And then there were eight...
Bassists from across the south of England met at Wells Cathedral School for an afternoon of double bass premieres on 29 April 2013. The opportunity to perform bass octets is a rare one indeed and ones by Tony Osborne, Armand Russell and John Alexander were premiered at the workshop, alongside the premiere of two pieces from Jay Mackie's Beach Party, arranged for double bass trio by David Heyes.
Miserere by Tony Osborne is scored for solo soprano (wordless) and double bass octet and was composed in 2011. The music, composed in 2008 to commemorate the 90th anniversary of the ending of World War I, is powerful and evocative, creating a wealth of colours and textures above which the soprano sings her beautiful and lyrical melodies. John Alexander has long been a supporter of the double bass and his four movement suite St. Kildan Narratives for double bass octet offers musical and technical challenges for each performer. Written in a modern but accessible idiom, these are works of great quality and ingenuity. Armand Russell celebrated his 80th birthday in 2012 and was a featured composer at Wells Cathedral School (Somerset) for a weekend of workshops and concerts in September 2012. His Prelude & Fugue for double bass octet is a great tour de force for the good intermediate octet with challenges for each player. He has produced a wonderful body of double bass music over his long and successful career and there are many more works to be published by this esteemed and respected American composer.
Fizz @ 50 Premieres
Four works from 'Fizz @ 50' were premiered at Wells Cathedral School on Sunday 24 February 2013 alongside two other premieres. John Alexander's blues, with orange is a great jazz piece, played pizzicato throughout, with a lively and rhythmic accompaniment and a nice 'twist' at the end - brilliantly played by Dan Laurie (double bass) and Gus Tredwell (piano). Mary Rae is an American composer and teacher and her wonderfully evocative, lyrical and atmospheric work For My Cherokee Ancestors is influenced by her American heritage and is all the more successful because of this. It was played with style and elegance by David Bossanyi (double bass) and Gus Tredwell (piano). The young Welsh composer-flautist, Jay Mackie, has never written for double bass before but his Brazilian Boat Song, with its gently lilting accompaniment and accessible idiom, is a great addition to the intermediate bass repertoire (c.grade 7), played sensitively and with understanding by Sally McDowall (double bass) and Gus Tredwell (piano). Ben Groenevelt, a well known jazz double bassist and teacher, gave a superb and dramatic performance of Rondo Giocoso by British composer, Christopher Maxim. The performance was lively and energetic, full of drama and momentum, and beautifully accompanied by Gus Tredwell.
Sadie Harrison's first piece for 'Fizz @ 50' was Theo's Lullaby, a most beautiful and atmospheric work for beginner double bass and piano and in January she revised the piece for 2 double basses and piano. The original solo line remained but with a more virtuosic obbligato line above, and it was performed with an understated style by David Heyes (solo double bass), Richard Dunn (double bass) and Sadie Harrison (composer).
Jay Mackie was on a roll at the workshop and Calypso Capers, the first movement of Beach Party for 3 double basses was premiered during the final concert of the day. The music is lively, jazzy and full of fun and received a great premiere (with much applause) by an ensemble of young bassists.
Military Wives Premiere
Richard Storry's new choral song Until Your Safely Home [RMS056] was premiered at The Anvil, Basingstoke on Saturday 16 March 2013 by the Military Wives Choir (Middle Wallop), conducted by Fiona Clarke. Dedicated to The Military Wives Choir this evocative and passionate work for female voices and piano should resonate with communicate with everyone. The feedback has been wonderful and ther composer confirmed that the performance ended to 'thunderous applause from a capacity audience.' Richard Storry has just completed a second song/anthem for the Military Wives Choir - more to follow....
Oranges & Lemons
Alan Smith's prize winning Christmas choral work Ring Out, Wild Bells! [RMS041] was premiered on Tuesday 18 December 2012 at St Clement Dane's (The Strand, London) by The Giltspur Singers of London, conducted by Christopher Maxim. Set to words by Tennyson, the magnificent performance was prefaced by the conductor describing the work as 'small, but beautifully formed'.
St Clement Dane's is famous for its inclusion in the children's nursery rhyme Oranges & Lemons (Oranges and lemons, Say the bells of St Clement's...)
Fizz @ 50
Fizz @ 50 is now complete! There have been some brilliant pieces written for the project, all for double bass and piano, from composers in eleven countries. Our aim is to have them all premiered and published by the end of 2013. Take a look at the 'Fizz @ 50' page for more information.
Armand Russell's Excursions for double bass quartet received its premiere at Wells Cathedral School (Somerset) on Friday 9 November 2013. Originally composed for massed basses, it was partly performed in September to celebrate to composer's 80th birthday earlier this year and is a work of contrasting textures and beautiful sonorities. In one extended movement but with three distinct sections, the music is accessible and enjoyable, offering effective musical and technical challenges for the good intermediate quartet.
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