Celebrate Shakespeare’s 400th Anniversary

Celebrate Shakespeare’s 400th Anniversary

Much Ado at the Festival to celebrate Shakespeare’s 400th Anniversary

With nationwide excitement building for the 400th Anniversary of the death of William Shakespeare, and cities around the country planning major events, Sherborne is playing its part on Tuesday 3rd May when one of the world’s most accomplished and innovative early music vocal ensembles, Stile Antico, performs The Touches of Sweet Harmony (The Musical World of William Shakespeare) at Sherborne Abbey.

Working without a conductor, Stile Antico’s twelve members have thrilled audiences throughout Europe and North America with their fresh, vibrant and moving performances of Renaissance polyphony. Its bestselling recordings on the Harmonia Mundi label have earned accolades including the Gramophone Award for Early Music. The group enjoys a particularly close association with the Wigmore Hall, and has appeared at the BBC Proms, Buckingham Palace, the Amsterdam Concertgebouw, the Cité de la Musique, the Palais des Beaux-Arts and the Luxembourg Philharmonie.

Assembling a centenary programme in honour of The Bard presents more challenges than one might expect: given the extent to which we can assume Shakespeare was well acquainted with the leading musical figures of his day, there are surprisingly few surviving contemporaneous settings of his words. The programme includes just two such rare works by Thomas Morley and Robert Johnson, composers with whom Shakespeare very likely collaborated. These pieces survive only as solo lute songs but they have been arranged into four vocal parts from the lute tablature for this programme – a practice which was in fact commonplace at the time.

These are complemented by works by leading contemporary composers Nico Muhly and Huw Watkins, commissioned especially for Stile Antico by Wigmore Hall, which also set Shakespeare’s words. The remainder of the programme is structured around Shakespeare’s two royal patrons, Queen Elizabeth I and King James I; the first half is devoted to works from Elizabeth’s reign, and the second to Jacobean music. Each half includes a pair of works demonstrating loyalty to the monarch. Byrd’s well-known anthem O Lord, make thy servant Elizabeth finds him at his most lush and ingratiating, alternating between five-part and even more colourful six-part counterpoint, before concluding with one of the most sublime ‘Amen’ settings of the English renaissance. Dowland’s good-natured, madrigalian tribute to the Virgin Queen is a touch more irreverent, if affectionately so; nonetheless, his relationship with Elizabeth’s court was not always a happy one. The pair of anthems by close contemporaries Tomkins and Weelkes (Be strong and of good courage and O Lord, grant the King a long life) were almost certainly performed at James I’s coronation.

This is a unique opportunity to join in the nation’s excitement for Shakespeare’s anniversary, by experiencing the music and lyrics of his time – the performance starts at 7.30pm on Tuesday 3rd May and tickets are available from £10 online at www.sherborneabbeyfestival.org or from Sherborne Tourist Information Centre

“…an ensemble of breathtaking freshness, vitality and balance” New York Times

‘The singing is staggeringly beautiful’ Sunday Times

Stile Antico 2010 Photo: Marco Borggreve

Photo: Marco Borggreve

STILE ANTICO ORIGINS: The term ‘stile antico’, pronounced STEE-lay an-TEE-co, literally means ‘old style’. It was coined during the seventeenth century to describe the style of Renaissance church composition epitomised by the music of Palestrina – polyphonic and imitative in texture, even in rhythm, strictly controlled in its use of dissonance – as opposed to the modern developments in the works of Monteverdi and his contemporaries. Over the centuries, the ‘stile antico’ came to be seen as an ideal of musical purity, and composers such as Beethoven, Schumann, Liszt and Bruckner studied it as part of their training. It is still taught in universities today.

 

 

Countdown to the Festival!

Countdown to the Festival!

Atmospheric acoustics to rousing sea shanties, Sherborne Abbey’s annual festival is just around the corner, and tickets are selling fast!

With just over a week to go before award-winning Sherborne Abbey Festival opens its doors to eager music lovers,  some of the top events are selling out – but with more than seventy percent of concerts free entry there is still a lot to be excited about.  Visitors to Sherborne Abbey can also look forward to an extra-comfy experience in the pews this year, as the Festival has provided fitted cushion seating throughout the Abbey to be enjoyed all year round.

In what was a first experience for the Festival this year, tickets for London’s Ronnie Scott’s All Stars performance sold out on the day they were released and guarantees to play to a packed house.  The much-awaited return of international fluting superstars, Sir James and Lady Jeanne Galway, performing in Sherborne Abbey with the Iuventus Ensemble on 30th April, has already sold more than 600 tickets, so opportunities are now very limited, but there is still time to get a last minute seat!  Likewise VOCES8, one of the most versatile and best-loved singing groups in the world, will play to a record audience in the Abbey on 29th April and very few seats remain, so it is advised to book soon.

Much-anticipated newcomer to the Festival is Stile Antico, bringing the Musical World of William Shakespeare to the Abbey on May 3rd, in celebration of the 400th anniversary of the death of Shakespeare.  This promises to be a unique performance by one of the world’s leading early music vocal ensembles and, as excitement builds across the nation for this celebration of the Bard, timing for this event could not be more perfect.  Stile Antico has performed to the highest acclaim all around the world, and this is a very special chance to hear them perform in the Abbey – early booking is recommended for the best seats.

As always the Festival’s main aim is to promote local and young musical talent and young musicians and singers have a major role with concerts by jazz, madrigal, choral and chamber ensembles from Sherborne School, Sherborne Girls, Leweston and The Gryphon School (performing Ahoy! Sing for the Mary Rose, a fusion of Tudor-style music and British Sea Shanties).  Sherborne School’s Swing Band performances are now legendary, attracting such a large audience that their ‘Be-Bop and Swing’ concert has now moved to the Powell Theatre to accommodate fans – concert-goers are advised to arrive early for any of these free performances to be guaranteed a good seat.  And the Duruflé Trio will lead this year’s classical improvisation workshop and free performance in the Abbey afterwards on 30th April.

Other young local superstars in the making include Andrew Dewar,  with an organ recital on 2nd May.  Andrew started playing the organ at his local church in Yeovil when he was nine. He won a scholarship to Wells Cathedral School and then onto Germany where he studied at the Musikhochschule, Stuttgart. The recipient of many prizes in organ competitions, Andrew is currently organist at the American Cathedral in Paris his recital, including works by Bach, Purcell and Vivaldi, is one not to be missed!

A much anticipated highlight is the performance by Sherborne Festival Chorus, a non-auditioning community-based choir of 140 people, created in 2006 by John Baker on behalf of Sherborne Abbey Festival, to enable and encourage local people to sing to a high standard within an informal environment. Together with The Sherborne Chamber Choir and Chameleon Arts Orchestra they will present an all-English programme featuring two of our best-loved twentieth century composers, Vaughan Williams and Howells.

‘The Festival is an exciting celebration of contrasts in music and performance – from improvisation workshops, poetry and close harmonies to salon baroque, madrigals and classical ukulele’, says Festival Director John Baker, ‘Whether audiences are looking for atmospheric acoustics, or rousing sea shanties, the early May bank holiday weekend in Sherborne is definitely the place to be. We reinvest profits each year to enable as many free performances as possible – this really is ‘the people’s music festival’ and we look forward to welcoming you all again this year’.

Tickets for performances on 29th April-3rd May are easy to book online, or in person at Sherborne Tourist Information Centre.

Sherborne Abbey Festival WHAT'S ON

NB: RONNIE SCOTT’S ALL STARS PERFORMANCE IS NOW SOLD OUT!

Tickets on general release for 2016 Festival

Tickets on general release for 2016 Festival

As of 1st March, tickets for the 2016 Sherborne Abbey Festival are on GENERAL RELEASE.

From atmospheric acoustics to rousing sea shanties, Sherborne’s annual music festival guarantees to delight music lovers of all ages.

With a seventeenth season in 2016, and many awards for tourism under its belt, Sherborne Abbey Festival can justifiably be described as a well established event. There can be no doubt that, in Sherborne, the first weekend in May now means only one thing – wonderful music of all kinds!

This year’s programme, taking place from 29th April – 3rd May is no exception; full of exciting and adventurous performances, with something for all tastes and ages.  The Festival is unique in that seventy percent of all performances are free entry, making it one of Dorset’s most welcoming and accessible musical events.

This year welcomes back Sir James Galway, accompanied his equally accomplished wife, Lady Jeanne Galway, with The Juventus Ensemble and Ruth Rogers who are performing a repertoire from Mozart, Beethoven and Haydn.  An internationally acclaimed virtuoso flautist, born in Belfast and nicknamed ‘The Man with the Golden Flute’, Sir James’ recordings have sold more than 30 million copies worldwide.

The Festival also features a performance of devotional music, From the Cradle to the Cross, by globally renowned British vocal ensemble VOCES8, established as one of the most versatile and best-loved singing groups in the world, who will also stage a workshop for pupils at Sherborne Primary School as part of their visit to the town.

Audiences will enjoy one of the world’s finest early music vocal ensembles, Stile Antico, renowned for their vibrant and expressive performances of music from the Renaissance. Presenting The Touches of Sweet Harmony, an enticing programme devised to mark the 400th anniversary of the death of William Shakespeare.

As a complete contrast, direct from London’s world-famous jazz club, The Ronnie Scott’s All Stars take to the stage with world class jazz to celebrate The Ronnie Scott’s Story.

As always, local young musicians and singers have a major role with concerts by jazz, madrigal, choral and chamber ensembles from Sherborne School, Sherborne Girls, Leweston and The Gryphon School (performing Ahoy! Sing for the Mary Rose, a fusion of Tudor-style music and British Sea Shanties).  Sherborne School’s Swing Band performances are now legendary, attracting such a large audience that they have moved to a larger venue to accommodate fans.

A much anticipated highlight is the performance by Sherborne Festival Chorus, a non-auditioning community-based choir of 140 people, created in 2006 by John Baker on behalf of Sherborne Abbey Festival, to enable and encourage local people to sing to a high standard within an informal environment. Together with The Sherborne Chamber Choir and Chameleon Arts Orchestra they will present an all-English programme featuring two of our best-loved twentieth century composers, Vaughan Williams and Howells.

The Festival is an exciting celebration of contrasts in music and performance – from improvisation workshops, poetry and close harmonies to salon baroque, madrigals and classical ukulele. Whether audiences are looking for atmospheric acoustics, or rousing sea shanties, the early May bank holiday weekend in Sherborne is definitely the place to be.

For more press information and images contact:

Liz Burt, Press Officer:  liz@sherborneabbeyfestival.org

Countdown to the Festival

Countdown to the Festival

Award-winning Sherborne Abbey Festival opens on Friday 1st May for its sixteenth annual event, offering a stunning liturgical setting in a traditional Dorset town (film location for the recent screen adaptation of Far from the Madding Crowd), uplifting musical performances and a gathering of thousands in celebration of music and song.  The Festival is uniquely community spirited and accessible, with more than 70% of all concerts free entry, encouraging the enjoyment of music and the arts to new audiences of all ages.

Sherborne Abbey Festival 2015

This year’s Festival takes place over the early May Bank Holiday from 1st – 5th May, with an exceptional line up of acclaimed professional performers alongside local music scholars and schools. Highlights include ‘Strictly Viennese’ – featuring virtuoso violinist Adam Summerhayes and his orchestra with a guest appearance from Matthew & Nicole Cutler (World and European dance champions and stars of BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing) in a crowd-pleasing programme of  Strauss, Kreisler, Lehár and Tchaikovsky.  Tenebrae, a choir with a breathtaking dynamic range, performs ‘Russian Treasures’,  featuring Rachmaninov and Tchaikovsky; while British vocal ensemble VOCES8 presents ‘Devotions’, masterworks from five centuries and pitch-perfect harmonies in an inspiring candlelit concert presentation.  In this centenary year of Edith Piaf’s birth, vocalist Tina May brings to life the music and song of France’s most beloved entertainer, national icon and musical legend with ‘A Celebration of a Legend’.

As always, local young musicians and singers have a major role with concerts by jazz, madrigal, choral and chamber ensembles from Sherborne School, Sherborne Girls, Leweston and The Gryphon School, while the Dominican Convent School Choir performs a heady mix of African spiritual and secular music.  Sherborne School’s Swing Band repertoire covers everything from Sinatra to Bublé and The Gryphon School teams up with Bournemouth Sinfonietta Choir for a lively performance of composer Alexander L’Estrange’s acclaimed ‘Zimbe!’.

Local chamber group Rossignol presents ‘Music from the Court of Frederick the Great’ while Sherborne Festival Chorus and Chameleon Arts Orchestra performs Brahms and Wagner.  Classical guitarist, Samantha Muir entertains with ‘Legends and Laments’ from Brazil and Margaret Phillips, Professor of Organ at the Royal College of Music, and leading interpreter of Bach’s music, presents a memorable concert in Sherborne Abbey. For a ‘hands-on’ experience, recorder enthusiasts will enjoy the musical workshop with iFlautisti and a chance to perform with London’s leading Recorder Quartet.

Concert in aid of Save The Children

Concert in aid of Save The Children

Bryanston School’s new Music School will be the venue for this year’s annual concert, organised by the Blandford Branch of Save the Children on Thursday 9th April.

During the evening, a highly talented group of seven choral scholars and a pianist from St John’s College, Cambridge, will provide a delightful programme of music ranging from the early 16th century to close-harmony arrangements.

All the proceeds will help support the Ebola Appeal and a Families and Schools Together (FAST) programme.

The concert will be held at 7.30pm in The Mark Elder Concert Hall.

Tickets (adult £15, student £8) are available from:

The Sapling, 51 East Street, Blandford DT11 7DX (Tel/Fax 01258 452640).

Press Release: Strictly comes to Sherborne

Press Release: Strictly comes to Sherborne

(Image copyright the BBC : Matthew Cutler & Alesha Dixon)

Sherborne Abbey first as ‘Strictly’ dancers perform with internationally acclaimed virtuoso violinist

Some of the country’s finest musicians join internationally acclaimed virtuoso violinist and composer, Adam Summerhayes, on 1st May in Sherborne for what is an unexpected addition to the award-winning Festival’s 2015 programme with ‘Strictly Viennese’.  What makes the event even more spectacular is the guest appearance of World and European Latin American dancing champions, and Strictly Come Dancing professionals, Matthew and Nicola Cutler who will enchant the audience with exceptional, world-class dance and of course a Viennese Waltz! Matthew and Nicole Cutler are regarded as one of the most successful English Latin American couples of their time and Matthew famously won BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing in 2007 with his dance partner Alesha Dixon.

The Viennese Fever Orchestra, all soloists and chamber musicians in their own right, will perform a programme including the most popular Viennese compositions by Strauss, Tchaikovsky and Kreisler, led by Adam Summerhayes (whose grandfather studied the violin with Joachim’s last pupil and with Adolf Brodsky, the violinist who premiered the Tchaikovsky concerto). Adam learnt first from his grandfather and then from Yfrah Neaman, one of the twentieth century’s greatest pedagogues. He enjoys feeling linked to the historical continuum of violin playing. He has been very highly acclaimed as a chamber musician and has performed in Russia, Germany, France, Spain, the Czech Republic and the USA as well as throughout Britain.

This new performance has been launched to replace the previously advertised War Horse Only Remembered which has been re-scheduled to 7th November at the request of author Michael Morpurgo. Festival Director John Baker said ‘While obviously disappointed at changing this year’s programme, we are equally delighted that the War Horse event is re-booked, poignantly, for Remembrance weekend on Saturday 7th November, and that National Theatre puppeteers, with the magnificent life-size horse ‘Joey’ will co-star. Tickets for that performance will be on sale after 30th April. In the meantime, we are sure Festival-goers will love the replacement ‘Strictly Viennese’ event for 1st May for which tickets are now on sale’.

Tickets for ‘Strictly Viennese’ are on sale at www.sherborneabbeyfestival.org or in person at Sherborne Tourist Information Centre. Book early to avoid disappointment and to get the best experience of this unique performance in Sherborne’s magnificent Abbey setting.

 

For further press information contact Liz Burt on liz@sherborneabbeyfestival.org t: 07795 298781

For full event programme details visit http://www.sherborneabbeyfestival.org/new-strictly-viennese-7-30pm-1st-may/

For further information on the change of date for War Horse Only Remembered visit http://www.sherborneabbeyfestival.org/war-horse-remembered-is-re-scheduled/

 

EDITOR’S NOTES: Matthew & Nicole Cutler

Carl Alan Award

Matthew & Nicole have twice been the recipient of the Carl Alan Award for services to dance.

Strictly Come Dancing Winner

Matthew won the 2007 series of BBC Television’s BAFTA nominated Strictly Come Dancing with his celebrity partner Alesha Dixon and Nicole has appeared in three series.

Film Stars

Matthew was United States Ballroom Champion 1998 and the Principal Latin Dancer in the film, Burn The Floor – partnered by Nicole.

Dance Partners

Matthew and Nicole have been competing and winning trophies for over two decades. In 2005 they were UK Closed Professional Champions and World and European Professional Latin finalists. In 2004 they were British Closed Professional Latin Champions and International Professional Latin finalists.

World Latin American Champions

Matthew and Nicole were World, Open British, International and UK finalists 2000-2003, Vice European Professional Champions in 2002, UK Closed Professional Champions 2000 and 2002, World Masters Professional Latin Dance American Champions 2000, UK Open Amateur Champions 2000, Open British Amateur Champions 1997 and 1999, World, European and International Amateur Champions 1999. Matthew and Nicole win the Closed British and UK Amateur Championships for five consecutive years (95-99), were the Dutch Open Amateur Latin Champions 1998-99 and South African Open Amateur Champions 1990 and 1994.

 

 

 

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