Recitals at St Michael’s in Lewes

Hi everyone.

As you may well know, I run a Sunday afternoon series of recitals at St Michael’s. Recitals are an hour long starting at 3pm. Entry is free but I always joke that people pay to get out! And they are always very generous. Since 2013 we have raised several thousand pounds towards roof repairs, and then more recently for the organ renovation, and up to this point, performers have been willing to give their services free of charge.

On 1 March last year I gave an organ recital – what was supposed to be the first recital of the year, but as things turned out, it was the only recital. So I have a list of recitalists who were booked for 2020 who are still keen to play.

We are restarting our recitals on Sunday 6 June with a piano recital given by Rachel Fryer. We recently acquired a good grand piano at the church and this will be its first outing. Rachel lives in Brighton and she used to teach with me at the East Sussex Academy of Music in Lewes. One of her specialities is a performance of J.S.Bach’s Goldberg Variations – in fact she has recorded them, and I often listen to that CD myself – a bit envious of her technique.

There’s an interesting back story to these variations. They were written towards the end of Bach’s life in 1741 (he died in 1750). Bach lived and worked in Leipzig – the capital of Saxony. According to Bach’s early biographer Johann Nicolaus Forkel, the Russian ambassador to Saxony was ill and needed his own court musician Johann Gottlieb Goldberg to play to him at night when he couldn’t sleep – sounds fairly normal doesn’t it!! Once the Count mentioned in Bach’s presence that he would like to have some clavier pieces for Goldberg, which should be of such a smooth and somewhat lively character that he might be a little cheered up by them in his sleepless nights. So Bach set to work, writing an Aria and 40 variations.

Listen to Lang Lang playing the opening Aria (astonishingly slowly)

Back to the present day, (notice I didn’t say Bach to the present day), Rachel recently decided to expand  these variations by commissioning several contemporary composers to write companion variations which she plays alongside Bach’s original. You can read more about the project here

On 6 June, we don’t have time to hear the complete project, but Rachel has created a special One Hour version for us which you can hear if you Book your ticket here

Warning: This link takes you to Eventbrite – a ticket booking site. As we are limiting numbers to 50 for this recital, we are asking people to book. There’s no charge, but I hope people will make a donation, preferably as they book the ticket, but we won’t refuse donations on the day.

Future recitals

Because we had to delay the start of this year’s series, I’ve scheduled two recitals most months up to November. For a look at the complete series click here. But you may like to note that I’m doing a recital myself – the first on the newly renovated organ at St Michael’s – on Sunday 20 June. Again you will need to book your Organ Recital ticket here  (another Eventbrite site).

Vaccine: I had my second dose yesterday, just under 10 weeks after my first one. Luckily I feel fine today.

Best wishes to everyone.



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