'THE ANNUNCIATION' - ROBERT NORTH'S DRAMATIC BALLET AT KREFELD & MONNCHEN GLADBACH, Robert North Ballet Company, Monnchen Gladbach and Krefeld Opera Houses - details tba
'A MONTH IN THE COUNTRY' - CELEBRATION OF J.L.CARR, Charterhouse orchestra, Charterhouse School, Godalming 6.30pm
A celebration of the works of J.L.Carr, author of the book 'A Month in the Country'0374
Honoured guest Howard Blake as composer of the score for the film starring Colin Firth and Kenneth Branagh
SNOWMAN STAGE SHOW AT THE THEATRE ROYAL BRIGHTON, Lyrics and music by Howard Blake, Choreography by Robert North, Director Bill Alexander, design Ruari Muchison, Theatre Royal, Brighton
The company from Sadlers Wells/Birmingham Rep/The Peacock will visit Brighton for the very first time as part of touring dates furnished by the nationwide Ambassadors Theatre Group (ATG). I am very delighted about this since I grew up in Brighton and an on-stage interview about the origins and longevity of the show will be featured on Thursday 18th January.
HOW DO YOU MAKE A SNOWMAN? - Howard Blake talks about composing 'The Snowman', Howard Blake OBE plays piano and talks about writing 'Walking in the air', composing the score of the animated film of 'The Snowman', how 'The Snowman Stage Show' came about etc. Questions invited, Brighton Theatre Royal,Jan 18th 6.30-7.30pm - charity event
THE SNOWMAN STAGE SHOW AT MILTON KEYNES THEATRE, Milton Keynes Theatre
BATH PHILHARMONIA DOUBLE-BILL - 'THE SNOWMAN' AND 'THE BEAR', Jason Thornton conducted brilliant performances with The Bath Philharmonia: 'The Snowman' and 'The Bear' both with film, singers and orchestra. A presenter introduced players and instruments to fill up an entire programme of Howard's music., The Forum Bath
KATHERINE JENKINS AT THE ROYAL ALBERT HALL, Katherine Jenkins mezzo-soprano and orchestra conducted by Anthony Inglis
but who has asked Howard Blake to conduct a new arrangement of his famous song 'Walking in the air' for the occasion., Royal Albert Hall and other major tour venues
Prokofiev's Cinderella and Howard Blake's The Snowman, The Orchestra of Opera North
Hugh Brunt - conductor
John Savournin - presenter, Sun 17 December 2017
Victoria Hall. Leeds
Prokofiev - Suite: Cinderella
Howard Blake - The Snowman
Arguably the most cherished soundtrack to the Christmas season is the score to Raymond Briggs’ The Snowman. This December the Orchestra of Opera North performs the music live in all its heart-melting splendour to a screening of the animation. Sure to captivate the imaginations of young and old alike, this is not only the perfect way to spend time with loved ones, but a wonderful introduction to the thrills, chills and power of a symphony orchestra performing live. Before the screening, narrator John Savournin delights with the classic rags-to-riches tale of Cinderella with sensational music and illustrations to accompany the story.
THE SNOWMAN AND PADDINGTON BEAR IN SNAPE, Snape Maltings 4.00pm
A Christmas Classic and a beloved bear
Herbert Chappell Paddington Bear’s First Concert
Howard Blake The Snowman
Zeb Soanes narrator
The Suffolk Ensemble
Ben Parry conductor
The Snowman has been essential seasonal TV viewing for nearly four decades. But experiencing it on Snape Maltings’ big screen to the accompaniment of live orchestra adds an extra special magic that appeals to the excitable child in all of us. Before the film, a musical meeting with the ever-popular Paddington, and the narrated tale – with orchestra – of his first concert experience and the predictable mayhem that follows.
Main image © Snowman Enterprises Ltd
TOM CHAPLIN'S RELEASE OF 'WALKING IN THE AIR', Tom Chaplin, Island Records
Tom Chaplin reveals cover of 'Walking In The Air' from Christmas album 'Twelve Tales of Christmas'
New album features covers plus eight original songs
Tom Chaplin Josh Shinner
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The Independent Culture
Maybe you're grumbling that it's still too early, but face it, Christmas is almost upon us, and that means Christmas songs.
Former Keane frontman Tom Chaplin, who released a solo record earlier this year, has put together some classic covers with an interesting twist, plus eight original songs, for Twelve Tales of Christmas - a new album out via Island Records.
We're premiering his stunning cover of "Walking In The Air" from the beloved Channel 4 adaptation of The Snowman, along with the video of him performing the song.
Check it out below:
Chaplin says of the song: "'Walking In The Air' is part of the fabric of the British Christmas, defined completely by the original and definitive choirboy version. It has a kind of 'mess at your peril' quality that made it irresistible to me. The mood of my album is a darker, nuanced and more real-life version of Christmas and so we adopted those principles for our reinvention of the song.
"When we stripped it back I was struck by just how well-crafted and enchanting it really is - in its Twin Peaks Americana way, my version reimagines this classic as a dreamy, psychedelic love song."
Twelve Tales of Christmas, the alternative Christmas album from Tom Chaplin, is out now via Island Records
DAILY MAIL - 'RAYMOND BRIGGS HATES CHRISTMAS!'
HOWARD BLAKE AND THE SNOWMAN MUSIC
Walking in the Air composer Howard Blake: The doctor told me I'd be dead in five years
As Howard Blake's stage version of Raymond Briggs' The Snowman comes to Brighton, the composer tells EDWIN GILSON how a doctor's doomy diagnosis led to the creation of his masterpiece Walking in the Air
HOWARD Blake knows all too well the pros and cons of being known for one work of art.
But while Raymond Briggs appears to largely resent the success of his 1978 picture book, Blake has found peace in regards to his role in the The Snowman’s enduring legacy. Blake wrote Walking in the Air over a decade before it enchanted the nation in the Channel 4 animation of The Snowman, and it remains by a distance his most famous piece of a long career in music and film.
From his session musician work at Abbey Road to his days scriptwriting The Avengers to scoring Hollywood films, Blake has proven himself to be a man of many talents.
“It’s difficult because Walking in the Air is just one of many, many things I’ve written,” says the 79 year-old, who was awarded an OBE in 1994. “But it doesn’t bother me because it’s happened to a lot of composers. You can complain about not being recognised but I don’t think you can really complain about being recognised.”
If Blake’s musical contribution to The Snowman is one of the factors behind its lasting appeal, another is the stage show that he created more than 20 years ago and that has been running ever since. The production comes to Theatre Royal Brighton next month and Blake is excited about making the journey from his home in London to spend a week in the city he has gleeful memories growing up in (more on that later).
Briggs’ illustrations in his book include the Royal Pavilion and Brighton Palace Pier. In many senses, this is a homecoming for The Snowman. Needless to say, Blake has a less hands-on role with the show than he did two decades ago; director Bill Alexander and choreographer Robert North are responsible for the daily operations.
The show is loosely based on Briggs’ book but, as Blake points out, the original story is rather featherweight to be directly translated to a feature length production. Blake’s additional touches include new characters in the shape of Jack Frost (“a force of evil”) and the Ice Princess and a bizarre scene with a motorcycle. Despite the long-running popularity of the production, Blake says it was “very nearly a washout” when it was first staged in the mid-nineties.
“It went well in Birmingham but the transfer to London was a bit shaky,” he says. “I wasn’t sure if it was going to work at all and there was a rumour going around that the boss of Sadler’s Wells Ian Albery was going to drop it. He said the story needed more of a plot, more tension. He let me rewrite it and when he saw the revised version he said: ‘you’ve cracked it, it’ll run forever’”.
How right Albery was. However, it seems everybody else involved with the story in its various incarnations is surprised about its lifespan – not least Blake.
“It’s been a big part of my life since 1981 when I did the film, and I thought that would be it. But then more than ten years went past and the stage show happened, and here we are.”
The uplifting, ethereal Walking in the Air was born out of a very stressful time in Blake’s life. After his work on The Avengers he was being “bombarded with commercial work” and writing for different projects around the clock.
“I was busy as hell all the time,” says Blake. “I thought, ‘is this what I really want to be doing?’ I noticed my hands were starting to shake. I went to a doctor and he said I was going to be dead in five years and that I should stop now.”
Blake had already realised he needed to slow down. One day he got in a car and drove to Cornwall where he stayed in a beach hut for three months doing lots of yoga and “thinking a lot – although it wasn’t a nervous breakdown, as such”. He wanted to write a symphony that “expressed innocence” as a reaction to all the corporate work he’d been doing, something that reflected his “newfound attitude to life”.
Inspiration soon struck. “I was walking along the beach and the tune of Walking in the Air came into my head, so I wrote it down on a piece of paper. I thought it was marvellous.” Eventually Blake’s agent tracked him down and asked if would consider going back to civilization. He did, but not to London. Instead he found refuge in Sussex – Cuckfield, to be exact – where he had the space to fully flesh out his composition.
However, nothing became of Walking in the Air until Blake was contacted by the creative team behind the fledgling Snowman film in 1981. They were having difficulties with the music for the movie so turned to Blake – only for the composer to convince them that the entire 26 minute film should be dialogue-free and consist only of his own music. The audacious idea worked.
Channel 4 took The Snowman on and, as Blake says, “the rest is history”. Walking in the Air took on a new life three years after the film was broadcast thanks to Aled Jones’ haunting cover (schoolboy Peter Auty sung the movie version).
Blake and Jones have never had any kind of relationship and the composer has nothing to say about Jones being axed from his role on Songs of Praise due to recent allegations. Brighton played a pivotal part in Blake’s interest in music, film and the intersection of the two. His first memory of music is his mother playing piano through the wall of their flat in Preston Road. Blake was born in Enfield, London, but his father moved the family to Brighton at the end of the war. The composer is rhapsodical about the impact the city had on him.
“I just adore Brighton and my life there growing up was fantastic,” he says. “It was a marvellous place, full of theatre, dance and performance. There were so many venues that have now closed down; The Hippodrome, The Grand Theatre and the Paris Cinema to name a few.”
HARP CONCERTINO IN THE RHEINLAND, Conductor Tobias van de Locht, Dec 2nd Witten University Hall. Popular University Orchestra
Dec 17th City Church, Cologne. Rainbow Symphony Orchestra
December 2nd and 3rd, 2017
Witten University Hall
Popular University Orchestra conducted by Tobias van de Locht
FELIX MENDELSSOHN: "Christus" (Oratorio fragment)
HOWARD BLAKE: "The Music Box" (Concertino for Harp and Strings)
FELIX MENDELSSOHN: Symphony No.5 "Reformation"
MALCOLM ARNOLD: "Commonwealth Christmas Overture"
TOBIAS VAN DE LOCHT: Symphony No.1 "Christmas Symphony"
December 10th and 17th, 2017
City Church, Cologne
Rainbow Symphony Orchestra conducted by Tobias van de Locht
LEROY ANDERSON: Sleigh Ride
PETER TSCHAIKOVSKY: Waltz of the Flowers from The Nutcracker
MALCOLM ARNOLD: Whistle Down the Wind
LUDWIG VAN BEETHOVEN: Fidelio Overture
RALPH VAUGHAN WILLIAMS: Fantasia on Greensleeves
HOWARD BLAKE: The Music Box
arr. STEVE NOBLES: O du fröhliche (zum Mitsingen)
RICHARD ADDINSELL: Scrooge (Suite)
Saturday, December 2, 2017 in the Friedenskirche Monheim, Schellingstr. 13, 40789 Monheim on the Rhine
Sunday, December 3, 2017 at the University of Witten-Herdecke, Alfred-Herrhausen-Str. 50, 58455 Witten 03/12/2017
every 6 pm
On the occasion of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, Tobias van de Locht will again perform his First Symphony, which was commissioned by the Northelbian Church for the Year of Luther in 2013 and has since been heard in Braunschweig, Peine, Düsseldorf, Königswinter and Bonn. In the work, which was originally conceived as a Christmas cantata and extended to a symphony cantata in 2015, Tobias van de Locht sets all Luther texts about Christmas, so that the symphony now fits perfectly into this pre-Christmas concert, the 500th anniversary of Luther's theses in Wittenberg pays homage. In the center of the concert is therefore also Mendelssohn's Reformation Symphony , which in the last sentence the Luther chorale A solid castle is our God processed. The two symphonies are complemented with other genuine rarities: a choral setting from Mendelssohn's unfinished oratorio Christus , in which, among other things, the chorale How beautifully lit the morning star sounds, Sir Malcolm Arnold's fierce Commonwealth Christmas Overture , in which the great old man of the British music scene, creator The River Kwai March and Mentor by Tobias van de Locht have set the stage for Christmas in all parts of the Commonwealth (including Caribbean sounds) and a world premiere, the Concertino for Harp and Strings by Howard Blake, the creator of what is probably the most famous Christmas tale The snowman wrote for harpist Isabelle Marchewka. Look forward to a varied and festive evening!
FELIX MENDELSSOHN-BARTHOLDY: Christ (oratorio fragment)
HOWARD BLAKE: The Music Box (Concertino for harp and strings, world premiere)
MENDELSSOHN: Symphony No.5 in D minor op.107 Reformation Symphony
MALCOLM ARNOLD: Commonwealth Christmas Overture
TOBIAS VAN DE LOCHT: Symphony No.1 in F minor op.48 Christmas Symphony
Addition: ROBERT SCHUMANN arr. Tobias van de Locht: Servant Ruprecht
ISABELLE MARCHEWKA, Harp
KERSTIN ENZWEILER, alt
Cantabile choir Dusseldorf (rehearsal: Ralph Erkelenz)
Concert Choir of the Monheim Choir Season (rehearsal: Matthias Standfest)
Percussion ensemble Tobias Liebezeit
Symphony Orchestra Witten-Wetter-Herdecke
TOBIAS VAN DE HOCHT, Head (Witten-Herdecke)
MATTHIAS STANDFEST, Head (Monheim)
© 2008 - 2018 www.tobiasvandelocht.com
SNOWMAN STAGE SHOW - 20TH YEAR AT LONDON'S THE PEACOCK, Based on the Raymond Briggs book and the Channel 4 TV animated film.
Howard Blake, script, lyrics, music;
Robert North choreography;
Bill Alexander direction
Snowman Dance Company, Manchester Opera House 6 Nov
Glasgow Theatre Royal 13 November
Peacock/Sadlers Wells 27 November-December 25th
Southampton Mayflower 8th January 2018
Milton Keynes 15th January 2018
Brighton Theatre Royal 22nd January 2018
THE OTHER PALACE AND TOM CHAPLIN, An evening with Andrew Lloyd Webber at his intimate theatre venue 'The Other Palace', presenting the greatest Christmas hits, starting with Howard Blake playing a piano version of 'Walking in the Air' and ending with 'I'm dreaming of a white Christmas' presented by Irving Berlin's grand-daughter, along with young songwriters presenting their new work. The evening was presented by Alistair Lloyd-Webber and Don Black. Tom Chaplin had prepared to perform a new version of 'Walking in the Air' with Howard since he had recently released an album which included it, but he was unfortunately indisposed.
SNOWMAN STAGE SHOW AT GLASGOW THEATRE ROYAL
SNOWMAN STAGE SHOW AT MANCHESTER OPERA HOUSE
BEETHOVENFEST IN BONN, Susanne Kessel (piano)
Within a long piano recital Susanne Kessel will play
nine premieres and ten more piano pieces of the Beethoven project, (200th anniversary).
Eight composers from Bonn will be her guests on stage to talk and discuss., Post Tower Lounge Bonn (Beethovenfest)
MUSIC FOR LUDWIG
Susanne Kessel performs new music
Probably none of the listeners on Saturday evening at the Post Tower Lounge followed the advice by Susanne Kessel to start practising the already published “250 piano pieces for Beethoven”!! For that reason the international composition project might be thought too ambitious. Nevertheless this concert, placed in the agenda of a supporting program of the Beethovenfest presented inspiring insights into contemporary composition techniques.
Kessel had nine world premieres in her program with several of the composers present to explain their works and their references to Beethoven - Otfried Büsing, Wilfrid Maria Danner, Jan Kopp, Pierre Thilloy and Ruth Wiesenfeld. Beside that Beethoven himself was performed and we also heard works by Anton Diabelli and Christian Gottlob Neefe (Beethoven’s teacher) The assembly of four premieres in the program’s second part was dramaturgically ingenious, the works by Roberto Oetomo, Alan Crossman, Kadhija Zeynalova and Howard Blake signalling a more tonal language.
Kessel explained that, while Zeynalova's “In memoriam Ludwig van Beethoven” weaves two themes from Beethoven's work together in dreamlike musical impressionism, Blake presents a solution of this “task” in a pragmatic-tongue-in-cheek manner, using a piece of music once created for an advertising spot for a Belgian milk company, where hints of the “Ode to Joy” emerge as milk pours into a glass!
The pianist from Bonn performed all of this with bravura, great flexibility and virtuosity, with a maximum of sensitivity and infectious enthusiasm for those differently sparkling compositorical references to Beethoven. This most musically-colourful concert received much applause.
'A CELEBRATION OF HOWARD BLAKE' BY THE ROYAL PHILHARMONIC, Howard Blake, composer/pianist/conductor with Benedict Kloeckner (cello), Nicolas D'Autricourt (violin) and Sophie Witte (soprano), The Cadogan Hall,Chelsea,London, September 7th. 2017, 7.30pm
Bold romanticism: Howard Blake's Piano Concerto and Diversions
Howard Blake Sleewalking, Piano Concerto, Diversions, Elegia Stravagante; Sophie Witte, Sasha Grynuk, Benedict Kloeckner, Nicolas Dautricourt, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Howard Blake; Cadogan Hall
|Howard Blake and Benedict Kloeckner performing together in 2012|
Reviewed by Robert Hugill
on Sep 7 2017
Star rating: Howard Blake's piano concerto at the centre of an evening of his complex, and dramatic concertante works The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra opened its 2017/18 season with a programme of music by Howard Blake, conducted by the composer. The centrepiece of the programme was Blake's Piano Concerto, originally commissioned by the Philharmonia Orchestra to celebrate the 30th birthday of Diana, Princess of Wales in 1991. Blake himself performed the taxing piano part at the premiere, this time he conducted with Sasha Grynyuk at the piano. Cellist Benedict Kloeckner was the soloist in Blake's Diversions for cello and orchestra (a work originally written for Maurice Gendron), and Kloeckner was joined by violinist Nicolas Dautricourt to give the premiere of Blake's Elegia Stravagante (Duo Concertante) for violin, cello and orchestra. The evening opened with a new version of Blake's Sleepwalking for soprano and string orchestra, with soprano Sophie Witte.
Howard Blake remains best known for his music for the animated film The Snowman
, with the song Walking in the air
remaining inextricably linked with the composer's name. But his career has been far wider and varied than this, encompassing film music including Ridley Scott's The Duellists
as well as a substantial body of concert music. But if you only know Blake from The Snowman
and the film music, his concert music can be something of a surprise. Tonal and approachable in a tradition that links Blake to his original composition teacher at the Royal Academy of Music, Howard Ferguson, Blake writes large scale pieces of great depth and complexity. (Read my interview with Howard Blake
was originally written as a companion piece to Villa Lobos' Bachianas Brasileiras No. 5
, for the same forces soprano and eight cellos. In his programme note Blake talked about finding the idea of eight cellos conjuring up the world of dreams, and his piece posits a scenario of a young woman asleep who then goes sleepwalking through various traumas before returning to sleep. Starting from atmospheric high sustained strings with the soprano vocalise over the top (the whole piece is wordless) the piece moved through seven highly contrasting movements, finally returning to the tranquillo of the opening. We had a series of highly varied moods evoked by instrumental writing very much in the English tradition of string music, from lyrical through to darker dramatic episodes. Witte sang with a lovely even tone, and a beautiful freedom at the top. A well put-together piece which did not quite take me on the journey the composer intended, and I would be interested to hear the original version.
Howard Blake's Piano Concerto
is a large-scale dramatic work. It was in some ways the most conventional work in the programme, in three movements (the others were in seven or eight) and the only one to use classical sonata form. Christopher Palmer's 1991 programme note used the term Mozartian, but the composers who came to mind were Rachmaninov and Tippett; Rachmaninov for the big boned romanticism piece, particularly the piano writing, whilst Tippett for the way the piano texture sometimes eschewed showy bravura (but not complexity) and created a continuous texture which flowed over the orchestra..
The first movement started with an understated ear-worm on the piano alone, which Blake then developed into something more dramatic with tutti. Sasha Grynyuk was tireless, and indeed the piano solo got little rest in this movement. Even the cadenza eschewed virtuosity and was rather thoughtful and, unusually, ended the movement. The second movement started with solo piano chords accompanying solo violins and viola, until the tables were turned. The melodic piano line wandered expressively, but always with an elegant simplicity, and finally the whole ensemble moved the temperature up a notch and we got something richly romantic. The final movement started with a perky piano toccata, and developed into a series of variations with hints of jazz/blues. Often highly vigorous, the jaunty melody passed round the orchestra, but always with the piano to the fore over the top. Towards the end we had a simple return to the main theme in the piano before the big finish.
Blake's Piano Concerto
is a terrific work, I enjoyed his recording of it (see my review
) and I enjoyed this performance immensely. Sasha Grynyuk brought out the poetry in Blake's writing, and played the part with great flair. With longer rehearsal time, there would have been chance to iron out some of the issues of balance, Grynyuk's approach concentrated on poetry and nuance rather than sheer power, but overall he and the orchestra brought it off brilliantly and I hope it makes other orchestras interested.
After the interval the German cellist Benedict Kloeckner played Blake's Diversions
. Originally written for Maurice Gendron (who encouraged Blake to add a cadenza and generally make the piece more virtuosic), the premiere was given by Steven Isserlis in 1989. But then it slept somewhat until Kloeckner played the version for cello and piano in the semi-finals of the European Broadcasting Union Awards in Bratislava (and went on to win the competition). Subsequently Kloeckner had played the work a number of times with Blake accompanying on the piano. But for this concert we heard the original orchestral version. It is based on an instrumental dance suite, with eight movements encompassing scherzo, march, waltz, aria serenade and sarabande, though in each Blake develops things in interesting ways. We started with Kloeckner's cello singing over an intense rather dark orchestral accompaniment. The scherzo was full of character, and toccata-lie, whilst the march developed into a really big romantic solo for the cello (and Kloeckner really made the piece sing here). The waltz was wistful and rather sly, with the cello line weaving in and out of the orchestra, and the serenade had the solo duetting with the oboe before moving into the perky sarabande which developed into a cadenza which had orchestral comments (including not quite raspberries from the bassoons). The finale was fast and furious, and completely joyous. Kloeckner clearly loves this work, and the virtuosity of the piece seems to suit him, he made everything magically engaging.
The final work in the programme was a new piece, Elegia Stravagante (Duo Concertante)
for violin (Nicolas Dautricourt) and cello (Benedict Kloeckner). In seven movements, it started with violin and cello alone playing a melodic motif that sounded suspiciously like noodling, but in fact proved a fertile source for the musical inspiration of the piece. For much of the piece, the two soloists play together (in unison in some movements), and the effect was more like the structure of a baroque concerto rather than the large-scale battle of a full blown Romantic concerto.
During the work's seven movements, Blake brings back the original motif repeated in vastly different guises, creating some intense and full blown romantic moments, interspersed with episodes using different material such as a 'jazz fugue'. The two soloists often soared in unison (at one point at a 16th) over the orchestra, and the was a notably intense solo moment for Benedict Kloeckner, whilst a rather threatening orchestral passage rather evoked Walton. For the ending, there was a sense of the piece gradually unwinding, a moment for violin solo turned into a duet with the cello and the piece ended with just the two of them returning to the original motif.
This was a long and substantial concert, full of dramatic and complex music. It was a great pleasure to finally hear Blake's Piano Concerto
live, as well as to experience the full orchestral colours in Diversions
. Throughout Blake was supported by the sterling players of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, playing nearly two hours of complex and unfamiliar music, whilst the soloists encompassed the taxing demands of the solo parts in brilliant fashion.
Of course, no Howard Blake concert would be complete without The Snowman
and as an encore Dautricourt and Kloeckner joined Blake and the orchestra for a version of Walking in the Air
specially created for the occasion Elsewhere on this blog:
HOWARD BLAKE CONDUCTS AN EVENING OF HIS MUSIC
with The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and soloists
at The Cadogan Hall
September 7th 2017 at 7.30pm
SLEEPWALKING opus 505 for soprano vocalise and full string orchestra
Solo soprano: Sophie Witte.
Tranquillo - Allegretto - Maestoso- Vivace – Adagio – Allegro Furioso – Tranquillo
CONCERTO FOR PIANO AND ORCHESTRA opus 412
Solo piano: Sasha Grynyuk
Tranquillo, Allegro con brio - Andante espressivo - Vivace
DIVERSIONS FOR CELLO AND ORCHESTRA, opus 337
Solo cello; Benedict Kloeckner 23 minutes
Prelude; Scherzo; March; Waltz; Aria; Serenade; Sarabande & Cadenza; Finale
ELEGIA STRAVAGANTE (DUO CONCERTANTE), for violin, cello and orchestra premiere performance 16 minutes
Solo Violin: Nicolas Dautricourt , Solo Cello: Benedict Kloeckner
Orchestration: 1 Flute, 1 Oboe, 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons, 4 horns, 1 percussion (cymbals and tam-tam) and strings
Andante (rapsodico) - Scherzo malizioso - Tragico - Grave, molto espressivo –Allegro furioso - Giojoso, estatico - Andante, come prima
encore: 'WALKING IN THE AIR'
in a new arrangement for violin, cello and string orchestra
A Conversation with Howard Blake News
Wednesday 2 August 2017
Hannah Nepil talks to Snowman composer Howard Blake
Let’s get one thing clear. Howard Blake has written plenty besides the music to the The Snowman. The septuagenarian British composer reminds me of this himself in no uncertain terms when we speak; not that I need it: the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra is doing a good job of that already, having scheduled a concert this September devoted to Blake’s orchestral output.
Still, it is undoubtedly The Snowman for which Blake is best known. So I’m relieved when, after much stalling, and protestations of ‘I don’t want to do this over the phone’, Blake finally agrees to talk about the inspiration behind the 1982 Christmas TV classic. ‘I’d had this theory back when I was a student that you could write a film with music and without any words, and sustain the story that way,’ he explains. It was several years later though - in the early 1970s - that Blake dreamt up the tune for Walking in the Air, while living in a beach hut in Cornwall for two months to get away from it all. ‘I was walking along a long beach when this tune came into my head. So I wrote it down thinking it would be the start of a symphony,’ Instead the tune sat around for eleven years, until, by coincidence, Blake was shown a demo tape for a children’s film called The Snowman. ‘I looked at it and realised that my song would fit fantastically with this visual. That sparked the whole thing off... But I said I would only compose the music on condition that there was no dialogue.’
Contrary to what many might think, Blake wrote the whole score without once meeting Raymond Briggs, the creator of the original children’s picture book on which the film is based. And the two continue to hold different attitudes to the Snowman phenomenon. Briggs, who hates Christmas, allegedly refers to it as ‘the ’S’ word’, and wants little to do with it. Blake, meanwhile, is obviously proud of it. He seems disappointed at not being asked to write the music to the sequel The Snowman and Snowdog, of which he is no fan (‘I think ‘Dog’ is the operative word. It’s a terrible film’ he chortles) and emphasises that The Snowman is something of a ‘household work.’ Still, he says, ‘whenever I’m introduced anywhere, people say: ‘This is Howard Blake, who wrote The Snowman, as though that’s the only thing I’ve ever written.’
He compares this predicament to that of Beethoven, who, in his lifetime ‘was known for a long time for having written Für Elise,’ and Rachmaninov, ‘who was celebrated for his C Sharp Minor Prelude.’ Admittedly, Blake’s career path was not as clear-cut as theirs: he spent a while working as a film projectionist at the National Film Theatre. But his musical credentials are unassailable: he played the piano and sang from childhood, then, at the age of 18, won a scholarship to the Royal Academy of Music.
And, with an output of more than 650 works, he is nothing if not prolific. ‘Everything I write is melodic; i believe that the essential ingredient of all great music is melody.’Not a fan of Boulez then? ‘I’m an extreme enemy of Boulez,’ says Blake, ‘I’ve never met anyone in my life who actually listens to his music but I have read incessant articles about him being the world’s greatest composer. I’d like to say ‘prove it.’ He continues, ‘But the last laugh is with me at the moment. There are far more people who know Walking in the Air, than know a piece by Boulez.’
This helps to explain why, in 1994, Blake received an OBE for his services to music. And why he was commissioned to write a Piano Concerto celebrating Princess Diana’s 30th birthday in 1991. ‘It was a great honour for me. I set about writing a tune which summed up Princess Diana, that was cheerful and innocent like she was.’ Evidently the results went down well: after the performance, Blake was invited up to the royal box to drink champagne with the princess. ‘She said she loved it. And actually, it was never known that her grandmother was a concert pianist, and Diana herself was quite a good pianist; in fact she could play a chunk of Rachmaninov’s 2nd Piano Concerto.’ He continues, ‘so when she said she enjoyed my Piano Concerto, that wasn’t some bimbo who went to discos. That was someone who played Rachmaninov.’
The Piano Concerto is one of the works that will feature in the RPO’s concert this September, marking 20 years since Diana’s death. There is one work, however, that Blake is itching to have performed in the UK: namely The Station, his 1991 chamber opera for five singers and two tea ladies. ‘It’s about waiting for trains that never come in, and it’s a super, very funny little opera. But I’ve never managed to get to know anybody in the opera world ever, so it’s rarely performed.’ Let’s hope that this upcoming RPO concert will convince music lovers that, when it comes to Blake’s compositions, a revival of interest is overdue.
Written by Hannah Nepil
'TIME OUT' STOP-PRESS SEPTEMBER 7TH 2017
Just missed it!
Don’t miss out on half-price tickets to this musical celebration of the life of Princess Diana
You might not know Howard Blake by name, but you’ll know his music. Blake is best known for his soundtrack to the classic kids’ film ‘The Snowman’ – music that has sent shivers downs the spines of millions. At this concert, the 78-year-old composer will be conducting the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in a series of music he wrote around the life and death of Princess Diana. Collectively, it’s a bittersweet body of work: ‘Piano Concerto’ was written to celebrate the princess’s thirtieth birthday, while ‘Sleepwalking’ was a response to her tragic death in 1997 and a brand-new piece, ‘Elegia Stravagante’, commemorates its twentieth anniversary. Our offer brings ticket prices down from £40 to £20. Don’t miss the chance to witness an immensely talented musician conduct his own material.
Benedict Kloeckner Performs with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra for the Howard Blake Concert in Cadogan Hall on Thursday 7th September
Sep 06, 2017 in Concerts
In London on Thursday 7th September, Benedict Kloeckner plays once again with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra for the Howard Blake concert organized by the Cadogan Hall to commemorate the 20th anniversary of Lady Diana’s death. Howard Blake will conduct his works himself.
This is not the first time the Made in France cellist is collaborating with the British composer, Blake’s Cello Sonata being composed for Kloeckner. He regularly works with contemporary composers such as Eric Tanguy and Wolfgang Rihm. Considered one of the most promising German cellists, Benedict Kloeckner is internationally recognized for his technical control and intonation. He regularly performs on prestigious stages around the world (Carnegie Hall, Berlin Philharmonic Hall, the Musikverein Wien).
While he has performed before at the Cadogan Hall and at the Barbican Centre, this is Kloeckner’s first performance of an entirely British programme.
07 September 2017 – 19:30 | Cadogan Hall | London, UK
Blake, Sleepwalking (for soprano vocalise & strings)
Blake, Concerto for Piano and Orchestra
Blake, Diversions for Cello and Orchestra
Blake, Elegia Stravagante (Duo Concertante) – World Premiere
Benedict Kloeckner is managed by the French agency CLB Management. To learn more about the Made in France cellist, click here.
HOWARD BLAKE & NORMA HERRMANN JOIN IN 'RUNNING WITH THE KIDS' - A 50' FILM ABOUT BERNARD HERRMANN, NORMA HERRMANN TALKS ABOUT HER HUSBAND BERNARD HERRMANN WITH FRIEND AND COMPOSER HOWARD BLAKE, SPITFIRE VIDEO (YOU TUBE)
A 50-MINUTE INTERVIEW RECORDED AT ST.LUKE'S CRIPPLEGATE IN THE BARBICAN
PIANO CONCERTO IN OFFENBURG - EVELYN HILSCHMANN, Eveleyn Hilschmann,Muttertagskonzerte Der Philharmonie am Forum, with Rolf Schllli, Reithalle,Musikschule in Offenburg, Germany
Dienstag, den 2. Mai 2017 um 12 Uhr in den Raum 130 der Musikschule in Offenburg
.Wir möchten Ihnen das Programm und die Highlights des kommenden Muttertagskonzerts der Philharmonie am Forum
vorstellen (14.5.17, Reithalle). Teilnehmen werden Rolf Schilli, Leiter der Philharmonie am Forum, sowie die Solistin Evelyn Hilschmann.
'THE BEAR' WITH THE MALAYSIAN PHILHARMONIC, The Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra, Five children's concerts in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
EINE FRAU OHNE NAMEN - 'A WOMAN WITH NO NAME' - KREFELD AND MONNCHEN GLADBACH OPERA HOUSES, Robert North Dance Company with soloists choir and full orchestra conducted by Alexander Steinitz, Krefeld Opera Rheinland Germany
Two-act ballet, the score consisting of major musical works and excerpts of works by Howard Blake. Scenario, Choreography and Direction by Robert North,
The ballet opened in March 2016 and ran for many performances divided between both houses closing on February 7 2018
PIANO CONCERTO IN KARLSRUHE - KIT ORCHESTRA, INDLEKOFER/HILSCHMANN, Evelyn Hilschmann (piano),Nikolaus Indlekofer (cond.) KIT Philharmonic Orchestra
'DIVERSIONS FOR CELLO AND ORCHESTRA' IN PORTO, PORTUGAL - BENEDICT KLOECKNER & MICHAEL SANDERLING, Solo Cello Benedict Kloeckner, Conductor Michael Sanderling, Orquestra Sinfonica Porto Portugal, Porto, Portugal
Two performances of 'Diversions' in the version for cello and full orchestra.
'WOMAN WITHOUT A NAME' AT KREFELD OPERA HOUSE, The score of the two-act ballet 'Eine Frau Ohne Namen' (A woman without a name), scenario, choreography and direction by Robert North, consists entirely of excerpts of works by Howard Blake particularly passages from the oratorio 'Benedictus', Various performances wer given at Monnchen-Gladbach Opera from 14th May - August 2016 and
Theater Krefeld opened their own run of the work on October 2nd 2016 for various performances up to March 22nd 2018
Ballett von Robert North Musik von Howard Blake (*1938)Soprano solo Sophie Witte. Niederrheinische Sinfoniker and choir conducted by Alexander Steinitz
ISABELLE - RELEASE OF A CD OF HARP MUSIC, Isabelle Marchewka, Dusseldorf, Residenz Grafenberger Wald
A composite album of music by William Alwyn, Malcolm Arnold, Howard Blake, Jan Friedlin, Tobias van de Locht and Miklos Rosza
FIRST VISIT OF THE SNOWMAN TO THE MARLOWE THEATRE CANTERBURY, Snowman touring company
HOWARD BLAKE COMPOSER OF 'THE SNOWMAN' LIVE AT THEATRE ROYAL BRIGHTON, Howard Blake talks with Gavin Henderson about 'The Snowman' and plays some of his music, Brighton Theatre Royal, 18th January 2018 6.30pm tbc
JAUME COMAS PERFORMS THE SNOWMAN IN CATALAN, "The Snowman" with Jaume Comas (narrator), Ana Puche(soprano),The Liverpool String Quartet(Jim Clark,Sarah Hill,Daniel Sanxis,Alex Holladay.) Cesar Franck Piano Quintet with Martin Roscoe (piano)
Martin Roscoe (piano), Ana Puche (soprano), Jaume Comas (narrator) and
Liverpool String Quartet, Saint Vincent, Castellvell del Camp,Tarragona,Spain, January 6th, 8.00pm (other venues 7,8 tbc)
Day: 6th Jannuary, 2017
Hour: 7:30 pm
Venue: Església de Santa Maria Assumpta
Day: 7h Jannuary, 2017
Hour: 20:30 pm
Venue: Esjlésia de Sant Vicenç Màrtir
Town: Castellvell del Camp
- Howard Blake (OBE): A MONTH IN THE COUNTRY (FOR STRING QUARTET) (opus
611) THE SNOWMAN CONCERT VERSION for narrator (or film), boy soprano and
orchestra (opus 323)
- Cesar Frank: Quintet for Piano and Strings
- Music from films and traditional Christmas songs.
THE SNOWMAN WITH CINCINNATI POPS
The Snowman with the Pops
December 23, 2016
John Morris Russell, conductor
The heart-warming animated Christmas film The Snowman has been a beloved staple of family holiday entertainment for over 30 years. Your Cincinnati Pops perform Howard Blake’s beautiful score live as the movie plays in high definition over the stage.
SNOWMAN WITH THE BOURNEMOUTH SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA, Hugh Brunt conductor, Pui Fan Lee presenter, Lighthouse,Poole
Tuesday 20 December
The Snowman and Paddington Bear Screening with live orchestra
CONDUCTOR Pui Fan Lee Presenter
FOUR PERFORMANCES OF THE SNOWMAN WITH THE HALLE, The Snowman (screening with live music)
The Snowman (screening with live music)
conductor | Tom Redmond
narrator | TBC boy soprano
Herbert Chappell Paddington Bear’s First Concert | Howard Blake The Snowman
Tuesday 20 December 2016 1:30 PM The Bridgewater Hall
'THE LAND OF COUNTERPANE' AND 'THE SNOWMAN' - ALDEBURGH DOUBLE BILL, The girls of The National Children's Choir and the Suffolk Ensemble, directed by Ben Parry, Snape Maltings Concert Hall, Aldeburgh, Suffolk, performances at 2.00pm and 4.00pm
The first two public live performance of Howard's new animated film 'The Land of Counterpane' (2016), projected on screen with live children's choir and orchestra took place on Sunday 18th December at 2pm and 4 pm to capacity audiences in the Snape Maltings concert hall in a Howard Blake double-bill along with the original film of 'The Snowman' film (1982). Great performances by the National Youth Children's Girls Choir and The Suffolk Ensemble Orchestra led by Cleo Gould and conducted by Ben Parry. The concert was the brain-child of Proms director Roger Wright moved to Suffolk to preside over the music of Aldeburgh.
THE LAND OF COUNTERPANE - an animated song-cycle (26-minute film) (DVD) Recorded:
The Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Mary Erskine Choir, David Rintoul (narrator), Mark Reeve (graphic artist), Emmett Elvin (animator), Howard Blake (director) Categories:
[Film & TV Scores
] Released by:
HOWARD BLAKE ENTERPRISES
'THE LAND OF COUNTERPANE' An animated song-cycle for children's choir, narrator and orchestra The poet and novelist Robert Louis Stevenson was a sickly child confined to his bed, the covering of which was a vivid patchwork quilt known as a 'counterpane'. The pictures on it led him to flights of imagination, which he later recalled in his collection of poems "A Child's Garden of Verses". Twelve of these poems are set to music by Howard Blake and his spellbinding animated film has already excited rapt audiences in Edinburgh, the Daily Mail stating that it is 'the film that's poised to be the new Snowman'. It has been scheduled for a world premiere in Aldeburgh on December 18th 2016 in a fabulous double-bill with 'The Snowman' after which date it will be available for your own choir and orchestra to perform. (Film, score and parts available, contact: firstname.lastname@example.org)
'THE LAND OF COUNTERPANE' ANIMATED FILM RELEASE ON HIGHBRIDGE MUSIC, David Rintoul, combined choirs of Mary Erskine and Stuarts Melville Edinburgh and The Scottish Chamber Orchestra conducted by Howard Blake, an animated film by Mark Reeve and Emmett Elvin., Available on DVD from December 18th 2016
CD RELEASE OF HOWARD BLAKE SONGS WITH RICHARD EDGAR WILSON, Richard Edgar Wilson (tenor, Howard Blake (piano), Aldeburgh Music
Recordings of Howard's songs for tenor and piano made in Snape/Aldeburgh with tenor Richard Edgar Wilson and the composer as pianist, released December 18th 2016 on Highbridge Music, www.howardblake.com. Enquiries; email@example.com
HOWARD BLAKE FEATURED ON BBC GRAHAM NORTON SHOW, Graham Norton - celebrity interviewer, BBC Terry Wogan House (Broadcasting House LondoN) Saturday, December 17TH 2016
The release of the new duet version of 'Walking in the Air' on Aled Jones's 'One Voice at Christmas' album caused a flurry of publicity over Christmas 2016. Howard was invited to take part in the top celebrity chat show on BBC Radio, the Graham Norton show, to talk about his long-lived musical career and was asked questions about his role in 'The Italian Job' with Quincy Jones, his beginnings in a pub in the Edgware Road called The Lord Chancellor, his role as pianist at Abbey Road at the time of the Beatles and how he came to write the soundtrack of the worlsd-famous animated film 'The Snowman'.
TRIOS AT THE MENUHIN SCHOOL tbc, The Bedriska Trio, The Menuhin School
TCHAIKOVSKY AND BLAKE IN ST. PETERSBURG, Fabio Mastrangelo (conductor) 2016/2017 St.Petersburg Academic Symphony Orchestra, Maestro Yury Temirkanov Grand Philharmonic Hall, Arts Square, St. Petersburg
Children's Christmas Music by Tchaikovsky, Howard Blake, Korngold and Rebikov.
SNOWMAN FILM IN CONCERT IN SEATTLE, The newly named Classical KING FM Family Concerts presents four hour-long symphonic programs for children ages 6 to 11 and their families on Saturdays at 11 a.m. in the S. Mark Taper Foundation Auditorium.
Formerly called the Discover Music series, each concert is preceded by special performances and activities in the Samuel & Althea Stroum Grand Lobby one hour before the performance. The series will open on Halloween with Magic Circle Mime
performing "Phantoms of the Orchestra," a musical adventure that includes Dukas' The Sorcerer's Apprentice
made famous by Disney's Fantasia
. The series continues in December as the Symphony performs live from Howard Blake's award-winning soundtrack along with a screening of the cherished animated film, The Snowman
. The Seattle Opera Youth Chorus will join the orchestra for the popular song from the film, "Walking in the Air." In March, ensemble Really Inventive Stuff
will take part in a vaudeville-inspired production of Prokofiev's Peter and the Wolf
. The series closes in May as the ARC Dance Youth Company
joins the Symphony on stage for an enchanting performance along with Carnival of the Animals
PRELUDE FOR SOLO VIOLA -ROSALIND VENTRIS RECITAL, A lunchtime programme of solo viola works including Bach and Blake, given by the brilliant young viola player Rosalind Ventris, St.James's Piccadilly 1.00pm
The Prelude comes from the major choral/orchestral work 'Benedictus' ,much championed by Sir David Willcocks during his lifetime,The Prelude acts as both prologue and epilogue to the work,The soloist last performed it live in a large-scale performance in Salisbury Cathedral.
ALED JONES NEW 'WALKING IN THE AIR' ALBUM TOPS CLASSIC FM CHARTS, Aled Jones, Classic FM
ONE VOICE AT CHRISTMAS - OUT NOVEMBER 25th.
You can buy now on this link:https://www.amazon.co.uk/One-Voice-Christmas-Aled-Jones/dp/B01M2VAIHR/
Aled Jones returns to duet with himself on his brand new Classic FM album, 'One Voice at Christmas'.
The follow-up to this year’s no.1 album One Voice.
- Includes hit single 'Walking in the Air' with new arrangement by Howard Blake.
- Collaboration with John Williams on 'Silent Night'.
- Brand new setting of 'It Came Upon a Midnight Clear' composed by Howard Goodall.
Released on 25th November on the Classic FM label.
Following the massive success of 'One Voice' earlier this year, Aled Jones MBE returns with a brand new duet album titled 'One Voice at Christmas' ; a collection of popular classics including his worldwide smash, 'Walking in the Air,' which was first a UK hit more than 30 years ago.
Re-arranged for 2016 by Howard Blake, 'Walking in the Air' leads the 13-track album which includes traditional Christmas songs such as 'O Holy Night' and 'O Come, O Come, Emmanuel', through to seasonal favourites including 'Little Drummer Boy' (duet with Sir Terry Wogan), 'Away in a Manger,' 'In the Bleak Midwinter' and 'Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas'.
Once again, Aled duets with his younger self – man and boy – on the album which features a brand new setting of 'It Came Upon a Midnight Clear', composed by Howard Goodall, plus a collaboration with guitarist John Williams on 'Silent Night'.
In April this year, Classic FM presenter Aled released his first duet album, 'One Voice', on the Classic FM label following the discovery of the last ever recordings of him as a boy. A unique concept, the album went straight in at no.3 in the UK Album Chart, and dominated the no.1 position in the Classical Chart for a staggering 14 weeks.
Aled Jones has had an extraordinary career over the past three decades. He has performed for Her Majesty the Queen, the Pope and numerous members of the Royal Family. He has released more than 30 albums generating 8 million albums sales and counting. He has performed across the world from the Hollywood Bowl to The Vatican and from Buckingham Palace to the Sydney Opera House, via the Suntory Hall in Tokyo. Never staying in his comfort zone, he has performed in English, Welsh and Japanese.
Millions know him for his radio and TV presenting work which includes his Sunday breakfast show on Classic FM and his own flagship ITV show 'Weekend'. However it is his music and his voice which has in-grained him in the fabric of music since the 1980s. His charity work has also led to Aled to release two singles with Sir Terry Wogan, one of which is featured on the album with Little Drummer Boy.
Aled said, “The support I had from Classic FM for 'One Voice' was overwhelming and making the album brought back such brilliant memories. To go back in the studio and do it again for Christmas is just a dream come true. 'Walking in the Air' caps off such a great year for me and I’m thrilled to give it a new lease of life. Who knows, maybe we’ll get to the top of the Christmas chart again!”.
One Voice at Christmas will be released on Friday 25th November on the Classic FM label.
For more information, please visit: www.classicfm.com/shop
One Voice at Christmas – Track Listing.
Produced by IAN TILLEY.
- Walking in the Air
- O Holy Night
- In the Bleak Midwinter
- Silent Night
- O Come, O come, Emmanuel
- Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas
- Jesus Christ the Apple Tree
- Away in a Manager
- Little Road to Bethlehem
- It Came Upon the Midnight Clear
- Hwiangerdd Mair
- Come unto Him
- Little Drummer Boy
'WALKING IN THE AIR ' ALED JONES' NEW RELEASE, Aled Jones tenor and treble ('One Voice'), Classic FM
At the request of Aled Jones, Howard Blake has created a new arrangement of his global hit song 'Walking in the Air', which Aled Jones has recorded for Classic FM to be released November 25th 2016 as the star-track or single on his new album - 'One Voice' - volume 2.
His current album, 'One Voice' has been at number one in the Classic FM music charts for more than 13 weeks.
Aled will sing a completely new tenor line with orchestral backing both of which tracks have been composed by Howard Blake. Against these tracks will be synched Aled's original treble track as recorded for EMI in 1985.
PETER AUTY VERSION 1982
Howard Blake wrote both words and music for the original theme-song of 'The Snowman' animated film and also orchestrated and conducted it. The first orchestral recording of the entire film including the song 'Walking in the Air' was made in CTS Studios Wembley on July 5th 1982 conducted by Howard Blake. The boy chosen as soloist was Peter Auty, at that time a chorister at St Paul's Cathedral. His voice was tracked on at De Lane Lea Studios, Dean Street, London on July9th 1982, supervised by the composer. In 2016 Peter Auty is a prominent tenor soloist with Covent Garden Opera.
ALED JONES VERSION 1985
In 1985 Blake was contacted by advertising agency Saatchi and Saatchi who asked if he would re-record 'Walking in the Air' as a track to a TV ad series for Toys 'R Us. Blake asys: 'I rang Peter Auty but his voice had unfortunately broken. I was recommended to use Aled Jones who recorded the song in Abbey Road. I was unable to conduct as I was now under contract with CBS/Masterworks in regard to 'The Snowman' which was starting to go platinum as an LP. The conductor on the EMI session was John Altman. The orchestral arrangement used was my original printed score but a couple of bars were transferred from the end of the 'dripping' scene to provide an intro. At my suggestion this version was released as a single on EMI and went on to become a chart hit (variously at no.3 and no.5.)
SNOWMAN IN ZURICH-GERMAN, The Orchestra of the Swiss Commercial Association Zurich, Friday, 25.11.2016, 20.00 hrs Zurich (City Centre), St. Peter's Church
Saturday, 26.11.2016, 19.00 hrs Thalwil (8m. from Zurich City Centre), Protestant Church
In addition to The Snowman, music by Vivaldi, Piazzolla, Tchaikovsky and Guilmant wil be performed.
SNOWMAN STAGE SHOW FEATURES ALED JONES NEW SINGLE, Birmingham Rep/Sadler's Wells/Robert North dance company, Peacock Theatre, Kingsway, London
Aled Jones' new recording of 'Walking in the Air' was heard for the first time on 23rd November 2016 accompanying the Snowman and the boy's great aerial flying scene in the Sadler's Wells stage show /ballet at the Peacock Theatre, Kingsway, London. The album to be released by Classic FM/Global features the song as the star track of the second 'One Voice' album, Aled's classic treble recordings of himself as a boy duetting with himself as the tenor he is now in an arrangement specially created by composer and lyric-writer of the famous song from 'The Snowman' - Howard Blake.
SNOWMAN RHAPSODY GIVEN 'ASTOUNDING PERFORMANCE' BY JULIAN TREVELYAN, Julian Trevelyan (piano), Concert presented by 'Talent Unlimited' at St. James's Church, Piccadilly, London, 7.00pm
Astounding performance last night at St James Piccadilly of ‘Snowman Rhapsody’ by Howard Blake, by 18-year-old Julian Trevelyan. Haven’t heard him before – and was very impressed indeed. Certainly a major new British talent on the piano scene. Remember the name, and watch this space !
'The Snowman Rhapsody is a solo piano concert arrangement of the music from the film and stage show' and is a new arrangement specially created by the composer. First performance to be given by Julian Trevelyan, the English piano prodigy who won the prestigious Marguerite Long piamo prize at the age of 16. It is circa 43 minutes in length and will fill the first half of the programme, The second half will consist of Music for Christmas.
Snowman Rhapsody op.663 (2016)
A concert arrangement for solo piano. Duration c.43 minutes Published by:
Chester Music/Music Sales/Highbridge Music Instrumentation:
Solo piano Duration: 43
mins First Performance:
St James's Piccadilly, Talent Unlimited, Julian Trevelyan, November 17th 2016
- 1: WAKING TO A WORLD OF SNOW
- 2: FOOTPRINTS IN THE SNOW
- 3: BUILDING THE SNOWMAN
- 4: BEDTIME FROLICS
- 5: THE SNOWMAN COMES TO LIFE
- 6: THE CAT
- 7: THE CHRISTMAS TREE
- 8: THE KITCHEN
- 9: THE LIGHTSWITCH
- 10: TROPICAL FRUIT CAYPSO
- 11: THE MUSIC BOX
- 12: THE MOTOR BIKE
- 13: THE RABBIT AND THE FOX
- 14: THE BADGER
- 15: THE SQUIRREL
- 16: THE SNOWMAN IS DRIPPING
- 17: THE SNOWMAN RECOVERS
- 18: DREAMS OF FLYING
- 19: WALKING IN THE AIR
- 20: THE FROZEN NORTH
- 21: FATHER CHRISTMAS
- 22: THE DANCE OF THE SNOWMEN
- 23: THE ICE-PRINCESS AND THE SNOWMAN (PAS DE DEUX)
- 24: JACK FROST'S STORM DANCE
- 25: FAREWELLS
- 26: FLYING HOME
- 27: BOY SLEEPING
- 28: NEXT MORNING
- 29: THE SNOWMAN IS NOWHERE TO BE SEEN
Programme note for 'Snowman Rhapsody'
In 2006 Robert Matthew Walker, music critic and editor of Musical Opinion attended a performance of the 2-act stage show 'The Snowman' at The Peacock Theatre and wrote: 'Howard Blake's ballet "The Snowman" is now such a part of the Christmas Season in London that it deserves to be produced again and again well into the 22nd century. It is one of those rare theatrical pieces that appeals and impresses theatregoers of all ages. Musically, the score is a masterpiece. I do not use the word lightly. Howard Blake's world famous song 'Walking in the Air', with which Aled Jones had such a success, is used as a basis for a virtually continuous set of symphonic variations; a subtle and fully-wrought score which entrances the ears of all who are brought into the magical world it conjures up'. Both the original animated film and the later-created ballet were of course originally scored for orchestra, but the composer is also a pianist and over the years has often played excerpts on piano, the most notable being that of the song 'Walking in the Air' which in 2013 was recorded by no less a colleague than Vladimir Ashkenazy. The success of this prompted Blake to pursue the concept further, assembling all those sections of the Snowman music which he felt might lend themselves to piano transcription and gradually creating an immense concert work for solo piano lasting about 43 minutes. Although continuous the work contains many different sections the names of which are printed in the programme. It is thought that perhaps an addition to the work's entertainment may well be derived from the guesswork of trying to identify the sections by the different styles and emotions conveyed by their music.
|17th November 2016 || |
'The Snowman Rhapsody, a solo piano concert arrangement of the music from the film and stage show' (a new arrangement specially created by the composer. First performance)
To be performed by Julian Trevelyan, the prize-winning 17-year old English pianist, in a programme of Christmas Music.
FESTIVAL MASS AT KING'S COLLEGE, Choristers of King's College conducted by Joseph Fort, King's College Chapel, London University, 1.10 pm
FLUTE QUINTET WITH THE PHILADELPHIA CHAMBER ENSEMBLE, The Philadelphia Chamber Ensemble,Philadelphia USA - Jennifer Haas vn, William Polk vn, Burchard Tang va, John Koen vc. David Cramer flute
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756–1791)
Trio in E-flat major, K. 498, for clarinet, viola, and piano
Paul Pierné (1874–1952)
Variations on “Clair de Lune,” for flute, violin, viola, cello and harp
Howard Blake (1938–)
Quintet, op. 493, for flute and string quartet
Scherzo con spirito
Robert Schumann (1810–1856)
Quintet in E-flat major, op. 44, for piano and string quartet
Quintet for flute and strings
There were no professional musicians in the Blake family of Brighton, but teachers quickly recognized Howard’s talent and eventually steered him into the Royal College of Music. He became active as a pianist, composer, and conductor in the commercial music world in London, composing a great deal for television (notably for the 1960s cult spy drama “The Avengers”) and film. Blake’s best-known score is “The Snowman,” originally for a short 1982 animated movie, later reworked into a concert piece and several stage versions. As his career developed further he began to concentrate on classical concert music. His catalog of works runs to nearly 700 opus numbers and he continues to add to it as well as to perform.
Blake’s melodic material is usually simple and attractive, though it may be worked out with considerable artistry. His style seems familiar without evoking any particular idiom from the past. An example of his slightly out-of-the-box approach comes at the beginning of this quintet, where the flute plays against a background of strings playing tremolando—a shimmering effect more typical of orchestral music than chamber music, but extremely effective here.
Blake composed this quintet in September 1996. He says, “the first movement is quite simply a long-drawn-out melody which the flute ‘sings’ and then elaborates expressively.” There follows “a rapid, syncopated movement with a ‘floating’ middle section.” Then comes “a slow theme and a variation, culminating in a short cadenza, which leads to…a mischevous ‘whistling’ march…interrupted by a second cadenza from which re-emerges a shimmering version of the theme from the first movement that now accelerates with a crescendo into a short and energetic coda.”
SNOWMAN BALLET IN BELLEVUE SEATTLE, Bellevue Ballet, Seattle USA
'PIANO QUINTET FANTASY' IN COBLENZ, Nicolas Dautricourt(violin), Lech Uszynsky (viola), Benedict Kloeckner (cello), Edicson Ruiz (double-bass), Howard Blake (piano), Sophie Witte (solo soprano), Internationales Musikfestival Koblenz
Sunday 2nd October, 21.00 pm - late-evening concert
[Notes by the composer]
A work for soprano, cello and piano
The work's title is also the title of this late-night concert -'Sleepwalking', the European premiere of a work for soprano vocalise, solo cello and piano. It conjures up the world of dreams, evoking the surreal landscape of the unconscious through which a woman walks, singing wordlessly with closed eyes like a painting by Fuseli or Delvaux. As it begins she lies in a deep untroubled sleep (Tranquillo). Images of childhood (Allegretto) give way to memories of a great occasion -perhaps a marriage? (Maestoso). A crazily-animated helter-skelter of notes suggests laughter and gaiety, yet with fears and dangers (Vivace). There is a memory of tragic , yearning love (Adagio) but the memory is broken by nightmare images of vengeance and death (Allegro Furioso). There is a waking moment, then a return to sleep (Tranquillo).
Monday 3rd October 5.00pm - Farewell concert
Fantasy for Piano Quintet and soprano
The world-premiere performance of a new Piano Quintet, for violin, viola, cello, double-bass and piano with solo soprano, commissioned by The International Music Festival Koblenz as a companion-piece to the great Quintet 'Die Forelle' by Schubert and having the same instrumentation. The material is adapted from the music for 'A Midsummer Night's Dream' originally composed by Howard Blake for the Royal Shakespeare Company's feature-film of Shakespeare's play (1995) and this performance also celebrates the 400th anniversary of the Bard (1616-2016) It is in 13 linked movements:
- 1: How slow this old moon wanes
Nocturne, Larghetto misterioso
- 2: Enter Bottom the weaver
- 3: How now spirit, wither wander you?
- 4: Ill-met by moonlight
- 5: I heard a mermaid on a dolphin's back
Reverie (vocalise) Melodioso
- 6: Ye spotted snakes (song, soprano)
- 7: The ass's head
- 8: Flight to fairy-land
- 9: Hermia sleeps
- 10: Triumphal march
- 11: Rustic dance
Allegro con spirito
- 12: Celebration
- 13: Farewell
Piu tranquillo (with vocalise)
HARP VARIATIONS IN MOERS, Isabelle Marchewka harp, Part of a Shakespeare evening at the Evangelical Church Moers, nr Dusseldorf
SERENADE FOR WIND OCTET IN SUFFOLK, Churchgate Wind Octet, Walsham Le Willows Church nr. Bury St. Edmonds 16th July 2016
and at St John's Church Bury St Edmonds on Sept 24th 2016
SERENADE FOR WIND OCTET IN SUFFOLK, St. John's Church, Bury St. Edmonds
FESTIVAL IN CATALONIA - STRING QUARTETS - MUSIC FOR PIANO AND WOODWIND, Quartet de corda com jubilo, Baix Camp, Tarragona (Consell Comarcal del Baix Camp and Comaigua festival)
President: Joaquim Calatayud Casals
MUSIC BY HOWARD BLAKE
STRING QUARTETS PLAYED BY THE QUARTET DE CORDA CUM JUBILO (15, 16, 17 JULY)
' A MONTH IN THE COUNTRY'
'SPIELTRIEB' (WITH QUARTETS BY SHOSTAKOVICH AND BORODIN)
TRIOS FOR FLUTE , CLARINET AND PIANO (5 AND 6 AUGUST)
TRIO FOR FLUTE CLARINET AND PIANO op.25 (January 1964)
A Trio In Three Movements derived from the music of Howard's film 'A few
Movements1: Allegretto 2: Andante - Waltz - Andante 3: Allegro Assai
SUITE: THE DUELLISTS op.603
An arrangement of music from the Ridley Scott's film 'The Duellists'
INVOCATION op.601 (June 2009) Concert piece in one movemen
PENNILLION op.600 The and variations
From the piano Music Album "Lifecycle", Mrs. Liana Baronaite chooses some of its pieces to be played as an introduction for the concert.
OTHER PIECES BY FAURE, SAINT-SAENS, MARTINU AND RAVEL
ARS AUREA SONORA (Jordi Borràs Gelonch, manager)
C/St. Vicenç n7 2nd 43392 CASTELLVELL DEL CAMP (TARRAGONA) SPAIN
IGGESUND, Howard Blake piano, Sancta Maria Chapel, Iggesund - in memoriam Marie-Louise Joseph
'THE ENCHANTMENT OF VENUS' FOR BASSET-CLARINET, Ewan Zuckert (basset-clarinet), Royal College of Music
'EINE FRAU OHNE NAMEN' - MONNCHEN GLADBACH OPERA, Full-evening ballet 'Eine Frau Ohne Namen' (A woman without a name) has music by Howard Blake, the score consisting entirely of excerpts from his choral and orchestral works, particularly the oratorio 'Benedictus' (opus 282) Ballet choreographed and directed by Robert North., First performance Monnchen Gladbach Opera 14th May 2016
Final performance Krefeld Opera 7th February 2018
'HEARTBEAT' - CONCERTO AT THE RNCM, Simon Bates solo tenor saxophone with The Royal Armoured Corps Big Band, 2016 National Concert Band Festival, Royal Northern College of Music
'THE SONG OF SAINT FRANCIS' IN BLACKHEATH, LONDON, Saint Margaret's Church Blackheath London SE 13 7.30
VIOLA PRELUDE, Rivka Golani
THREE TV SHOWINGS OF 'THE SNOWMAN' - THE CLASSIC ANIMATED FILM, Music score composed and conducted by Howard Blake including the song: 'Walking in the air' for which he also wrote the lyrics; vocal soloist St.Paul's Cathedral chorister Peter Auty; Orchestra: The Sinfonia of London; story based on a picture-book by Raymond Briggs developed into a half-hour film animation storyboard directed by Dianne Jackson, with flying scene animation by Steve Weston. Producer John Coates (TVC) for Channel 4 Television 1982., Channel 4 Television
Three 2015 tv Christmas showings of 'The Snowman'
Christmas Eve (Thursday 24th December)
7.40am- 8.05am - Channel 4
4.55pm - 5.20pm - Channel 4
Christmas Day (Friday 25th December)
7pm- 7.25pm - E4
FOUR PERFORMANCES OF 'THE SNOWMAN' WITH THE HALLE ORCHESTRA, Stephen Bell cond, Tom Redmond presenter, Bridgewater Hall, Manchester
22nd Dec 1.30pm and 4.00pm
23rd Dec 1.30pm and 4.00pm
THE SNOWMAN STRING QUARTET IN LIVERPOOL, Liverpool String Quartet, The Nordic Church, Liverpool City Centre
VIOLIN SONATA IN ALFRISTON, Zara Benyounes (violin), Jeremy Young (piano), Alfriston Parish Church, Sussex
'THE PASSION OF MARY', 'THE SNOWMAN' AND THE FLUTE QUINTET IN CATALONIA, The Liverpool String Quartet with Jaume Comas as narrator of The Snowman. Concerts produced by Ars Aurea Sonora (director Jordi Borras) with the support of 'Generalitat de Catalunya - Departament de Cultura, 7th December Reial Monestir de Santa Maria de Poblet. 8th December Manresa Cathedral
SNOWMAN WITH THE ZURICH TONHALLE ORCHESTER, Tonhalle Orchester Zurich
'LIFE AFTER FLASH' - BAFTA CELEBRATION, 'It is 35 years since the release of the 1980 cinema feature film Flash Gordon and its ever-growing cult status is evidenced by the production of a documentary film about how it was made. I hev recorded a filmed interview in which I speak of my exacting role as musical director, composer, arranger and conductor of the score, which included adaptation of work by Freddie Mercury and the group 'Queen', with whom I later shared a joint British Academy Award.
BAFTA Piccadilly 28th November 6.00pm
SNOWMAN STAGE SHOW IN LONDON, SOUTHAMPTON, NOTTINGHAM, BIRMINGHAM, Sadlers Wells in association with Birmingham Rep, Peacock Theatre etc
'THE SNOWMAN' WITH THE SWEDISH CHAMBER ORCHESTRA, Swedish Chamber Orchestra directed by Katerina Andreassen, Orebro,Sweden
'THE PASSION OF MARY' IN SALISBURY CATHEDRAL, David Halls, Salisbury Music Society: orchestra, choir, soloists tba, Salisbury Cathedral
The concert will consist of 'The Passion of Mary' and CPE Bach's 'Magnificat'
'AN ELEPHANT CALLED SLOWLY' - CONCERT SUITE FIRST PERFORMANCE, Simon Bates Big Band, Loxwood Jazz and Blues, Loxwood (Chichester)
Following the success of 'Heartbeat' on June 5th 2015 the band decided to repeat it on November 17th, asking Howard if he could come up with a new piece to accompany it. Howard returned to his score for the sequel to 'Born Free' in 1969 and re-created it in the form of a concert suite for big band.
'AN ELEPHANT CALLED SLOWLY', 'HEARTBEAT' AND 'TWISTED NERVE', Simon Bates Big Band, Loxwood Jazz and Blues
ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON SOCIETY
Presentation and screening of the 'The Land of Counterpane' in Edinburgh
'THE LAND OF COUNTERRPANE' AT THE ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON SOCIETY IN EDINBURGH
A presentation of the new symphonic aninated film 'The Land of Counterpane' introduced by its composer, producer and director, Howard Blake
'CANTICUM' - LONDON PREMIERES AT ST.PAUL'S KNIGHTSBRIDGE, Canticum Choir conducted by Mark Forkgen, St. Paul's Knightsbridge
JUBILATE DEO (choir & organ - Opus 406* commissioned by Abington Presbyterian Church, Penn. USA 1990)
FESTIVAL MASS (a cappella 8-part double choir - Opus 377* commissioned by The Three Choirs Festival, Worcester 1987)
THE RISE OF THE HOUSE OF USHER (organ solo - Opus 532* (commissioned for Dame Gillan Weir by The Usher Hall, Edinburgh 2003)
WALKING IN THE AIR (a cappella choir - Opus 585* commissioned by the Stockholm Boys Choir 2007)
MOTET: GOD BE MERCIFUL UNTO US AND BLESS US (a cappella choir - Opus 494 - commissioned by St. Margaret's Westminster & 1st performed there in 1996)
STILL FALLS THE RAIN (choir & organ - Opus 495* - commissioned by Chester Bach Singers 1997)
A TOCCATA OF GALUPPI'S (solo voice & harpsichord - Opus 263 - commissioned and 1st performed by Michael Leighton Jones, baritone with Howard Blake, harpsichord, on BBC Radio 3 1978 - 1st London concert performance)
SONGS OF TRUTH AND GLORY (choir & organ - Opus 546* - The Elgar Commission for the Worcester Three Choirs Festival 2005)
* = 1st London performance
'THE LAND OF COUNTERPANE' EDINBURGH FILM PREMIERE, Mary Erskine Choir, The Scottish Chamber Orchestra and David Rintoul feature in two premiere performances of an animated film based on a song-cycle of poems by Robert Louis Stevenson originally set to music by Howard Blake who will talk about the origin of the work in 1993 and the development and making of the film in 2014/15. To be given before an invited audience of pupils, ex-pupils, parents and all those involved in the projec over these years., Mary Erskine Arts Centre, Edinburgh
TRIO FOR FLUTE HARP AND CELLO IN THE BOLTONS, Valeria Kurbatova harp, St. Mary's Church, The Boltons 7.15pm
A concert in aid of the Royal Lifebooat Institution
KRONBERG ACADEMY FESTIVAL PREMIERE, Benedict Koeckner solo cello, Kronberg Academy
The concept of the concert includes an interview next to a sculpture that should inspire to a composition - 4 new sculptures inspire 4 composers to new solo works (5-7min). The work will be for cello solo, played by Benedict - the sculpture designated is
Music power, 1988 von Arman (USA) exhibited 1928 in Nizza / Nice (France), 2005 in New York.
Howard Blake writes:
I am asked to react to the Arman sculpture and to be inspired by it. When commissioned for a specific purpose I let my mind run freely around the subject. I see seven old and probably worthless cellos piled up as if in a funeral pyre. As a musician I hate to see instruments treated as worthless objects. Instruments should always be treated with respect, even if they are past their sell-by date. They should be venerated for the glorious sounds which they are capable of making. So what was Arman’s thought behind it?
I had bought a new book on the history of jazz and turning to 1928 saw that an attempt had been made to incorporate cello into jazz in that year. There was at least one notable American jazz cellist called Fred Katz, but on the whole the experiment didn’t work. Perhaps there were seven other cellists who tried it and gave up? Well, perhaps I should write a cello jazz piece?
The number seven is significant. ‘It combines the union of the ternary and quaternary and hence is endowed with exceptional value...symbolic of perfect order...the number forming the basic series of musical notes, of colours and of the planetary spheres...also of the capital sins and their opposing virtues...and finally the symbol of pain ’ (Dictionary of symbols : J E Cirlot) . Turning eastwards it is also the number of the Chakras and this led me to the idea of composing seven pieces, one for each chakra:
Sieben Zerschmetterte Violoncelli , Howard Blake Opus
1. Muladhara – the sacral plexus, the base, libido.
2. Svadishthana – overt sexual desire
3. Manipura – the solar plexus, the stomach brain of stored-up energy
4. Anahat – the heart, breath
5. Visuadha – the throat, speech
6. Aina – the third eye, clairvoyance
7. Sahasrara – the thousand-petalled lotus, the brain, where matter ascends to spirit
THE LAND OF COUNTERPANE FOR GIRLS CHOIR, ORCHESTRA AND FILM (tbA), Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Mary Erskine Choir and speaker (tba). Conductor Howard Blake, Mary Erskine Hall, Edinburgh
'LIFECYCLE' IN QUEENSLAND, Jenni Fleming (piano), Queensland Conservatorium 16 September
Gold Coast Arts Centre 5 October
Australian Piano Duo Festival
'THE SOUND OF ITV', Howard Blake will be interviewed about the legacy of music produced for ITV over the years - including his own involvement with 'The Avengers'., ITV Television first national screening at 8.00pm on 16th September 2015
PIANO AND VIOLIN IN DUNBLANE CATHEDRAL, Alicia Smietana and Sasha Grynyuk, Dunblane Cathedral
A programme of music for violin and piano by Howard Blake
SASHA GRYNYUK PLAYS SCHUBERT, CHOPIN AND BLAKE, Sasha Grynyuk, Buccleuch and Queensberry Hotel, Thornhill, Scotland 3.30pm
Franz Schubert – Four Impromptus, D.899 (Op.90)
Howard Blake – "Speech after Long silence"
Frédéric Chopin – Preludes, Op.28
TEN BRASS IN MELBOURNE, Presented by Michael Leighton Jones, 'Sinfonietta' will be the centrepiece in a spectacular for brass at St John's church East Malvern, Melbourne, Australia.
DAVID PUTTNAM PRESENTS MUSIC FROM HIS FILMS, Sasha Puttnam plays music from the films of David Puttnam including the theme from 'The Duellists.', Bridgewater Hall
RIVKA GOLANI AT THE BARTOK FESTIVAL, Rivka Golani solo viola, International Bartok Seminar and Festival, Szombathely, Hungary
'THE RIDDLE OF THE SANDS' IN ST. GILES SOHO, Howard Blake writes: The first meeting of a club to celebrate the book and film of 'The Riddle of the Sands' (THE RIDDLE OF THE SAND ADVENTURE CLUB) began with a full screening of the feature film of 1978 for which I wrote ths music. I was invited along by Sean Geer who is one of the founder-members, and I made a speech telling how I came to work on the project. Full detalis of the new club and its inception are shown in the link below, Arthur Beale's ship chandlery in Shaftesbury Anvenue and St Giles Church Soho
Wonderland in Hampstead Garden Suburb,
BRIGHTON PHILHARMONIC SUMMER MUSIC (EARLY PIANO TRIO PREMIERE), Daniel Bhattacharya, violin, Bruce White, viola, Peter Adams cello, Sasha Grynyuk, piano, Brighton Unitarian Church, New Road, Brighton, BN1 1UF concert Sunday 5.00pm
A concert of music by Howard Blake presented by The Brighton Philharmonic Society including the premiere of Piano Trio no,1 composed in Brighton when the composer was 17,
'SPEECH AFTER LONG SILENCE' IN MOSCOW, Sasha Grynyuk, International Tchaikovsky Ccmpetition
Pianist Sasha Grynyuk who stepped in so brilliantly to take Howard's place in concerts in London during April-May 2015 has chosen to play this virtuoso test-piece composed for the Hong Kong competition in 2011 at the behest of Vladimir Ashkenazy. We wish him the greatest good luck!
DANAE ELENI SINGS 'TU ES LE GISANT', Danae Eleni soprano, Jonathan Dods,organ (First London performance), St Michael and All Angels Church Bedford Park,London. 12.30pm
Composer's note: In Summer 1994 I was staying in a beautiful little turreted chateau in Lozere with my friends the Deschamps, whose daughter Isabelle is a poet. In the grounds I came across a tiny ancient chapel with a tiny harmonium and a stone carving of a mediaeval ancestor - un gisant. I asked Isabelle about it and she told me she had written a poem about it. I went back to the chapel where I composed this setting of the poem as a song for soprano and harmonium. It was not performed until 2015 when Danae asked about it and gave a first performance in Berlin.
'HEARTBEAT' AT STEYNING JAZZ CLUB, Simon Bates solo tenor saxophone with the Simon Bates Big Band, Steyning Jazz Club
'HEARTBEAT' PREMIERE IN STEYNING, Simon Bates and big band, Steyning Jazz Club
'Heartbeat'- a rousing first perfomance. A programme of classic numbers from Count Basie, Duke Ellimgton , Stan Kenton and others preceded a first performance of Howard Blake's 'Heartbeat' for solo tenor sax and big band, to great applause. 'Heartbeat' was originally commissioned by BBC Brighton as a piece for jazz quintet and string orchestra but this was the first perfomance of a new version specially made by the composer for tenor sax soloist (Simon Bates) and big band.
'ALL GOD'S CREATURES' IN THE ROYAL GLASGOW CONCERT HALL, RSNO Junior Chorus Showcase, RSNO with conductor Christopher Bell, 17th May 2015 Glasgow Royal Concert Hall
SASHA GRYNYUK AND ALICYA SMIETANA AT THE DYSART, Sasha Grynyuk, piano and Alicya Smietana violin, The Dysart, Petersham, Richmnond, Surrey
PETERSHAM PYROTECHNICS!, Sasha Grynyuk and Alicya Smietana, The Dysart, Petersham
Tremendous performances ffrom both players in an informal atmosphere close to Richmond Park
USA REVIEW FOR 'DIVERSIONS' ALBUM, Benedict Kloeckner, cello and Hoeward Blake, piano, Genuin records/SWR
by Greg Applegate in Gapplegate 24/4/2015
Howard Blake, Diversions, Benedict Kloeckner
An English composer with a pronounced lyrical gift, Howard Blake (b. 1938) is perhaps best known for his soundtrack to the feature cartoon, "The Snowman," which has a hauntingly beautiful refrain "Walking in the Air" for boy soprano and orchestra. He has a body of more "serious" works though, and we can hear some of how that sounds on a new recording featuring works for cello and piano, Diversions (SWR2/Genuin 15346). Benedict Kloeckner takes on the cello role for these works and sounds terrific. Howard Blake himself handles the piano part with dramatic credibility.
These are modern lyric pieces that show us Blake the gritty but mellifluous contemporary composer in a series of six compositions, all but one enjoying world premier recordings in the versions presented. This is music of a pronounced tonality but without anything in the way of a neo-classical glance at the past. He may certainly have something of the romantic in him, but like Samuel Barber it is so individual that you don't find yourself saying, "yes, that is Brahmsian...that is Mendelssohnian, etc." The works hold their own as contemporary music with a pronounced Blakean signature affixed. There is nothing banally "new age" sounding to them either. The music is filled with inventive flourishes that evince a fertile creative mind at work.
The piano parts occasionally step into the spotlight but mostly this is music that gives the cellist a chance to take a singing melodic lead. Kloeckner responds with an extraordinarily vibrant tone and rhapsodic lucidity.
There is nothing in the way of filler. Each work has something to say. We get a touching rendition of "Walking in the Air" that reminds us how well-constructed the deceptively straightforward song is. But then we get more complexly lyrical works in the title work "Diversions for Cello & Piano," in "Pennillion for Cello & Piano," the "Cello Sonata," and "The Enchantment of Venus." The program concludes with a short and very lovely "Archangel's Lullaby" and we are done.
This is music any classical Anglophile will appreciate. It has an accessibility that will appeal to a large audience, potentially. And it is rousingly good music. It is not high modernist but it is thoroughly contemporary. It has a special quality to it that belongs very much to the musical personality of Howard Blake.
Very much recommended.
'A MONTH IN THE COUNTRY' ON KUSC, Paul Daniel conducting The Northern Philarmonia, The Suite for String Orchestra presented on KUSC by Jim Svejda (The Evening Programme)
CONCERT OF HOWARD BLAKE CHAMBER MUSIC AT MILTON COURT (LONDON BARBICAN), Benedict Kloeckner cello, Howard Blake piano, Milton Court, (London Barbican)
CHAMBER MUSIC AT MILTON COURT, Madeleine Mitchell (violin), Rivka Golani(viola), Benedict Kloeckner (cello), Sasha Grynyuk (piano), Milton Court, The Barbican, London Concert arranged by Lisa Peacock
MILTON COURT, HOWARD BLAKE CHAMBER MUSIC, MILTON COURT
CD LAUNCH IN BERLIN, Benedict Kloeckner cello, Anna Fedorava piano, Uferhalle, Uferstrasse 8, Berlin
Works by Franck and Blake
SUNDAY TIMES April 12 2015
Sunday Times 12th April 2015
ARTICLE IN THE SUNDAY TIMES, RE CHAMER MUSIC CONCERT AT MILTON COURT BARBICAN
WONDERLAND, Matthew Trusler violin and Ashley Vass piano, Guildford Cathedral(followed by a tour starting with Oxford on the 29th March)
'ADVICE FROM A CATERPILLAR' SECTION OF MEDLEY-PIECE BY VARIOUS COMPOSERS BASED ON 'ALICE IN WONDERLAND'
'PASSING TIME' IN DUSSELDORF
A theme from the Hammer film 'Lost Continent' (1968) arranged as a jazz piece for 5 saxes and rhythm section
STRING TRIO IN BRIGHTON, Premiere String Quartet, St.Luke's,Prestonville,Brighton
RECITAL AT BOB BOAS' CONCERT ROOM, MANSFIELD ST, LONDON, Benedict Kloeckner cello, Sasha Grynyuk piano, Bob Boas concert room, 22 Mansfield Street, W1, 7.30
A concert to celebrate the release of 'Diversions' an album of Howard Blake's music for cello and piano - Benedict Kloeckner cello and the composer as pianist - Genuin label, recorded by SWDR Germany
Howard is unable to play having unfortuately sufferred a broken wrist. He will however be present to act as mediator.
'ELEGIA STRAVAGANTE' MUNICH PREMIERE, Noe Inui vn., Vassilis Varveresos pno., Benedict Kloeckner vc., Recital Hall, Gasteig, Munich
First performance in Munich
'THE UP AND DOWN MAN', 'FANTASY-TRIO', The Sterling Trio (flute, piano and bass clarinet), Jean Sutcliffe mime artist, Luton schoolchildren, Library Theatre Luton 6.30pm
This concert will start at the earlier than usual time of 6,30 so that very young children can attend the first half which consists of music originally composed for a TV series featuring a mime artist. Sterling Trio are enterprisingly reinstating this role, played by Jane Sutcliffe. The second half of the concert will be of conventional classical trios including Bach and Hummel.
CD REVIEW: SIR NEVILLE MARRINER CONDUCTS THE WIND CONCERTOS, Sir Neville Marriner,conductor,The Orchestra of the Academy of St.Martin in the Fields,soloists: Gustavo Nunez, Jaime Martin and Andrew Marriner. Wind Octet for soloists within the orchestra: David Theodore, Rachel Ingleton (oboes); Timothy Lines, Katie Lockhart (clarinets); Graham Sheen, Gavin McNaughton (bassoons); Stephen Stirling, Susan Dent (horns). Released on Pentatone Classics/Hybrid Multichannel
PTC 5186 506 Super Audio CD Global distribution by Naxos, Recorded at St John's Smith Square, London
THE BARBER OF NEVILLE ON PENTATONE
Dated Saturday 28th February 2015
Howard BLAKE (b. 1938) The Barber of Neville Concerto for flute and string orchestra, Op. 493a (1996) [17:57] Concerto for clarinet and chamber orchestra, Op. 329a (1984/2010) [21:31] Concerto for bassoon and string orchestra, Op. 607 (1971/2009) [12:35] Serenade for Wind Octet, Op. 419 (1990) Jaime Martin (flute); Andrew Marriner (clarinet); Gustavo Núñez (bassoon) Academy of St. Martin in the Fields/Sir Neville Marriner rec. September, 2012, St. John’s Smith Square, London. DDD PENTATONE CLASSICS PTC 5186 506 SACD [68:24] This disc is a delight from start to finish. The three wind concertos by Howard Blake all make for highly enjoyable listening while the Serenade for Wind Octet is equally attractive and no mere ‘filler’. The Concerto for bassoon and string orchestra is the only one of the works that I’ve previously heard. There’s a story behind this work. Some years ago Dr Len Mullenger proposed that MusicWeb International would commission the work for the young bassoonist, Karen Geoghegan, then at the start of her career, to perform and record. Unfortunately, due to circumstances outside the control of either Len or Howard Blake it wasn’t possible to bring that project to fruition but Blake wrote the concerto anyway and here it’s played by Gustavo Núñez, the principal bassoonist of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra. The concerto, which plays for some 12 minutes, is cast in three short movements and it exploits the various facets of the bassoon very effectively. The music is thoroughly attractive. The first movement is fluent and makes full use of the instrument’s compass. In the pensive little slow movement the bassoon’s singing qualities are brought out while the finale is perky and sprightly. Núñez is an excellent soloist. The Clarinet Concerto was written for Thea King who gave its first performance and recorded it. Sadly, however, she never returned to the work for reasons that are explained in the booklet. Blake made some revisions to the first movement and it’s that revised version that’s presented for the first time on disc in this recording. If you have Thea King’s Hyperion disc containing this concerto and works by Lutoslawski and Mátyás Seiber that will be her recording of the original version of the Blake concerto (CDA66215). The Clarinet Concerto strikes a slightly more serious tone than the other works on this disc. The first movement has a somewhat mysterious air to it. I particularly like the second movement, which follows without a break. Here the music is mellow and songful; it’s gently expressive and is expressively played There are ample opportunities for display in the lively finale. This concerto also benefits from the advocacy of an expert soloist in the person of Andrew Marriner. The Flute Concerto is simply captivating. The first movement is dominated by a lovely, airy melody which is sung by the flute right at the outset. As the movement unfolds and the string orchestra gets involved with the melody the flute decorations are most attractive. The second movement sparkles, living up fully to the fact that the term con Spirito is included in the tempo indication; there’s also a more relaxed central section, which is very pleasing. The slow movement consists of a beguiling theme which is then subject to variation, followed by a cadenza. The finale is, for the most part, vivacious and high spirited. Just before the close there’s a welcome reminiscence of the melody with which the concerto began. This concerto is zestful and delightfully fresh. Jaime Martin does it full justice. The wind Serenade is cast in three movements. The first is urbane and civilised and one notices at once how expertly the music has been laid out for the eight instruments. All parts contribute to the discussion and all the individual lines are clearly heard and well balanced: that latter point is a tribute to the players also. I can only agree with the composer’s comment that this movement contains ‘a profusion of melody and rhythm and a sense of life bubbling over.’ The second movement strikes a more serious tone but the finale is, in Blake’s words, ‘capricious, light and breathless.’ Infectiously gay rhythms impart a real spring to the music. All the music on this disc is splendidly performed both by the soloists and by The Academy of St Martin in the Fields. Incidentally, Sir Neville Marriner will celebrate his 90th birthday in April 2014 so the timing of the release of this new disc is highly appropriate. He would have been 88 at the time these recordings were made but I defy any listener to deduce that: the spirited performances could be the work of a man half his age. The recorded sound is excellent. My one very minor caveat is a suspicion that the clarinet was just a shade too close to the microphone; occasionally one detects a little bit of extraneous noise from the instrument but not to any disruptive degree. Otherwise the soloists are expertly balanced against the accompaniment and the overall sound is clear and pleasing. I listened to this hybrid SACD as a conventional CD. The notes are brief but tell you all you need to know about the music. “What about the title of the disc?”, I hear you ask. Apparently, Sir Neville, his son, Andrew and Howard Blake all patronised the same hairdressing salon in Knightsbridge, London. At first they weren’t aware that each of them was a client of Jean-Marie but through him they met in due course and planned this recording. Hence the witty album title which, for me, sets the seal on a collection of expertly crafted, very melodious and highly entertaining music. Since the music is so immaculately performed as well I can only conclude by saying ‘suits you, sir.’ John Quinn
Released September 23rd 2013 by Pentatone Classics/hybrid multichannel/super audio. Link: http://onebitaudio/?cat=44
Recordings took place September 24-26 2012 in St. John's Smith Square with the Orchestra of The Academy of Saint Martin in the Fields. Clarinet Concerto perf. by Andrew Marriner with revisions previously unincorporated; Bassoon Concerto perf. by Gustavo Nunez (principal Concertgebouw Amsterdam); Flute Concerto perf. by Jaime Martin; Serenade for Wind Octet perf. by soloists from the orchestra. Music producer Andrew Keener, location sound engineering Erdo Groot and Roger de Schot from Polyhymnia, supervising producer Job Maarse for Pentatone. Editing Baarn Studios Netherlands.
NIGHT OF THE OSCARS - JERSEY OPERA HOUSE, Howard Blake conducts the augmented Jersey Chamber Orchestra and St Michael's children's choir and soloists, Opera House, St. Helier, Jersey 8.00pm
Howard Blake conducts screened versions of 'The Snowman' and his new film 'The Land of Counterpane'. The programme will include music from Star Wars, The Lord of the Rings, The Good the Bad and the Ugly, Schindler's List, James Bond and other famous film scores.
ASHKENAZY ON CLASSIC FM, Vladimir Ashkenazy piano, Classic FM 10.09am
BEST CHRISTMAS MOVIES EVER SKY ARTS 1, Howard Blake talks about 'The Snowman' in a programme about the greatest Christmas movies 25 12 2014 8-10pm, SKY MOVIES SKY 1 HD
SNOWMAN WITH THE HALLE, Halle Orchestra, Stephen Bell cond., Bridgewater Hall Manchester
SNOWMAN AT CADOGAN HALL, Mozart Orchestra, Cadogan Hall with projected film
Wth orchestra and projected film
THE SAGE GATESHEAD, Royal Northern Sinfonia, Alan Fearon cond., perfs 22,23,24 December 2014
SNOWMAN AT THE CADOGAN, The Mozart Orchestra, Cadogan Hall, London
SNOWMAN IN LEEDS, Orchestra of Opera North, Town Hall, Leeds
THE SNOWMAN IN ST. PETERSBURG, St Petersburg Symphony Orchestra,, Muisc Festival 'Arts Square'
THE SNOWMAN WITH THE ROYAL SCOTTISH NATIONAL ORCHESTRA, Conductor Christopher Bell, narrator Julie Nimmo, with chorus and film projection, Aberdeen
SNOWMAN IN FINLAND, Kuopion kaupunginorkesten Atso Almila cond., Kuopio Finland
THE BEAR AT RNCM, Orchestra, singers etc, Royal Northern College of Music family day 11-5
BEST CHRISTMAS MOVIES EVER SKY ARTS 1, Howard Blake talks about 'The Snowman' in a programme about the greatest Christmas movies 14 12 2014 6.30-8.30pm
THE SNOWMAN IN JAPAN, Kyoto Symphony Orchestra cond. by Hiroshi Sekiya, Kaihanna Plaza main hall, Kyoto, Japan
'FOUR SONGS OF THE NATIVITY' IN BECKENHAM, The Beckenham Chorale directed by Adam Treadway, St. George's Church, Beckenham
SNOWMAN AT THE QUEEN ELIZABETH HALL, Orchestra of St Paul's cond. Ben Palmer, QEH
'WALKING IN THE AIR' AT HEATHROW AIRPORT!, London Philharmonic Orchestra, Heathrow Airport
SNOWMAN IN THE TOWN HALL LEEDS, Orchestra of Opera North
WALKING IN THE AIR AT THE ROYAL ALBERT HALL, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra cond. John Rutter
BLAKE AND MOZART AT STAPLEFORD GRANARY, The Goldfield Ensemble
The event given in this splendidly-refurbished Arts Centre near Cambridge began with an interview conducted by Christine Talbot Cooper in which Howard at some points illustrated his music at the piano, giving a complete performance of 'Impromptu' from 'Lifecycle'. The Goldfield Ensemble then played his 'String Trio' and 'Piano Quartet' and after an interval the first performance of an arrangement of his 'Sleepwalking' for clarinet, cello and piano was followed by Mozart's clarinet quintet with Kate Romano clarinet, Toby Turton cello and Richard Utley piano.
GOLDFIELD ENSEMBLE THE SNOWMAN FOR STRING QUARTET, Goldfield Ensemble, St Andrews Church, Stapleford, Cambridge
Other events and works tba0179
CHAMBER MUSIC IN GLOUCESTER, Howard Blake piano, Madeleine Mitchell violin, Rosalind Ventris, viola, Peter Adams cello, Gloucester Music Society
SIR NEVILLE MARRINER CONDUCTS THE MUSIC OF HOWARD BLAKE, The Academy of Saint Martin in the Fields, Saint Martin in the Fields Trafalgar Square London
‘Walking in the Air’
25 November 2014
An Evening of Music Composed by Howard Blake
Conducted by Sir Neville Marriner
This glorious concert sees a much anticipated reuniting of the Academy and the music of Howard Blake. This follows the release of ‘The Barber of Neville’ on Pentatone Classics last year. The album features the melodic and expressive Flute and Clarinet Concertos performed this evening by the Academy’s own Principal Flautist Michael Cox and Principal Clarinettist James Burke. No tribute to Howard Blake, especially one at winter time, would be complete without a performance of the beloved score to The Snowman. This concert sees the very first performance of the score in a new arrangement for String Orchestra, commissioned from Howard Blake by Sir Neville Marriner who will conduct this evening’s concert.
Blake The Snowman Fantasia, for double string orchestra
(commissioned by Sir Neville Marriner)
Blake Flute Concerto Op.493a
Blake Clarinet Concerto Op.329
Blake Serenade for Wind Octet
St Martin in the Fields
Tuesday 25 November, 7.30pm
Tickets: £20 / £15 / £10
Tickets on sale 31st July
Booking fees may apply
THE ACADEMY OF SAINT MARTIN IN THE FIELDS, Orchestra and soloists of The Academy of St Martin in the Fields conducted by Sir Neville Marriner, Church of Saint Martin in the Fields, Trafalgar Square, London
Concertos and wind octet, soloists to be confirmed.
THE SNOWMAN IN PENNSYLVANIA, Carlisle Pennsylvania, Carlisle Theatre 3.00pm
THE BEAR IN MANCHESTER, Royal Northern College of Music
'THE SNOWMAN' UK STAGE SHOW 17TH SEASON, Sadlers Wells/Birmingham Rep. RobertNorth/Bill Alexander/Howard Blake, Peacock Theatre London, The Lyceum Sheffield, The Curve Leicester
SIR NEVILLE MARRINER CONDUCTS THE CLARINET CONCERTO, Sir Neville Marriner conducts his son Andrew as soloist with The City of Hong Kong Chamber Orchestra, Kowloon City Hall, Hong Kong, China
FULL ORCHESTRAL SNOWMAN STAGE SHOW/ BALLET' IN FINLAND, Peacock touring dance company, Tampere auditorium
ORCHESTRAL VERSION OF 'THE SNOWMAN STAGE SHOW/ BALLET' IN FINLAND, 'The Snowman' Dance Company, Tampere, Finland
IN MEMORIAM COLIN WILSON, Kerenza Peacock violin, Howard Blake piano. Massenet and Shostakovich, St James's Piccadilly
I read 'The Outsider' soon after it was published in 1956 and it profoundly influenced me, as it did people throughout the world. 'Colin Wilson on Music' also became a much-thumbed companion and it was at a Mozart concert years later that I first met him, where he had typically both written a commentary and spoken it. I was invited down to Gorran Haven and was priviliged to enjoy weekends of conversation and discourse of a very high order. A man with an extraordinary mind and breadth of knowledge whose far-seeing analytic and philosophical theories must continue to gain the deepest respect and admiration. He will be greatly missed.
THE BEAR AND THE SNOWMAN WITH SCREEN AND ORCHESTRA, City Chamber Orchestra of Hong Kong, cond. Colin Touchin, host Tania Martin, Sha Tin Town Hall Auditorium
28 December 2014 Hong Kong(China)The Snowman, The Bear, City Chamber Orchestra of Hong Kong conducted by Colin Touchin - Sha Tin Town Hall Auditorium, City Chamber Orchestra of Hong Kong, Colin Touchin, guest conductor Tania Martin,Music by Howard Blake Original stories by Raymond Briggs Spice up your winter holidays with Howard Blake's The Snowman & The Bear! These two animated films, both heartwarming and magical, are based on picture-books by Raymond Briggs. Experience them on the big screen to the sounds of live orchestral accompaniment and singing. The perfect holiday treat for all the family.
'ELEGIA STRAVAGANTE' IN COBLENZ, Internationales Musikfestival Coblenz
In the first Internationales Musikfestival Coblenz, Germany, the premiere of Blake's new Piano Trio 'Elegia Stravagante' was given an electrifying performance by violinist Linus Roth, Benedict Kloeckner cello and the composer Howard Blake himself at the piano. A capacity audience in the Goerrehaus gave an enthusiastic and repeated ovation, causing an immediate encore.
NATIONAL GIRLS CHOIR OF SCOTLAND PERFORM 'THE LAND OF COUNTERPANE', National Girls Choir of Scotland, St Giles Cathedral Edinburgh
'ENCOUNTERS WITH BRITISH COMPOSERS' AND OTHER RECENT BOOKS, Four recently-published books have included biographical/critical articles on Howard Blake
1. DREAM REPAiRMAN - a biography by Howard's close friend and top film editor Jim Clark which mentions the ill-fated score for the Dustin Hoffman film 'Agatha' on which they worked.
Jim Clark, LandMarc Press (UK)
2. BATHED IN LIGHTNING - a book about Sixties music-session men which concentrates on the great guitarist John McLaughlin (Mahavishnu) but mentions a great many others including Howard who worked with John at that time
Colin Harper, Outline Press (UK)
3. THE ENCYCYCLOPAEDIA OF FILM COMPOSERS - a tome that tries to detail all of the well-known film composers since the start of cinema including a feature on Howard Blake.
Thoms S. Hischak, Rowman and Littlefield (USA)
4. ENCOUNTERS WITH BRITISH COMPOSERS - Well-written articles about contemporary composers drawn directly from live interviews, including a lively one with Howard
Andrew Palmer The Boydell Press (UK)
BRITISH ISLES MUSIC FESTIVAL 2014, Susan Milan flute, Richard Deakin violin, Yuko Inoue viola, Pierre Doumange cell, British Isles Music Festival, Ardingly College West Sussex,
SACHA PUTTNAM PLAYS SACHA PUTTNAM, Sacha Puttnam, piano, CD release on Decca
Sacha Puttnam Plays Music from David Puttnam's Best-Loved Films including 'Laura' from Howard's score for the feature film 'The Duellists' directed by Ridley Scott (1977) and two tracks from the film 'My Life so Far' directed by Hugh Hudson for which Howard was musical director (1999).
FUNERAL OF ALFRED JOHN FRANCIS, In 1961 I started working at the The National Film Theatre. The Co-Chief projectionist was Alf Francis. He came from Essex and was always cheerful. He was crazy about film, amazingly perceptive, practical and blessed with a wonderful Cockney sense of humour. On the day I began work we decided to try and make a film and along with fellow-projectionist Neville Walker we spent our Sunday mornings shooting the B&W film 'A Few Days', shot on a 16mm Bolex with Alf as cameraman. It was eventually to be programmed by the NFT and purchased by the British Film Archive. The support and experience I gained from this encouraged me to venture into the larger worlds of professional music and cinema. Alf remained a friend for the rest of his life and I was honoured to play the organ at his funeral at the request of his wife Anthea
Yeovil crematorium chapel
LORIN MAAZEL, I was once most honoured to be invited by Lorin Maazel as honoured guest at a birthday lunch for his wife Dietlinde during the Salzburg Festival. It turned out that they were both admirers of 'The Snowman' in its classical concert form and that Dietlinde's father acted as narrator every year for orchestral performances in Pittsburgh. Along with very many other people I regarded Lorin Maazel as the greatest conductor alive. His demise will be a great loss to the world of music and I offer my most profound condolences at this time.
PREMIERE OF A NEW 'MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM SUITE' FOR SHAKESPEARE'S BIRTHDAY, Orchestra of the Swan, cond. David Curtis, Premiere of orchestral Suite from Midsummer Night's Dream, Civic Hall/Arts Centre, Stratford-upon-Avon
Howard Blake’s music for Shakespeare in performance
This Friday, 6 June, Stratford-upon-Avon’s Orchestra of the Swan’s celebration of the 450th anniversary of Shakespeare’s birth reaches its climax with a concert of music inspired by A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Three of the four concerts in the series have featured pieces by the composer Howard Blake, best known for the song Walking in the Air that was used in the animated film of The Snowman, memorably covered by the young Aled Jones in 1985. In a long career Blake has written much else, including film music and choral and orchestral work. He has also written a number of pieces for theatre: the first was for the 1984 RSC production of Henry V that launched the young Kenneth Branagh’s Shakespearean career. This was played at the second concert in which the theme was “Rosemary for Remembrance”. In the programme note he explains that in between the scenes of war, he decided to “have a harpist playing variations quietly live on stage whenever there was peace in the land. The harpist would be placed on-stage in period costume…The “theme-tune” of the production was an unaccompanied song on Shakespeare’s words”:
A scene from the 1984 Henry V with Kenneth Branagh
And sword and shield in bloody field Doth win immortal fame.
Would I were in an ale-house in London; If wishes would prevail with me,
My purpose should not fail with me;
But thither would I hie,
But thither would I hie.
Tanya Houghton was the performer at the Orchestra of the Swan concert, but the original soloist was Vanessa Sundstrup, then just beginning her career. She has recently put her own recording of this piece on YouTube. She recalls “The harp was featured as a solo instrument as a symbol of peace and was actually on stage”. I well remember her gentle playing of Blake’s music while the audience was assembling, becoming, sadly, less and less audible as the auditorium filled up. Blake’s music is beautifully melodic and I particularly like the way that you can hear the wistful words of the song “But thither would I hie” in the music.
Blake became associated with Adrian Noble’s productions, writing the songs for his As You Like It in 1985 which have also been sung in this concert series. The first concert featured another Shakespeare commission by the distinguished ex-RSC director Bill Alexander, (who also directed the stage version of The Snowman), for a student production of Twelfth Night. Blake’s version of O Mistress Mine was not actually used in the production so the concert on 16 May was its first performance.
Poster for Adrian Noble’s film of A Midsummer Night’s Dream
In Friday’s concert the Orchestra will play a suite of Howard Blake’s music based on that which he wrote for the film version of Adrian Noble’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. This will be the first performance of this suite which Blake has created specially for the 2014 anniversary. In the programme note Blake comments “Since Adrian’s production included a motor-bike for the Mechanicals and a forest consisting of light bulbs, the score did not have to be set in a conventional “mock-Tudor” style and the character of Bottom, for instance, is conveyed by a jazzy solo trombone”. And “A solo violin begins the work announcing the main theme, redolent of fairies flying through midnight skies and enchanted happenings”. Theatre and film music can be overwhelmed by the visuals, so on this occasion it’s going to be great for the music to get the attention it deserves. This series of concerts has been a delight and I’d like to thank conductor David Curtis for the opportunity to hear so much Shakespeare-related music in concert, and not just the obvious pieces.
As a bit of fun to celebrate Shakespeare’s birthday, the Guardian posted its suggestions of the best Shakespeare-inspired pieces of music. Several of the pieces that have featured in the Orchestra of the Swan concerts are included: Walton’s music for Olivier’s Henry V film, and Mendelssohn’s Midsummer Night’s Dream music which we will hear on the 6th. And nobody would argue with Bernstein’s West Side Story or Verdi’s Falstaff, but The Boys from Syracuse and The Lion King – really???? Even more oddly the selection consisted of pictures, with no links to any of the music. Sadly it’s too late to vote for any of the striking but lower-profile music like Howard Blake’s that’s been specifically written for Shakespeare on stage.
SHAKESPEARE SONGS AT LEIGHTON HOUSE, Richard Edgar Wilson (tenor), piano tba, Catherine Parry (violin), Leighton House
HENRY V - VARIATIONS FOR HARP, Orchestra of the Swan, Civic Hall Stratford
'SHAKESPEARE SONGS' WITH THE ORCHESTRA OF THE SWAN, Featured composer Howard Blake, The Orchestra of the Swan, conductor David Curtis, Shakespeare Songs, Richard Edgar wilson (tenor), Civic Hall, Stratford-upon-Avon
BBC Radio 4, BBC Radio 3,
Spring Sounds International
Music Festival 2014
Celebrating Shakespeare in words and music
With featured composer Howard Blake – Composer of The Snowman
Sunday 20 April – 8:10am BBC Radio 4
Wednesday 23 April – 3:30pm BBC Radio 3
Friday 16 May, Friday 23 May, Friday 30 May and Friday 6 June
Civic Hall, Stratford-upon-Avon
2014 marks the 450th anniversary of Shakespeare’s birth and to commemorate the occasion Orchestra of the Swan will be celebrating music inspired by his words.
Howard Blake, composer of ‘The Snowman’, is our featured composer and we will be performing his Shakespeare Songs, Harp variations on a theme composed for Henry V and the premiere of Midsummer Night's Dream, Suite for orchestra - a new work specially created from music composed for the RSC's feature film directed by Adrian Noble.
The Lark Ascending and Fantasia on a theme by Thomas Tallis by Vaughan Williams will also feature in this year’s programme as will new works by Huw Watkins, Roxanna Panufnik, Guto Puw and Roger Steptoe.
Click here to view events.
Spring Sounds History
The inaugural Spring Sounds took place in May 2008 with Tasmin Little at the helm as Artistic Director. The ethos behind the festival is to feature the work of established and developing composers alongside the great classics of the classical canon and to showcase and broaden Stratford-upon-Avon’s musical offering.
Taking place every May composers and artists featured thus far include Roxanna Panufnik, Joe Cutler, Phil Dukes, the Academy of St Martin in the Fields, Paul Watkins, Martin Roscoe, the Smetana Piano Trio, Param Vir and Viv McLean.
The festival has also made full use of a variety of venues Stratford offers from the orchestra’s home base of the Civic Hall through to the elegant Georgian Town Hall and the beautiful Peter Adams designed Compton Verney art gallery just outside of Stratford. Compton Verney has also hosted the festival’s family events with young participants and gallery visitors creating graphic scores and being treated to impromptu performances around the grounds from Orchestra of the Swan’s musicians
THE LAND OF COUNTERPANE IN EDINBURGH, National Girls Choir of Scotland,
CD VLADIMIR ASHKENAZY, Vladimir Ashkenazy, Decca CD album of Howard Blake's piano music
'Walking in the Air', the music of Howard Blake performed by Vladimir Ashkenazy, joined by his son Vovka in the works for two pianos. Classic FM Album of the Weekend 13-14 April 2014
BENEDICT KLOECKNER/HOWARD BLAKE AT BOB BOAS, Howard Blake music for cello and piano, Bob Boas concert room, London
BBC RADIO 4: MUSIC FOR FEATURE FILMS, A BBC Radio 4 feature produced by Mark Burman in which broadcaster Christopher Cook interviewed Howard on the subject of the 'long, frequently unhappy history of film music that is never used...the one painful experience that links almost every composer for film since the beginnings of sound film. The programme dealt with'Agatha' and 'Flash Gordon' alongside William Walton's 'Battle of Britain', Alex North's '2001' and the sad story of Bernard Herrmann's rejection by Hitchcock., Broadcast on BBC Radio 4 18th March, repeated 22nd March
VLADIMIR ASHKENAZY CD RELEASE MARCH 3rd 2014 - WALKING IN THE AIR - THE MUSIC OF HOWARD BLAKE, Vladimir Ashkenazy and Vovka Ashkenazy, DECCA RELEASE MARCH 3RD 2014
In 2011 Howard wrote the test-piece for The Hong Kong International Piano Competition which he attended. The President of the jury was Vladimir Ashkenazy who liked the work (Speech after long silence) and expressed his desire to record an album of Howard's piano music. This took place between March and July 2013. The repertoire includes two works for two pianos in which he is joined by his son Vovka and concert performances of these works were given in Lugano for RSI on 9th March 2013 just prior to the recordings. The completed 80-minute album also presents a wide selection of Howard Blake's solo pieces for piano performed by Vladimir Ashkenazy himself. The completed album will be released by Decca on March 3rd 2014. The title track of the album is a solo piano version of 'Walking in the air' of which a single for download was issued as a pre-release for download on December 2nd 2013.
RECORDING OF CELLO AND PIANO ALBUM COMPLETED IN KAISERSLAUTERN (SWDR/GENUIN), Benedict Kloeckner (cello) Howard Blake (piano), SWDR recording studios, Kaiserslautern, Germany (South West German Radio)
Recordings of Howard Blake's works for cello and piano commenced at the studios of SWDR in Kaiserslautern with 'Tonmeister' Ralf Kolbinger July 12-14 2013. The composer was interviewed on the 12th by producer Sabine Fallenstein for the radio station and an album scheduled for release on the record label GENUIN. The decision to record followed up Benedict's triumph with Howard's 'Diversions' in the version for cello and piano in 2010 which won him the EBU youth musician prize and thereafter gave rise to succesful performances with various pianists including the composer himself. Howard was invited by Benedict in 2011 to join him in a complete recital of his works in the delightful venue of the Schlangenbad Historisches Konzerthaus outside Mainz. This proved to be an astonishing success, with a capacity audience who demanded endless encores and gave repeated stand-up ovations. The repertoire for this recording largely mirrored that of the concert. Recording was finally completed on January 28th 2014 and included the addition of the work 'The Enchantment of Venus' for cello and piano.
FLUTE CONCERTO ON CLASSIC FM, Conductor: Neville Marriner Ensemble: Academy of St. Martin in the Fields Soloist: Jaime Martin, Classic FM radio
Record Label: Pentatone
WOODWIND/BRASS VERSION OF THE SNOWMAN PREMIERE IN NETHERLANDS, The Orchestra will be performing a new arrangement by Phillip Littlemore
Dordrechts Philharmonisch Orkest, city of Dordrecht, Netherlands
Conductor and director Jan Gerrit Adema., Benevia Muziekcentrum 19.30 CET
CAROLS WITH SUSSEX VOICEWORKS, Sussex Voiceworks and Mardibrass of London conducted by Peter Farrant, All Saints Church, Hove, Sussex 7.30pm
SNOWMAN IN CONCORD, The Concord Orchestra, Richard Pittman, conductor The Concord Orchestra has invited five members of the Fenn School Treble Chorus to sing the song for this performance. They are sixth-graders Charlie Clark and Henry Patton of Concord; Oliver Neale of Sudbury; fifth-graders William Skelly of Carlisle and Andre Vlahakis of Lowell. The Fenn School in Concord is an independent school for boys in grades 4 through 9. The 35-member Treble Chorus is an auditioned choir for boys and is under the direction of Michael Salvatore. Over the years, the boys have sung at the Boston Athenaeum, York Minster Cathedral, Castle Howard, The Boston Garden, and Fenway Park. Joyce Kulhawik is well known to Boston audiences as the Emmy award- winning arts and entertainment critic for WBZ-TV from1981 to 2008. Joyce Kulhawik (narrator) has covered local and national events from Boston and Broadway to Hollywood, reporting live from the Oscars, the Emmys, and the Grammys., Performing Arts Center, Concord, Mass. USA
HOWARD BLAKE AND LEOPOLD MOZART IN THURINGIA, Kinder-Konzert mit der Jenaer Philharmonie, Werke von Leopold Mozart und Howard Blake
Volkshaus, Carl-Zeiss-Platz, Jena
Dirigent: Sergi Roca
Moderation: Patrick Rohbeck
ab 6 Jahre / ca. 60 Minuten
Kreisfreie Stadt Jena
Leopold Mozart Die musikalische Schlittenfahrt
Howard Blake Der Schneemann Für Sprecher, Knabensopran und Orchester
BALTIMORE SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Ken Lam, conductor Rheda Becker, narrator
(NB this is one of many orchestral performances scheduled in USA around Christmas.)
CRAIG OGDEN'S GUITAR VERSION OF 'WALKING IN THE AIR', Craig Ogden, 'Christmas Time' which includes Craig Ogden's guitar instrumental of 'Walking in the Air' features on John Suchet's show as Classic FM's Album of the week
VLADIMIR ASHKENAZY'S PIANO VERSION OF 'WALKING IN THE AIR', A single for download of the title track from the piano album 'Walking in the air' was released on December 2nd 2013. The complete album is scheduled for release on March 3rd 2014 on Decca
DIVERSIONS BEYOND THE SNOWMAN, Robert Hugill
Diversions beyond the Snowman - an encounter with Howard Blake
The name of Howard Blake
is immediately synonymous with the music written for the film The Snowman
, beyond this his name might recall the scores for films such as Ridley Scott's The Duellists
. But Blake has also had a parallel career writing concert music with works ranging from his piano concerto commissioned for the Princess of Wales's 30th birthday, through his oratorio Benedictus
to his Diversions for cello and piano
which he is recording next year with the young German cellist Benedict Kloeckner.
I recently heard Benedict Kloeckner and Howard Blake playing a programme of Howard's music for cello and piano as a celebration of the composer's 75th birthday. At the concert Howard talked of his working on the cello part of the Diversions
with the great French cellist Maurice Gendron. Subsequent to this I found I could find no record of Gendron having played the work (Howard's website
is admirably comprehensive). So when I met up with Howard Blake to talk about his music and his career it seemed natural to start off our conversation by asking about Diversions
We met in his studio, a former artist's studio on a top floor in Kensington, double-height, top lit, with both a computer and a piano, walls lined with books, pictures and CDs, a record of a long working life; a lovely room in which to work. In person Howard Blake is charming and seemingly possessed of almost total recall, able to talk with ease about events in the past. He uses his website to store all the details of his various performances and during our conversations occasionally pauses to check a detail on his pc. Diversions
history is an example of how Howard's concert works seem to go through multiple version, responding to need. Howard is a very practical composer, who sees his role as a craftsman and more than once in our discussions he talked about the composer's role and the need to respond in practical fashion. On his website Howard includes a couple of phrases which seem to sum up both the man and his music, describing himself as 'a composer working as a craftsman, responding to the requirements of the day'
, and referring to his music as being 'hopefully inspirational and non-elitist'.
started as a piece for cello and piano in 1973, though he admits that the work was not as honed as it is now. Ten years later, Howard was in contact with the French cellist Maurice Gendron who suggested that the work might be developed into a concerto and Howard travelled to Gendron's home in Grez-sur-Loing to work with him. Gendron's home was just up the river from Delius's house and Howard was able to row from Gendron's house to Delius's along the river which inspired such works as Summer Night on the River.
Gendron announce that the finale was boring; to Howard's comment that it was intended to be a major version of the main theme, Gendron responded that he had heard the theme once and never wanted to hear it again. Also, Gendron wanted Howard to make the Sarabande
more virtuosic. Though Gendron was in his mid-sixties at the time, he was a superb player and under his encouragement Howard made the work more virtuosic, adding a new Cadenza and Finale. Gendron showed Howard how to take advantage of the extreme possibilities of the cello
Once completed, it was planned to premiere the work at the Brighton Festival with the BBC Symphony Orchestra and Gendron as soloist. Near to the concert date the head of Radio 3 informed Howard that it was felt that Gendron was 'past it' and that he was being dropped. (Howard disagreed with this assessment of Gendron, having played works such as Tchaikovsky's Rococo Variations
with Gendron whilst staying with him). Another soloist was not offered, and the BBC simply dropped Howard's work from the concert. The work was subsequently premiered with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and Steven Isserlis as the soloist in the Fairfield Halls, Croydon with Sir Charles Groves conducting, in 1989. Though the location did mean that the work did not make as much impression as it might have.
As a result of a record contract with Sony, which came about because of the success of The Snowman
, Howard was able to record the concerto alongside his Piano Concerto
on a new disc. Steven Isserlis declined to record the work so the part was recorded by Robert Cohen. Howard feels that this splitting of the solo role rather dissipated the potential of the work at its premiere performances; though Isserlis performed it subsequently, the recording was by a different cellist. Isserlis performed the work in 1991 at the Three Choirs Festival with the RLPO and Vernon Handley. Robert Cohen performed it in 1989 at the Royal Festival Hall, with the Bach Choir performing Howard's Benedictus
, though Howard admits that it didn't fill the hall. Cohen performed the work again in 2000 with the Brighton Philharmonic under Barry Wordsworth.
And that appeared to be that. Then in 2010 Howard got an email from a young German cellist, Benedict Kloeckner
. One of Kloeckner's teachers was Martin Rummel. Howard and Martin Rummel had played the Diversions
, in the version for cello and piano at the British Music Information Centre. When Kloeckner asked Rummel to recommend a contemporary work for cello and piano he suggested the Diversions
. Having learned it, Kloeckner wanted some coaching and he and his pianist came over to Howard's studio.
My meeting with Howard is in his studio and at this point in our discussion he walks over to the piano to demonstrate how the young players had got some of the speeds wrong, and he plays a passage twice; once gently and then again, this time rather burning up the keyboard. Impressed with Kloeckner's playing, Howard found himself demonstrating a lot to them. After two hours, Howard assumed that was that.
Then Howard got an email from Benedict to say that he had entered the work for the European Broadcasting Union Young Artists Competition, and had come in the last seven (out of 32 countries), and that the finals were in Bratislava when he would be playing Diversions
again. Howard went out to Bratislava and heard Benedict playing Diversions
and he came in the final three. Next day the three finalists played a concerto, and Benedict played the Elgar and came first. Howard described it as a big event, champagne was drunk and bold plaques delivered.
Before leaving for Bratislava Howard had realised that, if Benedict did win he would need a present. He thought of his violin sonata and, as with Sibelius it was relatively straightforward to transpose the work for cello. Benedict was pleased with his present and, some time later invited Howard to do a recital with him. With Diversions
, the new/old Cello Sonata
and two existing works for cello and piano Penillion
and Jazz Dances
, they had a complete programme.
The first time that Howard played with Benedict Kloeckner he felt that they had a rapport. Their first concert together was at the Historiche Cafehalle in Schlangenbad, a suburb of Mainz in 2011. The concert was a success and they have gone on to do further concerts together and will be recording the programme for SWDR in early 2014.
But the long journey of Diversions
wasn't finished. Benedict had been playing with the Berlin Kammerorchester, performing a string version of Schumann's Cello Concerto
in 2011 which Howard heard. So Howard created a new version of Diversions
for string orchestra, which Benedict played at the Berlin Konzerthaus this year. And there are possibilities of further performances in the UK next year
Benedict Kloeckner and the Berlin Kammerorchester conductor Jordi Bernacer in Howard Blake's Diversions for Cello and String Orchestra
Howard Blake had started life as a pianist, getting a piano scholarship to the Royal Academy of Music. Whilst at the Academy he formed a duo with the violinist Miles Baster and learned the whole of the violin/piano repertoire, performing recitals in music clubs. In 1960 they performed in Edinburgh. It was a great success and Baster was offered a job of founding the Edinburgh String quartet. Thus bringing an end to their duo partnership.
Howard's time at the Academy wasn't entirely happy. His composition teacher, Howard Ferguson, retired after a year and Howard found himself out of sympathy with the prevailing style of serialism and modernism on composition. Whilst at the Academy he virtually stopped composing and stopped playing the piano.
Afterwards he started to work in films eventually working as a session player and conducting. He also learned to play jazz as it was only way to get work, eventually becoming in house pianist for the Abbey Road studios, playing everything from classical to jazz and rock, even playing cabaret on television.
This led to work on films with people like Bernard Hermann and it was through Hermann that he took over writing music for The Avengers (
Howard wrote music for 10 episodes). Later in our conversations Howard talked about having to write music for a weekly show like the The Avengers
stopped him worrying about the Academy's obsession with making every bar of music original. This was being a craftsman, writing music responding to need.
Life became so busy, with conducting, composing and being musical director at Elstree Studios, that Howard stopped playing the piano entirely. The busy-ness finally got to him, and he found he had no time for writing music, he wanted to write chamber music again. So in 1972 he dropped out and moved to Sussex. He admits that he was lucky, he had enough money in royalties to make him independent.
Asked to write a series for Thames TV he said he'd do it if he could write for a chamber group, a piano trio with himself piano. He enjoyed it and they started playing Schubert Trios in concerts. They suggested he write his own music for their concerts, the original version of Diversions
and the Violin Sonata
both arose in this manner, plus a Piano Quartet
written for a concert in 1975. All three works come from a period of intense action, and the Piano Quartet
remains one of Howard's absolute favourite works. Inevitably, with all this activity, Howard's returned to his piano playing.
Then Ridley Scott asked him to write the music for his first film, Ridley Scott's film The Duellists
was an enormous hit and Howard was aked to do big films. There was a ballet for the Queen's Jubilee, plus some big orchestra pieces, he was busy writing again, too busy to play the piano.
In 1989, David Welton of the Philharmonia contacted him. The Princess of Wales was the President of the orchestra and they wanted Howard to write a piano concerto for a concert for the princess's 30th birthday. Howard described it as a most glorious commission and Evgeny Kissin was to play the piano part. Nearer the time, Kissin announced that he did not have enough time to lean the piece. The premiere was in May 1991 and by Autumn 1990 there was no pianist. David Welton phoned Howard and said that 'the boys day that you can play it'. Howard linked the performance to a recording, deciding that the only way he could do the performance was to use a recording to check that he could indeed play it. The recording was done on a Fazioli piano, amazingly the first modern piano concerto to be played on a Fazioli.
He had to practice for three months to get it back doing scales and Cramer studies. And indeed it all did come back, he recorded the concerto from memory. But in the dressing room at the Royal Festival Hall just before the concert, he found that he could not remember. He had never played a concerto in his life before, and it was too late to do anything to remedy the situation. He went out and realised he had to play is as if he was in the studio.
The recording was issued on CD with the Diversions for Cello and Orchestra
, and Sony re-issued the disc five years ago to celebrate Howard's 70th birthday. A new disc of concertos, The Barber of Neville
has just been issued on the Pentatone classics label, with Sir Neville Marriner conducting the Academy of St Martin in the Fields in Howard's Flute, Clarinet and Bassoon concertos, plus the Serenade for Wind Octet. Howard and Benedict Kloeckner will be recording their cello and piano programme for SWDR in January and performing the programme at Schwetzingen in 2014
Further information from Howard Blake's
SADLER'S WELLS 'THE SNOWMAN' UK STAGE SHOW/BALLET TOUR 2013/14, The Snowman stage show/ballet in two acts., Peacock Theatre, Kingsway, London
Theatre Royal, Nottingham;
Mayflower Theatre, Southampton;
Birmingham Repertory Theatre
The Birmingham Repertory Theatre stage and produce the full-evening two-act ballet of 'The Snowman' in association with Sadler's Wells with whom they jointly present it, breaking records in London's West End by running for 15 consecutive Christmas seasons.'The Snowman' is choreographed by Robert North, directed by Bill Alexander, designed by Ruari Murchison with music and lyrics by Howard Blake.
'PENNILLION' IN SAMOILOV MUSEUM ST. PETERSBURG, Madeleine Mitchell (violin), Samoilov Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia
FLUTE CONCERTO ON CLASSIC FM, Jaimie Martin, Sir Neville Marriner, Academy of St Martin in the Fields, Classic FM London 8.54pm CD play
KLOECKNER/BLAKE AT SIR VERNON ELLIS'S MUSIC ROOM KENSINGTON, Benedict Kloeckner and Howard Blake, The Music Room, 45 Queen's Gate Terrace, Kensington, London
A programme of Howard Blake's music on his 75th birthday
WDR 3 BIRTHDAY BROADCAST, West German Radio 3 broadcast an interview on Howard's 75th birthday, recorded at Steinway Haus Dusseldorf when he was there for the festival October 4-6 2013
HOWARD BLAKE WITH CLIVE ANDERSON ON BBC'S 'LOOSE ENDS'
At 6.15pm HOWARD BLAKE is one of Clive Anderson’s Guests on BBC Radio 4’s Loose Ends programme, and there are more details on the Loose Ends page of the BBC Radio 4 website
LONDON INTERNATIONAL ANIMATION FESTIVAL Gala Opening of 'Persistence of Vision', Film director Kevin Schreck will present 'Persistence of Vision', his documentary about the great animator Richard Williams with whom Howard was associated in the Seventies. Howard's recollections of that time are featured in the film., Friday, 25 October, at 6.30pm at the Barbican Centre's Cinema 1. Gala Opening Event More information here: http://bit.ly/PoVLIAFfb
Barbican Centre Cinema 1 6.30
HOWARD BLAKE ON BBC 'LOOSE ENDS', BBC Broadcasting House 10.30-12.00am
'DIVERSIONS' AND 'BENEDICT PRELUDE' IN MUNICH'S GASTEIG, Benedict Kloeckner cello and Danae Dorken piano, Gasteig Munich
The recital included Howard Blake's 'Diversions' for cello and piano and the first performance of 'Prelude for Benedict' for solo cello, in an arrangement created specially for the occasion by the composer who was in attendance. The concert was a resounding success and, echoing the orchestral concerts with the Berlin Chamber Orchestra earlier in the year 'Archangel's Lullaby' was done as one of the encores. The event was recorded by Bavarian Radio.
KENSINGTON AND CHELSEA MUSIC SOCIETY (75th birthday recital), Howard Blake (piano), Madeleine Mitchell (violin), Leighton House, Kensington, 7.30
Wednesday 16 October 2013 75th birthday celebration of the local composer HOWARD BLAKE piano with MADELEINE MITCHELL violin BLAKE Penillion FRANCK Violin Sonata SCHUBERT Notturno (played by graduates of the Royal College of Music) BLAKE Violin Sonata
'THE DUELLISTS' SYMPHONY AND 'DIVERSIONS' IN THE BEETHOVEN FESTIVAL BONN (Howard Blake Festival), The first performance of 'The Duellists' (Symphony no. 3') was given by the Koenigswinter orchestra conducted by Tobias van de Locht in the Zehntschoene Kloster Heisterbach as part of the Bonn Beethoven Festival 2013. The concert began with Mozart's Symphony no. 39 and was followed by a performance of 'Diversions for cello and string orchestra' with Benedict Kloeckner as soloist. The concert which included encores received a stand-up ovation., Zehntscheune des Klosters Heisterbach:11.00-13.00
An event as part of Howard Blake's 75th birthday Dusseldorf
STEINWAY DUSSELDORF, BLAKE (PIANO) & EBU PRIZEWINNER KLOECKNER (CELLO) (Howard Blake Festival), Kloeckner/Blake, Steinway House Dusseldorf
A concert of Howard's music for cello and piano with EBU prizewinner Benedict Kloeckner including the premiere of 'THE ENCHANTMENT OF VENUS' for cello and piano
BLAKE PRESENTS SCREENED EXCERPTS OF HIS FILM MUSIC, METROPOL, DUSSELDORF (Howard Blake Festival), As part of the festival and 75th birthday celebrations, Howard Blake introduces (in German) a programme of projected film excerpts featuring his film scores, Filmkunsttheater Metropol, Dusseldorf 7.30pm Die Filmmusik von Howard Blake
Vortrag von und mit Howard Blake in deutscher Sprache mit Filmausschnitten
BBC RADIO 3 'IN TUNE', Howard Blake interview, The BBC have invited Howard to feature on their popular afternoon music programme 'In Tune' to talk about events surrounding his 75th birthday, Benedict Kloeckner's London premiere and the release of the albums with Vladimir Ashkenazy and Sir Neville Marriner. BBC Radio 3 c.5pm
GLOUCESTER MUSIC SOCIETY, Gloucester Heritage Open Days in September were delighted to announce that Chairman Christine Talbot-Cooper would be joined by the distinguished composer, pianist and conductor Howard Blake OBE for "Meet the Composer"., St Mary de Lode Church, 2.00pm
Howard Blake recently became a Vice President of Gloucester Music Society and is perhaps best known as the composer of the music for "The Snowman" and other film music. However he has a huge output of other work, some of which has been performed at the Three Choirs Festival, and a selection of his recorded music was included in his September visit.
Howard Blake gave a talk about his music and played some of his recordings
OVERTURE IN HONG KONG, Hong-Kong Sinfonietta, Hong-Kong City Hall (5 performances)
'MONTH IN THE COUNTRY' IN HASTINGS, Hastings International Composers Festival
WILLIAM CHEN IN SHANGHAI, William Chen (piano ),Yang Song (violin), Piano and violin recital at China Europe International Business School, Shanghai
The recital will include the second movement of the Violin Sonata
PIANO QUARTET ON KUSC, USA, Howard Blake piano, Jack Rothstein violin, Kenneth Essex viola, Peter Willison cello, Played on KUSC presented by Alan Chapman 12.08pm Southern California public radio station featuring classical music 24 hours a day.
MAGDALENE HO - A MALAYSIAN PRODIGY, Magdalene Ho, Kuala Lumpur, Johore, Singapore, Penang
An extraordinarily talented young pianist visited Howard Blake in his Kensington studio with a delegation of piano teachers from Malaysia early in 2013. Magdalene Ho will be leaving Malaysia at the end of August to begin at the UK Purcell School and her supporters are preparing for 3 concerts called 'Magdalene and friends' to raise funds to enable her family to be with her. They feel this would be necessary for her personal development as she is only nine! These concerts will feature Magdalene as soloist, as well as her playing some two-piano works and duets, including a new 4-hand version of Nursery Rhyme Overture, specially arranged for her and her young sister. One of the concerts will be in Kuala Lumpur on the 27th of July at which she will play the virtuosic 'Haiku' by Howard Blake, who on June 13th made a short film in his studio talking about her and endorsing her talents - to be shown at these concert events.
PIANO QUARTET IN ENCINITAS USA, iPalpiti Festival of International Laureates
David Kaplan, piano /Davide de Askaniis, violin /Victor de Almeida, viola /Jacob Shaw, cello, Encinitas Library, 540 Cornish Drive, CA, USA. 2.00pm
Blake's Piano Quartet has become known in California since it acts as a signature theme for KUSC, the University of Southern California's Classical Radio Station
BOSWIL FESTIVAL, Benedict Kloeckner, Howard Blake, Boswil festival (near Zurich)
An impromptu performance of 'Clown on a tight-rope' on 28th June within a chamber music concert echoed the 'masquerade' theme of the festival and provoked spontaneous laughter and applause.
FRANCIS HOLLAND SCHOOL, Francis Holland School, Sloane Square, London
SHAKESPEARE SONGS IN WASHINGTON DC, Tenor and string ensemble, The Friday Morning Music Club of Washington DC (founded 1886) Director John Turner McLean
RIDLEY SCOTT ALBUM, BuySoundtrax Records is proud to announce the release of Music From the Films of Ridley Scott, available digitally on May 14th and, in stores and from www.buysoundtrax.com today, May 27, 2013. The recording was produced and arranged by Dominik Hauser, performed by the American Film Symphony, and features performances by Brandon K. Verrett and Edgar Rothermich.
Ridley Scott has produced some of the most critically acclaimed, commercial successes, and beloved films of the past 35 years. From his 1979 breakthrough, Alien, to the cult classic Blade Runner, to his three Academy Award nominations (Thelma and Louise, Gladiator, Black Hawk Down), Scott's films have run the gamut, set in the past, present and future.
One thing is constant in the works of Ridley Scott - he has worked with some of the best-loved composers of his time, including Jerry Goldsmith, Hans Zimmer, Vangelis, Trevor Jones, and more recently Harry Gregson-Williams and Marc Streitenfeld.
Music From the Films of Ridley Scott features tracks from Scott's films including The Duellists (Howard Blake), Alien (Jerry Goldsmith), Blade Runner (Vangelis), Legend (Jerry Goldsmith and Tangerine Dream), Someone To Watch Over Me (George and Ira Gershwin), Black Rain (Hans Zimmer), Thelma and Louise (Hans Zimmer), 1492: Conquest of Paradise (Vangelis), White Squall (Jeff Rona), G.I. Jane (Trevor Jones), Gladiator (Hans Zimmer), Hannibal (Hans Zimmer), Black Hawk Down(Hans Zimmer), Kingdom of Heaven (Harry Gregson-Williams), Robin Hood (Marc Streitenfeld), Prometheus (Marc Streitenfeld).
EVGENIA STARTSEVA PIANO RECITAL, Piano recital: Beethoven,Medtner,Schumann,Prokofiev,Chopin and Blake, St.James's Theatre Studio, 12 Palace Street, London SW1 4.00 pm
Three Blake pieces to be played by the Russian pianist Evgenia Startseva - notable for her performances partnering Maxim Vengerov.
'IF' IN THE ROYAL ALBERT HALL, Howard's setting of the great Kipling poem 'IF' is to be performed by massed choirs of Thomas's Day Schools, organ and orchestra
MORRICONE YOUTH ON EAST VILLAGE RADIO NY, Devon Goldberg interviews Howard Blake live in a 2-hour programme about his film scores to be broadcast from Greenwich Village,New York City, USA, eastvillageradio.com Sunday 5th May 2013 19.30 GMT (London time)
A phone interview to promote Howard Blake's recent 'S.O.S. Titanic' release on Silva Screen and previewing his birthday Illustrated Film Music Lecture in Dusseldorf on October 3rd. Devon Goldberg has hosted a weekly film soundtrack radio show called MORRICONE YOUTH on EAST VILLAGE RADIO (eastvillageradio.com
) in New York City for the past six years, live every Sunday afternoon 2-4p ET. Past guests have included Lalo Schifrin, Sven Libaek, Danny Elfman, Paul Williams, Carter Burwell, Eliott Goldenthal, Cliff Martinez, John Lurie, Evan Lurie, Jim Thirlwell, Alan Howarth, Bear McCreary, etc.
British Composer Howard Blake Guests on Morricone Youth, Sunday at 2pm ET
Fri, 03 May 2013 11:47:04
On Morricone Youth this Sunday at 2pm ET, host Devon E. Levins welcomes renowned British composer, pianist and conductor Howard Blake to discuss and listen to his storied film and television soundtrack career which has spanned nearly 50 years producing more than 650 works. Silva Screen Records has released, for the first time, Mr. Blake's original TV soundtrack to arguably the most intelligent and authentic version of the Titanic tragedy, S.O.S. Titanic.
Premiered by ABC on September 23rd 1979, S.O.S Titanic ran for three hours and was the costliest television film ever made. A huge star cast included David Janssen, Helen Mirren, Ian Holm, David Warner, Harry Andrews and Cloris Leachman. The brilliantly researched script by James Costigan was based on a first-hand account by passenger/survivor Lawrence Beesley. US-based producer Roger Gimbel wanted an English composer and had been impressed by Howard Blake’s score to Ridley Scott’s The Duellists (1977). Apart from the composition of a serious symphonic score there was also the intention to create a tapestry of historically correct music such as that which would have been heard on the ship. An innovation in the story-telling portrayed the differences between 1st, 2nd and 3rd class passengers and this was also to be reflected in the music - with, for instance, Irish music from the 3rd, songs with piano from the 2nd and a sophisticated orchestra in the 1st.
Howard Blake is one of the most popular and prolific living English composers, perhaps best known for his timeless TV score for the animated British film The Snowman (1982). An instant classic, the song Walking in the Air was perfectly captured by then boy soprano Aled Jones. The song has been covered by hundreds of artists as diverse as Tangerine Dream and Rainbow to Placido Domingo and George Winston. Mr. Blake’s successes also include scores he wrote for the original British television series The Avengers (1968-1969), An Elephant Called Slowly (1969), Flash Gordon (1980) and A Month in the Country (1987). He increasingly has been recognized for his classical works including concertos, oratorios, ballets, operas and instrumental pieces. As Princess Diana’s favorite composer, she commissioned Howard Blake to write a piano concerto for her 30th Birthday. He was bestowed the O.B.E. (Order of the British Empire) for services to music by the Queen in 1994 and is a Fellow and Visiting Professor of Composition at The Royal Academy of Music.
For more information, visit the composer's website.
'DIVERSIONS' WITH BERLIN KAMMERORCHESTER, Benedict Kloeckner (solo cello), Jordi Bernacer (conductor), Berlin Kammerorchester, Konzerthaus Berlin 20.00
The Konzerthaus programme began with Igor Stravinsky's Concerto in D for strings and continued with Haydn's cello concerto, also in D. After the interval the first performance of 'Diversions for solo cello and string orchestra' was played by Benedict Kloeckner and conducted by Jordi Bernacer. The audience gave it a boisterous and lengthy ovation which culminated in an encore for which the two cellists in the orchestra joined Benedict in Howard's 3-cello piece 'Archangel's Lullaby'. The programme ended with a fine reading of Haydn's 'Farewell' symphony.
Howard Blake originally wrote 'Diversions' as a work for cello and piano in 1973, but in 1984 he was introduced to the great cellist Maurice Gendron who persuaded him to revise it into a concerto for cello and orchestra. Howard worked with him, first in his home in Grez-sur-Loing and later at the Ravel Festival in St. Jean de Luz, adding a new cadenza and finale. He completed the full orchestration in February 1985. Gendron had hoped to premiere it for the BBC at the Brighton Festival but was unable to do so due to ill-health from which he eventually died. In 1989 a premiere of the work was given by Steven Isserlis and the Royal Philharmonic conducted by Sir Charles Groves. In 1991 the work was recorded by Robert Cohen for Sony with the composer conducting The Philharmonia. The Strad commented: 'The dearth of repertoire for the solo cello should encourage more composers to write for the instrument. 'Diversions' is a welcome newcomer which could become an old friend. The eight movements all have an individual character, made more convincing by economic scoring in which each theme or effect is clearly defined. It is a bright, colourful, tuneful piece with tremendous rhythmic drive.' The form is a suite in eight sections: Prelude, Scherzo, March, Waltz, Aria, Serenade, Sarabande and Cadenza, Finale. In 2010 cellist and mentor Martin Rummel introduced the piano/cello version of the piece to Benedict Kloeckner as an interesting work with which to enter the EBU Young Musicians Prize. Generally players choose two or three contrasted works for such a competition, but since 'Diversions' contained such contrast within the eight movements he decided to perform the entire work and won first prize. Since then he has played it frequently with various pianists, including Howard Blake himself with whom he played it at the International Cello Festival in Kronberg. In July 2013 they are scheduled to record it for SWDR. Just over two years ago the composer heard Benedict and the Berlin Kammerorchester give a superb performance of the Schumann concerto in a new strings-only arrangement and it was this performance that inspired him to rework 'Diversions' for similar forces.
PENTAGON STRING TRIO, Pentagon Ensemble, King Charles the Martyr, Tunbridge Wells
Programme of string trios by Mozart, Beethoven, Sibelius and Blake
USA BALLET PRODUCTION, Launch of an Atlanta Ballet production directed and choreographed by John McFall, Atlanta Georgia USA
Negotiations were under way to present a completely new production of Howard Blake's record-breaking 2-act ballet 'The Snowman', however in March 2013 it was jointly decided not to proceed further at this time.
S.O.S. TITANIC ON SILVA SCREEN, An album is released by Silva Screen Records of the music Howard Blake composed, arranged and conducted for the historic 3-hour Hollywood movie S.O.S. Titanic 1979. It features The National Philharmonic Orchestra performing the dramatic score and also much additional reconstructed period music not previously issued., Filmed in EMI/CBS in Hollywood and Shepperton and Denham Studios in UK
Howard Blake was invited to Hollywood in the summer of 1979 to score an epic 3-hour version of the tragedy of the 'Titanic'. It was shown once in full on ABC television nationwide, programming from 9-12pm, but then savagely cut down for further commercial TV showings and cinema release. The score was never released as an album but in the centenary year of 2012 there was a surge of interest in the film that some people think is the most accurate account of the story and contains the most dramatic and appropriate music. Released 26th March 2013.
Jay Cox, US critic of FILMUS-L : 'I disliked Horner's work on TITANIC, enjoyed Barry's RAISE THE TITANIC, marvelled at Alwyn's economic yet apt score to a A NIGHT TO REMEMBER, however it is Blake's magnificent music (on S.O.S. TITANIC) that perhaps sums up the mood of imposing doom and despair that I feel is the greatest of all Titanic scores.'
BRITTEN AND BLAKE AT ALDEBURGH, Soloists Patricia Rozario soprano, Jamie Goodwyn treble, Richard Edgar Wilson tenor and Oliver Morris bass. The Woodbridge Choral Society, Ipswich School Chapel Choir and The Kingfisher Sinfonia. Conductor Andrew Leech., Snape Maltings Concert Hall, Aldeburgh 7.30
2013 is the year of Benjamin Britten's centenary and The Passion of Mary will be coupled with performances of his 'Spring Symphony' and 'Young Person's Guide to the orchestra.'
VLADIMIR ASHKENAZY LUGANO CONCERT, Daniel Dodds, Antonio Lysy, Vovka Ashkenazy, Auditorio Stelio Molo, Lugano(Radio Suizera Italiano in collaboration with Primo Piano) 20.30
The Piano Trio number 1 featured in this concert in Lugano alongside Shostakovich's Trio opus 67 and a two-piano arrangement of Moussorgsky's 'Una notte sul Monte Calvo' made by Vovka Ashkenazy
CHRISTMAS DAY IN POTSDAM, Brandenburgische Staatsorchester Frankfurt(am Oder)
Richard Wolf, Knabensopran
Thorsten Spohr, Sprecher
Dirigent: Joseph Bousso
(Projected film, text in German), Nikolaisaal Potsdam,Berlin 17.00
Leopold Mozart "Musikalische Schlittenfahrt"
Howard Blake Der Schneemann
ITV1 PRIME-TIME SPECIAL ON 'WALKING IN THE AIR', From Aled Jones to Nat King Cole, Band Aid to Mariah Carey, Brenda Lee to The Pogues featuring Kirsty MacColl, these are the songs that each year help bring the seasonal spirit to Christmas., ITV1
To celebrate the 70th anniversary of the release of the biggest-selling Christmas song of all time - Bing Crosby's White Christmas - ITV1 is producing a prime-time special about classic Christmas songs - and Howard Blake is invited to be part of it.
ITV are delighted to announce that Walking In The Air has made their final shortlist, and would love to interview Howard about memories of writing the song, as well as what it means to have written a favourite that is so fondly remembered and revisited every Christmas.
INTERVIEW ON BROOKLANDS RADIO, Howard Blake gives a one-hour interview to Suzanne Hunter about composing 'Walking in the Air' and his many other works. Listen at 9pm on Thursday 20th December 2012 by e-mail on www.brooklandsradio.co.uk, Repeat performance on Saturday 22nd December 2012
BENEDICTUS AT SALISBURY CATHEDRAL, William Kendall (solo tenor), Rosalind Ventris (solo viola) Chelsea Opera Group, conductor David Halls, Salisbury Cathedral, Wiltshire
Salisbury Music Society will give performances of Bach's 'Magnificat' and Blakes's major dramatic oratorio 'Benedictus'
SNOWMAN AT THE EDINBURGH FESTIVAL THEATRE, EDINBURGH FESTIVAL THEATRE 2012
The Snowman Stage Show (a ballet in 2 acts) will open a three-week season at The Edinburgh Festival Theatre on December 12th
HONG KONG CHAMBER ORCHESTRA - 'THE SNOWMAN' AND 'THE BEAR', Hong Kong Chamber Orchestra, dir. Leanne Nichols, Kowloon Town Hall 8th 2.30; Hong Kong City Hall 9th 2.30/5.00
THE SNOWMAN AT THE PEACOCK THEATRE
Sadler's Wells Theatre 2012-13 Season
28 November-6 January, The Birmingham Repertory Theatre production of The Snowman, Peacock Theatre
A 15th year for the traditional Christmas family entertainment based on Raymond Briggs' picture-book and the animated film, the two-act ballet is about a boy who builds a snowman which comes to life. Featuring Howard Blake’s music and the hit song "Walking In the Air", performed by dance company and live orchestra, choreographed by Robert North and directed by Bill Alexander.
DORSET SUMMER MUSIC FAREWELL CONCERT, Andras Schiff, Minterne, Dorchester, Dorset
The Lady Dione Digby has invited Howard as one of many guests attending the farewell concert of Dorset Summer Music, which she has directed with remarkable insight, vigour and dedication over an astonishing 50 years. In 1998 she decided to stage a performance of Howard's dramatic oratorio 'Benedictus' in Sherborne Abbey with the Bournemouth Sinfonietta and Winchester Cathedral Choir and it was the success of this concert which resulted in the commission of a 'Stabat Mater', later revised and expanded into 'The Passion of Mary'. Many distinguished artists have performed at The Lady Digby's festival over these amazing 50 years and among pianists are featured the names of Alfred Brendel, Tamas Vasary and Andras Schiff - invited to give the final celebratory concert.
'PERSISTANCE OF VISION' - a documentary about animator Richard Williams, Richard Williams, artist and animator, Leeds International Film Festival
Between 1973 and 1979 Howard collaborated with film animator Richard Williams on various projects (perhaps most notably by arranging the credit sequences for 'The Pink Panther Strikes Again). In 1973 he wrote a script treatment for Dick called 'Tintack the Cobbler' which became the basis of a hugely ambitious feature project retitled 'The Cobbler and the Thief'. It was never to be finally realised but a film was made in 2012 about this curious seventies happening and Howard appeared in it and talked about his role in it. This was 'Kevin Schreck's documentary 'Persistence of Vision'. The film had its world premiere at the Vancouver International Film Festival playing to sold-out houses. Variety called it a 'fascinating slice of film history'; the Globe and Mail: 'gripping', the Georgia Straight 'outstanding - a mindblower,a film you shouldn't miss.' Other festival showings included the Denver and DOC NYC, New York. The film had its European premiere at the Leeds International Film Festival on November 14th 2012 and later opened the London Animation Festival at the Barbican.
CHARLES BEDDOW AND THE NATIONAL FILM THEATRE, An event celebrating the life of Charles Beddow, Chief Technical Officer of the National Film Theatre and co-creator of The Museum of the Moving Image (1929-2012), British Film Institute, South Bank, London
Howard gave a speech honouring Charles Beddow and recalling his three happy years spent at the NFT after leaving the RAM. An excerpt of his 1963 film 'A Few Days' was shown, a film that he both directed and wrote the music for, the music later being published as Trio for flute, clarinet and harp, with later adaptations for violin, cello and piano and flute, cello and piano.
NASA AND WALKING IN THE AIR, Howard Blake - composer/lyricist/conductor/producer, Peter Auty (boy soprano), The Sinfonia of London
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is the agency of the United States government that is responsible for the nation's civilian space program and for aeronautics and aerospace research. The Commander of the International Space Station recently 'had a vision that Howard Blake's “Walking in the Air” song from “The Snowman” animated film would be great to have in the background of one of the spectacular time lapse aurora videos he’s working to capture' and Howard agreed with USA government authorities to proceed with this project. The amazing results of this collaboration can now be seen on You Tube. Dan Cook the mastermind of the project writes: 'We have completed the ISS imagery time-lapse project with “Walking in the Air” and wanted to share the feature with you. The imagery is absolutely stunning and coupled with the music, it becomes even more of a captivating experience.'
Walking on Air (on NASA’s “ReelNASA” YouTube Channel)
And, I’m sure you all may have seen “The Snowman” animated short film but for ease of reference, here’s the clip where the magical snowman takes the young boy on a night-time flying adventure where they experience many bird’s-eye views, including the ever-so-phenomenal dancing aurora.
The video is also currently featured on the NASA home page @ http://www.nasa.gov within the “NASA Multimedia” videos section located near the center of the page.
SNOWMAN PRODUCER DIES AGED 85
BBC NEWS - Snowman producer dies aged 85
John Coates will be remembered for his work on the 1968 Beatles animation 'Yellow Submarine' and the 1982 Channel 4 animation 'The Snowman'.
"Composer Howard Blake, who worked extensively with Coates on films such as 'The Snowman', 'Granpa' and 'The Bear', met Coates in New York in 1981.
"He allowed me to go along with my ideas - he let me do the music without any dialogue. The Snowman was a complete innovation," he told BBC News.
He said making The Snowman had all been "very friendly", adding: "We fell out numerous times but always made it up. John always believed everything could be sorted out over a good lunch."
USA BROADCAST OF THE PIANO QUARTET, Howard Blake, Jack Rothstein, Kenneth Essex, Peter Willison, KUSC - the classical music channel of University of Southern California USA. Presented by Alan Chapman
KUSC use the opening of the piano quartet as a signature theme.
SONG OF SAINT FRANCIS - Haydn Choir, Reading Haydn Choir, Caversham Methodist Church
BENEDICTUS ON THE ISLE OF WIGHT, Philip O'Brien, Cantata Choir, Isle of Wight Symphony Orchestra (solo viola Roslind Ventris), conductor Jonathan Butcher, speaker Nathan Thomas, The Medina Theatre, Newport,Cowes, Isle of Wight
THE PASSION OF MARY WITH LONDON CHORUS
Ronald Corp conducted the New London Orchestra and The London Chorus in the second London performance of 'The Passion of Mary' at St Alban's the Martyr, Holborn on 15th March at 7.00 with two of the soloists featured on the memorable Naxos recording issued in 2010: the soprano Patricia Rozario, and the tenor Richard Edgar Wilson. The role of Prophet and Satan was taken by bass Samuel Evans and the concert included a performance of Bach's Magnificat.
SPRINGBOARD FESTIVAL FUNDRAISING CONCERT, Concert by piano pupils of the late Christine Pembridge, including Josie Ellis, Kamali & Tallulah Maidment, Roseanna Capon-Richards, Gaspar Hunt, Peter Copley, Margaret Grimsdell, Howard Blake, James Adutt, Sophia Cheung, Eugenia Cheng, Yuri Paterson-Olenich,
The programme will include works for piano by Bach, Brahms, Schumann, Chopin, Rachmaninov etc. and in memory of his teacher Howard will give the first UK performance of "Speech after long silence" commissioned for the Hong-Kong International Piano Competition in 2011 and a concert piano version of "Walking in the Air" .
KOREAN SNOWMAN 2012
The Snowman Stage Show is planning to run its third season in South Korea in Spring 2012. The creation of the complete new Korean production by impresario Jae Och Chong resulted from the succesful 3-week run in the Seoul Opera House in March-April 2009. Howard flew over to rehearse the musicians and oversee the first night. A huge ovation greeted it and went on for so long that finally Howard was dragged up from his seat and persuaded to dance with the 'Korean Snow-woman' (a new character in traditional Korean costume and a special Korean musical 'signature' - both added specially for this splendid occasion.) The 2010 season was staged with all-Korean cast and musicians at the Hoam Art Hall in Seoul. Current plans suggest that the 2012 season will return to the splendid Seoul Opera House. (tbc)
DIVERSIONS IN SCHLOSS ETTLINGEN, Benedict Kloeckner, cello and Jose Gallardo, piano, Schloss Ettlingen, Karlsruhe, Germany
Kloeckner and Gallardo play 'Diversions' again - Howard's virtuosic work for cello and piano that qualified them as finalists in the EBU youth music prize 2010 and led to the winning of the first prize. The programme couples the work with a Brahms sonata.
CHRISTMAS TV 2011
Boxing Day 8.00am Ch.4 TV: A showing of the original animated film of The Bear
SNOWMAN STAGE SHOW 2011: ICC BIRMINGHAM/LOWRY SALFORD/TAMPERE OPERA FINLAND
Snowmen will be a regular sight in London's West End for the next decade. Not the result of climate change, but thanks to a new 10-year deal to stage the critically-acclaimed live version of the much-loved children’s classic, THE SNOWMAN, at the Peacock Theatre. The Snowman has been staged every Christmas at the Peacock Theatre in London’s West End for the last twelve years, having started life at Birmingham Repertory Theatre in 1993. This new deal means the show will continue to delight audiences at the Peacock Theatre for many Christmases to come. THE SNOWMAN first appeared as a beautifully illustrated picture book by Raymond Briggs in 1978. It subsequently inspired the classic Oscar Nominated, BAFTA Award winning animated film produced by John Coates and directed by Dianne Jackson, first transmitted by Channel 4 on Christmas Eve, 1982. The film’s signature song Walking In The Air, by Howard Blake, reached number 3 in the UK charts when sung by choirboy Aled Jones in 1985, and the song was voted number 2 in a poll conducted by Classic FM to find out children’s favourite pieces of classical music, beating Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf and Tchaikovsky’s Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy.
In 2011 THE SNOWMAN will tour to:
The Lowry, Salford (22 – 26 Nov),
Tampere Opera House, Finland (8 – 11 Dec)
International Conference Centre (ICC)Birmingham (16 – 31 Dec).
SNOWMAN AND BEAR IN HONG KONG
The City of Hong Kong Chamber Orchestra will be giving 3 all-Howard Blake concerts before Christmas conducted by Colin Touchin with narrators Jacqueline Gourley and Henry Coombs. Programme will be The Snowman and The Bear, both with projected film 2.30 and 5.00 on 10.12.11 at Hong Kong City Hall Concert Hall 2.30 on 11.12.11 at Tsuen Wan Town Hall Auditorium
FOUR SONGS OF THE NATIVITY IN NEW HAMPSHIRE
Rockingham Choral Society Christmas concert feature the American premiere of Four Songs of the Nativity by Howard Blake, which combines ancient texts with 21st century music. New Hampshire, USA
SADLER'S WELLS SEASON 2011
This year's run of the Snowman Stage Show is scheduled to open at Sadler's Wells Peacock Theatre in London's West End on December 1st and is scheduled to run till January 9th, about 66 performances. This will be its fourteenth successive Christmas season.
SPEECH AFTER LONG SILENCE IN HONG KONG, Giuseppe Andaloro, 3rd Hong Kong International Piano Competition
, winner of multiple first prizes, would have performed at the First Hong Kong Competition in 2005, but had pulled out last minute having won First Prize at the Busoni Competition in Bolzano the week before. Under the HK competition’s new rules which forbid participation in other competitions three months before or after, he would have been disqualified and barred instead. I had heard him perform in 2002, when he made a big impression winning 1st
prize in the London International Piano Competition. In Hong Kong, he did not disappoint. First he performed the Blake work from memory, which immediately gave positive vibes. His was a more nuanced performance, perhaps a little slower than Gasanov’s but far more ruminative. Displaying more shades of colour, it opened more possibilities for imagination. This was not a merely memorised Speech
, but one imbued with much thought, probing and ultimately revealing a slew of emotions. Even the tintinnabulation dazzled, and with a more volatile finish, had a sense of improvisation. I am beginning to love this work even more. What can I say about Andaloro’s view of Rachmaninov’s Second Piano Concerto
? For starters, it was a more polished outing for both piano and orchestra than Gasanov’s Tchaik One
. And he does not merely play the notes, but personalises them. The opening chords were taken with a broad and expansive view (but never protracted, such as in Lang Lang’s case), and this was the tenor of his interpretation. Melancholia seemed paramount in his reading, rather unusual coming from an Italian (brooding being a Slavic preoccupation by birth right), which came out from slow boil to an ecstatic climax of crashing chords. Andaloro seems completely at ease with himself, and that greatly steadied the ship. The slow movement was simply beautiful with pianist happy to play the accompanying role for the splendid flute and clarinet solos to shine. Here much of the piano’s melodic line is simple, two hands playing the exactly the same notes an octave apart. Andaloro does not gild the lily but lets the music speak for itself. And one could have been lulled to terminal stupor if not for his slow but steadfast build-up and eventual release, the cadenza coming as a spontaneous outburst of raw emotion. Lovely strings concluded this most wondrous of reveries. In the finale, Andaloro showed he knew the true meaning of scherzando
, with a playful romp which belied the thoughtfulness that coloured the big melody. Again, he was restrained in displaying heart-on-sleeve emotion, which could have gone overboard in less poised individuals. That coyness was merely a ploy, as the central tumultuous interlude was unleashed with great vehemence, one in which both pianist and orchestra were as one through every split second. All this made for totally enthralling ride, and when the big melody returned, it was to magnificent effect. Andaloro’s playing was close to faultless, which made this performance ever so memorable Rachamaninov was a master of the musical orgasm, which is why no one (except perhaps the Germans and Austrians) can get enough of this music. And Italians certainly know the meaning of amore
My verdict: Magnificent performances of Blake and Rachmaninov from Andaloro. Have we seen the winner of this competition? But wait, there are still four more competitors to be heard!
HONG KONG PIANO COMPETITION 2011, Elmar Gasanov, Giuseppe Andaloro, Min Hao Tsai, Keina Sato, Han Chen, Soo Jung Ann, Hong Kong City Hall
The Third Hong Kong International Piano Competition commissioned a test-piece from Howard and he wrote the piano piece 'Speech after long silence'. Candidates accepted to participate in the competition were given the score well in advance to allow them time to prepare. The chairman of the jury was Vladimir Ashkenazy, deputy chairman Li Ming-qiang and the distinguished pianist members of the jury included Gary Graffman, Thorunn Johannsdottir-Ashkenazy, Peter Frankl, Ka-tak Gabriel Kwok, Garrick Ohlsson, Cristina Ortiz, Pascal Roge and Yee-Jun Eleanor Wong. Howard was invited to Hong Kong to coach the six finalists. The competition was very well-organised and the standard very high but after lengthy deliberations the first prize deservedly went to Giuseppe Andaloro from Sicily.
WESTMINSTER ABBEY, Westminster Abbey
Howard Blake contributed a special arrangement for voice and organ of the treble solo from his oratorio 'The Passion of Mary' (issued by Naxos in 2010) as a contribution to an all-night vigil held in Westminster Abbey on October 21/22
EDINBURGH QUARTET ON BBC RADIO 3
The Edinburgh Quartet celebrated its 50th anniversary by commissioning a quartet with the title 'Spieltrieb' ("the urge to play"), given its first performance in the Queen’s Hall, Edinburgh on February 19th 2010 and since recorded on Naxos along with four other new works. On Monday 17th October they will be playing on BBC Radio 3's 'In Tune' programme.
TRIO FOR FLUTE , CELLO AND PIANO, The Milan Trio. Flute: Susan Milan, Cello: Christopher Jepson, Piano: Andrew Ball 7.30pm
Programme details: Trio in G major KV564 Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart; Trio Howard Blake; Sonate in D op 94 (flute and piano) Serge Prokofiev; Sonata in D minor (cello and piano) Claude Debussy; Trio in D minor op 49 Felix Mendelssohn; Tickets: Cambridge Corn Exchange Box Office, University of Cambridge; West Road Concert Hall 7.30
MILAN TRIO IN CAMBRIDGE
Susan Milan, Christopher Jepson and Andrew Ball featured Howard Blake's Trio for flute , cello and piano alongside works by Mozart, Prokofiev, Debussy and Mendelssohn in West Road Concert Hall, University of Cambridge on 7th October.
DIVERSIONS FOR CELLO AND PIANO, Benedict Kloeckner and Howard Blake perform a lunchtime concert programme of 'Diversions for cello and piano' and 'Cello Sonata', The International Cello Festival, Kronberg Academy, Kronberg, Germany, 10.30-12.00am
CELLO SONATA, Benedict and Howard, Kronberg
INTERNATIONAL CELLO FESTIVAL IN KRONBERG
A concert is scheduled for the International Cello Festival in Kronberg Academy at 10.30am on Sunday October 2nd 2011 when Benedict Kloeckner and Howard Blake will play a programme including 'Diversions for cello and piano' and the Cello Sonata.
ALL GOD'S CREATURES - a performance in Cheltenham
Stephen Belifante will conduct the choir and orchestra of Cheltenham Cantilena in a performance of the song-cycle of classic animal-poems for children, 'All God's Creatures'. Cheltenham Town Hall 18th September 2011.
TRIO FOR FLUTE CELLO AND PIANO at National Flute Association USA
Susan Milan will give the US premiere of the Trio for flute , cello and piano at the National Flute Association, Charlotte, N.Carolina, USA on 18/19 August 2011. Originally composed for flute, clarinet and harp it is available from Highbridge Music in a number of different arrangements, but is the first performance in USA in this instrumentation.
DOUBLE ALBUM ARCHIVE RELEASE 'THE AVENGERS' - TARA KING SEASON 1968/9
In early 1968, at the recommendation of the great Hollywood composer Bernard Herrmann, Howard Blake was invited by music director Laurie Johnson to take on the role of composer and conductor for the sixth series of 'The Avengers' - the Tara King Season. To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the entire series (1961-2011) Chichester University presented a celebratory weekend on 25th/26th June 2011 which included the pre-release of the re-mastered double CD album of Howard's scores, recordings of which had not previously been available. It now receives its public release on Silva Screen, August 8th 2011, with Laurie Johnson's classic signature theme beginning and ending the collection.
SPIELTRIEB (STRING QUARTET IN ONE MOVEMENT), Edinburgh Quartet, Vernon Ellis concert room, Kensington, London
The complete new Naxos CD in performance. Spieltrieb, Month in the country, Leda and the Swan, String trio, Walking in the air for string quartet
EDINBURGH QUARTET CONCERT/ NAXOS CD RELEASE JUNE 29TH
Edinburgh Quartet will be giving the London premiere of 'Spieltrieb' at a concert given by private invitation in Kensington, London on June 29th 2011. The programme will contain all the works on the new Naxos CD which is being issued concurrently.
The premiere of Howard BLake's string quartet 'Spieltrieb' in February 2010, commissioned by the Edinburgh Quartet to celebrate their 50th anniversary, led to a complete CD being recorded for Naxos in the Reid Hall June 4-7 which features the new work along with other quartets - Leda and the Swan, Month in the country, a String Trio dating from 1975, receiving its first performance and Walking in the air arranged for string quartet. The composer's connection with Edinburgh and the quartet goes back to 1960 when Howard as a student gave a chamber music recital at the Leith Hall in Edinburgh with violinist Miles Baster who was then asked to form the quartet of which he remained leader until 1995.The present leader is the brilliant young violinist Tristan Gurney.
BENEDICT KLOECKNER/HOWARD BLAKE CONCERT
A concert is to take place in the Historische Caféhalle, Schlangenbad (near Mainz, Germany) on the evening of May 8th 2011 in which Benedict Kloeckner (cello) and Howard Blake (piano) will perform a recital of Blake's music for cello and piano. It will feature a performance of the EBU prize-winning work 'Diversions for cello and piano'; 'Cello Sonata' (first performance) and two shorter items: 'Pennillion' - a Welsh theme and variations; and 'Jazz Dances' (nine concert pieces).
Benedict Kloeckner performed Howard Blake's 'Diversions for cello and piano' accompanied by Jose Gallardo in the semi-final of the New Talent, European Broadcasting Union Competition, which took place in the University of Bratislava on November 26th 2010 From the seven competitors three were chosen, all of an exceptionally-high standard: Aven Yu, piano (Canada), Ulada Berazhnaya, violin (Belarussia)and Benedict Kloeckner, cello (Germany). The final round took place on Monday 29th with the Slovakian Radio Orchestra in the Historic Concert Hall in Bratislava where each competitor played concerto. Benedict gave a wonderfully impassioned and deeply-felt performance of the Elgar Concerto and was awarded the first prize! Howard Blake and his son Christopher flew over and were delighted to be present for both of these wonderful concerts and able to congratulate Benedict on his outstanding success.
Cello and Piano Recital in Schlangenbad, Mainz, Benedict Kloeckner and Howard Blake, Historische Cafehalle, Schlangenbad, Mainz
Benedict Kloeckner spielt Howard Blake - werke des beruhmten britischen Komponisten fur cello und Klavier
LIBERATION OF JERSEY
The Liberation Festival of Jersey have commissioned Blake to create a brass fanfare to open their festival on May 6th, 2011 in Royal Square, St. Helier. Blake has extended the idea into a short work lasting about 4 minutes: 'Lament for freedom - the mounting of hope - victory song - fanfare'. It will be played by the prize-winning Premier Brass of Jersey who will also accompany a performance of the famous 'Walking in the air' sung by 100 children of the island of Jersey. The composer hopes to fly over for the event.
'THE LAND OF COUNTERPANE' IN NORTH CAROLINA, USA
Hartsville Civic Chorale (N. Carolina, USA) are giving a performance of 'The Land of Counterpane' on May 7th with The Long Bay Symphony Orchestra, Hartsville Children's Chorale and High School Choirs. The programme will include Vaughan Williams 'Serenade to Music' and Faure's Requiem.
SNOWMAN STAGE SHOW SIGNING
THE SNOWMAN STAGE SHOW came to life at the Birmingham Rep in 1997 when composer Howard Blake collaborated with director Bill Alexander and choreographer Robert North to develop ‘The Snowman’ into a two-act dance show. With the collaboration of Sadler’s Wells it transferred to London’s Peacock Theatre, where it is now recognised as ‘the longest –running Christmas show in English theatre history’. The signing took place on Tuesday 5th April 2011 in the board-room of the Peacock Theatre in London's West End. The signatories were Howard Blake (composer and lyric-writer); Alistair Spalding (CEO Sadler's Wells Dance Theatre); Stuart Rogers (CEO Birmingham Repertory Theatre); John Coates (CEO TVC/Producer of the film of The Snowman); James Rushton CEO Chester/Music Sales (music publishers).The witnesses signed the contract for a remarkable ten further years.
The origin of it all was the much-loved children’s picture-book called ‘The Snowman’, created by Raymond Briggs in 1978. In 1982 it inspired producer John Coates to develop the idea into an animated film directed by Dianne Jackson for Channel 4. The soundtrack consisted of music only and a score was composed by Howard Blake which included the iconic song Walking In The Air. The film won a BAFTA award and was Oscar-nominated. The song reached number 3 in the UK charts when sung by choirboy Aled Jones in 1985, and recently the entire score was voted number 2 in a poll conducted by Classic FM to find out childrens’ favourite pieces of classical music, beating Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf and Tchaikovsky’s Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy (Casse-Noisette).
THE SNOWMAN STAGE SHOW continues to delight theatre audiences both in UK and around the world, appearing at the Peacock Theatre this Christmas Dec-Jan; The Lowry, Salford (22 – 26 Nov), Tampere Opera House, Finland (8 – 11 Dec) and ICC, Birmingham (16 – 31 Dec). Korean tour 2011 tba.
LEXDEN CHORAL SOCIETY PERFORM 'PASSION OF MARY'
Sarah Blake conducted The Lexden Choral Society and Colchester Symphony Orchestra in 'The Passion of Mary' at St. Bottolph's Church, Colchester on Saturday 26th March. Tenor was Richard Edgar Wilson who gave the highly-praised performance on the 2010 Naxos CD. Soprano was Beverley Lockyer, treble Daniel Lewis and bass-baritone Alastair Chapman. Howard introduced the work and at the end of an excellent perfomance by all concerned accepted the role of Patron of the choral society. The other work in the programme was the Requiem of Faure.
PEOPLE'S CONCERT OF THE LORD PROVOST OF EDINBURGH
On February 5th 2011 at 3pm Howard Blake's work 'The Land of Counterpane' will feature in the first ever Lord Provost's Concert at The Usher Hall in Edinburgh. Its first performance took place there to celebrate the 300th anniversary of the Mary Erskine School back in 1995 and the school's splendid choir will perform it again as they did for that premiere, but this time with The Scottish Chamber Orchestra conducted by Gary Walker.
SONY ENTERTAINMENTS FILM OF THE SNOWMAN STAGE SHOW
Sony Entertainment decided to film the stage show of the Snowman towards the end of its run at The Birmingham Rep - right next to Symphony Hall in Centenary Square. The London-based film company Splinter arrived there on January 24th with 3 gigantic mobile studio trucks servicing 13 cameras and their operators and a 48-track audio mix. The award-winning director was Nick Wickham whose credits include a host of spectacular shows for artists that include Madonna, Britney Spears, Beyonce and many others. The show was shot live to a packed theatre to try and capture the warmth and involvement of the audience which is so much an ingredient of the show's success. The cast and band were in terrific shape and there was a great buzz to the event. The DVD is now completed and Sony released it on November 8th 2010. The DVD has a number of extra features including a narration performed by Joanna Lumley and three short interviews about the film by Howard Blake. In Christmas week 2010 it reached no. 8 in the UK DVD charts.
HONG KONG 'THE BEAR'
Hong Kong Chamber Orchestra are giving performances of both Snowman and The Bear again this Christmas where they have proved to be succesful now for five years. The conductor is Jean Thorel.
PASSION OF MARY: A NAXOS RECORDING OF THE YEAR
Howard Blake's dramatic oratorio 'The Passion of Mary' has been chosen by critic Bob Briggs as his favourite recording of 2010 for MusicWeb International
THE BEAR IN TORONTO
The Toronto Symphony Orchestra are performing 'The Bear' with projected film, solo tenor, baritone and orchestra as part of their Christmas concert 2010.
CARDIFF MILLENIUM CENTRE
Howard has been invited to give a talk about the stage show and its evolution from short animated film to full evening theatre. It precedes the first Welsh run of the show opening November 10 2010
SHANGHAI EXPO 2010
Pianist William Chen has specialised in Howard's piano music, making the memorable first recording of 'Lifecycle' in 2003 in Sydney, premiering 'Haiku' in Cita Nagoya, Japan in 2006 and performing the piano concerto with the Royal Philharmonic at Howard's 70th birthday concert in London. He appeared as 'piano-guru' in the popular Channel 4 series on musical prodigies, a perfect role since he is also Professor of Piano at Shanghai Conservatoire. He commissioned Howard to create a piano work for a celebrity recital on September 4th 2010 as part of the Expo and Howard responded with a work entitled 'Speech after long silence' which is both lyrically-moving and virtuosic in its demands on the soloist. His recital will feature the premiere of this work along with some pieces from 'Lifecycle' - 'Isabelle','Walking in the Air' and 'Oberon'. An added attraction of this concert is the use of the extraordinary Stuart piano of 102 notes. Howard is going over for the event as is Wayne Stuart its inventor.
GOLD BADGE AWARD FROM BASCA
Howard was presented with a Gold Badge award at an event and lunch presented at the Lancaster Room, The Savoy, London on October 20th 2010. For the past 36 years BASCA, The British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors, in association with PRS for Music has 'presented Gold Badge Awards to exceptional people from right across the entertainment industry as a sign of appreciation for the very special contribution that they have made in support of British composers and songwriters.' The award has been sponsored by PPL, Phonographic Performance Ltd.
Highbridge Mill, Cuckfield,Sussex
The present owners of Highbridge Mill near Cuckfield after which Howard Blake's publishing company is named and where he lived between 1971- 1981 are holding a celebration of the 200th anniversary of the mill.
Lewisham Music Society
Howard Blake will give an illustrated talk about his music
ANTHONY ROBB AND PRIMAVERA ENSEMBLE
Tony Robb is performing Howard's Flute Quintet with the chamber ensemble Primavera in the Baron's Hall, Penshurst Place, near Tunbridge in Kent, amongst a programme of Mozart, Haydn and Beethoven on June 20th AT 7.30. A previous performance of the work took place on June 5th at Battle in Sussex.
A fund-raising celebrity dinner was given in the Floral Hall at Covent Garden for which Howard had provided a hand-written framed manuscript of Walking in the Air which was auctioned at £800
DIVERSIONS IN ESSLINGEN
Benedict Kloeckner and Roope Groendahl play the 'Diversions for cello and piano' in the Burgersaal, Altes Rathaus, Esslingen, Germany at 20.00. Opening concert of the Young European Music Festival 2010
THE PASSION OF MARY
Naxos released a a major new CD of choral/orchestral works by Howard Blake at Easter 2010. Howard conducts his dramatic oratorio 'The Passion of Mary' for soloists, choir and orchestra and the song-cycle for chorus and brass ensemble 'Four Songs of the Nativity' in premiere recordings made at Abbey Road Studios with The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, London Voices and soloists: Patricia Rozario (soprano), Richrd Edgar-Wilson (tenor), David Wilson-Johnson (bass-baritone) and treble Robert William Blake the composer's 11-year old son. Originally commissioned under the title 'Stabat Mater' by The Lady Dione Digby for her Dorset Summer Music Festival, a premiere of 'The Passion of Mary' was given in Sherborne Abbey on 18th May 2002 conducted by David Hill with the Winchester Cathedral Choir and Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra. The part of Mary was created for and sung by Patricia Rozario, but other parts were spoken. However, after this first performance, Howard began to develop the idea of making all the parts singing roles and he substantially revised and extended the work, finally completing and renaming it 'The Passion of Mary' in 2006. 'Four Songs of the Nativity' was originally commssioned by The Book Club and first performed by The Bach Choir and London Brass with Sir David Willcocks in St. Paul's Cathedral in 1990.
Choir & Organ, May 2010
The highly original oratorio and refreshing Nativity songs focus on the life of Christ through the eyes of Mary. The approachable sound-world delivers an immediacy and drama that will draw listeners in. Excellent soloists bring the texts alive
STERLING TRIO AT ST MARTIN-IN-THE-FIELDS
The brilliant young Sterling Trio, comprising the instrumentation of flute, clarinet and piano, will be giving a complete concert of music by Howard Blake in a lunchtime concert at St Martin in the Fields, Trafalgar Square at 1pm on Friday March 5th 2010. In Spring 2009 Howard heard the group give an excellent performance of his early piano trio for this combination in a Concordia concert at St James's Piccadilly and after the concert the players asked if there were any other suitable works. Howard suggested several other possibilities: a suite from the filmscore of ' The Duellists', a transcription of 'Archangel's Lullaby' for alto flute, bass clarinet and piano, 'Invocation' originally for soprano, flute and piano. The concert programme is the direct result of this interesting collaboration.
CONCERT AT GLASGOW UNIVERSITY
A concert on 27th February 2010 given by the Kelvin Ensemble at Glasgow University will contain two works by Howard Blake. The main concert starting at 7.30 wil feature the 'Diversions for marimba and orchestra' played by the brilliant Heather Corbett, principal percussionist of the BBC Scottish Orchestra alongside Prokofiev's 5th Symphony and a work of John Adams. However as 'pre-concert' event the composer will introduce a third performance of his 'Spieltrieb' quartet performed by the Edinburgh Quartet.
'SPIELTRIEB' STRING QUARTET IN ABERDEEN 25TH FEBRUARY 2010
Following up the world premiere of 'Spieltrieb' in Queen's Hall Edinburgh on Friday 19th, Aberdeen University have offerred a second performance with the Edinburgh Quartet on Thursday 25th February at the Cowdray Hall (Aberdeen Art Gallery). The next day, Friday 26th between 12 and 1, the composer will give a talk about the piece and its creation at the McRobert Building in the University Music department.
THE VIOLIN SONATA IN BRIGHTON
Violinist James Shenton is giving 2 performances of the work, one in St Nicholas Church on 27 January and one in the Chapel Royal on 9th February.
SOUTH WEST GERMAN RADIO TO RECORD 'DIVERSIONS'
Benedict Klockner the outstanding young cellist from Karlsruhe is to record the 'Diversions' for cello with Jose Gallardo (piano), which will be the first recording of it in its piano/cello configuration. 8th. February 2010. The composer rehearsed it with them in his Kensington on 21st January and believes it will be a very fine performance.
'THE SNOWMAN' STAGE SHOW, BIRMINGHAM REP SEASON 2010
The London production of the stage show of 'The Snowman' moves up to Birmingham Rep for a season from January 15th to 31st with several shows per day. By 8th January advance bookings were reported to be 93% of capacity for the run which could well rise to a complete sell-out. Howard will be attending the opening night to introduce the season and play some of the music. The event is to be honoured by a visit from the City's Lord Mayor and council, who are delighted with the stage show's long-running success both in London and internationally
Shakespeare Songs in Cambridge MA
Michael Calmes & String Quartet led by Lynn Chang, Harvard Institute for Learning in Retirement, December 4, 2009, Christ Church, Cambridge, MA
SNOWMAN STAGE SHOW 12TH CHRISTMAS SEASON
The Birmingham Repertory Theatre production based upon Raymond Briggs’ much-loved book, continues to delight children as it returns to the Peacock Theatre this Christmas.
Sheer theatrical magic. Go see The Snowman, and melt THE TIMES
When a young boy's snowman comes to life on Christmas Eve, the two set off on a night-time quest for adventure. On their travels, they meet dancing penguins, reindeer and, of course, Father Christmas.
Watch spellbound as the Snowman literally flies through the night sky above you, before escaping the clutches of the evil Jack Frost to return home for Christmas morning.
Suitable for all children aged two and upwards, this is a captivating mix of dance, stagecraft and music - featuring Howard Blake's
beautiful 'Walking in the Air
', choreography from Robert North
and directed by Bill Alexander
. Featuring a live orchestra, it is the perfect Christmas treat for all the family.
An essential part of London's Christmas calendar TIME OUT
Music and Lyrics by Howard Blake
Choreographed by Robert North
Directed by Bill Alexander
Designed by Ruari Murchison
Lighting by Tim Mitchell
By arrangement with
Snowman Enterprises Ltd,
Highbridge Music Ltd,
Faber Music Ltd,
and Chester Music Ltd.
// Archived Show
0844 412 4322
How to find us
Portugal Street, Holborn, WC2
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6, 7, 13, 14, 15, 16, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 27,
28, 29, 30, 31 Dec & 2, 3, 4, 5, 10, Jan
6, 7, 8, 10, 13, 14, 15, 16, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23,
24, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31 Dec & 2, 3, 4, 5, 6,
8, 9, 10 Jan
3, 4, 5, 6, 12, 13, 14, 20, 27 Dec & 2, 3, 9, 10 Jan
1 hr 50 mins (including one 20 min interval)
£12 - £30
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NAXOS RECORDING, ABBEY ROAD 12-13 August 2009
Howard Blake will be conducting the premiere recording of his (second) dramatic oratorio 'The Passion of Mary' in Abbey Road Studios 12-13 August 2009 with The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, the choir of London Voices and soloists: Patricia Rozario (soprano), Richrd Edgar-Wilson (tenor), David Wilson-Johnson (bass-baritone) and treble Robert William Blake the composer's 10-year old son. Michael Ponder will be producing the recording for Naxos. The recording follows a succesful live first London performance of the work last October 28th in The Cadogan Hall. The release date has yet to be decided but a date leading up to next Easter might seem favourable and appropriate. Originally commissioned under the title 'Stabat Mater' by The Lady Dione Digby for her Dorset Summer Music Festival, a premiere of the work was given in Sherborne Abbey on 18th May 2002 conducted by David Hill with the Winchester Cathedral Choir and Bournemouh Symphony Orchestra. The part of Mary was created for and sung by Patricia Rozario, but other parts were spoken. However, after this first performance, Howard began to develop the idea of making all the parts singing roles and he substantially revised and extended the work, finally completing and renaming it 'The Passion of Mary' in 2006.
A recording will also be made of the 'Four Songs of the Nativity' for chorus and 8 brass. This work was originally commssioned by The Book Club and first performed by The Bach Choir and London Brass with Sir David Willcocks in St. Paul's Cathedral on December 13th 1990. The work has subsequently received many performances but this will be its first recording.
THE LAND OF COUNTERPANE, CHELTENHAM September 27th 2009
Stephen Belinfante will conduct a performance of Howard's touching work for children's choir and orchestra in Cheltenham Town Hall 27.09.2009
BARNES MUSIC SOCIETY RECITAL 28th October 2009
Howard Blake will play and introduce a programme of his music with Madeleine Mitchell (violin) for the Barnes Music Society on Wednesday 28th October 2009. He will be joined by the violinist Madeleine Mitchell to give the first London performance of his Violin Sonata and 'Pennillion' both of which they recently recorded for Naxos. The Methodist Hall, Station Road, Barnes, London, 8.00pm. Tickets available at the door.
'EVA' BALLET IN ANTALYA, TURKEY 7th November 2009, Antalya State Opera House Turkey
Robert North and Howard Blake created the ambitious 3-act ballet 'Eva' for Gothenburg Opera House, Sweden in 1996. The first act was newly composed music, lasting about 40 minutes for large orchestra and virtually stands on its own with the sub-title 'Birth-rite'; Acts II & III are to be performed in this version for Turkey which features music from Howard's violin concerto, Toccata for orchestra, A month in the country, piano quartet and the oratorio 'Benedictus'. Antalya State Opera and Ballet Orchestra and Choir, conducted by Hakan Kalkan. (The work is scheduled to receive at least 20 performances over 5 seasons
BLAKE IN ALFRISTON
A concert of Howard Blake's chamber music is to be given by Alfriston Summer Music on 29th July 2009. The Edinburgh String Quartet will be giving two works by Haydn to celebrate his 200th anniversary - a trio and a quartet. Then, as part of Howard Blake's own continuing 70th birthday celebrations they will give a preview performance of his new string quartet (opus 594). There will be a performance of his Violin Sonata (opus 586) - recently released on Naxos - which he will perform with the quartet's leader Tristan Gurney, and 'Diversions' (opus 439A) in the unusual combination of marimba and piano, played by Sam Walton (marimba) and Jeremy Young (piano). Howard grew up in Sussex and is delighted by the invitation.
ABSQUE LABORE NIHIL
'Absque labore nihil' is the motto of the Brighton, Hove and Sussex Grammar School which Howard Blake attended from 1950-57. He is honoured to have been asked to make an address at the 150th reunion of the school at a lunch in the college hall on July 4th 2009.
'GRANPA' IN CHINA
The Macao Orchestra of the Macao SAR government will be conducted by Francis Khan in a performance of Howard's 'Granpa'. a concert opera for narrator/singer (Granpa), Emily (a small girl), with children's chorus and orchestra.
'THE BELLS' WITH MASSED YOUTH CHOIRS
Howard will be present to hear Hampshire County Youth Orchestra and Choirs from all over the county perform his setting of Edgar Allan Poe's famous poem of mystery and the imagination - 'The Bells'. Conducted by Tom Seligman it will also feature songs from Leonard Bernstein's 'West Side Story', Stravinsky's 'Petrouchka' and a new work by young Hampshire composer Michael Cutting. Venue, The Anvil, Basingstoke, Saturday 9th May 2009 at 7.00pm.
BENEDICTUS IN COLCHESTER
Three school choirs will join with the Lexden Choral Society and Lexden Youth Choir for a performance of Howard's large-scale dramatic oratorio conducted by Sarah Blake with tenor soloist Richard Edgar-Wilson. It will take place at the Charter Hall at 7.30.
CONCERT AT THE SHELDONIAN, OXFORD 18th December 2009
A concert of Howard's music on 18th December 2009 in which he will conduct the Oxford Philomusica: Suite for strings- 'A Month in the Country', Concerto for Flute, with soloist Anthony Robb, 'Four Songs of the Nativity' with chorus directed by Andrew Stuart, Suite from the Ballet 'The Snowman'.
OPERA IN HOUSTON
Howard Blake's one-act opera The Station, for which he wrote both libretto and music, is to be performed by Sugar Land Opera/Imperial Performing Arts ina double bill with Mozart's 'The Impresario' on 12th and 15th March 2009 at Briscoe Manor. Houston, Texas. Cast will include Catherine May and Anne Heath-Welch (formerly with The English National Opera)
SLEEPWALKING, WIGMORE HALL 11th January 2010, 7.30pm
Concordia Foundation, which does such splendid work for young musicians, are being sponsored by The Worshipful Company of Musicians for a Wigmore Hall concert on January 11th 2010 celebrating three of their prizewinning artists; Julia Sporsen, soprano, Ashok Klouda cellist and Joseph Middleton,piano. In July 2009 Howard was asked by Gillian Humphries the founder and artistic director of Concordia if he possibly had a suitable work for this splendid occasion. Within days Howard created a new version of 'Sleepwalking' for soprano vocalise, cello and piano which will receive its first performance at this concert.
THE SNOWMAN FLIES TO KOREA
The hugely popular Birmingham Repertory Theatre production of THE SNOWMAN is set to fly to Korea.Having toured the show to Edinburgh and Salford in recent years, The REP’s visit to the Seoul Opera House from March 28 – April 12 will be the international debut for this remarkably successful show.THE SNOWMAN has been staged every Christmas at the Peacock Theatre in the West End for the last eleven years, having started life at Birmingham Repertory Theatre in 1993. Howard Blake, who wrote the music for show including the famous ‘Walking In The Air’
“After eleven consecutive Christmas seasons at London's Peacock Theatre, the stage show of THE SNOWMAN has become a much-loved institution, but up to now has never travelled very far from home. This opportunity to take the entire cast and crew out to the Seoul Opera House is a fabulous invitation. If the Korean people were to take the show to their hearts in the way audiences in the UK have done it would really be most exciting.”
The tour to Korea will be the largest undertaking of The REP’s touring programme in recent years and it will showcase the work of the theatre to an audience of over 30,000 in one of the largest and most prestigious venues in Asia. It is hoped that the Korean performances will form the beginning of the company’s international touring plans for THE SNOWMAN.
Stuart Rogers, Executive Director at The REP says: “This is a fantastic opportunity to profile both Birmingham Repertory Theatre and THE SNOWMAN at an international level. Having secured the world exclusive rights to the stage show and proved that it can tour successfully in the UK, we are now looking to expand into the many other areas of the world where both the story of THE SNOWMAN and Howard’s brilliant song “Walking In The Air” are known and loved.”
PIANO CONCERTO IN RUSSIA
The Russian pianist, Nadia Giliova,
has been much associated with Howard's piano music recently, giving a terrific performance of his 'Variations on a theme of Bartok' at the Wigmore Hall on July 11th together with three pieces from 'Lifecycle'. On 27th and 28th December
she is to give the first performance in Russia of Howard Blake's Piano Concerto with the Murmansk Philharmonic Orchestra.
THE BEAR & THE SNOWMAN WINTER TOUR
Following their success in Bath last Christmas at the Theatre Royal, The Bath Philharmonia are performing Howard Blake's 'The Bear' and 'The Snowman' as a 2008 winter tour. The narrator will be Russell Boulter and the conductor will again be Jason Thornton: Friday 28th Nov, Octagon Theatre, Yeovil; Sunday 30th Nov. Hall for Cornwall, Truro; Sunday 21st Dec. Colston Hall, Bristol. A popular feature of the event last year was the presence of the composer who at the end of the concert talked about his works and answered questions, which he will be doing this year at the Bristol concert.
BALLET IN SEATTLE
The second season of Howard Blake's full-length 2-act Ballet of The Snowman with live orchestra is given by Ballet Bellevue on 13-14 December 2008 at The Northshore performing arts centre, Seattle. It is choreographed by Jennifer Porter with the Orchestra of Ballet Bellevue conducted by David Upham.
SNOWMAN STAGE SHOW
HOWARD BLAKE (music and lyrics); ROBERT NORTH(choreography); BILL ALEXANDER (direction) Scenario by Howard Blake, Robert North & Bill Alexander based on the picture-book by Raymond Briggs and the animated film by Diane Jackson. A Birmingham Rep/Sadler's Wells production. 11am performances: 6, 7, 13, 14, 15, 16, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31 Dec 2, 3, 4, 5, 10, 11 Jan 2.30pm performances: 6, 7, 8, 10, 13, 14, 15, 16, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31 Dec 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, 10 11 Jan 7pm performances: 3, 4, 5, 6, 12, 13, 14, 20, 27 Dec 2, 3, 9, 10 Jan, Celebrating its eleventh Christmas season performing at the Peacock Theatre (Sadler's Wells 'Theatre in the West End') Featuring the song 'Walking in the Air' and the full 90-minute hit score by Howard Blake played by a live orchestra. 'An essential part of London's Christmas calendar. A captivating mix of dance, stagecraft and music.' TIME OUT
CLASSIC FM - THE FULL WORKS, broadcast November 13, 2008 9pm-12.00am
Classic FM Radio are broadcasting a 3-hour programme of Howard's works on the evening of November 13th. The programme will feature music which may include works selected from his 2 new CDs- 'Music for strings and piano' issued by Naxos on 27th October 2008, featuring Madeleine Mitchell and Howard as pianist, and the Piano Concerto album re-issued by Sony Classics on 6th October 2008. The other 2 works on the album are 'Diversions for cello and orchestra' with Robert Cohen as soloist and 'Toccata - a celebration of the orchestra', on both of which Howard conducts The Philharmonia.
GALA CONCERT IN GERMANY
Savoy Theatre, Dusseldorf 3rd November 2008
HOWARD BLAKE BIRTHDAY CONCERT
TOBIAS VAN DE LOCHT conductor
ANDREA KAUTZMANN solo tenor sax
NADIA GILIOVA solo piano
SANTIAGO ZIESMER narrator
DAMEN DES EXTRACHORS DER DEUTSCHEN OPER AM RHEIN
SINFONIA OF DUSSELDORF
The Riddle of the Sands, Flash Gordon (Orchestral Suite), The Bear (First Performance of German Concert Version), Piano Concerto, Carol from Snowman Stage Show, Heartbeat (Tenor Saxophone and Orchestra), The Duellists (The Final Duel)
MUSIC FOR PIANO AND STRINGS ON NAXOS
The globally-distributed record company Naxos are releasing a complete newly-recorded album of Howard's 'music for piano and strings' on the 27th October to coincide with his 70th birthday celebrations and concert on the 28th. Howard teams up with the celebrated UK violinist Madeleine Mitchell to give the first performance of his
Violin Sonata, a virtuoso work in 3 movements;
Pennillion for violin & piano, a hauntingly-beautiful theme with variations
Jazz Dances for violin & piano - a fun piece that 'pays mischievous homage to contemporary dance rhythms.' Also on the CD is the first major release of Howard's large-scale
Piano Quartet recorded back in the seventies with his friends Jack Rothstein (violin), Ken Essex (viola) and Peter Willison (cello).
The new recordings by Howard and Madeleine were made in the Potton Hall Studios situated in the depths of the idyllic Suffolk countryside near Westleton. The recording was produced by Michael Ponder who previously produced the ASV recording of Howard's Violin Concerto with violinist Christiane Edinger and conductor Paul Daniel.
NEW EDITION OF THE PIANO CONCERTO ALBUM
THE ALBUM OF HOWARD BLAKE'S MUSIC FEATURING THE PIANO CONCERTO, ORIGINALLY COMMISSSIONED BY THE PHILHARMONIA TO CELEBRATE DIANA THE PRINCESS OF WALES 30TH BIRTHDAY, WAS FIRST RELEASED ON CD BY COLOMBIA/SONY IN 1991
NEW EDITION OF THE ALBUM IS RELEASED ON OCTOBER 6TH 2008 BY SONY CLASSICS (88697 376 972)
CONCERTO FOR PIANO AND ORCHESTRA - SOLOIST HOWARD BLAKE - CONDUCTOR SIR DAVID WILLCOCKS.
DIVERSIONS FOR CELLO AND ORCHESTRA - SOLOIST ROBERT COHEN -CONDUCTOR HOWARD BLAKE.
TOCCATA - A CELEBRATION OF THE ORCHESTRA - CONDUCTOR HOWARD BLAKE.
ALL TRACKS FEATURING THE PHILHARMONIA ORCHESTRA.
The CD is completely re-designed with new artwork and photography and a handsome 8-page colour booklet, but retains and prints in full the original 'appreciation of Howard's music' by the distinguished music writer Christopher Palmer.
SYMPHONY FOR SELANGOR
Howard Blake is most honoured to have been commissioned to compose a symphony for H.R.H. The Sultan of Selangor, Malaysia. In 2005 Howard was invited by Royal Command of the Sultan to give the Asian premiere of his monumental piano work 'Lifecycle' in Selangor Palace, Kuala Lumpur. Whilst there he also visited the palace of Shah Alam to hear the Sultan's own gamelan orchestra with whom he was invited to play. On the Friday evening following the recital Howard suggested to H.R.H. The Sultan that they might attend a performance of Beethoven's 9th symphony which was being performed in the Petronas Towers concert hall by The Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra and the royal box was opened up for the occasion, with Howard sitting to the left of HRH the Sultan, who wore his ceremonial robes of state. The performance made a great impression and the seed of an idea was sown. After much discussion and correspondence a commission agreement has recently been reached and Howard has started work. It is agreed that the title will be 'A Symphony for Selangor.'
RECORDING OF THE FLUTE QUINTET FROM BELGIUM
A new recording of the Flute Quartet by Arco Baleno Ensemble with Peter Verhoyen solo flute on a CD called Brittania, (Etcetera-records 1372) released July 2008: music for flute, strings and harpsichord by British composers - Rutter, Bridge, Blake, Jacob, Stephenson
SONGS OF TRUTH AND GLORY
On June 28th 2008 at Dorking Halls Surrey Peter Farrant will be conducting the Reigate and Redhill Choral Society in a programme of English music. Along with works by Vaughan Williams, John Ireland and Karl Jenkins the concert will include Howard's settings of five George Herbert poems entitled 'Songs of Truth and Glory' for choir and orchestra, originally commissioned for the 2005 Three Choirs Festival and played to celebrate Howard's 70th birthday year. Vaughan Williams own settings of Herbert are deliberately juxtaposed in this concert and Howard will be present to talk about this.
CD for Naxos
Howard features as both composer and pianist on a new CD of his music for Naxos with the violinist Madeleine Mitchell. They are recording at the idyllic Potton Hall Studios in Suffolk, the release being intended for late October. It will feature premiere recordings of the 'Violin Sonata', 'Pennillion' and 'Jazz Dances' with the addition of an existing unreleased recording of the Piano Quartet.
GRANPA IN ADELAIDE
Windmill Performing Arts in conjunction with The Adelaide Symphony Orchestra conducted by Timothy Sexton are presenting Howard's 'Granpa' June 12-14 2008. Director is Andy Packer and Designer Geoff Cobham. The musical work was originally created by Howard from a book by John Burningham as an animated children's opera for television, with the part of Granpa played by Peter Ustinov. However a lively performance by the City of Hong Kong Chamber orchestra in 2005 denoted it as a 'concert opera' in its own right and it will be most interesting to find out what Windmill make of it.
CONCERT AT THE CADOGAN HALL, LONDON
The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra have scheduled a major concert of Howard Blake's music as part of their Cadogan Hall Season to celebrate his 70th birthday on October 28th 2008. The programme will be conducted by the composer and include the concert version of 'The Snowman' for treble (Robert William Blake), narrator (Nigel Havers) and orchestra, The Piano Concerto (originally commissioned for the 30th birthday of Princess Diana) played by William Chen, the brilliant Shanghai-based pianist who so memorably recorded Howard Blake's monumental work 'Lifecycle', and the London premiere of 'The Passion of Mary', a major new work for soloists, choir and orchestra, featuring soprano Patricia Rozario, tenor Martyn Hill and Swedish bass Lars Avidson. Booking from 1st May www.cadoganhall.com 020 7730 4500
FESTIVAL MASS IN BRISTOL
Howard will visit Bristol for a performance of his 'Festival Mass' for a cappella 8-part choir on Saturday 29th March 2008 at 7.30 at St Mary Radcliffe's Church, given by the Bristol Bach Chorus conducted by Peter Leech. It will be preceeded by a question and answer session at 6.40.
An all Howard Blake concert in Suffolk Saturday March 8th 2008
Suffolk composer Helen Burrows has put together a remarkable collection of Howard's music for his 70th year. It takes place in Woodbridge Quay Church this Saturday. The draft programme can be viewed as a pdf document here
(approx. 4.5mb filesize).
Easter Anthem in Swedish!
The first performance of an anthem for Easter will be given at St. Gorans Kyrka, Stockholm at 11am on Easter Sunday, March 23rd 2008. It is scored for two trumpets, two trumbones, organ, percussion and SATB choir and was specially commissioned with Swedish text taken from Psalm 118. "Herrens hand har visat sin kraft".
The Land of Counterpane
The Richmond Orchestra present a concert for children which includes Howard's setting of poems by Robert Louis Stevenson from his collection 'A Child's Garden of Verses' with the choir of Queen's Primary School, Kew. The concert also features his 'Nursery Rhyme Overture' . The German School, Petersham, Saturday 3pm February 3rd 2008
The Snowman 2007 programme note
Howard Blake reads his 2007 programme note on You-tube describing the 25 years of The Snowman animated film and the 10 years of The Snowman Stage Show in London's West End. He then plays "Walking in the Air".
View the recording here.
The SNOWMAN IN FINLAND
Howard visited the city of Tampere, 2 hours north of Helsinki November 21-22 to see the opening of a beautiful small-scale version of the stage show of The Snowman presented at the Comedy Theatre. It lasted 62 minutes and received a rousing ovation from a sold-out theatre whilst Howard's visit actually made it onto national TV!
THE BEAR IN BATH
Jason Thornton conducted splendid concert performances of both The Bear and The Snowman, narrated with great verve by the celebrated actress Stephanie Cole and the Bath Philharmonia Orchestra. Afterwards Jason interviewed Howard about his musical career and he responded to questions from the audience
BENEDICTUS AT ST ALBAN'S CATHEDRAL
Howard Blake's dramatic oratorio 'Benedictus' was given a 21st birthday performance in St Alban's Cathedral on Saturday November 17th at 7.30pm with Martyn Hill (tenor) the St Albans Bach Choir and The Sinfonia Verdi conducted by Andrew Lucas. The world premiere of the work was given in the cathedral in 1986 by the St Albans Bach Choir when the soloist was Robert Tear and the conductor Sir David Willccks.
SONY-BMG CD RELEASE
James Nesbitt the popular Irish actor has recorded a splendid re-voicing of the narration for the classic CD of 'The Snowman', to be released on SonyBMG on November 26th 2007. Howard Blake's much-loved original orchestral recording is intact but re-mastered along with Peter Auty's memorable treble solo in 'Walking in the Air.' Howard wrote both music and lyrics for the famous animated film and then went on to write the narration and produce the album for CBS Masterworks which went platinum. Ownership transferred to Sony in the late eighties and is now with Sony-BMG who celebrate its succesful 25th year with this beautifully-produced booklet and album.
The SNOWMAN STAGE SHOW 2007/8
The Snowman Stage show is based on the book by Raymond Briggs, choreographed by Robert North, directed by Bill Alexander with music and lyrics by Howard Blake.Three theatres will be staging The Snowman Stage Show this Christmas
The Peacock Theatre, Sadler's Wells' theatre in London's West End will open its 10th winter season on December 6th 2007 running 2 or 3 times a day nearly every day except Christmas until January 7th 2008.
For details see: http://www.sadlerswells.com/peacock/2007_2008/snowman2007.asp
The Edinburgh Festival Theatre will open its own production on 12th December which will run to 30th December
The Birmingham Repertory Theatre will not run a show in Christmas 2007 but will run a season in 2008/9
The Lowry Theatre Salford will run a season 11-19 January 2008
It’s 25 years since Howard Blake wrote the musical score and lyrics for the Channel 4 cartoon film ‘The Snowman’ with its song ‘Walking in the Air’, but the song remains as popular as ever, featuring last Christmas in a new duet version that Howard created specially for Aled Jones, whilst the complete Snowman soundtrack recording with both music and story is out on SonyBMG in a deluxe package with an illustrated booklet. Performances of the concert version of the Snowman- sometimes with narration, sometimes with orchestra and projected film- take place in many countries, from Taiwan to Toronto, from Hong-Kong to Budapest. The stage show that first came into being in 1993 grew out of Raymond Briggs’ timeless picture-book, Diane Jackson’s marvellous animated cartoon and Robert North’s beautiful ballet, but the music (nearly 80 minutes of it) in a sense grew directly out of the song, as Musical Opinion critic Robert Matthew-Walker recently observed: ‘Walking in the Air is used as the basis for a virtually continuous set of symphonic variations; a subtle and fully-wrought score which entrances the ears of all who are brought into the magical world it conjures up’. The show has gone from strength to strength and a new production of the show has been built so that children in Scotland and The Midlands can enjoy it as well as those in London’s Peacock. John Stalker, who was the original producer, now manages The Edinburgh Festival Theatre who will open the show on December 13th while The Lowry Manchester will run it in January 2008 for the first time. Remarkably, and much to Howard’s delight, the same creative team is still in place after 9 years, while Jeremy Young, the musical director/pianist and Clare Findlater, flautist have been playing on the show for 6 years. When asked why this is, all involved tend to say: ‘because we enjoy doing it so much!’ – and thankfully audiences feel the same!
THE BEAR (Piano/Vocal Score with Narration)
Howard Blake's score for the animated film 'The Bear' was completed in 1998 when the film was first shown on Channel 4. In 1999 Howard wrote a narration and adapted the score for concert performance. However, despite the full score, orchestral parts, voice parts and narration being available from that time, no complete Piano/Vocal score has been available until 18th January 2007. The Christmas season 2006/7 produced a flurry of interest in the work. The film achieved a top UK TV viewing slot of 6.30pm Christmas Eve, and live concert performances were given in several major venues including The Helix Dublin and the City Concert hall, Hong Kong. Spurred on by this Howard set about creating a playable piano score himself and the resulting 50-page book is now available for sale. It includes the sung parts for girl soprano, tenor and bass with all the lyrics which need to be sung in the concert version. (In the film more than half of the lyrics were omitted including Charlotte's, due to an antipathy to lyrics and songs expressed by producer John Coates!); the narration with its own cue numbers that can be used if the narrator needs to be cued; and the start procedure if a DVD is projected.
However, apart from all these past complications Howard feels it actually works really well transcribed for keyboard and is a lot of fun to play.
New recordings of Howard Blake's chamber music by tenor Martyn Hill and The English Serenata were released in November 2006 on Meridian CDE 84553
Works included "Shakespeare Songs", the "Flute Quintet", "Trio for flute cello and harp" and "Pennillion".
ALED JONES DUET VERSION OF WALKING IN THE AIR
Howard composed a new counter-melody to his song 'Walking in the Air' especially for the tenor Aled Jones, who sings a duet with himself as a 12-year old by overdubbing the 1985 EMI single which made him famous. They collaborated on the recording at the Marcangelo Studios in West London in August 2006 and the track has been released November 2006 on Universal under the album title 'The Best of Aled Jones'. UCJ 476 572-1 The album includes a duet version of Panis Angelicus with Bryn Terfel and Slent Night with Hayley Westenra
BIS records have released a CD performed by Steven Isserlis and Stephen Hough of 'pieces for cello students of all ages' and one of the pieces is Howard Blake's 'Archangel's Lullaby'- reviewed in Gramaphone magazine July 2006.
Re-release of Granpa CD
The star New Zealand girl singer Hayley Westenra has brought out an album of "Walking in the Air" and is performing it in her concert tour with the Boston Pops Orchestra during the Christmas season.
Benedictus & Lifecycle at Greyfriars Church, Edinburgh
A performance of Howard's major oratorio "Benedictus" with tenor Neil Mackie is scheduled for 22nd April 2006 at Greyfriars Church in Edinburgh, along with a performance of his 24 piano pieces "Lifecycle".
Premiere of "Winterdream", Howard's new commissioned setting of Keats' classic poem "La belle Dame sans merci" will be given in Cadogan Hall, Chelsea on February 4th 2006 with combined children's choirs conducted by the composer.
HB in Kuala Lumpur
Howard visited Kuala Lumpur in June to give a piano recital of his "Lifecycle" in the palace of HRH The Sultan of Selangor and discussions are now taking place in regard to a major commission. See the article in The Star Online for a review.
The Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra are giving 3 performances of "The Snowman" at The Petronas Towers 17th /18th December.
Hong Kong Concert
On June 19 2005 Howard visited Hong Kong for a delightful concert of two of his works "The Bear" and "Granpa", given by the City Chamber Orchestra of Hong Kong. Both were translated into Cantonese, with celebrated Hong Kong actor Jim Junior as Granpa, Jim Chin narrating "The Bear" and 50-strong children's chorus and this Christmas are scheduled to perform "The Snowman".
CONCERT AT THE CADOGAN HALL, LONDON
A TRIBUTE TO TONY SCOTT
Apart from his genius as a film director Tony had a unique perception of music, which I became aware of as his music director on ‘The Hunger’. For one scene we discovered a theme from the opera ‘Lakme’ which he asked me to record with sopranos - but minus their normal vibrato. He loved this and later asked me to record a piano version. Perhaps it had some sort of special meaning for him, as glimpses of it recur in ‘True Romance’ and other of his films.
He was an inspiring person to work with and will be truly missed.