal, concise and classical in the extreme. All of his works fit on to three CDs. Of the two, it was Webern whose influence was greatest – he was the hero and poster boy for the group of post 2nd WW composers who dominated musical composition in the 50’s and 60’s. (Think Boulez, Stockhausen, Nono, Babbit.)
Webern was tragically killed at the end of WW2 when he stepped out of his house in Vienna to have a cigarette and was shot in error by an American soldier.
That’s the background.
The music itself is in two movements and the whole ‘Symphony’ only lasts about ten minutes. The brevity points directly to the essence of Webern’s music – a whole universe condensed into a small space, each note a ‘sound sculpture’ or ‘sound object’ floating like a planet in a galaxy, held in place by the rules of 12 tone structure and system. The orchestration is minimal too – strings (but no double basses), two French horns, a Bb clarinet and a Bass clarinet. That’s it.
The first movement is in Sonata form, but you will struggle to follow that structural plan. Neither will you be able to discern the tone rows and their various manifestations, unless that is, you are willing to sit down and analyse each note.
What you can hear is the narrative – swooping intervals both downward and upward which are a dominant feature in the first movement especially; repetition of little phrases which are passed around between the instruments – I have an image of a plate of delicacies being passed around at a banquet with each guest (instrument) savouring the taste and texture of each offering before passing it on; stunningly beautiful sounds which hover magically in the air; an energy flow that ebbs and flows; and you may even discern the mirror images that are integral to this particular piece – phrases which are played forwards and then mirrored backwards or played upside down.
The second movement is easier to grasp – a theme and seven variations with a little coda at the end. After the statement of the theme, you can hear the change from one variation to the next clearly, as each variation has its own personality, energy, texture and orchestration. Each variation is only 11 bars long – 5 bars forward, a middle bar with a pause before and after, and a further 5 bars which are an exact mirror image of the first five. This movement is full of these little balancing acts, both horizontally and also vertically – i.e. between both like and dissimilar instruments. Everything is worked out to the last dot – a perfect construction manifested in sound. Webern was tremendously proud of this work, calling it the first work to be perfectly balanced in every respect.
I hope you will enjoy traveling with us to some near and also some distant points in space….
American Suite for String Orchestra and Tenor Saxophone
Soloist: Andy Williamson – Tenor Sax
1.Walk with me
3.God only knows
The American Suite began as a commission for the inaugural season of the Ashburton Chamber Music Festival in the summer of 2019. I was approached by music director David Yang and Ashburton Arts Centre impresario Andy Williamson to write a piece for the festival string quartet, formed of players from the US and Europe, and featuring Andy on tenor saxophone. An unconventional ensemble to say the least and one which required a slightly different approach as the piece was to contain both written and improvisatory elements.
The solution came in the form of a traditional Gospel tune, "Walk With Me", which I’d heard sung in a moving NY Times documentary called “Into the Deluge” about the devastation of Hurricane Harvey that hit the US Gulf Coast in 2017. It was a powerful use of music and, it occurred to me, a perfect vehicle in which to spin out a piece that both conveyed the soulfulness of the song and allowed for improvised solos on the sax.
The successful premiere that summer meant I would be looking to add future movements using this combination and hence a suite was born based upon different genres of American music.
For the 2020 festival I chose as a subject the iconic 1960s era Beach Boys tune "God Only Knows” to convey the essence of American pop music. The song contains a wealth of wonderful musical material and inventive techniques such as vocal rounds which lent themselves beautifully to treatment by sax and string quartet, resulting in a piece where recognition slowly unfolds on the listener and which celebrates the joy of a song singled out by many songwriters as a personal favourite.
The 3rd movement of the suite (appearing here as the middle movement) was written for the 2022 festival this past summer. In thinking of America’s contributions to the world of music it struck me that musical theatre, and in particular Leonard Bernstein’s West Side Story, would make for a sublime addition to the suite. But whereas “Walk With Me” is full of original material and “God Only Knows” is the reimagining of a celebrated song for chamber ensemble, “Somewhere” is simply an arrangement of some of Bernstein's most aching ballads including Tonight, Maria and Somewhere, realised by this compelling combination of instruments (and conductor).
It’s worth noting that tonight’s performance is a premiere, having been invited by Richard Gonski and the Torbay Symphony Orchestra to make a transcription of the string quartet for orchestral strings. A wonderful opportunity to expand the suite's palette of colour and sound.
Symphony No. 5 – 1937
Dmitri Shostakovich (1906 – 1975)
- Allegro non troppo
In a rare contrast to the usual pattern of a composer’s reputation which plummets after their death, the music of Dmitri Shostakovich is now more widely played and respected than it was during his lifetime, a change paralleled by radical political reassessment of the composer. The publication, in 1979, of the book Testimony, subtitled “The memoirs of Dmitri Shostakovich, as related to, and edited by, Solomon Volkov”, was a major turning point in this reappraisal, revealing a deeply embittered man whose music bristled with undercurrents of dissent. Although much in the book has been disputed and not resolved, many close associates of the composer, including his son and grandson, (who both left the Soviet Union) have confirmed the portrait of a composer who, having been repeatedly condemned and ostracised by his government, had become deeply hostile, using his music to point up messages which other artists were unable to make. He is reported in Testimony as observing “Music has a great advantage, without mentioning anything it can say everything”.
In his early years, Shostakovich was closely associated with the artistic world of Petrograd (later Leningrad) at a time when the Revolution had released an extraordinary wealth of artistic talent and energy where artists worked together across a wide range of fields. Having graduated from the Leningrad Conservatoire with his wildly successful First Symphony, Shostakovich collaborated with the theatre director Meyerhold and wrote his first film score New Babylon, at the same time supporting his family by playing piano in cinemas. His first Opera, The Nose, is a biting satire. The second Lady Macbeth, dedicated to his first wife, is enormously significant. Here are the first signs of the mature Shostakovich; the music has tremendous range and is superbly orchestrated. The work was premiered in Leningrad in 1934 and played to packed houses and official approval for two years. In 1936 a new production was planned in Moscow; Joseph Stalin attended the performance on 27 January and was infuriated by the work. The following morning the famous editorial "Chaos instead of Music" appeared in Pravda "From the first minute the listener is shocked by a deliberately discordant confused stream of sounds... All this is coarse, primitive and vulgar". Actually it is no such thing, being by turns, tender and intimate, harsh and satirical and looks forward to the Fourth and Fifth Symphonies. Within a week, a second editorial in Pravda condemned Shostakovich’s music for the ballet The Limpid Stream.
The savagely attacked composer withdrew his completed Fourth Symphony while it was in rehearsal, and when the Fifth Symphony appeared, it earned the subtitle, "The Soviet artist’s creative reply to just criticism". The premiere rehabilitated the composer and he survived the subsequent purges, though he kept a suitcase packed at all times expecting to be arrested in the night. In Testimony again he observed “Awaiting execution is a torment that has tormented me all my life, many pages of my music are devoted to it”, and also “I haven’t forgotten the terrible pre-war years, that is what all my symphonies, beginning with the Fourth, are about”.
During the war, his Seventh and Eighth Symphonies drew international acclaim; the satirical post-war Ninth was entirely unexpected. Stalin launched a fresh attack, Shostakovich, along with many others, was criticised for "Formalism in music" and withheld any further serious works. After Stalin's death ("the happiest day of my father's life" according to his son) the First Violin Concerto, written five years earlier, and Tenth Symphony, appeared. His second marriage was not a success, but his third wife Irina gave him great support as his health declined. Shostakovich concentrated on chamber and vocal music, setting Yevtushenko's indictment of evil, Babi Yar, in his Thirteenth Symphony, which the authorities attempted to prevent being premiered and then banned. His last works, including the Fifteenth Symphony, Fifteenth Quartet and Suite on Verses by Michelangelo are permeated with thoughts of death and the transitoriness of human life.
When the Fifth Symphony first appeared, it seemed to be a complete break with the composer’s far more experimental Second and Third Symphonies. Not until Lady Macbeth and the Fourth Symphony (premiered twenty five years after it was completed) became widely known did audiences fully appreciate that the Fifth Symphony formed part of Shostakovich‘s ongoing development as a composer. Both symphonies show how far he had assimilated the influence of Mahler, whose music was heard widely in the Soviet Union during the 1920s, but not much thereafter. In parallel with Mahler, Shostakovich had the ability to present close juxtapositions of extreme contrasts and weld them into an integral whole.
Shostakovich was equally adept at leaving subversive ambiguities in his music which could point up a message, without stating it explicitly. In January 1937, before he began work on the symphony, Shostakovich wrote four Romances on verses of Alexander Pushkin for Bass and Piano, Op. 46, which he then subsequently kept secret and didn’t release until 1940 . The opening song Rebirth sets the text
A barbarian-artist, with a sleepy brush,
Blackens over a picture of genius.
And his lawless drawing
Scribbles meaninglessly upon it.
But with the years the alien paints
Flake off like old scapes:
The creation of genius appears before us
In its former beauty.
Thus do delusions fall away
From my worn-out soul,
And there spring up within it
Visions of original, pure days.
Much of the music reappeared, in more anguished form, in the Finale of the Fifth Symphony, in particular, the four note phrase which sets the opening words Barbarian-artist coincides in pitch with the opening of the march theme of the Finale and the lilting accompaniment to the third verse also remerged in the Finale. Shostakovich wearing a mask for the Party faithful and revealing the truth behind it to himself.
In Testimony, Solomon Volkov quotes the composer as saying "I think it is clear to everyone what happens in the fifth. It's as if someone were beating you with a stick saying ‘your business is rejoicing, your business is rejoicing', and you rise shakily and go off muttering 'Our business is rejoicing, our business is rejoicing"'.
Programme notes provided by Making Music / Dominic Nudd, October 2018
Symphony No. 5 in C minor (1808)
Ludwig van Beethoven (1770 – 1827)
Everybody knows the opening to Beethoven’s 5th. Three short notes and a long one. What follows the initial statement of this iconic musical sound object is often less well known or appreciated.
In this symphony, Beethoven lays out the compositional highway for the rest of the 19th century. The headline is the unification of the disparate movements of a symphony into a single unit. The opening
ta-ta-ta-taa of the symphony becomes a building block not only for the whole of the first movement, but for the other three movements as well. In the third and fourth movements it is stated quite literally, in the second a little more subtly but nevertheless there.
Beethoven takes this idea much further in the last movement of the 9th Symphony when he quotes from the first, second and third movements in the final choral movement.
The second big innovation is the seamless transition from the third to the fourth movement. There is no break between the two – instead, a magical and extended passage of hushed strings underpinned by a persistent, pulsing timpani suddenly erupts into the last movement.
Beethoven used this idea in the 6th Symphony too, transitioning from the storm movement into the finale without a break.
These ideas of cross-referencing thematic ideas and breaking down movement demarcations and structures were subsequently adopted by many 19th century composers, but in particular Schumann and then Wagner. Wagner introduced the idea of the ‘leitmotif’ in his operas – themes that ‘belong’ to characters, but also objects and even emotions – e.g. the love motif from Tristan and Isolde or the sword motif in the Ring cycle. Richard Strauss took it even further with his tone poems – essentially symphonies in one movement. The seeds were sown here – in the 5th Symphony.
Having said all that, each movement of the symphony inhabits its own unique world. The first is made up entirely of that opening theme – from start to finish it pulses relentlessly with that one idea as its motor. Even the second theme has it (you’ll hear it in the horns). It is like being on a rollercoaster – no time to catch your breath until the end.
The second movement is just sublime and a total contrast. Serene, stately, and with a very strong emotional undercurrent. It is a narrative, a conversation between different sections of the orchestra and an opportunity for Beethoven to give the woodwinds equal prominence with the strings. This is something (the independence of the woodwinds) he had been working towards in the first four symphonies – in the Eroica it is the oboe that shines, in the fourth it is the clarinet. But here, in this movement there are whole passages where the flutes, oboes, clarinets and bassoons have the whole stage to themselves, leaving the strings to respond once they have made their point. The second subject with trumpets and woodwinds hints at the triumphant nature of the fourth movement still to come.
The third movement abandons all pretence of being a ballroom minuet, its traditional role in a symphony. Beethoven more or less invented the Scherzo, a much faster, more rhythmic take on the ¾ dance rhythm of the minuet - it is hard to see Viennese aristocrats gliding across the ballroom floor to that kind of energetic impulse. The third movement of the Eroica is a great example.
Here though, he re-invents the form completely – labelled with a simple ‘Allegro’, it has an elegant opening idea which is definitely still dance-like, followed by the ta-ta-ta-taa of the first movement, played in full voice by the horns. These two ideas are repeated twice more - with each repetition, the themes and accompaniments acquire embellishments, extra notes and a more florid style. The trio, traditionally a much more gentle and relaxed counter-weight to the minuet theme, is instead a frantic rush of notes played by the cellos, followed by a burst of fugal counterpoint. When the minuet theme returns it is played by pizzicato strings with little interjections from the woodwinds. This is a wonderful example of Beethoven’s genius – instead of ending the movement as it began, he presents the return of the opening theme in a hushed, delicate environment, preparing the way for the music to sink into the magic of timpani and strings mentioned above.
Beethoven leaves his last big surprise for the very end. Traditionally, a symphony will end in the key it started in – so this symphony’s last movement should be in C minor – but – it is in C Major instead, befitting the triumphal and celebratory nature of the movement as a whole. To our 21st century ears, this is not a big deal – but in 1808 it certainly would be! We are back on the roller coaster, hurtling along at full speed until the final coda which ends in the longest ‘The End’ in musical history. It is totally appropriate – the journey through this massive symphony, full of innovation, breadth of emotion and style could only be brought to an end with an extended foot on the brakes.
Perhaps, if you see the programme for the concert in Vienna which premiered the 5th Symphony in 1808, you will get some inkling of who Beethoven was. Apart from the 5th Symphony, it included the premiere of the 6th Symphony (the Pastoral), the 4th Piano Concerto, the choral fantasy, some arias and an improvisation by Beethoven on the piano just before the interval. The concert went on for 4 ½ hours and apparently it was freezing….
Piano Concerto No. 5 in Eb Major, the ’Emperor’ (1811)
Ludwig van Beethoven (1770 – 1827)
Soloist: Henry Lewis - Piano
Allegro - Adagio un poco mosso - Rondo: Allegro
The name Emperor for this concerto was not Beethoven's own (it comes from the piano maker and London publisher J B Cramer and is not used in German-speaking countries). No citizen of Vienna at the turn of the 19th century would have called any work Der Kaiser or L'Empereur, especially in the year 1809, when the concerto was written, during which Napoleon, hurrying back from Spain, advanced on the rebellious Austrians, crushed them on the Danube and bombarded the walls of Vienna. Much less would Beethoven have considered a title which would imply any link with the man, the dedication to whom Beethoven scratched roughly from the title page of the Eroica symphony on hearing of Napoleon's self-proclamation as Emperor.
During the bombardment of Vienna, Beethoven fled to his brother's house, took refuge in the cellar and covered his ears with pillows to reduce the noise. On July 29, he wrote to the publisher Breitkopf und Härtel,
"We have passed through a great deal of misery. I tell you that since May 4, I have brought into the world little that is connected; only here and there a fragment. The whole course of events has affected my body and soul…. What a disturbing, wild life around me; nothing but drums, cannons, men, misery of all sorts."
On emerging, he had to content himself with shaking his fist behind the backs of French officers in the street. Under the circumstances nobody could have been expected to write music at all, yet Beethoven managed to complete a string quartet, more than one piano sonata, some songs and most of this concerto.
The concerto marked more than one turning point in Beethoven’s life. On 1 March 1809, while he was composing, three of his patrons, the Archduke Rudolph, Prince Lobkowitz and Prince Kinsky, signed a document that provided Beethoven with a lifetime income and a pension for his old age. This freed the composer from financial worry and allowed him to stop taking on the pupils in whom he had had no interest. The Concerto also marked the close of the performing phase of the composer's life. Like Mozart, and many others, before him, Beethoven had made his first impression on the fickle Viennese pubic as a performer. His first four concerti were composed, like Mozart's, for his own use, and were premièred by him. By the time of the Fifth Concerto, which was also his final concerto in any form, Beethoven knew his deafness was too advanced for him to be the soloist, and he all but withdrew from public appearances. The first performance took place in Leipzig on 28 November, 1811, with Friedrich Schneider as soloist. In the only two performances of the Concerto given in Vienna in Beethoven's lifetime, in February 1812, and again in April 1818, the pianist was his celebrated pupil Carl Czerny. Beethoven was particularly anxious that the concerto did not become subject to the whims and improvisations of the great piano virtuosi who were becoming a feature of concert life at the time, so he wrote out the solo part in full, for the first time, together with the cadenza he wanted.
The first movement opens with three tremendous flourishes in the home key of E flat, to firmly establish it, before the orchestra settles down to the first subject of this epic movement. The entrance of the piano is prefaced only by a single orchestral chord, the soloist makes a brief sweep of arpeggios and broken scales, and then the orchestra launches the assertive theme. The discourse that follows ranges from the epic to the most intimate exchanges between the piano and various wind instruments. Beethoven appended the note to his written out cadenza, “Do not make a cadenza [i.e., do not improvise one of your own], but attack the following immediately”.
The Adagio moves into a remote key, hinted at briefly in the first movement, with a slow rapt melody. The piano decorates this with gentle improvisatory flourishes. At the end the bassoons introduce a startling change of key, the horn holds this new note, the piano then ventures a new reflective phrase, which is suddenly transformed into the main subject of the final rondo. Near the end the drums appear to beat down the piano, threatening the emerging harmony and order, but the piano triumphs and whirls the music to a close.
Programme notes provided by Making Music/Dominic Nudd, October 2018
Andy Williamson, Tenor Saxophone
I had not a clue, a dream or even a wildest imagining, those Saturday afternoons in the 1970s watching the Pink Panther cartoon on BBC1 after Grandstand, and thinking “I want to play that instrument” that nearly 50 years later, I’d have been playing the tenor saxophone for nearly 40 years, professionally for over 30 and that it would have been my companion while travelling solo around the world, and that along the way it would have unlocked so many doors to so many beautiful experiences. It’s taken me to countless parties and celebrations, to broadcast and recording studios, to stages from London’s South Bank Centre and 100 Club to the Edinburgh Fringe, the Famous Spiegeltent and Buckingham Palace gardens. I’ve played it in street bands, big bands, small bands, while walking from the edge to the centre of a deserted, empty Millennium Dome (a very odd experience!) and now with the strings of Torbay Symphony Orchestra in Tom Vignieri’s wonderful music.
My musical journey started as a child, getting notes out of any instrument I could get my hands on, then starting violin lessons at school with Mr Lovell (all free in those days) and piano lessons at home on Wednesday night with Miss Blackett. As a teenager, more free lessons at school on clarinet and singing came along and all these took me to playing viola (I found the best place to sit) in youth orchestras and singing in choirs, plus a bit of conducting while at university. When a job in the local newsagent came along, aged about 15, it meant I could put a down-payment on a tenor sax at Windows Music Shop in Darlington. Dad signed the HP papers and I knew enough music theory to start teaching myself to play. After a few months I signed up for a big band workshop with Durham Youth Jazz Orchestra – I can still remember the adrenaline rush I got when we played the first phrase together. Even though I’d played in large orchestras already, this was something else! An amazing, enormous sound that I still love. That band was my introduction to playing jazz, and then improvisation! As Daniel Barenboim said in his first BBC Reith Lecture in 2006, “Improvisation is the highest form of art for me…” and that’s how it’s been for me. Combining written music, where someone’s composed the harmonies and some melodies with the freedom to play whatever you can think of in the moment, as happens in some sections of Tom’s American Suite, and every night on a jazz gig, is just one of my favourite things to do and to hear. It doesn’t always quite work out the way you want it to, but when it does there’s such a sense of spontaneous perfection. The joy that goes with that is what keeps me playing this old Conn sax that was built in 1930. I hope I manage to share some of it with you.
Andy Williamson is Arts Director of Ashburton Arts Centre, where wonderful performances and arts of all kinds happen several times every week. See ashburtonarts.org.uk. He also directs Bristol Jazz Festival Chorus. As a saxophonist, he was part of the craziness that was The Honkin’ Hep Cats, which led to the Big Buzzard Boogie Band. He plays klezmer with Gustav Bensel Hot Club named after his great-great-great grandfather.
Henry Lewis, Piano
Henry Lewis was born in the Somerset countryside into a family of artists. He is the recipient of multiple awards including, most recently, the Royal Northern College of Music’s Gold Medal 2022. He was also presented with the Marjorie Clementi Award for Keyboard Studies at the RNCM and was recently selected as a participant in the XXIII. Internationale Johann-Sebastian-Bach- Wettbewerb Leipzig.
Henry has performed both solo and chamber music recitals extensively across the UK. Most notably in 2015, he had the pleasure of performing Bach’s Keyboard Concerto in F minor at renowned concert venue St George’s Bristol. More recently, in the summer of 2019 he gave a performance of the solo piano works of Adam Gorb (Head of Composition at the RNCM), including several world premieres over two concerts at the Stoller Hall in Manchester, as part of the Chetham’s International Piano Festival.
During the 2020 lockdown Henry dedicated a significant part of his time to the research and performance of Michael Tippett’s Piano Concerto and has since received guidance on the work from Steven Osborne. He also takes great joy in thinking and writing about music, and as part of the RNCM’s Insights Series, was invited by the college to conduct an hour long interview with Pierre-Laurent Aimard.
Henry started playing the piano at the age of six, and until 2018 was a pupil of Catherine Miller in Bristol. He subsequently studied at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester with Helen Krizos and Murray McLachlan, and is currently pursuing a masters degree at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London under the guidance of Charles Owen. He has been fortunate enough to participate in masterclasses from several renowned artists including Angela Hewitt, Jean-Efflam Bavouzet, Philippe Cassard, Peter Donohoe and Joanna Macgregor.
Henry is the Innholders’ Scholar at GSMD and is generously supported by Help Musicians UK, and the Countess of Munster Musical Trust as the recipient of a Derek Butler Award.
American composer and classical music producer, Tom Vignieri, served as director of the Boston University Tanglewood Institute, a summer program for young artists held in conjunction with the Boston Symphony Orchestra’s Tanglewood Music Center in Lenox, Massachusetts, and as artistic administrator of the Handel and Haydn Society, a professional chorus and period instrument orchestra based in Boston, working with conductors Christopher Hogwood and Grant Llewellyn.
Tom then spent 12 years as music director of From the Top, a nationally distributed radio program on NPR showcasing America’s best young classical musicians. As a producer of the PBS television series From the Top at Carnegie Hall which grew out of the radio show, Tom received a Daytime Emmy award for Outstanding Children’s Series.
As a composer he’s written choral, orchestral and chamber works for ensembles throughout the US and in the UK with additional performances in Europe and Japan. Tom currently resides in Devon, England.
Richard Gonski – Conductor
Richard Gonski was born in South Africa. At the age of 14 he went to live in Israel, graduating from the Rubin Academy of Music in Jerusalem in 1982 where he studied flute with Chanoch Tel Oren, conducting with Mendi Rodan and theory, harmony and counterpoint with Yitzhak Sadai.
After attending conducting courses in Nice and Munich (with Sergiu Celibidace) he moved to London where he continued his flute studies with Gareth Morris, was Music Director of the Electric Symphony Orchestra and lecturer in Electronic Music at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama (1989 - 1996).
In 1996 he came to Devon; he has been Music Director of the Torbay Symphony Orchestra since 2000, was the conductor of the Exeter University Symphony Orchestra (2003 - 2015) and works with various chamber groups and ensembles both as performer and director. A committed and ardent advocate of contemporary music, Richard has been responsible for commissioning numerous works from living composers as well as the performance of repertoire from the 20th century to the current day. He has a special love for electroacoustic music and has composed many works for that medium.
Richard is passionate about providing music education for the younger generation and is currently director of SaMM, the Saturday Morning Music School in Totnes. He is a director of Thinking Arts (www.thinkingarts.com) which provides online courses in Music Appreciation for adults as well as online music education resources and coaching for all age groups. He is also a mentor for SWMS (South West Music School) and has an active music teaching practice.
Chris Eastman – Leader
Chris’ musical career has gone almost full circle, since he gained his earliest orchestral experiences with the South Devon and then the Devon Youth Orchestras whilst at school at Torquay Boys’ Grammar School. This gave him the opportunity to take part in international tours and high-profile concerts at the Royal Festival Hall and Royal Albert Hall.
He studied music at Manchester University where he developed a keen interest in contemporary music whilst playing in the University Symphony and Chamber Orchestras. In 2012, Chris re-trained as a music teacher, a career which makes more demands on his skill as a pianist and rock guitarist than as a violinist! Chris is a musical director of Denbury village choir and has been leader of the Torbay Symphony Orchestra since 2011. He plays his great grandmother’s 1898 John Marshall violin.
Torbay Symphony Orchestra is grateful to the following people and organisations for financial support and funding
- From Cllr J. Birch, through the South Hams Locality Community Fund
- From Cllr Jacqui Hodgson, through the Devon Locality Fund
(Cllr Hodgson is a great admirer of the orchestra and values its impact upon the community)
- Councillor Gordon Hook DCC
- Councillor J. Rose SHDC
- Kingskerswell Summer Moon Festival Trust contributed their usual generous donation
- The Elmgrant Trust who awarded the orchestra £1100 for the purchase of a new Tamtam and a new conductor’s podium
Torbay Symphony Orchestra Musicians
Chris Eastman - Leader
Josephine van Oers
Suzanne de Lozey
Jude Ellacott (Sunday)
Geoff Kerr (Saturday)
Marina van Kummer
THE CHEMISTRY QUARTET
String quartet based near Totnes, Devon specialising in tangos, pop covers and everything in between! Available for all occasions from weddings to birthday celebrations or just to add some live music to your special gathering. Find us on Facebook @TheChemistryQuartet
Contact: John 01803 762423 / 07855 501366
Or email: firstname.lastname@example.org