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MUSIC IN KENTISH TOWN

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ENDRE ANARU looks forward to
an orchestral concert in London later this week
featuring the first performance of
a new Canadian violin concerto

 

Since the reign of King John, north of Regent's Park, past Camden Town, and before you arrive at Hampstead Heath, is Kentish Town. The River Fleet flows beneath, and at one time many piano manufacturers created their complex machines for music here. In 2011, 13,417 people made it their home. In the past, Leigh Hunt, Karl Marx, George Orwell and Tom Hiddleston lived nearby, while I believe Charles Lamb once made a brief stop.

Things old can still be found — perhaps at Little Green Street — with houses from 1780 or so.

Little Green Street, Kentish Town, London NW5, UK. Photo: Nigel Cox, 2006
Little Green Street, Kentish Town, London NW5, UK. Photo: Nigel Cox, 2006

And one building dates from just 1867: Our Lady Help of Christians Church. This fine church and active parish will host a classical music performance on 6 December 2018. Mornington Sinfonia, guided by Keith Bramich, will be performing works by Hérold, Mozart and the young Canadian composer Adrian Rumson.

Our Lady Help of Christians Church in Kentish Town, North London, UK. Photo © 2010 Keith Bramich
Our Lady Help of Christians Church in Kentish Town, North London, UK. Photo © 2010 Keith Bramich. Click on the image for higher resolution

The soloist for the evening is Elizabeth Ann Binks, who has a wealth of musical experience. Music has always been a part of her life. Starting with the 'real treat' of hearing her primary school music master play Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring on piano, and continuing with church choral music and experience with the London Schools Symphony Orchestra and String Ensemble, Ms Binks soon gained a scholarship to the Guildhall School of Music to study her beloved violin. She attained the AGSM (Associate, Guildhall School of Music) and was awarded the Salzmann Scholarship. With many performances in such orchestras as the Virtuosi of London, Scottish Opera, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, the Philharmonia Orchestra and the BBC Concert Orchestra, Ms Binks has also performed a great deal of solo and chamber music.

Elizabeth Ann Binks
Elizabeth Ann Binks

On 6 December, she will perform the premiere of Adrian Rumson's Violin Concerto, of which she says that it 'allows the violin to shine with many opportunities to experiment with sound quality and tone production ... it's well-written for soloist projection.'

Well known to readers of Music & Vision as its co-founder and current editor, the multi-talented Keith Bramich is very active as conductor, composer and arranger, and also web designer and computer programmer. He has studied extensively (with Lawrence Leonard, Paul Sarcich, Rodolfo Saglimbeni, George Hurst and Denise Ham, and choral conducting with Mary Mogil and Simon Johnson), and performed widely (conducting the Blackfriars Sinfonia, Wealden Sinfonia, Salsa Inglesa, Orion Chamber Orchestra and the Leon Singers ... for three years he was also assistant conductor of the Chalfont Concert Wind Band). In this whirlwind of activity, he is always open to the new, and he discovered the Violin Concerto and its composer, saying it is a 'work from both the new world and the new age.'

Keith Bramich conducting the Community Choir at Alfrick in 2017
Keith Bramich conducting the Community Choir at Alfrick in 2017

The first work on the program is Ferdinand Hérold's Zampa Overture, a vivid work of the early Romantic era (first performed in 1831), which continues to be performed, though its attached opera has slid from the active repertoire.

The largest work on the programme is Mozart's Symphony No 41 in C Major, K 551, one of the greatest symphonies. Keith Bramich has an interesting approach:

Unlike the English music publisher Cramer, who thought that the symphony's opening reminded him of the god Jupiter's thunderbolts, I hear instead the contrast between this opening and the quiet and delicate answering phrase, and in fact my conception of the Jupiter Symphony is, by and large, of music amazingly light and care-free ... especially in its glorious last movement.

Adrian Rumson is a composer, brass instrumentalist (tuba and trumpet), student of the martial arts, currently studying the sciences at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia. He began composing during his high school years (grades 10 through 12) and progressed very rapidly, creating many works in a wide variety of genres. Performances by the pianist Dan Sommerville and Dr Gareth Jones followed quickly.

Adrian Rumson
Adrian Rumson. Click on the image for higher resolution

Rumson is currently working on his Fifth Symphony (where one of the movements is over twenty minutes long). His music is deeply inspired by composers such as Gustav Mahler, Gustav Holst, Carl Nielsen, Béla Bartók and Havergal Brian. Keith Bramich writes of the Violin Concerto that it is 'strikingly original and modern ... and sounds tonal and neo-Romantic', while there is a 'hint of austerity'. Elizabeth Ann Binks says there is a 'folk-like feel to certain phrases'. The current author finds the music very compelling in the development of the very expressive violin melody over large spans of time.

The opening page of the full score of Adrian Rumson's Violin Concerto
The opening page of the full score of Adrian Rumson's Violin Concerto. Click on the image for higher resolution

A community orchestra in North London (which began over thirty-five years ago as the Kensington Sinfonia) has been active in Kentish Town for a number years, performing a wide variety of repertoire which is always voted upon by the members. Mornington Sinfonia rehearsals are on Thursday evenings, and all musicians are welcome to join.

A Mornington Sinfonia performance. Photo © 2011 George Coulouris
A Mornington Sinfonia performance. Photo © 2011 George Coulouris

Thanks should go to the parish of Our Lady Help of Christians Church and Fr John Deehan, for the support of this exemplary ensemble and its concert.

The flyer for the 6 December 2018 concert
The flyer for the 6 December 2018 concert. Click on the image for higher resolution

6 December comes soon, and if you are lucky enough to be in London, perhaps you should make your way (early to see the sights): to wander over the Fleet, look for buildings that once housed piano manufacturers, sense the age, try to see Hampstead Heath in the distance, and then join other concert-goers to hear music from times long gone and times just past.

Copyright © 3 December 2018 Endre Anaru,
Minnewanka Landing, Alberta, Canada

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Acknowledgements:

I greatly appreciate the assistance of Elizabeth Ann Binks, Keith Bramich and Adrian Rumson in taking the time from their busy schedules to answer questions and provide biographical information.

In the spirit of transparency: I am also grateful to Mr Adrian Rumson for having given the premiere performance of my work for Tuba and Piano, entitled As Above, So Below in the Spring of 2018. Without question he is an admirable musician with a great career ahead of him.

Thanks to Michael Smith at the Facebook group Early Music Performance Practice, for providing information on Kentish Town's piano building history (21 November 2018) with a link to the article in The Londonist. And to Lieve Verbeeck for providing a list of manufacturers' names derived from 'old address books online' at the Facebook group The Beauty of Historical Pianos (21 November 2018). This was very helpful to the author in developing a sense of the place.

Thanks are due to the Canadian Music Centre (Prairie Region) for assistance in preparing the orchestral parts.

I also thank my research assistant, G R.

FERDINAND HEROLD

ADRIAN RUMSON

WOLFGANG AMADEUS MOZART

LONDON

UNITED KINGDOM

VIOLIN MUSIC

ORCHESTRAL MUSIC

CANADA

FRANCE

AUSTRIA

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