Without a doubt one of the most extravagant opera productions I have been involved in and it’s still ‘only’ a concert performance: Unsuk Chin’s 2007 opera Alice In Wonderland has just been performed in America and has been brought here to the Barbican for a one-off outing with the BBC. I am appearing with the BBC Singers as the chorus, dressed variously as businessmen, huntsmen and jurors.
The last few days of music rehearsals have given us a taste of Unsuk Chin’s texturally opulent score. Yesterday’s technical rehearsal revealed the ambition of Netia Jones’ staging. In the middle of this maelstrom of imagination, design and technical adventure there is a first-rate cast performing (by any standards) difficult music with elan and tremendous wit. The performance will be broadcast on BBC Radio 3 on 11 July.
Yesterday I took part in a concert of music by Schumann, Reger, Rheinberger, Wolf, Brahms… well, in fact I wasn’t involved in the main body of the programme with music by all these composers. I joined the BBC Singers in two pieces topping and tailing the programme: Schoenberg’s Friede auf Erden and Richard Strauss’ Deutsche Motette. These are two choral works utterly representative of each composer’s idiom (the former of his pre-serial, high romantic vernacular). Even though we were giving the concert in the Guildhall School’s new Milton Court venue, which seats only a few hundred, the scope of the music is grand and the sentiment all-embracing. The concert was broadcast live on BBC Radio 3 (you can listen again on iPlayer for the next week here).
This week I have been recording Norwegian, Finnish and Estonian choral music by Edvard Grieg, Einojuhani Rautavaara and Veljo Tormis with the BBC Singers peut on prendre viagra. This included a range of folk-song-like settings and Rautavaara’s direct and dramatic appropriation of the Magnificat. Naturally, this meant some very intense language coaching and, in my case, bringing the low bass notes that characterise a fair bit of music from these areas. We made the recording at St. Paul’s Church, Knightsbridge for broadcast at a later date.
Last night I was involved in a seasonally glittering Opera Rara project-concert at the Royal Festival Hall in the middle of an incredibly busy pre-Christmas south bank. Fantasio is, even by Opera Rara’s standards, a rather obscure affair that provides a vehicle for pantomime-grade characterisation with some super melody snuck in; barcorolles and the can-can are both as unmistakable and yet evanescent as Parisian perfume. As ever there was international-class singing from the principal cast and even conductor Sir Mark Elder got in on the act with spoken and sung cameos from the rostrum, delighting the audience. I was singing in the chorus.
The concert also functions as an advertisement for the recording of the opera, made during the week’s rehearsals prior to the event, which will be released in 2014.
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A month ago I took part in a recording session for music to a Christmas advert for the supermarket chain Morrisons as part of the ensemble Heritage Voices. The ad is now published and features the Northumbrian double act Ant & Dec as the ‘guests’ of a singing gingerbread man acheter viagra en pharmacie. Though we didn’t know this crucial element of the ad’s aesthetics prior to recording the vocals, I think we’ve managed a winning soundtrack for this Christmas commerical.
<a href="http://cheyneyk.files achat le viagra.wordpress.com/2013/08/macbeth_score.jpg”>This week I am involved in a recording of Verdi’s Macbeth, an operatic treatment of Shakespeare’s play. The recording is being made, nominally, by English National Opera with Edward Gardner conducting (though I am appearing as part of a hired-in chorus under ENO’s umbrella).
Rather excitingly, I have taken a tiny ‘step-out’ role in this recording, singing the First Apparition in a characteristically spooky scene from the opera in which Macbeth (sung by Simon Keenlyside) receives cryptic visions of his future.
During this year’s annual journey to Edinburgh for Bach’s B Minor Mass with Ludus Baroque we also recorded Handel’s little-known masque The Triumph of Time and Truth. There are a fair number of choruses, many of which punctuate solo passages and one of which is itself an aggregation of short solo parts. The recording was made by the local Delphian Records, who recorded the Alexander’s Feast in which I was involved on a previous visit.
Last night I was involved in a concert of the music of Benjamin Britten (in this his 100th anniversary year), singing as part of the BBC Singers. We had joined forces with the Romsey Choral Society, a Winchester-based ensemble whose director, Jamie W. Hall, is a member of the BBC Singers. In addition to a selection of choral works by Britten we also performed a new piece by Hall (to words by another mutual colleague, Reuben Thomas). The programme was given as part of the education wing of the Singers’ work and was introduced and conducted by Paul Brough.
This evening I took part in a modest concert given over to Baroque mass settings by the Italian Antonio Lotti. Taking a form (concertante) familiar to that of the more celebrated setting of the Gloria by Vivaldi, Lotti’s Kyrie in C Minor, Gloria in G Major and Credo in G Minor – performed in one as a Mass reconstruction – use all or just a few of a full choral and string ensemble, with occasional obbligato oboe and trumpet.
The performance at Grosvenor Chapel was given by the editor of the music we were using, Ben Byram-Wigfield, in a specially convened ensemble called the Buon Tempi Consort. And yes, we did have a good time.
UPDATE 5 May 2013: The concert was recording for promotional purposes and may be heard here.
This week I am working with a choir convened by Oxford University Press largely from the choir English Voices (right) to record a number of different works to be published in the coming year. The CD will be a sampler of the material to promote the music and sell copies of the choral parts. Composers include Bob Chilcott, Malcolm Archer, John Rutter, Libby Larsen and Jussi Chydenius.