The Turn Of The Screw by Britten, Conductor Richard Farnes. Credit: Johan Persson

As classical music continues to be in cyberspace rather than in concert halls, here’s a round-up of what some local musicians are up to in the coming weeks – starting this Sunday. 

OSJ Unlocked

Sunday 26th July, 6pm

The Orchestra of St John’s emerges from lockdown for this fundraising recital, which sees OSJ violinist and orchestra leader Jan Schmolck teaming up with pianist Tim Horton to play Schubert’s sublime Violin Sonatina in D major and Fauré’s vivacious Violin Sonata No.1 in A major

The concert was recorded recently at New House, the home of former Wantage MP Robert Jackson and his wife Caroline, and will premiere on the orchestra’s YouTube channel on Sunday. The screening will begin with Robert taking the audience on a tour of his house and garden, and will include an interval chat between Jan Schmolck and John Lubbock, the OSJ’s founder and artistic director, about their shared love for this 53-year-old orchestra. 

OSJ – recording concert at New House

Tickets are free, but donations will be hugely appreciated.

For full details, the link to the orchestra’s YouTube channel and news of other projects, visit www.osj.org.uk.

Oxford Bach Soloists

Back to Bach: Yu-Wei Hu and Johan Löfving

Sunday 2nd August, 3pm

OBS has sadly had to cancel its concert programme until Easter 2021, but coming up soon is this lovely Bach recital, the second in a series of concerts in which OBS musicians explore different aspects of Bach’s music. Yu-Wei Hu (flute) and Johan Löfving (theorbo) perform selected movements from Bach’s Sonata in E minor for flute and bass continuo, BWV 1034; Partita in A minor for solo flute, BWV 1013; Cello Suite No.1 in G major, BWV 1007; and Sonata in E minor for flute and bass continuous, BWV 1034.

The YouTube link will be posted on the OBS website (www.oxfordbachsoloists.com) nearer the time. Again, the concert is free but donations are welcome.

Meanwhile, check out the OBS YouTube channel for Two-Part Inventions, the first in the Back to Bach series, with Rosie Moon (violone and double bass) and Jacob Garside (gamba and cello), and catch up with the ensemble’s stunning St John Passion, aired in nine parts during April and May. 

Online@theSpaceUK Virtual Festival

August 8th-22nd

Local writer and musician Nia Williams should have been heading to Edinburgh Fringe Festival this August with her musical Melody, which premiered in Oxford in 2019, but like so many things that has now been put on hold until 2021. Instead, though, fringe venue The Space UK has launched a three-week virtual festival, Online@theSpaceUK, and this will feature four of Nia’s shows – Haunted (August 8th), Lady M and The Singing Lesson (both on August 15th) and Pamela Drysdale’s Lockdown (August 22nd).  

To find out more about Nia’s work, visit www.niawilliams.com/wordpress. For full details of the online festival, visit https://online.thespaceuk.com/programme

Jack Gibbons, Piano

Oxford pianist Jack Gibbons has had to cancel his annual summer concert series at the Holywell Music Room for the first time in 33 years. Don’t despair, though – you can catch up with Jack on his YouTube channel, where you can see him performing works by some of the composers with whom he is most famously associated, including Gershwin, Chopin, Bach and Alkan.

Jack Gibbons

Visit http://jackgibbons.com for links and the latest news.

Maki Sekiya, Piano

Another popular local pianist, Maki is a regular performer at the Oxford Proms, which would normally be taking place in August. That sadly won’t be happening this year, but you can enjoy videos of some of Maki’s previous performances on her website (www.makisekiya.com).

Maki Sekiya

Most of these were recorded at St John the Evangelist during the 2017 SJE Arts International Piano Series, and include excerpts from Mussorgski’s Pictures at an Exhibition, Schubert’s Wanderer Fantasy, Debussy’s Estampes, Beethoven’s Sonata No.21 Op.53, ‘Waldstein’ and many more. 

Garsington Opera

Finally, Garsington Opera has been coming up with all sorts of creative ideas for online performances during lockdown. One of the most recent, on 5th July, was the livestreaming of Unmute: A Musical Reunion Concert, an hour-long recital with Nardus Williams (soprano), Soraya Mafi (soprano), Sam Furness (tenor), Roderick Williams (baritone), Joshua Bloom (bass), Brindley Sherratt (bass) and members of the Philharmonia Orchestra, conducted by Douglas Boyd. Music included excerpts from Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro, Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin, Beethoven’s Fidelio and Richard Strauss’s Capriccio.

Soraya Mafi, Nardus Williams and Douglas Boyd before Garsington Opera’s Unmute concert, Wormsley – credit Julian Guidera

The concert was recorded at Wormsley, with performances in the Opera Pavilion interwoven with linking narrative by actor Sam West from the gardens. This lovely event is available on Garsington’s YouTube channel until the end of the year. 

Other unmissable treats include three of Garsington’s opera productions, which are available online for limited amounts of time: John Cox’s 2017 production of Le Nozze di Figaro until 25th September, the 2018 David Sawer commission The Skating Rink until 8th December and Britten’s The Turn of the Screw until 19th December. 

The Turn Of The Screw by Britten, Conductor Richard Farnes. Credit: Johan Persson

Visit www.garsingtonopera.org for full details and links.

NICOLA LISLE

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