to Finzi Friends
Supporting and sustaining interest in British composer Gerald Finzi
Finzi Friends Day in Churchdown and Chosen Hill
Please click on the poster on the right for more details about this upcoming Finzi Friends event.
This event arranged by the Finzi Friends will consist of the AGM, a talk by Philip Lancaster about Katharine Towers’ new Finzi collection, and a recital in St Andrew’s Church.
Finzi Friends Event in St John’s Wood and Hamilton Terrace
Please click on the poster on the right for more details about this upcoming Finzi Friends event featuring a voyage of discovery and afternoon recital in London
This FREE event arranged by the Finzi Friends will consist of a walk from Hamilton Terrace, the birthplace of Gerald Finzi, followed by refreshments and a recital in St John’s Wood Church a stone’s throw from Hamilton Terrace and on the western edge of Regent’s Park.
Performances of Finzi Before and After Summer
Please click on the poster on the right for more details about this upcoming performance of Finzi’s Before and After Summer.
An Unusual Christmas Gift
Rising baritone Peter Edge received an unusual Christmas present from composer John Whittaker. (https://john-whittaker.org/musician/) Peter, who is currently engaged in English Touring Opera’s 2023 season, was given a score of Finzi’s Let us garlands bring. A nice idea, you say, but this was no ordinary score. As you can see from the photograph, the score was the one originally given by Finzi himself to composer William Busch, and is signed by Finzi. To celebrate, Peter recorded ‘It was a lover and his lass’ for us together with pianist Frasier Hickland. There will be a longer article about Finzi and Busch in the Spring Newsletter for those to whom Busch’s name is less familiar. Meanwhile we hope you enjoy Peter and Frasier’s performance, showing that Finzi’s music is thriving amongst the latest generation of performers. Although they didn’t sing Finzi on this occasion, we thought you might also like to see Peter and Frasier pictured with Sir Thomas Allen at the recent British Song Festival Masterclass.
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Ashmansworth AGM & Discussion with composer Raymond Yiu
Saturday 9 July 2022
It was good to welcome members to Ashmansworth. A fuller account with photographs and also AGM details will appear in the next Newsletter.
Following the AGM in the morning, members enjoyed a stimulating talk by Raymond Yiu in the Village Hall about his music, and particularly his love of English Song. Ray’s openness and enthusiasm enabled an understanding of what inspires him and something of his working methods. This was great preparation for enjoying his cycle Dead Letters in the afternoon recital. Ray explained the significance of the relationship between Gerard Manley Hopkins and Digby Mackworth Dolben as the starting point of the cycle.
After a fine catered lunch, members moved up to Ashmansworth Church for an afternoon recital including Lost Letters. Songs in the cycle reflected Ray’s sustained interest in English Song as well as being compelling on their own account. The high-quality recital, by tenor Jonathan Hanley and Gavin Roberts, piano interspersed Ray’s songs with songs by other composers from many other periods, creating an intriguing and highly enjoyable experience. Particularly memorable was the performance by Jonathan and Gavin of Britten’s Canticle My beloved is mine, demonstrating great control yet intensity of expression.
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Finzi Friends supports Barnes Festival
7 March 2022
Finzi Friends was delighted to give financial support to the Barnes Festival piano composition competition and its workshop with celebrated pianist Matthew Schellhorn on March 7 2022 at St Mary’s Barnes. Matthew is noted for his promotion of Howells’ piano music through his Naxos recordings and the participating composers were asked to write a work taking as their starting point Howells’ short piece Chosen. The Adjudicators were Paul Spicer and Edwin Roxburgh, both pupils of Howells, who lived in Barnes, and Martin Bussey, Chair of Finzi Friends. At the workshop, Martin and Edwin, together with Matthew who played their pieces, talked through the entries with young composers from Tiffin School and St Paul’s Boys and Girls Schools and Laura Mitchell, the competition winner from York University. In the evening concert Matthew played Laura’s beautiful and sensitive piece in a recital including various repertoire by Chopin and Rachmaninoff that Howells himself played, as well as pieces by the adjudicators and Howells, including Howells’ sparkling Sonatina. It was also a chance to hear once again Ivor Gurney’s final work Si j’etais Roi in Philip Lancaster’s realisation which Matthew premiered last autumn. Finzi Friends is delighted to have enabled such a worthwhile and stimulating event for young composers. Click to make the photos bigger!
AGM and Churchdown Visit
September 4 2021
Following the postponement of the 2020 AGM we combined the 2021 AGM with a return visit to Churchdown on September 4. It was good to see so many members attending and we had a fruitful review of the activities of the Friends as part of the AGM. We thanked Clare McCaldin as she departed the Committee, especially for her role in setting up the new website, and paid tribute to all of Adrian Williams’ tireless efforts as Treasurer and also instigator and chair of the reserve grants working party. It was good to have his successor, Ian Wadhams with us. We also were delighted that our new website manager, Derri Lewis was able to join us.
After a sociable lunch, giving some members time to get up to the top of Chosen Hill, we enjoyed one of Iain Burnside’s brilliantly devised creations, centred around Finzi’s Letters. This enabled proper celebration of Diana McVeagh’s edition of the letters and it was a joy to have Diana with us. Iain accompanied tenor Florian Panzieri in captivating performances of many favourite Finzi songs, interspersed with readings from the letters by current chairman Martin Bussey and his predecessor, and Finzi Trustee, Paul Spicer. A highlight of the concert was hearing Iain as solo pianist in Howells’ tribute piece to Finzi, written on hearing of his death, Finzi’s Rest. Click to make the photos bigger!
St Marylebone Festival
July 23 2021
This summer has seen a re-awakening of Finzi Friends musical activities, through through our partnership event with St Marylebone Festival, on July 23 2021. There were three distinct parts to the event. In the afternoon Martin Bussey led a guided walk starting at Finzi’s birthplace in Hamilton Terrace down through St John’s Wood, passing Vaughan Williams’ house near Regents Park and ending up with a viewing of the Finzi bust. We were made very welcome by the librarian of the Royal Academy. The second element was an introductory talk by Martin Bussey prior to the evening concert entitled ‘Finzi, Town and Country’, looking at Finzi’s involvement in London set against his rural lifestyle. The culminating element was an invigorating and well-performed concert featuring the choir of St Marylebone in choral, solo vocal and instrumental roles. This included ‘Lo, the full final sacrifice’, settings of Christina Rossetti and Finzi’s Oboe Interlude amongst other works. We invested substantially in terms of financial support for this concert and it was well attended in the context of opening up after Covid. Particularly significant was the attendance at all the events by newcomers to Finzi or non-members of Finzi Friends.
In planning for the future we continue to look at holding events such as this; supporting other celebrations of Finzi’s music; and supporting groups who are performing Finzi’s music in interesting ways or visiting more rarely performed pieces. Click to make the photos bigger!
With Kathryn Adamson from the Royal Academy of Music library talking about the Finzi bust, with the Moura Lympany bust evident in the corner.
New Finzi releases – May 2021
Gerald Finzi Letters 1915-1956
Edited by Diana McVeagh
From amusing trivia to the deeply serious ideas and principles Finzi set out at the onset of war and in the 1950s, these letters allow for first-hand insights into his personality and background. This definitive edition is fully annotated, offering context with substantial commentaries on the correspondence, illustrations by Joy Finzi, a chronology, bibliography and a catalogue of works.
Why does the work of Gerald Finzi attract so much attention and interest?
The immediate answer can be found in the sheer quality and integrity of his compositions, particularly those setting English poetry. Finzi’s many settings of Thomas Hardy, Shakespeare and his luminous setting of Thomas Traherne, Dies Natalis, are unrivalled in their craftsmanship and response to words. They seem to result in music which is at one with the poet’s thought.
Gerald Finzi’s breadth of inspiration and depth of personality lend a mysterious and troubled quality to so much of his work, notably the remarkable Hardy song-cycle Earth and Air and Rain.
Tragically, he died in 1956 at the age of only fifty-five, shortly after completing his largest scale orchestral work, the Cello Concerto.
We hope you will enjoy exploring Finzi’s music and the work of the Friends, and will consider joining us through one of our two strands of membership.
Artist: Milein Cosman
Martin Bussey, Chairman, Finzi Friends
There is no room in the world, as you say, for second rate work.
There is no room in the world, as you say, for second rate work.
Support Finzi Friends and the work that we do by becoming a full member or by making a donation.
Join our membership and get priority booking to all events promoted by Finzi Friends
Encourage and promote performances of Finzi’s work and that of other British composers
Publish an annual Journal and occasional Newsletters, containing articles relating to Gerald Finzi, reviews of CDs and books, and news regarding the organisation and forthcoming performances of Finzi’s works
Hold a biennial event at Ashmansworth to celebrate its links with Finzi
Hold other workshops and study days and members’ events annually
Support the work of the Finzi Trust which administers Finzi’s works
Support the Ludlow English Song Weekend
Offer members a comprehensive stock of CDs and Finzi-related merchandise at discounted prices.
A word about us…
Meet our chairman Martin Bussey
and hear about the work we do
Explore our Resources
Explore our past newsletters, discover our CD and merchandise collection, and read reviews of recent concerts