Churchill Music

Promoting musical excellence in Somerset since 2007

Music for Lockdown 15

Mozart keeps us in touch with so many things, and one of those is optimism.” pianist Paul Lewis, CBE.  With the lockdown gradually being eased, we certainly need optimism and you can rely on Churchill Music to provide it.  
Normally at this time of the year we would have produced our Events Diary for 2020/21.  However although of course we have some tentative plans, we are waiting for the announcement expected this week from DCMS before making decisions.   Meanwhile we have been carrying out some research into potentially turning this disadvantage into an advantage and are optimistic of a positive outcome.  Rest assured Churchill Music is very much alive behind these emails!  

For something a little different to get the day off to a lively start, try this piano adaptation of an old Georgian ‘ballet’, Lekuri and Mirzaia from the opera Abesalom & Eteri by Zacharia Paliasshvili by Luka Okros. Composed between 1909 and 1918, the opera is based on a medieval Georgian folk poem, Eteriani.  It is described as an ‘eclectic fusion of folk songs using traditional 19th century Romantic classical themes’.  There is not a lot written about this ‘neglected’ opera but on listening to this excellent arrangement, it reflects the first of four acts, the story behind which is worth a brief synopsis to get an idea of what is happening: A Cinderella-like peasant girl Eteri, having run away from wicked stepmother, sits and cries in the woods. She hears the singing of hunters and their horns playing in the distance, and Lo! It is Prince Abesalom and his courtier Murman with their retinue. Eteri follows the sound of singing and first runs into Murman. Startled by the sudden encounter, she runs the other way but is intercepted by Abesalom who is immediately bewitched by her beauty and pledges his love to her. Aaaah!  The rest of the plot centres around Murman who of course, has also fallen madly in love with Eteri, but he is merely a courtier….  Murman’s jealousy leads to an evil desire to take Eteri away from Abesalom.  He uses a magic spell to make her very ill.   Abesalom knows that only Murman can cure her, so off she goes to his castle. Naturally enough Abesalom dies of a broken heart and Eteri commits suicide’! Hey Ho!

Mentioning Cinderella, on Wednesday 8th July 7pm for just two days, there is a great opportunity to watch English National Ballet’s performance of Prokofiev’s Cinderella in-the-round, filmed at the Royal Albert Hall in 2019.  With magnificent sets and costumes, surprising theatrical tricks, amazing choreography and plenty of surprises, this magical ballet is a must.  These online opportunities are coming to an end so do be sure to make the most of this last one.

Time for our coffee ‘concertissimo’ with Peter Hewitt.  This week he features Beethoven’s Piano Sonata No 17 in d minor Op.31 No2 “The Tempest”.  Peter describes this as a ‘magical movement’.  Why did Beethoven call it the ’Tempest’?  You will need to click on the link to find out.  
Peter mentions Scott Joplin (1868-1917) in his preamble to ’The Tempest’ – marking the score ‘allegretto’.  I simply cannot resist adding this clip of Joplin’s ‘Maple Leaf Rag’ recorded on a pianola sheet, performed by Scott Joplin himself – thought to be long lost until it turned up in a wrong box sold on Ebay!  Scott Joplin was an American composer and pianist and was dubbed the King of Ragtime. His father was an ex-slave and worked as a railway labourer and played the violin for plantation parties; his mother sang and played the banjo.  Being one of six children, the family were very poor, but thank goodness a very generous German-born, Jewish American recognised Joplin’s talent and gave him free piano lessons for many years – something that Joplin never forgot.  The incredible optimism in Scott Joplin’s music is pure magic and guaranteed to brighten the rainiest of days.  
It would be hard to find a more optimistic, forward-thinking and creative musician than our favourite violinist, Ruth Rogers, co-leader of the London Mozart Players and leader of the Aquinas Piano Trio.  Last night, (4th July) in conjunction with ClassicFM, Ruth led the LMP with guest soloist (and another champion of optimism) Tasmin Little.  To whet your appetite this interview with Ruth and Tasmin really sets the scene.  This live-streamed concert (socially distanced with snazzy masks) took place in St. Giles Cripplegate, London and celebrates the opening of churches to congregations.  Their programme includes Grieg’s ‘Holberg Suite’Vaughan Williams’ ‘The Lark Ascending‘ Aaron Copeland’s ‘Hoedown’ in recognition of Independence Day in the US.    

For one last, enormous helping of optimism, I recommend this interview with 13-year-old violinist Leia Zhu.  Leia is talks about her vision of ‘hope’.  It was recorded on 3rd June.  Leia is certainly an inspirational young lady.  The Intro from the Executive Director of LMP tells us all about the the platform that LMP give to young musicians – Sheku Kanneh-Mason was one of their young protégés.  If you want to go straight to the amazing Leia Zhu fast forward to 2.42.
Before the final joke, I bring you this extraordinary clip of Mozart’s famous Queen of the Night Aria from The Magic Flute – just keep watching to see what other species can also sing it!

And FINALLY: Q. How can you tell an optimist from a pessimist?
A. Ask them to pronounce OPPORTUNITYISNOWHERE.

With every possible good wish to keep safe, happy and healthy,Jan