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"...for warmth and intimacy and glorious surroundings, Llanfyllin can scarcely be beaten" - The Allegri Quartet

2010 Concert Programme

Link to Review

Performers

Young Musicians Concert 5th June
Venue:
Welshpool Methodist Church, Welshpool
7.30pm

Jennifer Jones (Flute), Ffion Davies (Soprano), Polaris Trio (Nicky Jaques (Saxophone), Ben Thomas (Trumpet), and Erika Lyons (Double Bass), with David Fisher providing piano accompaniment

Concerts on the 2nd and 4th July
Venue:
St Myllin's Church, Llanfyllin
7.30pm

The Allegri String Quartet and James Gilchrist

10 July
Venue:
St Myllin's Church, Llanfyllin
7.30pm

Beethoven String Quartet op14
Borodin Quartet No2
Schubert String Quintet in C

Midweek Concert 7th July
Venue:Cain Valley Hotel, Llanfyllin
7.30pm

Y Blewyn Gwyn
Beck Siàn

Concerts on the 9th and 11th July
Venue:
St Myllin's Church, Llanfyllin
7.30pm

The Allegri String Quartet
The Medlock Quartet
Mark Simpson (clarinet

Harp Gala 30th October
Venue:
Theatr Hafren, Newtown
7.30pm

Geraint Peate, Penybontfawr Male Voice Choir, Llansilin Mixed Voices, Alecs Peate, Edryd Williams, Harriet Earis, Colman Connolly, Beck Sian, Sian James, and David Watkins.

 

5 June 2010 – Young Musicians Concert

Jennifer Jones (Flute)
Ffion Davies (Soprano)
Polaris Trio (Nicky Jaques (Saxophone), Ben Thomas (Trumpet), and Erika Lyons (Double Bass))
with David Fisher providing piano accompaniment

Llanfyllin Festival 2010 has a youth slant to it, and so held this delightful Young Musicians Concert in Welshpool Methodist Church as a prelude to the main festival. The modestly sized audience who had the pleasure of hearing such fine new talent were enthusiastic and complimentary about the concert.

The concert began with the sweet tones of Welsh Flautist Jennifer Jones, with her brilliantly elegant presentation of items by J.S. Bach, Donizetti and Poulenc. Her proficiency in the faster passages was mesmerising, and her sensitivity and expressive nuances in the slower movements were a testimony to her musicality. Local Welsh Soprano Ffion Davies brought to life some operatic classics in addition to some lesser well-known but equally captivating songs. Her pure warm voice and her vocal virtuosity were supported by her spirited and entrancing presentation of the songs; the audience were taken on a journey of emotions ranging from the joyous, to the comical, to the beautifully moving. The evening was brought to a close with the laid back tones of the Herefordshire based trio Polaris. The featured Latin jazz standards revealed the mature mellow sound-world of the trio, while the sophisticated improvisations stole the audience away to the heights of the player's well-informed musicianship. As an ensemble Polaris gelled brilliantly, it was evident too that Nicky Jaques (Saxophone), Ben Thomas (Trumpet) and Erika Lyons (Double Bass) are also accomplished musicians in their own right; indeed the trio performed some of Nicky Jaques' own compositions.

We are all aware that live music (and therefore the future of new musicians) is currently faced with hard times, being inhibited by red tape and dwindling funds, not to mention having to compete with ever more widely available recorded music. It was incredibly positive to see such a passionately talented next generation of musicians taking up the challenge of preserving the live music experience; hopefully continuing to entertain and inspire audiences for many years to come. Young musicians are the future; it is crucial that they continue to be nurtured and supported even through these financial hard times; if not, the pool of young and fresh musicians will diminish rapidly, foreshadowing the decline of opportunities for experiencing new and live music, and, potentially the decay of new and live music altogether.

There are other opportunities to support young musicians and new music in 2010 with the Llanfyllin Festival, as well as a fuller array other high quality concerts. For more information please visit the Concert Programme page.

Ruth Jones
Committee Member

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2 July 2010 and 4 July 2010 – The First Weekend

The Allegri String Quartet)
James Gilchrist (Tenor)

This year's Festival started on a high note on July 2nd with a striking contrast between well-loved string quartets by Schubert and Mozart and new works by British composers.

The Festival's resident musicians, the Allegri String Quartet, continued their ongoing collaboration with composer Matthew Taylor by performing the world premiere of his new song cycle of Portuguese fado poetry, specially commissioned by the Festival and supported by the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation. Sung by tenor, James Gilchrist, these melancholic traditional poems are delicately set for string quartet accompaniment to emphasise the particular flavour of the fado song with echoes of the fado guitar.

James Gilchrist followed this new work with another recently composed song cycle comprising a setting by composer Alec Roth of poems 'Seven Elements' by novelist and poet Vikram Seth. The audience was completely involved in the contrasted songs about the original elements of earth, air, fire and water, plus wood, metal and space, with a passionate and moving interpretation by James Gilchrist accompanied by different combinations of the four stringed instruments of the Quartet.

The theme of contrasts continued at the second Festival concert on July 4th with compositions from the 17th, 19th and 20th centuries. The Quartet opened with two Fantazias by Purcell, originally composed for the intimate sound of a consort of viols.

This was followed by Tippett's second String Quartet, a lyrical and varied modern work which owes a debt to Beethoven. The heartfelt interpretation of the quartet was especially enhanced by guest cellist, Bozidar Vukotic, a founder member of the Tippett String Quartet. The evening closed with the 2nd Quartet of Mendelssohn, written when he was only 18, and which sent everyone out into the evening sunshine with wonderful melodic memories.

Deborah Grey
Committee Member

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10 July 2011 – The Allegri String Quartet with Bozidar Vukotic ('cello)

Beethoven String Quartet Op 14
Borodin String Quartet No.2
Schubert String Quintet in C

For the second concert of this year's Festival, the audience convened in sunshine rather than drizzle - a great improvement on Friday evening, as all agreed!

During his introduction, Raffy told us that the Op.14 - a transcription reluctantly made by Beethoven of one of his own piano sonatas - does still feel very pianistic, with many of its flourishes lying uncomfortably under a violinist's hands. It is a tribute to the expertise of the Allegris that the audience was less aware of this fact than of a sense of discovery. The Op.14 made an unfamiliar and rather charming start to the evening.

By contrast, Borodin's Quartet was very familiar indeed, expansive (Raffy described it as "big-hearted") and tuneful. Two of its' melodies found fame in the musical "Kismet", and more generally many of its sonorities are reminiscent of Dvorak. This was not the tragic, tortured Russian of literature, but a good-tempered, rather boisterous, sociable fellow. If, perhaps, it is not great music, the integrity and attention of the performance saved the sweet, familiar melodies from seeming saccharine.

Some years ago, Bruno Schrecker introduced another performance of the Schubert Quintet which formed the second half of the concert by telling us that he felt that this was music we should all listen to several times a year in order to maintain an even mental keel. Perhaps all musicians feel the same. Certainly, the lovely, golden, companionable sounds which open the Quintet produce a sense of reassurance, while even the more turbulent sections of the piece are balanced by a sort of quiet acceptance. A rousing final movement drew cheers from the audience, sending us out with the sense of exhilaration that the Allegri have so often provided.

Rachel Wright
Committee Member

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7 July 2010 – Midweek Concert

Y Blewyn Gwyn
Beck Siàn

The historical Cain Valley Hotel, Llanfyllin was the welcoming and very appropriate venue for this enjoyable evening. The quartet Y Blewyn Gwyn, former prize-winners at the Powys Eistedfodd, entertained with beautiful harmonies and blended voices. Their renditions of four part songs and duets from a range of traditional and contemporary composers were appreciated by all, a Welsh translation of the classic hymn "Amazing Grace" being particularly memorable.

Beck Siàn performed in the second half, using her vocal range and expression to good effect in well known songs and in her own compositions. She gave a new perspective to the popular "Waltzing Matilda", telling the audience that it was in fact a tragic song, not the jolly singalong we are used to. An informative, as well as a very enjoyable, evening, with interval refreshments kindly provided by the Cain Valley.

Margaret Clennatt
Committee Member

   

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9 July 2010 and 11 July 2010 – The Second Weekend

The Allegri String Quartet
The Medlock Quartet
Mark Simpson (clarinet)

St Myllin's Church, Llanfyllin, was filled with sparkling music and an enthusiastic audience on Friday 9th July, when the Allegri String Quartet gave dazzling performances of quartets by Beethoven's and Brahms. After the interval the Allegris were joined by the up and coming ensemble from the Royal Northern College of Music, the Medlock String Quartet, to play Mendelssohn's Octet. This is an exciting double string quartet written when the composer was only 16 yet is one of the great works of the chamber music repertoire. This was an evening of classical music at its best - melodic, full of contrasts, with jollity one moment and melancholy the next, uplifting and inspiring to those who had the good fortune to hear it.

The final concert of this year's Festival on Sunday 11th July saw the Allegri playing Stravinsky's Concertino, a short, relatively unfamiliar piece, and next a quartet by Ravel. Although this work failed to gain the composer the coveted Prix de Rome prize, it is regarded today as his first masterpiece. To conclude the concert, Mark Simpson, former Young Musician of the Year, joined the Allegri to perform Brahms' clarinet quintet. Brahms composed this work late in his life; it has an elegiac character and indeed an incredibly poignant final section, leaving the audience in a contemplative mood. Perhaps an unusual choice with which to end the Festival, but a marvellous piece of music and one to reflect on in the coming weeks.

We have enjoyed a wide range of chamber music from the quartet and guest musicians this year, from Purcell to 21st century music, with plenty too from the classical repertoire. To conclude this year's activities the Festival is hosting a Harp Gala at Theatr Hafren on 30 October. Let us hope that funding is sufficient for the Festival to continue offering top class live music such as this in the years of austerity to come!

Margaret Clennatt
Committee Member

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30 October 2010 – Harp Gala

Theatr Hafren, Newtown

Llanfyllin Music Festival followed up its ongoing policy of appealing to a wide local and regional audience by staging a spectacular evening of song and harp playing on October 30th 2010 at Theatr Hafren in Newtown.

Think Wales, think harp and voice…A capacity audience gave an enthusiastic welcome to compere Geraint Peate as he used his well-known wit and musical knowledge to introduce the cream of Welsh talent which opened and closed with the joint choirs of Penybontfawr Male Voice Choir and Llansilin Mixed Voices singing a selection of popular Welsh songs, including an emotional rendition of Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau (Land of My Fathers) to send everyone home singing…

The harp in both its Concert and Celtic form was showcased by a quartet of fine players, playing both solo and with voice and solo instruments. Local girl Alecs Peate soloed and accompanied tenor Edryd Williams using his beautiful light tenor voice to both comic and romantic effect. Celtic harpist Harriet Earis displayed her wide range of talent playing alone and with champion uillean piper and flautist, Colman Connolly. They then joined our own adopted Welsh/Aussie singer Beck Sian to create a beautiful celtic blend of folksong.

The second half of the evening opened with marvellous playing and singing from well-known Welsh harpist, Sian James. Internationally famous classical harpist David Watkins then created an enchanted soundscape with his own compositions inspired by landscapes at home and abroad.

The feedback from performers and audience has been wonderful. It must surely be every concert promoter's dream to create general happiness…..All thanks to the Arts Council of Wales for assisting the promotion of this successful evening.

Margaret Clennatt
Committee Member

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