Newsletter October 2016

The nights are drawing in, it’s now half term and so really officially autumn.  Time to think reflect on the past season and also to look ahead to events for the rest of the year and beyond.

Looking back

We had a wonderful season with our Gluck and Arne double-bill, Divine Comedies.  The reviews, production photographs and programme notes are all on the website – if you weren’t there, you missed a wonderful treat!

This would be a good place to take the opportunity to explain our position regarding performances at Westonbirt.  We have been very much pulled in two directions here – one by the unquestionable fact that an outside performance is an absolute delight, with the ambience, plenty of space and the buildings providing a splendid backdrop.  On the other hand, the weather in late August has almost always been too cold for comfort, to the extent that the prospect of an outdoor performance has been putting people off rather than encouraging them, and this is not a good situation to be in.  Furthermore, the school is a very popular wedding venue, which inhibits our ability to build and rehearse on an outdoor stage.  For these reasons, we have decided to make an indoor performance the default position: people can see and hear and enjoy the opera in relative comfort yet still enjoy the grounds during the long interval.  In making this decision we are aware that the acoustics of the Orangery are not perfect, especially not when the orchestra reaches a certain size, and so we also intend to review the situation annually.

Looking ahead

Get those diaries out…

For who can wield like Shakespeare’s skilful hand?
Tuesday 15 November, 7.30pm, St John’s Smith Square

A concert in celebration of Shakespeare400.  The programme consists of excerpts from Benda’s exquisite singspiel Romeo and Juliet as well as a complete performance of the remarkable Shakespeare Ode by Mozart’s English contemporary Thomas Linley.  Sopranos Clare Lloyd-Griffiths and Caroline Kennedy, tenor Thomas Herford and baritone James Harrison are joined by our period-instrument Bampton Classical Players and the chamber choir Cantandum for an evening of sublime music.  Artistic director Gilly French conducts.

The music is astoundingly beautiful and the two pieces interesting in their own way: Benda responded to sensitivities of the time with a rather unexpected happy ending, whilst the Linley is an oratorio-like masque about Shakespearean witches, fairies and the Bard himself rather than about any particular play. 

Tickets are £15-£25 and are available from the Box Office at St John’s Smith Square

A Boy is Born
Wednesday 21 December, 7pm, Bampton Church

The return of Bampton Classical Voices, an 8-voice professional a capella ensemble.  The concert features music from the Renaissance and 20th century in a programme constructed around Palestrina’s Missa Hodie Christus natus est.  Last year’s debut performance delighted audiences with both the sound and the versatility of the programming, and this year’s promises to do the same!

Tickets are £15 and are available from our Box Office, 01993 851142

The Big Give 2016
We have again been selected to participate in the Big Give Christmas Challenge and need you to help us raise £6,000 online.  The scheme enables your donations to be doubled and so is a wonderful way of maximizing your support for our 2017 programme.  This year’s Challenge starts on 29 November and we will be in touch again nearer the time about the procedure.

Young Singers’ Competition 2017
2017 sees our third biennial competition for students and professional singers aged between 21 and 32.  The final is planned for the Holywell Music Room, Oxford, on Sunday 19 November 2017 but before that we need to raise the money to pay for it.  As has become traditional, the competition will be launched in March 2017 with a gala dinner, plans for which are underway as I write.  Watch this space for further information about dates and venue.

Summer Opera 2017
We are working on some exciting programming ideas and all will be announced as soon as possible.  In the meantime, here are the summer dates:

Bampton: 21, 22 July
Westonbirt: 28 August
London: tba

Other events

Floreat – Renaissance music from Spain, Italy and England
Cote Baptist Chapel (near Bampton)
Sunday 13 November, 5pm

Floreat is a new Westminster-based vocal ensemble, directed by Gilly French.  Tickets for its inaugural concert, in the Chapter House of Westminster Abbey in early October, all went within half an hour of advertising and the event could have sold more than twice over.  Here is another chance to hear them! – in a late-afternoon concert (duration about 70 minutes) in aid of the Cote Chapel Trust.  The programme is a delicious selection of music by Victoria, Palestrina as well as English Tudor anthems and madrigals.

Tickets are £8 and are available from Michael St John-Parker, 01993 851219

The Friends

We have a growing group of Friends of Bampton Classical Opera - through membership you can not only support our work but also meet like-minded people at convivial events, including post-performance events and our annual Friends reception.  There are several tiers of membership, each with associated benefits, and we are particularly grateful to our Corinthian Friends, but every single membership makes a difference.  Please do consider joining us!

Other support

If you would like to support without becoming a Friend, you can do this in a number of ways:

• Make a donation – see the ‘support us’ page of our website
• Company support – become a Corporate Friend
• Advertise your business in our programme
• Help in kind – accommodate a singer, help with cast catering or with event organisation
• Spread the word!