Our 2013 Young Musicians' Bursary winner is 17 year old Matt Roberts, who attends St Edmund's School in Canterbury. He impressed our judges with his command of the cello, but is also a talented singer. See below for Matt's blog posts throughout this year as the Festival Foundation Young Musician.
Blog Post #4 – may 2014
My first week of April was filled with sun, sand and the sea as I took a week off in Spain with my girlfriend, Dani, but alas time off is always too short and before I knew it I was back at home, attempting to begin revision for the impending doom that A level exams have in store for me!
However, I managed to fit in two services at the Cathedral standing in as an Alto (on literally an hour’s notice) but it was an absolute pleasure to sing Allegri’s 'Miserere' on Palm Sunday afternoon. Shortly after this, Kent County Youth Orchestra held its Easter residential course in Ashford with the concert on Easter Saturday. The programme was slightly different this course, and certainly more challenging than most! The first half of the concert entailed Sibelius’ 'En Saga' which he himself described as his “most profound work”. Next was a selection of movements from Grieg’s Peer Gynt Suites, difficult, as they are well known, so accuracy was key! For the second half, Vaughn Williams fourth Symphony brought us through to the end of what I like to describe as the Apocalypse. A fantastic experience as ever, and a pleasure to meet up and make music with some really good friends!
Friday 25th saw Mozart’s Requiem return alongside Tallis’ notorious Spem In Alium – the 40 part motet – and a selection of Bruckner’s motets, this time in Wye, for a charity fundraising concert. The next morning had an early start as I travelled up to London to play at Notting Hill Arts Club with Hepzibah, an alternative/folk rock band that I play ‘cello and bass guitar for. They released their debut EP that very afternoon (self-titled) and it is available on iTunes, Google Play and CDBaby for purchase.
Even with A levels looming over the horizon concerts and gigs still seem to find their way into my already jam-packed timetable, but what’s life without having that extra bit of something to give you that little push when you need it most?
Blog Post #3 - april 2014
March has been as busy as usual! Probably the highlight of this month was the Gala Concert in the Cathedral, where I performed Holst’s Invocation for solo cello and orchestra, which is not a well-known piece by any means, but it’s wandering, searching melody sets a very reflective tone, and with the fantastic acoustics of the cathedral, it was quite an ethereal experience. There were also two performances of excerpts from Handel’s Messiah, and Mozart’s Requiem. With the ECO programme strong as ever, the whole process was a joy to be part of, and as the final concert of my school career, I know it will be one to remember.
However, the big band concert in the Collyer-Fergusson building (raising money for the Pilgrims Hospices) was a fantastic success. I made my public debut as a bass guitarist and – for no apparent reason or logical circumstance – a trombonist! I joined the brass section for just one number, taking the place of a fellow pupil who sang a short vocal number.
Outside performing, I recently attended the Guildhall open day for Strings and was very impressed by its facilities and the opportunities that the college offers, and I am yet to look further into the Electronic Music course, as I’m very keen to explore Music Technology and its development throughout recent years!
The Philharmonia Orchestra (currently the resident orchestra at the Marlowe Theatre) held a concert, showcasing a Vaughn-Williams overture, Mozart’s Violin Concerto No. 3 and the infamous Pictures At An Exhibition by Mussorgsky. It was a truly stunning performance by the Philharmonia, and I think I can speak for anyone who has attended any of their concerts here in Canterbury that we are all extremely lucky to have such a prestigious ensemble giving concerts at such a high standard locally!
So, towards the Easter Holidays it is, and with a couple of gigs lined up in London with a local band Hepzibah, more Philharmonia concerts to watch, but most importantly (and by far the most daunting) A levels. Need I say any more?
Blog post #2 - Februrary 2014
So January started with the Kent County Youth Orchestra concert on New Year’s Day, playing the Saint-Saëns cello concerto, Tchaikovsky’s Romeo and Juliet, and the mighty Dvořak’s 9th Symphony. The course was fantastic, and as it was my first course as Principle of the ’cello section, I really felt I got a lot out of the experience! Shortly after the course ended it was straight back to school for me, with preparation for the Marlowe Young Musician of the Year to get on with and also creating and practising a programme for my A level recital. For the Marlowe, I played the last movement of Elgar’s Concerto in E minor, and what a night it was! There is no buzz of energy quite like that of performing as a soloist in front of a full orchestra.
At school we also had a workshop with members of the English Chamber Orchestra recently, as part of the partnership programme with the organization, and in preparation for our Gala concert on 13 March, when I will be playing Holst’s Invocation for solo ’cello and orchestra. The orchestra and choral society will also be performing Mozart’s Requiem, some pieces taken from Handel’s Messiah, and Beethoven’s Coriolan Overture.
Also coming up between now and Easter include another Philharmonia concert, an open day at the Guildhall, a concert with Caritas Chamber Choir featuring Tallis’ magnificent 40-part Spem in Alium, another Kent County Youth Orchestra course, a Big Band concert in the Collyer-Ferguson with my school and university big bands, so the next half term before exam season kicks in is certainly going to be busy. No change there then!
Blog Post #1 - January 2014
Happy New Year! What a busy few months it’s been. I’ll start from the beginning.
October 2013: The competition was held on the first Monday of my half-term holiday, but it was just the first in a calendar of multiple events. Almost immediately after the competition, a concert was given by Matthew Barley as part of his Around Britten Tour, which was accompanied by a visual presentation – an artistic interpretation of the solo suite for cello. The week after that I was off to Dunkerque with my school orchestra to play the first concert of a magnificent collaboration between St Edmund’s and the Conservatoire de Dunkerque, where we played Rutter’s Mass of the Children in a local church, along with singers from Dover and the Canterbury Girl’s Chamber Choir.
November 2013: What a month. The second half of the collaboration with Dunkerque went out with a bang at the Colyer-Fergusson Hall where, in addition to the Mass, the combination of French and British orchestral players performed Beckus The Dandipratt by Malcolm Arnold. I then attended the Philharmonia Orchestra’s concert at the Marlowe Theatre, where they performed the Sorcerer’s Apprentice Overture and Prokofiev’s Violin Concerto (no. 1 I think).
Then THE DREAM happened. It was the most exhilarating performance I have ever taken part in, where Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream was transformed into a musical set in a Victorian circus, with a raised circus ring as part of the set (what members and friends of the school would call a ‘typical Mr Sell production’ who conceived the idea of, created and directed the masterpiece). As if that wasn’t enough, with rehearsals every night until production week, the day after the first dress rehearsal I took my Grade 8 singing exam, which, I was very pleased to find out just before the end of term that, I passed with distinction!
December 2013: The highlight of this month would have to be our school’s carol service, which took place in the Cathedral – which is where most of the events of a musical nature occurred during this time. Both the Chapel and Chamber choir took part in the music making for the service, which was particularly special, as we had to then say goodbye to our Director of Music, Will Bersey, with the carol service being his final musical commitment for the school. Singing the Haydn St Nicholas Mass with the Cathedral choir for the St Nicholas’ Day Eucharist service was a lot of fun, as was playing and singing for the local Caritas Chamber in their Christmas concert (in the Colyer-Fergusson Hall) and also in the Cathedral for evensong. Then Christmas Day started early with a Matins service, then straight home to make lunch, and to enjoy the rest of the day with the family.