Showing posts from 2017

Soprano takes on dual role for challenging opera by Christopher Morley

Singer shares her insights into playing the part of the druid priestess in Bellini's Norma as well as directing the new production by Midland Opera.   Never mind taking on the demanding title-role of the Druid Priestess in Bellini’s Norma, soprano Sarah Helsby-Hughes is also directing this new production of the bel canto opera for Midland Opera. How has it been, supervising rehearsals as well as observing yourself playing this major part, I ask Sarah, one of the many operatic graduates of Birmingham Conservatoire who have gone on to great success?. “Hopefully, the rehearsals operate like a well-oiled machine, and I have enough teacher-vision to know what’s going on around me,” she replies, adding that her work (which includes her artistic directorship of Heritage Opera) involves a 50 per cent division of herself between feet-on-the-ground devising and actual singing. Sarah is based in Sandbach in Cheshire, but comes down willingly on a regular basis to Birmingham in orde

Ex Cathedra and CBSO join forces for glorious night of Bach by Christopher Morley

Two of this country’s most illustrious musical organisations are combining next weekend to bring an all-Bach programme to Symphony Hall. Jeffrey Skidmore brings his crack chamber choir Ex Cathedra to perform with the CBSO – an orchestra which has become expert in ‘period’ performance – in an evening which climaxes with Bach’s brilliant Magnificat, a work which despite being so concise fires so many emotional arrows, all of them hitting the spot. Preceding this masterpiece are two of Bach’s best-known cantatas and his glorious Suite no.3 – listen out for the blazing trumpets and drums in D major, warming up for the Magnificat in the same key (October 14, 7.30pm). The concert comes a day after Jeffrey conducts the Ex Cathedra Consort in the Holy Trinity Church at Blythburgh in Suffolk, as part of the festival celebrating the memory of the composer William Alwyn. Their programme includes works by John Joubert and Alec Roth, both composers who have featured strongly in Ex Cathedra’s

Pulling some strings to get behind Conservatoire’s bar!

The opening of Birmingham Conservatoire’s brand new state-of-the-art building, is definitely a cause for celebration. Music critic goes into a bar, and the bloke who pops up on the other side is none other than a world-famous cellist, who says “let me pull you a pint”. The critic in question is me, mine genial host is Julian Lloyd Webber, principal of Birmingham Conservatoire, and the beer is Conservatoire Ale, produced by Wye Valley Brewery in Hereford, and available only in this particular bar, situated in the welcoming foyer of the Conservatoire’s brilliant new building at the heart of Birmingham city centre’s learning quarter, Eastside of Moor Street Station. There is another dedicated Wye Valley brew, a bottled “Principal’s Ale”, its label bearing Julian’s signature -- and rightly so, as he had a palate in the tasting process - and again, only available at Birmingham Conservatoire, whose opening last week these beers were created to celebrate. Birmingham City Universit