The Fiddler’s Tale – A Bardi premiere for our leader’s violin concerto

18th November 2022

There’s a real treat in the Bardi Symphony Orchestra’s concert at De Montfort Hall next Sunday. As well as Pictures at an Exhibition and Sibelius’ Finlandia, the Orchestra are also performing ‘The Fiddler’s Tale’ a violin concerto composed and performed by leader Adam Summerhayes. Originally commissioned by the Helix Ensemble this concert marks its Bardi premiere and the composer described his piece as follows…

Whether this is a tale telling of a fiddler or whether it is a tale told by a fiddler, I am not sure – the narrative told itself as I wrote it and it seems counter-productive to try to describe it in words: the musical story is more subtle than my words can tell and seems to shift every time I play the music.

The concerto owes something to medieval music, to minimalism and to pan-European folk music. Parallel 4ths and 5ths are a feature as are ostinatos, grounds and homophonic melodies with primitive rhythmic accompaniment – the modal world it inhabits grew organically from these elements.

The music is in one continuous span in 5 parts. Parts 2 and 4 function as slow movements and part 3 as something like a scherzo. The first interlude meditatively prepares the space for the second movement and the second interlude is reminiscent of the traditional concerto cadenza. The first part sets ideas in motion that eventually culminate in Part 5, after which the postlude ties things up in a somewhat post-apocalyptic conclusion … a conclusion that returns the music of the beginning of the work … it could seamlessly go round on a loop …

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Students share the stage with the Bardi at Leicester Grammar School

7th November 2022

In spite of very heavy rain outside, a good sized audience gathered in St Nicholas Hall at Leicester Grammar School for the annual Bardi-LGS concert focusing on GCSE Set Works. 

The audience was treated to several solo performances by talented young pupils from the school enjoying the opportunity of playing with a full-sized orchestra.  The Bardi players also enjoyed the company of around twenty pupils sitting alongside them to play in the Orchestra. 

The audience were kept on their toes with interactive questions about the music displayed on a large screen, with responses from mobile phones in the audience, as the programme was described by Amy McPherson, Deputy Director of Music at LGS. 

Oh yes, and in the photographs you might be able to spot Orchestra Manager Robert Calow, he usually plays in the clarinet section but it was his birthday on the day of the concert so we let him join the percussion section and he had a wonderful time playing the cymbals.

Our wonderful LGS soloists for the afternoon were:
Vidhi Thakor (flute) played the Badinerie from Bach Suite No 2 in B minor
Samuel Li  (violin) played the 1st Mvt of Violin Concerto No 4 in D Major by Mozart
Elena Bensi (trumpet)  played the 1st Mvt of Haydn Trumpet Concerto in E flat
Leonora Ashworth Jones (clarinet)  played the 3rd Mvt of Kozeluch Clarinet Concerto No 2 in Eb major
Sarah Inchley (violin) played the 2nd Mvt of Bruch’s Violin Concerto No 1
Arjun Kotecha (cello) played the 1st & 2nd Mvt of Elgar’s Cello Concerto.
Katie Bensi (saxophone) played the 2nd mvt of Milhaud’s Scaramouche Suite

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A Celebration of Vaughan Williams kicks off the Bardi’s 2022-23 concert season

10th October 2022

The Bardi Symphony Orchestra kicked off their 2022-23 season on Saturday after being invited by Leicester Philharmonic Choir to join them on stage for their Celebration of Vaughan Williams at 150 at De Montfort Hall. 

The concert was conducted by LPC music director Stephen Bullamore and commenced with the World Premiere of What man is he by Imogen Holst, a student of Vaughan Williams, for small orchestra and chorus.

Willard Welsford and the Leicester Youth Chorus then sang Thomas Tallis’ original setting of Psalm 2, the theme of which Vaughan Williams later used for the Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis. The Bardi Symphony Orchestra string section then took centre stage with a stirring performance of the Tallis Fantasia.

The second half featured a powerful performance of Vaughan Williams’ First Symphony ‘A Sea Symphony’. The Leicester Philharmonic Choir were joined by a much enlarged Bardi Symphony Orchestra and soloists soprano Nina Bennet and baritone Andrew Davies.

You can next see the Bardi on the De Montfort Hall stage performing Pictures at an Exhibition on Sunday 27th November at 3pm. Find out more here.

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Exploring Vaughan Williams’ Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis

29 September 2022

This September marks 112 years since the premiere of the Tallis Fantasia. Ahead of the Bardi’s performance at their 2022-23 season-opening concert, we explore the history of the English masterpiece in this the 150th anniversary year of the composer’s birth.

Ralph Vaughan Williams’ Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis is perhaps one of the most beloved string works in the repertoire – it has appeared in the top 5 of Classic FM’s ‘Hall of Fame’ list almost every year since the poll’s inception, is regularly performed and recorded all around the world and is seen as a symbol of ‘Englishness’.

The Bardi Symphony Orchestra rehearsing Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis, 25th September 2022

And yet, its premiere 112 years ago could at best be described only as a middling success. It was performed at Gloucester Cathedral on 6th September 1910, and at the time Vaughan Williams was a relatively unknown composer, especially compared to Edward Elgar, who conducted his choral masterpiece The Dream of Gerontius to rapturous acclaim in the second half of the very same concert. The audience were perhaps unaccustomed to the gentle, pastoral nature of the music, when Elgar’s nationalistic pomp was seen as the standard of the day.

Described as both ‘extremely beautiful’ by The Daily Telegraph, and yet ‘a queer, mad work’ by music critic Herbert Brewer, the cathedral’s organist, it was too modern for the Edwardian listeners – however the composer intended the opposite, as the basis for the theme actually dates as far back as the 16th century.

When collecting old music and texts for his 1906 book The English Hymnal, Vaughan Williams came across a set of tunes based on Psalm 2, composed by Elizabethan Royal composer, Thomas Tallis. Enamoured with the rising harmonies and simple melody, he set about creating a homage to Tallis’ work. Taking inspiration from old renaissance fantasias like those by Purcell and Locke, he used the unique combination of two string orchestras to explore the tune in several different guises to give an overall impression of the original.

Left to right: Vaughan Williams in 1910; Thomas Tallis; Gloucester Cathedral.

Over the years Vaughan Williams reworked the piece several times, but it was only when his other famous works such as The Lark Ascending came to the fore that his Fantasia was considered a triumph. You can hear the Bardi string section perform the piece at our Vaughan Williams 150 Celebration concert on 8th October.




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The Bardi launch the 2022-2023 concert season

19th August 2022

The Bardi’s 2022-23 concert season is now on sale at De Montfort Hall. With orchestral masterpieces, concerto favourites and West End stars there’s something for everyone this season.

Saturday 8 October 2022 at 7.30pm
Vaughan Williams: A Celebration at 150 with Leicester Philharmonic Choir

Vaughan Williams – Fantasia on a theme by Thomas Tallis
Imogen Holst – What Man is He world premiere
Vaughan Williams – Symphony No. 1 ‘A Sea Symphony’

De Montfort Hall, Leicester

Sunday 27 November 2022 at 3pm
Pictures at an Exhibition

Sibelius – Finlandia
Summerhayes – Violin Concerto ‘A Fiddler’s Tale’
Mussorgsky (orch. Ravel) – Pictures at an Exhibition

De Montfort Hall, Leicester

Saturday 17 December 2022 at 7.30pm
Bardi Wind Christmas Festival

Join the Bardi Wind Orchestra for their traditional festive collection of readings and music with Sleigh Ride, Christmas Festival, Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, In the Bleak Midwinter, White Christmas and many more!

Holy Trinity Church, Regent Road, Leicester

TBC January 2023
Bardi Young Musician Concert

A concert celebrating the Bardi Young Musician 2023 winner with a concerto performance to be announced. The Bardi Symphony Orchestra will also perform other classical favourites in this concert celebrating young musical talent from the region.

Venue TBC

Sunday 26 March 2023 at 3pm
Rodgers & Hammerstein on the Silver Screen

The Bardi celebrate the best of Rodger’s and Hammerstein at the movies with a distinguished line up of West End Soloists. Glyn Kerslake, Elaine Glover and Shona Lindsay sing favourites from The Sound of Music, The King and I, Carousel, South Pacific, Oklahoma! and more.

De Montfort Hall, Leicester

Sunday 14 May 2023 at 3pm
Bruch Violin Concerto

Weber – Oberon Overture
Bruch – Violin Concerto No. 1
Beethoven – Symphony No. 6 ‘Pastoral’

De Montfort Hall, Leicester

Sunday 11 June 2023 at 3pm
Bardi Wind Charity Gala Concert

Join the Bardi Wind Orchestra for their annual charity gala concert in association with Oadby & Wigston Lions Club with popular music for all ages. Concert repertoire to be announced.

De Montfort Hall, Leicester

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Highlights from the 2021-22 Season

29th July 2022

As we build up to the 2022/23 season launch, we’re taking a look back at some of the memorable highlights from the past year. Below are a number of performances from the 2021/22 season…

Bach (orch. Elgar) – Fantasia and Fugue in C minor – 10th October 2021

After more than 18 months away from the concert stage, the Bardi made a triumphant return to De Montfort Hall in October 2021 and a truly memorable performance of Elgar’s rarely heard, exciting orchestration of Bach’s Fantasia and Fugue opened the season in style.

Dukas – The Sorcerer’s Apprentice – 20th March 2022

The Bardi Symphony Orchestra’s first concert of 2022 came with a number of Covid-related difficulties, none more so than Mihkel Kerem superbly standing in as leader on 24 hour’s notice. But the concert also helped to raise over £1,000 for the DEC’s Ukraine Appeal thanks to the generosity of our audience. The concert included this performance of Dukas’ riotous The Sorcerer’s Apprentice.

Elgar – Serenade for Strings in E minor – 15th May 2022

The Orchestra’s season finale at De Montfort Hall was an all-Elgar affair featuring the famous Cello Concerto, but it the concert opened with his Serenade for Strings allowing the Bardi string section the opportunity to showcase their beautiful sound.

“An orchestra that compares with the best in the capital, on our doorstep in Leicester”

2022-23 Concert Season

On Sale Friday 19th August

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Bardi Young Musician a sparkling conclusion to the 2021-22 season

21st June 2022

A fitting climax to Bardi’s 2021-22 was provided on Sunday at the Bardi Young Musician 2022 Concert.

We heard a stunning performance of Strauss Horn Concerto No. 1 by 2022 Bardi Young Musician 18 year-old Francesca Penny who has played the horn since she was eight. The concert, originally planned for January,  is the first BYM concert since 2020 and was postponed from January this year for covid reasons. Fran’s assured and polished performance was greeted with enthusiastic applause from audience and Orchestra members alike when she collected her special trophy and prize at the end.

The concert began with spirited performances of Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro Overture and Bartók’s Romanian Folk Dances by the Orchestra under conductor Paul Hilliam, and was completed in the second half with an exciting reading of Beethoven’s less often aired Fourth Symphony. 

Plans are already in hand to find Bardi Young Musician 2023 and applications are open now, all the necessary information can be found below.

Applications for the 2023 competition are now open

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Bardi Wind a triumph at De Montfort Hall

13th June 2022

For the second time in just over a week the Bardi Wind assembled to provide an exciting concert in celebration of the Platinum Jubilee in this, the Wind Orchestra’s 30th year!

Following their appearance at Hinckley’s Hollycroft Park, where an audience of thousands celebrated the Platinum Jubilee in the sunshine with picnics, they appeared this time on the concert platform at Leicester’s De Montfort Hall giving their annual charity concert in association with the Oadby & Wigston Lions Club on Sunday 12 June.

A large contingent of civic dignitaries attended in support of this year’s nominated charity, Your Local Air Ambulance. The specially devised programme celebrated the Platinum Jubilee with 70 years of popular music associated with Her Majesty the Queen. It was presented by popular local compere Martin Ballard. Jenny Saunders and David Morris provided vocal items and the programme ended with a rousing ‘Last Night of the Proms’ finale which left the audience shouting for encores.

Photos: Neville Chadwick Photography

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Bardi Wind celebrate the Jubilee in style at Hollycroft Park

5th June 2022

The Bardi Wind Orchestra got the Queen‘s Platinum Jubilee celebrations off to a fine start in Hinckley at the beginning of the long Bank Holiday weekend. 

After a highly successful appearance at the town’s Hollycroft Park last summer, the BWO were invited to return for this special concert. Joined by popular vocal soloists Jenny Saunders and David Morris, and conducted by BWO’s conductor David Calow, the Orchestra held the attention of the picnicking audience until late in the evening. The weather was very kind and players eyes widened as more and more audience poured into the park before the concert – last year’s audience was large but this year exceeded all expectations. Those who could get a spot in front of the Orchestra happily sat under the trees at the side (where the view was limited) with their picnics and sang along anyway! As this was a free event it was not possible to get an accurate count of the audience, but it was thought to be several thousand (possibly ten thousand) and certainly the BWO’s biggest audience ever!

If you missed the concert, don’t worry the Orchestra will be doing it all over again at De Montfort Hall in Leicester on Sunday 12 June at 3pm. 

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