University of Surrey Chamber Choir and Orchestra
Conductor: Russell Keable
Britten, Stravinsky, Bach & Purcell
Programme to include:
Hymn to St Cecilia
and works by Bach and Purcell
As in previous seasons, about this time of year, we have our keenly anticipated visit from University of Surrey Chamber Choir, with this time their Wind Ensembles.
Conducting was shared between the esteemed and dynamic Russell Keable and Elizabeth Hales, and as always it was a great pleasure to hear them performing on Friday 8th March. An exciting programme started with the motet for double choir with solo bassoon "Furchte dich nicht" by J.S. Bach and continued with two movements from Carl Nielson`s "Quintet" op.43 and Benjamin Britten`s "Hymn to St Cecilia" op.27. After the break came the five part Mass written between 1944 and 1948 by Stravinsky, and to round off the evening, a repeat of the Bach.
The twenty strong choir produced a generally well rounded and balanced sound although perhaps the sopranos were a trifle strong in the first rendering of the Bach Motet. The sanctuary acoustics are always excellent for voices and this time was no exception as both ensembles and choir were able to produce distinctive instrumental parts and clear enunciation throughout.
The Stravinsky Mass, consisting of five parts,was unusual in not having been commissioned but was inspired by a mass of Mozart. A major work with intricate rhythms and presenting a challenge which the young people tackled with aplomb, producing a beautiful performance with six excellent soloists from amongst their peers.
Russell Keable has established a reputation as one of Britain’s most exciting and versatile musicians. ‘Keable and his orchestra did magnificently’ wrote The Guardian, ‘one of the most memorable evenings at the South Bank' said The Musical Times. He performs with orchestras and choirs throughout the British Isles including the London Mozart Players, Manchester Camerata, Northern Ballet Orchestra, BBC Concert Orchestra, Viva and Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. He is a regular guest conductor for the Royal Oman Symphony Orchestra, has conducted in Prague and Paris (concerts filmed by French and British television) and recently made a highly-praised début with the George Enescu Philharmonic in Bucharest. His regular performing partners include many leading national and international soloists (including Steven Isserlis, Tasmin Little, Nikolai Demidenko, John Lill and Nicholas Daniel).
Keable, a graduate of Nottingham University, studied conducting with George Hurst and Norman Del Mar at London's Royal College of Music, and violin with Maria Lidka. His academic interests have led him to seek out much rare repertoire. He revived Dvorak's opera Dimitrij for a British stage première in Nottingham and a London première concert performance. Research in Los Angeles led to a reconstruction of music from Erich Wolfgang Korngold's film score for The Sea Hawk. Other revivals have included the British première of Korngold's celebrated opera Die tote Stadt, Nadia Boulanger's Faust et Hélène, Copland's ballet Grohg, and less-well-known works by many British composers.
He broadcasts regularly on Radio 3 and was invited by the BBC to conduct the world première of Errollyn Wallen's Spirit Symphony in the final concert of the 2005 Listen Up Festival (broadcast live from the Royal Festival Hall); a performance that was awarded the Radio 3 Listeners' Award as part of the 2005 British Composer Awards.
For 26 years he has been associated with Kensington Symphony Orchestra, one of the UK’s finest non-professional orchestras, with whom he has led first performances of works by many British composers (including Maxwell Davies, Knussen, Woolrich, Holloway, Colin and David Matthews, Joby Talbot and John McCabe). His British première of Aulis Sallinen's Symphony no.8 was praised by The Sunday Times as a 'finely-judged performance'.
Russell is also in demand as a composer, arranger and teacher. He has written works for many British ensembles and has had premières throughout the UK (including at the Edinburgh, Norwich, Aberystwyth and Newbury Spring Festivals). His opera Burning waters, commissioned by the Buxton Festival as part of their millenium celebration, was premièred in July 2000. In 2005 he was appointed Director of Conducting for the University of Surrey in Guildford