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World Premiere : Cecilia McDowall 'da Vinci' Requiem / Ravel Piano Concerto in G
with the Philharmonia Orchestra and Martin James Bartlett (piano)

Tuesday, 07 May 2019, 19:30
Royal Festival Hall, Southbank Centre, London  SE1 8XX

In 2015, Wimbledon Choral Society celebrated its 100th anniversary with a performance of Brahms' Ein deutsches Requiem to a 2000-strong audience in the Royal Festival Hall.   The success of that concert enabled WCS to commission a substantial new work to mark its 100 years in existence.   A small team was put together to research and assess the current crop of outstanding British composers and Cecilia McDowall was awarded the commission.   Tonight's performance will see the world premiere of her da Vinci Requiem, almost 500 years to the day since the death of Leonardo da Vinci on 2nd May 1519.
 
Martin James Bartlett (b. 1996) won the prestigious title of BBC Young Musician of the Year 2014, having narrowly missed out in the same competition two years earlier, and WCS is delighted to welcome him to play Ravel's ravishing Piano Concerto in G as part of this concert programme.  Martin began his piano studies at the Royal College of Music Junior Department when he was 8 years of age, and then five years later at the Purcell School. He returned to the Royal College of Music for his undergraduate studies, notably as a coveted Foundation Scholar.  Martin also previously studied the bassoon and the recorder, achieving Grade 8 Distinction on all three instruments by the age of 12.  Following his triumph at the BBC YMOY, Martin made his debut at the BBC Proms, performing Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue with the Ulster Orchestra as part of the “Last Night” celebrations, and being one of the youngest-ever soloists to make such a debut.
 
Of his concerto, Maurie Ravel wrote "The G-major Concerto took two years of work, you know. The opening theme came to me on a train between Oxford and London. But the initial idea is nothing. The work of chiseling then began. We've gone past the days when the composer was thought of as being struck by inspiration, feverishly scribbling down his thoughts on a scrap of paper. Writing music is seventy-five percent an intellectual activity."    The work is in three movements with the highly-charged and frenetic Presto finishing off a work infused deeply with jazz idioms and harmonies.


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