Posts Tagged ‘Saint John’s Smith Square’

Preview – Messiah by Candlelight – Apollo Chamber Choir and Orchestra at Saint John’s Smith Square

December 13, 2012

With so many Messiahs to choose from, it’s hard to get a Handel on which performance you should see (couldn’t help myself, sorry!). This year I have the good fortune of going to see the Apollo Chamber Orchestra’s production at Saint John’s Smith Square. I spoke with conductor David Cherniak and asked him: what is special about your Messiah? This is his response.

“Apollo Chamber orchestra started 1989, a professional group with new people regularly added to keep it fresh, while still keeping the feel and style similar, with a warm and generous sound. The choir is freelance, assembled for choral concerts. Messiah we started doing 12 years ago and have pretty consistently used the same soloists so there is a team feel to it although the choir has changed a bit. The consistency means our production has a good, solid sound.

“I use my own edition of the score using the best of the best for both the orchestra and choir parts. You can’t do everything that’s in the book because it’s changed so much and there have been so many different versions. That said, our version stays consistent from year to year and suits the singers we have. It’s a sensible approach to take: do the best research but then interpret it yourself. [Handel] took many different approaches so we, like him, have chosen an approach that works for us. To do it all would be too long! Everybody does [the first section] in its entirely but some of two or three will always have to be cut. At the end, we include the soprano aria “If God Be For Us,” because I like it so much and to have [it] paired with the “The Trumpets Shall Sound” sets us up beautifully for the final amen.

“Our audience can be people that have come to hear us before, others are tourists or people who love St John’s (the sound and how it looks), and then people who just love the Messiah. It just sets up Christmas beautifully!”

(The Apollo Chamber Choir and Orchestra will be performing Messiah by Candlelight on Sunday, December 16th, at 7:30 PM at Saint John’s Smith Square. Nearest Tube station Westminster. Review tickets were provided by GBZ management.)

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Preview – Love’s Exchange – La Nuova Musica with Jamie Parker at Saint John’s Smith Square

October 11, 2012

While this blog normally covers things theatrical, one of my other enthusiasms is Early Music, as my occasional posts about the Lufthansa Festival of Baroque Music show. I am excited to hear that for once, my two interests will be meeting, in this case at a concert taking place as a part of St. John’s Smith Square’s autumn festival: Early Music ensemble La Nuova Musica performing with actor Jamie Parker (whom you may have seen this summer at the Globe as Henry V, or, further back in The History Boys during its run at the National) in a performance called “Love’s Exchange.”

So what exactly is going to happen at this concert (performed on period instruments) with the seemingly superfluous actor? In this case, Jamie will be reading from the poems (and prose) of John Donne to add a dramatic arc linking the various madrigals by Monteverdi. The concept is that of a love triangle, between a young rake and two women. I have a feeling things may not go very well for the young man.

Monteverdi’s music (the words of which will be projected above stage) are already extremely emotional works, and I think the marriage of Donne and Monteverdi seems very promising. La Nuova Musica, with their vision of music speaking to the audience as immediately as a good friend, would have been well worth seeing on their own: I am quite enthusiastic that this blended approach will lead to an even better experience. This Sunday, 7:30, Saint John’s Smith Square (just a few minutes from Westminster): be there!

I leave you with a selection from one of the poems that will be read during the show:

LOVE, any devil else but you
Would for a given soul give something too.
At court your fellows every day
Give th’ art of rhyming, huntsmanship, or play,
For them which were their own before ;
Only I have nothing, which gave more,
But am, alas ! by being lowly, lower.

(This review is a preview for a concert that will be taking place at St. John’s on Sunday, October 14th, 2012. Tickets are £20/£14. Thank you to Julian Forbes for taking the time to talk to me about the show.)