New CD/Download & Concert  Information from the WIHAN QUARTET “Elegy for Pamela”

 

The internationally renowned Wihan Quartet present six new string quartets to commemorate the life and work of Pamela Majaro, released through their arrangement with Nimbus Alliance Records.

Nimbus Alliance NI6356 [0710357635625]
UK Release Date 27th September 2017
Single CD/Standard Case; Full Price;
Beethoven: String Quartet in B-flat Op. 130 – (Cavatina); Cheryl Frances-Hoad (b1980): Invocatio; Mika Hassler: Fugue for Pamela; Celia McDowall (b1951): To a Nightingale; Roxanna Panufnik (b1968): Votive; Freya Waley-Cohen (b1989): Vitae; David Knotts (b1971): At the Mid Hour of Night; William Zinn (b1924): Kol Nidrei Memorial

Project Overview

In every generation one encounters a few individuals, who through their dedication, steadfastness and creative determination have left an indelible mark on the community at large. The late Pamela Majaro was one of those individuals.

She adored chamber music and its vast repertoire from an early age. She harboured a nostalgia for the days when chamber music in the more enlightened western world was performed in homes in front of invited friends. She was always moved when she saw paintings (and later photos) of musicians like Mozart, Haydn, Beethoven and Dvorak, entertaining their guests in private salons. Her dream was to revive this custom. She was determined to remove the notion that Chamber Music was an elitist genre of music. Any group of players, including enthusiastic amateurs, she felt, could form an ensemble and play for their own pleasure and their friends. That was what she viewed as the essence of chamber music.

The main obstacle to this dream was the sad fact that the younger generation showed no interest or knowledge of this wonderful form of music. It was sufficient to attend chamber music concerts in public venues to note the absence of young faces, so she decided that the first challenge is to change the age profile of the audiences by attracting children and young people to chamber music concerts.

Together with her husband Simon she set up a charity CAVATINA Chamber Music Trust in 1988 with the aim of attracting the younger Generation to chamber music.

Pamela was the driving force of the whole project. In a single-minded fashion and total commitment, she developed a multi-faceted series of activities designed to attract the youth of this country to the idea that chamber music is fun. Through an elaborate system of School Concerts, since the start of the initiative, over 130,000 children have attended CAVATINA-sponsored chamber music concerts and workshops with carefully-trained ensembles.  A FREE CAVATINA Ticket Scheme has been operating in around 40 venues, music societies and festivals. The number of young people using the Scheme is increasing at an impressive rate. Family chamber music concerts, where children can escort their parents to such programmes, has become an important feature of the charity.

Both Pamela and her husband Simon were awarded MBE’s in 2010 for establishing CAVATINA and all its education work. Sadly, Pamela passed away in 2016.

To commemorate his late wife, Pamela, Simon Majaro commissioned six leading contemporary composers to write a collaborative work for string quartet. The commissioned composers include both well-known names alongside those who are nearer the beginning of their careers, as was Pamela’s interest in developing young talent.

On Wednesday 27th September 2017, London’s Wigmore Hall hosts a very special event at which this CD tribute to Pamela will be launched and the pieces featured on it will be included in the concert.

https://wigmore-hall.org.uk/whats-on/wihan-quartet-201709271300

The proceeds of the concert (and the CD) will go towards CAVATINA Chamber Music Trust, the charity founded in 1998 by Simon and Pamela to develop younger audiences for chamber music.

The Repertoire

Cheryl Frances-Hoad has been composing to commission since she was fifteen. Classical tradition (she trained as a cellist and pianist at the Menuhin School before going on to Cambridge and King’s College, London) along with diverse contemporary inspirations including literature, painting and dance, have contributed to a creative presence provocatively her own. She writes:

“Invocatio” is dedicated to the memory of Pamela Majaro, who I am very sorry not to have had the opportunity to meet. It was wonderful to hear stories about her tremendous kindness and generosity, towards young musicians, and school children who may have not heard classical music before the Cavatina Trust brought live chamber music concerts to their schools. My piece is in part inspired by these stories: at the beginning, a simple melody (that could easily be sung by a child) builds and builds in supplicatory fashion over a simple repeating bassline. A mournful middle section follows, with a reprise to the original material in which all instruments climb to the top of their range, before resolving onto a simple D major chord. 

Mika Haasler was born in London and grew up surrounded by live music, having attended a wide variety of concerts for many years. Her music has already been performed in prestigious venues including the Royal Albert Hall.

Composition has been a central interest and is now a prominent part of her studies – Mika currently studies Music at the University of Liverpool, where her works have been performed by members of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra as well as university ensembles. She hopes to study further after completing her undergraduate degree.

This piece was first performed by the Wihan Quartet in 2015 as part of a chamber music concert at Woodhouse College, North London organised by the Cavatina Chamber Music Trust. The Trust provided a platform for the piece to be heard – a wonderful opportunity for both the composer and the students forming the audience.
The piece begins with a presentation of a stately theme inspired by the dances of the Elizabethan-era. The fugue begins with an ascending melody, evoking imagery of climbing. With all parts intertwined, the Elizabethan style continues in the waltz-like nature of the fugue’s resolution. The main theme returns, giving a somewhat regal conclusion to the piece.
The work is dedicated to the memory of Pamela Majaro.

Born in London Cecilia McDowall has won many awards and been short-listed eight times for the British Composer Awards. In 2014, she won the Choral category of the British Composer Awards for her haunting work, Night Flight, which celebrates the pioneering flight of the American aviatrix, Harriet Quimby, across the English Channel. McDowall’s distinctive style speaks directly to listeners, instrumentalists and singers alike. Her most characteristic works fuse fluent melodic lines with occasional dissonant harmonies and rhythmic exuberance. Her music has been commissioned and performed by leading choirs, including the BBC Singers, The Sixteen, ensembles and at festivals worldwide. Three Latin Motets were recorded by renowned American choir, Phoenix Chorale, winning a Grammy award for their Chandos recording. Upcoming commissions include works for the National Children’s Choir of Great Britain, King’s College and St John’s College, Cambridge, Kansas City Chorale and a Requiem for the Wimbledon Choral Society. Celia writes:

Simon Majaro’s warm-hearted and loving tribute to his remarkable wife, Pamela, has brought together these short string quartets which have all been fashioned in her memory. When Simon and Pamela commissioned a clarinet, cello and piano trio from me in 2008, I drew my inspiration from John Keats’ Ode to a Nightingale, written one springtime under a plum tree in a Hampstead garden, and from the first ever birdsong recording in 1924, in which the cellist, Beatrice Harrison, played well-known songs in nocturnal duet with a nightingale in her garden. At the centre of the trio I made a reference to the opening of Beethoven’s sublime Cavatina. Then, at Simon’s kind suggestion, I re-thought and condensed the trio for the Wihan Quartet; To a Nightingale opens with a sliver of the Cavatina. In my mind Pamela is the ‘nightingale’; eloquent, passionate and committed to bringing the beauty of wonderful chamber music to young audiences everywhere.

Roxanna Panufnik studied composition at the Royal Academy of Music and, since then, has written a wide range of pieces – opera, ballet, music theatre, choral works, orchestral and chamber compositions, and music for film and television – which are performed worldwide. She has a great love of music from all over the world and different faiths, whose influence she uses liberally throughout her compositions. Roxanna is Associate Composer with the London Mozart Players. Her compositions are published by Peters Edition and recorded on many labels. Roxanna writes:

This short piece was commissioned in memory of the amazing Pamela Majaro who, alongside her husband Simon Majaro, founded and directed the Cavatina Chamber Music Trust. This wonderful organisation takes professional musicians into schools to introduce the wonders of chamber music to children who may not necessarily come across it in their day-to-day lives.
I have had the pleasure of working with Pamela and Simon since the Trust was established. In a very fitting memorial, Simon has commissioned these mini quartets in her memory as part of a project involving multiple composers, entitled Kol Nidrei: Elegy for Pamela – and it’s this title that inspired me to use a stunning Oriental-Sephardic ‘Kǫl nidḝre’ found for me by my great friend and Jewish Music mentor, Dr Alexander Knapp.
“Votive” starts quietly but intensely, a prayer that over its four-minute duration becomes more and fervent so that by the end it’s a passionate declaration of the joy and positivity that was – and always will be – Pamela. The piece is dedicated to her, in admiration and loving memory.

Freya Waley Cohen’s music has been performed at venues including The Sage Gateshead, St John’s Smith Square, The National Portrait Gallery, Kew Royal Botanical Gardens and at the Aldeburgh, Cheltenham, Dartington, Ryedale, Spitalfields and Tanglewood, festivals.

A Britten-Pears Young Artist from 2013-16, she holds an Open Space Residency at Snape Maltings, with which she created an architectural performance artwork, Permutations, launched at the 2017 Aldeburgh Festival together with Signum Classics CD. She has been Composer-in-Residence at Northern Chords Festival, Apprentice Composer with Orchestra of the Swan, was a Composition Fellow at Tanglewood and is Associate Composer with Non-Classical, Magnard Ensemble and Reverie Choir. While at the Royal Academy of Music, Freya was Manson Fellow (2014-15). Freya writes:

“Vitae” was written in memory and celebration of Pamela Majaro. When I first talked to her husband Simon about this work, he showed me several of her elegant and distinctive artworks. When it came to choose a title, I decided to ask Simon to suggest one of her pieces from which to find title, which is where the word ‘Vitae’ came from. The stark octaves in the opening lead into shifting melodies, constantly unsettled by each other and the unsteady movement of the underlying harmonies, finally finding their groove in the lower registers of the cello and floating off skywards. 

David Knotts studied at the Royal Academy of Music, King’s College, Cambridge, the Guildhall School of Music and Drama and the University of Sussex. In 2007, David was made an honorary associate of the Royal Academy of Music where he has taught since 1994. He is also a staff accompanist at Canterbury Christchurch University. He first came to public attention as a finalist in the 1994 Young Musician of the Year Composer Competition and has gone on to write music for many of the country’s finest soloists, orchestras and chamber-music ensembles.

“At the Mid Hour of Night” was inspired by a poem by the visionary poet, Sylvia Townsend Warner. She describes sitting up late into the night and seeing an extraordinary troop of people and animals passing by in an imaginary nocturnal procession. Townsend Warner celebrates her vision: it is a vision which she embraces and enjoys in her wakefulness: it is a vision which inspires her imagination and sparks her creativity. “At the Mid Hour of Night” was written in memory of Pamela Majaro whose fantastic vision continues to inspire young audiences and musicians.

From the Wihan Quartet

LeoÅ¡ ÄŒepický & Jan Schulmeister – violins; Jakub ÄŒepický  -viola; Michal Kanka – cello

In 1991 we, the Wihan String Quartet of Prague, came to the UK for the first time. The purpose of our visit was to take part in the London International String Quartet Competition that had moved from Portsmouth to London in that year. The Competition took place at the Goldsmiths Hall.
Soon after our arrival we met a charming lady by the name of Pamela Majaro. She was one of the Directors of the Competition. She welcomed us most warmly and made us feel at home. Following the Competition when we won the First Prize and the Audience Prize we started coming to the UK on a regular basis. Pamela looked after us like a mother. She helped us and guided us with the utmost care and affection. We owe our success in the UK entirely to her support. We called her, for very good reason, “Our English mother”.  We miss her very much.

Further information about the Quartet and full details of recordings available and their concert schedule can be found on their website: www.wihanquartet.com

Interview/CD Review Copy requests should be directed to  john@musicandmediaconsulting.com

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