Today, Wednesday 4 December, we welcomed back Ellie Lovegrove and Richard Moore to Brentwood Cathedral to share with us their expertise and incredible musical compatibility, which we were delighted to hear again in their respective instruments. Please read full details of their musical experiences and achievements at the end of this review.
Ellie and Richard began by introducing the first of two premiere works by renowned English composer, arranger and pianist, Roderick Elms. ‘Advent Dances’ is the second of two pieces written for the Illumina Duo, and Roderick has expressed how much he enjoys writing for trumpet and organ, so clearly evident in the ten minutes of thrilling musical exchanges between the instruments. Ellie and Richard’s impeccable playing held our attention throughout this set of variations, based on the Advent hymn tune ‘Veni Immanuel’, with each section written in a different dance style. What a privilege it was for our Wednesday lunchtime audience to hear this vibrant new work in the beautiful surroundings of Brentwood Cathedral.
The second piece, for organ, was ‘Canon in A-flat’ by Romantic German composer Robert Schumann (1810-1856), written in 1845 and from ‘Six Pieces in Canonic Form’ (Op. 56 Etudes), dedicated to his first piano teacher and greatly inspired by J. S. Bach (1685-1750). It was immediately peaceful and reflective in its haunting phrases and central melodic theme, described by Richard as one of his favourites in the Schumann repertoire.
This was followed by ‘Nun komm der Heiden Heiland’ (‘Now come, Saviour of the heathens’), from Cantata BWV61 by J. S. Bach. This Lutheran chorale is widely used for the first Sunday in Advent, with Bach’s setting composed in 1714 and first performed in December of that year, directed by the composer. We heard the opening ‘Chorale Fantasia’, played with rich yet soothing tones, which Richard sustained with eloquence and reverence.
Richard was then joined again by Ellie, as they performed the first and fourth movements from one of the leading twentieth-century works for trumpet and organ: ‘Okna (Windows)’ by the Czech composer, organist and choirmaster Petr Eben (1929-2007). Inspired by the stained-glass artwork of Marc Chagall, Eben uses the movements to represent four different windows as a source of light, each dominated by a certain colour and exploring spiritual depths of personal significance. ‘The Blue Window’ depicts ever-moving waves of the sea, with fish and circling birds, which we envisaged vividly through this mesmerising movement. ‘The Golden Window’ further combined sight and sound, portraying richness of light, candles of liturgical ceremony and ‘fruit of the earth’. Adding to the visual experience, our eyes seemed naturally drawn to the golden glass candle-holders adorning the choir stalls, as we appreciated the beautiful contrasting harmonies. The organ’s underlying chorale theme accompanied largely free-style, soul-searching trumpet phrases, before both instruments united with a quicker, contrapuntal rhythm and refreshing conclusion.
In keeping with the spirit of Advent, Ellie and Richard performed the second of Roderick Elms’s premiere pieces, ‘A Christmas Carillon’, written in 2017 after the composer attended a service of Nine Lessons and Carols. In his words: “During that poignant moment of silence between the end of the last hymn, Hark! The herald angels sing and the organ voluntary, I had the idea for the opening of ‘A Christmas Carillon’ – based on the carol In Dulci Jubilo.” This uplifting piece is dedicated to Andrew Wright, which is extremely fitting and well-deserving, as it embodies the dedication and boundless musical energy of Brentwood Cathedral’s much respected Director of Music!
Returning to the beginning of Advent, we heard ‘Nun komm der Heiden Heiland’ (BuxWV 211) by the earlier Baroque composer Dieterich Buxtehude (1637/39-1707), whose style influenced many composers, especially Bach. This short organ interlude quietened our minds, before leading us finally to Roderick Elms’s last piece, ‘Pipe Dream’ – a fantasy dance for trumpet and organ, premiered here in 2018 and enhanced again by the Cathedral’s bright acoustics, providing a truly exhilarating climax to the concert. All Roderick Elms’s music from today’s programme can be found on his festive CD: ‘A Windy Christmas’ (Herald).
Roderick showed his warmest gratitude to Richard and Ellie for their exemplary playing of his pieces, and Nina How also thanked the performers; this was followed by refreshments in the Song School. On behalf of Andrew Wright, we would like to thank the Illumina Duo for their superb recital and for kindly sharing so many interesting thoughts with the audience. We wish them every success and hope to welcome them back soon to Brentwood Cathedral!
Robert Schumann (1810-56)
Canon in Ab
J.S. Bach (1685-1750)
Nun komm der Heiden Heiland
Petr Eben (1929-2007)
Okna (Windows) Movements 1 and 4
A Christmas Carillon
Dieterich Buxtehude (1637-1707
Nun komm der Heiden Heiland
Illumina formed in 2012, and have since enjoyed giving recitals at St Paul’s Cathedral, Fairfield Halls Croydon and St Martin-in-the-Fields. Their first album, ‘Illuminations, Dances & Poems’, released on Convivium Records in 2017, received 4 stars in Organists Review, whilst Fanfare magazine reviewed the playing as ‘uniformly excellent’. Illumina are active in commissioning new works, and in 2019 they recorded two pieces by Roderick Elms, featured on ‘A Windy Christmas’; a CD of Roderick’s festive music released on Herald.
Described as playing with a “fiery tone and blistering technique” by the International Trumpet Guild Journal, Ellie Lovegrove is in demand as a soloist, chamber, orchestral and West End musician. Originally from Ware, Hertfordshire, Ellie grew up in a musical family and started the trumpet aged 7. She later played principal trumpet with the Hertfordshire County Youth Orchestra, and went on to study with Paul Benniston and Michael Laird at the Royal College of Music.
As a soloist, she has performed Shostakovich Concerto No. 1 at St John’s, Smith Square, London, and has recently visited the Far East, where in addition to giving Masterclasses, performed a recital in Hong Kong, and World Premieres at Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts.
As a freelancer, Ellie performs with a large variety of orchestras, including the BBC Concert Orchestra, BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, and Britten Sinfonia. She is currently on trial for Principal Trumpet with English National Ballet. As a chamber musician, she has performed at the London Handel Festival on period instrument, and regularly performs with brass quintet Chaconne Brass in recitals and recording across the country. Commercially, Ellie has played for ‘Les Miserables’ and ‘Chicago’ in the West End, London, and has worked with pop artists Sister Sledge and Seal. She teaches trumpet at the Junior Guildhall School of Music, and when isn’t playing the trumpet, enjoys trying to keep up with Cece, her Spanish Greyhound.
Richard Moore read Music as Organ Scholar of St John’s College, Oxford, after which he took up a place at the Royal College of Music, studying Organ with David Graham. In 2013 he graduated from the MMus degree with distinction, attaining the Walford Davies prize in organ performance. Richard held the William and Irene Miller Organ Scholarship at St Paul’s Cathedral for two years, where, in addition to playing for services and training choristers, he played for the funeral of Baroness Thatcher.
After leaving St Paul’s, he spent a year as Acting Assistant Organist of St Martin-in-the-Fields, where he accompanied the three principal choirs in a varied liturgical and concert programme, and on Radio 3 and 4. A highlight of his time at St Martin’s was the service to commemorate the 70th anniversary of VJ Day, which took place in the presence of HM Queen Elizabeth II and other members of the royal family, and was broadcast on BBC television.
Richard took up the post of Sub Organist at Guildford Cathedral in August 2017, in which role he is responsible for articulating the day to day liturgies of the Cathedral, principally through accompanying the Cathedral Choir. A “technically very confident” musician who finds “fine colours” on the organ, Richard continues his studies with Bine Katrine Bryndorf, and holds the Soloist Diploma of the Royal Danish Academy of Music, where he was hailed as “a smouldering musician, with incredible rhythmic precision”.
Refreshments were served in the Song School after the recital
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