Saturday 3rd February 2024
St Andrew's Church
Conductor Nicholas Simpson
Narrator Richard Sails
Violin Nathan Fenwick
Sergei Prokofiev (1891-1953)
Peter and the Wolf
Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827)
Recently graduating in 2023 with distinction as a master’s student from RNCM, Nathan Fenwick now enjoys a busy life as a freelance violinist, often performing with orchestras such as the Halle, Manchester Camerata, and the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic.
Nathan joined the RNCM in 2017, studying with Steven Wilkie. Whilst there, he partook in regular chamber performances with the Hillon Piano Trio, as well as benefitting from BBC Philharmonic’s Professional Experience scheme. Numerous performances with the Lindow Ensemble initiated a passion for working with local musicians, one that still stands to this day.
No stranger to the Amaretti Chamber Orchestra, Nathan has performed as a soloist with a number of local orchestras over the years, with repertoire including Brahms double concerto for violin and cello. He looks forward to continuing to work with a broad variety of orchestral, chamber, and solo performance as he pursues his next steps into the industry.
Nathan plays on a 2015 violin from Colin Charles Adamson.
Nicholas Simpson was born in Manchester. He read law at Nottingham University, and for ten years played guitar in rock bands before studying for four years with John Tavener at Trinity College of Music in London, where he won the Chappell Prize for composition and the Ricordi Prize for conducting (twice).
In the 1990s Simpson practised as a criminal lawyer in London, but quit to be a full time musician on moving back to Manchester in 1998. His music has been played in Europe and the USA. His output includes three symphonies, a piano concerto, chamber music, an oratorio and Quarantine, an opera based on Jim Crace’s 1995 Booker-shortlisted novel of the same name. Recent projects include Fastness, the Manchester Camerata’s CD of his chamber orchestra music, and Ladder to the Stars, his second solo album as a singer/songwriter.
Nick Simpson has conducted many orchestras across the north west and is associate conductor with the Huddersfield Philharmonic. He and Brigid Hemingway are co- Founders of the Athenean Ensemble, Manchester. The Ensemble perform twice a year in the Didsbury Saturday morning coffee concerts at the Emmanuel Church.
Richard moved up North in 1980, prior to which he had played a rather young Alfred P Doolittle in My Fair Lady, Mr Toad (pre Alan Bennett’s Wind in the Willows) and Archer in The Beaux Stratagem among many others. He continued his amateur career largely at Altrincham Garrick where favourite roles include Trevor in Funny Peculiar, Charles Condomine in Blithe Spirit, Garry Essendine in Private Lives, Orsino in Twelfth Night, Hobson with the choice, Frank in Educating Rita, Hector in The History Boys, Lloyd in Noises Off and Dr Prospero in Return to the Forbidden Planet. He seems to have played a number of real life people, from Henry VIII in A Man for All Seasons via René (in reality playing Gorden Kaye) in ’Allo ’Allo, Jeffery Bernard (is Unwell), Einstein in Insignificance, and Sigmund Freud in Hysteria.
In 2002, having managed to engineer early retirement, he had three years training at the Arden School of Theatre following which his professional work included (as well as much fringe activity) Polonius in Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead at Manchester’s Library Theatre, a number of shows with Demi Paradise Productions at Lancaster Castle and the Registrar who married Liam and Maria on Coronation Street!
Recently he has teamed up with the local theatre, CHADS, where 18 months ago he experienced probably his most intense theatrical experience of all, playing CS (Jack) Lewis in Shadowlands. This was followed in the studio by the award-winning production of Copenhagen.
In the world of music he has on a couple of occasions been invited by Andrew Wilde to read the introductions to the pieces in Ravel’s Mother Goose Suite and is delighted to have this opportunity to share the wonderful tale of Peter and the Wolf. He still hopes that someone will one day ask him to perform in Walton’s Facade! That would make a wonderful birthday present; today is his Sunset Strip birthday (and you have to be almost as old as him to understand that reference!)
Sergei Prokofiev (1891-1953)
Peter and the Wolf, written in 1936
Peter and the Wolf was written in 1936 for the Moscow Theatre for Children, which Prokofiev had visited several times before agreeing to compose a work for it. He was interested to observe how intrigued the children were by the musical instruments lying about before a performance. It had been planned to hold a concert in which the instruments would be explained to them, and thus the idea came to Natalie Satz, an administrator of the Theatre, to ask Prokofiev for a work that would be a guide to the instruments. Satz and Nadezhda Sakonskaya, the poet, worked on the scenario, which formed the basis for Prokofiev's music. The first performance, on 5 May 1936, was enthusiastically received.
Only a small orchestra is used. Each character is impersonated by an instrument or a combination of them. The flute becomes the fluttering bird, the clarinet impersonates the lithe cat, the oboe the quacking duck, the grumpy grandfather is heard on the bassoon, and the rifle shots of the hunters are represented by the timpani. The menacing wolf is represented by the horns, while Peter himself is characterized by a string quartet.
The work is in the more popular style that Prokofiev often used on his return to his native Russia in 1933 and displays his gifts as a miniaturist. The tale, told by a narrator and aided by the pictorial illustrations of the various instruments, recounts how a wolf has been ravaging the countryside, devouring a duck, and how young Peter captures the wolf and drags it off to the zoo. Inevitably, since Prokofiev was composing during the Stalinist regime, various underlying political themes have been spotted in the work, but such issues are not relevant today to the innocent enjoyment of this symphonic fairy tale.
Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827)
Violin Concerto, written in 1806
Although his only Violin Concerto, Beethoven had written several short works for solo violin and orchestra prior, including the two Romances and an incomplete Violin Concerto in C. These earlier works show the influence of the French violin school, notably Kreutzer and Viotti. The D major concerto was written for Franz Clement, one of best violinists of the day, and was apparently finished so late that Clement had to sight read much of the concerto in the concert! The premiere was something of a failure, and the work fell into obscurity until a 12 year old Joseph Joachim performed it with the London Philharmonic Society under Mendelssohn’s baton in 1844. The composition is particularly notable for its use of the timpani, including in the soloist’s cadenza.
Brigid Hemingway (Leader) started playing the violin aged 14. She is also Founder and Leader of The Athenean Ensemble and former Leader of The Gorton Philharmonic Orchestra. She enjoys playing string quartets with her Athenean String Quartet with fellow Amaretti players. She taught mathematics at Cheadle Hulme School for many years and is now a private maths tutor. She is married with two grown up children and two labradors Billy and Oscar. She is passionate about acting and has performed at many of the local theatres. She is looking forward to playing the unsupportive, manipulative mother of the famous Manchester artist LS Lowry in Hyde Little Theatre’s production of Mrs Lowry & Son later this month Sept 20th-23rd (including a Saturday matinee) https://www.ticketsource.co.uk/hydelittletheatre
John Phillips began studying the violin at the age of 10 and later became a member of the National Youth Orchestra. He read Classics at Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge, where he was a founder member of the Fitzwilliam String Quartet. The quartet subsequently became String Quartet in Residence at the University of York and, whilst there, gave the UK premiere of the Thirteenth Quartet of Shostakovich in the presence of the composer. He has had a special interest in his music ever since.
He later left the quartet to pursue a career in law, supporting his legal studies by freelance playing with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, the Philharmonia Orchestra and the London Mozart Players. He left the law in 2016 to return to music and in 2020, completed the degree of Master of Music in (Violin) Performance at the Royal Northern College of Music.
Concert sponsored by Dr. Downing Music