John Casken

Our new season brings four concerts for those keen to experience great music performed by some of our best musicians in a beautiful location. We begin with one of our leading string quartets, followed by captivating choral singing, a truly inspiring pianist, and finishing with a sparkling folk trio in dialogue with two virtuosic solo violins.

The award-winning Brodsky Quartet needs little introduction to audiences who keep an eye on the international chamber music scene. Established 45 years ago, and with over 3000 concerts and 70 recordings to their name, their wealth of experience enables them to shed new light on established masterpieces as well as continuing to offer innovative programmes and projects. They have recorded many works from the classic string quartet repertoire as well as new works written especially for them. They are much in demand around the world, from Australasia to North and South America, Asia, South Africa and Europe. The Brodsky Quartet’s complete cycle of Shostakovich’s string quartets resulted in their being awarded the title of ‘Artistic Associate’ at London’s Kings Place in 2012, and their second recording of the cycle was made live at the Muziekgebouw in Amsterdam in 2016.

Mark Hindley, who conducts the Scottish Vocal Ensemble on 31 May, was one of the founding members of the choir in 2015. Their singers are individually selected and the group has performed at prestigious venues in Perth, Edinburgh and in the Borders’ abbeys of Melrose and Dryburgh. They are keen to balance repertoire pieces with lesser-known works, as their programme clearly demonstrates.

Mark Hindley is both a conductor and an organist, and even though he qualified as a doctor, music enticed him away from pursuing medicine as a career. He is much in demand as a Chorus Master, including with Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Leeds Philharmonic Society, and RTE Philharmonic Choir in Ireland.

Steven Osborne could rightly be described as a national treasure. He is much sought after as a soloist, chamber musician and recitalist. He won the Royal Philharmonic Society’s Instrumentalist of the Year award in 2013 and has enjoyed residencies at London’s Wigmore Hall, with CBSO and RSNO orchestras, Antwerp’s deSingel and Bath International Music Festival. He has performed around the world and is as renowned for his interpretations of Beethoven as he is of works by Messiaen and Tippett. He has given recitals in many of the world’s major venues from Vienna and Amsterdam to Tokyo and New York. In 2020 Steven Osborne will release his 30th recording for Hyperion, a fascinating disc of Prokofiev’s War Sonatas.

It is always very pleasing when we are able to invite musicians with local connections, and two members of Inver (Kevin Lees, fiddle, and Matthew Jones, guitar), who take part in our final concert, trained on Newcastle University’s Folk Degree Course. Through their involvement with local organisations such as Folkworks, Tyneside Irish Centre, and as members of Sage Gateshead’s Folkestra, Matthew and Kevin grew up learning the folk music of Northumberland, Scotland and Ireland. The Danish musician Rune Barslund completes the trio playing whistles and accordion. Rune has been playing Irish traditional music from an early age and spent a year at Limerick during his university course immersing himself in the tradition. As well as composing new material, Inver also explore the Celtic tradition which inspires most of their work. Inver released their debut album 'Heading Out' in November 2019 and this will be the Denmark-based band's first visit to the UK.

This final concert includes two further local musicians, ones closely linked to Royal Northern Sinfonia. Bradley Creswick is the irrepressible former leader of the orchestra, immensely gifted as soloist and chamber musician as well as orchestral leader. He originally joined RNS in 1984 and in the late 1980s moved to London to lead the Philharmonia, and then the orchestra of the Royal Opera House before returning to Sage Gateshead and the Sinfonia in 1994. He regularly appears as Guest Leader for other orchestras, appears as a recitalist with pianist Margaret Fingerhut, and retired as Leader of RNS in 2019. Born in Tasmania, Katerina Nazarova is a prize-winning violinist who has performed with both the Sydney and Melbourne Symphony Orchestras. She is an active chamber musician in Europe and Asia and has led a number of UK orchestras, including the Scottish Chamber Orchestra and CBSO. She is now Principal 1st Violin with Royal Northern Sinfonia.

I hope you’ll agree that this is an impressive line-up of artists and that the 2020 season of concerts (see Concerts page) promises to be an exciting journey with great music and interesting programmes.

John Casken, Artistic Director

Tickets will be available from February 2020

Alwinton Summer Concerts take place in the Church of St Michael and All Angels, located just outside of the remote, rural village of Alwinton in Upper Coquetdale, Northumberland. The series has established itself as one of the major cultural events in the North-East of England and the church, with its fine acoustic, is surrounded by beautiful and dramatic landscape.

John Casken Chairman and Artistic Director
Richard Marr Treasurer
Anne Jones Secretary

Alwinton Church Summer Concerts - Registered Charity No. 1140527