cello and piano of THE SVETA AND SLAVA DUO and news of forthcoming events in live classical and jazz music

Rochdale Music Society Concert 02.04.2022 


A Review by Graham Marshall

Graham Marshall (shown left, conducting) and his colleagues in The Rochdale Music Society do splendid work in bringing classical music to their Borough, often featuring players from The Royal Northern College of Music, in nearby Manchester, as well as other established soloists and ensembles. These events in whatever venue, not all of which are bespoke concert halls, are always well presented by the Society in a friendly manner and well supported by the volunteers, like Graham who spread previews, interviews, news and reviews even beyond the strong membership of the Rochdale Music Society.

We are always delighted that Graham allows us to feature his facebook reviews here because, even as an acclaimed musician and composer himself, he writes as he speaks; softly and humbly but so sure of his content that we always listen and learn from it. His love of the music inform us all. This month he writes that

´Russian Cellist, Svetlana Mochalova, and Ukrainian Pianist, Slava Sidorenko met when studying at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester. Now husband and wife they form the Sveta and Slava Duo (right) committed to engaging with their audience in imaginative ways.  When they are not performing live in the concert hall, they allow audiences to use the Music à la carte internet app they have developed and vote for the pieces they will perform.

Those of us who were present at the Rochdale Music Society concert in St. Michael and All Angels church, Alkrington, on 2 April, may well seek out their internet presence having found their live performances of music by British, French, Russian and German composers both technically brilliant and artistically thrilling.

An evening filled with strange delights, it began with the set of Variations Concertantes by Mendelssohn. The simple song-like theme is explored in a series of eight variations. These gave both performers opportunities to display their technical skill in the mounting artistic inventiveness of the composer’s lively mind. A very satisfying hors d’oeuvre before things got more meaty!

Scheduled before the first lockdown in 2020, it soon seemed as though the programme had been put together recently and with very topical things in mind. It was partly concerned with music expressing feelings of regret, from the sadness of nostalgia in an arrangement of one of Rachmaninoff’s early songs through the ecstatic grief  elaborated in Kenneth Leighton’s Elegy to the strident heartache of Frank Bridge’s Sonata written during the 1914-18 war. Not to mention Debussy’s Sonata, also written during that was and including sounds cogently depicting the composer’s state of mind at that time – the frustration, sarcasm and despair of man suffering from what was a terminal cancer. Both cellist and pianist sustained unerring, detailed attention to the very considerable technical demands made upon them by these scores, and could not be faulted in the way they showed their understanding of the music’s intended impact. 

Such music, in spite of its intensity of superficially negative feelings, can fill us with the delight of being able to recognise and share in such deep, human emotion expressed in musically compelling ways. As always with great art, the subject matter is secondary to its artistic representation and performance.  The audience reaction on this occasion showed just how strongly the Duo engaged their listeners in sharing what the music had to say about the state of the world today, never mind a hundred years ago. Such is the human condition which the Rochdale Music Society can only try to give suitable musical expression to: and such is great art and great performances, which the Rochdale Music Society is committed to provide for the people of the Borough. 

For its next concert, on 14 May at 7.30pm, the Society returns to the Heywood Civic Centre.  The Victoria String Quartet will be playing music by Haydn, Puccini, Britten and Mendelssohn. Tickets can be obtained in advance from the Booking Office Tel. 0300 303 8633 (with a Booking Fee) of 5% or at the door on the night from 7.00pm.

The Victoria String Quartet (left) began life in 2017 in a swimming pool, with a gala concert in aid of the historic Victoria Baths in Manchester’s Hathersage Road.  Since then we have moved on from pools to perform all over the country for music societies and festivals as far afield as North Norfolk and West Wales. 

Bringing a wealth of chamber music experience, we are a quartet of friends and colleagues of long standing who share a passion for chamber music-making at a high level and communicating this to our audience.

Rochdale Music Society is always extremely grateful for donations which will help make it possible to maintain the consistently high standards for which it is known. As a registered charity, it can recover tax on donations of any amount – with no minimum – from both individuals and corporate donors who are UK tax-payers and who sign a simple Gift Aid Declaration.

The Society gratefully acknowledges the financial support in the form of sponsorship, patronage and grants from the following:               

Link4Life (Rochdale Boroughwide Cultural Trust),  Holroyds Precision Tools, Milnrow,   Making Music (The National Federation of Music Societies),        Concert Promoters Network, and Patrons of Rochdale Music Society.´

It is great read of that strong network of synergies and partnerships. I remember the initial controversies and public concern at the establishment of the Link4Life funding service might (or might not satd the doubters) benefit the Borough, but in the final ten years of my working life as a writer and facilitator in Rochdale I saw the formation of many organisations still going strong and benefitting form the support and advice of Link4Life. When I was associated during that time with Link4Life revenue funded organisations like Can´t Dance Can and Skylight Circus Arts I saw Link4Life become the go to consdultant on all sorts of arts and funding related matters and become a trusted public face of the local council in an MBC that has much to offer art lovers.

Its Dance organisations and Circus Arts, are part of a busy scene that includes live classical and jazz music, poetry performances and creative writing groups, excellent visual arts groups, and challenging solo artists like John Cook. There are award winning buildings like that at Number One Riverside that houses the central library and the wonderful Touchstones Arts And Heritage Centre, so strong in its partnership with the local education system. The town is the birthplace of the Co-Operative Movement and a statue of Gracie Fields smiles at us form its place on the Butts´.

Rochdale is also the home of radio jazz-presenter Steve Bewick, although next week he and his wife Marlene will be spending a fortnight here on Lanzarote. I suppose you could call it a holidauy but i suspect it might turn into a research of the scores of jazz players making a healthy living here on the island.

So, if you find are going to be in the North West of England on that weekend, why take a note of the details shown this poster so you can book some tickets ? You could travel far and fare worse, that´s for certain. This Victoria String Quartet is well regarded and the play-lists (to use a pop title) at these Rochdale Music Society events are always exciting.

On air sign background

You could also tune in to Mr Bewick and his sidekick, Gary heywood Everett for the current presentation of the Hot Biscuits radio show. This weeks broadcast has extracts from FAQ., a live session at Creative Space with Helena Jane Summerfield, Dave Kissack, Carole Williams, John Sandham, and Tim Franks. Also included is a couple of Beatle tunes. One from Brandon Allen and a second from guitarist James Kilby Chadwick and fellow pianist Julian Martin. To find out more about James and his current project visit J4 . If this sounds interesting then tell your friends and drop in 24/07 at www.mixcloud.com/stevebewick

Meanwhile Jazz In Reading, who are also friends of Sidetracks And Detours even if based somewhat further South in England than are Rochdale Music Society, are looking over the horizon into next month for some special events and have sent us news of three great events in the series Jazz at Oaken Grove Vineyard at Benhams Lane, Fawley, Henley-on-Thames RG9 6JG.

Sunday 24 April  Alan Barnes Quartet

Gates open at midday and guests are welcome to enjoy drinks on the wine terrace before the jazz starts at around 3pm. Tables for 2 – 6 people are available. Wines from the vineyard itself and as other guest wines and local beers will be available to order. Also available to pre-order are sharing platters containing local cheeses and charcuterie accompanied by breads, pickles, nuts and gherkins for two persons.

Alan Barnes(right) is a consummate raconteur as well as one of the UK’s leading jazz saxophonists. Best known for his work on clarinet, alto and baritone sax, where he combines a formidable virtuosity with a musical expression and collaborative spirit that have few peers. He’s received over 25 British Jazz Awards and has twice been made BBC Jazz Musician of the Year. Expect an afternoon of laughter and brilliant renderings of familiar jazz tunes. Alan will be accompanied by  Graham Harvey piano, Matt Home on drums
with Andy Crowdy playing bass.

The same venue will host a celebration of the music of Oscar Peterson

Sunday 29 May
In Celebration of Oscar Peterson
Craig Milverton piano (left)
Art Themen tenor sax
Andy Crowdy bass
Mid-day onwards
Tables for 2-6 people, £40 to £120 per table
Grazing platters £12.50 per person
Information and tickets

Oscar Peterson is widely regarded as one of the greatest jazz pianists of all time. He was renowned for his remarkable speed and dexterity, meticulous and ornate technique, and dazzling, swinging style. Craig Milverton is firmly established as one of Britain’s top jazz pianists. “A master of whatever he chooses to perform” – Humphrey Lyttleton. His latest project pays homage to Oscar Peterson and highlights the best of Oscar Peterson’s output in tribute to his biggest influence. Art Themen has been a major player on the British jazz scene since the 1960s, his highly original style being heard most notably alongside Stan Tracey. Join us for an afternoon of swinging jazz over a glass of bubbly.

You are warmly invited  to attend a very special event in early June, too.

Saturday 4th June 2022

Purdy’s Jubilee Pop-up Party

Mid-day onwards

Tables for 2-6 people, £40 to £120 per table

Afternoon tea £20 per person

Information and tickets

Join Purdy ( right) to celebrate our Queen’s Platinum Jubilee in all its summer glory!! Enjoy popular jazz and a few Proms party classics with Purdy and her wonderful band. Taste the beautiful local wine and dine like Royalty with Henley’s ‘Time for Tea’.

Purdy’s distinctive sultry voice and songwriting skills led her to a highly praised support tour with Jools Holland including a knock out show at The Royal Albert Hall where Purdy launched her first album ‘Diamond In the Dust’. Purdy’s recent appearance in hit Netflix TV series ‘The Crown’ singing ‘Can’t Take My Eyes Off You’ caused a media stir. Other accolades include performing her self penned Song to 90,000 people with the Royal Airforce at Wembley Stadium, guesting with Jamie Cullum on the BBC Cheltenham Festival stage and singing with Simply Red on The Royal Variety Show.

Purdy has sung for the likes of Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber, Sir Mick Jagger and opened a show for Lana Del Rey on Richard Branson’s Necker Island. This consummate artist with oodles of playful, on-stage appeal plays packed out houses at London’s premier venues with her wonderful band, combining the romance of traditional Jazz with timeless, catchy originals. Prepare for a musical feast packed full of fun and feeling. While on the terrace listening to Purdy, you can also indulge in a scrumptious, vintage-style afternoon tea delivered by local company, Time for Tea. Included on the menu will be a selection of finger sandwiches, fruit scones with jam and cream, and a variety of cakes to indulge in with tea, coffee or a glass of sparkling wine.

There´s plenty of more jazz lined up at other venues in pretty much the same region

Fri 13 May

 Progress Theatre, Reading (details below) | 7:30pm |
£18.00 (£16.00 concessions, £9 under 16) plus maximum 5% booking
Alex Hitchcock tenor sax | Noah Stoneman piano
Joe Downard bass | Myele Manzanza drums

‘An incredible saxophonist, with something very unique and original to say’ Walter Smith III

Since his first gig as leader for us at Progress in 2017, Alex Hitchcock (left) is now regarded as one of the UK’s most virtuosic jazz musicians. His quartet’s burgeoning reputation on the international jazz stage, playing Alex’s original compositions at 2018 Umbria Jazz Festival, as well as touring to Poland, Spain, Italy and Hungary and performances at legendary UK venues including Love Supreme Festival, the Royal Albert Hall and Ronnie Scott’s.

Alex is adventurously creative as is proved by his latest Album Dream Band. A disc to be enjoyed at home, as explained in the excerpt below from a recent four star review by Hugh Morris in Jazzwise.

“Alex Hitchcock looks outside of himself on Dream Band, enlisting a quality cast of players who move slickly around the saxophonist. There’s a lot of them; 15 in total over 12 tracks, and no one collaborator appears on more than half the record. The players fuse interestingly in their little units, and Hitchcock’s compositions serve those combinations well. The result is an album full of strong contributions from musicians determined to impress; a bunch of pent-up ideas tumble forth energetically. It’s a good record for piano talent,  with Noah Stoneman on great form.”

Noah Stoneman on piano and Joe Downard on bass are regulars in the quartet, Joe appearing with Alex in 2017.

Myele Manzanza is a powerful drummer who has earned himself a reputation as a composer with vision, and a musician who is not afraid to experiment. He is now resident in the UK having moved from New Zealand about 12 years ago.  Myele only started playing drum kit at age 14 but had been hand drumming traditional African rhythms with his father Sam Manzanza from a young age. “Growing up music and rhythm was all around me and I understood it from a very early age. Through my father I learnt the language of the drum”. Recently interviewed on the Jamie Cullum show. An interesting newcomer to the UK jazz scene.

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