In recent years, I have been invited to give music presentations to some of the Recorded Music Societies in Surrey and am happy to offer presentations when asked. I do not charge a fee but would accept nominal travelling expenses if asked by a group too far outside my local area, which is centred around Epsom.
In most of my programmes, the emphasis is on 20th century or late 19th century symphonic music of the most accessible kind. I'm not so interested in the abrasive and tuneless twelve-tone or 'atonal' style. I prefer melody and harmony but do not shy away from loud or strongly rhythmic music. As well as orchestral works, I try to include some vocal, choral or chamber pieces by way of contrast but this isn't always appropriate. As I understand it, the point of recorded music societies is to widen our awareness of music rather than simply to listen to entire programmes of works that we already know, so I try to mix the two with the emphasis on the less familiar and avoid playing the obvious and better-known pieces. Here are the programmes currently on offer.
RARE AND EXOTIC ~ [This is one of two programmes of a general nature]
This is a programme of music by composers of different nationalities who we rarely hear. It is all music that is approachable and accessible to the broad-minded listener but which is seldom performed in the concert hall. Each of these pieces has its own distinctive voice and sometimes delves into modes and cultures that are not in our everyday experience. It would be possible to assemble many programmes like this, so this selection barely scratches the surface.
[Composers included in this programme: Laszlo Lajtha, Peggy Glanville-Hicks, Jean Sibelius, Alan Hovhaness, Rued Langgaard, Joly Braga Santos, Wojciech Kilar, Ildebrando Pizzetti, Carl Vine, Jean Coulthard and Alberto Ginastera.]
KALEIDOSCOPE ~ [This is the second programme of a general nature]
This presentation puts together some unusual and unlikely pieces that I hope will open some new avenues of musical investigation while at the same time making an entertaining programme. As usual, I've chosen composers who I feel we don't hear often enough, and whose works are individual in their moods, shapes and colours, just as we might see when we look into a kaleidoscope.
[Composers included in this programme: Philip Glass, Christopher Ball, Jean-Michel Damase, Poul Schierbeck, Wojciech Kilar, Ottorino Respighi, Nicolai Miaskovsky, Arthur Bliss, Yasushi Akutagawa, Jan Hanus, Georges Bizet, Andrzej Panufnik, Padraig O'Connor and Howard Flynn.]
OUT OF THE MISTS ~ [Music by Neglected English Composers]
I've called this programme 'Out of the Mists' for two reasons. Firstly because its intention is to bring into the light some of the riches of English symphonic music that we seldom hear due to the neglect of these composers. This neglect is mainly the legacy of just one man, Sir William Glock, who presided at the BBC as Controller of Music from 1959 to 1972. He was strongly against tonal and melodic music, which he regarded as outmoded, and preferred to promote those composers who had embraced the tenets of Arnold Schoenberg and the Second Viennese School with its rigid rules of composition. Glock's reign at the BBC has cast a long shadow and the tendency to dismiss melodic and tonal music persists to this day. I was tempted to call this programme 'Turning Back the Glock' but there is a second reason for the title 'Out of the Mists', which is in recognition of a singular quality that is peculiar to many English composers of the early 20th century ~ like Arnold Bax and John Ireland ~ whose music was often inspired by nature and an interest in a mystical, twilight world of folklore and fantasy.
[Composers included in this programme: John Ireland, George Lloyd, Walter Leigh, Arnold Bax, Arthur Bliss, Edmund Rubbra, Christopher Ball, David Morgan, Stanley Bate and Constant Lambert.]
AN ENGLISH IDYLL ~ [In a similar vein to 'Out of the Mists', see above]
In this programme I have gathered together a number pieces that I feel exemplify something of that golden age in English music that blossomed in the first half of the 20th century but which, after the Second World War, was largely overlooked in favour of 'serialism' and the new and abrasive twelve-tone school that was then emerging. I've tried to mix some less familiar names with the more prominent ones. [Composers included in this programme: Geoffrey Bush, Gerald Finzi, Robin Milford, Ralph Vaughan Williams, Sidney Torch, Arnold Bax, Arthur Bliss, Peter Warlock, Frank Bridge, Hubert Parry, Roger Quilter, E.J. Moeran and Ethel Smyth.]
A FRENCH SOJOURN
In this programme I present what I hope is a varied selection of pieces by French composers that evokes the spirit of France while bringing to the fore some of those names we seldom have an opportunity to hear in concerts. I'm conscious that there is so much interesting and accessible music that is all too often overlooked in favour of more obvious and popular pieces.
[Composers included in this programme: Albert Roussel, Jean Françaix, Lili Boulanger, Henri Rabaud, Andre Jolivet, Alberic Magnard, Germaine Tailleferre, Gabriel Pierné, Jean Langlais, Henri Dutilleux, Vincent d'Indy and Georges Delerue.]
AN ARCTIC DREAM ~ [Music from Norway, Sweden and Finland]
The Scandinavian region is rich with composers who we seldom hear. The inspirations for so many Nordic artists, be they composers, painters or writers, are the white nights of midsummer, the dramatic skies of the aurora borealis, dense forests, dark legends, trolls, and the sea. Another recurring theme is a longing for the Mediterranean climate. A good example of this is enshrined in the 2nd Symphony by the Swedish composer, Wilhelm Peterson-Berger, entitled 'Sunnanfard', meaning Southward Journey, which seeks to show how communion with southern climes brings a lighter and freer impulse to the darker northern spirit.
[Composers included in this programme: Wilhelm Peterson-Berger, Geirr Tveitt, Jean Sibelius, Yngve Sköld, Kalevi Aho, Dag Wiren, Johan Halvorsen, Aarre Merikanto, Lars-Erik Larsson, Kurt Atterberg, Gösta Nystroem and Halvor Haug.]
This programme presents music by composers, mostly of the Soviet era, who were censured under the regime but who, nonetheless, found ways to express their art. Of all my programmes it probably contains a higher proportion of what might be considered more challenging pieces, such as 'The Iron Foundry' by Mosolov and Tishchenko's 7th Symphony. Having said that, I often find that audience members come up to me afterwards and say how much they liked the pieces that I thought would be more challenging.
[Composers included in this programme: Alexander Mosolov, Dmitry Smolsky, Andrei Petrov, Gyorgy Sviridov, Serge Prokofiev, Boris Tchaikovsky, Boris Tishchenko, Fikret Amirov, Anatole Liadov, Loris Tjeknavorian, Serge Rachmaninov, Valentin Silvestrov and Dmitri Shostakovich.]
MUSIC FROM CZECHOSLOVAKIA
There are many riches to be found in Czech music and this programme is designed to bring to the fore several of the many neglected Czech composers whose names and music we never hear but whose music is full of enchantment, drama and melody.
[Composers included in this programme: Klement Slavicky, Bohuslav Martinů, Vitězslav Novák, Ondřei Kukal, Zdeněk Fibich, Leoš Janáček, Antonĭn Dvořák, Jan Hanus, Vladimĭr Godár and Josef Suk.]
MUSIC FROM THE ANTIPODES
We hear little or nothing of the wealth of Australian composers, some of whom studied in London at the prestigious Royal College of Music with such teachers as Ralph Vaughan Williams, as did also the ‘elder statesman’ of New Zealand’s classical music, Douglas Lilburn. This programme celebrates the music of twelve composers from the opposite side of the globe and encompasses a number of varied and innovative styles.
[Composers included in this programme: Douglas Lilburn, Eve de Castro Robinson, John Carmichael, Gerard Brophy, Nigel Westlake, Peggy Glanville-Hicks, Percy Grainger, Anthony Ritchie, Peter Sculthorpe, Lindley Evans, Richard Charlton and John Antill.]
THE SPIRIT OF THE DANCE
In my endeavour to capture The Spirit of the Dance, I've tried to demonstrate its varying styles, moods and purposes. Dance may be elegant, stately or ritualistic, joyful, elegiac or sensual. It may be presented on stage as ballet, performed by players in a village street, or more formally structured in a symphonic context. I've tried to include as many of its qualities as possible.
[Composers included in this programme: Maurice Duruflé, Hector Berlioz, Ralph Vaughan Williams, Malcolm Arnold, Carl Orff, Erik Satie, Gustav Holst, Irving Berlin, Frederic Curzon, Alan Hovhaness, Akira Ifukube, Claude Debussy, Philip Rosseter, William Alwyn, Dmitri Shostakovich and Leo Delibes.]
SOME RARE AND UNUSUAL CONCERTOS
This programme presents movements from concertos by a range of composers writing for unlikely instruments, from organ, guitar, percussion and contra-bassoon, to more conventional works that have been unaccountably neglected, such as the Piano Concerto by the 19th century composer, Alexis de Castillon.
[Composers included in this programme: Anthony Ritchie, Malcolm Arnold, Andrzej Panufnik, Christopher Ball, Kalevi Aho, Alexis de Castillon, Joseph Schwantner, Alan Hovhaness, Ralph Vaughan Williams and Lalo Schifrin.]
For a long time in the classical music world there was a lot of snobbery about film scores, which were usually dismissed in the same way that 'light music' was for so many years. But recently both have gained more acceptance and been recognised as the work of highly talented composers with a firm grasp of orchestral writing.
Two points should be borne in mind about film scores. Firstly, the music must serve the film. A composer might dream of developing his themes to take flight in any number of directions but he doesn't have that luxury because his music must fit the film literally to a fraction of a second. Secondly, writing the music for a film is one of the last acts in the film's creation and the composer is usually given no more than two or three weeks to come up with a fully orchestrated score ~ perhaps over an hour of music ~ that satisfies both the director and producers who have the final say. So film composing is a very precise and demanding art and the form that most film scores take is that of 'theme and variations', which is a perfectly legitimate form in classical music. It's also worth noting that there have been some very fine film scores written for some very mediocre films. The earliest film composers in Hollywood were refugees from Hitler's Reich: Franz Waxman, Max Steiner and Erich Korngold but the composers I've chosen are those who came after them and the films involved range from 1955 to 2009.
[Composers included in this programme: Alex North, John Barry, Thomas Newman, James Bernard, Georges Delerue, Miklos Rozsa, Laurence Rosenthal, George Fenton, Jerry Goldsmith, Wojciech Kilar, Howard Shore, Alexandre Desplat and Bernard Herrmann.]
MYSTERY AND MAGIC
Many composers have produced colourful music prompted by folklore, myths and fairy tales, while others have turned their attention to the mysteries of our universe and humanity’s place within it. This programme presents a wide variety of works with these mysterious and magical connections.
[Composers included in this programme: Jan Kaczmarek, Josef Suk, Maurice Ravel, John Corigliano, Anatole Liadov, Claude Debussy, Hector Berlioz, Henry Cowell, Dmitri Shostakovich, Johan Halvorsen, Serge Prokofiev, Charles Ives, Charles Koechlin and Igor Stravinsky.]
MEMORABLE MOMENTS IN MUSIC
This is a presentation of better-known and more popular repertoire, chosen from the entire range of classical music, from Haydn to Morton Gould.
[Composers included in this programme: Emil Reznicek, Maurice Ravel, Morton Gould, Ludwig van Beethoven, Gabriel Fauré, Jean Sibelius, Franz Joseph Haydn, Camille Saint-Saëns, César Franck, Richard Strauss, Henry Litolff, Edward Elgar and Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky.]
All programmes have a first part of 60 minutes and second part of 45 minutes.
A list of the content of each programme is always provided for anyone who would like one.