LMP reinvents itself ‘triumphantly’

After a wonderful night of music at St John’s Smith Square, with Nicola Benedetti and Leonard Elschenbroich on top form in a thrilling and visceral programme of Beethoven and Brahms, it was gratifying to read Ivan Hewett’s review in the Telegraph which opened with a couple of paragraphs on how the LMP had managed to successfully reinvent itself, while remaining true to its roots as custodians of excellence in classical music.

You can read the review here: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/music/what-to-listen-to/best-top-classical-concerts-january-2018-review/

Neville Osrin appointed new Chairman of London Mozart Players Orchestra Ltd

We are delighted to confirm the appointment of business psychologist and consultant Neville Osrin as the new Chairman of London Mozart Players Orchestra Ltd (LMP) with effect from 1st January 2018. He takes over from Paul Archibald who is stepping down after three years in the role, whilst remaining on the board.

Paul, who has has done a brilliant job over the last three years, commented: ‘I feel that now is an excellent time to bring in some new ideas that will take the orchestra forward over the coming years. I have been proud to be part of the team that has overseen the transition of the London Mozart Players to a player-governed orchestra. The orchestra has a history of 70 years of high quality music-making and I believe Neville is the right person to guide the next stage of LMP’s exciting journey. The orchestra is a dynamic organisation and I look forward to continuing to play my part as a Director of the Board of LMP and Principal Trumpet.’

The appointment comes as we look forward to celebrating our 70th birthday in 2019, and cements a relationship with Mr Osrin who, as a member of the LMP Development Group, has been instrumental in guiding the LMP’s recent initiative in the development of ‘Podium’ – an interactive leadership programme designed to help businesses achieve greater levels of performance through the example of an orchestra’s teamwork and leadership model. Launched in December 2017, Podium fuses the thrill of live music-making with dynamic and insightful analysis of leadership issues.

Neville Osrin commented: ‘Being invited to serve as Chairman the Board of one of the world’s finest chamber orchestras is both an honour and an immense privilege. In a national and international musical landscape populated by many fine orchestras, the London Mozart Players occupy a near-unique position. It’s performances and many recordings demonstrate the extraordinary and consistent quality of its virtuosity and interpretative strengths. It is directed largely by its leader rather than a conductor, and the players themselves fill key managerial and Board roles. Their outreach programmes, community involvement, commissioning of new works and numerous innovative initiatives reveal an ensemble whose accomplishments are truly beyond the ordinary.

I look forward with great pleasure to working with the Board in meeting the many challenges facing those in the arts; enabling the LMP to thrive, while continuing to amaze and delight audiences with their peerless performances.’

Martin Grainger, sub-principal horn for the LMP since 2014, has also been appointed to the Board of Directors for London Mozart Players Orchestra Ltd.

 

Martin Grainger – Sub Principal Horn

Martin was born in Stourbridge in the West Midlands. He read Music at the University of York where he studied the horn with Bob Ashworth, and later at the Royal College of Music in London with Julian Baker Whilst there he was awarded the Sir Arthur Somervell and Manns Prize for brass playing.

He spent the following years building a varied freelance playing career working with a wide variety of ensembles such as the BBC Symphony and Concert Orchestras, Royal Northern Sinfonia, English National Ballet, and Royal Ballet Sinfonia. He first worked with the London Mozart Players in 2006 and continued to play with them regularly before being appointed sub-principal horn in 2014. He also guests with other chamber orchestras such as Britten Sinfonia and City of London Sinfonia, and regularly plays principal horn with Brandenburg Sinfonia.

Martin has also performed extensively as a chamber musician – apart from LMP chamber ensembles, he plays regularly with Locke Brass Consort, Brandenburg Brass, Camerata of London Wind Quintet and Brass Monkeys Brass Quintet. As soloist in recent years Martin has performed Strauss 2, Mozart K417, and most recently Mozart K495 with Brandenburg Sinfonia.

Martin is a firm believer in the importance of music in education and is a keen and committed teacher, holding teaching positions at Trinity School Croydon, Winchester College, Croydon Music & Arts, and Sydenham School amongst others. He also coaches the horn and brass sections for the Croydon Youth Orchestra and Croydon Youth Winds.

When not playing or teaching, Martin enjoys spending time with his family, and tinkering with cars and mostly breaking bits of them.

Sijie (Susie) Chen – Co Leader

Sijie (Susie) Chen

Sijie Chen was born in China and moved to the UK when she was 5 years old. She started studying at Chetham’s School of Music when she was still only able to play in first position, and later she led the Chetham’s Symphony Orchestra performing Mahler 6 with Mark Elder. While she was an ABRSM scholar at the Royal College of Music she reached the string finals of the BBC Young Musician of the Year Competition, studied for a year as an exchange student at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, and also fell in love with period performance. Now she enjoys a varied career performing on modern and period violins.

Sijie is most at home performing chamber music with small ensembles and in chamber orchestras. She has collaborated with Nicola Benedetti, Huw Watkins, Ben Gilmore, Alasdair Beatson, Christoph Richter, the Hebrides Ensemble, and other wonderful musicians and friends. Sijie is a founding member of the Raeburn Quartet, who play Classical quartets on gut strings. She regularly takes part in the Prussia Cove Open Chamber Music sessions, and has also performed chamber music in the Edinburgh International Festival as well as festivals in the USA, Canada and Israel.

Sijie is the co-leader of the London Mozart Players and she has appeared as leader and co-leader with the Academy of Ancient Music (of which she is a member), Scottish Chamber Orchestra (of which she was a member 2010-15), Dunedin Consort, BBC National Orchestra of Wales and Welsh National Opera, and she tours with the Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields.

Martin Smith – Violin

Martin Smith was an Exhibitioner at the Royal College of Music Junior Department and a scholarship winner at the Royal Academy of Music, where he studied violin with Lionel Bentley and Manoug Parikian. He subsequently studied further with Nicholas Roth and the renowned Russian virtuoso Grigori Zhislin. For some years he was a member of the Duke String Quartet, with whom he appeared throughout Britain and Europe, and he has also appeared with the Allegri and Bridge Quartets. He currently performs with the Ellerdale Piano Trio, which he founded in 1992, and with the Primavera Ensemble.

Martin first played with the LMP in 1988, and joined the orchestra a year later. From the outset he has been involved with the orchestra’s educational and outreach work, and particularly relishes coaching young string players. As a result he has been a key player (no pun intended) in the LMP’s many Side-By-Side projects. Away from the LMP Martin has worked with most of the UK’s leading chamber orchestras, such as the Academy of St Martin-in-the-Fields and the English Chamber Orchestra. He also leads New London Sinfonia and Orchestra Nova, and has appeared as guest leader of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Guildford Philharmonic Orchestra, Brunel Ensemble and London Concertante. He has made solo appearances around the UK and also in France, Germany, Holland and the United States, many as leader of the London Soloists Chamber Orchestra, which he led and directed for over ten years.

Martin is also active as a conductor. He has appeared with the London Mozart Players, and has led orchestral workshops for them and for ESTA. He has been conductor and artistic director of Enfield Chamber Orchestra since 2008, and of the Richmond Orchestra since 2016, and has also worked with various other orchestras in the south of England.

Martin’s hobbies include Roman roads, the outdoors in general, and the avoidance of housework. He lives in St. Albans with his solicitor wife Margaret, and hopes one day to understand his daughters.

Peter Francomb – Principal Horn

Peter Francomb began playing the horn at the age of ten.  His early studies were in Eastbourne with Jane Allen, and in London with Ifor James and Ron Harris. Early performing experience was gained with the Brighton Youth Orchestra. In 1974, he won a scholarship to the Royal College of Music, where he studied with Douglas Moore. In 1976 at the International Festival of Youth Orchestras, he won the Van Cliburn Foundation Scholarship, which funded a further year’s tuition with David Cripps and Tony Halstead at the Guildhall School of Music. On leaving college, he worked as guest principal horn with the BBC Symphony Orchestra, the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields, the Chamber Orchestra of Europe and The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.  In the field of chamber music, he has worked with the Nash and Prometheus Ensembles and since 1985 has been a member of the Albion Ensemble.

 

In 1988 he was invited to become the principal horn of Royal Northern Sinfonia and in 2018 he will celebrate 30 years as principal horn. During his time in Newcastle/Gateshead, he has played a large part of the horn solo repertoire. In 1992 he was invited to perform Giovanni Punto’s 5th horn concerto at the International Horn Convention in Manchester, and he subsequently recorded this and three other concertos for Pan Classics with Royal Northern Sinfonia. In 2016, Peter was invited to become principal horn of the London Mozart Players and he now combines these duties with Royal Northern Sinfonia. In Spring 2016, Peter performed Mozart’s 2nd horn concerto with LMP at St. John’s Smith Square. This April, Peter performed Strauss 1st horn concerto with Thomas Zehetmair conducting, at Sage Gateshead, repeated at Keswick in October. Peter continues to be invited as guest principal with the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields, The Philharmonia, The RSNO, The Scottish Chamber Orchestra, The Chamber Orchestra of Europe, BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, BBC National Orchestra of Wales, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, and Opera North.

 

Sebastian Comberti

Born in London, SEBASTIAN COMBERTI studied in Italy with Amedeo Baldovino and later with Derek Simpson and Sidney Griller at the Royal Academy of Music, from where he graduated in 1977.
In 1976 he became a founder member of the Bochmann Quartet giving concerts throughout the British Isles and in Europe. In 1983 he became principal cello with the London Mozart Players, with whom he has appeared frequently as soloist, as well as being an active member of the LMP Chamber Ensemble.

A keen interest in historically informed performance has resulted in participation with  a great many of London’s period instrument groups, frequently appearing as principal cello with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment and soloist with the  Hanover Band. Research into early cello repertoire led to several recitals being recorded by the BBC.

As soloist for CPO he has recorded 4 Cds of the Sinfonia Concertantes of JC Bach, while as a member of several  chamber groups he has recorded for CRD, EMI, Harmonia Mundi, Hyperion, Meridian, Phoenix and  RCA.  In April 2001 Sebastian Comberti founded Cello Classics, a label devoted to recordings of rare repertoire and artists, for which he has himself released CDs of hitherto unknown sonatas by Boccherini, quartets for 4 cellos, early 19th Century sonatas with fortepiano, and discs of Sonatas by Stephen Paxton and concertos by Haydn and Zumsteeg with the OAE.

LMP Christmas Treble 2017 Audition Sign up

The London Mozart Players are inviting young trebles, both male and female from the borough of Croydon to audition to perform Howard Blake’s ‘Walking in the Air’ and the opening unaccompanied verse of ‘Once in Royal David’s City’. The winning treble will perform in the LMP’s Christmas concert at St John’s Upper Norwood on 15th December.

All applicants will be auditioned by a panel from the LMP and Adrian Adams, Director of Music at St John’s Upper Norwood. These will take place at St John the Evangelist, Sylvan Road during the week of 27th November. Applicants should prepare ‘Walking in the Air’ from the Snowman and the first verse of ‘Once in Royal David’s City’. Piano accompaniment will be available.

If you require a copy of either ‘Walking in the Air’ or ‘Once in Royal David’s City’ please contact the Operations Manager, martin@lmp.org

Please send applicant’s details: Full Name/Age/School/Contact Email & Name
• by email to Jenny Brady (jenny@lmp.org); or
• by post to LMP at St John’s, St John the Evangelist, Sylvan Road, Upper Norwood London SE19 2RX

And please also indicate which days you would be available for audition:
Wednesday 29th November 4pm-6pm
Thursday 30th November 4pm-6pm

Deadline for application is Wednesday 22nd November 2017 and audition times will be confirmed by Friday 24th November. Please contact Jenny Brady jenny@lmp.org or 020 8686 1996 for any enquiries.

LMP on the Move Concert Series wins at Croydon Business Awards

We’re thrilled and delighted to have been awarded the Cultural Impact Award at Croydon Business Excellence Awards for our ‘LMP on the Move’ series. This new award, sponsored by the Rise Gallery, reflects our commitment to widen audiences for classical music – particularly among young people and non-traditional classical audiences.

Through the LMP on the Move series we have been able to develop new partnerships and discover new venues for classical music in Croydon and this has enabled us to reinvigorate awareness of the LMP within Croydon (while the Fairfield Halls undergoes a facelift) and attract an audience that really reflects all the borough’s communities.

We have been on an amazing journey, met and played with some fantastic young musicians and even surprised ourselves with the diversity of venues, audience and music. This award really is the icing on the cake. Huge thanks to our partners and collaborators and of course to our supporters and audiences!

Arts Council England | Croydon Council | Regent Land & Development | Centronic | Croydon Music & Arts | Coulsdon College | St Nicholas School | Matthews Yard | Rooftop Cinema/Lost Format Society | Croydon Libraries | Boxpark Croydon | St John’s, Upper Norwood | Fiona Brice | Ben Palmer | Paul Patterson | Rebecca Kenny| Sheku Kanneh-Mason | Shift K3Y

‘Relationships’ at Matthews Yard review

Event review: the London Mozart Players in Fiona Brice’s ‘Relationships’ at Matthews Yard, Friday 19th May


By – Wednesday 24th May, 2017

Orchestral manoeuvres in Matthews Yard

The launch night of #LMPOnTheMove at Matthews Yard once again embodied this vision of taking the power of classical music into the community to uplift, inspire and engage new audiences. The main space of Matthews Yard had been cleared to accommodate a chamber version of the orchestra, and the audience paid just £8.00 each to reserve a seat, receive a free beer and/or give a donation. This was classical music set right in the middle of Friday night in Croydon, with the hum of conversation and the deep fat fryer of BRGR&Beer hissing away in the background. As the shadows of their bows flickered across the stripped-back walls in a dynamic dance of musical light and shade, this was clearly Matthews Yard as we’d never quite seen or heard it before.One of the unexpected and wonderful outcomes of the closure of Fairfield Halls is the relocation of the London Mozart Players (LMP) to St John the Evangelist church, Upper Norwood. The longest-established chamber orchestra in the UK, formed in 1949 by conductor Harry Blech, LMP has been resident at Fairfield Halls since 1989. Executive director Julia Desbruslais described the move to St John the Evangelist as “a pivotal point in the long history of LMP”, making it ‘the first orchestra in this country to embed itself into the very heart of a living, breathing community’ with a vision “to build, connect and resonate with the people here”. Since the move in July 2016, LMP has done just that with a series of imaginative, interactive, inclusive concerts and projects with local schools, colleges, community choirs and intergenerational audiences.

It was absolutely fitting that the theme and title piece of the event was ‘Relationships’, as LMP launches a series of events which forge new relationships across the borough. The evening’s programme featured three pieces which each offered a unique reflection on relationships.

Photo by the London Mozart Players, used with permission.

Shostakovich’s Symphony for Chamber Orchestra was originally composed in only three days as String Quartet No 8. in 1960, when he had begun to experience symptoms of motor neurone disease and was contemplating suicide. In a letter to his friend Isaak Glickman, he wrote: “When I die, it’s hardly likely that someone will write a quartet dedicated to my memory. So I decided to write it to myself”. It was later intimated in his memoirs that the dedication in the score to ‘victims of fascism and the war’ was dictated by Soviet authorities and that the piece was really an epitaph. It opens with his musical signature, the DSCH motif, and references many of his other pieces and a Russian revolutionary song, ‘Tormented by Grievous Bondage’. The piece was transcribed for chamber orchestra by his friend, violist and conductor Rudolf Barshai.

We travelled the vast emotional landscapes of despair and destruction

LMP’s powerful rendering of this profound work took the listener into reflection on the deepest, darkest spaces of humanity. Artwork from students at Coulsdon College poignantly pointed to the relationship between the inner battles of the psyche and outward conflicts and war. With the mastery of expert voyagers, LMP guided us through the vast emotional landscapes of the individual and collective struggle with despair and destruction.

Hauntingly long notes were sustained against the furious thrumming of their bows, suggested the beating of a human being against the walls of their own pain and the walls of oppression. Music critic Erik Smith said that Shostokovich wept on hearing the “beautiful realisation of his most personal feelings” when the Borodin Quartet performed the piece to him at his Moscow home. I’m sure he would have been as moved as we were that night.

We felt the vibrant relevance of classical music in today’s world

Fiona Brice, composer of the evening’s title piece, reflected on the relationship between the composer and orchestra in her contemplative introduction to the evening’s programme. She described the role of the composer as transcribing emotions into a form which can then be expressed by the orchestra. The relationship between her and LMP was one of trust, she affirmed, before they embarked on the world premiere of her piece, ‘Relationships’, which was written after a relationship break-up. LMP adeptly articulated the full spectrum of feelings in the piece, from tender moments of loss to sudden upward surges of positivity.

As Fiona said, these feelings are not limited only to relationship break-up but to the human condition. An orchestrator for artists including Placebo, Sandy Dillon and Kate Nash and violinist who has performed with Kanye West, Beyonce and Jay-Z, her headlining of this programme demonstrates the LMP’s intention to underline the vibrant relevancy of classical music in today’s world.

The final piece of the evening drew us into yet another layer of relationships – that between composer and composer. Ástor Piazzolla’s The Four Seasons of Buenos Aires, based on Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, is an intoxicating dance between an Argentinian composer writing in 1969 and an Italian composer writing in 1721.  Originally written for Piazzolla’s first Quinteto of violin, piano, electric guitar, double bass and bandoneon, the pieces were arranged for solo violin and strings by Leonid Desyatnikov. The fireworks of Piazolla’s Tango Nuevo caused real-life furore amongst classical musical traditionalists – fights broke out at performances of his works and he received death threats.

These players exploded the stiff, starchy stereotypes of the traditional orchestra

Fortunately, the audience at Matthews Yard was far more appreciative! We were drawn into a time travel tango where bursts of Vivaldi rang out amidst the fury, passion, heat and amore of Buenos Aires tango. LMP leader and soloist Ruth Rogers led us deftly through this vivacious, vibrant encounter with her flamboyant, expressive performance.

The dynamic relationship between LMP’s players is a compelling dance to witness. Their passion and commitment to playing right in the thick of things explodes the stiff, starchy stereotypical images of a classical orchestra. Julia Desbruslais’s affirmation that they “absolutely love playing together” is evident in every note.  Their elaborate musical conversation bounces from bow to bow playfully, delicately, precisely, furiously. We were all on our feet cheering at the end of this magical performance which connected players, composers, listeners and the wider community in promising new relationships.


#LMPOntheMove now goes on creating new relationships across the borough at events including the sound track to Charlie Chaplin’s ‘The Gold Rush’ at RoofTop Cinema, (to be reviewed in the Citizen shortly) and an expansive future programme. For more information, click here.

David Angel (1954-2017)

The London Mozart Players is deeply shocked and saddened by the sudden death of David Angel, our beloved colleague and friend, co-principal 2nd violinist with the LMP for the past 22 years.

He will be remembered for his enthusiasm, energy, musical integrity, consummate musical knowledge, all mixed up with a wonderful sense of humour that could lift any situation. All who came into contact with David were touched by his gentleness, generosity and humility as a human being. He is a massive loss to the world of classical music and 100% irreplaceable as a musician and personality within the LMP.

He will be sadly missed, and our thoughts are with his family at this difficult time. David’s family have asked for donations in lieu of flowers to the Alzheimer’s Society.

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David Angel was a founder pupil of the Yehudi Menuhin School, where he studied with Yehudi Menuhin, Frederick Grinke, Jacqueline Salomons and Nadia Boulanger. In 1971 he won an Associated Board Scholarship to the Royal Academy of Music, continuing his studies with Frederick Grinke and receiving chamber music coaching from Sidney Griller, winning prizes for both solo and chamber music. He was a co-founder of the Maggini Quartet in 1988.

David’s solo playing received great acclaim, winning high praise in The Times for performances of Bach’s Chaconne and E major Concerto with the London Contemporary Dance, and in the Financial Times in 1988 for a performance at the Almeida Festival. He played Autumn from Vivaldi’s Four Seasons on many occasions, notably at the Barbican with the London Mozart Players, and was a soloist with London Musici.

Co-principal of the second violin section of the London Mozart Players, he led the second violins of many top London chamber orchestras, including the London Chamber Orchestra, London Musici, Orchestra of St. John’s and Sinfonia 21.

David was an ARAM and in demand as a teacher and chamber music coach; in autumn 1993 he was appointed Professor of quartet playing at Birmingham Conservatoire, and he was also an Honorary Fellow of Canterbury Christ Church University College and Brunel University.

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