Tuesday 16 February 2016

Ten years of At Lunch - from the stage

In celebration of the tenth anniversary of our At Lunch concert series, we asked some of our players to share their favourite memories from the last decade of lunchtime concerts...

Joy Farrall (Principal Clarinet):

"There is real excitement in opening a brand new piece of music once a year (if not twice on occasion), knowing it is a piece written especially for your orchestra and your colleagues by an amazing establishment figure or up-and-coming young genius, and for that privilege to have been on-going for ten years is a total delight."

Clare Finnimore (Principal Viola):

"In Norwich there's always a fabulous keen and supportive audience. We can really feel that they're with us every step of the way- they're especially open and receptive to the new music. 

With the BBC broadcasts often being taken from Cambridge's West Road Concert Hall there is always an 'edge' to these lunchtime performances in more ways that one. I'll always remember the bitter cold at the beginning of the rehearsal and the howling gale coming in through the back door with the BBC wires! It's always lovely chatting to audience members here afterwards, then going to Burwash Manor Barns for tea and cake.

Wigmore Hall is such a special place holding many memories for each one of us. With the pressure of the live broadcast behind us it's great to wallow in this perfect acoustic!" 

Huw Watkins (Principal Piano):

"It's been a huge privilege to launch so many new pieces in the last 10 years of At Lunch. I'm particularly proud to have written one of the very first of these commissions in 2006, Dream, for violin, clarinet and piano. Not only was this a remarkable experience musically (working with Joy Farrall and Alina Ibragimova, who joined us for this tour) - we also took the programme to Kraków, where the food was unforgettable!"

Alina Ibragimova, Joy Farrall, Michael Zev Gordon (whose music also featured in this programme),
and David Butcher (Chief Executive) on tour in Kraków.
Miranda Dale (Principal Second Violin):

"Perhaps most of our interesting experiences have been played out before Norwich concerts, including the time when we turned up in a taxi to play at the Assembly Rooms and Jackie realised that she had left her violin on the train! On hair-tailing back in said taxi and feverishly searching the train, which luckily had not started it's return journey, she even more luckily spotted a cleaner walking down the platform with her violin on the trolley! Not much rehearsal was had before that concert, just tea and scones required!

The other famed Norwich incident was when it started snowing just after our train started out from Liverpool Street station in London - it snowed so hard and fast that our train could not cope and we limped towards Norwich having to disembark at Ipswich in order to wait on the freezing platform for another train. Phone calls were feverishly made to and fro to our colleagues and concert manager who had driven there from nearer by and as the time ticked quickly by and the concert should have started we were still on the train! Joy and David valiantly saved the day (Norwich audience as ever game) by having a pre-concert talk (only during concert time!) whilst we scrambled to the Assembly House. I seem to remember Caroline running onto the stage from the taxi and joining Huw in her stocking feet to play a sonata with him followed by our commission before jumping back in a taxi to catch our return train!"

Thomas Gould (Associate Leader):

“At Britten Sinfonia we often say that a chamber music mentality is at the core of everything we do, and the At Lunch series provides us with the chance to put our money where our mouths are! As well as providing an opportunity to interpret chamber masterworks, each programme also features a world premiere composition. We've been privileged to work with composers such as Joey Roukens, Enrico Chapela, Dobrinka Tabakova, Charlie Piper, Nico Muhly and Jay Greenberg (to name but a few) over recent years, and it has been wonderful to see their careers flourish. A particular highlight for me was the At Lunch programme that featured Argentinian bandoneonist Marcelo Nisinman in music by his compatriot Astor Piazzolla. We had a lot of fun letting our hair down and undoing a few buttons for that one!"

Don't miss At Lunch Three, featuring music for the unusual combination of flute, viola and harp by Debussy, Takemitsu and a new work by Icelandic composer Daníel Bjarnason - Norwich Fri 19 Feb, Cambridge Tue 23 Feb & London Wed 24 Feb. More information and booking.

Find out more about Ten Years of At Lunch.

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