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  • Sir Malcolm Arnold CBE 1921-2006 News Vernon Handley
    popular choice for a unique academy name Sir Malcolm Arnold was born in Northampton and was Britain s most prodigious composer in the 20th century His versatility was extraordinary writing music for solo instruments chamber ensembles numerous concertos and music for more than 80 films including The Bridge on the River Kwai Whistle Down the Wind Hobson s Choice and Inn of the Sixth Happiness However many will remember him for a series of nine extraordinary symphonies David Ross chairman of the David Ross Foundation and sponsor of the proposed new academy said I have been delighted by the volume of responses from staff and students in relation to the academy name It is my belief that the academy name should be unique and celebrate the best of Northampton and that is precisely what Malcolm Arnold signifies I would like to thank those students and staff for submitting so many suggestions The Arnold family are honoured and delighted that the academy will be named after Malcolm Arnold We wish everyone involved in the Malcolm Arnold Academy every success in the future and we will follow their growth and development in so many ways with interest and affection said Katherine Arnold

    Original URL path: http://www.malcolmarnold.co.uk/news/Malcolm%20Arnold%20chosen%20for%20proposed%20new%20academy%20name.html (2016-02-16)
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  • Sir Malcolm Arnold CBE 1921-2006 News Burlesque for Horn and Orchestra World Premiere
    not only his intimate experience of the potentialities of an orchestra that is explicit but also the judgment of an unusually discriminating and original ear The pure sound of Arnold s music is to a degree an expression of his exceptional musical practicality practicality that is raised to a very high level of virtuosity The influence of some of the composers he most admired can be seen in the symphonies From Sibelius comes a number of musical devices such as bass pedal notes swelling brass chords ostinati and short snippets of melody that gradually expand into broad statements Mahler surely is the inspiration behind the abrupt juxtaposition of unconnected material in particular the various marches both fast and funeral whilst Malcolm claimed in an article for Music Musicians in July 1956 that the greatest musical influence on his life was Berlioz His irregular phrase lengths such as the long first idea in the Symphonie Fantastique and opaque orchestration are clearly to he heard in all the symphonies However as a Symphonist Arnold believes himself to be rooted in the Germanic tradition I don t see the symphony like Mahler who said the whole world should be in it A Symphony should be classical in form like Mozart Beethoven Brahms An analysis of the first movement of the Fourth Symphony allows us the opportunity to see how Malcolm bends the rules of sonata form to match his compositional ideals some of which he identified in the 1956 article another point which is always in my mind is that of development If one is really honest in listening to the music of all periods there are times when one s mind is inclined to wander This will happen even when listening to accepted classical masterpieces and to a greater extent when listening to contemporary works To put it crudely the mind wanders during the sections that occur in music between the recognisable themes always assuming that the theme or themes have said something to the listener Very very roughly speaking these parts of a composition are usually development sections one cannot write a piece of music by just repeating one theme unless it is a special effect one is after as in Ravel s Bolero A composer has to compose something that contrasts and will show his original thought in a new light and the play between these two or three or even more thoughts goes to make up a composition I have for some time encouraged audiences at my orchestral concerts to consider listening to the development sections in classical sonata form as an area of fun where the composer shows us innumerable different ways of casting new light on the motifs tunes heard in the exposition section through their juxtaposition with each other and daring harmonic twists and turns It s a game where our expectations are constantly dashed by the composer s inventiveness Malcolm to my mind takes this a stage further by turning the whole movement into a

    Original URL path: http://www.malcolmarnold.co.uk/news/news_John_Gibbons.html (2016-02-16)
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  • Sir Malcolm Arnold CBE 1921-2006 News Vernon Handley
    one for school and the other for college or university aged composers A small number in each category will be chosen for performance and the judges will be composers John McCabe Timothy Bowers and Fraser Trainer all great Malcolm fans Should be very exciting Next publisher Martin Kingsbury is going to talk about the Faber Years Faber Music became Malcolm s publishers in 1965 and he remained with them for over twenty years Martin was intimately involved as editor with Malcolm and all his work through some of the most creatively inventive as well as some of the most turbulent periods of Malcolm s life Symphonies Six Seven and Eight as well as all the Cornish and Irish works came under Martin s aegis This will be a fascinating talk Philip Wood returns to introduce the next recital which will include some of Malcolm s wonderful string music Central to the concert will be the Fantasy for Cello a piece that Philip spoke about with great passion at his memorable talk last year on the late works Also included will be the Piano Trio the rarely heard Hobson s Choice Trio and the Five Pieces for Violin It was written for Menuhin who must have delighted in all five and especially the Ballad whichI ve always thought to be one of Malcolm s most exquisite melodies We are delighted to welcome back the brilliant violinist Anna Harpham to lead this concert We move to the lovely St Matthew s Church again for the evening concert and a performance of Malcolm s Nativity Masque Song of Simeon This is a particular favorite of mine written in 1959 just before the 4th Symphony and the same year as the Guitar Concerto and Sweeny Todd it s a real jeu d esprit The concert will be given by the excellent Elysian Singers directed by Sam Laughton There will also be a bit of a new departure here as we will also hear a couple of short pieces by John McCabe who will be spending the whole weekend with us Sunday morning will start with a treat The rarely seen 1969 BBC programme A Portrait of Malcolm Arnold which was produced by Herbert Chappell and featured among others two of Malcolm s great friends John Amis and Julian Bream It includes some wonderful footage of Malcolm as conductor The Northamptonshire Youth Orchestra will present their now regular orchestral concert and I m particularly delighted that it will feature a rarely played but quite magnificent work The Divertimento No 2 for orchestra Written in 1950 it is Arnold at his most scintillating The final movement is a brilliantly scored chaconne a form much favored by Sir Malcolm After lunch we shall have the highly acclaimed Ipswich and Norwich Co op Band to do their stuff Arnold for band how better to digest a good Sunday lunch There s no doubt he felt very comfortable writing for this medium and the concert will include one of

    Original URL path: http://www.malcolmarnold.co.uk/news/news_TheFourthMalcolmArnoldFestival.html (2016-02-16)
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  • Sir Malcolm Arnold CBE 1921-2006 News Vernon Handley
    their own composition entries for the assembled audience and the three judges In his mid afternoon talk Working with Malcolm Arnold the Faber years Martin Kingsbury explored the period in which he played a significant role in the composer s working life as his publisher from 1965 until 1985 These were undoubtedly vintage Arnold years in which many of his most powerful works were written including the Concerto for two Violins and String Orchestra Symphonies 6 7 8 the Four Cornish Dances the ballets Rinaldo Armida and Sweeney Todd and the orchestral overture Peterloo As an experienced string player and former Editor Managing Director and Vice Chairman of Faber Music Martin s observations and memories of Malcolm Arnold during this time were insightful and fascinating Malcolm Arnold s chamber music for strings was then given centre stage in an inspiring concert given by Anna Harpham violin Katherine Denton cello and Sophie Warwick piano Their programme included the Piano Trio op 54 Five Pieces for Violin Piano Op 84 Fantasy for Cello Op 130 and the Hobson s Choice Trio The splendour of St Matthew s Church one of Northampton s long admired architectural treasures provided the venue for Saturday night s choral concert given by the Elysian Singers under their conductor Sam Laughton The programme featured works by the Festival s special guest John McCabe including the UK premiere of his anthem Amen Allelulia and a rare performance of Malcolm Arnold s nativity masque Song of Simeon 1959 Scored for soloists mixed chorus and ensemble Malcolm Arnold brings together in this piece a wide range of choral styles brilliantly and cohesively including traditional chorales and even one or two theatrically fun numbers evoking the spirit of Gilbert Sullivan It is a plum pudding of a Christmas piece which manages also to be fresh witty and entirely contemporary Special thanks are due to Sam Laughton and the Elysian Singers for their wonderful performance and of course to Paul Harris Artistic Director of the Malcolm Arnold Festival for programming this little known gem Sunday s schedule of events at the Royal Derngate began with a screening of the 1968 BBC Omnibus Programme A Portrait of Malcolm Arnold At noon the Northamptonshire County Youth Orchestra and Brass Band demonstrated once again why they must surely be regarded as one of the best youth orchestras in the country In the main auditorium of the Royal Derngate they gave truly outstanding performances of Divertimento No 2 Four Scottish Dances and the Fantasy for Brass Band and March The Padstow Lifeboat conducted by Peter Dunkley Tim Green and Bradley Turnbull respectively Later the brass theme was carried over into the main foyer of the Royal Derngate with a concert given by the Ipswich and Norwich Co op Band under their conductor Robin Norman Their highly professional and polished performances of Fanfare for a Festival Four Cornish Dances Hobson s for Brass Attleborough Suite and March from River Kwai filled the open spaces of the building to

    Original URL path: http://www.malcolmarnold.co.uk/news/news_TheFourthMalcolmArnoldFestival_PaulHarris.html (2016-02-16)
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  • Sir Malcolm Arnold CBE 1921-2006 News Vernon Handley
    Second Quartet and to open the Festival the Truro Cathedral Choir with an evening of choral classics including Psalm 150 by Sir Malcolm Festival hosts include the church of St Petroc Padstow with the kind permission of Revd Chris Malkinson and Prideaux Place with the gracious permission of Peter and Elisabeth Prideaux Brune The Festival President is Mr Rick Stein The Festival Artistic Director is Matthew Taylor composer conductor It is intended to welcome all who knew the famous English Knights of the Realm at a reunion party at Prideaux Place during the weekend Both were larger than life in many respects and it is an opportunity to share stories from past days involving people from the town and district We thank Padstow Town Council for seed funding to ensure the Festival can be properly planned and executed There are opportunities for sponsorship in the form of supporting the Festival in general through association or to provide funds for specific events ie the Reunion Party or say the Choir concert The outline programme is Truro Cathedral Choir St Petroc s Church Friday 2nd October 7 30pm John McCabe recital Prideaux Place Saturday 3rd October 11am ReunionParty Prideaux Place Saturday 3rd

    Original URL path: http://www.malcolmarnold.co.uk/news/news_Padstow.html (2016-02-16)
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  • Sir Malcolm Arnold CBE 1921-2006 News Vernon Handley
    in turn by an explosive Fire Dance and quite ravishingly lovely Pas de deux The following year brought the one act dance drama Rinaldo and Armida another considerable achievement full of first rate invention and manifesting a sure dramatic instinct The darkly comic Sweeney Todd was conceived in 1959 for the Royal Ballet s touring company and David Ellis s 1984 concert suite compiled under the composer s supervision makes deliciously entertaining listening fans of Arnold s impeccably crafted and irresistibly tuneful output for the silver screen will fee right at home Rounding off a generous programme is Electra the idiom is frequently astringent in the manner of Symphonies 6 7 but there s no gainsaying the communicative force behind the notes nor the imaginative resource of Arnold s scoring beam to the start of track 22 for a taster I need merely confirm that the BBC Philharmonic respond with commendable polish and gusto for Rumon Gamba and their efforts have been afforded typically ripe and lustrous Chandos sound A hearty endorsement whichever way you look at it Musical Opinion November December 2009 Robert Matthew Walker This valuable addition to the Arnold discography includes several works new to disc Given the nature of his inspiration it is odd that Arnold did not write more ballets so we must be grateful for these four very different works I have been especially struck by the concentrated intensely dramatic Electra music Sweeney Todd made a deep impression at its premiere 50 years ago and does so again in this most excellent performance Indeed throughout this exceptionally well recorded CD I have been consistently taken by the quality of Gamba s conducting and by the orchestral playing the musicians clearly relishing this powerful and highly individual music International Record Review November 2009 Peter Marchbank

    Original URL path: http://www.malcolmarnold.co.uk/news/Ballet%20Music.html (2016-02-16)
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  • Sir Malcolm Arnold CBE 1921-2006 News Vernon Handley
    during the festival On a rainy morning on Padstow quay the Mount Charles Band played the famous Padstow Lifeboat March The immediate effect was to bring smiles to the faces of the bedraggled crowd This ability to bring a little joy into the lives of everyone is precious It also pertains to Sir John with his numerous humorous poems This side to his character was explored by Cornish born former opera star Benjamin Luxon in his recitation of Betjeman s poetry from the early works to the later attempts at communicating his love for Cornwall our heritage and simple human relationships The festival also demonstrated the darker aspects to the life enhancing artistic credos of Arnold and Betjeman Benjamin Luxon chose a few of the altogether more sinister poems by Betjeman that dwell on human frailty Likewise the Salieri String Quartet performed the String Quartet No 2 by Arnold one of his towering masterworks quite different from the warm expressions we hear in the popular side of this composer s work Another strength of this festival of poetry and music was that many of the lesser known works were here given the opportunity to be heard and experienced in idyllic

    Original URL path: http://www.malcolmarnold.co.uk/news/news_Padstow2009.html (2016-02-16)
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  • Sir Malcolm Arnold CBE 1921-2006 News Vernon Handley
    tribute Indeed I am sure that that is in part an explanation but again I cannot help thinking that Arnold goes deeper than that alone The solo is well written for the violin the chords lie comfortably as do the skirling flourishes It is the obsessively repeating glissandi marked slow gliss sempre simile that is the centre of the mystery On one level you can see them as an encapsulation of moving from dissonance the tritone of the B flat E natural clash to another unison on E although never an absolute unison as it combines an open string with the stopped equivalent the string below But it is the repetition of this idea that is the most baffling Seven times you play the same figure before repeating a further eight on a lower string The sole direction is a gradual diminuendo across the repetitions In a situation like that I feel that the performer has to trust the composer and play literally what is on the page hopefully the audience and time will decide whether or not the musical gesture works After a pause it is always tempting to dive in but usually best not to the 1st violin still alone starts the afore mentioned Irish jig This is exactly the kind of passage that gets Arnold s detractors most gleefully sharpening their knives of derision Arnold has this knack of writing an original melody that you are sure you have known all your life And following the admonition all you can do with a folksong is repeat it and play it louder that is exactly what his does If it wasn t in a string quartet you know he would have scored it for a piccolo since it fulfils the same function as the Irish pipe melody in the 8th Symphony This is resolutely in G major but after 16 bars of stoic silence the other instruments crash in another tritone away in C sharp minor the key in turn about as remote from the tonal centre of D that frames the whole work There is something so bloody minded about this opposition three against one and the intervallic difference that its presence strikes me as being more than purely musical it must be symbolic Throughout the rest of this movement alliances and pairings are formed and severed much as they were in the 1st movement but the over riding imbalance of 3 to 1 is the predominate combination From rehearsal letter M to the end the lower three instruments insistence on C sharp minor increases effectively 21 bars of hammering away at that key against which the 1st violin plays a stark G major based melody in octaves But right at the end when the other three instruments have given up the leader hurls down a defiant 3 chords of G major It is almost theatrical in the sense it is clearly saying no matter what you do I am still here doing what I want to do The slow movement that follows is the emotional heart of the quartet It paints as bleak a landscape as any in British 20th Century music and is the equal of the great quartets of Shostakovich and Bartok It is also I think the hardest to bring off in performance The problem here lies with what Arnold has not written Extended passages of this movement have almost no directions for the performer at all A dynamic can seem to relate to 16 bars with not a single other indication of any kind The temptation is therefore to apply good performance practice to these passages and to view the absence of any instructions at best as a mistake and at worse as some kind of indication of failing powers In both instances I think this is potentially fatal As so often with many composers I believe that we as performers should trust the composer Perhaps just perhaps if nothing is indicated we should add nothing This is not always an easy thing to do because we are all trained to be musical adding dynamics and phrasing in the best possible taste But instead it can be very exciting to risk doing nothing This was our approach to the quartet as a whole and this movement in particular The bi tonality of the 3rd movement s opening evokes for me an uneasy alliance between 2 groups here the viola and cello who on some level have agreed to co operate but at the same time each tries to assert their ascendancy over the other Both melodically and harmonically the parts seem to imply conflict in alliance they play together grudgingly This deliberate mis matching makes it very hard to bring off in performance at some point you worry that your audience will assume you are just playing out of tune When after 13 bars a moment of consonance is achieved a glimpse of the D major which will end the work even there instability is implied with the viola playing lower than the cello and the root of the chord D missing During the passage that follows as the other players join there is another of those fascinating dilemmas whether to trust the composer or not Arnold writes many long slurs over adjoining notes and often several bars As a player it is often tempting to split these phrase markings That way one can maintain a richer sonority and tonal warmth But what if part of the effect Arnold is after is the very stretching and thinning of the tone precisely because one is obeying the phrase marks I characterise these as the musical theatre of failure almost as if part of the unwritten drama of the piece is the players struggle to sustain the tone beyond a reasonable point It brings up an interesting debating point The expectation these days is for technical perfection whether on CD or in the concert hall I would argue that many pieces do not wholly

    Original URL path: http://www.malcolmarnold.co.uk/news/NickBarnard.html (2016-02-16)
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