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Standing Ovation for new work

Saturday 5th November 2006 ARUNDEL CATHEDRAL


The Arun Choral Society’s enterprise in programming the UK Premiere of Jil Bartley’s ‘Requiem’ with two Elgar works - ‘Sospiri’ and his cantata ‘The Spirit of England’ was rewarded by a full house.

Elgar’s setting of the war poems of Lawrence Binyon in ‘The Spirit of England’ is one of his less popular works - there is nobilmente, but few popular tunes! . This performance fully captured the elusive note of restraint which characterises this work, Jon English (Tenor) was the effective soloist.  

The choir revelled in the luscious romanticsm of Jil Bartley’s rather saccharine ‘Requiem’. Throughout the evening the balance between choir and orchestra was good, helped perhaps by the new staging. The choir produced a good full- bodied tone throughout the concert, worked hard at their diction and, in the ‘Requiem’, there were magnificent climaxes and attack in the Dies Irae, which contrasted well with the effective soft singing in the haunting Pie Jesu. The excellent soloists, who represented the angels of the new and old orders in the passing of time, were Stephanie Varnerin (Soprano) and Emily Bauer – Jones (Contralto).

The performance ended in theatrical fashion with the two soloists bearing candles chanting as they processed down the darkened nave into the distance. The audience rose to give the performers a standing ovation. Jil Bartley should have been well pleased by this performance which, under John Henvilles’s capable direction, was both effective and affectionate. The Sinfonia of Arun gave good support. One hopes that one day this forward looking choir will be heard at the heart of a revitalised Arundel Festival.




The Clips added today are excerpts from Requiem, written just after my arrival in France 15 years ago. It was completed in 1997 and premiered at Tourrettes Sur Loup on the Cote d'Azur.

 It was first performed...myself the Village Church, where the organisers were sure that we would never be able to fit an Orchestra!! But we did, as well as a Choir (SATB )of  about 36 Singers, plus a full house!! The next day, we played it again in Nice....once more to a full Church.

 The support we all had from local people was amazing and heart warming. This particular recording was made in the Cathedral at Monaco in the year 2000.

On this occasion, I found myself conducting an Italian Orchestra and we used a larger Choir.....even so, the recording quality is far from perfect owing to diabolical accoustics plus an extraordinary impulse that took hold of me that evening ,to adopt tempi which were not really suitable for so much space.

 However, Here we have two fine Soloists. Fabienne Chanoyan again and Lilla Farkas  ( Hungarian I believe ). Lilla had a beautiful quality and feeling for the Work. Fabienne needed 'no ladders' to make the high C's that I tend to write!! She soared up there with an extraordinary vocal ease.

The Orchestra were downright uncooperative at the beginning of the rehearsal!! This is a familiar scenario to me......they simply resent women conductors. I don't allow this to upset me too much because inevitably after some time, they settle in and even begin to enjoy themselves.

 In 1997, I had the privilege to go to Krakow and hear my own work for the first time ,played at the ' Summer International Festival' . Then the following night ....starting very late, I made a recording with the Philharmonic and Cracoviensis Choir.We started at about midnight. There was no rehearsal!! We finished about 3am .

Both the orchestra and choir were wonderful and even though exhausted having given so many concerts that week, they pulled out all the stops and more!!

Half way through, the recording engineer asked me to remove my shoes as they could be heard ' creaking' on the recording. I complied of course but it was only afterwards when I stepped down from the rostrum that someone pointed to the trail of blood after each step!! I had been standing on a spiked mat and never felt a thing!! Such is the power of the mind!

 On my way out to the hotel, I noticed the soprano soloist sitting in a corner with one of the organisers swigging out of a bottle of!! not sure what. There are many wonderful sights to be seen in my work.....have a lovely evening all xx 


Just look at this wonderful plate of Carrots....real ones that come out of the ground (rather than a frozen packet,) with some garlic and parsley added..Delicious!!

 To the side of that, there's a plate of steak hache and chips plus a good glass of regional red wine and then a coffee....all for 8 euros!!!

This Cafe , called ' Cafe du Midi' is situated in the Medieval Village of Tourrettes Sur Loup, just about 7 kilometres from Vence where I live on the Cote d'Azur. Here, there are no cheques or bank pays with cash ..that's it!!

 All sorts of people come here from local workman to the local gentry. It's always pretty full. We are served by members of the family who have owned it for nearly 100 years. The menu never changes much but I come here often each week because this kind of experience is so special and has become the ' bedrock' of my inspiration for certain aspects of my work as a composer.

  With me comes Monsieur Dachshund, who is a rather disagreeable character as a result of being thrown out of a car in a box and left on the road. He does however have the tact to remain quiet in his tiny basket ( he's only 5 kilos ) when he sees me lay out my score on the table.

I don't understand exactly what happens but it's like a switch that goes on and suddenly amidst all that talking and buzz of a busy Cafe, the Flutes and Oboes are making advances, the Percussion is demanding attention and the Strings are telling me about their Love Life!!! While the Cello and Violin in this particular work, which is a  Double Concerto are saying, ' What about me Mate'???.

The Title of the Work is ' Venus Conjunct Mars' .....It's the Story of the Feminine and Masculine Energies ( or Animus and Anima) in all of us and therefore in the World. The Cello represents the Animus or masculine and the Violin ,the Anima or feminine.... A bit of a Pipe Dream perhaps in that  in this context, they are not polarised...Ha Ha!!!! But there is no harm in Dreams and Visions....and I envisage for our World, Peace, Beauty, Love and No Fear!!! Have a lovely evening All.....Jilxx