As this is a classical column, it’s only right that I should tell you about the visit of the UK’s only unclassical guitarist. This is the maestro of the six strings, Mr Richard Durrant, who performs his Guitar Whisperer show stand up and barefoot. He has even been known to move between venues by bicycle. If all this sounds to you bizarrely left-field and distinctly non-establishment then Mr Durrant would be delighted … not for him the stuffy DJ and concert hall environment. This rebellious streak gives him licence to perform an eclectic mix of music and styles, although his classical roots will always shine through. The Guitar Whisperer plays the New Wolsey Theatre in Ipswich on the 22nd March, presenting music by Bach, Debussy, Django Reinhardt and Durrant himself … all accompanied by a multi-media show of animated film and projected artwork. Having bemoaned the lack of classical music on BBC Radio Suffolk recently, I’m delighted to let you know that I will be wheeling out the BBC’s trusty old recording van for the evening. Good though it will be to hear an hour of varied guitar music over the airwaves at Easter, this is a show best experienced in the flesh, so I hope to see you there!
Are you a ballet fan? As interest in Strictly seems to be stronger than ever, it’s possible that this would encourage folks to discover the classical side of dance. When deciding how best to approach an unfamiliar art form, focussing on what is most popular is usually the best plan. Tchaikovsky is a great starting point as he wrote some of his finest music for ballets such as Swan Lake and Sleeping Beauty. Another plus point is that these are stories which appeal to all the family. The Russian State Ballet & Orchestra of Siberia are currently touring both productions and they breeze into the Ipswich Regent on the 11th and 12th March. In Sleeping Beauty, we are promised “stunning choreography, sumptuous costumes and wonderful sets form the fantasy world in which the Lilac Fairy struggles against the evil Carabosse”. The tragic tale of Swan Lake should be just as impressive and the pictures accompanying these words show just how dazzling the costumes and sets will be. I dare say the standard of music making won’t be half bad either.
The Apex in Bury is busy this month hosting local music groups. I’ve always enjoyed hearing the Voice Squad, a group of young singers who have made the finals of BBC Radio 3 Choir of the Year more than once. They are the stars of the Mayor’s Charity Concert on Sunday 20th March, where they’ll be singing a programme of music from all over the globe, culminating in a spectacular full performance of Karl Jenkins’ “Adiemus, Songs of Sanctuary”. It’s the turn of the Suffolk Sinfonia the previous evening and theirs is also a good looking programme, which includes Sibelius’ Karelia Suite and Rachmaninov’s First Symphony. Back in 1897, the premier of the Rachmaninov was conducted by fellow composer Alexander Glazunov. Unfortunately, he was so drunk the performance was a disaster and Rachmaninov suffered a nervous breakdown as a result. I’m told that Suffolk Sinfonia plan to give us the teetotal version.