The 2015 Annual Lunch was held at the Greenway Manor Hotel, Cheltenham on Thursday 15 January and was attended by thirty six members. One of our members, erstwhile Chairman of the Ivor Gurney Society Anthony Boden read poems relating to views of the Cotswolds by the Gloucester poet and a few excerpts of Bliss music were played between courses to entertain the guests.
A Recital at the Cheltenham Town Hall on Tuesday 17 March was arranged by the Society as part of the regular lunchtime recital programme. Rebeca Omordia played the Piano Suite, the John Ireland Piano Sonata and Ravel’s ‘Scarbo’ from Gaspard de la Nuit. The large and knowledgeable audience gave her a very warm reception at the end of the recital and many of them queued up to compliment her authoritative and committed performance. Rebeca hopes to include the Piano Suite in her recitals and concert performances in her homeland, Romania. The concert was given in association with the Arthur Bliss Society, the Bliss Trust and the John Ireland Trust.
A review of the concert by John Wright in the Spring Newsletter described Rebeca Omordia as “a very fine ambassador for Sir Arthur Bliss and a first class advocate of his music”.
The AGM Concert was held on Saturday 13 June at St. Andrew’s Church, Cheltenham. The Percy-Lyakhovskaya played Elgar’s Op 82 Sonata for Violin and Piano, Bliss’s Masks Suite and, after an introduction by Robert Milnes, Bliss’s recently-restored Sonata for Violin and Piano.
For a review of the concert by Roger Jones for Seen and Heard International, click HERE
Three Choirs Festival, Hereford
The Society’s Tea and Talk was held as part of the Hereford Three Choirs Festival on Monday 27 July at The Left Bank Complex, Hereford, prior to the evening concert.
Thirty-six members and friends went by coach from the Cheltenham area and within a few minutes, meeting the many other members and friends present, the usual friendly atmosphere at Society events was again evident. The Tea was held at The Left Bank complex by the side of the river Wye. The room held eighty people and the event had been sold out. This did show that people are interested in learning more about Bliss and his music. Many of those present had not even heard of Morning Heroes and were keen to learn more before the performance.
The Chairman, Gerald Towell, welcomed members and guests and extended a very warm welcome to the speaker, Andrew Burn. Andrew, who is the Chairman of the Bliss Trust, then gave a fascinating talk entitled ‘Now Trumpeter, for thy Close: an introduction to Morning Heroes’. He gave a very interesting résumé of Bliss’s life leading up to World War l, telling us how Bliss had volunteered for the British Army within two days of the war being declared, later serving with distinction in the Grenadier Guards. He explained Bliss’s involvement and the traumas he experienced during the horrors of the Somme, where his beloved brother Kennard was killed. Andrew illustrated this with some musical extracts: he drew attention particularly to the Suite for Piano (1925) where Bliss had dedicated the slow movement, Elegy, in memory of Kennard; his talk was moving and poignant, and illustrated so well how Bliss came to compose the work. (The Suite for Piano has been recorded by Mark Bebbington in Volume 1 of the complete Bliss Piano Music: see our Recordings page.)
The Society is very grateful to the Bliss Trust for supporting these events. It is to be hoped that more Bliss music will appear at future Three Choirs Festivals, which will enable us to arrange similar events. Certainly it helped to give Bliss more prominence, and enhanced his profile.
The evening concert started with the 5th Symphony of Sibelius, for which Sir Andrew Davis and the Philharmonia gave a spine-tingling performance. The conductor, orchestra, choir and orator gave a memorable and thrilling performance of Morning Heroes. Sir Andrew has a splendid feel for the architecture of the piece and it was greeted with long applause and standing ovations at the end. Many of those present must have wondered why they had never heard this work before, and certainly it showed what a great composer Bliss was. The concert was supported by the Bliss Trust. Details of Sir Andrew’s new recording of Morning Heroes can be found on our Recordings page.