Macmillan soloist Emily Davis tells Michael Archer how the Tchaikovsky concerto sparked her love affair with the violinRead More
We are very pleased to be able to announce our 2017- 2018 programme for which we welcome back Andy Morley and Leo Geyer as our two guest conductors for the season.
We will start the season on November 4th with a celebration of romantic music conducted by Andy Morley and featuring Brahms Double Concerto with soloists Benjamin Baker who we are excited to be playing with again, and cellist Michael Petrov. This will be followed by a performance of the magnificent 4th Symphony by Tchaikovsky, with its recurring "Fate" theme.
Our season continues with our now popular Christmas family concert for children on December 9th in Wimbledon Town Centre for which there will be two performances at 2pm and 4pm which will be conducted and lead by Leo Geyer, with narration by Zeb Soanes and Mezzo-Soprano Rachel Maby.
Once again we will partner with MacMillan Cancer Support for our early spring concert on March 17th to be conducted by Andy Morley. Further details for this concert will be announced soon.
We are also very excited to be holding another of our bi-annual 'athon' events on April 29th 2018. For those of you who have not experienced this event before it is a whole day playing the music of one composer - whose identity will be revealed shortly - where we welcome audience as well as guest players and conductors, and raise money for the orchestra whist enjoying a day of playing and meeting new players as well as friends of WSO. This will take place at Burntwood School in Earlsfield, SW17.
And on June 16th we will close the season with an exciting jazz themed summer concert featuring Gershwin's An American In Paris, and the dramatic and evocative Danzon 2 by Arturo Márquez and made popular by Gustavo Dudamel.
Full details will be posted shortly. You can follow WSO on Facebook (www.facebook.com/WimbledonSO) and on Twitter @WimbledonSO
In this fascinating interview, Olivia Jageurs, soloist in our upcoming Summer Concert tells Michael Archer how her career began with the WSO, talks about The 15 Second Harp, her love of Debussy and discusses some of the technicalities of this much loved instrument.
The harp is not the usual instrument for a child to be attracted to – what fired your enthusiasm for it?
I was brought up near the only on-site harp makers in the U.K., Pilgrim Harps, in Godstone, Surrey so there were a few children in the area learning. If it wasn't for seeing my best friend at primary school play it I'm not sure I would have nagged my parents to try it too.
How do you overcome the physical issues of a large instrument when you are still quite small?
Like most harpists I started on a small lever harp. I then moved on to a small pedal harps when I was a teenager and eventually had a full size concert harp of my own (once my parents were convinced I was planning on playing forever!).
Your parents must have played a very important role in the early days?
My parents are not musicians so I am just lucky they supported all my musical interests. They were definitely not "pushy" parents; I'm grateful I never had any pressure to rebel against and I only ever played for enjoyment.
Did they find you an inspirational teacher?
When I was 13 I started taking lessons at the Junior Department of Trinity College of Music (Trinity Laban), Greenwich. Gabriella Dall'Olio was my harp teacher and I remember wanting to have a life filled with stories and musical excitement like hers. Marion Friend, the director of Junior Trinity, also played a hugely supportive role in my musical development.
Was there music in the family when you began the harp?
There was a lot of Paul Simon played by my Dad, and I loved Tina Turner, but I don't remember there being much classical music except via the radio.
Were you an ‘all-rounder’ at School or did the harp ‘take over’ your life?
I went to very academic schools and I was joint first study with piano so the harp never took over. I just remember it being a constant juggling act.
What do you remember about your first public performance?
My first public performance was probably playing a 13 page piano version of the theme from "Titanic" and I remember loving the attention. My first professional experience was with Wimbledon Symphony Orchestra playing the Mozart flute and harp concerto! (03.03.2007 concert in support of Macmillan Cancer Care)
Were there particular musicians or pieces of music that inspired you in the early days?
I used to listen to Rachmaninov's Second Piano Concerto for hours. I guess the popular pieces are popular for a reason!
Was there a ‘breakthrough’ performance that really launched your career?
I don't know about breakthrough performance, but there was definitely a breakthrough phone-call. I had just finished my Masters at the Royal Academy and was sitting in Starbucks with my Dad moaning about not having a regular office job, when I got the call asking if I was free to play in the Royal Box at the Wimbledon Tennis Championships!
You definitely go through peaks and troughs being a musician: namely how you feel about your own music-making. If I'm ever having a down day I think of that Starbucks moment and that you never know what's around the corner. I have never wanted an office job since that day.
And now you are the Official harpist for the Wimbledon Tennis Championships. What exactly does that involve?
My job is to entertain guests of the Royal Box before and after the matches on the men's and women's final days. If there is any break in play due to rain I will play then too. If you normally watch the matches on TV I am positioned in the main Club House where the players walk through just before they enter the court. Luckily, I do normally get to see the action! I remember my first year playing there, in 2013 when Andy Murray won for the first time, sharing a step squeezed next to David Cameron who couldn't get back to his seat after a toilet break. The whole weekend is pretty unbelievable and it's very nice to feel like a V.I.P. once a year.
You seem to balance an amazing variety of repertoire and venues. Is that what makes music such a wonderful career for you?
Yes, I love playing all kinds of music: from classical music, to working in a West End show last year (Jeff Wayne's The War of the Worlds at the Dominion), to some occasional jazz (with bassist Herbie Flowers at Brighton Festival). I think my instrument really is so versatile that it can be involved in all genres, so I have the harp itself to thank for that. It has also taken me on some surprise adventures, such as the unveiling of the world's most expensive teapot.
Your social media project The 15 Second Harp produced an amazing response and an RPS Award (shortlisted nomination – NB: we will know on May 8). Where did that idea come from? And what are you going to do with all those 250+ submissions?
The idea for 15 second harp came from a desire to create more interesting content about classical music on social media. The photography app Instagram was becoming more and more popular and on this app the videos could only be 15 seconds long. In February 2016 I invited composers of any age and ability to send me 15 seconds of notated music; I then video recorded it and posted it online with feedback by 5pm the next day. I had just started playing in a show in the West End and I thought it would be a good challenge for myself to play some new music every day. The response was overwhelming and after announcing my intentions online I woke up to 10 submissions. Within three months I had recorded 100 of these compositions from all around the world. There is a definite need for composers to learn about how to write for the harp as it is an instrument like no other, so the project has continued and I am still being sent in snippets of musical experiments and perfectly formed 15 second miniatures.
I have created quite a few mini-suites consisting of several 15 seconds strung together. I recently performed a few of these on BBC Radio 3. I would also love for them to be published, but that is still very much a pipe dream.
Tell me about the instruments you not only play but transport from venue to venue AND, obviously, keep fully insured! It must be a commitment- and investment - similar to the concert violinist with his Strad?
I own three harps: a blonde Lyon & Healy style 85 made from maple, which I've had since I was 16 years old, a black Lyon & Healy style 30 made from ebony, which I bought last summer making it my greatest life achievement, and a very small Morley blade harp, which is roughly 100 years old.
Debussy Danses Sacrée et Profane was commissioned by the instrument makers Pleyel to promote their new harp. Is it a special work in the repertoire of your instrument?
It is a very important work in our repertoire. It was commissioned by Pleyel to showcase their new double-strung chromatic harp: a harp formed of a row of white notes that overlapped with a pentatonic row of black notes. The rival harp makers Erard responded by commissioning Ravel to write his Introduction and Allegro to show-off their double action pedal harp. It is the latter instrument we play on today but it is thanks to Pleyel that these two seminal pieces were written. As the Danses were written for a different instrument it does mean that there are a lot of tricky pedal moves that Debussy would probably have avoided had he been writing for a pedal harp instead.
What is the special appeal of the work to you?
It is a truly beautiful piece of music by one of my favourite composers of all time.
You have worked before with tonight’s conductor, Leo Geyer. What have been the highlights so far – and what have you planned for the future?
A highlight was performing Leo's piece Bronze Garden II, inspired by Barbara Hepworth, at the New Art Centre, Salisbury – a stunning sculpture park worth making a special trip to visit!
Either side of tonight’s concert, you are playing in Benjamin Britten’s Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Aldeburgh Festival – now there’s a really demanding musical ‘sandwich’! Looking forward to it?
Britten and Debussy – two of the best composers who wrote for the harp. June is definitely a good month!
To order tickets to hear Olivia perform with WSO on June 10th in Raynes Park SW20 follow the link below.
We're excited to be welcoming back guest conductor Leo Geyer for our summer concert in June featuring Harpist Olivia Jageurs. Here Leo shares a little more about the programme for this concert which we know will be a wonderful evening - "This programme is an exploration of orchestral colour, showcasing the 20th century masters of orchestration. Opening with two neo-classical dances originally written for piano, and beautifully orchestrated in both cases by Ravel. Continuing with the dance theme, Debussy’s harp concerto will be performed by the award-winning young virtuoso Olivia Jageurs www.olivia-harpist.com . The first half will conclude with Ravel’s explosive La Valse which many argue sets out to destroy the Viennese Waltz. Rimsky-Korsakov’s symphonic poem Scheherazade comprises the second half of the concert and tells the middle-Eastern folk tale One Thousand and One Nights. This love story is told through transformations of leitmotifs and dazzling orchestral colour."
This year Wimbledon Symphony Orchestra is very excited to be sharing the platform with BBC Radio and Television broadcaster Zeb Soanes. Zeb will narrate Peter and the Wolf and Little Red Riding Hood in our family concert on 20th November, which features as part of Wimbledon International Music Festival 2016. WSO’s Helena Todd took the opportunity to pose a few questions to Zeb to help us know a little more about the man behind the soothing tones that many recognise as the voice of the shipping forecast.
What are you most looking forward to about this concert?
Peter and the Wolf is a piece I have wanted to perform for years. I first heard it in my Primary school. I had a wonderful music teacher called Mr. Taylor who illustrated pieces of music on an overhead projector, then played the record and we would copy the pictures into our books - even now when I hear those pieces of music I can visualise his illustrations.
There are so many characters in Little Red Riding Hood and Peter and the Wolf. How did you devise their voices?
Mostly the voices that I hear in my head when I first read something are the ones I choose, it’s instinctual, then when you try them out loud you discover how easy they are to sustain, whether they are clear enough in a live performance. You try to make them as distinct as possible and fully rounded characters.
How do you then practice these voices into familiarity?
I don’t think about it, it’s just like singing - you think of the note and then you sing it. I think of the character and my body does what it needs to do to make the right sounds. I’ve played with my voice and made silly voices since I was a child; we had a cassette recorder with a microphone and I would pretend to be Terry Wogan or Russell Harty interviewing my sister as Margaret Thatcher.
Besides news shows, you have presented a number of music shows including The Proms and Songs of Praise. You are also a patron for Awards for Young Musicians. Where does this musical involvement come from?
From my family. My sisters and I were encouraged to play the piano, my mother was in a choir and dad played the church organ. I used to come home from school and spend hours improvising on the piano. AYM is a wonderful charity, funding talented young musicians who otherwise couldn’t afford to buy an instrument or take lessons. Two BBC young musical winners have been supported throughout their studies by the charity.
Your voice is a real tell tale of how you are feeling emotionally. How did you train out quivers, shakes, audible smiles?
A studio microphone is a very sensitive lie detector, you can’t fake ‘fun’ or ‘sympathy’ and it makes me cringe when I hear it. That means it can be tough when you’re reading the news at 5.30am and wishing you were still in bed. Everyone feels nerves sometimes, particularly when things go wrong or you’re covering a major event that you know millions are tuning in for. You develop a kit bag of psychological tricks to deal with these things and my way of handling nerves is to tell myself the butterflies are actually excitement and a willingness to get on with whatever it is I’m about to do. And an audible smile is a wonderful thing, when you want to show it: it can subtly suggest incredulity or elicit forgiveness if you’ve said something you shouldn’t.
If you could spend a month in another job of your choice, what would it be?
A tea-buyer - flying around plantations drinking tea - what could be better? (Wine could be substituted for tea if there are no vacancies but it would be a short career.)
Were there early signs of you being a news reader? How were you spotted?
I was a very shy child but it didn’t stop me wanting to be a performer so long as I was being other people. I used to invent puppet shows and do all the voices, I wrote plays in my primary school and had a very inspirational drama teacher at High School, who was rewarded with a thank you in last year’s BAFTAs by another former student. At university I was in an improvised comedy show and was spotted by the BBC because I was a good mimic until one day needed me to read the news (which was terrifying). My career-plan was to be an actor playing anyone other than myself and have ironically spent the last 20 years mostly using my own voice.
What from your childhood do you associate with Christmas?
One of the most magical children’s television programmesIsaw as a child was The Box of Delights (BBC, 1984) which had Hely-Hutchinson’s Carol Symphony as its theme. Whenever I hear that piece of music it feels like Christmas and I am 9 years old. It has made me love The First Nowell for the same reason.
Is there something in particular you would love to narrate or a show you would like to appear on?
I would love to narrate Britten’s setting of W.H. Auden’s poem Night Mail to accompany a screening of the GPO film for which it was composed and I would quite like to live in the BBC’s Cranford (only with better medical facilities).
Wimbledon Symphony Orchestra will be welcoming families and children of all ages to our "Christmas Adventures" concert on Saturday December 5th at 3.00pm at Holy Trinity Church on Wimbledon Broadway, which is within walking distance of the heart of Wimbledon town centre.
The concert will be directed and narrated by award-winning composer and conductor Leo Geyer, and will be a perfect way for children to hear a live symphony orchestra perhaps for the very first time, and for families to enjoy a festive musical tale featuring a programme of well-known music.
We hope you will be able to join WSO for a Christmas adventure like no other. Opening with joyous dances from the Nutcracker and sing-a-long carols, Christmas receives an unexpected guest – The Mountain King. After explosive dances from the Firebird, Santa returns in his Sleigh for Christmas merriment.
Our November concert will be a celebration of the life of broadcaster and friend of WSO, Paul Vaughan and will feature the beautiful and well known clarinet concerto by Mozart.
Paul Vaughan was a long-standing member and supporter of WSO. He was a celebrated broadcaster of science and arts programmes, a journalist, author and narrator and presented the Radio 4 arts programme Kaleidoscope from 1973 to 1998. Paul joined WSO in the 1960s and remained a loyal and regular player until 2010 as a member of the clarinet section as well as serving on the orchestra’s committee and writing concert programme notes.
He was a passionate chamber musician and was fond of organising informal sessions at his home. The repertoire for this concert has been selected with Paul very much in our minds and features the clarinet as a solo, chamber and orchestral instrument.
We are excited to be announcing our Concert Schedule for the 2015-2016 season, which will see WSO performing four concerts. Our November concert will be a celebration of the life of broadcaster and friend of WSO, Paul Vaughan and will feature the beautiful and well known clarinet concerto by Mozart. In December by popular request, we will be putting on an afternoon Family concert - further details to be confirmed shortly. This season our regular 'Macmillan' concert in aid of Macmillan Cancer Support will be in March featuring the monumental Sibelius Violin Concerto, and the season will close with our summer concert in June, with an exciting and diverse programme to get everyone in the mood for the start of the tennis!
We are very happy to be welcoming back Andrew Morley as guest conductor for our November and March concerts, and we are also looking forward to performing with two new guest conductors, Leo Geyer and Dominic Alldis for our Family and Summer concerts.
We are also thrilled to have secured the talents of a number of star soloists this season - Clarinettist, Joseph Shiner, and tenor, Neil Latchman as well as Joo Yeon Sir who regular WSO concert attendees may remember following her amazing performance of the Beethoven Violin Concerto with us in January 2015, and her generous and hugely enjoyable performance of the Brahms Violin Concerto at our 'Brahmsathon' event in May.
Further details for the programme for our December Family concert will be announced shortly and tickets for the November concert will also be on sale shortly - Please keep an eye on the site for details and links.
We are looking forward to an exciting and varied season and hope that you will be able to come along to hear some of the great programmes and artists that we have in store.
Our recent 'Brahmsathon' was a great success - A fun day of music making and fundraising for WSO. Under the direction of guest conductor Andrew Morley, the orchestra together with a number of visiting players, played all four Brahms symphonies, the Violin Concerto and we just managed to squeeze in one Huungarian Dance at the end of the day. We were pleased to welcome a number of guest conductors throughout the day and we would like to thank everyone for their time and support.
For more on the Brahmsathon and to find out how you can donate to WSO as part of "Brahmsathon" please follow this link - Brahmsathon Info.
On Saturday March 14th Martin performed what may already be becoming his signature work, Rachmaniniov's Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini with the Kensington Symphony Orchestra at St John's Smith Square in London.
To read the full review of this concert by Colin Anderson on Classical Source go here.
We are excited to welcome as guest conductor Andrew Morley for our forthcoming Spring Concert who will direct the orchestra performing a programme including Debussy, Rachmaninov and Tchaikovsky with the winner of BBC Young Musician 2014, Martin James Bartlett.
Andrew has held teaching posts at Lancaster University, Junior Trinity and Oxford Brookes University and is conductor of the Junior Trinity Symphony Orchestra, St. Paul’s Sinfonia, the BBC Elstree Concert Band and Southampton University Sinfonietta.
In February 2004 he was awarded first prize at the prestigious Allianz-Cornhill Musical Insurance Conducting Competition having received unanimous votes from both jury and orchestra.
After ten years, Robin Browning has stepped down as Music Director of Wimbledon Symphony Orchestra. We would like to thank Robin for his commitment and creative vision, which has seen WSO perform many successful concerts including two all-Beethoven programmes, first in 2008 at Cadogan Hall with renowned pianist Charles Owen performing the Emperor Concerto, and his final concert with WSO in Jan 2015 performing Beethoven Violin Concerto with award winning violinist, Joo Yeon Sir. In November 2014, Robin conducted our much acclaimed World War I “In Memoriam” featuring the music of Vaughan Williams, Butterworth and Shostakovich. We wish Robin all the best with his future career.
We’re very proud and happy to announce that WSO Chairman Marion Friend who recently retired as director of Junior Trinity, the Saturday school of Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance, has been awarded an MBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours List 2014. For more details read the whole story here.
We are very excited to be putting the finishing touches to our new website... watch this space...