Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Artist spotlight - Tenor Matthew Long

Matthew Long
Our tenor soloist for Messiah is rising star Matthew Long. As an alumni of Yorkshire Bach Choir, former chorister at York Minster and music student at the University of York, Matt has strong ties with the city of York. Now based in London, Matt has travelled the word with some of the world’s finest ensembles.  He has even released his own album recorded with the London Philharmonic Orchestra at Abbey Road studios. We started by asking him to recall his experiences as a student at York and why he enjoys coming back to the musical city helped shape him.

Matt began by commenting:
As an undergraduate student, I think it can be difficult to have a perspective of how important and formative time spent working with good ensembles can be. I now look back at my time in Yorkshire Bach Choir with great fondness. To have been part of such high calibre music making as a 19/20  year old student was a real privilege and I owe a lot to the experience I gained whilst singing in YBC.

Have you had the opportunity to return to York since you left a few years ago?
I've come back to sing on quite a few occasions under different guises. With the Sixteen, I Fagiolini and as a soloist. It's always a joy to be here and see old friends and familiar faces and places.

Musically, when do you feel the happiest?
At the end of most concerts! That's not true [...] I spent a lot of my twenties worrying about how to get better at singing, how to get the better work, how to make enough money etc. It's a tough and hugely competitive world for a young singer. In the last few years I've taken a step back from this view and taken time to enjoy the other things in life that aren't music. 

More specifically I recently performed Britten's War Requiem for the first time. It was one of my most satisfying musical experiences to date. Also, working on my debut solo album, choosing repertoire, booking musicians etc. was a hugely rewarding and educational experience.

Which living musician do you most admire?
Hmm…. Difficult….The work of Mr Justin Bieber is underrated I feel.

Seriously, who is the composer (dead or alive) that you’d most like to meet?
J S Bach (obviously).

As a youngster, did you ever have a eureka moment performing a certain piece of music?
I have very strong memories of first performing Monteverdi's Vespers with YBC. I'd never heard music like it before. The intricacy, the power of the extended cadences, and the simple beauty of the monody. It switched a switch in me somewhere. I have gone on to perform it probably more than any other work.

When you’re not practising or performing, how else do you like to spend your time?
Music can be all consuming and I've found this isn't always helpful. Taking a step back can help focus the mind. I've not been happier to be working in music than since I adopted this approach. I'm a keen follower of wildlife conservation and all things 'biodiverse' and green! I love to go walking in the wilder places we have in the UK, usually with my camera.

What is your most treasured possession?
My wife [Matt laughs]! She would hate that I've written that. No? Let's go with our cat, Florence. Although she owns me in truth. As does my wife.

What keeps you awake at night?
Often it's the music of the next or most recent concert I've been involved in.

What would your super power be?
Constantly reliable vocal cords.

If you could go back in time, where would you go?
London 25,000 years ago. When Lions, Hyenas, Hippos and Elephants roamed the land where London now lies. That would be pretty cool. I wouldn't stay for very long!

Who would you invite to your dream dinner party?
J. S. Bach, Sir David Attenborough, Scarlett Johansson, Ronnie O'Sullivan, Dr Alan Rabinowitz ( look him up, he has quite a story), Jimmy Hendrix, Nigel Farage, Jo Brand…. yep, that should provide some interesting conversation!

We look forward to hearing Matt singing ‘Comfort ye’ and kicking off what will certainly be a very special performance of Messiah with Yorkshire Bach Choir, Yorkshire Baroque Soloists alongside a stellar line up of soloists. 
York Early Music Christmas Festival

Tickets are available in advance at the National Centre for Early Music by clicking here: bit.ly/1wBSQ63

The York Early Music Festival runs from 5-14 December and further details can be found here: http://www.ncem.co.uk/xmas

Further details on Matthew Long including details of his debut solo disc Songs of These Isles with the London Philharmonic Orchestra, accompanist Malcolm Martineau and guitarist Rufus Miller can be found on his website: http://www.matthew-long.co.uk/ 

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Introducing the YBC Concert Series 2014/15

YBC Concert Series 2014/15

Rehearsals began in earnest last Friday for our 36th Season of concerts and once again it promises to be a vintage year of singing. Our season will encompass a range of music from cornerstones of the choral repertoire - like Handel: Messiah & Mozart: Requiem - to a focus on Tudor music including some rarely heard pieces by Taverner, Byrd and Sheppard.  

By kind permission of All Hallows, Walkington. Harry Harvey 1970
We launch our concert series on Saturday 1 November with a choral blockbuster in the form of Spem in Alium by Thomas Tallis. For the singer, Spem is the kind of piece that is so good that you when you get to the end you want to go back to the beginning and sing it all over again.  Well, we hope it is the same for the listener so we will perform it twice; once at the beginning of the concert and once at the end.  We will even perform it in two different formations culminating in the ultimate surround sound experience.  Alongside Spem we mark All Saints Day with some motets in Byrd’s most vigorous polyphonic style including the extrovert ‘Laudibus in Sanctis’ (Byrd’s colourful setting of Psalm 150). In a more contemplative vein will be Byrd’s evergreen Mass for Four Voices which ends with the tranquillity of his sublime setting of ‘Dona Nobis’. The concert will be the first of two exploring music for Tudors.

Turning to the rest of the season, December will bring Messiah featuring an acclaimed line up of soloists as part of the York Early Music Christmas Festival.  No season would be complete without music by J.S. Bach, and we begin 2015 performing his motets, along with those of other members of the Bach family, will be the focus of a February concert. As well as accompanying us for Messiah, the verve and precision of the Yorkshire Baroque Soloists will join us in March for Mozart’s Requiem performed alongside Haydn’s joyous Theresienmesse. Following this, in May the second part of our Tudor survey gives a rare chance to hear another two masterpieces of the English Renaissance as we perform Taverner’s Gloria tibi Trinitas and the unique, beautiful In Media Vita by anniversary composer John Sheppard which opens with the haunting words ‘in the midst of life we are in death’.  Our season concludes with high drama in the form of that most tragic tale of a Carthaginian queen as we present a concert version of Dido and Aeneas.    

All our concerts are performed in the glorious surroundings of St Michael le Belfrey a historic church which is right in the heart of York beside York Minster.  

Link to our 2014/15 concert brochure: http://bit.ly/1s8Hrde

Details of concert 1 November 2014: http://bit.ly/1tw6qma

YBC Concert reminder service: http://bit.ly/1nbRxIJ

Contact details:
Twitter: @YorksBachChoir  
Facebook: Yorkshire Bach Choir
Email: marketing@yorkshirebachchoir.org

Friday, 20 June 2014

Brahms: German Requiem & Liebeslieder
Final preparations are underway today - including the ‘small matter’ of putting a grand piano in place at St Michael le Belfrey - for the final concert of our  2013-14 concert series where we perform two contrasting works by Brahms. In the first half of the concert we will perform the lovely confection of romance, song and waltz that is the Liebeslieder Walzer. At the piano we are lucky to have the expertise of two talented young accompanists in the form of  Ben Horden and Mark Hutchison.  Based in York, Ben (@BenHorden) is assistant organist at Ripon Cathedral (@riponcathedral) and conductor of the York based ensemble Spectrum Choir (@SpectrumChoir). At the other end of the piano will be Mark Hutchinson who is an alumni of the University of York Music Department (@Music_at_York) where he recently completed a PhD in music analysis. In addition to his music research, Mark is a busy performer and instrumental teacher.

In the second half of the concert the mighty Ein Deutsches Requiem will form a fitting climax to our year of music making. The German Requiem, is a glorious sing for the choir and our performance will offer the opportunity to hear the well-loved score with the pared down accompaniment of four hands and one piano. Anyone who has heard this version will attest to its ability to experience an old warhorse of the choral repertory with renewed freshness and insight. Our baritone soloist for the performance will be Frederick Long who has previously appeared with choir singing the Bach B Minor Mass in 2011. Freddy, is a graduate of the Royal  Academy of Music in addition to being a member of the National Opera Studio and Glyndebourne New Generation Programme also appears regularly in recital and concert work. Stepping out of the choir as soprano soloist will be Wendy Goodson.  In addition to singing in Yorkshire Bach Choir, Wendy combines a busy career teaching singing with appearances as a solo singer on the concert platform with local festivals and choirs.      
Yorkshire Bach Choir hopes you can come and join us for what promises to be a  memorable evening.  Ticket are available online by clicking on the following link: bit.ly/1m0JYiD or alternatively on the door priced at £18 and £16 (concessions).  Student stand by tickets are available to full time students at the door 10 minutes before the start of the concert.
We will shortly be publishing details of our exciting forthcoming concert series for 2014/15 so watch this space for further details.

Contact details:
Twitter: @YorksBachChoir 
Facebook: Yorkshire Bach Choir
Email: marketing.yorksbachchoir@gmail.com