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'THE SNOWMAN SYMPHONY', Harrogate Symphony Orchestra, musical director Bryan Western, Royal Hall Harrogate, Yorkshire

20th December 2020

The Snowman will be performed by The Harrogate Symphony Orchestra,which Howard himself conducted in a performance of his 'Suite from Agatha' (22nd. June 2019.)

'The Snowman' began as an animated film with music in 1982, was enlarged into a 55' ballet in 1993 in which year it was also further extended into a 90' stage show. This was further revised and extended in 2000 in which form it continues to run in theatres in UK and around the world.

'THE PASSION OF MARY' ON EASTER SUNDAY, At 18.00 in Catalanya on Easter Sunday 12 April 2020 Ars Aurea Sonora Channel will be broadcasting the film of the oratorio 'The Passion of Mary'. It was originally recorded in Manresa Cathedral on 8th December 2015 in a concert conducted by the composer with principal parts taken by Patricia Rozario (soprano), Richard Edgar Wilson (tenor) and David van Asch (Bass), with the choir and orchestra of Tarragona University. The Liverpool Quartet and Jaume Comas were also featured in a performance of 'The Snowman'. See coverage below., Manresa Basilica.

12th April 2020
  

Poblet aplaudeix 'The passion of Mary'

El Monestir acull l'estrena de l'oratori dramàtic de Howard Blake, que també es representa a Manresa

09 de Desembre de 2015, per Text: Marc Busquets/ Fotografies: Fabián Acidres
  • Interpretació de l'oratori 'The Passion of Mary' a Poblet

    Fabián Acidres

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El Monestir de Poblet ) i Col·legiata Basílica de Santa Maria de Manresa han acollit l’estrena a Catalunya de l’oratori dramàtic The passion of Mary, que fins ara només s’havia representat al Regne Unit i a Suècia, del compositor britànic Howard Blake. Dos concerts irrepetibles Els dos concerts, dirigits pel músic, han seguit el mateix guió i han comptat amb la intervenció del Liverpool String Quartet i la flautista Nèlia Sanxís a la primera part del concert, per interpretar un quintet de flauta.

Posteriorment, el programa de les dues actuacions ha donat pas a The snowman, obra per la qual Blake va ser nominat a l’Oscar de Hollywood i que s’ha convertit en un clàssic televisiu d’aquestes festes al Regne Unit. “És tan o més celebrat que el Conte de Nadal de Dickens”, ha assenyalat l’actor Jaume Comas, que ha interpretat el narrador de la història. Val a dir, a més, que per petició de Blake, el text de la peça s’ha traduït al català per tal de ser presentada a l’audiència del nostre país als concerts de Poblet i de Manresa. La cirereta d’aquest primer bloc l’ha posada el jove cantant Iker Utrera, que ha cantat el tema I’m walking in the air traduït també al català.

A la segona part de les representacions de l’espectacle s’ha interpretat The passion of Mary (op.577), en què s’ha comptat amb la intervenció de destacades figures de l’escena internacional com la soprano Patricia Rozario Orbe (en el paper de Maria), el tenor Richard Edgar Wilson (Jesús) i el baix David Van Asch (Satan).

Cal destacar, a més, l’aportació de les formacions que han format part de l’equip artístic dels concerts. L’Orquestra de cambra Terrassa 48 i el Liverpool String Quartet i la Coral de la URV han estat als dos concerts. Blake ha donat les gràcies a ARS Aurea Sonora “per la magnífica organització de l’espectacle” i ha explicat que The passion of Mary és una obra única perquè “la història es planteja des del punt de vista de la Mare de Déu”.

PIANO TRIO SOCIETY - CANCELLED DUE TO C-VIRUS, International young artists will compete for a prize to be awarded by recently-appointed Vice-President of the society Howard Blake OBE FRAM along with Vice-President Christine Talbot Cooper. Senior Intercollegiate Piano Trio Competition., Chetham's School of Music, Manchester 10.00am-6.00pm, 22nd. March 2020

22nd March 2020

The full title of the competition is the Senior Intercollegiate Piano Trio Competition.  www.pianotriosociety.org.uk  

 


 

PIANO QUARTET IN FLORIDA, The Velox Quartet: Nicholas Hatt (violin), Jacob Clewell (viola), Jordan Galvarino (cello), Sasha Bult-Ito (piano)., Emerald Coast Chamber Music Festival, Tyler Recital Hall, Niceville, Florida

30th May 2020

TWO-PIANO MUSIC IN MOSCOW, Rustem Kudoyalov and Oleg Polianskiy, Rachmaninov Hall of the Moscow Conservatoire

2nd February 2020
A concert of two piano music with at least one composition by Howard Blake in the second part of the concert that will consist of mostly British music.

SINFONIETTA FOR TEN BRASS IN CAMBRIDGE, Cambridge University Brass Ensemble conducted by Chris Lawrence, Wolfson College. 1.30pm

29th February 2020

PIANO CONCERTO, Julian Trevelyan piano, John Gibbons conductor, Howard Blake narrator, Worthing Symphony Orchestra "Walking In The Air" concert at Assembly Hall, Friday 31 January 2020 (7.30pm)

31st January 2020

REVIEW BY Richard Amey

Nik Rimsky-Korsakov, Dance of The Tumblers (from The Snow Maiden); Fred Delius, Sleigh Ride; Emil Waldteufel, Skaters Waltz; Howard Blake, The Snowman, concert version; Pete Tchaikovsky, Waltz (from Swan Lake); Leroy Anderson, Sleigh Ride; Johnny Sibelius, March (from Karelia Suite); Howard Blake, Piano Concerto Op412.

It was as though Sergei Prokofiev had been right there, narrating his own Peter And The Wolf with Worthing Symphony Orchestra. To audience surprise, Howard Blake was doing the same in The Snowman – a children’s composition of parallel universal success composed by he, an ex-Brighton & Hove Grammar School boy, and with some primary and secondary classmates in the audience.

Unbilled except last-minute on social media, Blake told me he was narrating a Snowman concert performance for the first time in five years. He was standing in for also-unpublicised actor Bernard Cribbins OBE, whose wife was unwell. Wombles voice-over Cribbins reached 91 in December. A month earlier, Blake OBE made it to 81, although he scarcely moves or looks older than 70. That’s the therapy of music for you.

Blake’s own ‘local lad makes good’ story happened 40 years ago when his idea of a TV cartoon outlawing dialogue struck gold. Instead, it’s musically with descriptive richness and synchronised with the precision of a Tchaikovsky-Petipa ballet, and delivering a hit song that seasonally sits alongside Irving Berlin’s White Christmas.

The familiar I’m Walking In The Air – the only words heard in the cartoon film – is sung by the Boy when the Snowman he has built suddenly lifts him up into flight, out over Brighton and up to the North Pole for a knees-up at a snowmen’s party visited by Father Christmas. A thaw-surviving scarf from that is living proof it happened for real, trumping at Christmas the Nutcracker Doll that can only underline a dream.

Now it was happening right here, without the images but with author Raymond Briggs’ dialogue pointed up by Blake’s music. A different and rewarding audience experience this way round. And a master class in light film music orchestration . . .

Sleep? Harp or strings. Fun building a snowman? Fairy harp and chirpy flute. Snowman greets his young creator? Cheery piccolo. Atmosphere around the boy’s house? Sober, nostalgic oboe. Terrified fleeing cat? Screeching strings. Snowman curious about human life? Cheeky bassoon or avuncular horn.

Perilous sources of heat? Cymbals! (Furtive footsteps? Xylophone) Music box? Glittery harp, piano, flute, piccolo. Motor-bike escapade? Tearing orchestra with xylophone saddled on top! The Celidh of the Father Christmases? Celtic pub dance tunes on flutes, piccolo, xylophone, muted trumpet.

And binding much together, the piano – setting new scenes, initiating rhythm and texture, creating mystery, punctuating or decorating percussively, bringing sentiment and affection, opening the mood and flow of I’m Walking In The Air for vocalist Victoria Ridgway – from Crawley, invited from the West Sussex Youth Choir.

The 17-year-old was singing it publicly for the first time and her nerves in the opening verse counted in her artistic favour. Initially frayed-edged in childlike wonder and fear (“What? My snowman’s really a bird?”), her voice gained in confidence (“He’s not going to drop me now – I’m flying too!”) arriving at a purity (“This is the best adventure I’ve EVER had”).

Incidentally, the washes of cymbals evoked for me the Cornish beach hut where Blake, years before, first thought of this tune. Blake’s is an unfamiliar face to most. His narration was thus like listening to a story a nice granddad at a small (under-control) children’s birthday party up the road. Throughout The Snowman, I sensed the audience’s adults captured by their own fascination and progressively moved. The final ovation’s vocal element was heartfelt.

Blake brought also his own Piano Concerto and soloist, the 21-year-old Paris-trained Briton, Julian Trevelyan. It’s rarely played, despite its distinctive, pleasing and constantly entertaining vigour and melodic content, easy form and good humour, since its commission for Princess Diana’s 30th birthday 29 years ago. Blake performed it for her at the Royal Festival Hall. Surely, her death is not the reason for its back seat in Blake’s output? “Yes, it is a portrait of her,” he replied. “There’s her warmth and sense of fun.”

After a shyly radiant opening musical vision, it garrulously flecks in syncopations and cross-rhythms of popular musical styles – though less prominently than in for example Ravel’s two-handed Concerto. Imagine a lively garden party, getting going. But in the jubilant, cosmopolitan finale of theme and variations they shine brightly and integral to the effervescence which, at the end, unexpectedly but poetically leaves us with a bookending repeat of that halting opening camera shot.

There are one or two royal sweeps of cinematic strings and French Horn grandeur, and the tenor trombone pair join in the contrapuntal fun.

The middle movement, far less loquacious, paints its own intimate photo or character album.

It began and ended with just piano plus the leaders of the three violin and viola section leaders, whom at rehearsal Blake persuaded Gibbons and the players themselves that they should stand to play. The effect in performance was of something original being done spontaneously as an apt focus on music speaking of loving homage and respect. A remarkable concert moment and result.

Trevelyan was bristlingly alive, alert and responsive to the Concerto’s solo demands and range, and evidently attuned with a composer whose birthday precedes his by a day. It was Trevelyan’s second performance of a piece composed for Russian prodigy Evgeny Kissin – who reportedly backed out of the premier, finding it too demanding to prepare in apparently ample time. It took Blake three months to prepare in Kissin’s place because Blake had abandoned concert piano performing.

But it took Trevelyan just a month before his December debut in it. “It’s challenging with its use of non-classical rhythms being put in a classical context,” he told me. “The trick is to let it sing, and to make an interpretation without destroying its simplicity.”

This climaxed and closed the concert, and won another enthusiastic reception. Trevelyan brought Blake on stage for a hug and then won over the audience without him in Chopin’s Mazurka No 2 in D major of Opus 33 as an encore.

What of the rest of the programme? Far from makeweights or fillers, they were Gibbons with reindeer bells setting a winter’s scene around a snowman. Rimsky’s bounding dance of the Russian street performers laid out cold any preference for a conventional overture. Delius’ Sleigh Ride and wander off on foot around snow-laden countryside may well have been a WSO first.

A Skater’s Waltz by a Strasbourg-born composer could not escape the notice of politically-aware Gibbons on Brexit Day. Out on Anderson’s stateside Sleigh Ride, the WSO were fully on the ball with its finger-snapping wit, and the Karelia Suite finale marched in out of the tundra chill with a genuine glow.

But seizing the biscuit was the one item which could have passed by unnoticed in a routine rendition – but instead launched the second half with hum-along anticipation. Gibbons and WSO gave us a Swan Lake Waltz with astute variation in dynamics and a sweeping conclusion of festive Russian theatricality lacking only Bolshoic vibrato in Tim Hawes’ important trumpet solo. Do take us the whole way to Moscow next time, Tim!

Richard Amey

 

BLAKE PIANO CONCERTO AND THE SNOWMAN, JULIAN TREVELYAN,JOHN GIBBONS, Julian Trevelyan and the Worthing Symphony Orchestra play Howard Blake's Piano Concerto - 'Concerto for a Princess' with solo prize-winning pianist Julian Trevelyan and 'The Snowman' narrated by local Howard Blake (Brighton/Cuckfield) and wrote the original words and music, based on the children's picture-book by local artist Raymond Briggs (Brighton/Ditchling), Assembly Hall, Worthing

31st January 2020

"The Snowman played by WSO in the presence of the composer himself – Howard Blake, along with the Piano Concerto he composed for the 30th birthday of Diana, Princess of Wales. The latter is played by exciting young pianist Julian Trevelyan making his Worthing debut. "

Tickets available here:

https://worthingtheatres.co.uk/show/wso-walking-in-the-air/


'CHRISTMAS LULLABY' AT ST. PAUL'S COVENT GARDEN WITH TWO SOPRANOS:NADINE BENJAMIN AND DANAE ELENI, Nadine Benjamin soprano and Danae Elena Mezzo-soprano, St. Pauls Covent Garden 1.00-2.00pm

20th December 2019
A performance of the duet originally composed for the first Christmas of Classic FM

KATHERINE JENKINS WITH HOWARD BLAKE AT THE ROYAL ALBERT HALL, Katherine Jenkins soprano, Howard Blake conductor, Royal Albert Hall

12th December 2019
Howard will conduct his own new arrangement of 'Walking in the Air' for soprano and orchestra in a programme of songs performed by Katherine Jenkins and orchestra.

'THE SNOWMAN' IN HOLLYWOOD, The Golden State Pops Orchestra conducted by Steven Allen Fox, perform the concert version of 'The Snowman' with 'the voice of Disney', Bill Rogers, as narrator. 21st December 2019 at 8.00pm, Great Warner Theatre, San Pedro, Los Angeles, USA

21st December 2019

THE SNOWMAN STAGE SHOW AT LONDON'S PEACOCK THEATRE 22ND SEASON, Robert North full ballet company directed by Julian Moss, orchestra directed by Costas Fotopoulos, Sadler's Wells Peacock Theatre, Kingsway London

21st November 2019
- 30th January 2020

Overview

Birmingham Repertory Theatre’s production of The Snowman returns to the Peacock Theatre, the definitive marker of the Christmas season! Combining dance, live music and storytelling, this enchanting spectacle is one for the whole family. See it from 21 November 2019.

The beloved show is now in its 22nd year, testament to its enduring charm. Based on the children’s book by Raymond Briggs, it also includes songs and music from Channel 4’s 1982 film of the same name, including “Walking in the Air”. The story is wordless, told instead through movement. Special effects ensure the sense of magic and spectacle capture the imaginations of the little ones in the audience.

One Christmas – so the story goes – a young boy rushes excitedly outside at the sight of freshly fallen snow. He takes great pride in building a tall snowman, complete with hat and scarf. All of a sudden, a festive miracle occurs: the icy figure comes to life and takes the boy’s hand. Together they embark on a heart-soaring adventure.

The production is directed by Bill Alexander, who is Artistic Director of Birmingham Repertory Theatre. He counts a Binkie Beaumont Award for Best New Director and a Laurence Olivier Award for Best Director to his name.

The Snowman is produced by John Coates. Original music and lyrics are by Howard Blake. Choreography is courtesy of Robert North, with design by Ruari Murchison’s and lighting by Tim Mitchell.

Families can’t fail to leave this show in top festive spirits. Come and find how fly you can high with the gorgeous, heart-warming The Snowman at Peacock Theatre from 21 November 2019.

Recommended for

Anybody who knows Christmas isn't complete without hearing "Walking in the Air", or who grew up reading Raymond Briggs' precious book, should be sure to get The Snowman tickets. This festive treat is perfect for children and grown-ups alike.

Age Recommendations: Suitable for all ages

THE SNOWMAN WITH ALED JONES ON CHRISTMAS EVE, Aled narrates and sings the words and music of Howard Blake OBE, who conducts The Sinfonia of London, CLASSIC FM 5.30PM

24th December 2019
This complete 26-minute version of 'The Snowman' was originally recorded for the Channel 4 animated film in 1983 with Howard conducting his orchestra The Sinfonia of London, narrator Bernard Cribbens and treble Peter Auty, and in this form it went platinum for CBS Masterworks. In 1985 Aled made a memorable cover version which went to number 3 in the charts and he appeared on TOTP singing 'Walking in the air' the theme ffrom the film, which launched his highly-succesful career.

THE SNOWMAN STAGE SHOW-ESPLANADE THEATRE SINGAPORE, Peacock theatre touring company

11th December 2019
- 15th December 2019

THE SNOWMAN STAGE SHOW AT THE LYRIC THEATRE HONG-KONG, Peacock theatre touring company

28th November 2019
- 1st December 2019

'IN TUNE' BBC RADIO BROADCAST, Howard Blake, Broadcasting House, Portland Place, London

21st November 2019
An interview followed by the playing of the Sony recording of the third mevement of the Howard Blake Piano Concerto - 'Comcerto for a Princess.' soloist Howard Blake with the Philharmonia Orchestra conducted by Sir David Willcocks.

'CONCERTO FOR A PRINCESS' JULIAN TREVELYAN (PNO), JOHN GIBBONS (COND.0, EALING SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA, Julian Trevelyan. Ealing Symphony Orchestra conducted by John Gibbons. 7.30pm, St. Barnabas Church, Pitshanger Lane, London, W5 1QG

30th November 2019
Julian will give his first performance of the Howard Blake Piano Concerto in a programme of symphonic music including Mahler's 10th

BRIGHTON LUNCHTIME CONCERT-BLAKE, PARMENTER AND GREGORY PLAY BLAKE, Paul Gregory (solo guitar), Alan Parmenter (violin) with Howard Blake (piano), Chapel Royal, North Street,Brighton Tuesday 3rd December 1.00pm

3rd December 2019

'ALL GOD'S CREATURES' - MID-SUSSEX SINFONIA, Jonathan Willcocks,conductor,The Mid-Sussex Sinfonia and Sussex Children's Choir, The Dolphin Hall, Haywards Heath,3.00pm

8th December 2019
This is a programme of music by Howard Blake, OBE.FRAM, who will be attending the concert to talk about 'All God's Creatures', 'The Snowman', 'Sussex Prelude' and other works he wrote at the time when he lived and worked in Highbridge Mill, Cuckfield, Sussex. 

FILMED INTERVIEW FROM HOWARD'S STUDIO, Howard Blake playing his own piano music and being interviewed by Afshin Rattansi for RT TV LONDON Recorded 10th Dec 2019 in his own studio in London, Kensington, London, UK

10th December 2019
- 11th December 2019

Showings of film on RT on Dec 11th 2019 at 11.30am, 2.30pm and 9.30pm

Channel 234,

Freeview

SKY 511 

HOWARD BLAKE INTERVIEWED BY JACK PEPPER ON SCALA, HOWARD BLAKE is interviewed by JACK PEPPER who introduces some of Howard's recorded music., Scala Radio, Golden Square, London

13th December 2019

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