"the level of stamina, commitment, memory and focus seemed almost miraculous"
"it was the most exciting performance of this piece I have ever done, and certainly the most rewarding"
Above is a taster of last year's performance of 'a chamber Messiah' in London. It was received very warmly by both audience and performers (see the quotes above), and this year we've decided to apply the principle to Bach's seasonal masterpiece, the Christmas Oratorio (cantatas I, III, V & VI). There are two concerts: in St John's Smith Square, London on 3rd December (tickets here) and Trinity College Chapel, Cambridge on 5th December (tickets here). It would be wonderful to see a big audience at both events. More details on our Next Concert page.
Kate Symonds is possessed by the 'follia d'amore'
Our last concert, on 11 July at the Fringe in the Fen festival in Cambridgeshire, UK, was very warmly received. The festival was in aid of Macmillan Cancer Research, aiming to raise over £25,000.
The programme consisted of music of life, love, death, 'death', heaven and hell from 17th-century Italy and France, by Landi, Enzina, Monteverdi, Merula, Martín Codax and the perennial 'anonymous', for three singers (mezzo Kate Symonds, tenor Zachary Wilder, and bass Jonathan Sells) and kaleidoscopic continuo band. For more details and example tracks click here.
Associate Artistic Director James Halliday challenging a child from the Klevis Kola Foundation.
The title above was Brian Hick's parting shot in his review of the second of our performances of 'a chamber Messiah', in St John's Smith Square last year. You can read the full review here.
Mr Hick was taken in by the directness of the performance, with the singers performing the piece entirely from memory, as well as the very 'live' experience resulting from the lack of a conductor.
We were told more than once that the performance resulted in a rare intensity of delivery and focus of message, in the words of Mr Hicks, 'stripping away the religiosity to reveal the spiritual heart of the work'. It's this directness of communication in vocal music that is one of our central aims.
Another of those tenets is that the performers enjoy themselves, something seen all too little in London and which translates infectiously to an audience. Judging from the response from some of the performers, who get through multiple Messiahs in a single season, we achieved that too: "by far the most stimulating Messiah of my season!", "it was a very special and moving performance that I will remember for a long time to come", "it was the most exciting performance of the piece I have ever done, and certainly the most rewarding".
We were also very happy that children from the Klevis Kola Foundation were able to join us for the rehearsal and concert, and explore the exotic world of historical instruments in the break.
The chamber Messiah will be back on the menu at some point, but probably not next December, although our audience is growing nicely. We're thinking of something new to challenge you with!
Solomon's Knot warms up for another 'chamber Messiah' December - reduced to the mad-max II (working title!)
We've had plenty of time to think about it, and here it is: last year's rave success 'chamber Messiah' (check the new entry under Our Projects: Handel Oratorios) returns to St John's Smith Square on Saturday 8th December ('sensational' 'remarkable' 'sublime' 'superb' 'fantastic' 'the highlight of my Christmas' 'magical' 'delightful' to mention just a few responses) PLUS an extra date in Trinity College Cambridge's magnificent 16th-century Chapel on November 29th.
The orchestra has already been fixed and will be led by Julia Kuhn, and the singers are Clare Lloyd, Zoe Brown, Michal Czerniawski, Kate Symonds-Joy, Thomas Herford, Tim Dickinson, Jonny and Julian. Another great line-up, and this time we're going to be asking to singers to leave their copies behind - it was too easy last time!
Book early to avoid disappointment: here for Cambridge, here for London.
In the mean time we have a private fundraising event in London in September, and should be able to announce 2013 dates fairly soon. Enjoy what's left of the summer - see you at the end of the year!
Happy new year from Solomons' several cities. Presently, we're even more scattered than usual: Jonny's in Zurich, James is in Lille, Peter's upped the ante by heading out to San Diego. And Julian's still in South Norwood. But Diderot praised the 'lucidité du sédentaire', doing the tour of the 'univers sur notre parquet', so yar boo sucks to airmiles. Last weekend we had a very exciting round of phone calls and meetings, on the back of which we're going to have some new dates and programmes to announce in the coming months. Watch this space - and browse the project tabs, quite a few new audio clips have been quietly posted in the last week or so.
We're still basking, forgive us, a "chamber" Messiah was all we dared hope for. Many thanks to the superb team of musicians who created such a memorable occasion on the night - and to our wildly appreciative and generous audience who were heard to whoop, yea so soon as at the end of Part the First, which is unprecedented in our experience. We would also like to thank Dr Ruth Smith and Oliver Soden for their thoroughly entertaining introduction to MESSIAH in the pre-concert talk. Ruth is now a friend of long standing who has consistently provided us with her support and advice; it was good, finally, to get to put her and her deep knowledge on show as part of the Solomon circus. As is our way, we're already consulting over dates for 2012 - watch this space, though perhaps wait until after Christmas... here's wishing all our supporters, friends and musicians a very merry one.
We can do without the Christmas shop windows for a while yet, but the festive season feels very close to us here at Solomon. A month is not a long time in the world of concert administration, and we’re hard at work making our final preparations for “a chamber Messiah - reduced to the max” at St John's Smith Square on Saturday 10th December. Tickets go on sale at SJSS box office from November 1st – click HERE to go directly to their website. Alternatively, give them a call on
020 7222 1061. Student tickets are priced at just £10.
Officially, of course, there is no “chamber” Messiah. The idea to perform the piece with just eight singers (all budding young soloists) taking choruses and arias, and with a reduced band (shorn of its woodwinds) of 14 players and without conductor is ours. We’ve been inspired by a number of prominent reduced-forces interpretations of Baroque masterworks which we’ve encountered: Paul McCreesh’s St Matthew Passion with the Gabrieli Consort, John Butt’s Messiah with Dunedin Consort – and in Julian’s case, by the recent experience of performing Bach’s Mass in B Minor one-to-a-part with Sigiswald Kuijken and the European Baroque Academy. What attracts us to these interpretations is their clarity – of the individual parts which emerge distinctly, and of the combinations of the individual parts, which are so much more accurate and clear. It’s not just a mechanical thing; we also think that the reduced forces bring about a performance which is much more personal and communicative. Splendour isn’t compromised either – the majesty of Handel’s vision is maintained in full force, but in sharp, intimate focus.
We’re extremely excited about how our chamber Messiah is going to sound - we hope that many of you are too and will join us at St John’s Smith Square on December 10th to hear and see it.
Solomon's Knot had a super day out at Aldeburgh on Saturday. At first glance, a programme of German Baroque music doesn't have much to do with Britten's Suffolk seaside home; one passerby, being informed that our concert was a "Buxty" rather than a "Benjy", cycled on. In fact, as we trawled Reed II bookshop the following day, we were reminded of just how much of this repertoire Britten and Pears performed at the Aldeburgh Festival over the years, some of it extremely obscure. We imagine that they, like us, were drawn by the music's harmonic and melodic clarity, and by the vivid, often pungent nature of German Protestant poetry.
Without a doubt, this concert project has been one of the most successful yet. The ensemble vibe throughout the week was as collective as we'd hoped with rehearsals featuring a great amount of input from all points in the ensemble. Individual music-making was characterised by extreme skill and flexibility, but was always sensitive to the need to create an ensemble piece. There was hard work, and there was good friendship.
As ever, it was great to make contact with our audience. We were delighted to welcome some Solomon groupies from Cambridge and flattered by the presence of some noted Aldeburgh concert-going regulars. Was it the most diverse Solomon audience yet? We've certainly not entertained a thriller author or an anarcho-punk band before...
We've already started having meetings about our next concert on December 10th at St John's Smith Square. Watch this space for more details very soon.
We've tied the knot! After several weeks of work, we're delighted to see this new website go live. The main advantage for us of this platform over previous incarnations is the ability to edit quickly and conveniently. So keep checking back, and you should find new content to keep you satisfied on a regular basis. Do feel free to give us any feedback via the form on the CONTACT PAGE. Our NEXT PERFORMANCE is fast approaching. It's called "Abendmusik" and it's a sumptuous programme of German Baroque cantatas. Needless to say, we're looking forward to it and we hope to see a good crowd there. And of course, you can browse the rest of the PROJECTS we've got on offer - several of them feature live concert extracts which we'd love you to investigate.
Well, that's it for now. Check back for updates soon...