Online Concerts in the Community

Recorded in West Kirby Arts Centre, the following concerts were streamed online but can still be watched here.

Pixels Ensemble perform music by Bridge, Shostakovich and Piazzolla:

Liverpool Wind Collective perform music by Kummer, Piston, Muczynsky and Koechlin:

Spotlight series

During lockdown, we curated our own Spotlight series: free-to-view videos of lockdown performances given by members of the WCMF team and friends.

Festival founder and Artistic Director Thelma Handy plays Bach's Minuet from the Partita in E Major at home:

Festival co-founder Alex Holladay performs Luciano Berio's Sequenza XIV for solo cello:

Performance pre-recorded and broadcast on Wednesday 2 December 2020 as part of a Pixels Ensemble recital for the University of Liverpool Lunchtime Concert Series: https://www.liverpool.ac.uk/music/events/lunchtime-concert-series/

String Trio by Jean Françaix, movements I, III and II, as recorded for the Bitesize Proms, in aid of Help Musicians UK (Production by Chris Tann):

As the Spotlight series grew, so did our levels of creativity and we had a lot of fun creating something rather special. Celtic Elegy, written by internationally renowned composer Ian Stephens, has been brought to life in a film made only a stone's throw from his home in Wirral. With breathtaking views of the River Dee and Hilbre Island, Caldy Hill is the perfect setting for such beautiful music.

To start the series, festival founder and Artistic Director Thelma Handy brought you some Bach... 

"Bach wrote his sonatas and partitas for solo violin in 1720. To put this into context, George I was king of England, Louis XV in France and Mrs Clemence of England had just produced the first paste-style mustard!

The Minuet was a small, elegant dance for couples and was very popular in the aristocratic ballrooms of France. Originally a folk dance, the court version used smaller steps and the dance became increasingly spectacular and full of etiquette, with much bowing and curtsying.

The Minuet would have been in two sections, the second being a Trio, which was actually another minuet but played with only three instruments. In Bach’s version here, the second minuet has a more wistful, reflective character, before returning to the reprise of the first."

“Berio’s cello Sequenza is as rewarding to interpret as it is intimidating to decipher. Written for the cellist Rohan de Saram, the music is inspired in part by the rhythms of the Kandyan drum of Sri Lanka. To represent these, much of the piece is scored on two staves: one directing the right hand to produce different drum pitches on the body of the cello and one directing the left hand to simultaneously hammer different pitches on the string.

Between these exotic, percussive passages, Berio’s music is often lyrical, tender and inquisitive. The full range of bow techniques required produces a rich spectrum of colour, occasionally punctured by shocking and wild gestures in both hands.

It is hard to think of a string trio that is more fun to play than that by Jean Françaix. He was a fountain of creativity, writing for nearly every established form and combination, and his music was characterised by wit and playfulness. 

Written in 1933, not long after the first 'Looney Tunes' series was released, his string trio’s outer movements sizzle with energy. Rhythmic cat and mouse between instruments pervades the upbeat music. Despite all the humour, at the heart of the trio the melancholic and intimate theme of the slow movement truly tugs at the heartstrings. 

Ravel himself wrote this of Françaix’s talents: “Among the child’s gifts I observe above all the most fruitful an artist can possess, that of curiosity.” His willingness to experiment and passion for musical games are certainly on full display here."