News Archive: July 2007
Tuesday August 14th at 7.30 p.m. in Palmerston Place Church, Edinburgh
BUXTEHUDE Prelude and fugue in G minor BuxWV 149
STANLEY Voluntary in C major
VIERNE Pastorale and Scherzetto [from 24 Pieces en style libre]
WEIR Ettrick Banks
BACH Trio Sonata no.1 in Eb major BWV 525
FRANCK Cantabile [from 3 Pieces]
BLINKO Sculpture [world premiere]
HOLLINS Pastorale and Grand Choeur no.2 in C major
Sunday August 26th at 5.15 p.m. in Ely Cathedral
PURCELL Trumpet Tune [King Arthur]
BUXTEHUDE Prelude and fugue in G minor BuxWV 149
VIERNE Pastorale and Carillon [from 24 Pieces en style libre]
BLINKO Free the Spirit and Sculpture
BACH Passacaglia BWV 582
DUPRE Prelude and fugue in B major Op.7 no.1
Headline events include Brum Rocks Extra for The Children's - a concert in aid of Birmingham Children's Hospital Red Balloon Appeal - with an all-star line-up including Robert Plant, Bev Bevan and John Lodge (line-up subject to availability). The Guillemots, and the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, includes the world premiere of a new work by Guillemots frontman, Birmingham-born Fyfe Dangerfield. Multi-award-winning jazz saxophonist and hip-hop artist Soweto Kinch premieres The Midnight Hop, a specially-commissioned work inspired by the forgotten stories of 18th and 19th-century black musicians in England. He also leads a summer school for young musicians working on the themes and issues of the piece.
The Re-opening Concert sees an outstanding line-up of local and national musicians performing Quincy Jones's Messiah: A Soulful Celebration, a pioneering gospel/soul re-imagination of Handel's Messiah (which was a mainstay of the famous Birmingham Triennial Festivals, held at the Town Hall from 1834 to 1912). Dusting down the great work will be Ruby Turner, Cleveland Watkiss, Soweto Kinch, Black Voices, BBC Big Band, the Reggae Philharmonic, and the cream of local gospel talent.
Celebrating the past, Rahat Fateh Ali Khan and Abida Parveen pay tribute to the 10th anniversary of the death of the legendary Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, who played some of his greatest concerts at Town Hall. The CBSO and Chorus perform Elgar's The Music Makers, a 1912 Triennial Festival commission that ushered in a new era, alongside the violin concerto by Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, Britain's leading black composer of that time. Ex Cathedra celebrates Birmingham's great choral tradition with past masterpieces and pioneers the future with a new commission from John Joubert. And City Organist Thomas Trotter shows off the 6,000 newly refurbished pipes of the 1834 Town Hall organ with a world premiere from renowned composer Paul Patterson.
Pioneering the future for younger audiences, Radio 1 DJ Gilles Peterson works with cutting-edge local bands and DJs, while avant-garde champions Capsule present live performances from Broadcast and Modified Toy Orchestra, pioneers of Birmingham's experimental music scene. Town Hall joins forces with legendary promoter Punch to present the Best of British Urban, and the Festival launches the first of a series of Town Hall Debates for Young People, harking back to the building's great history of political debate and speech-making. Young people are also celebrated in a special concert drawing from the immense talent of Birmingham schools, from symphony orchestra to tin whistle ensemble.
BBC Big Band appear with seven-times Grammy nominated jazz singer Kurt Elling, and Orchestra of the Swan launch their Town Hall Classical Encounters series of friendly and informal concerts for new audiences, introduced by their dynamic conductor David Curtis.
The Town Hall throws open its doors to everyone in a Welcome Weekend at the opening of the Festival, with a carnival atmosphere of family fun and a special, one-off concert version of Wallop Mrs Cox, the show that makes you proud to be a Brummie! Later in the Festival, Town Hall Dances! is a day of dance for all ages, including Twinkle Toes for toddlers, a Festival Tea Dance and the Grand Festival Ballroom Dance.
BBC Big Band, Black Voices, Soweto Kinch, Orchestra of the Swan and Ex Cathedra and Thomas Trotter have been announced as the first Associate Artists of Town Hall. All feature prominently in the Re-opening Festival and all will enjoy a special relationship with Town Hall, collaborating on programming, education work, new audience initiatives and commissions.
Andrew Jowett, Director of Town Hall & Symphony Hall, Birmingham said: "The announcement of this festival brings us ever closer to re-opening this cherished building for the people of Birmingham and beyond. The Festival also looks forward to an exciting and varied ongoing programme of events designed to appeal to people of all ages and backgrounds. Together with Symphony Hall, the two venues will present around 600 concerts and events a year, welcoming everyone and inviting them to discover great performances at the heart of Birmingham."
Opus Arte was established in 2000 by Managing Director Hans Petri – who will continue in this role under Royal Opera House ownership – and Television Director Dirk Jan Bijker. Since its formation Opus Arte has grown to become a major player in the production and distribution of classical music and dance DVDs with approximately thirty DVDs released per year, many of which are also produced by Opus Arte. The company has also forged highly successful relationships with a number of opera and dance companies, filming their work and taking them to the market place. Opus Arte has anticipated the demand from global broadcasters and filmed over 50 titles in High Definition providing valuable product for the home entertainment and developing digital suppliers.
The company will be managed at arms length from the Royal Opera House with a new Board comprising of: two ROH Trustees, Sir David Lees and Simon Robey; two members of the Executive, Tony Hall and Sarah Kemp; and Hans Petri who will continue to act as Managing Director. Other non-executives with relevant experience will be appointed in due course. This contract enables the work of The Royal Opera and The Royal Ballet to be recorded and distributed more widely than ever before with more than 40 existing recordings of productions by The Royal Opera and The Royal Ballet now being added to Opus Arte's existing catalogue of around 140 titles.
Hans Petri, Managing Director of Opus Arte, commented: 'We are delighted that we have been able to agree a deal with the Royal Opera House over the sale of Opus Arte. We have always taken pride in the world-class nature of our product and the companies with whom we work. The Royal Opera House DVD titles in our catalogue are seen as benchmark productions within the industry, and with the Royal Opera House's acute awareness of trends and tastes in the market place I am looking forward to the next phase of our development. I would particularly like to thank the Opus Arte Shareholders and Supervisory Board members for their loyal support over the past seven years.'
Hans Petri added: 'This is an important and positive development for opera houses around the world - those we regularly collaborate with and future partners - adding exciting new possibilities for co-production, ownership and wider international access to their work. Worldwide distribution will continue via the Naxos network, bringing an ever-growing catalogue of outstanding productions to an increasingly discerning public.'
Klaus Heymann, Chairman of the Naxos Group Ltd said: 'We are extremely excited by this development. Opus Arte has long been admired for the quality of its programmes and presentation and the Naxos Group is proud to have been associated with the label since its inception. We look forward to continuing this successful partnership in this new era of Opus Arte's development.'
Tony Hall, Chief Executive of the Royal Opera House said: 'In acquiring Opus Arte we have achieved a multiple win. We have over 40 wonderful recordings of productions by The Royal Opera and The Royal Ballet available for distribution, Opus Arte has a catalogue of some 140 titles. This gives us a substantial entry into the global DVD and digital market place. As a significant part of our digital strategy it also hugely increases what we have to offer our audiences both in and beyond the opera house, with new material for our website, and for education purposes. Opus Arte also possesses enviable production and post-production skills that would prove a significant accelerator for our own big digital ambitions.'
There is a strong local tradition, mentioned by Arthur Mee in his Cambridgeshire in the King's England series, that the original part of Whaddon Church's organ was at one time in the Parish Church (now Cathedral) at Manchester. The organ had been built as a chamber organ without swell or pedal clavier and was bought through a music dealer by Mr Beaumont. (The organ-building firm, J.W. Walker, undertook the rebuild.) It appears that a lot of restoration took place in the Manchester church around 1857 and the organ there was substantially altered, so Whaddon may well have acquired part of that original instrument. The organ has certainly had an interesting history and who knows which famous musicians may have played its ivory keys?
The fame of the organ extends beyond the parish enticing, for example, a group of Dutch visitors to St Mary's in October 2001 as part of their tour to celebrate 'The Beauty of the British Organ'.
Organ enthusiast, Uldis Rubezis and his brother Vilnis, have travelled more than a thousand miles to the New Jerusalem church, on Manchester Old Road, to restore the church's redundant pipe organ back to its former glory in Latvia.
Uldis, from Rigas Raj just outside Riga, arrived at 4.30am in his old Swedish army truck on 28 April after answering the prayers of former church secretary John Ford. He contacted the former Soviet army athlete, sports coach and church elder after hearing how he had previously rescued 14 church organs from across the country.
Uldis, who has also appeared on a BBC Radio 4 documentary, estimated that it would take around 10 days to dismantle the organ and up to four or five months for three people to lovingly restore the organ back in his home town.
He said: 'We have no money to build new organs. The sound is good and the condition is good so it is cheaper for us to bring them over from the UK than to build new ones. It is very sad that in this country that some pipe organs go to the bulldozer. I do not like this.'
The painstaking operation to dismantle the 1923 organ involves removing each one of the organ's pipes individually and allocating them a number so that it can be reassembled back in Latvia. The pair are also video taping the whole process. The huge pipe organ was built by organ-makers JJ Binns of Bramley, Leeds, and cost £765. It was retained in the New Jerusalem Church from the original Rhodes Church and helped to determine the church's distinctive tent shape. The New Jerusalem church was forced to close more than two years ago after suffering from subsidence problems and a dwindling congregation.
Mr Ford, a former church secretary, said: 'We are very pleased that it will now hopefully find a home in another church.'
Laura Kenny and Harold Cunliffe
First published by the Middleton Guardian