University of Surrey Chamber Choir and Orchestra
Conductor: Russell Keable
Including Vaughan Williams and Tippett
Programme to include:
Serenade to Music
Five Negro Spirituals, from A Child of our Time
The University of Surrey Chamber Choir`s annual visit took place on Sunday afternoon 9th.March,when unfortunately their usual conductor Russell Keeble was unable to take the rostrum because of illness.His place was taken by two highly promising students, Elizabeth Hales and Isabella Stocchetti together with Maureen Galea, a staff member, and well known concert pianist.
Starting with Vaughan William`s beautiful "Serenade To Music",the Choir produced a fine atmospheric shimmer of sound with strong soloists and highly sensitive piano accompaniment by Maureen.
However,the true beauty of sound seemed to peak in their performance of Gerald Finzi`s three pieces from "Seven Poems of Robert Bridges"Op 17,where the blend of voices and general tone was of a very high order.
After the interval, Maureen Galea played three pieces by the rather neglected Victorian composer Dame Ethel Smyth written between 1877 and 1914---"Aus der Jugendzeit" "Nocturne"and her arrangement of part of "The Boatswain`s Mate"Overture. Some of this music was familiar, but hitherto it might have been difficult to name the writer.
A further example of Dame Ethel`s work was" Songs if Sunrise" where eight lady choir members accompanied by Maureen Galea sang "Laggard dawn" and "The March of the Women".
Lastly, unaccompanied ,the full Choir sang an enchanting version of Five Negro Spirituals from Michael Tippett`s "A Child in our Time"---"Steal Away" "Nobody knows the trouble I see Lord" "Go down Moses" "O,by and by" and "Deep River".
Again, in a beautifully controlled wall of sound, another choral concert by these fine young musicians came to an end amidst generous applause from the large audience who had turned out on a splendid Spring afternoon to hear them.
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.