2018 Performer Profiles: Matthew Gee

Associate Artistic Director Jamie Campbell introduces some of the outstanding performers taking part in the 2018 Southwell Music Festival.

“We’re looking forward to welcoming trombonist Matthew Gee back to the Southwell Music Festival.

Matthew Gee. Photo: Micha Theiner

1) Who are you, where are you based, and what work do you do?

I’m Matthew and based in Ealing in West London. My main job is to play principal trombone with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, but I also hold positions with the Aurora Orchestra, Septura Brass Septet and teach at the Royal Academy of Music in London. I enjoy getting out from the back of the orchestra and playing solos, and quite often travel to festivals to take masterclasses and perform recitals. I have just returned from a fantastic festival in Lieksa, which is in North-East Finland, not too far from the Russian border. Plenty of sauna and lake swimming that week!

2) What music are you most looking forward to performing in Southwell this year?

Well I’ve never played the Tippet, so I’m looking forward to that on Saturday night, especially as the trombones get to sit directly in front of the Southwell Voices, who are one of the best choirs I get to work with. And the Berio. It was written over fifty years ago, and is still one of the most challenging, entertaining pieces in the repertoire…as long as you’re not scared of clowns!

3) What other things have you got coming up that are interesting in the next few months?”

I’ve just finished recording the whole of Schubert’s ‘Winterreise’ for trombone and piano. This will be coming out on the NAXOS label at some point in the next year, so I’ve plenty of follow-up work to do on that project. We’ve also got some great touring with Septura – New Zealand and Japan – so that’s very exciting. This year has been one of the busiest I can remember, and I’m expecting to become a dad in early September, so the trombone is going in its case for three weeks while I have a well earned rest, and probably no sleep!

2018 Performer Profiles: Benjamin Mellefont

Associate Artistic Director Jamie Campbell introduces some of the outstanding performers taking part in the 2018 Southwell Music Festival.

“We’re looking forward to welcoming clarinettist Benjamin Mellefont to the Southwell Music Festival.

1) Who are you, where are you based, and what work do you do?

My name is Benjamin Mellefont and I was born next to the beach in Sydney. Until recently I played in the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra; earlier this year I moved back to London to focus on freelancing. I now split my time between playing with orchestras around the UK and playing chamber music. One ensemble I love being part of is ‘Explore Ensemble’, a contemporary chamber group that I got involved with in 2012 when I was at the Royal College of Music.

2) What music are you most looking forward to performing in Southwell this year?

I’m really looking forward to playing Stravinsky’s ‘Soldier’s Tale’. I’ve never had the chance to play this piece before and I love how characterful it is; each instrument gets to inhabit so many different colours and voices throughout the piece, so in a way the sound world feels much bigger than just the seven instruments that play.

3) What other things have you got coming up that are interesting in the next few months?”

I’m looking forward to playing Beethoven Symphony no. 5 from memory with the Aurora Orchestra, because I really don’t know this famous piece that well (!) and playing from memory is a really fun way of performing. I’m also excited to be part of the UK premiere of Sciarrino’s ‘Carnaval’ with Explore Ensemble and EXAUDI at the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival: his is some of the most delicate and beautiful contemporary music that I’ve heard.

2018 Performer Profiles: Charlotte Ashton

Associate Artistic Director Jamie Campbell introduces some of the outstanding performers taking part in the 2018 Southwell Music Festival.

“We’re looking forward to welcoming flautist Charlotte Ashton back to the Southwell Music Festival.

charlotte ashton1) Who are you, where are you based, and what work do you do?

My name is Charlotte Ashton and I am the Principal Flute of the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra. As of about 18 months ago, I now live up in Glasgow (where the orchestra is based) in my flat in the West End. In addition to my position with the orchestra, I also perform as a Guest Principal with other orchestras, and try to do as much solo performance and chamber music as possible. Any free time I have, I spend doing DIY on my flat. My most recent project was building, painting and upholstering a footstool!

2) What music are you most looking forward to performing in Southwell this year?

I am so excited about coming to Southwell this year – the inspiring and encouraging atmosphere really is something unique. In particular, though, I am looking forward to playing Mozart’s Flute Quartet in D, as this is my favourite of his flute quartets, and it is always exciting to learn this with a different group of string players. The second movement of the piece is one of the first things I ever performed with orchestra when I was younger, and it is such a desperately sad, yet extremely restrained and poised, melody. I love the challenges of working in a string quartet formation, like knowing when and how to blend with the sound as opposed to when to sing out as the soloist. I’m especially excited about doing the repeat concerts, because it’s such a treat to walk off stage having enjoyed yourself but know that you get to do it all again!

3) What other things have you got coming up that are interesting in the next few months?”

When I leave Southwell, I’ll be going back to work in Glasgow, and our first concert is one of the chillier concerts of our schedule up in Scotland – Proms in the Park, which is held outside in Glasgow Green! We have a great season of concerts coming up, including a really exciting project in Glasgow Cathedral and some fantastic programmes with lots of exciting flute parts to look forward to. I’m also fortunate to be involved with a Hebrides Ensemble project at the Lammermuir Festival in September, which includes Ravel’s Introduction and Allegro, and Debussy’s Trio for Flute, Harp and Viola.

2018 Performer Profiles: Maria Spengler

Associate Artistic Director Jamie Campbell introduces some of the outstanding performers taking part in the 2018 Southwell Music Festival.

“We’re looking forward to welcoming violinist Maria Spengler to the Southwell Music Festival for the first time.

Maria Spengler. Photo: N. Babic

1) Who are you, where are you based, and what work do you do?

My name is Maria Spengler, I come from Belgrade and I’m a violinist. For the last 20 years I call London my home, where I live with my husband and my 8 year old daughter Sara. I divide my time between a teaching post at the Belgrade Academy of Music and chamber orchestras such as Aurora Orchestra, English Chamber Orchestra and BandArt Orchestra, based in Madrid.

2) What music are you most looking forward to performing in Southwell this year?

If I had to choose one piece from the entire program, my favourite would be Bartok’s Divertimento for string orchestra. I was very fortunate to get to know the string orchestra repertoire very early on in my professional life, while still a student in Belgrade, through my first engagement as a leader with a string orchestra St George Strings. Divertimento is where Mozart and Corelli meet the folk music from Balkans, through eyes of Bartok, it echos with nostalgia for me. It will also be great to revisit Mendelssohn’s master piece for string octet, real treat for every string player.

3) What other things have you got coming up that are interesting in the next few months?”

At the moment I am on a little break between concerts on a tour with Aurora Orchestra performing Beethoven’s 5th Symphony from memory. After that the next interesting project will be in Spain, with the BandArt orchestra where we will be playing a series of concerts, including Mahler’s 9th Symphony. At the end of the year I will be going back to Bach Solo Sonatas, as a follow up to my PhD in Music, that I did at the University of Arts in Belgrade.

2018 Performer Profiles: William Balkwill

Associate Artistic Director Jamie Campbell introduces some of the outstanding performers taking part in the 2018 Southwell Music Festival.

“We’re looking forward to welcoming the familiar face and voice of tenor William Balkwill back to the Southwell Music Festival.

1) Who are you, where are you based, and what work do you do?
My name is William Balkwill, I grew up in Oxfordshire, but now I live and work in London. I sing as a member of Westminster Abbey Choir, where as well as singing the daily office, I get to be part of some major state occasions and memorial services; most recently Prof. Stephen Hawking. In addition to my work at Abbey, I pursue a busy chamber music and solo career. I’m a member of the six voiced Ensemble Plus Ultra and work regularly with The Tallis Scholars and Cardinall’s Musick. My solo performances mainly involve oratorio and song, most recently, a mini tour of Schubert’s Die Schöne Müllerin. 
2) What music are you most looking forward to performing in Southwell this year?
I am so excited for the festival this year, because we shall give a chamber performance of Bach’s Mass in B Minor. This is particularly exciting because I studied Bach performance practice for my Masters at Manchester University, with a view to untangling the ‘one to a part’ debate which raged in the Musicological arena in the 1980s. I feel this music comes alive in a very special way when it is performed with solo voices and instruments. This year also marks the 100th anniversary of the end of the Great War, and the combination of the Elgar ‘Cello concerto with Tippett’s towering A Child of our Time will, I’m sure, be a wonderfully moving and fitting tribute.
3) What other things have you got coming up that are interesting in the next few months?”
Plans for the Autumn include a joint recital venture with fellow Festival Voices Soprano and dear friend, Amy Wood, focusing on two major song cycles of Robert Schumann: Frauenliebe und Leben and Dichterliebe. I shall also being travelling to Russia to give performances of Bach’s St John Passion with The Taverner Consort and Andrew Parrott, my first time visiting St Petersburg which is exciting!

2018 Performer Profiles: Russell Gilmour

Associate Artistic Director Jamie Campbell introduces some of the outstanding performers taking part in the 2018 Southwell Music Festival.

“We’re looking forward to welcoming trumpeter Russell Gilmour to the Southwell Music Festival for the first time.

1) Who are you, where are you based, and what work do you do?

My name is Russell Gilmour. I’m originally from the Isle of Man and I’m now based in the UK but tend to travel a lot for the music I play. I specialise in performing on early brass instruments – specifically the natural trumpet (otherwise known as the baroque trumpet) and I also play the Renaissance Cornetto.

2) What music are you most looking forward to performing in Southwell this year?

I will be playing first trumpet in Bach’s B Minor Mass on Wednesday 22nd August 2018 in Southwell. I’m particularly looking forward to the performance because we are using a small (but perfectly formed) orchestra and choir. I can imagine the musicians of Bach’s era huddling around a few music stands in the small galleries at the back of Bach’s churches and I think this scale of performance will be in keeping. I think this will make for an intimate performance at Southwell and it will sound great in the acoustic. From the natural trumpet section’s point of view we will be playing as considerately as possible to compliment the small orchestra, and the trumpets will be playing in the ‘clarino’ (high) register which will (we hope) demonstrate our most refined delicacy! Bach’s trumpet parts are famous for being challenging, ingenious and rewarding (and at times mystifying), and I simply love playing them and I learn more about them all the time.

3) What other things have you got coming up that are interesting in the next few months?

After playing in Southwell, I’m going to Utrecht in Holland to perform Delalande’s Te Deum with a Belgian group and immediately after that I will be joining a British group for a performance of Monteverdi’s Orfeo in Antwerp. Beyond that there’s some hand engraving to be done (I engrave garlands that eventually end up on natural trumpets) and later in the year I’m looking forward to playing Handel’s Water Music on a tour with a British period instrument orchestra in Brunei, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Philippines, Malaysia and Vietnam.

I write blog articles about the various projects and concerts I am involved with and these can be found after the event at www.russellgilmour.co.uk

2018 Performer Profiles: Zoë Brookshaw

Associate Artistic Director Jamie Campbell introduces some of the outstanding performers taking part in the 2018 Southwell Music Festival.

“We’re looking forward to welcoming soprano Zoë Brookshaw back to the Southwell Music Festival.

1) Who are you, where are you based, and what work do you do?

My name is Zoë Brookshaw and I’m based in Loughton, near Epping Forest on the outskirts of London. I’m a soprano and am completely freelance, which is great because it means that the work I do can be really varied. I sing in the choir at the Tower of London every Sunday and with lots of other professional choirs based in London like the Monteverdi Choir and The Sixteen. The other side of my career is as a consort singer and soloist. Probably some of my favourite work is with a group called Solomon’s Knot, which is a chamber ensemble performing mostly baroque oratorio. We perform big oratorios like Bach’s John Passion or Handel’s Messiah with one or two musicians to a part sharing out the solos amongst us. The really exciting bit though is that the singers perform entirely from memory and we have no conductor… so there’s really no one to save you if you forget the music!! The idea behind this is to remove all the potential barriers between performers and audience creating a more immediate experience for the audience. Small ensemble work like this is probably my favourite thing to do as it’s truly challenging and it also combines my love of singing both as a soloist and in an ensemble.

2) What music are you most looking forward to performing in Southwell this year?

I’m most looking forward to singing the Bach B Minor this year in Southwell. It’s one of my favourite choral works of all time as I think the emotional ark of the music is just incredible. There are some really joyous (and complex) movements like the ‘Pleni sunt coeli’, the ‘Gloria’ or the ‘Osanna’, and also some really anguished moments like the ‘crucifixus’. I’m always exhausted by the end but I love it! I’m also really looking forward to getting to know ‘Child of our Time’ as I’ve never performed this piece in its entirety, but the bits I have done are awesome so I’m excited to discover what the rest of it is like…!

3) What other things have you got coming up that are interesting in the next few months?

In the next few months I’m doing ‘Theodora’ in the Proms with a group called Arcangelo, a big European tour of Verdi’s ‘Requiem’ with the Monteverdi Choir and I’m also performing Bach’s ‘Magnificat’ with violinist Rachel Podger in the Brecon Baroque Festival in Wales.

2018 Performer Profiles: Karel Bredenhorst

Associate Artistic Director Jamie Campbell introduces some of the outstanding performers taking part in the 2018 Southwell Music Festival.

“We’re looking forward to welcoming cellist Karel Bredenhorst back to the Southwell Music Festival.

Nederland, Amsterdam 7 augustus 2013
Karel Bredenhorst en de vliegende cello
Foto: Merlijn Doomernik

1) Who are you, where are you based, and what work do you do?

Hi! My name is Karel, I’m Dutch and I live and work in The Hague and Berlin. As a classical cellist I work mostly in chamber music groups and chamber orchestras Holland and Europe. In addition I enjoy very much organising my yearly chamber music festival in Cervo, Italy, where I meet with many musicians also connected to the Southwell Music Festival. Like Southwell, Cervo is wonderful magical place perfect for concerts! (and not bad for a good Spaghetti allo scoglio). In Germany I play a lot with my classical tango-band Cuarteto SolTango, a group specialised in traditional Argentine tangos from the Golden Age (1935-1952). Very different stuff then the classical repertoire, but incredibly interesting and beautiful music. Next to that I like to experiment with improvisation and perform in clubs with my e-cello and loopstation!
2) What music are you most looking forward to performing in Southwell this year?
I definitely look forward to the Antonin Dvořák String Sextet! A work I didn’t play before, so it’s going to be wonderful to explore and discover. Also the Meditation by Josef Suk promises to be an experience!. But what I look forward the most is working and spending time with all the amazing musicians again, many of which have become dear friends after 5 years of Southwell Music Festival.

3) What other things have you got coming up that are interesting in the next few months?

Directly after the Southwell Music Festival I travel to Italy for assisting my former teacher Troels Svane during masterclasses. I look forward to that, since I was a student at that same course myself for many years. Soon after that I’ll finish the recording of my 3rd album with amazing pianist Simon Callaghan, followed by a small concert tour in Italy. Then when I arrive back home in The Hague I’ll be recording some solo segments for a new Dutch film, very exciting! A lot of things to look forward to.

www.karelbredenhorst.com