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Showing posts from May, 2018

CBSO and Lili Boulanger at Symphony Hall by Christopher Morley

Orchestra of the Swan at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire by Christopher Morley

Benjamin Grosvenor and Friends by Norman Stinchcombe

Joseph Calleja at Symphony Hall by Norman Stinchcombe

CBSO at Symphony Hall by Christopher Morley

Orchestra of the Swan at Birmingham Town Hall by Christopher Morley

Marvellous Mozart - CBSO at Symphony Hall by Maggie Cotton

HELLENSMUSIC Much Marcle May 16 and 17 by Christopher Morley

BBC Young Musician Final at Symphony Hall by Christopher Morley

C.B.S.O 2018 - 19 Season by Christopher Morley

Michael Poll at The Bramall, University of Birmingham by Norman Stinchcombe

Bartok's Piano Concerto - CBSO at Symphony Hall by David Hart

Bruckner Orchestra Linz at Symphony Hall by Norman Stinchcombe

Gloucester Choral Society at Gloucester Cathedral by Christopher Morley

Sir Lenny Henry at The Royal Birmingham Conservatoire by Christopher MorleyAnyone who has never seen a crabby old music critic smile and LOL should have been in the wonderful concert hall of Royal Birmingham Conservatoire last Friday, when Sir Lenny Henry had us all in stitches with his genial narration of Prokofiev's Peter and the Wolf. As Chancellor of Birmingham City University Sir Lenny could have been a mere attendee at this first concert of RBC's year-long Opening Festival. Instead he bounced onto the stage, throat-miked and relaxed, to join the RBC Pops Orchestra under conductor Christopher Houlding, bantering both with the maestro and the audience. He stuck to the original po-faced text, but enlivened it with a mischievous mixture of voices and accents, from Gornal Wood to Jamaica (actually drawing on his own West Indian and Dudley roots), as well as ad-libs  (even a reference to Nando's thrown in, as well as Dudley Zoo)) and gestures. And for all the clowning, this was an immensely musical performance, Henry phrasing with shape and point in response to Houlding's suave cueing, and the RBC students collaborating with professionalism, wit, and indeed nobility (the horns in the concluding procession). These young people launched the evening with a zinging Bernstein "Wonderful Town" Overture, their authentic show-biz pit sound and immense sense of style promising much for their future as possible session musicians. But a thought. There is an encouraging mix of international students  in the orchestra, a microcosm of the situation in all our universities. Is inward-looking little nationalism going to bring an end to this? *Broadcast on ClassicFM on May 11 (8pm). Christopher Morley

Edward Gardner and the CBSO by Christopher Morley

Royal Birmingham Conservatoire Chamber Choir St Oswald’s Church, Ashbourne, April 20 2018 by Richard Bratby

Mahler's Ninth-Simon Rattle and the LSO at Symphony Hall by Christopher MorleyAt the end of the mess which is Broad Street there is one of the world's finest concert-halls, opened 27 years ago for Simon Rattle and his then CBSO. On Tuesday Sir Simon returned with his "new" orchestra, the London Symphony, rare visitors to an acoustic to which that of the LSO's Barbican home cannot hold a candle. The players will have relished delivering this performance of Mahler's valedictory Ninth Symphony in an ambience in which the quietest hush, plaintive piccolo sustained over breathless strings, or the full brass phalanx could register with equal balance as this expressionistic score unfolded under Rattle's fluid baton. The LSO loves its decibels, but here it was allowed to explore those at the lower end of the scale. Mahler calls for a huge orchestra (the stage jutted out into a packed auditorium), yet so often pares everything down to just a few essentials. Solo viola was very much to the fore, as were solo horn, flute, clarinet, and so many others during this heartbreaking journey looking back through all previous eight of the composer's symphonies. Rattle, whose knowledge of them is peerless, made us gently aware of all the self-quotations while never grandstanding them. It's always good to have tension shimmering in an offering as mighty as this, and Rattle's command of structure and context ensured a reading which was both taut and anguished. Thank goodness no hoorayer broke the long appreciative silence at the end. Christopher Morley

Royal Birmingham Conservatoire -Opening Festival by Christopher Morley

The Parry Centenary Review by Christopher Morley