Reporter 442, 8 November 1999

Stiff Upper Lip? Green hills? Maybe - but not necessarily

voyages & discoveries: a festival of English music (13-21 November)

Philip Wilby, composer and senior lecturer in Music, has been celebrating his half-century with a number of concerts and commissions. The occasion also became the starting point for the Music Department's Autumn festival.

It inspired the Department to put together a series of concerts on the theme of music with a social conscience, that seeks to make a contribution to society, that is new but worth listening to. It also celebrates the eclectic nature of much recent English music, mixing a reverence for the past with the excitement of experimenting with new ideas. There is also a special place for music which, like Philip Wilby's, has its roots in the North. The result is five events which will bring together the virtuosity of top professionals - the Fodens Courtois Band, pianist Martin Roscoe and Graham Barber - with the emerging talents of the University's own students.

The awesome sound of the Fodens Band, who were recently crowned the National Brass Band Champions of Great Britain, will get the festival off to a rousing start. The connection between Philip Wilby and the world famous band has led to an exciting opportunity for the University and Fodens to forge closer links, and this will be their first concert as Ensemble in Association. The programme will include Wilby's A Lowry Sketchbook, a wonderful musical evocation of three paintings by the maverick artist from Manchester.

Wilby's inspiration as a teacher is a feature of two works to be heard during the week. Robert Foster's Symphony for Brass (to be played by Fodens) and Philip Woods Four Bagatelles. The bagatelles (literally 'little sticks') were written for the internationally renowned pianist Martin Roscoe who will be on campus on Thursday 18th to perform them at a lunchtime recital. His recital will also include music by Michael Tippett, Arnold Bax and Alan Rawsthorne.

Music by young composers will be the focus of an early evening concert on Friday 19th. Student ensemble, LS Two, will perform works by up-and-coming composers Thomas Adés and Sam Hayden. Hayden is the new Fellow in Composition in the Music Department; his vibrant music draws on a range of influences from the minimalism of Dutch composer Louis Andriessen to jazz-funk fusion.

Over the closing weekend (20th-21st) there is the chance to experience the music of Percy Whitlock, who has a reputation for being the neglected composer par excellence, after suffering years of neglect from which his music is now happily emerging. His style is lyrical, a mixture of English charm and continental warmth. On Saturday Professor Graham Barber will give a talk on his project to record the complete organ works of Whitlock before leading a group of young organists in a workshop, and the Department's Orchestra will begin their concert on Sunday with the delightful Overture 'The Feast of St Benedict'. The Orchestra will be joined by Helen Thatcher, cellist with the Sorrel Quartet, for a performance of James Brown's Cello Concerto. James was a long serving member of the Department, and this work was written in memory of his father.

So we come full circle, and finish our festival with an eagerly awaited second helping of Wilby's music. His Second Symphony, titled 'Voyaging', is a monumental work for orchestra and chorus full of drama. Taking place in Parkinson Court under the baton of Eno Koço, it should provide a fitting end to a journey of discovery.

Details from the Department of Music:
Tel: 0113 233 2583 or

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