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Knighton and District Concert Society

Patron - Sir Robert Green-Price Bt.

President - Graham Trew MVO

Vice President - Lord Berkeley CBE

Concert Reviews 2018 - 2019 Season

Sunday 28th October 2018

Philip Dyson



60th Birthday Year Tour

For the opening concert of the 2018-19 season the Society was pleased to welcome back Phillip Dyson on a trip down memory lane, as at the beginning of his distinguished career as a concert pianist which has seen him perform at many prestigious venues at home and abroad including a recent candle-lit recital at St. Martin's in the Fields, he particularly wanted to return to Knighton.  The reason was that 27 years ago one of his first professional engagements was at Knighton Concert Society and he wished to make our recent concert part of his current national tour to celebrate his 60th birthday. 

As soon as he began to play the audience knew it was going to be a musical feast and like all good feasts there was something for everyone.  The first half consisted of an eclectic mix of well known works from classical composers Mozart, Schumann, Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninov and Chopin interspersed with Fats Waller's Alligator Crawl and Evening Primrose by Billy Mayerl a very popular but now largely forgotten composer of the 1940s and 50s.

After the interval the second course of the feast began with a medley of Scott Joplin favourites moving seamlessly on into  Debussy's tranquil "Clair de Lune". Then followed a piano version of themes from "The Nutcracker Suite" and Billy Mayerl's foot-tapping Marigold familiar to us all. As a finale everyone enjoyed a George Gershwin medley and it all came to an end with great panache.

I  found the most amazing feature of this unusual and interesting blend of a programme was that Phillip was able to memorise such a wide range of music delivering it all with such passion, skill  and enjoyment and his performance was greeted by very appreciative applause.  Phillip has indicated that he would like to return to the Society again and I know the members would echo that wish and will look forward to his return and more involvement in his music in the future.

Carwen Maggs

Dramatic SOPRANO ERIKA MÄDI JONES  with pianist  Panateros Kyriatzidis

KDCS welcomed on their first visit a gifted young soprano Erika Madi Jones and as her accompanist, highly experienced Panateros Kyriatzidis described as "a punctilious pianist".  This concert proved to be an exciting musical experience.

The first half was devoted to Lieder from different countries when our artists immediately demonstrated the equal importance of soloist and accompanist so essential for this genre.  The audience's appreciation was greatly enhanced by the thoughtful provision of translations which avoided the familiar frustration so often experienced of "Lovely music - pity  I don't know what it means".  To showcase his amazing technique Panateros stunned listeners by an electrifying solo performance of "Variations on a theme by Schumann". Madi led us to the interval with a haunting interpretation of Schubert's version of "Ave Maria".

Translation sheets were again essential for the second half when the audience enjoyed songs in both Czech and Polish in addition to French and German and some English songs when everyone could hear for themselves Madi's excellent diction, ending up with the exciting "Love went a'riding."

Another feature of the programme was the inclusion of mostly "unsung" gifted lady musicians and poets of the past including Clara Schumann and Alma Mahler in Germany and of course in Britain, Mendelssohn's sister Fanny was reputed to be as talented as her brother. Even in modern times top orchestras like the  Vienna Philharmonic featured few if any lady instrumentalists, but this is now  being addressed. In Britain too, Jane Glover for many years was a pioneer female conductor and it was only a few years ago that Marin Alsop became the first lady to conduct the Last Night of the Proms.

The audience went home buzzing after the varied and lively programme in many languages with also a dash of musical feminism to think about.  It is hoped that there will be a return visit of these talented musicians to Knighton in the not too distant future.

Carwen Maggs

Sunday 25th November 2018

Cleo Annandale  violin Mackenzie Paget  piano

Sunday 27th January 2019

This concert featured two very promising young musicians, both currently in their final year at the RNCM, who have already  made a good start on their careers with many performances at home and abroad.

The programme began with the Mozart Violin Concerto in G Major written at the age of 22 followed by J.S. Bach's haunting unaccompanied Sonata for violin No. 3 in G published in 1802.  Both these items were beautifully interpreted displaying Cleo's skills but the concluding piece of the first half was Poulenc's Sonata for Violin, known as the Monster because of its technical complexities and fiery content, was a great challenge and in a class of it own.  Right from the start the audience was gripped by this piece, hated by the composer but a great favourite of Cleo and Mackenzie. The first movement Allegro fuoco (with fire) amazed everyone by the demands made on both musicians. The second movement by contrast was a tender intermezzo and a brisk presto tragico written to commemorate the death of the Spanish poet Lorca completed this exciting piece of music, which displayed the amazing technique and skills of both violinist and pianist.  Poulenc hated this piece and toiled over it amazingly for 26 years but it is a firm favourite with our soloists and was the real high point of this finely balanced programme.   

A calmer atmosphere returned after the interval with Violin Sonata No. 3 written by Brahms at the age of 54. This composition was performed sensitively by Chloe with contrasting moods beautifully balanced. To end a well crafted programme demonstrating the talents of our young performers everyone enjoyed the beautiful Polonaise de concert No 3 written at the age of 13 by the Polish composer Henri Wieniawski, but we were told that he was accepted at the age of 9 by the Paris Conservatoire so it was hardly surprising he was regarded as an infant prodigy!

This was a well crafted programme and it was a joy to share the pleasure and the enthusiasm of our young performers. Everyone in the audience would wish them success in their future careers which hopefully we might be able to savour on another occasion.

Carwen Maggs

With kind permission of the Royal Northern College of Music

Septentrion Duo

Alice Roberts Harp


Kathryn Mason Harp

On 24th February Knighton and District Concert Society welcomed for the first time the Septentrion Duo featuring harpists Alice Roberts and Kathryn Mason, both completing their studies at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester.

Many years ago your correspondent attended a Beginners  Harp Weekend at an FE College,only to discover many participants were already competent players with their own harps, so it was an uphill struggle to make progress but the experience made her realise some of the difficulties of harp playing.  At the closing concert she was glad to return to familiar keyboard skills to accompany her fellow students on the glockenspiel !

Throughout this amazing and innovative programme the audience was impressed at the stunning effects our visitors achieved, as so often the harp plays a relatively minor part in orchestras, whereas our talented friends  broke fresh ground in harp playing giving everyone a completely new experience of what could done on a harp.  All emotions were explored with many special effects like tapped rhythms on the harp frames.

Both harpists displayed their great skills in beautiful solos with a particularly exciting interpretation by Alice of  Benjamin Britten's Harp Concerto written for the self taught Welsh harpist Osian Ellis so popular years ago. His unique style of playing makes this piece particularly difficult for classically trained harpists but Alice gave a magnificent performance.  

The rest of the concert was a roller coaster of all emotions ranging from the serenity of the Preseli Skies, through special effects of dissonance with different rhythms from many countries with special effects in the mix.

The end of each half of the programme featured the most innovative items.   Before the interval Alice Roberts, the first guest to Knighton in recent years to perform her own composition, performed her Jazz Arrangements which forms  the composition  element for her upcoming final exam.  It was exciting with punchy rhythms including a Brazilian Bossa Nova and innovative versions of traditional  Appalachian numbers.    

As a Grand Finale both harpists amazed the audience with a lively original piece "Raja" by Caroline Rizotte which included tapping on wood now familiar to all, but introduced bells and whistles which the audience loved and  this item summed up the whole new world of super harp playing by our talented duo.

An added feature was that both Kathryn and Alice happily chatted to members of the audience in the interval and their enthusiasm in this session greatly enhanced the enjoyment of this unique concert.

Thank you Kathryn and Alice for a truly memorable concert and the Concert Society wish them the great success they richly deserve in their future careers.