Immerse Yourself in Chamber Music on Sundays
LCMS Sunday evening concerts are now preceded by chamber music masterclasses at ChamberStudio at Kings Place.
Established by Richard Ireland in October 2010, ChamberStudio offers coaching and support to aspiring, up-and-coming post-college chamber groups who are no longer under the wing of an institution. The masterclasses are given by eminent chamber performers and teachers from this country and abroad. Most of the tutors are familiar to LCMS audiences as present or former members of quartets, such as the Chilingirian, Wihan, Lindsay, Dante, Endellion, and pianist Susan Tomes of the Florestan Trio. The list of tutors is led by Shmuel Ashkenasi, former leader of the Vermeer Quartet and present faculty member of the Curtis Institute. Richard Ireland was Ashkenasi’s teaching assistant in the USA for three years. ChamberStudio has successfully taken off at great speed, and it is thanks to the enthusiastic drive and dedicated work of Richard Ireland that it has now become part of Sundays at Kings Place. He established this project having seen the need to provide high-level coaching opportunities for post- college chamber groups in the early stages of their careers. When Richard wrote to Peter Millican in February 2010 describing his vision, Peter immediately gave his stamp of approval and generously offered the use of two rooms at Kings Place on Sunday afternoons. With this, Richard was able to forge ahead, and within months the stage was set for the first masterclasses on 3 October 2010. Richard Ireland is an experienced chamber musician, whose knowledge and love of chamber music were almost inevitable. His mother, Peggy Gray, was pianist in the trio with Alan Loveday and Amaryllis Fleming. His father, Patrick Ireland, was founder viola player with the Allegri Quartet (along with Eli Goren, James Barton, William Pleeth and later, Bruno Schrecker). His brother Robin was viola player with the renowned Lindsays. At the outset of his violin studies in north London, Richard was a student of Sheila Nelson, whose highly respected teaching method has continued to grow and develop. He later taught violin and chamber music at the Royal Northern College of Music for 14 years. During this time he collaborated with, and was strongly influenced by the energetic inspiration of his colleague, Christopher Rowland, who founded the highly successful RNCM ChamberFest. As a member of the Chilingirian Quartet, Richard performed at many of the major venues across Europe. In addition to Peter Millican’s endorsement of ChamberStudio by offering the venue, Simon and Pamela Majaro of the CAVATINA Chamber Music Trust also gave invaluable support, as did the Richard Carne Trust. Richard is also extremely grateful for the support and encouragement that Neil Johnson and the London Chamber Music Society have given to the scheme as close neighbours at Kings Place. There are four masterclasses on Sunday afternoons, divided between two tutors and held in the Limehouse and Wenlock Rooms and sometimes in Hall 2. Each tutor gives two 90-minute sessions, 2.30-4pm and 4.30-6pm, making it possible for four groups to receive coaching each week, in parallel with the dates of the LCMS concert series. The coaching sessions are heavily subsidised to make them as financially accessible as possible to the young musicians: £60 divided by the group for one and a half hours of expert chamber music coaching is less than a round at the pub afterwards! No wonder so many groups are returning customers, and many of them already have a busy concert schedule. For example, the Solstice Quartet won the 2010 Royal Overseas League Competition; the Wu Quartet was selected by the European Chamber Music Academy; and the Lawson Piano Trio will be one of eight finalists to appear at the Melbourne International Chamber Music Competition in July this year. ChamberStudio’s value is clearly appreciated by its participants. Richard Ireland is also collaborating on behalf of ChamberStudio groups with concert promoters such as Sheffield-based Music in the Round and the North Norfolk Music Festival. These days it is a struggle for music societies around the UK to survive, and Richard believes that by encouraging and enabling new-generation chamber groups to get their careers off the ground, these young groups can help to create a good balance alongside the more famous names in the music society concert diaries. The door is now also open for junior groups to come to ChamberStudio for two or three special events in the year. The first of these took place on 23 January. Movements by Shostakovich, Schubert, Borodin and Beethoven were played by string quartets and piano trios from Junior Trinity, Sevenoaks, Wycombe Abbey, and North London Collegiate schools. They were quite obviously delighted to have been chosen to appear in these masterclasses, and in turn delighted the audience of family supporters and other observers. In the relaxed and friendly atmosphere, they gained many new musical ideas of balance and phrasing, and were encouraged to conjure up pictures they imagined the music painted. They were also urged to take advantage of the opportunity to observe the more advanced groups that were working in the other teaching room with Peter Cropper. Following the success of this first session for junior groups, another was planned for 1 May this year. A central goal of ChamberStudio is that the masterclasses remain as affordable as possible to the young musicians, and the scheme relies on donations from keen chamber music supporters (please see www.chamberstudio.org/donations). Observers are welcome at ChamberStudio, and it is possible to move quietly in and out of the sessions at any time. Information about who is coaching, which groups are being coached, and what they are playing is listed on the website at www.chamberstudio.org/calendar. If you wish to observe, ChamberStudio requests that you inform them by using the ‘Contact Us’ tab on the website or by leaving a message on tel: (020) 7193-4377. The atmosphere is informal and informative, and very accessible to LCMS audiences. If you have not already done so, why not make plans to arrive earlier in the afternoon to enjoy chamber music in the making at ChamberStudio, followed by refreshments in the cafe or bar in the Kings Place foyer, and finishing the early evening with the LCMS Sunday concert?