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The Winter Concert 2016

Saturday 19 November 2016
United Reformed Church,
Southernhay, Exeter

The Winter Concert 2016

Billy The Kid - Aaron Copland

Piano Concerto - Edvard Grieg (soloist: Samantha Ward)

Symphony No 3 - 'Espansiva' - Carl Nielsen

The Send Off - Paul Painter

This November's concert has great variety; an ever-popular classic concerto; Copland's well-known music surrounding the american hero Billy the Kid, and one of Nielsen's wonderfully expansive and expressive symphonies.We have played music by both Copland and Nielsen before, and the audience reception has been very warm and enthusiastic so we thought we would give you all some more.

MinJung Baek, who last played the Rachmaninov 2nd Concerto with us in November 2013 is unfortunately not able to appear on this occasion. However, we have the great pleasure of Samantha Ward instead. Regular ESO supporters will remember two fine concerto performances by this young lady in earlier seasons - the last being 2013.

   One of the leading British pianists of her generation, Samantha Ward has performed extensively around the UK and Europe, appearing on television and radio numerous times. At Piano Week 2015, Samantha joined forces to close the festival with one of the most distinguished pianists in the world, Stephen Kovacevich. The festival will tour internationally having been invited to Beijing in the summer of 2016. Other recent engagements include recital and concerto engagements around the UK.

No-one needs reminding of the unique and dramatic start to this wonderful concerto, and apart from its greatly deserved popularity there are endless moments of melodic writing that catch the imagination everytime - not least the haunting string melody at the start of the slow movement. The last time I conducted this concerto was in Mumbai in 2009 - six months after examining in the city - after personally being caught up in the notorious bombings of 2008.This was one of the concerts given in memory of the victims played by the Bombay Chamber Orchestra.

It was for the April 1912 Amsterdam performance that Nielsen wrote his most detailed account of the Sinfonia Espansiva, meticulously describing it movement by movement. He wrote of the pastoral second movement that it depicts "peace and calm in nature, interrupted only by the voices of a few birds, or what you will." Towards the end the rural calm and depth grows rather more concentrated (E-flat major) and from afar off one hears human voices; first a man's and later a woman's voice, - tonight these will be Alison Burnett and Martin Shaw - which once more disappear, and the movement ends in entirely unemotional calm (trance). "Billy the Kid" is a 1938 ballet written by the American composer Aaron Copland on commission from Lincoln Kerstein. Along with Rodeo and Appalachian Spring, it is one of Copland's most popular and widely performed pieces. The ballet is most famous for its incorporation of several cowboy tunes and American folk songs and, although built around the figure and the exploits of Billy the Kid, is not so much a biography of a notorious but peculiarly appealing desperado as it is a perception of the pioneer West, in which a figure such as Billy played a vivid role. In this performance we are playing the orchestral suite usually played, and taken from the ballet.

The November concert is of course always around or close to Remembrance day and it is with great pleasure that we shall be performing a song for baritone and orchestra by a one time member of the orchestra, and a musician who is very well known in musical circles in the West Country - Paul Painter. The Send Off is another reminder of the demands and tragedy of war - particularly in this time of remembering the horror of one of the worst battles - the Somme. With this remembrance in mind we shall be playing the music by Laura Rossi to the reworked 1916 film of the preparations and battle in one of the 100 Somme concerts around England this year and until July 2017. Ours will be in Exeter Cathedral on Saturday February 11th with a short talk by IWM professor and the composer - look out for further details on this site soon.