Buongiorno! Three weeks to go, three things to know

Dear supporters of New Paths,

“And while upon the wind your music floats …”  

We are hugely excited that in fewer than three weeks the much-anticipated New Paths spring festival will blow into Beverley.

Some of the greatest composers of all time – from Mozart to Bach – were fascinated with numbers and codes.   Schumann was obsessed with musical ciphers and symbols.  And for centuries particular significance has been attributed to the number three in music.  In this newsletter we encode the festival in threes.

Three Times a Lady!

It was a joy to see organisations across the world highlighting the massive contribution of women to music on International Women’s Day earlier this month.  Every year the festival includes music written and performed by outstanding musicians who happen to be chromosomally XX.  Among the many works by female composers on the programme this year are pieces by three extraordinary women, all of them trailblazers at a time when a career as a composer was pretty remarkable for a woman:

  1. Rebecca Clarke’s passionate Viola Sonata, performed by Lena Eckels and Libby Burgess in our Saturday coffee concert, ‘A Golden Era on Prince Consort Road’.
  2. Beautiful songs from Clairières dans le ciel by Lili Boulanger, sung by Rowan Pierce in our opening night concert, ‘Inspirations’.
  3. Piano music by Clara Schumann, performed by renowned pianist Martin Roscoe in our closing concert, ‘Clara’s World’.

All of these three concerts take place within the beautiful surroundings of St Mary’s Church with its superb acoustic.  A sight and a sound to behold.

Among the many fine artists in the line-up is Katie Bray who was recently selected to represent England in the BBC Cardiff Singer of the World 2019 competition, perhaps the most significant classical singing competition in the world.  Don’t miss the chance to hear Katie in Beverley in a few weeks.  She appears at three concerts in the festival:

  1. In the closing concert, ‘Clara’s World’, where she sings songs by Brahms and Schumann.
  2. In our Saturday night gala concert, ‘A Night at the Movies’, in the East Riding Theatre.
  3. In ‘Notes from Afar’, where she sings Robert Schumann’s last song cycle, his Mary Stuart Songs.  For the text, Schumann took Mary’s own poems.  They span 26 years in the life of this tragic figure.  She became Queen of Scotland at the age of six days (at the same time as St Mary’s was being rebuilt following the fall of the tower), widowed at eighteen, imprisoned for almost twenty years, and eventually beheaded by Elizabeth I.

Hang spring-cleaning”

Those are the immortal words of Mole in the timeless classic, The Wind in the Willows.  We are thrilled to be presenting a free matinee performance of John Rutter’s charming musical entertainment during the festival.  And it is a great pleasure to announce that three of the principals starring in this family show are:

  1. Rat – William Townend (baritone)
  2. Mole – Roderick Morris (countertenor)
  3. Toad – Robin Bailey (tenor)

William and Robin delighted the audience with their ebullient performance in our family show The Reluctant Dragon in 2017 and it is a joy to welcome them back to the festival.  We are honoured to welcome Roderick to the festival for the first time.  What a splendid cast!  We shall be announcing the wonderful singer playing the part of Badger later this week! Keep your beady eyes peeled for that news.

A highlight of the festival is sure to be our Schubert Odyssey in which we hear all three of Schubert’s great song cycles as well as his beloved Trout Quintet in the comfortable and light surroundings of Toll Gavel United Church.   This is an experience not to be missed.  The three superb singers joining Libby to take us on this epic journey in song are:

  1. Jonathan Lemalu who sings Schwanengesang on Sunday
  2. Nicholas Mulroy who sings Die schöne Mullerin on Friday
  3. Marcus Farnsworth who sings Winterreise on Thursday

Buy a Schubert Pass and come to all three of these song cycles plus the Trout Quintet for £25!

Jonathan, a New Zealand born Samoan, captivated the audience at our London launch event last month with his singing.  For a flavour of the treat we’re in for in Beverley here he is signing a famous aria by that inveterate numerologist and lover of threes in music, Mozart.

In the opening concert of the festival, Dawn Chorus, Marcus and Libby are joined by a specially formed male voice chorus of festivalgoers, artists and local amateur singers for a one-off performance of three gorgeous folksong arrangements by Ernest Moeran:

  1. The Sailor and Young Nancy
  2. The Little Milkmaid
  3. The Jolly Carter

Please contact us by email (admin@newpathsmusic.com) if you’d like to enlist to sing in the chorus!

Accept then these songs

We are delighted that the 2019 festival’s international line-up include two Italians.  Adding some va-va-voom to the festival this year are two Fazioli grand pianos.  Fazioli are to pianos what Ferrari are to cars! Handmade just outside Venice, these fine instruments will make a colourful contribution to the soundworld of the festival.  They will be installed on the stage in St Mary’s Church and in Toll Gavel United Church and will serve alongside the third piano featured in the festival, a Steinway.

In ‘Notes from Afar’ Martin Roscoe puts the Fazioli in St Mary’s through its paces when he plays one of the great solo Romantic piano works, Robert Schumann’s Fantasie.    Schumann’s masterpiece was written during a period of enforced separation from his beloved Clara Weick (later to become his wife).  In it he hides in plain sight for Clara a musical quotation of Beethoven’s An die ferne Geliebte (To the distant beloved).  The text of the passage he quotes is “Accept then these songs beloved, which I sang for you alone”.  And Schumann prefaced the score with a verse from another poem:

“Through all the notes
In earth’s many-coloured dream
There sounds one soft long-drawn note
For the one who listens in secret”

It will be a special moment in the young life of New Paths to hear this piece – it was the inspiration behind the founding of the festival.  And Beethoven’s An die ferne Geliebte was on the programme of our very first concert in 2016.  We are enormously grateful to the many people in the East Riding and from around the country who have helped the festival grow rapidly into one of the most vibrant new arts festivals in the land and to the astonishing musicians who bring so much dynamism to this special corner of England each spring.

Schumann dedicated his Fantasie to Liszt, whose glorious transcription of Schumann’s great love song, Widmung, features in our closing concert, ‘Clara’s World’, along with Liszt’s own poignant song O lieb, so lang du lieben kannst. 

I feel the need, the need for speed!

Sparks will fly in the festival in at least three moments of extremely fast music!  Brace yourselves for exhilaration in:

  1. Rowan Pierce’s performance of Poulenc’s helter-skelter of a song, Fêtes galantes, in ‘Inspirations’ – which might amuse cyclists among the audience with its famous “bicyclettes”.  It’s fitting that this performance is taking place on the route of the Tour de Yorkshire.  Pop into Café Velo, Beverley’s cycling themed café opposite St Mary’s, for some coffee and cake to prepare yourself for the ride.  Scherzo!
  2. Mendelssohn’s lightning-speed broomstick race of a song, Hexenlied, which Northern Irish soprano Aoife Miskelly sings in our closing concert, ‘Clara’s World’.  Vivace!
  3. Mendelssohn’s Piano Trio in D Minor which brings the festival to a close in a blaze of virtuosity.  We are over the moon that the trio who brought our very first festival to a triumphant close are reunited for this performance: violinist Jamie Campbell, cellist Cara Berridge and pianist Libby Burgess.  Allegro assai appassionato!

And so put on your driving goggles and make haste to Beverley in April for this whirlwind of a festival.  May your journey, whether by road or rail, go swimmingly.  Whoosh!  Zoom!!  Or, as Toad might say, Poop Poop!!!

We greatly look forward to seeing you in the East Riding in a few weeks.

With all best wishes,

Roland & Libby