This special year began with two giants of the classical music scene with our President and winner of the Queen’s Medal for Music in 2020, City of Birmingham organist, Thomas Trotter, who was joined by the renowned trumpeter, Crispian Steele-Perkins. It was a very special occasion!
The second evening was equally special as the acclaimed guitarist Craig Ogden was joined by his wife, mezzo-soprano, Claire Bradshaw. There was a blend of solo guitar and guitar and voice duets for a summer evening.
The final night saw the return of 4 Girls 4 Harps who need no explanation! They last visited in 2014 this year they also astounded the audience with the virtuosity and variety of their work. The sight of four beautiful harps on the stage of a quintessential Cotswold village church was one to behold even before you experience the music they produce.
If you love music and feel passionately about bringing world-class music to the those living outside of the bigger cities, please consider making a donation.
We appreciate all donations to Bledington Music Festival:
Charity no. 1166804
Or contact the Organiser Rodney Beacham:
Tel: 01608 658 669 or Mob: 07860 587035 or via email to request a booking form.
Works will include music by Handel, Mozart, Haydn, Gershwin and Leroy Anderson
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“City of Birmingham-based organist Thomas Trotter is rightly regarded as one of the most brilliant concert organists currently on the world stage. ….. Trotter’s performances are invigorating, revealing the inner details of the music. He consistently chooses appropriate tempos and projects strong rhythm. His nuanced playing takes advantage of this instrument’s sensitive and responsive action. A virtuoso’s virtuoso, he harnesses his immaculate technique and musicianship to serve every aspect of the music.”
Thomas Trotter is one of Britain’s most widely admired musicians. He has had a special relationship with the City of Birmingham in England since he was appointed City Organist in 1983 after Sir George Thalben-Ball based at the city’s renovated historic Town Hall where he is also Resident Organist of the magnificent Klais organ in Symphony Hall. He is also Organist at St. Margaret’s Church, Westminster Abbey, in London and Visiting Fellow in Organ Studies at the Royal Northern College of Music. Earlier in his career he was organ scholar at King’s College, Cambridge, and he later continued his studies with Marie-Claire Alain in Paris where he took the Prix de Virtuosité in her class.
“the world’s leading exponent of the Baroque Trumpet” – Virtuoso magazine
Steele-Perkins picked up his first trumpet at the age of ten and progressed so quickly that just 6 years later he was playing with the English National Youth Orchestra. On graduating from the Guildhall School of Music, Steele-Perkins began his professional career with the Sadler’s Wells Theatre (ENO) 1966–73, before performing with the London Gabrielli Brass Ensemble 1974–84, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra 1976–80, English Baroque Soloists 1980–91, Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra, The King’s Consort, 1985–2009. Steele-Perkins’s purity of tone and artistic subtlety have received critical acclaim for more than four decades now. Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, he played a key role in the growth of historically-aware trumpet playing, using a collection of more than 100 pre-1900 mechanised and ‘natural’ trumpets to bring a brighter, clearer sound to baroque performances. In 2004, Steele-Perkins received the Monk Award for his significant and lifelong contribution to the field of early brass music. In October 2015 BBC’s CD Choice programme selected his recording of Joseph Haydn’s Trumpet Concerto in Eb with the English Chamber Orchestra as the best available recording of the work.
Crispian is world-renowned for the quality of his performances and wide-ranging musical experience. On graduating from the Guildhall School of Music, Crispian spent his early career playing with the English National Opera and Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. He then spent 15 years working in recording, TV and film studios, developing a body of work which is universally recognizable today, from Handel to James Bond themes and pop classics.
His interest in collecting and restoring antique trumpets led him to begin performing on them – you may have heard Crispian’s playing introducing the BBC’s ‘The Antiques Roadshow’. His unique performances and recordings on genuine historic instruments led Continuo Magazine to describe him as ‘the world’s leading player of the Baroque trumpet’.
Playing alongside some of the world’s greatest singers, Crispian’s purity of tone and artistic subtlety has received critical acclaim for more than three decades. Recordings of Handel’s ‘Let the Bright Seraphim’ with Dame Kiri te Kanawa and ‘Eternal sourceof Light Divine’ with James Bowman are familiar to many. More recently his recordings and performances with Emma Kirkby, Lynne Dawson, Carolyn Sampson, Bryn Terfel, Sir John Tomlinson, Elin Manahan-Thomas and Lesley Garrett have firmly established his reputation. His work in the studios has included more than 80 film, TV scores and commercials, appearing alongside Sir Cliff Richard, Sir Bob Geldof, Sir Harry Secombe, Kate Bush, Elaine Page, Chris Rhea, Lulu and as Lead Trumpet for Led Zeppelin ! His many Solo recordings extend from Purcell to Glenn Miller and his largest “live” audience was 133,000 at the Edinburgh International Festival.
Craig Ogden has presented a programme which he describes as ‘extremely listenable’. There is a happy balance between Solo Guitar and Guitar and Voice.
There are well-known favourites such as Lascia ch’io Pianga from Handel’s Rinaldo, Benjamin Britten’s arrangements of ‘I will Give my Love an Apple and O Waly Waly as well as Jerome Kern’s ‘The Folks Who Live on the Hill’. Guitar favourites by Rodrigo, Albeniz and Villa-Lobos and pieces by Scarlatti and JS Bach.
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Australian born guitarist Craig Ogden is one of the most exciting artists of his generation. He studied guitar from the age of seven and percussion from the age of thirteen. He is the youngest instrumentalist to have received a Fellowship Award from the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester.
Craig is married to British opera singer Claire Bradshaw with whom he frequently appears in concert. The duo have toured Australia and South Africa and perform regularly in festivals, for music societies and on radio.
Claire Bradshaw was born in Yorkshire and studied at the Royal Northern College of Music and at The National Opera Studio. Whilst at the R.N.C.M. she won all of the College’s main vocal awards and was also a finalist in the prestigious Kathleen Ferrier Awards broadcast on The Southbank Show.
Claire Bradshaw’s operatic roles have included the title role in Carmen at London’s Royal Albert Hall in Raymond Gubbay’s acclaimed production, receiving rave reviews. Other roles include Cherubino The Marriage of Figaro, Maddalena Rigoletto, Dryad Ariadne Auf Naxos, all for Scottish Opera, Lola Cavalleria Rusticana, Mercedes Carmen, 2nd Lady in The Magic Flute, Varvara Katja Kabanova, Emilia in Otello and Suzuki for six revivals of Madama Butterfly all for Welsh National Opera and Lisetta Il Mondo della Luna (Haydn) for Opera Zuid (Netherlands). Claire has also performed in the Spoleto Festival (Italy) in the role of the Innkeeper’s Wife in Janacek’s Cunning Little Vixen with Richard Hickox and performed at the Barbican with Hickox and the London Symphony Orchestra in a rare performance of Vaughan-William’s ‘The Poisoned Kiss’.
Claire is married to Australian Classical Guitarist Craig Ogden with whom she has performed extensively in recital both abroad and in the UK at many of the main Festivals and also on BBC Radio 3.
Claire Bradshaw has performed in concert and oratorio throughout the UK and in Austria, Australia, South Africa, Denmark, Israel, Italy and France. Recent concert performances have included the role of Joan in Ole Schmidt’s ‘The Passion of Joan of Arc’ with the Orchestra of Opera North, Elgar’s Musicmakers at King’s College Cambridge with Stephen Cleobury and the Philharmonia, Mendelssohn’s Elijah at Oxford’s Sheldonian Theatre with Nicholas Cleobury and the Oxford Bach Choir and singing the role of Prince Orlofsky alongside Dame Kiri Te Kanawa and Jose Carreras in a performance of Die Fledermaus at the Royal Albert Hall. Claire also recently performed on a P&O Classical cruise in conjunction with Classic FM and in Dubrovnik for London Festival Opera.
Claire has been a Director of the Dean and Chadlington Summer Music Festival in Oxfordshire for the last 9 years and is a Visiting Singing Teacher at the prestigious Radley College in Abingdon.
Music by Handel, Bizet, Rimsky-Korsakov, Manuel de Falla and Massenet
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“Ensemble is watertight and there is a real rhythmic élan to the playing which keeps you listening.” – BBC Music Magazine
Since their formation in 2000, 4 Girls 4 Harps have been heard in numerous venues and festivals in the UK and across Europe, delighting audiences with their dynamic performances and innovative repertoire.
The quartet has featured on BBC Radio 3’s In Tune, BBC Radio 2’s Friday Night is Music Night, BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour, Classic FM, and Welsh television channel, S4C. They have performed at The World Harp Congress in Dublin, The Fairfield Halls, St George’s, Bristol, Champs Hill, and at London’s King’s Place.
4 Girls 4 Harps’ debut album, ‘Fireworks and Fables’, was released in 2009 showcasing their own arrangements of impressionist works by Ravel and Saint-Saëns, as well as new works by the group’s own composers Harriet Adie and Eleanor Turner. Well received by critics, it led to broadcasts on national and international radio.
December 2013 heralded the release of the group’s second album, ‘4 Girls 4 Harps at Christmas’, an ambitious project which included a fourteen date concert tour of venues in London and the South-East. Described by the Sunday Express as ‘putting the harp back into the heart of Christmas’ the album was also favourably reviewed by BBC Music Magazine who wrote ‘Ensemble is watertight and there is a real rhythmic élan to the playing which keeps you listening’.
2015 saw the ensemble celebrate their 15th anniversary as a group. Alongside a full concert diary, they marked this milestone by premiering an exciting new commission, Tetra, composed by four female British composers. The commission was generously funded by the PRS for Music Foundation’s: Women Make Music programme, The Ambache Trust and RV Williams Trust. In addition, they also founded the British Harp Chamber Music Competition (the only competition of its kind in the UK) to encourage other young harpists to perform chamber music and to champion the harp in a chamber music setting.
Not a group to rest on their laurels, the 2017/18 season provided several interesting opportunities for the ensemble. The year started with a bang following a BBC video of their performance of Shostakovich’s famous Waltz No.2 going ‘viral’ counting over 6 million views across the world to date! The quartet was also delighted to have recorded a new CD ‘Dance’ with Dutch label STS Digital, released in early 2018 and featuring an energetic mix of dances by different composers. In March 2018 they celebrated the CD’s release by performing a short set of music from the album in a live performance for Classic FM.
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