Glorious Baroque Concertos with the Corelli Ensemble

Maeve Jenkinson

Maeve Jenkinson

On Sunday 8th May at St Pancras Church in Lewes, the Corelli Ensemble will be performing a wonderful concert of Baroque concertos, including Albinoni‘s hauntingly beautiful Oboe concerto. The concert begins at 4pm.

Maeve Jenkinson, Musical Director of the Corelli Ensemble, will play the gorgeous E major violin concerto by Bach, and there will be a spotlight on the viola as Stephen Giles and Simon Smith team up to perform Telemann‘s Concerto for Two Violas. Finally, all the members of the Corelli Ensemble will be soloists in Bach‘s magnificent Brandenburg concerto no. 3.

Tickets on the door are priced at £12. However, to book an advanced ticket of £10 please email or visit . Under 18’s are free! At our recent concert in Seaford we unfortunately sold out of tickets the day before the concert, so please reserve your tickets now to avoid disappointment. Advanced tickets must be booked before 12noon on the day of the concert.

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More on the Lewes Festival of Song, 2016

Soprano Mary Plazas

Soprano Mary Plazas

Lewes Festival of Song 2016 comes into bloom again from Friday 1st to Sunday 3rd July at St. Anne’s Church in Lewes.

There are five concerts and many different genres. Russian, American and English songs, Spanish Canciones and French chansons. Well -loved repertoire from England at the beginning of the twentieth century, and a contemporary American song-cycle. Acclaimed recitalists and highly talented younger artists. An à cappella choir, songs accompanied by strings, and three voice and piano duos.

Friday 1st July at 6pm – ‘Strings in the earth and air’
Three young singers on the brink of their careers from the Royal College of Music collaborate with the wonderful string players of Ensemble Reza in a programme of Holst, Vaughan Williams, Barber, Rebecca Clarke and Butterworth, including Dover Beach and On Wenlock Edge.

Alice Privett & Chad Vindin (picture by Robert Piwko)

Alice Privett & Chad Vindin
(picture by Robert Piwko)

Saturday 2nd July at noon – ‘Despite and still’
Accomplished duo and finalists at last year’s Kathleen Ferrier competition, soprano Alice Privett and pianist Chad Vindin ( a Fellow at the RCM), perform a richly coloured French and American programme of Messiaen, Ravel, Barber and John Harbison.

a voice of velvet and steel’, ‘exquisitely tender, silky phrasing

Saturday 2nd July at 7.30pm – ‘None but the lonely heart’
Latvian-born baritone Pauls Putnins ( of Jonathan Miller’s La Bohème, ENO; performances for GFO and Garsington and well-known to local audiences), is

Pauls Putnins (credit Hanya Chlala)

Pauls Putnins (credit Hanya Chlala)

accompanied by myself. We present an all-Russian programme, with songs by Tchaikovsky, Borodin and Rachmaninov, a set of C20th songs by Sviridov and a plunge into the depths with Mussorgsky’s extraordinary ballads ‘Songs and dances of death’.

‘beautifully mellifluous voice’ ‘dramatically compelling’ ‘distinctive – his voice shone’

Sunday 3rd July at 3pm – ‘à cappella flowers and birds’
Conductor John Hancorn and his chamber choir The Baroque Collective Singers  step out of the box to sing unaccompanied choral masterpieces by Britten, Poulenc, Hindemith, Elgar and Parry.

Sunday 3rd July at 6pm – ‘a green chill upon the heat’

Soprano Mary Plazas (leading roles include Butterfly at ENO and Donizetti at Buxton) is accompanied by myself. We warm ourselves by the Mediterranean with Canciones by Spanish composers Obradors and De Falla, and fly west and north with Copland’s settings of extraordinary poems by Emily Dickinson and Britten’s song – cycle On this island.

‘golden voiced’, arrestingly expressive’, ‘remarkable’ ‘ravishing solo’

More details will be on my Facebook page, in publicity around Lewes, and on the St. Anne’s website. Tickets will be available at Lewes Tourist Office.

It will be lovely to see you there!
Nancy Cooley
Artistic Director

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RECITAL: Shona Knight, soprano & Nicola Grunberg, pianist

Soprano, Shona Knight

Soprano, Shona Knight

Their programme will include Mozart’s Alleluia, Schubert’s Gretchen am Spinnrade and The Laughing Song from Strauss’ Die Fledermaus.

Sun 3, St. Michael’s Church, free, retiring collection

Shona Knight, biography:

After growing up in Sussex, Shona Knight studied for a BA(Hons.) in Music at Durham University, graduating in 2013. A choral scholar of St. John’s College in her final year she won a concerto competition to perform Britten’s Soprano Song Cycle Les Illuminations with Durham University Chamber Orchestra before touring the work in Prague.

Shona attended two summer schools in August 2015: Abingdon Summer School for Solo Singers and Ardingly International Music School where she took part in masterclasses with teachers including Robin Bowman, Richard Jackson and Kathryn Harries of the National Opera Studio.

Recent solo performances have included the soprano solos in Handel’s Messiah andL’Allegro, il Penseroso ed il Moderato, Haydn’s Paukenmesse, Mendelssohn’s Saint Pauland Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater in Durham Cathedral.

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Concert by Students of East Sussex Academy of Music, Lewes

falmerSaturday 9 April at 5:30pm there will be a concert by students of the East Sussex Academy of Music, Lewes.  It will take place at St. Laurence Church in Falmer.

Harry Plant (Trumpet) –  Alexander Artjunjan: Concerto for Trumpet

Natasza Pomorska (Soprano), Amanda Buckland (Piano)
Durante: Danza Danza fanciulla gentile;
Schubert: Lied der Mignon;
Puccini: O mio babino caro;
Faure: Au bord de l’eau;    Dring: Business Girls

Katie Warren (Clarinet) –
Brahms: Sonata for Clarinet Op.120 No.2. 1stmovement Allegro amabile;
Francois Devienne: Sonata in B flat Op.70 No.1. 2nd movement Adagio
Gerald Finzi: Fughetta from Five Bagatelles Op.23

Stephen Owen (Piano) –   Beethoven: Sonata in C minor (Pathetique) 1stmovement;    Chopin: Nocturne in C sharp minor

Eleri Jones (Soprano) –  Bach: Esurientes implevit bonis from Magnificat
Gluck: O del mio dolce ardour;
Donizetti: La lontananza;
Maconchy: Ophelia’s song;
Menotti: Lullaby from The Consul
Sondheim: The Miller’s Son from A little night music 

Accompanist – Nicholas Houghton

Admission free, retiring collection

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Mezzo-soprano, Pippa Dames-Longworth – The Earth Laughs In Flowers

Pippa Dames-Longworth

Pippa Dames-Longworth

18 March 2016
The Earth Laughs In Flowers

Music Room, Royal Pavilion, Brighton

Celebrate the start of spring with a joyful evening of words and music, with famed mezzo-soprano Pippa Dames-Longworth and Nicholas Bosworth at the piano.

Enjoy pieces by Handel, Fauré, Strauss, Rachmaninov, Joyce Grenfell and Rudyard Kipling, among others, all in the perfect setting of the Pavilion’s lavish Music Room.  During the interval, enjoy a glass of chilled wine in the dazzling State Banqueting Room.

Pippa Dames-Longworth’s career has taken her throughout Europe and beyond. She has sung for The Royal Opera House, English National Opera, Paris Opera, SkyArts, the BBC Proms and the Edinburgh International Festival.

She said: “This recital is about flowers, nature, gardens, love and the arrival of spring. As winter draws to a close I wanted to create a fun programme, which includes music by 14 composers written over three centuries, and words by some of our best-loved poets. There will be songs that people know well and other music that will be a discovery for the audience. The name of the show is taken from Ralph Waldo Emerson’s poem Hamatreya, in which it suggests nature’s supremacy over Man.”

Irresistible gripping theatre, with a vigorously projected  performance from Pippa Dames-Longworth”  The Times

Spellbinding… my annual treat” Peter Florence, Director, Hay-on-Wye Festival

Long spans of concentrated and beautiful singing by Pippa Dames-Longworth” The Independent


Join us for this wonderful event and welcome in the start of spring with a joyful evening of words and music in Brighton’s glorious Royal Pavilion.

Come along to a concert in the palace’s beautiful Music Room with the talented mezzo-soprano Pippa Dames-Longworth accompanied by Nicholas Bosworth at the piano. Be entertained by pieces by Handel, Fauré, Strauss, Rachmaninov, Flanders and Swann, Joyce Grenfell and Rudyard Kipling.  During the interval enjoy a glass of chilled wine in the dazzling State Banqueting Room.  It really doesn’t get any better than this!

Pippa’s career has taken her throughout Europe and beyond. She has sung for The Royal Opera House, The English National Opera, The Paris Opera, for SkyArts, the BBC Proms and for the Edinburgh International Festival.  The Royal Pavilion promises a night of exquisite music hosted in the South of England’s most breath-taking venue….

PERFORMANCE TIME: 8.00pm (Doors 7.30pm)

PRICE: £32.50 (£28.50 Foundation Members) – includes a glass of wine in the State Banqueting Room

Book now at as tickets are selling fast and we are anticipating a sell-out event.

To book telephone: 03000 290 902 oremail


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The Lewes Festival of Song is having its second outing!

Aice Privett & Chad Vindin (photo by Robert Piwko)

Aice Privett & Chad Vindin
(photo by Robert Piwko)

It’s swinging into summer this time, with five concerts from 1st to 3rd July, at St. Anne’s church in Lewes.

The mix of composers stretches from the famous and familiar to the unusual and contemporary. There’s a concert almost entirely with strings and voices, an à cappella choral concert, and three recitals for solo singers with piano.

First up is a collaboration between the wonderful string players of Ensemble Reza and three young singers from the Royal College of Music, in a programme of Holst, Vaughan Williams, Barber and Butterworth, including Dover Beach and On Wenlock Edge.

Finalists at last year’s Kathleen Ferrier competition, Alice Privett and Chad Vindin ( who isa fellow at RCM) perform Messiaen, Ravel, Barber and John Harbison.

Pauls Putnins (Photo by Hanya Chlala)

Pauls Putnins
(Photo by Hanya Chlala)

Accompanied by myself, Pauls Putnins ( Jonathan Miller’s La Bohème, ENO) performs anall -Russian programme, and Mary Plazas (many roles at ROH and ENO) sings Spanishsongs, Copland and Britten’s On this island.

John Hancorn and his choir the Baroque Collective step out of the box to sing Debussy, Britten, Poulenc and the English madrigalists.

More details to come on my facebook page, and watch out for publicity in town.

Nancy Cooley

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The January 2016 Classical Round-Up


Carol & Paul Kelly

January is often a quiet month for music concerts. Many of us, I suspect, are hunkering down and recovering from holiday exertions and excesses. However, for those happy to sally forth, we have a few goodies this month that will likely satisfy the need for your classical fix.

First, conductor Andrew Sherman will lead the Musicians of All Saints in two premieres: the first performance of Sussex composer Barry Mills’s Bassoon concerto, featuring soloist Ian Glen, and Julian Broughton‘s Aria, with solo violin by Mr. Sherman doing double duty. They will also perform John Ireland’s Concertino Pastorale and Handel’s Concerto Grosso in F major, op6 no 2.
Sat 16, 7:45pm, All Saints Centre, £10, 01273 473229,

Next, the young British cellist Ella Rundle will be featured by the Corelli Ensemble in a programme including Tchaikovsky’s Serenade for Strings as well as his Andante Cantabile. Ms Rundle will be soloist in Spanish composer Pablo de Sarasate’s Zigeunerweisen, or Gypsy Airs. This 1878 work is based on Roma folk themes and is one of the composer’s most popular pieces.
Sun 17, 4pm, Cross Way Church, Seaford, £10-12,

Lastly, I will take off my Viva Lewes writer’s cap and don my tenorial singing attire for a Nicholas Yonge Society recital. My pianist is the estimable Carol Kelly, who also happens to be my estimable wife, and together we will present a programme of songs by both British and American composers called “A Very Special Relationship: Song Cycling the Pond”, comprised of Britten’s Winter Words, Barber’s Hermit Songs, Copland’s folksong arrangements and a set of songs by Peter Warlock and E.J. Moeran.
Fri 22, Sussex Downs College, 7:45pm, £15,, or Lewes Travel

This article by Paul Austin Kelly was originally published in the January 2016 issue of Viva Lewes magazine.  Reprinted with permission.


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Glyndebourne Deputy Head of Development Helen McCarthy tells us “What Did It For Me.”

Helen McCarthy

Helen McCarthy

Helen has been involved in opera all her professional life – as Stage Manager with various opera companies, including large and small scale touring, before settling at Glyndebourne as Senior Stage Manager. From there she became the Tour Administrator for Glyndebourne Tour before jumping the fence to join the Development department. Helen now enjoys the challenging and inspiring role of Deputy Head of Development.

She lives in Lewes with her two teenage sons who keep her fully occupied when not raising money​


The first recording that got me really fired up? Well, it may seem an unusual choice but was one that immediately came to mind. This is, after all, about a recording rather than a live experience.

I was given the vinyl record of Sir Peter Maxwell Davies; Eight Songs for a Mad King for Christmas in my mid teens. First of all I thought it a rather odd present but I had recently shown interest in modern music at a concert in Kingston Parish Church and my parents were keen to introduce me to more so it made sense. I left it in my pile of Christmas presents for a little while and then, on a dull day, decided to take myself off and listen to it in private, thinking I would get only a short way through.

However, with the libretto in hand I was immediately hooked. This didn’t feel like opera as I knew it (I had only been to one amateur production and my father listened to opera on the radio which I thought was pretty awful!) – this felt like theatre with music or theatre made out of music along with a good story. The music wasn’t incidental, it was whole. It was the drama and completely made sense of the story. That was it…. I didn’t listen to it over and over again as one may do to some Bach or a Mozart opera because this was about the immediate experience. It was real and very moving. Not tune-humming!

 Years later my brother, Michael, worked with Sir Peter having formed Music Theatre Wales ( who perform works that have rarely or never been performed in the UK before as well as commissioning new works from outstanding composers and writers. I worked with them once as Stage Manager, on the Maxwell Davies opera The Lighthouse which was also a wonderful experience. Since my Eight songs moment I have had an keen interest for new work with more of an understanding of the music which is inextricably linked to the drama. I have been fortunate to work at Glyndebourne for some considerable time and worked on quite a few new commissions – some more successful that others and of course I try to see all of MTW’s works when possible.


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Rare opera Mignon by Ambroise Thomas performed by New Sussex Opera

Victoria Simmonds

Victoria Simmonds (Matt Smith Photography)

The name ‘Breaky Bottom’ is usually associated with our fine local wines, but in 1975 it was also the name of the opera company performing in a barn owned by vintner Peter Hall. Reborn in Lewes as New Sussex Opera, it’s still going strong, under the leadership of General Director David James. No mere administrator, he sang in the first production, and in every production since.

You won’t see the same old operas performed by NSO– they make a speciality of choosing works that are a bit off the beaten trail. David James says, “With so much good stuff crying out for a performance, why do yet another performance of one of the top 20?” This year’s offering is Mignon by French composer Ambroise Thomas. Although Thomas wrote over twenty operas, only two are at all well known––Mignon (1866) and Hamlet (1868)––and these are performed infrequently at best. During its time, however, Mignon was one of the most successful operas in France’s history, having had over one thousand performances by 1894 in Paris alone.

With Goethe as the source–like Gounod’s Faust before and Massenet’s Werther after–the opera is set in Germany and Italy. For the premiere at the Opéra Comique, it was expected to have a happy ending, but for Berlin, the Germans insisted on conforming to Goethe’s original tragic conclusion. According to New York Times music critic Donal Henahan, the plot is sentimental and improbable, a contest between two female characters representing opposite temperaments and human qualities. Philine, the unscrupulous temptress, has the most brilliant music to sing, her dazzing “Je suis Titania” capped off with its top Eb. Against Philine’s pyrotechnics, Mignon offers gentleness and pathos, and the aria “Connais-tu le pays?” is the enchanting melody that stays long in the ear of the listener. Henahan says, “The score is quite fetching, disarmingly direct in its appeal to the ear and the operagoer’s tender heart. Many composers of more prestigious works would kill to have written half a dozen of the best numbers in Mignon.

This NSO production rests in the capable hands of conductor Nicholas Jenkins and director Harry Fehr. Both of them have extensive experience across the breadth of the operatic repertoire, both in the UK and abroad. And mezzo-soprano Victoria Simmonds, the eponymous heroine, described the challenges of singing this part:

There are several different styles of singing within this role – some arias are reflective and low in the voice, and others are high and coloratura-like. Musically I think it throws up lots of gems that may surprise some people who think they know the genre. It’s also got a very special ending, which I won’t give away as I don’t want to spoil it for you!

She did let slip, however, that the opening night falls on her birthday.  Wouldn’t it be a lovely surprise if the audience sang to her on her curtain call?

*This article by Paul Austin Kelly was originally published in the November 2015 issue of Viva Lewes magazine.

A fully staged production of a classic romantic opera by Ambroise Thomas, sung in English, with professional soloists, conductor, director and designer, a full orchestra and the famous NSO chorus.

Tickets: In person at Lewes Town Hall, by calling 0333 666 3366 or visiting

£20- 32

Contact details for more information:
David James on 07787365460




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Classical Round-Up for November 2015

The Arcadia Quartet

The Arcadia Quartet            (Jambor Photography)


An antidote to our decreasing daylight hours can be found in the uplifting, mellifluous sound of flutes. Flutes and Friends concerts have been an annual event for the past 12 years organized by flautist and teacher Anne Hodgson. The group, primarily comprised of Anne’s students, supplemented by other musicians, play everything from Bach to G&S and Jack Jordan. Concerts are always in aid of a charity and this one is for St Peter and St James hospice.
Sun 8, 3pm, St Mary’s Church, Ringmer, Free

New Sussex Opera presents another operatic rarity that deserves to be heard more often––Mignon by French composer Ambroise Thomas. Premiered in Paris in 1866, this score features beautiful melodies and challenging writing for its singers, especially the title character, sung by mezzo-soprano Victoria Simmonds. Also performing leading roles are Ruth Jenkins Róbertsson, Ted Schmitz and Adrian Powter. Conducted by NSO’s music director Nicholas Jenkins, the production, sung in English, is directed by Harry Fehr. For more information about Mignon and New Sussex Opera, look for my article elsewhere in this issue.
Wed 11, 7:30pm, Lewes Town Hall, £36, £22, £20, students / children £12

Bach’s brilliant Mass in B Minor will be the showpiece of the Esterhazy Chamber Choir and the Corelli Ensemble. Sandy Chenery will conduct, with a quartet of professional soloists.
Sun 15, 7:30pm, Lewes Town Hall, £15

Hot on the heels of Halloween, Heber Opera are offering up Fairies, Phantoms and Fiends!, a mélange of operatic scenes and arias with supernatural themes. Included will be excerpts from Heinrich Marschner’s Der Vampyr, Verdi’s Macbeth, Gounod’s Faust, Puccini’s Turandot, Gilbert & Sullivan’s Ruddigore and others. Heber Opera’s musical director Michael Withers will narrate and guide you through this house of horrors.
Sun 22, 6pm, Steyning Centre, Steyning, £12

The Arcadia Quartet only formed in 2006, yet this Romanian ensemble have already won many prestigious awards, including the 2012 Wigmore Hall London International String Quartet Competition. They made their BBC Radio 3 debut with a broadcast concert from the Wigmore Hall in March of this year. They are appearing in Lewes as part of the Nicholas Yonge Society’s concert series, performing Haydn’s Quartet No. 1 in B major, Beethoven’s String Quartet No. 3 in D major and Bartók’s String Quartet No. 4, Sz. 91. The Financial Times said that the quartet ‘create a mood of edgy expressionism that, in its violent swings and chromatic stresses, is shockingly direct and dramatic, like an opera – or a nightmare.’ Chamber music fans: don’t miss this one.
Fri 27, 7:45pm, Sussex Downs College, £15

This article by Paul Austin Kelly originally printed in the November 2015 issue of Viva Lewes.

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