Intimate with Mr Enderby tells you nothing more untoward than Janáček’s Second String Quartet, Intimate Letters, is programmed with a piece called Inside Mr Enderby by Huw Belling at a concert this coming Thursday (23rd of March).
It takes place at The Chimney House in the vicinity of Kelham Island and is given by a newly formed group of young, top-flight musicians, the Manchester Collective, the Belling work being its first performance.
An intriguing collection of facts that have only just surfaced but in need, no pretty much demanding further investigation!
Made up with musicians from orchestras such as the BBC Phil and Royal Liverpool Phil, the group came into being last year and 2017 sees its first series of concerts, six of them with fascinating content, and its artistic director is cellist Adam Szabo.
“North West England has an incredibly rich cultural heritage of orchestral music,” he explains, “but we’ve found that the chamber music vein is not nearly as diverse or as rich, so our remit is to bring a greater depth of chamber music in the north west.”
Certainly, the scope is wide in the Collective’s first six concerts: Taverner (the Renaissance one), Purcell, Biber, Vivaldi, via Mozart and Beethoven, to Barber, Janáček, Stravinsky, Ravel, Schulhoff, Piazzolla, Schoenberg, Cage, Jorg Widman to the immediate Huw Belling.
“The way that we present these concerts is quite different,” says Adam Szabo.
“It’s a departure from, I guess, traditional concert programming, especially for new audiences who’ve never been to a concert, or not being to many before. There are so many conventions and preconceptions we find it distances audiences.”
Accordingly, recognised concert venues are shunned, which where The Chimney House with its steel rolling mill origins comes into the equation. All are in the round to increase intimacy.
So why is an ensemble formed, ostensibly, to cater for the needs of North West England straying north east to Sheffield, and twice more later in the year (July, September), as well as Leeds?
“We believe this music should be heard by as many people as possible. Sheffield is such a big city and I think there is room for much more,” feels the Collective’s artistic director.
Worth noting, perhaps, is that he says he is familiar with Music in the Round, which shares similarities with the Manchester Collective’s philosophical aims, proclaiming: “They do really wonderful work!”
Huw Belling’s Inside Mr Enderby is the first of a series of annual commissions by the ensemble and if you know your Anthony Burgess you will be aware that the work’s title is that of a book by him and, maybe, that this year is the centenary of the birth of the Mancunian author, and composer!
Belling, a young Australian composer of increasing note at present based in Oxford where he was recently been awarded a PhD was approached in collaboration with the International Anthony Burgess Foundation for a work to celebrate the occasion.
A notable background in chamber opera has led him to write a song cycle with string quartet, dramaturge Pierce Wilcox extracting words from the book, and with one singer in mind, Mitch(ell) Riley.
A fellow Australian and baritone with whom he has worked on regular basis and also presently out of his home country, holding down a prestigious residency in Paris, Riley is a much admired singer of contemporary music.
“Not only is Mitch an acclaimed operatic baritone,” says Adam Szabo, “he comes from a background of physical theatre and acting so we expect the work will have a highly visual and dramatic element to it.”
He is also involved in the Janáček, reading the composer’s letters!
And let it not be said that the Manchester Collective may struggle for an audience. The ensemble’s first concert (Sheffield sees the second) was streamed live on Facebook and attracted over 15,000 viewers!
There is also a captive audience among students. They get into all concerts – usually each one at three different venues – free with a valid student card!
More at www.manchestercollective.co.uk