Anna le Hair & Arwen Newband
Multiple Dates
19 May, 12:45
St Mary's Church
Playing Piano


11 January

Judith Sheridan, voice; Margaret Richards, cello; Daniel King Smith, piano.


From Salon to Cabaret. We launch 2018 with an enjoyable and potent potpourri of music and words from the salons of the 19th century, and the cabarets of Vienna and Berlin and cafés of Paris in the last century. The ‘Ridgeway’ bring their magic touch to this nostalgic, light-hearted and tuneful repertoire of the familiar and less well known: Gounod, Fauré, Bernstein, Britten, Gershwin, Piaf and others.  Notes and sung texts are included in the hand-out. Different, but we like to be.


18 January


Karis is a very active participant in the contemporary British music scene, as pianist, experimenter, organiser and lecturer. On her last visit she played a piece by the American composer, Frederic Rzewski, best known for his huge set of variations, The People United Will Never be Defeated. This – Winnsboro Cotton Mill Blues – was such a ‘hit’ we invited Karis back to play the whole set of four pieces to which it belonged; and several years later, here she is with the North American Ballads, which succeed in being both quirkily original and memorably enjoyable.   Also some tango from Astor Piazzolla. Karis will introduce the programme using the new sound-system.


25 January

David Gaster, violin; Julian Ogilvie, cello; Anna Le Hair piano.


This trio is the brainchild of Tring-based Anna, a tireless musician without whom the musical life for miles around would be greatly diminished. We have two big pieces which speak Russia, and Romanticism: Rachmaninov’s Cello Sonata and (unsurprisingly) the work with inspired the ensemble’s formation, Arensky’s D minor Trio.


Big tunes in abundance, and a love song from Rachmaninov… wallow and enjoy.

1 February

Anna Quiroga, harp; Valentina Scheldhofen Ciardelli, double bass.


Any ageing hippies among you will immediately think with joy of Frank Zappa. Well, the Girls are Zappa fans and love Mozart too. Anna, from Spain, and Valentina, from Italy, came together at LSO rehearsals and fell in love with the sounds produced by this extraordinary combination, and invite you to share their excitement. And be assured they are top-notch on their respective instruments. Totally intriguing – how could you miss this? The kind of concert we love to present! See also 22nd March if you like the unusual.


8 February

Demelza Stafford, soprano; Urszula Bock, mezzo-soprano; Philip Hayes, tenor; Derek S. Henderson, bass; Kelvin Lim, piano accompaniment.

Aylesbury Opera returns to St Mary’s to present a recital of arias and ensembles based on the bel canto repertoire. The programme will include popular highlights from the early nineteenth century Italian school of Bellini, Donizetti and Bellini, including numbers from Norma, L’elisir d’amore and Lucia di Lamermoor.

15 February

Anna Szałucka, piano; Roma Tic, violin; Joanna Gutowska, cello.


A trio based at the RAM comprising three friends from Poland and part of the prestigious St Johns Smith Square Young Artists Scheme. The trio has played at various venues throughout Europe, and each of the musicians is pursuing a successful international career. Again we are in for a remarkable hour of music-making. The programme consists of two works by the short-lived and miraculously talented Lili Boulanger, D’un matin de printemps and the extended D’un soir triste, perhaps better known in their orchestral guises, and the great Schubert E flat Trio. The cello recital by Joanna Gutowska originally posted for this date will now take place on 10th May.


22 February


Two Italian musicians both holding postgraduate degrees at Trinity Laban are now pursuing active careers both as soloists and as a duo. Their programme includes perhaps the greatest of all works for piano-four hands, Schubert’s Fantasy in F minor, but also included are early Rachmaninov gems, the rarely played but delightful 6 Morceaux for four hands, and two of Dvořák’s evergreen Slavonic Dances. A beautifully put-together recital.


Cancelled due to bad weather 


1 March


A really exciting recital, by a young soprano (based and well-known locally) and composer, featuring a world premiere of a piano piece composed for the occasion. Melissa is a busy solo, ensemble and choral singer who has appeared in some prestigious venues. Her interest in new music and enterprise is reflected in that she’ll sing the Ariel cycle for unaccompanied soprano by Jonathan Dove. Madelaine, who studied and now teaches at Trinity Laban has responded energetically to some interesting commissions, and has earned plaudits as a solo pianist as well. The exquisite Fêtes galantes mark the centenary of Debussy’s death. A beautifully thought-through programme, so don’t miss this.


8 March


St Mary’s seems to host quite a few musicians who are particularly singled out as outstanding in their generation, and Emmanuel is certainly one of them. Come and hear for yourselves as he plays with Jenny Stern, who has also garnered much praise in Europe and her native South Africa. The ‘big’ work is Enescu’s Sonata in popular Romanian style, only a few years ago rarely heard but now hugely enjoyed, not least by our audience. It is framed by Beethoven’s  E flat Sonata op 12/3 and the virtuoso Fantasy brillante on themes from Rossini’s Otello, by the wonder violinist of the mid-19th century, Heinrich Ernst. 


15 March


A prize-winning pianist who has studied in her native Romania, the USA and is currently at the RAM in London. As a solo and chamber musician she has played extensively on both sides of the Atlantic, but particularly in Hungary: she is something of a Bartók specialist, and will be playing his terrific 1926 Sonata, along with Beethoven’s revolutionary Appassionata and several of the ‘Looks’ from Messiaen’s Vingt regards sur l’enfant Jésus, one of the peaks of twentieth century piano music.


22 March

Anna Brikciusová, František Brikcius, cellos.


A sister-and-brother duo of two very distinguished Czech cellists who, as well as playing as soloists all over the world (František has his own festival), delight in exploring, commissioning and arranging music for the hidden potential of two cellos. Their intention is to present Czech music culture abroad and bring to other people the joy of music – and to this end the duo has played throughout Europe, and in Algeria and Turkey. So we have Offenbach (who surprisingly wrote a Duo for two cellos), Gideon Klein, Irena Kosiková, Janáček. The playing will be stunning – cellists will be levitating.     


29 March

Kelvin Turner, director


Our Maundy Thursday concert, in which the Consort – originally a madrigal group in the 1950s, but now a performance choir of sixteen hand-picked musicians – will offer a hint of the intensity and passion of the music inspired by Holy Week for hundreds of years. The main work is a Mass by the great sixteenth century Spanish composer, Cristobal Morales, based on a popular song of the day, Mille Regretz. Also included are a number of motets from the 16th to 20th centuries. If you haven’t already we strongly recommend you hear this local ensemble – you might well be in for a delightful, and very moving, surprise.


5 April


A versatile prize-winning Spanish pianist and conductor, based in London. As a pianist she has toured all over Spain, in France, Germany, Italy and Norway and has played in all the prestigious London venues. Her programme, called Debussy’s Spain: Inspiration. Friendship and Collaboration, was sparked by the composer’s centenary. As Maite says, The sounds and colours of Spain constitute undoubtedly a huge source of inspiration for Debussy. Albéniz and Falla are the others adding to the dazzling musical palette. Brilliant playing with a truly authentic touch.


12 April


Both Oliver and Vasilis are very busy as recitalists and teachers, and bring along with their experience a programme which cannot fail to give pleasure: Schubert’s A minor Sonata (or Sonatina), Vaughan Williams’ rapturously beautiful A Lark Ascending, a wave to Vasilis’ native Greece in Yiannis Konstantinidis’ Suite on Dodecanese Themes and the last of Brahms’ great sonatas, the D minor.


19 April


Scottish-born, now London-based, Kevin is an enterprising presence in the contemporary British guitar world. He is including in our recital All in Twilight, a piece written in 1987 for Julian Bream by the greatest Japanese composer of the last century, Toru Takemitsu; this short three movement work is an evocation through pure sound. The other items are more aligned with tradition, the Spaniard Mompou’s vignettes of the pilgrimage city of Santiago de Compostela in his Suite Compostelana, written for Segovia in 1962, and a selection of Preludes and Études from the seemingly bottomless treasure chest of the Brazilian Villa-Lobos.   

26 April


A Japanese pianist already with an enviable international reputation. He has been particularly acclaimed for his Rachmaninov, and a complete recorded survey of his piano music is underway on a Japanese label. He has chosen, though, to play two Beethoven sonatas, the Pathétique and the Appassionata, which are framing two of Chopin’s extraordinary Scherzos, no 2 in B flat and no 3 in C sharp minor. A high octane programme of great music, with spectacular playing – quite an hour!

3 May


A musical partnership of many years standing, noted for exploratory and original programming. This recital is no exception. Alice writes: The music of women composers contains a wealth of talent and a panoply of beautiful compositions. Neglected, even suppressed in their time, their present day discovery presents us with wonderful musical delights and insights. And to prove her point she and Simon will perform songs by Fanny Mendelssohn, Alma Mahler, Amy Beach, Rebecca Clarke and Madeleine Dring. Piano solos will vary the texture.


10 May

Anna Szalucka, piano; Roma Tic, violin; Joanna Gutowska, cello. 


There are two reasons why this concert should be in any chamber music lover’s diary. Firstly, these exceptional young women are really going places, and their recent performance at St Mary’s of the Schubert E flat Trio stunned the most knowledgeable amongst us; they are currently participating in the prestigious St John’s Smith Square Young Artists Scheme. Secondly, the centrepiece of the programme is the Frank Bridge Piano Trio, composed in 1929. One of the finest British chamber works, but daunting to perform, it’s a fair bet these Polish musicians will show us how it should be done. The Bridge is framed by two contemporary works, the Finnish composer Kaija Saariaho’s Light and Matter (she is a remarkable magician of sound), and Australian Paul Stanhope’s  Pulses, a test piece for the upcoming Melbourne International Chamber Music Competition, in which the ‘Bukolikas’ are participants.


17 May


Giulia is currently studying at the RCM, and as soloist and chamber musician she has played extensively in her native Italy, the UK, Hungary and China. As a musician, she is resourceful and adventurous: another musician to make sure you hear! Her concert is ambitious and wide-ranging. It begins with Bach’s great Chromatic Fantasia and Fugue, which is an opener to Schubert’s A minor Sonata D784, in which the grimness of the first movement evaporates in an invigorating finale. Three of Ravel’s exquisite Miroirs come next, and the concert concludes with the virtuoso patchwork of Rachmaninov’s Variations on a theme of Corelli. Allow 70 minutes for this.


24 May

Matthew Scott, clarinet; Gareth Humphreys, bassoon; Timothy Ellis, french horn; Rosemary Hinton, violin; Emily Pond, viola; Michael Newman, cello; Giuseppe Ciraso, double bass.


The brainchild of the brilliant clarinettist, Matthew Scott, this is an exciting, flexible ensemble of London-based musicians rapidly establishing itself on the British musical scene. This is the first of two visits to Aylesbury for concerts which simply could not have happened without our audience’s enthusiasm and generosity – the second is on 22nd November, featuring Schubert’s Octet. Here we have two wonderfully vibrant and entertaining works: the Septets of Beethoven (a work he grew to hate because it was so popular!) and the Swede Franz Berwald, who was inspired by the Beethoven when it was played in Stockholm. With repeats (which might not all be played) this could run to 75 minutes. Total enjoyment, and not to be missed!


31 May


The April appearance of this international prizewinning Greek pianist with violinist Oliver Nelson stands as one of our most popular concerts, and it will be a treat to hear him as a soloist in such an appealing programme. Vasilis begins with Chopin’s Four Mazurkas op 24, the fourth of which, in B flat minor, is one of his finest; and then Brahms and Beethoven flexing their muscles in the Four Ballades op 10 and the Piano Sonata in A op 2/2 respectively.


7 June

Jennifer Carter, piano; Hannah Simons, violin; Molly Parsons-Gurr, cello.


The members of this newish trio have energetically honed their graduate and post-graduate skills in master-classes from leading instrumentalists, and all have careers as soloists as well as chamber musicians. Jennifer has the distinction of being a Fellow of the Royal College of Music for her prowess as an accompanist, which puts her in a strong place for Beethoven’s early G major Trio opus 1/2, with its virtuoso piano part. You will also hear Schubert’s hauntingly beautiful Notturno,  and Jennifer and Molly will play the tuneful Eight pieces for violin and cello by the Russian Reinhold Glière.  


13 June


It is doubtful if you will hear a finer flute and piano duo than this one, a fairly recent coming-together. Australian Helen has visited us before both as a student at the RAM and then as a founder member of the distinguished Marsyas Trio. Olga is from Belarus, but now firmly based in London. This is her second St Mary’s visit, and a remarkable pianist she is! She is a Scriabin expert, and some of you bought her CD, Eta Carina, the title indicating her familiarity with astrophysics. Debussy is another passion, and her second CD is out this year for his centenary. The programme consists of (no surprise) Debussy’s seductively sensual Bilitis, the bright-eyed, lyrical Prokofiev D major Sonata, Cape Cod from the Japanese master Toru Takemitsu’s Toward the Sea trilogy, commissioned by Greenpeace and originating in Melville’s Moby Dick, and Agrestide, a test piece by the French composer Eugène Bozza.


21 June

Paul Willow, Colin Callow, violins; Ruşen Günes, viola; Nigel Blomiley, tbc, cellos.


If you hear string players talking of the ‘holy of holies’, they mean Schubert’s C major String Quintet; indeed this is for many the greatest of all chamber compositions, the slow movement especially a transcendental experience. The Friern Ensemble is made up of leading retired orchestral players (here we have ex-principals from the LPO, the LSO, and the BBC Symphony and Concert Orchestras) who informally play as friends – so a lot of love and experience will go into our performance. Ruşen Günes is in fact regarded as one of the great viola players, and much honoured in his native Turkey. [Raphael Wallfisch, anything but retired, has expressed a desire to join in this performance, but cannot confirm until nearer the day; check the website.]  


28 June


Born in California, but currently based in London via New York, Berlin, Oxford and Montréal, Anyssa is a concert and chamber pianist, musicologist and a specialist in the films of Ingmar Bergman. Noted for the clarity, charm and equipoise of her playing, she is a Bach specialist, and we are promised something by him. The Italian Luigi Dallapiccola has also been mentioned, but at the time of printing nothing is confirmed. Keep an eye on our website. As you will see from her own site her musical experience is certainly vast and wide-ranging.


5 July

Emma Halnan, flute; Jordan Sian, viola; Heather Wrighton, harp.


Founded in 2012 at the Royal Academy of Music, this trio has become a national delight which we have been allowed to share several times, although it’s Jordan’s first visit as their new violist. Emma first hit the musical world as the winner of the woodwind category of BBC Young Musician 2010, and has since had a career not only in the Aurora, but as a concerto soloist and principal in the European Union Youth Orchestra and guest principal in the BBC Scottish Orchestra. Jordan is a prizewinner in many international competitions and has appeared as a chamber musician across Europe. Heather freelances as a solo, orchestral and chamber musician; she also plays Celtic, Baroque Triple and Paraguayan Harps. We have a mixed programme, including Luciano Berio’s amazing Sequenza for solo flute, and crowned with Debussy’s late, exquisite Sonata for Flute, Viola and Harp, being played for his centenary.


12 July


This will be a stunning recital, these two performers having established a firm international reputation. The main work in their programme is an old St Mary’s favourite, but not heard for some time – and this performance will be special: Franck’s warm and sensual Violin Sonata. The opener is Schubert’s delightful D major Sonata/Sonatina, and this will be followed by Smetana’s two-part From my Homeland. This replaces the originally advertised concert.    


19 July


Our season ends with two truly ‘fantastic’ themed piano recitals. An-Ting we know to be brilliant – she studied chemistry at the National Taiwan University, but has turned to the piano and drama, combining the two in her Concert Theatre. She has visited Aylesbury several times, and never fails to impress: we cannot recommend her highly enough. She has chosen the theme Fantasia for her ambitious programme, noting in her introduction both freedom of form and capriciousness as common factors for the music she has chosen. This ranges from the 17th century Orlando Gibbons to her own music, by way of two Bachs (JS and CPE), Schumann, Chopin, Tchaikovsky and Scriabin. This will last around 70 minutes. Her own illuminating  programme notes will be provided as an integral part of the occasion.


26 July


Although now based in Houston, Texas, Janice hails from British Columbia and must be counted among the most versatile Canadian pianists of her generation. She has won numerous awards, including the Gold Medal at the Wideman International Piano Competition, works for the Dallas Opera and is also a violinist; she plays throughout North America, including concerts for children and the homeless. We are delighted to welcome her as part of her UK visit. Janice’s energy will surely be exhibited in her colourful and resourceful programme, based around the theme of Carnival or Mardi Gras. Her review of the piano’s greatest classical party music (her words) begins with an intriguing baroque suite by François Couperin, and continues with music by Schumann (Carnival Jest in Vienna), Liszt, Stravinsky and another suite, Children’s Carnival, by the Brazilian Heitor Villa-Lobos. Again, allow around 70 minutes.  

6 September

Amy Tress, violin; Jenny Lewisohn, viola; Auriol Evans, cello; Gamal Khamis, piano.


This prizewinning ensemble was formed in 2013 and goes from strength to strength – hardly surprising when its members are individually so active and prominent in the UK musical scene. Amy and Jenny play in the Solem and Hieronymus String Quartets respectively, and Auriol has a base for her solo and chamber activities in the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra. As for Gamal, he has been praised by both The Times and The Telegraph, and Classical Source has declared he has the world literally at his fingertips. Our ‘regulars’ will be nodding with recognition as all four have been to St Mary’s over the past few years, and now they have arranged a generous feast for us: two of the greatest of all piano quartets, the sublime Mozart E flat and the dramatic Brahms C minor, plus the short 2012 Piano Quartet by the Welsh composer and pianist Huw Watkins. There will be a brief interval, and we advise you to allow 80 minutes.


13 September


Guitar enthusiasts know some of the best around have played at St Mary’s, and we are delighted to add John (also known beyond our shores for his dexterity on the banjo and double bass) to the roster. Promised is a pleasing selection of favourites from the standard classical repertoire as well as lesser known contemporary works by Vincent Lindsey-Clark, John’s distinguished teacher, and Nikita Koshkin. A CD is hopefully going to be ready in time.


20 September


This German-Czech pianist was a favourite visitor to St Mary’s in earlier years, and now – with an enhanced reputation across Europe and the USA (utterly magical… maybe the best I’ve heard, was the verdict of Fanfare on his Schubert) – he is returning for what we hope will not simply be a one-off, especially in view of this striking programme. It begins with one of those rare works in which Mozart seems to be offering us something intimately personal, the great A minor Rondo K511, followed by a Schubert movement from an abandoned sonata – but in the Allegro moderato in F sharp minor D571 we have a highly original and memorable anticipation of his later music. Béla is a great advocate of the piano music of the contemporary German composer Jörg Widmann, and he is going to play his 2009 Idyll und Abgrund [Abyss]: Six Schubert Reminiscences; the recital concludes with Beethoven’s powerful and rousing Eroica Variations.   


27 September


In this concert we introduce Shona, the youngest musician to appear in our series, and Maria Tarasewicz, a distinguished pianist who not only collaborates with the famous but self-evidently maintains a strong commitment to developing special new talent. Shona, who lives in Aylesbury, is a 15-year-old who has been playing the violin since she was 7, making her debut at 9 and playing her first concerto publicly at 12. She has performed not only in the UK, but also in New York (at the Carnegie’s Weill Recital Hall), Switzerland, France, Austria and Germany, and currently attends the Royal College of Music Junior Department. The recital consists of varied solo and accompanied virtuoso pieces and – after a short interval – a duo arrangement of the fiercely demanding A minor Fifth Violin Concerto by the 19th century Belgian Henri Vieuxtemps. This should not be missed, and not only for the local connection.


4 October


Yes, two harpists in one month, but so very good, and offering such different programmes and styles we hope you will happily make both concerts and discover more about an instrument which generally makes too few solo appearances, and deserves more than its casting as the orchestral angel. Award-winning Gwenllian, praised on her debut CD [on sale] for her liquid legato and magnificent playing, will present a varied selection demonstrating the harp’s incredible capabilities. Firm favourites by Elias Parish-Alvars (an English contemporary of Mendelssohn) and André Caplet will be paired with gorgeous (Gwenllian’s word) transcriptions of Liszt and Debussy, as well as our guest’s own compositions. Don’t miss this international ambassador for her fascinating instrument.


11 October


Kanae has played at St Mary’s since her RAM student days in the’90s, and remains one of our most popular performers. Visiting England from her native Japan, she is returning after a year or two’s gap – established ‘regulars’ will be delighted to see her. We have a typically enterprising programme called Preludes, with examples by Warlock, Ginastera, Rachmaninov, Gershwin and not least Debussy – part of our celebration of his centenary (see also 9th December).


18 October


Spanish-born Anna made quite a stir with her previous appearance at St Mary’s as half of the celebrated Frank-Zappa-inspired duo, Girls in the Magnesium Dress, with double bassist and composer Valentina Ciardelli. This is enough to indicate that Anna – like the musicians appearing on the 6th and 29th November – stretches boundaries. She uses her vast orchestral, chamber and solo experience to champion contemporary music, and she will confound expectations with her novel approach to the harp with various arrangements and what she calls mild electronics.


25 October


Voyage à Paris. This will be a wonderful concert: French song and instrumental music by Caplet, Saint-Saëns, Delibes, Poulenc, Ravel, Georges Hüe…with musicians who won’t put a foot wrong in music brimming with colour, wit and sensuality. Raphaela is a rising star of the opera stage and the recital room, with thorough involvement in this repertory. Helen, a founder of the famous flute/violin/piano Marsyas Trio, will doubtless deliver a superb account of Poulenc’s piquant and good-humoured Flute Sonata with her duo partner. Olga in turn is an extraordinary pianist in the French/Russian spectrum, and her performance of Ravel’s Alborada del gracioso will be keenly anticipated; jaws were visibly dropping when she last played here with Helen in June.


1 November

Arwen Newband, violin; Sarah Boxall, cello; Anna Le Hair, piano.


This trio, which had its successful debut at the 2015 Trunch Festival in Norfolk, is the brainchild of the indefatigable Tring-based pianist Anna Le Hair, without whom musical life in the whole Chiltern area would be greatly diminished.  The best-known work in our concert is Beethoven’s Ghost Trio, so-called because of its distinctly eerie slow movement. And there are two English works possibly new to you: the short Phantasie Trio by John Ireland, transporting us to the Edwardian era and the attempts to create a definably national style, and the substantial 1921 Piano Trio by Rebecca Clarke (why isn’t it in the core repertory? – because it’s by a woman?), contrasting a both powerfully and exquisitely expressed post-war introspection with earthy English folkdance.     


8 November


The welcome return of an unorthodox duo. Shirley – classically trained under no less than Raphael Wallfisch and Janos Starker – is one of the UK’s most innovative and versatile cellists. Ten years of studying and living in the Middle East gave her a taste for improvisation (after all, only the western tradition notates its music), and she has also brought the cello firmly into the domain of jazz. Moreover, her flexibility and resourcefulness extends to collaboration with many of the major world music ensembles. Peter is a brilliant jazz and flamenco guitarist and composer, working across genres, especially in the world of television, film, dance and theatre. Come along for an unpredictable encounter with two very creative minds.


15 November


Three seriously good musicians from Portugal, resident in the UK. Carla and Saul are well known to us as the Dryads Duo – a combination which has given St Mary’s audiences some splendid and greatly appreciated music-making. And now they are bringing their friend Miguel, who plays in the CBSO, to introduce us to their new piano trio. This is another lengthy, essentially two-part concert, with a short interval – so, as with 6th January, allow 80 minutes. The 1923 one-movement Trio Opus 8 by Shostakovich is sandwiched between two major works, Brahms’ B major Trio Opus 8, but in his 1889 tidying of the follies of 1854, and the Smetana Piano Trio in G minor, written in 1855 in memory of his first child, Bedřiška (Fritzi) – a work which is simply loved by all who know it. We anticipate total pleasure!


22 November

Matthew Scott, clarinet; Matthew Kittteringham, bassoon; Timothy Hill, horn; Alexandra Lomeiko, Rosemary Hinton, violins, Emily Pond, viola; Michael Newman, cello; Toby Hughes, double bass.


Clarinettist Matthew Scott formed this ‘flexi ensemble’ in 2015, incorporating the talents of some of the finest of younger musicians working in the UK. In May they visited us with huge success for the Beethoven and Berwald Septets (as one of the audience said, as good as it gets), and now we have Schubert’s great Octet, a leisurely hour-long six movement outpouring of glorious melody, countering the melancholy of much of his other late music. It seems appropriate that in this most affirmative of works the musicians’ fees are being entirely met from donations from our generously loyal audience.


29 November

Corinna Boylan, Daryl Giuliano, Polly Virr, Rachel Watson.


Scordatura, another ‘flexi ensemble’, is the creation of Oxford-based Rachel Watson, and promotes and commissions music by women composers. But it is also more than that: all four of our guests – as well as possessing watertight ‘classical’ credentials –  have involvement in radical and diverse projects aimed at breaking down musical boundaries, both local (Polly is Manchester-based) and national.  You may well have had a surprising encounter with the pop-up Street Orchestra London, which is another of Rachel’s ideas. But – four cellos? Well, they are playing the Quartet by the remarkable Polish composer, Grażyna Bacewicz, and works by two contemporary Americans, Gabriela Lena Frank and Tina Davidson, as well as Chant by the Scottish composer and double bassist Marie Dare – all fairly easy on the ear, fear not. But meeting these energised young women should be as stimulating to open minds as listening to them.

6 December


A warm welcome back to this international concert pianist, lecturer, writer and musicologist – she has recently been playing throughout the Netherlands and France, and in Ottawa and Quebec (broadcast on the CBC Radio Canada), as well as the UK. Her second CD, on the Toccata label, is in progress.  For us she will present Claude Debussy: a Centenary Celebration, and she will play and entertainingly introduce a selection of this endlessly fascinating, game-changing music, including the popular La Cathédrale engloutie and La Fille aux cheveux de lin.


13 December


Daniel Walton, trumpet; Timothy Ellis, French horn; Richard Buck, trombone. One of the UK’s leading young brass ensembles, formed in 2012 by graduates of the Royal Academy of Music. The trio has pioneered a large amount of new repertoire, collaborating with young and established composers, as well as preparing transcriptions from the classical repertory.  We shall have lots of interesting arrangements for virtuoso brass, including something seasonal. It is quite a while since we had anything like this in our series – and the ‘Buck’ stand among the best!


15 December

Savitri Grier violin; Indira Grier, cello; Francis Grier, piano.


Over the years we have seen the two daughters of the distinguished composer and organist Francis Grier, Savitri and Indira, mature into internationally regarded musicians of a high order, and playing a Christmas family reunion concert for us has become an annual event. We couldn’t be happier, as the music-making is so special. This year, Savitri will perform Beethoven’s Spring Sonata, Indira Chopin’s Cello Sonata, and all three will come together in Beethoven’s first opus, the E flat Trio, Opus 1 no 1. It really will be worth taking the trouble for this, even at such a hectic time of the year!