Anticipation of the evening concert built throughout the day. It wasn’t possible for all the groups to play every piece studied during the School at the concert, but they enjoyed playing or singing through them for one last time. The orchestra waltzed its way liltingly through Strauss’s Blue Danube.
Baritone Marcus Farnsworth was Wednesday’s guest professional musician. As a local born boy, he sang as a chorister in Southwell Minster. In 2009 he won first prize in the International Song Competition, and the Song Prize at the 2011 Kathleen Ferrier competion. Marcus arrived fresh from playing Ned Keene in a highly praised staging of Britten’s opera Peter Grimes at the Edinburgh Festival. Five folksongs arranged by Benjamin Britten opened his lunctime recital programme, followed by Gerald Finzi’s song cycle Earth and Air and Rain. The audience was delighted by Marcus’s skilful characterisation of the narrator of each movement. His synthesis of word and music appeared effortless in interpretation and disclosed the true art of performing the musical form, the song. Stefan Reid, who had played for the choir throughout the week, accompanied him with great sensitivity and style.
After a short break, Marcus led the singers in a choral workshop, helping them to develop their technique. A notable point was made about singing consonants. Consonant must be pronouced to convey the lyric, but not in a manner that chops up the phrase. He suggested thinking of consonant as little pegs on a continuous line to anchor rather than break up.
Delegates, tutors and staff made their way to the Great Hall in the University of Nottingham’s Trent Building in the late afternoon. After a short break following a final rehearsal, the audience arrived and the singers and musicians took their places. The choir sang such a variety with delicacy and exuberance, including Rutter, Bartok and three songs by our very own Guy Turner. The windband played Old Castle and, combing with the strings, one of Brahms’ Hungarian Dances. The string orchestra and Owen Cox gave a stunningly beautiful performance of Vaughan Williams’ The Lark Ascending. You could have heard a pin drop in Owen’s closing cadenza. Haydn’s The Heavens are Telling, played and sung by all the Schools’ delegates and conducted by Angela Kay, MfE’s founder and Artistic Director, made for an exhilarating end to a wonderful few days of making both music and new friends.
How fitting that the concert took place on the day Nottingham announced its bid to become European Capital of Culture 2023. Catherine Hocking, the University’s Head of Music, Lakeside Arts, said how well the Summer School fitted this brief. As does all the work of Music for Everyone, with its inclusive policy of arts for all.
We are enormously grateful to the University of Nottingham for their generous hospitality. More photographs of the Summer School can be found on Music for Everyone’s Facebook. Summer School will return in 2018!