From Bach to Cuba, a summary of Autumn 2017

A reflection on the events of Autumn 2017:
‘I have had a great amount of fun exploring a wide range of music this autumn, spanning from Bach to contemporary Cuban works. The Cuban music by Beatriz Corona and Emilio Grenet formed part of Myriad’s ‘Viva La Revolution’ concert, which explored music from times of upheaval and revolution. We particularly enjoyed preparing the rarely performed work ‘Advance Democracy’ by Benjamin Britten, which we all felt had a resonance with our own times, and greatly enjoyed the concert performed to a full Holy Trinity Church in Eltham. Towards the end of September I took part in the London Bach Competition for the first time, accompanying a baritone on the harpsichord in a really rewarding setting, which I hope to return to next year.

Back in Glasgow, it was really interesting to begin work on a double bill of operas this year as a repetiteur and vocal coach at the Alexander Gibson Opera School. These were Viktor Ullmann’s ‘Der Kaiser von Atlantis’, and Gustav Holst’s ‘Savitri’. The first piece was written by Ullmann while in a concentration camp in 1943, and contains styles reminiscent of Kurt Weill, while it was interesting to play this earlier piece of Holst’s, having conducted ‘The Planets’ earlier in the year. I also prepared for my first concert with Hutchesons’ Choral Society, working on a programme related to St Cecilia, the Patron Saint of Music. This repertoire was paired with a real treat: Finzi’s ‘Dies Natalis’, which I had wanted to conduct for years and which I conducted with tenor David Lynn in the same concert.

The term finished with two rewarding Christmas concerts, one at Lords Cricket Ground in London, where I conducted and played for Marylebone Cricket Club’s annual charity Carol concert in this wonderful setting, and my first time playing the organ at St Andrews Catholic Cathedral in Glasgow. I had never before visited this beautiful building, so it was a pleasure to play there.

Next term I look forward to conducting the Durufle Requiem for the first time with Hutchesons’ Choral Society, performing the opera double bill in Glasgow, and beginning work on Jonathon Dove’s ‘The Day After’ in Glasgow, which we are staging in collaboration with English National Opera. There will also be Myriad’s ‘Sounds of the North’ concert, exploring works by Scandinavian composers. In the meantime however, Merry Christmas!