NEWS ARCHIVE September 2016- february 2017
I know several people who hate February and consider it to be the low point of the year. For me, however, that point comes in November as we enter the suffocating tunnel of winter and by this time, it’s as if one can sense the earth shifting on its axis, the quality of light changes and I feel myself emerging once more into the outside world.
The food of love
Our concert on February 10th in the Holywell Music Room is a wonderful opportunity to venture out and bask in an exploration of human love in its various manifestations, from savage jealousy, through serene enjoyment, to the tragic. The programme includes Bach’s cantata ‘Weichet nur, betrübte Schatten’, thought to have been composed for his own wedding and sung here by young soprano, Katherine Crompton. So why not eschew that overpriced meal on Valentine’s Day and celebrate, more originally, with us on the 10th, by considering the tremendous creative effect this overwhelming human emotion has had on two of the greatest composers ever: Bach and Handel? Tickets are still available online at www.timeandtruth.co.uk and at the Holywell from 6.45pm on the night of the 10th.
Shortly afterwards, IT&T will assume a central role in the Keble Early Music Festival, with Edward Higginbottom’s 9pm ‘Abendmusik in Lübeck’ on February 23rd and the B minor Mass on Saturday 25th at 7.30pm. These concerts demonstrate two extremes of music-making, from the intimacy of a handful of musicians in the first, to the massed choirs of Keble, St Peter’s and Merton colleges, alongside Voices of Time and Truth, in the second. Details of both these concerts are on our website and the B minor Mass can also be booked there. Details of the rest of the Festival can be seen on the Tickets Oxford website.
We still have about 6 tickets left for Friends to attend the St John Passion in New College Chapel on Sunday 12th March at 3.30pm. This is a truly awe-inspiring setting in which to appreciate this profound work and for IT&T to play with one of the world’s best and longest-established choirs a great privilege of living in Oxford. If you are not yet a Friend, this could be your opportunity to support us. Just getting the chance to be part of this St John Passion makes the starting subscription of only£60 per year a very good deal!
In the time since my last newsletter, there have been some very exciting developments for 2018 which could see Instruments of Time and Truth progressing to a new level in terms of its profile. I hope these plans will firm up shortly. In the meantime, thank you for coming to our concerts and for enjoying them. It has been inspiring to receive your appreciative comments and emails and to remind us that even this newsletter ultimately has a human purpose.
Judith Evans, Concerts Manager.
This newsletter is likely to be something of an oldsletter since I feel this is a good moment to look back at the Autumn and all we acheived, as well as anticipate the exciting developments of 2017.
The Retrospective bit.
Back in November, IT&T was about to embark on its busiest patch ever, which included our London debut and first appearance on national radio.
But first, to rewind just over three years, when we initially broached the idea of starting an orchestra with Edward, I have to confess my heart sank slightly at his enthusiastic mention of French baroque, not least because little of the repertoire includes the double bass. Fast forward to November 25th 2016 when I found myself, as a direct result of this enthusiasm, a redundant bass player in the audience at King’s Place. Not only could I not remember the last time I had been to a concert, but, I’m ashamed to say, watching ‘Tous les Matins du Monde’ was probably the full extent of my exposure to French baroque music.
I found myself, a sceptic, reluctantly being seduced by this unfamiliar sound world and enchanted by the melifluous playing and singing. Add to this the persuasive combination of wit and scholarship which is the trademark of Edward’s commentaries and I gradually discovered what a wonderfully enjoyable experience it is to go to a concert. As a musician myself, part of me was able to observe the players on stage and know the effort of concentration and the force of will that goes into any performance: a bit like walking a tightrope, it’s all about focus and self-belief (and lots of practice), yet, miraculously, none of this is apparent. In King’s Place, it was subtly metamorphosed into a seamless and hypnotic performance of this extraordinary music. It totally reinforced my faith in the effect of classical music on the human psyche and the validity of our efforts at IT&T.
It was extremely heartening that the previous week’s performance at the Holywell yielded audience numbers as great as those in London - testament to our evolving reputation in Oxford and the crucial role you all play in that as regular supporters. I listened to In Tune with a combination of nerves and pride, again knowing what an outer-body experience it is playing in a sound-proofed box above Langham Place, yet knowing your performance is being listened to by thousands, probably battling home through rush-hour traffic. Nerve-wracking stuff, but again presented with the shiny veneer of accomplished performers. A great milestone for IT&T. Hopefully, next time, Sean Rafferty will have been prepped by the BBC pronunciation dept in the matter of Bojan’s name!
Far from resting on our laurels, the following day saw IT&T occupying our annual slot in the Wotton Concert Series, which now feels like the start of Christmas. There’s something incredibly special about the combination of Cotswold stone, twinkly lights and the promise of an open fire at that time of year. Working with both Ben Hoffnung and Sir Martin Smith (in our Tetbury Messiah on Dec 11th) is like revisiting friends and has a familiarity that enhances the music - the hospitality we received on both occasions being, literally, the icing on the cake. Thank you Elise and Margie! Both thoroughly enjoyable occasions for orchestra and audience alike.
Sandwiched amongst all this was our first Friends’ Evening at Bruern Abbey which included a chamber concert followed by dinner and was a huge success. As the number of our Friends increases, we are conscious of fulfilling our promise to them of providing unique events and opportunities and are optimistic this will become a regular series.
Our final concert of the year was, of course, our sell-out Messiah in the University Church. This was the first time we have completely sold out since our debut concert in the Holywell and this time, in a venue twice the size. Far from the usual nail-biting scrutiny of ticket sales, this time our worry was the dwindling number of seats available compared to the deluge of requests we were getting. Eventually we released 50 unsighted tickets in the Chancel with mixed results - probably an experiment we would not repeat. However, rather sadly, University Church has decided hosting a concert that close to Christmas is not for them, so our vision of the IT&T candlelit Messiah as an Oxford institution is currently stalled. However, we have other ideas of which I will keep you informed.
Finally, to the Present. Our next concert, on February 4th in St Andrew’s, Linton Rd, is the conclusion of the Christmas Oratorio embarked upon last year with the Summertown Choral Society. This is a wonderful community event with astounding music, so do come along (although SCS has a significant following of its own!)
This is closely followed by a Valentine - inspired concert entitled, ‘The Food of Love’, in the Holywell Music Room on Friday, February 10th. This programme of Handel and Bach includes elements from the current Edexcel GCSE syllabus on which we are presenting two workshops in St Edward’s School on 6th February. This educational collaboration enables us to subsidise rehearsals for the concert whilst providing us with rehearsal space and is exactly the sort of joined-up thinking needed to survive in the 21st century. We get to play in St Edward’s wonderful new concert hall and, for the first time, Chris Bucknall, who has co-ordinated our tertiary level education work so far, will direct the group in the Holywell. Chris has a wealth of experience in education work through his involvement with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, so his workshops should be inspiring to all participants, both on and off-stage. The Holywell programme is inspired by this repertoire, but broadened and promises to be delighful for any audience.
Keble Early Music Festival
This brings us to Matthew Martin’s first Keble Early Music Festival. Matthew has been indefatigable in his efforts to raise both money and the profile of this Festival culminating in five days of events from 21st to 25th February. IT&Tis privileged to have been invited to present two concerts: the first, Abendmusik in Lubeck, on the 21st, directed by Edward; and the second, the finale of the Festival, a performance of Bach’s B minor Mass on Saturday 25th. This is a very ambitious project combining the choirs of Keble, Merton and St Peter’s colleges with Voices and Instruments of Time and Truth. Conducted by Matthew himself, Edward will make an appearance at the keyboard!
St John Passion with New College Choir
Sunday March 12th is the date of this year’s performance of the St John Passion with New College Choir under Robert Quinney. There is a limited number of tickets available exclusively to Friends, so please send your requests to firstname.lastname@example.org . If you would like to come, but are not a Friend, this could be your opportunity to become one for little more than the price of a pair of concert tickets!
We are very excited to be collaborating with Ben Nicholas and the Choir of Merton College for the first time, as an ensemble, in a Music at Oxford concert on Saturday, May 6th. This programme includes my all-time favourite Bach cantata, ‘Christ lag in Todesbanden’. Exquisitely gloomy!
Gabriel and I are meeting today with Edward to discuss future plans. I am pleased to say we ended 2016 sufficiently in the black to start planning our next Sheldonian concert. We are working on the details of our first Spanish tour next December, which I hope will segue into another Messiah on December 23rd somewhere in Oxford which will possibly involve a new approach more favoured by the Arts Council! We are also in discussion with an amateur choir in Oxford which I hope will produce a new collaboration.
As ever, details of programmes and booking for these and other concerts are on our website www.timeandtruth.co.uk
All that remains is for me to offer my heartfelt thanks to you for supporting our endeavours. There is no denying running an orchestra is a slog, day in, day out. But it is a slog punctuated by exhilarating performances and profound fulfilment. it is only having you, the audience, that makes any of it possible. So, thank you, Happy 2017 and see you soon.
November newsletter 2016
I am writing this on what I consider to be a quintessential November afternoon - no real daylight to speak of, cold with a steady, persistent rain. Thankfully, between now and Christmas, IT&T has possibly its busiest and most exciting couple of months so far, so there is plenty to look forward to in our concert diary.
Our next concert is Le Coucher du Soleil in the Holywell Music Room on Friday 18th November at 7.30pm. This little-known world of the French baroque is a lifetime passion of Director Edward Higginbottom's and the colours, flexible rhythms and quirkiness of this repertoire inform Edward’s very approach to music. Come and hear him in his element, alongside Parisian-trained Bojan Čičič and Dan Edgar, talented violinist and musicologist. Supported by the exquisite gamba-playing of Susanna Heinrich the ensemble provides the setting for emerging-talent, soprano Robyn Allegra Parton. It promises to be a musical treat.
The concert is, of course, being repeated as IT&T's London debut in King's Place the following Friday - November 25th. In between the two, the ensemble is being showcased on BBC Radio 3's ‘In Tune’ on Monday 21st November from 4.30 - 5.15pm. This is the first national recognition of Instruments of Time and Truth and is a very exciting development for us with the opportunity to reach an audience of thousands.
In terms of publicity, this month has seen a sharp rise in media coverage for IT&T, starting with an interview with Edward in the Oxford Times this week and requests for articles or listings from Roundandabout, Cotswold Life, Cotswold Allure and Oxford Today. Please keep your eyes open for mentions of us that you might be able to share with friends, family or neighbours: word of mouth still being the most effective publicity amongst the concert-going public in Oxford. With your help, we can increase our local audience little by little and shore-up the orchestra's resilience in these tough times.
Last summer saw our first designated concert for Friends of IT&T at Worton Organic Garden - a solo violin recital, given by Bojan, with supper in this delightful setting. We are extremely grateful for the invaluable support we receive from Friends and are now pleased to be able to offer them the opportunity of attending a private concert at Bruern Abbey School on November 19th. The programme is Mozart Clarinet quintet K518 with Antony Pay, Haydn's ‘Emperor’ quartet and Eine Kleine Nachtmusik. Please contact Aliye Cornish at email@example.com for more details.
November 26th is the occasion of our annual appearance in the Wotton Concert Series, Wotton-under-Edge, conducted by Benedict Hoffnung. This year sees an increased presence from IT&T as Ben has chosen to raise the musical profile by using our own professional choir, Voices of Time and Truth. I feel a huge sense of satisfaction at being able to offer fellow-musicians excellent local work - just a few concerts like this can really enhance the lives of otherwise itinerant musicians, as well as the experience for the audience. This year, Ben has moved away from the baroque to an all -Mozart programme.
In December we will be performing the Messiah twice in two different formats: on Sunday, December 11th at 5pm in Tetbury we will perform it as we did last year in the University Church - with a choir of 12 who also sing the arias ( how it was first performed by Handel's choir); and on December 23rd at 5pm in the University Church, this time with the more conventional ‘modern’ format of a choir and four soloists. The first concert will be conducted by Sir Martin Smith in what is his local church, under the auspices of the Tetbury Music Festival and the second will be conducted by our own Director, Edward Higginbottom. There was much discussion about dates for the Oxford concert - there being few available weekends in December and multiple performances of the Messiah, but we felt putting the concert as late as the 23rd really made it part of the celebration of Christmas and the setting of the University Church at that time of year is perfect. The timing of the concert at 5pm means it should be over by 7.45pm allowing the possibility of a Christmas get-together afterwards. Tickets are selling fast, so book early to avoid disappointment.
As ever, we are working hard on fundraising to ensure the future of IT&T. Our next project will be a concert in the Holywell Music Room on Friday, February 10th to tie-in with our new GCSE workshop which is to be hosted by St Edward's School.
For more information and to book tickets, please visit our website www.timeandtruth.co.uk
Thank you for supporting us and we look forward to seeing you soon.
September newsletter 2016
‘Classical Masterpieces’ opens the 16/17 season.
As many of you will know (since you were there!), IT&T has just launched its 2016/17 season with ‘Classical Masterpieces’ in the Sheldonian last Friday. Recently appointed Director of Performance to the University, charismatic cellist, Natalie Clein braved new territory in her debut on gut strings, playing the Haydn C major concerto. Principals of IT&T were lucky enough to have a prior rehearsal with Natalie who exuded an almost tangible creative energy that was truly inspiring. It was such a privilege to have her perform with us (it sounded as if she’d been playing on gut for years) and to receive the vote of confidence her appearance represents in what we are doing with the orchestra. We very much hope this will be the start of an ongoing association.
IT&T encourages aspiration and the audience of the future.
Thursday 22nd September saw Edward Higginbottom and IT&T presenting ‘Deconstructing Mozart 40’ to 160 GCSE students in Keble College Chapel. The second such presentation, ‘Deconstructing Mozart 40' has now been attended byover 200 schoolchildren from across the state and private sectors and from as far afield as Bourton-on-the-Water and Didcot. We are very grateful to Matthew Martin at Keble who facilitated the event and opened the doors on the mysterious world beyond the Porters’ lodge to these young people. One of the reasons I am committed to IT&T is that I believe in humanity's need for classical music. As part of ‘Deconstructing Mozart 40’, all the schools that attended were given free tickets to the Sheldonian concert and it was wonderful to see such a large audience of mixed ages and perhaps the birth of a future audience.
New associations for IT&T.
This 16/17 season is our third at IT&T and it is heartening to see the increase in our profile, here, in Oxford. We have three very exciting new associations: the first, with the Faculty of Music, will see us performing in the Holywell Music Room on October 8th at 8pm with Natalie Clein, Kati Debretzeni and Maggie Cole as part of the conference entitled, ‘Bach Project:A Beginning’; the second is in the Keble Early Music Festival, next February, when we will perform Bach's B minor Mass conducted by Matthew Martin; and the third is our first concert for Music at Oxford, under Ben Nicholas, in Merton College Chapel on May 6th.
London debut for IT&T.
Not only is our local profile increasing, but we are also making our London debut in King's Place on Friday, November 25th with ‘Le Coucher du Soleil’ under the inspired direction of Edward Higginbottom. This concert is first being performed on Friday 18th November in the Holywell Music Room, so come and steal a march on the London audience! Details of these and other concerts are/will be available on our website www.timeandtruth.co.uk
What can you do with £5 these days?
IT&T's financial resilience, however, is rather lagging behind its artistic success and we would like to ask for your help. People often complain to me that the tickets are expensive, so I thought you might actually be surprised to hear a few figures relating to an IT&T concert: ‘Classical Masterpieces’ cost over £12,000 to put on, the vast majority of that money going to the 32 performers, only one of whom is likely to be in the 40% tax bracket! With a very respectable audience, after commission paid to the Playhouse, ticket and programme sales came to £5,800. We charged £5 a head to attend ‘Deconstructing Mozart 40', which raised a further £800, but nevertheless leaving us with a shortfall in excess of £5,500 which has to be covered by donations, our Arts Council bid having failed to yield any funding.
Last year I appealed to everyone reading this newsletter to consider becoming a Friend of IT&T. We are very grateful to those of you who responded, but unfortunately we need more of you! We all spend our money differently, but if you have enjoyed our concerts and would like Instruments of Time and Truth to become an enduring part of the Oxford music scene, I urge you to consider how much this is worth to you. £5 a month from every person who reads this, would secure our own concert series. That's 2 cups of coffee in Starbucks, less than half a cinema ticket or a book of stamps. Please think about it. £5 can buy you a world -class period-instrument orchestra for Oxford! A donation form is available to download on our website.
We look forward to seeing you soon at one of our concerts.
July Newsletter from Judith Evans, Concerts Manager
As Instruments of Time and Truth's second season draws to a close, I'd first like to thank everyone who has supported us by coming to concerts, encouraging others to come, becoming a Friend, or a Corporate Sponsor. I'd also like to thank the musicians for their wonderful playing, their loyalty and good-humour throughout. Thank you to the soloists who have waived fees or accepted low fees in order to help us get off the ground and to Chris Bucknall for all his unpaid work in establishing our education projects. Thank you to our new adminstrator, Aliye Cornish, for her initiative and computer skills (!) and, above all, to Edward Higginbottom for his efforts on our behalf and his profound and inspiring musicianship. I have 100% faith in the validity of what we are doing for musicians and audience alike and I believe that smaller enterprises, like IT&T, will be vital in ensuring the future of classical music in this country, post-Brexit.
At the start of our second season, Gabriel Amherst and I were worried about the challenge of maintaining momentum, once the novelty of IT&T had worn off. We needn't have been. We are now filled with a huge sense of achievement at all we have done this year and excited at the prospect of the 16/17 season.
RECAPPING ON THE 15/16 SEASON
September 28th, Marlow, Haydn symphonies 6,7 and 8 and songs, with Esther Brazil.
September 30th, Sheldonian Theatre, Haydn symphonies 6,7 and 8 for ‘The Divine Office’ Festival.
October 2nd, University Church, Handel Coronation Anthems with the choir of The Queen's College, conducted by Owen Rees for ‘The Divine Office’ Festival.
November 1st launch of our coaching series at St Edmund Hall, with Chris Bucknall and Joseph Crouch.
November 28th, Wotton-under-Edge, ‘A Baroque Christmas’ conducted by Benedict Hoffnung.
December 10th, Palau de la Musica Catalana, Barcelona ‘Messiah’ with Oxford Voices, conducted by Edward Higginbottom.
December 19th, University Church, ‘Messiah’ with Voices of Time and Truth, conducted by Sir Martin Smith.
January 22nd, SJE Arts launch of our GCSE workshop, ‘Deconstructing Mozart 40', presented by Edward Higginbottom.
January 23rd, SJE Arts, concert of CPE Bach, Benda and Mozart, conductor and organ Edward Higginbottom, violin Bojan Čičič.
January 30th, St Andrew's Linton Rd, Christmas Oratorio, with Summertown Choral Society, conducted by Duncan Saunderson
February 13th, St Edmund Hall, university coaching session with Pavlo Beznosiuk and Chris Bucknall on the baroque sonata.
March 13th, New College Chapel, J.S.Bach St John Passion with New College Choir, conducted by Robert Quinney.
April 29th, New College Chapel, ‘The Rare and the Mythical’ a collaborative concert with ‘The Bate Players’ as culmination of a series of coaching sessions, directed by Chris Bucknall.
May 14th, Dorchester-on-Thames Abbey, Concert in aid of Parkinson's UK with The London Chorus, conducted by Ron Corp.
June 11th, Sheldonian Theatre, Farewell Concert for Sir Curtis Price and Rhian Samuel, with New College Choir, conducted by Robert Quinney.
June 25th, Holywell Music Room, ‘Harmonic Inspiration’ Vivaldi L'Estro Armonico, directed by Persephone Gibbs.
June 27th, Magdalen College Chapel, ‘Twilight Bach’, a collaborative concert with pupils of Magdalen College School as part of the Oxford Festival of the Arts, conducted by Jon Cullen.
LOOKING AHEAD TO 16/17
Our 16/17 season officially opens on Friday, September 23rd in the Sheldonian, with the first of our ‘Classical Masterpieces’ concerts and we are thrilled to be joined by world-famous soloist and the University's new Director of Performance, Natalie Clein, in Haydn's C major cello concerto.
This concert will be preceded, on the 22nd, by a repeat of ‘Deconstructing Mozart 40'; our workshop for GCSE students. Matthew Martin has facilitated our using Keble College Chapel to this end, providing the opportunity of entering the mysterious world of the university to over 200 local schoolchildren. We are sure this will be an impressive and memorable experience and forms part of our initiative to invest in the audience of the future.
Natalie Clein has invited IT&T to perform at a conference on Bach hosted by the University, on October 8th. The short concert will feature prominent soloists Maggie Cole, harpsichord and Kati Debretzeni, violin.
Friday, November 25th sees IT&T's London debut, at King's Place, entitled ‘Le Coucher de Soleil - Music from the last years of Louis XIV and the Dauphin’ as part of the ‘Baroque Unwrapped’ weekend. Directed by Edward Higginbottom, this concert can also be heard at the Holywell Music Room on Friday, November 18th.
As I write this, IT&T is about to submit its first Arts Council application, which represents weeks of work - guidance on how to fill out the form extends to 87 pages! Should we be successful in our application, we have several more self-promoted concerts in Oxford planned- more news shortly.
On November 26th IT&T makes its 3rd appearance in the Wotton Concert series in Wotton-under-Edge, followed shortly, on December 11th by a Messiah in nearby Tetbury under the umbrella of the Tetbury Music Festival. This is a repeat of last year's collaboration with Sir Martin Smith conducting and a welcome addition to IT&T's regional profile.
Our final concert of 2016 is another Messiah, on December 23rd at 5pm. Conducted by Edward Higginbottom at the University Church, we want to repeat the festive spirit of last year's Messiah with candlelight, Christmas trees and prosecco: please join us in celebrating all the wonderful opportunities available to us here in Oxford - the beautiful venue in our historic city, with local musicians and our warm and appreciative local following.
Future concerts planned for 2017 include the B Minor Mass with Keble College Choir, Dixit Dominus with Merton and the St John Passion in the Oxford Early Music Festival. We have also been invited to perform two concerts of Mozart symphonies in Salzburg in June by Martin Randall Travel and to tour the Messiah in Spain, in December, with Edward.
I'd like to remind Friends of our first designated Friends’ event on August 27th- a supper/recital at the magical Worton Organic Garden featuring our leader, Bojan Čičič. Tickets @ £35 each, to include organic pizza and wine, can be booked via the concerts page or by phoning David Blake on 07718 518964. If you don't know Worton I urge you discover its unique delights and, if you do, I'm sure you can imagine what a special event this will be.
As ever, our continued existence depends on you, our supporters. Please keep coming to concerts, bring your friends and know that a direct debit of £5 a month from you would make a real difference to us and to Oxford's musical landscape.
We look forward to seeing you at our 16/17 season.
Judith Evans, Concerts Manager.