Arts Alive Showcase

We’ve just returned from the Arts Alive Showcase at Clun in Shropshire where we were asked to perform a taster from our concert program so that the rural touring events organisers within the region could have an idea as to how we sounded should they wish to include us in their programming. I’m happy to report all went well although we’ve never set up, tuned up, put on the Venetian masks and been ready to play in such a short space of time before. One of the acts at the showcase couldn’t turn up so we were on a little earlier than expected!

I would like to thank Sian (and Mel) from Arts Alive for including us in their menu and having this opportunity to perform our music. I didn’t realise quite how many acts there are looking for openings to be included in these showcases and touring menus – so I very much appreciate being given this opportunity and I hope we didn’t disappoint.

Arts Alive Showcase
Fordante on stage at the Arts Alive Showcase in Clun

I was approached after our performance by one of the promoters to say that the performance of Gabriel’s Oboe had brought tears to their eyes. Initially I wondered whether were out of tune, but I didn’t need to fear as they commented it was the emmotion of the piece of music that had had this effect. To be fare, that’s the second time someone has come up to me about this beautiful piece by Morricone.

More photos from Chelmarsh Concert

I thought I’d post some other photos from our Chelmarsh Concert.

Here’s a picture of our cellist, Bec, who has just come on stage masked and yet deep in concentration as she usually is mid performance.

Fordante Cellist
Fordante Cellist

Another photo with just the three string players and yours truly on keyboards.

Fordante violin, viola, keyboards, cellist - oboe out of shot
Fordante violin, viola, keyboards, cellist

Debut Concert Tour finshed on a high

I guess all the good things come to an end at some point and last Saturday evening was no exception. Fordante finished the debut tour on a high, obviously sad that it’s been completed but feeling very happy once again with the great audience feedback we’ve received.

Chelmarsh Concert
Chelmarsh Concert

Back in mid 2008 when I started creating Fordante after spending several years composing the music I really had no idea of how we would be recieved. After all, it’s not like there’s a plethora of new and accessible classical music. So trying something different was always going to be a risk which was why I was glad that the UK Arts Council could recognise our potential in supporting us. Having said that, I never intended to create music that was highbrow or difficult to understand – for me melody and emmotion are king – so having something pleasurable to listen to on first or second concert hearing was important to me back when I began writing the music for Fordante. (And for such a short tour it was great to recognise faces that were indeed coming back for a second time!).

So I feel a big thank you is in order for both the players who are bringing my music to life and to our audiences for supporting and enjoying the music that we’re making. And don’t forget to stay in touch for announcements of forthcomming concerts – some of which have already been confirmed – watch this space…

Audience Feedback

I’ve just added a page called Feedback with, not suprisingly, some of the feedback we have had from our series of concerts so far.  I must say that I’ve been overwhelmed by the positive and supportive comments and I particularly appreciated the following:

“Really enjoyed the whole evening – the music was accessible – even to non-musical people like me!”

I liked this remark because it sums up precisely what I’ve been trying to achieve with the music of Fordante – to create music that is both enjoyable and accessible.

Audience feedback
Audience feedback

Albrighton, Broseley & Cleobury Concerts

Sadly, we are nearing the last concert in our premiere tour around Shropshire having just completed three consecutive Saturday evening performances at Cleobury Mortimer Parish Hall, the Victoria Hall in Broseley and the Red House in Albrighton (near Wolverhampton).

The feedback from all of the shows has been very positive and appreciative which is obviously great to hear.  We were overwhelmed with the comments of well-wishing and constructive support.  There were questionaires available to offer any suggestions to how we could improve as I’m very keen to know how we can make the concerts and our music as enjoyable as possible for everyone’s benefit.  While I’m on the subject I’ll take this opportunity to thank the audience members for taking the time and even writing complete pages of useful comments!  Many of these we have taken on board resulting in changes to the layout and programme.

Cleobury Mortimer

Bridgnorth Concert review

I thought I’d take this opportunity to reprint a section out of the write up from the glossy Shropshire Review magazine that’s just been printed:

“The music is described as crossover classical and has been specially composed by Phil for the tour.  The work has been much praised for its universal appeal, reaching out to both classical ad contemporary music lovers with equal success. ”

“The group made its debut in December playing to an appreciative audience who were entranced by the unique sound of the baroque/big screen fusion, seamlessly blended. This is genuinely new music, not pastiche or the reworking of established classics and must be regarded as a genre in its own right.  Catch it while you can.”

Film Soundtracks
Shropshire Review magazine front cover

Concert now includes well loved film music

We’ve decided to include some well known and loved film music into our concert – music that has inspired and influenced me over the years and are soundtracks that I listen to again and again.

Fordante feel that these tie in well with the programme and are a few of my personal favourites from some of the most talented living film composers, so I have been busy arranging and orchestrating the music from the following soundtracks for our ensemble:

  • ‘Schindler’s List’
  • ‘The Mission – Gabriel’s Oboe’
  • ‘Titanic medley’
  • Music from the ‘Gladiator’
Film Soundtracks
Film Soundtracks

Fordante Concert Premiere

First let me say a big thanks to everyone who came along to the concert premiere at St Leonard’s Church in Bridgnorth – it was a great opening to the tour and very well received. How do I know this? Well I asked the audience to fill in a brief questionnaire (no, it wasn’t quite the drudgery it sounds!) and rate each piece so that I’ve got an idea of what’s liked out of the music we play. Typically the concert has about 16 or so pieces of music and not all of these are going onto the album so it’s important to me to see what is most enjoyed. Our music varies from the slow melancholy adagios to some quite upbeat almost ‘pop’ style pieces so it’s great to know what our listeners prefer. I’m really happy to report that it was well appreciated – well at least according to our questionnaires!

St Leonards Church, Bridgnorth

I must say thank you to the supporters and sponsors including our headline sponsor for this five date tour FBC Manby Bowdler LLP for helping make this tour possible. The support from the local businesses of Bridgnorth and the surrounding area has been absolutely fantastic.

Finally, we raised £55 from the prize draw in aid of Macmillan Cancer Support.

New Studio Recordings Uploaded

I’ve just uploaded a couple of recordings from when I managed to get Fordante into the studio a couple of weeks back. This week I’ve spent a few days mixing these recordings down so you can take a browse to the Music page (also linked at the top of this page) and listen to Chase and Adagio 2.

The two Bec's - oboe & cello players

The photo shows the two Bec’s (oboe & cello) in the studio taking a break between the recording sessions and trying on the Venetian masks.

James Bond 007 in Birmingham

Last Friday night I had the pleasure of attending one of the best evening concerts of late featuring, in my mind atleast, an absolutely fantastic world class orchestra, the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, performing at their home venue the Symphony Hall in Birmingham, playing the music of James Bond.

From the moment we arrived we were transported into the world of 007 with the Monty Norman James Bond Theme right up until leaving the hall over two hours later. The concert took us through a whole raft of Bond themes, including some film underscore, from the early films such as ‘From Russia with Love’ and ‘Goldfinger’ to the latest release of ‘Quantum of Solace’. I think the jury is still out on quite whether some of the more recent Bond themes live up to their older counterparts but their inclusion made the experience complete, even if some of the newer arrangements didn’t perhaps quite use the orchestra to their full capacity.Although Carl Davies was unable to conduct the orchestra due to a minor operation, the concert still had his accessible approach to introducing the orchestra to wider audiences and his last minute replacement – Gareth Hudson – didn’t detract from the evening at all. His description and examples of what has helped define the unique John Barry sound, from the rasping trumpets, particular chord structures and the orchestral beds, were very interesting.

Seated towards the front I was able to experience the power and sheer joy of this mighty sound of iconic and tremendous film music and like so many, I’ve grown up listening to these themes played on the television, cinema and the hifi but these are all no match for hearing this type of music played live and by such quality musicians right in front of you.

The only thing preventing me from going to what should prove to be another amazing concert at the the Symhony Hall (the music of John Williams played by the CBSO) is another amazing concert (he says modestly), that being the second Fordante concert both taking place on the 24th January!