Any questions relating to the Trust should be directed to the Publicist, Karen Fletcher: firstname.lastname@example.org
Selected forthcoming concerts and events can be found on the 'Concerts' page, and recent recordings on the 'New Releases' page.
For pianist Rebeca Omordia, continuing her exploration of music by British composers has led to a UK and Romanian tour with cellist, Razvan Suma; resident cellist and director of the Romanian National Broadcasting Orchestras.
Their programme of British works for cello and piano will include John Ireland's powerful Cello Sonata, Ian Venables' heart-rending ‘Elegy’, and 'Fast Music'; a new work written especially for the tour by Robert Matthew-Walker.
Matthew-Walker is a prolific composer, having written over 160 works, although he is perhaps better-known to classical audiences as a music critic. Written at the request of Omordia, it was the composer’s idea that the piece be called ‘Fast Music’.
“On researching the repertoire, the soloists could find no short fast pieces to contrast with the prevailing slow or moderate ones”, explained Matthew-Walker. “The new work is in a single movement, lasting seven minutes, and is fast throughout, the final bars catching a glimpse of music in a quite different style – but still fast!”
For cellist Razvan Suma, John Ireland's Cello Sonata was one of the greatest musical revelations; “It is a work full of melancholy and drama - almost brutal at times - and wrapped up in a grandiose and solid sonata structure”, he explained. “I was fortunate to perform the transcription of the work for cello and strings in a live broadcast with the Romanian Chamber Broadcasting Orchestra in Bucharest last summer and I am looking forward to performing it again with Rebeca on tour in 2017.”
"John Ireland's Cello Sonata is one of his darkest works, inspired by the supernatural world of Arthur Machen's writings”, said pianist Rebeca Omordia. “It's full of mystery and poses technical and musical challenges for the pianist. I've played it many times, with cellists Julian and Jiaxin Lloyd Webber and Raphael Wallfisch, and now with the celebrated Romanian cellist, Razvan Suma, with whom I have performed it in Romania.”
Rebeca’s recent acclaimed performances of John Ireland’s Piano Sonata, ‘Legend’ for Piano and Orchestra and several of the composer’s outstanding miniatures have dazzled audiences and critics alike and in her tour with Razvan Suma, the duo will be performing the following British and Romanian works:
Ian Venables - Elegy Op.2
Frank Bridge - Scherzetto
John Ireland - Cello Sonata in G minor
Robert Matthew-Walker - Fast Music for cello and piano Op.158 (2016) World Premiere
George Enescu - Sonata in F minor: Allegro
Delius - Romance
2017 UK concert dates:
8th March 1.10pm - Hertford College, Oxford University
9th March 7.00pm - Enescu Series, Romanian Cultural Institute, London (currently waiting list for tickets)
10th March 1.00pm - Birmingham and Midland Institute
13th March 1.10pm - Blackheath Halls, London
14th March 1.05pm - Cheltenham Town Hall
17th March 1.10pm - St James's, Piccadilly, London
20th March 1.00pm - St Martin-in-the-Fields, London
Sponsored by the Romanian Cultural Institute and the John Ireland Trust, the UK tour is to be followed by performances in Romania and a live broadcast from the Radio Hall in Bucharest on 17th May.
Răzvan Suma is resident cellist and director of the Romanian National Broadcasting Orchestras.
Rebeca’s debut recording features Vaughan Williams’s ‘Introduction and Fugue’ with pianist Mark Bebbington and has recently been released on the SOMM label.
Full details: www.rebecaomordia.com
Tour reviews of the John Ireland Cello Sonata:
"...Suma and Omordia were superbly controlled and their performance enthralling"
Michael Round, The British Music Society Journal
"After a taut and impulsive take on the initial Moderato, the slow movement exuded an anxiety that motivated the expected fatalism, then a finale whose tensile progress resulted in a peroration of unusual eloquence and resolve. Certainly, Ireland’s music only stands to benefit from such a forthright approach."
Richard Whitehouse, Arcana
"There was never any doubt about the players' empathy in phrasing as one, as well as their ability to attune themselves to the slightly haunted atmosphere of the Sussex Downscape which inspired Ireland."
Christopher Morley, The Birmingham Post
March 2017 sees the 100th anniversary of a work which propelled its British composer into the limelight; the Violin Sonata No. 2 in A minor by John Ireland. Violinists Susanne Stanzeleit, Louisa Stonehill, Midori Komachi, Sophie Rosa, and Horia Vacarescu will be amongst the soloists taking up the work to commemorate the centenary.
On 6th March 1917 a remarkable concert took place at London’s Aeolian Hall. An expectant music world had heard that the composer, John Ireland, had written a powerful violin sonata which was to be performed by the celebrated English violinist Albert Sammons and the Australian pianist William Murdoch, both on leave from the Grenadier Guards. Sammons had been famously photographed in uniform playing his violin on top of a tank in London’s Trafalgar Square.
“A memorable work by Mr. John Ireland”
A reviewer, catching the mood of the time, reported that “…the recital was made memorable by the introduction of one of the finest works by which British chamber music has been enriched even in these prolific days.” The performers, playing in uniform, impressed the audience to such an extent that it made Ireland an overnight success - a rare event in the annals of chamber music.
As Ireland wrote, “For me it was an electrifying occasion. Little of my music had been publicly heard, and I felt that my fate as a composer was to be decided at that particular moment in time, as proved to be the case....it was probably the first and only occasion when a British composer was lifted from relative obscurity in a single night by a work cast in a chamber music form.”
Several of the centenary concerts are being supported by the John Ireland Charitable Trust; the organisation formed in 1968 to promote awareness of Ireland's works through recordings, performances and publications.
Bruce Phillips, Director of the Trust, explained: “When we think of the great flowering of British music that blossomed towards the end of the nineteenth century, Ireland tends to be overlooked in that star-studded galaxy! Whereas most of the composers of his generation excelled in the larger forms of music, Ireland’s main contribution lies in the smaller forms of chamber music, piano music and song. That said, he wrote a handful of outstanding works for orchestra including his well-known Piano Concerto and A London Overture.”
Performances of the work programmed from violinists and pianists during 2017 include Midori Komachi and Simon Callaghan, Sophie Rosa and Benjamin Powell, Susanne Stanzeleit and John Thwaites, Louisa Stonehill and Nicholas Burns, and Horia Vacarescu and Rebeca Omordia. Any details which are known are listed on the 'Concerts' page.
Associated film: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CPiqdI3Dz3E
Two press reviews dated 7th March 1917 (source and authorship unknown):
i. A new sonata by John Ireland was a feature of the violin and piano recital, given by Mr. Albert Sammons and Mr. William Murdoch, in the Aeolian Hall, yesterday afternoon. It is a work of extreme earnestness, not to say austerity. At times, indeed, the composer’s methods seem to suggest thoughts which lie too deep for utterance, so portentous is his solemnity, and so laboured his message, but that is the way too often in these days with our native composers, who seem unable ever to regard this world other than [as] a vale of tears. Still, there are some excellent pages in the work, especially in the slow movement, in which really impressive results are obtained by quite simple means. The sonata was very carefully and sympathetically played by Messrs Sammons and Murdoch, though the latter might, perhaps, have moderated his energies upon occasion with advantage. Beethoven’s Sonata in A Major and Brahms’s golden sonata in the same key (Op.100) completed the programme.
ii. Splendid New Sonata
Memorable Work by Mr. John Ireland
The violin recital given yesterday by Albert Sammons and William Murdoch was made memorable by the introduction of one of the finest works by which British chamber music has been enriched even in these prolific days.
The composer, John Ireland, has occupied for sometime a kind of midway position between those of his contemporaries who emancipated themselves with feverish haste from the narrow tradition and those who had neither desire nor initiative to desert the academic fold. In short, his originality grew slowly towards maturity. But that it grew surely and robustly is proved in the new sonata for violin and piano.
The opening is rugged, and all its emotions are vigorous, though expressed in lyrical form. Even the humour of the last section gathers a flavour of the heroic from the context, much as the fun of our soldiers gathers it from their hardships. There is no cue [clue?] to the composer’s intentions, but one receives a definite impression of a sane idealism that will pass through an ideal without a thought of self-pity. There is not a morbid moment in it from end to end.
The players had no easy task. To mention one feature only, a lesser player than Sammons would have been tricked into some false intonations, for John Ireland has an unusual gift of modulating far afield with a deceptive ease. But both players acquitted themselves nobly, and are to be congratulated on the service they have rendered to British music.
The programme also comprised an early Beethoven and a late Brahms sonata.
An Ealing Music and Film Festival concert
St Barnabas Church, Pitshanger Lane, London W5 1QG
Ealing Symphony Orchestra, conducted by John Gibbons
William WALTON, Spitfire Prelude and Fugue – as heard in The First of the Few
Alan RAWSTHORNE, music from Saraband for Dead Lovers
Luigi BOCCHERINI, Minuet, Quintet in E – as heard in The Ladykillers
John IRELAND, Overlanders Suite – as heard in The Overlanders (world premiere of this extended suite)
Alan RAWSTHORNE, main titles and nocturne from The Cruel Sea
Ralph VAUGHAN WILLIAMS, Sinfonia Antarctica – as heard in Scott of the Antarctic
The Ealing Studios production of The Overlanders, directed by Harry Watt, produced by Michael Balcon, and starring Chips Rafferty, was first shown on 19 September 1946 at the Odeon Theatre, Leicester Square. John Ireland’s music for the soundtrack was performed by the Philharmonia Orchestra conducted by Ernest Irving, and in May 1947 Muir Mathieson and the London Symphony Orchestra recorded a ‘selection from the main themes’ for Decca. In 1948, Ireland was asked to make a suite from the film music but decided that it would be impracticable, though he later joked about producing a Sinfonia Overlandia to match Vaughan Williams’s Sinfonia Antartica. It was not until 1971 that Boosey & Hawkes published the study score of a five-movement suite arranged by Charles Mackerras as well as Two Symphonic Studies by Geoffrey Bush, commissioned by Norah Kirby and the John Ireland Trust, which was based on sections from the rest of the manuscript. Recordings of these published arrangements were made by the London Philharmonic Orchestra under Adrian Boult (Lyrita), and the London Symphony Orchestra under Richard Hickox (Chandos).
The new edition is a transcription of the original manuscript of the complete film score, which was mostly orchestrated by Ernest Irving. The third section, Departure of Ship, which consists of eleven bars and is scored for cor anglais solo and divided cellos, is the only one in Ireland′s own hand. Alan Rawsthorne was responsible for orchestrating Catching the Brumbies and Breaking the Brumbies, and Roy Douglas assisted Irving in scoring Night Stampede. Ireland′s original short score has not been traced. In the arrangements by Mackerras and Bush, the orchestration has sometimes been altered, with the original bass clarinet, tenor tuba, and piano parts omitted or assigned to other instruments. The new edition reinstates the original instrumentation.
Owing to shortage of time, the orchestration was carried out in haste, with virtually every page of the manuscript containing inconsistencies of notation, especially in the matter of dynamics, articulation, accidentals, and beaming. In such cases, the most appropriate options have been applied consistently among the relevant instruments. Wrong notes, missing accidentals, and misspellings of Italian words have been silently corrected.
The original rehearsal letters used in the manuscript are chaotic, and new ones have been assigned, together with bar numbers. Tempo markings are sometimes absent, and appropriate tempi have been inserted editorially, some taken from Mackerras’s and Bush’s arrangements. As is customary with film scores, metronome markings appear frequently throughout, enabling the conductor, while watching the film on a big screen behind the orchestra, to tailor the speed to the action. Although these have proved useful guides, they are the result of practical necessity and need not be taken literally when the music is heard on its own.
It usually happens with film scores that cuts and repeats are ruthlessly applied by the musical director to fit the action on the screen, and passages intended for one sequence end up being used for another. The Overlanders has comparatively few such transpositions, though it has its fair share of repeated and truncated passages, often with memoranda scribbled on the page: e.g. ‘Extra bar here see last page’. Most of the repeats derive from the manuscript, but a few extra ones have been added.
Many passages in the new edition have never been performed since the film’s soundtrack was recorded in 1946, and a few pages that were omitted altogether (such as Finding Sailor) have never been played before.
Graham Parlett © 2016
The British Music Society collaborated with Nigel Foster’s London Song Festival in presenting the Competition (BASC), adjudicated by Sir Thomas Allen. Here is the BMS's report of the competition:
To watch Sir Thomas Allen give a masterclass is to watch a performance in itself - in turn witty, serious and humorous. As well as being a great singer, he is a great actor able to immerse himself in the world of the poet and bring to life the characters and imaginary scenes with conviction and amazing insight. The audience was swept along by his passion for British Art Song and one singer aptly summed up the occasion by saying “this is such an honour” as she walked toward the raised platform for her turn in the masterclass/competition.
The fourteen finalists had been narrowed down from sixty-seven applicants (a far greater number than last year). Most were British but Vivien Conacher hailed from Australia and Julien van Mellaerts from New Zealand, and both Clare Tunney (3rd place winner) and Liam McNally made a special point of informing the audience they were from the north of England.
Sir Thomas Allen encouraged the singers to enjoy themselves. Attention was drawn to the importance of having ‘brightness’in the sound, the ability to ‘spin’ a line and think horizontally to the very end of a melody and beyond, rather than being obsessed with each note in a more vertical approach. Sir Thomas’s approach was flexible and never dogmatic, and he would lighten the serious nature of the art of singing with a sudden quip beautifully delivered: “if you don’t breathe, you die—it’s a well-known fact”. Beth Margaret Taylor from Glasgow was told to let go and relish the celestial harps in ‘King David’: “It’s Hollywood. Don’t tell Herbert Howells I said that!” This song was one of Sir Thomas Allen’s favourites as was Frank Bridge’s ‘Come to me in my dreams’, the latter being regarded by him as a gift to singers: “this is what singing has got to be about.”
At the end of the masterclass, Thomas Isherwood accompanied by Patrick Milne was awarded the £500 First Prize donated by the John Ireland Trustwho will also be sending Thomas a five volume publication of Ireland songs. He has completed his Masters at the GSMD where he now plans to attend Opera School. Thomas sang Finzi’s ‘Fear no more the heat o’ the sun’ and it was clear Sir Thomas was pleased with his performance of Ireland’s ‘When I grow old’ when he expressed his satisfaction with the unusual phrase: “We’ve got to the pub, we might have a couple of pints now.”
Nigel Foster’s 2017 London Song Festival will invite Thomas to perform as part of his award.
Other prize winners included Felix Kemp with pianist Somi Kim singing Ireland’s ‘Great Things’ and Mary Plumstead’s ‘Ha’nacker Mill’ in second place.
In third place was Clare Tunney and her performance of Ireland’s ‘If there were dreams to sell’ and Bridge’s ‘O that it were so’ with her accompanist Matthew Ryan. Both the second and third place recipients received the Stephen and Diana Trowell Prizes. Sir Thomas wished it were possible to award a fourth place to encourage the talents of Heather Caddick accompanied by Nigel Foster who, with only three weeks before giving birth, gave an admirable performance of Ireland’s ‘The Salley Gardens’ and Walton’s ‘Daphne’.
A rich vein of British Art Song was exhibited in the masterclass. The event was first-class, from the administration and organising of the event by the London Song Festival Artistic Director, Nigel Foster, the finalists and their pianists, Sir Thomas Allen (of course), the prizes (which included a BMS Composer Profile book and a song CD for every singer) to the beautiful ballroom kindly donated by Sir Vernon and Lady Ellis complete with tea, coffee and cake in the interval.
'Choral Music by John Ireland and E J Moeran' (8.573584) is the second recording for Naxos by The Carice Singers, under the direction of George Parris.
“John Ireland’s part-songs are exquisite contributions to their genre”, explained The Carice Singers’ Director, George Parris, “while his pupil, Jack Moeran, resurrected Elizabethan models in search of new inspiration and meaning. Like Peter Warlock, the featured composer on our first disc for Naxos, these composers are an indispensable part of the great English lineage, and their music deserves to be more widely known today.”
Launched in 2011, The Carice Singers is an ensemble comprised of some of the UK’s finest young professional singers, noted for their “freshness of tone” and “careful musicality” (Gramophone). Named after the daughter of Sir Edward Elgar, the choir aims to bring an imaginative approach to choral music of the Romantic period and beyond, frequently drawing upon the latest academic research to produce original and insightful programmes. The choir maintains a tradition of performing in rural areas, as well as making appearances at more familiar venues.
Further information including sound-files:
see more on the New Releases page.
Activities of the Trust include:
A unique five-day Festival entitled 'John Ireland in Chelsea' marked the 50th Anniversary of Ireland's death in 2012 and featured Ireland's own music alongside the work of his teacher Stanford, and his distinguished pupils: Benjamin Britten, E.J.Moeran, Alan Bush, Richard Arnell, Geoffrey Bush and Helen Perkin. Festival artists included: Mark Bebbington, John Lenehan, Julian Lloyd Webber, Rupert Marshall-Luck, Timothy West, Roderick Williams, the London Soloists Ensemble, East London Brass, the Berkeley Ensemble, David Wordsworth and the Addison Singers, and the Choirs of St Luke’s and Holy Trinity, Chelsea.
Funding of annual performance competitions at nine major music colleges in the UK. These competitions have recently been extended to two universities in the USA. The most recent took place at the Birmingham Conservatoire in July 2013.
Supporting selected recordings not only of Ireland's music but also that of other British composers.
Support is given, where possible, to recitals and festivals featuring Ireland's work, and programme notes can be provided.
The Trust has commissioned arrangements and editions of Ireland's music by Geoffrey Bush and the late Christopher Palmer.
A catalogue of John Ireland works, compiled by Dr. Stewart Craggs, was published by OUP in 1993 (available from the Trust).
The Trust maintains a large archive of copy manuscripts, printed music, recordings and memorabilia.
All of Ireland's known manuscripts, previously held by the Trust, are available at the British Library and can be consulted there by appointment.
During his lifetime Ireland worked with many publishers and this is reflected in the distribution of his works today, see 'Works'.
Early recordings, including interviews with Ireland and the composer as performer, are available at the National Sound Archive, by appointment.
Following an approach by the Trust to English Heritage, a 'Blue Plaque' was placed at 14 Gunter Grove, Ireland's London home for many years, in recognition of the composer.
The Trust is registered as a charity. Reg. No. 255004
Trustees: Bruce Phillips, Graham Parlett, Christopher Wright, Simon Wright.