Will Todd Trio
Will Todd - piano
Gareth Huw Davies - bass
Jim Fleeman - drums
A jazz set including favourites from their latest album ‘Sounds of Freedom’
Somewhere over the Rainbow
Love for Sale
Jazz - Unusually at the U.R.C.
On Friday evening 16 May Guildford United Reformed Church rocked to the sound of Will Todd`s Jazz Ensemble together with his wife, the amazingly versatile soprano Bethany Halliday.
Well known locally and throughout the musical world in general, the legend of this composer and jazz pianist attracted a large audience who were soon visibly excited by the swinging rhythm and lush harmonies produced by this group of brilliant musicians. Comprising piano, tenor sax, base both acoustic and electric, and drums and with stunning vocals, they gave us two hours of a completely different musical experience from that to which our audience are accustomed.
Starting quietly with Oscar Peterson`s " Hymn to Freedom" with its extensive and voluptuous piano introduction, the group gradually raised the excitement through their arrangements of many well known titles such as " Summertime ", "Somewhere over the Rainbow " and " I got Rhythm " where they really got into their stride.
Two particularly beautiful numbers in the second half were " You go to my Head" and " Willow weep for me " where Bethany`s voice was most moving with a sensuous interplay with the group, and finally after Gershwin`s " The man I Love " and " I wish I knew how it would feel to be Free " by Billy Taylor and Dick Dallas the audience were loath to go home. However, after a prolonged ovation their encore concluded the evening with a superb arrangement of " Can`t help Loving that Man of Mine" from " Showboat " bringing to an end a most memorable and for us, unusual, concert.
Peter Burge 4 Stars
Will Todd has been playing the piano since he was three and composing since he was seven years old. His output includes works for choir, stage works, and orchestral works, and his music has been featured on BBC Radio and Classic FM, and performed all over the UK, Europe, the USA and beyond.
Will’s flagship work is the 2003 jazz mass setting Mass in Blue, which has been performed over a hundred times around the world since its premiere; on many occasions with the Will Todd Trio and Will at the piano. The larger Will Todd Ensemble has also recorded Mass in Blue with the Vasari Singers for Signum Records. His anthem The Call of Wisdom was commissioned by St Paul’s Cathedral for the Diamond Jubilee Thanksgiving Service in June 2012.
His opera The Blackened Man won second prize in the International Verdi Opera Competition 2002, and was subsequently staged at the Buxton Festival. Music theatre work The Screams of Kitty Genovese has had three productions in the US and was staged by Tête á Tête Opera in London and at the Edinburgh Festival in 2010. Will Todd’s theatre works have been staged at the Millennium Centre (WNO); the Linbury Studio Theatre at the Royal Opera House; Buxton Opera Festival; the New York Music Theatre Festival; Public Theater New York; and The Sage Gatehead, and he has collaborated with some of the UK’s most high profile directors including Keith Warner, David Edwards, John Caird and Jonathan Munby.
Other choral works include the oratorio Saint Cuthbert which has been performed many times and recorded by the Hallé Orchestra, and a cantata to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Jarrow March - The Burning Road. Will Todd has also written a large body of smaller-scale choral works including many liturgical and anthem settings. Notable examples include Among Angels and Stay with me Lord – both of which were commissioned by the Genesis Foundation for The Sixteen and Harry Christophers, and Before Action, commissioned by the BBC Singers.
Recent projects include a setting of Keat’s Ode to a Nightingale for Hertfordshire Chorus; Jazz Concerto for Clarinet - a new clarinet concerto for Emma Johnson; and new CD The Call of Wisdom, featuring award-winning choir Tenebrae. Future plans include a new Alice in Wonderland opera for Opera Holland Park’s July 2013 season; major new commissions for Crouch End Festival Chorus, Salisbury Community Choir and Guildford High School amongst others; a new CD of jazz Christmas carols with the Choir of St-Martin-in-the-Fields; and singing workshops around the UK.
Bethany is best known for her recording of Will Todd's Mass in Blue which was released on the Signum Classics label in 2006. Described as `An addictive listen' by the Daily Express, Bethany premiered Mass in Blue at The Cambridge Corn Exchange in 2003 and has continued to perform the work frequently in the UK and the US since that time.
Venues have included St-Martin-in-the-Fields, Trafalgar Square, London's Barbican, California Theater, San Jose, The Sage Gateshead, Snape Maltings, and cathedrals around the UK. In 2013 a Mass in Blue Spanish Tour is planned in which Bethany will be the soprano soloist. She has also appeared on Radio 3 performing live excerpts in discussion with Sean Rafferty on In Tune and live on Radio 4 for their Ascension Day service from St-Martin-in-the-Fields in 2009.
Bethany enjoys a wide range of appearances throughout the UK including opera, oratorio and jazz. She was awarded the English National Opera Lillian Baylis Bursary for young singers and also won the William Cox memorial scholarship. Bethany has also performed with the Royal Opera House, Opera Genesis workshopping new material. As a classically trained singer she continues to perform programmes that combine different musical idioms.
Bethany has been involved in numerous premieres in recent years.
In 2002 she premiered both Will Todd's Elders' Oratorio at Southwark Cathedral for English National Opera and Simon McEnery's Three Sacred Pieces as the soprano soloist.
In 2004 Bethany premiered Todd's North Eastern inspired oratorio Gala and Gloria at Durham Cathedral.
In 2007 she was the soloist for Janet Wheeler's RSPB Cantata On the Breath of the Sky-a work she has since recorded. In the same year she also worked with ROH2 playing the part of Imelda Marcos in a new opera by Will Todd.
In 2008 she was the soprano soloist in the premiere of Todd's Requiem commissioned by the Fairhaven Singers. Performances have included St John's College, Cambridge and St John's Smith Square, London, followed by a CD recording in 2009.
In 2009 Bethany premiered Will Todd's Te Deum, commissioned by Vivace Chorus and premiered at Guildford Cathedral, receiving a standing ovation and local critical acclaim. She went on to record the Te Deum in 2010.
In 2012 Bethany appeared with ROH 2 in the premiere of Anne Dudley's 'The Owl and the Pussycat' with libretto by Terry Jones, as part of the 'Secrets: Hidden London' series.
Bethany performs regularly with the Will Todd Trio who are currently raising money for The Rainbow Trust Childrens Charity. She has also actively campaigned to preserve green spaces singing specially composed protest songs, taking part in awareness raising concerts around particular local issues and with composer Janet Wheeler's RSPB cantata, On the Breath of the Sky.