HISTORY OF CONCORDIA
Concordia Foundation enjoyed an eventful 2015 full of brilliant performances from Concordia artists, brand new projects that enriched lives in the community and around the world, and most of all, gifted the joy and power of music to so many. This exciting year began with Concordia’s hailed lunchtime concert series in venues such as St Martin-in-the-Fields, St James’ Piccadilly, and New North London Synagogue. Additionally, Concordia artists continued the valued tradition of performing for patients, carers, and staff in various London hospitals as part of the Healing Power of Music series. These projects include Memory Lane performances in the stroke and dementia wards at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital. Concordia’s Healing Power of Music program expanded further this year through the launch of a new lunchtime concert series at the UCH Macmillan Cancer Centre.
One of the Concordia Foundation’s ongoing goals is to educate and expose children to the gift of music through our annual Young Audiences projects. Our 2015 project aimed to educate school children from the London area about the rich history of the Magna Carta in its 800-year anniversary. A number of participating pupils, thanks to The Lady Mayoress Mrs Gilly Yarrow, had the privilege of viewing the Egyptian Hall at Mansion House as well as enjoying a brand new production created by John and Rosamond Savournin, ‘The Magna Carta – Back at 1215’. In February Concordia also organised a brand new interactive children’s production called ‘Fifes and Fairytales’, an event that brought over 270 children from London schools together to experience enchanting fairytales through fife music, puppetry, and story-telling.
The summer of 2015 brought about the conclusion of the Music for Life project, which launched a cherished partnership between Tower Hamlets schools and St John’s School in Korogocho, Kenya with a pen pal scheme and joint musical education. We continue to support The Journey of an Instrument project, which with help from the British Bank Instrument Company and Concordia Friends, has succeeded in donating instruments to schoolchildren in Kenya. This project has strengthened the school orchestra at St John’s school and has offered many more students the exceptional opportunity to flourish in the strength and power that music brings.
In April, Concordia Foundation continued its annual tradition of offering exceptional rewards to aspiring young talent at the 2015 Wigmore Hall Prizewinners’ Concert association with the Worshipful Company of Musicians. The Barthel Prize was awarded to The Ducasse Trio piano trio, The Serena Nevill Prize was awarded to Ben-San Lau piano, and The Founder’s Prize was awarded to Bethan Langford mezzo soprano. The warm weather months brought about an array of brilliant performances in many prestigious venues, including our yearly Summer Serenade Concert at Benjamin Franklin House, performed by Holly Cook flute and Tamara Young harp. Additionally, Concordia talent shone at Piano Week Festival 2015 directed by Samantha Ward. This year Concordia also hosted multiple events at the National Portrait Gallery, beginning in the summer with a presentation of ‘A Song for the Lord Mayor’s Table’ and later in in November with ‘Madame Viardot’s Salon,’ a production that united theatre, song, and chamber music into a fantastic display celebrating the work of 19th century singer Pauline Viardot. We were thrilled to take our production of ‘The Ballad of Whitechapel,’ in which Klezmer musicians and vocal group Apollo5 performed music highlighting the life and work of Isaac Rosenberg, one of the Great War’s greater poets, to HighTide Festival, Aldeburgh, following a successful debut performance at the National Portrait Gallery in 2014.
The year was brought to a warm, glittering close with Concordia’s 15th Annual Candlelit Christmas Concert, supporting Richard Bradley’s incredible cancer charity Look Better Feel Better at St George’s Hanover Square, and the New Year’s Eve Operetta at St Martin-in-the-Fields. The stellar talent on show and unification of the wonderful community is the exact kind of sentiment Concordia wishes to carry forth through the rest of 2016.
Family and friends of Gillian Humphreys, Founder and Artistic Director of the Concordia Foundation, were delighted to read that Gillian had been awarded an OBE in the New Year’s Honours List 2014. “It was a great honour and amazing surprise,” said Gillian, who thanked all who have supported her dream of Building Bridges through Music and the Arts. HRH The Prince of Wales presented the award in a ceremony at Buckingham Palace on 12 February 2014.
During the year, lunchtime concerts took place at St. Martin-in-the-Fields, St. James’s Church Piccadilly, Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, and the New North London Synagogue in East Finchley.
In January, “Beyond the Horizon” wove tapestries of classical music through the folk traditions of Japan, Europe, and the New World. Voces8 opened the concert at St. Martin-in-the-Fields with Roxana Panufnik’s “Zen Love Song” together with beautiful animated visuals by Mischa Giancovich. Britain’s National Dance Company Rambert performed beautiful choreography for the evening *and costumes
Isaac Rosenberg Commemoration at the National Portrait Gallery
On 27 June 2014, Concordia Foundation presented “The Ballad of Whitechapel,” a commemoration of the life and work of Isaac Rosenberg, the Jewish war poet, at the National Portrait Gallery. With the encouragement of the Rosenberg Family, notably Dr. Shelley Swade and Mr. Bernard Wynick, we presented Young Audiences workshops at schools in Tower Hamlets, classes at the Whitechapel Gallery (formerly the Whitechapel Library where Isaac would meet friends while studying at the Slade School of Art in London), and portraiture workshops at the National Portrait Gallery. He wrote some of the finest poems from the battlefields of Northern France, the most praised being “Break of Day in the Trenches.” *gresham
The Concordia Foundation Prizewinners performed at the Wigmore Hall on 7 July 2014. Baritone John Savournin received the Founder’s Prize; pianist James Young received the Serena Nevill Prize; and the Jubilee String Quartet received the Barthel Prize. Gillian and the Master of the Worshipful Company of Musicians presented the awards.
On 24 July, harpist Elizabeth McNulty performed an 18th Century Soiree at the Benjamin Franklin House on 36 Craven Street. Her programme included some of Franklin’s favorites, Bach, Mozart, and Handel.
During the school year, the “Music For Life” project continued teaming up some of our Young Audiences schools in the UK and St. John’s School in Nairobi, Kenya. The schoolchildren were able to learn about each other and their countries through pen pal letters and photos of each other. In Kenya, students were receiving specialist class music lessons and participating in weekly fife clubs. In the UK, Concordia schools were involved in the “Magic Fife Project,” a program run by flautist Abigail Burrows and her team. Studying The Magic Flute, the students were introduced to the music of Mozart’s last? opera and the instruments of the orchestra, specifically the flute and clarinet. The children learned about a small, inexpensive flute, the fife, in a fun and engaging manner as well as information about the scenery, props, and costume. By the end of the workshops, everyone sang a verse of the Queen of the Night’s famous aria and presented what they learned for their parents at the school.
In December, Gillian presented “Duelling Divas” at the National Portrait Gallery with Concordia sopranos Natasha Day and Rhiannon Llewellyn. The two singers gave an informative and entertaining performance of opera’s greatest competitive divas while Peter Foggitt narrated his own script from the piano.
To end the year, the annual Candlelit Christmas Concert was held at St. Paul’s Church Covent Garden. Concordia artists, including Violeta Barrena, Gareth McLearnon, All That Malarkey, Nicky Spence, Elinor Moran, Sam Kinrade, Peter Foggitt, Lyrit Milgram, Timothy Connor, and special guest reader Gabrielle Speaight were the performers for the evening. The performance was a wonderful ending for a wonderful year.
We are indebted to Margaret Siegrist and Jacqueline Jones for their assistance in maintaining and editing the Time Line during their internships in 2014.
In June, Concordia presented Streets of London in a performance that celebrated the works of Herman Melville, Heinrich Heine and Benjamin Franklin during their time as residents of Craven Street, London WC2. Soprano Joanna Marie Skillet, Arensky String Quartet, baritone Ed Ballard and pianist Ross Leadbeater performed in this production.
The Foundation worked with two wonderful mentees: Sophie Biebuyck and Christina Shand. Sophie cites the 2012 Concordia Foundation Prizewinners’ Recital at the Wigmore Hall as one of the highlights of her position with Concordia. Christina particularly enjoyed the Young Audiences projects and the Christmas concert.
Concordia presented many atrium concerts at Chelsea Westminster Hospital and introduced Memory Lane concerts as a part of its work there. Memory Lane concerts bring music to patients who cannot attend the normal atrium performances. Resident pianist, Maria Marchant, attends the hospital every week to play on the dementia and stroke wards.
As a continuation of Concordia’s Music for Life program, we linked London primary schools, St Clement Danes School in Covent Garden and St Paul’s School in Tower Hamlets, with St. John’s School in the Korogocho slums of Kenya. The students became pen pals.
The winning ceramic windows created by Tower Hamlets schoolchildren through the 2010 EDF/Concordia project were unveiled in mid-December. They now adorn a building off Brick Lane.
NOTE: this will not be published right away because the events are still in progress
The London children are a part of our “Be A Smartie” fundraiser to send instruments to Africa. We support Olivia Ambani in Kenya who is charge of marketing, fundraising and coordinating the project between the London and African schools. We are also coordinating Skype lessons so the Kenyan children can improve their musical skills. We follow the journeys of the instruments sent to Kenya through photos. Our Friends can see the children benefiting from donations to Concordia. Recently, we have raised money and sent a cello to a boy named Koti who desperately wanted to learn to play.
In April 2012, Concordia presented the 3rdAnnual Concordia Foundation Prizewinners’ Concert in association with The Worshipful Company of Musicians at the Wigmore Hall. Soprano Anna Patalong received the Founder’s Prize. She performed Debussy’s Proses Lyriquesand Poulenc’s Huit Chansons Polonaises and was accompanied by the winner of the Serena Nevill Prize, Elizabeth Rossiter. Violinist Yuka Ishizuka received the Barthel Prize and played Grieg’s Violin sonata No. 3 in C minor and San Saens’ Caprice d’apres l’etude en form de Valse,accompanied by pianist Tadeshi Imai.
In June, Concordia presented a concert at the National Portrait Gallery celebrating Charles Dickens’ 200th birthday and honoring the author in literature and music. Richard Stirling wrote and directed the work. The former Lord Mayor of the City of London, his wife, Sir Michael and Lady Bear invited Concordia to perform The Musical World of Charles Dickens as entertainment for their summer banquet in the Crypt of the Guildhall.
Concordia Artists also performed at Victoria Carter’s Young Professionals’ Gala Evening, hosted by Guy Carpenter at Old Billingsgate. It was an honour to be selected as one of the three charities supported by the event.
Concordia Mentee Tanya Cooling worked as both a performer and as Gillian’s assistant. She sang in the UK/Vietnam Gala at the Hanoi Opera House, performed in the Egyptian Room for the Lord Mayor of the City of London and Lady Mayoress and created and directed Concordia’s 7th Young Audiences project.
In August, Concordia presented Loli-Pop! at the Victoria and Albert Museum, a performance based on an Alice in Wonderland silent film made in 1903. The Artists performed for roving audience of over three hundred people. Richard Stirling performed as the Mad Hatter, violinist Satoko Fukuda was the Cheshire Cat, flautist Abigail Burrows was the Dormouse and pianist Maria Marchant was the White Rabbit. They performed with the English National Ballet Youth Company in costumes provided by Japanese Lolita fashion specialists Baby, The Stars Shine Bright and headpieces provided by Bryony Rumble.
In late 2012, we gave a Concordia Young Audiences production of ‘Shadows of What May Be’, inspired by Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, at the crypt at Christ Church, Spitalfields. The production was written and directed by John Savournin and gave children an insight into music making, drama and creative art.
The annual Candlelit Christmas Concert was a major success with honoured guests Vicky Carter, Richard Stirling and Isla Blair.
Concordia was invited to present cultural diplomacy alongside business diplomacy on tours planned for Vietnam, China and Kenya during 2011 by the Lord Mayor of London, Alderman Michael Bear and the Lady Mayoress.
Firstly, Concordia presented an opera and ballet gala at the famous Opera House in Hanoi, Vietnam. Soprano Tanya Cooling, baritone James Cleverton, tenor Christopher Steel and composer Tim Brice comprised the Concordia International Ensemble for the performance. Working closely with conductor Graham Sutcliffe, we established a legacy of support for the Vietnam Artists’ Performing Arts Fund, which supports local artists, composers and choreographers through performance opportunities in Vietnam.
Secondly, we were able to create a major bridge linking musical performance and the visual arts in China with our performance of River Cities: London – Shanghai. Conductor Ben Ellin, tenor Christopher Steel, flautist Gareth McLearnon, violinist Irmina Trynkos, soprano Norah King and scenic artist Rosie Mayhew joined artistic director Gillian Humphreys on this exciting project. We are grateful to Huilin Proctor and Lord Clement Jones for their support.
Thirdly our October visit to Nairobi, Kenya was challenging and inspirational. We brought our Young Audiences’ programme to orphanages and slums, donating 100 fifes that gave children the chance to discover their musical voices in their own community and 500 Life Straws that provide clean drinking water. We are grateful to Gareth McLearnon flute for his help in this project. The Concordia International Ensemble included Abigail Burrows flute Satoko Fukuda violin and Jeremy Silverconductor.
Meanwhile, Tanya Cooling devised and presented Young Audiences program The Pied Piper of Tower Hamlets at Wilton’s Music Hall in London. We also presentedBallad Songs and Snatches, a tribute to the Gilbert and Sullivan exhibition in the National Portrait Gallery in June and Sophisticated Ladies (cello ensemble) in December. Our Candlelit Christmas Concert took place in December at St Paul’s Church, Covent Garden.
In April 2011 the Concordia Foundation annual prize-winners concert in association with the Worshipful Company of Musicians at the Wigmore Hall featured Laura Mitchell soprano (Concordia Founder’s prize), Charlotte Forrest piano (Concordia Serena Nevill prize) and Slava Sidorenko piano (Concordia Barthel Prize)
Our first Concordia Foundation Artists Fund concert in association with the Worshipful Company of Musicians was held at the Wigmore Hall. The winning artists were Julia Sporsénsoprano, Ashok Klouda cello and Joseph Middleton piano.
Ten designs by Tower Hamlets schoolchildren were selected to decorate a building off Brick Lane as part of a joint EDF/Concordia project developed by artist Rosie Mayhew.
In May, we presented the Verdi Requiem at the Hanoi Opera House at the invitation of the Vietnam National Opera and Ballet Company. Soloists included James Clevertonbaritone, Edward Hughes tenor, Alexandra Cassidy mezzo-soprano and Joanna Weeks soprano, with conductor Graham Sutcliffe.
In July, Concordia Artists explored the musical journeys of Stravinsky, Ravel and Philip Glass at the National Portrait Gallery. Voces8 and many of our international artists performed Vivaldi to Verdi at St Martin-in-the-Fields during the same month.
Concordia travelled to Cuba for a Young Audience and concert series. A team of six artists and seven trustees facilitated exchanges of artwork between Shapla Primary School in Tower Hamlets and Escuela Manuel Saumell in Havana. We also held masterclasses at the Palacio del Teatro Lyrico and a concert at the Teatro Amadeo Roldan.
We invited Cuban pianist Dario Martin, who accompanied our gala concerts and Young Audiences’ projects, to London to audition at music colleges, appear at the Chelsea Schubert Festival and give a recital at St James’ Church Piccadilly.
Back home in London, Vocal ensemble VOCES8 took our Young Audiences on a time machine ride through Roman times to World War II, via the court of King Charles II and the Great Fire of London, in our production Street Cries of London: Let the Children Sing.
We also established the Concordia Foundation Artists’ Fund in connection with the Worshipful Company of Musicians. The award winners get the opportunity to perform in a recital at the Wigmore Hall. It has been an asset to many emerging artists and initiated Concordia’s presence on the Wigmore Hall recitals platform.
Concordia presented The Still Voice Sings Withincelebrating the universal spirit of music and the arts as a part of the Renewal Arts Forum at Mountain House in Caux, Switzerland. Concordia visual artist in residence Rosie Mayhew painted the musical themes on canvas during the performance.
“The Concordia Ensemble thrilled the audience as the painting and the progression of the music fitted beautifully together…” (Kathleen Dodds,Renewal Arts).
The magnificent conference centre overlooks Lake Geneva and was one of the first sites of reconciliation between France and Germany after WWII. The Renewal Arts Forum followed that theme of peace and change.
Concordia premiered the Young Audience production The Spotted Cow and the Pianoforte, devised and directed by Jeff Clarke, at Wilton’s Music Hall in October. It was a colorful and up-tempo reinterpretation of an old Victorian tale exploring the importance of both art and commerce. Concordia strives to teach Young Audiences about real-world concepts through humor and entertainment.
Gillian returned to the scene of her early operatic studies in Siena with several Friends of Concordia to present a Gala concert for world peace. At the invitation of the Comune di Siena, Concordia artists performed The Still Voice Sings Within at the early 19th century Teatro dei Rozzi. The program offered a rich and varied tapestry of verse and music: Celtic melodies, American spirituals, Hungarian czardas and Argentinean tangos. The music ranged from Purcell to Gershwin.
Director of the London Film Academy Anna MacDonald has always encouraged the Foundation to build a cultural bridge with Poland. Gillian complied, returning to Poland in 2007 to join the panel of the 6th International Stanislaw Moniuszko Vocal Competition after giving a workshop on music in film at the European Film Week in Warsaw.
Concordia holds the belief that music can speed recovery. In the summer of 2007, Concordia began a series of lunchtime recitals presented in the atrium of Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, along with music and art therapy classes in the children’s wards.
Our first Concordia Foundation Young Audiences production, A Journey to Meet Peter and the Wolf, was held at Wilton’s Music Hall. The Foundation aims to bring children of all nationalities and faiths together and to inspire a new generation of musicians and artists. Subsequent productions include The Rhythm of Life – Our Musical World, The Spotted Cow and the Pianoforte, Street Cries of London, Around the World in 60 Minutes, A Journey to Meet the Orchestra and more.
“Thank you, Miss. It was much better than a DVD!” One child said to Gillian.
The productions combine music and visual arts, and they encourage the children in the audience to participate. Artists paint on large canvases whilst musicians engage the children with mesmerising storytelling and live music. The presentations have delighted children, and we hope they are inspired to continue exploring and enjoying all forms of art and music.
The 10th Anniversary Gala Concert at the Queen Elizabeth Hall in February 2005, celebrated a decade of “promoting harmony between different cultures, nurturing and supporting young performers,” according to concerts and PR manager Carole Radford. Rebecca Miller conducted the New Professionals Orchestra, and Danny Driver played Gershwin’s Piano Concerto in F. Sixteen young professional singers, including Pumeza Matshikiza and Lukasz Jakobczyk performed A Serenade to Music by Vaughan Williams, conducted by John Wilson.
We sourced Vietnamese artists and costume and set designers for our production ofPagliacci at the Hanoi Opera House, directed by Jeff Clarke. Graham Sutcliffe, again, conducted the Orchestra, and members of the cast included John Rawnsley, Fiona Hammercott and James Cleverton.
“For those who came to fill the opera house, it will be a memory deeply held and unforgettable. We have touched hearts and made many friends. And that is surely what the Concordia Foundation is all about,” said Jeff Clarke.
Gillian first presented Winter In Majorca, written and directed by Richard Stirling, as one of Concordia’s regular National Portrait Gallery recitals. Frédéric Chopin arrived in Majorca in November 1838, accompanied by the writer George Sand and her two children. Their six-month sojourn in the monastery at Valldemossa was meant to improve Chopin’s health; despite their efforts, his condition deteriorated further. Sand’s journal, Un Hiver à Majorque, famously recorded the lovers’ relationship. Excerpts from the journal and dazzling music Chopin composed on the island comprise Concordia’s programme.
A performance of Winter In Majorca also took place at the ancient Carthusian monastery of Valldemossa, high in the Tramuntana Mountains, as part of a gala weekend for Friends of Concordia, supported by Eugenie Maxwell. The Concordia International Ensemble invited young French virtuoso pianist Emmanuel Despax to play the part of Chopin. Other performers included soprano Gillian Humphreys, actor Carol Carey as George Sands and soprano Monika Sawa.
Concordia performed Shakespeare and Love, an anthology of verse, prose and music, devised by Gillian Humphreys and Edward de Souza, on Shakespeare’s birthday in Southwark Cathedral. Later in the year, it was presented at the Globe Theatre, Bankside.
Concordia worked on another production in honour of Shakespeare, The Albion Bridge, compiled and directed by Michael Fry. It included Shakespearean scenes performed by a group of young actors Emily Bryant, Matthew Pattimore and May Phillips, and it was performed at St Paul’s Church, Covent Garden.
The Albion Bridge production formed part of the Foundation’s concert seriesInternational Journeys Through Music, which focused on musical influences from Asia, Africa, Celtic and Slavonic regions. The final concert brought music from Spain, France and the Americas. Young Artists featured in this series included Sarah Fieldsaxophone, Sergey Rybin accompanist, Milos Milivojevic classical accordion, Dmitry Rasul-Kareyev clarinet and Morgan Szymanski guitar. These concerts were endorsed by Dame Evelyn Glennie, Robert Tear, William Dalrymple and the late Richard Hickox CBE.
In April, the Concordia production Love from Ivor, written and directed by Richard Stirling, made its world premiere at the Grand Theater in Blackpool. No other popular composer has captured the spirit of romance quite like Welsh composer Ivor Novello. The glamour of his dancing years was captured through the enthusiasm of performers Gillian Humphreys, Michael Chance and Johanna Byrne. The production was also performed at Ely Cathedral, Linbury Theatre at Covent Garden, Walter Reed Theatre in New York and the British High Commission in Sydney.
At the invitation of pianist Nina Kuzma-Sapiejewska, Concordia appeared in the gala inaugural concert of the 4th International Chopin & Friends Festival, which was held at the Polish Consulate General in New York. Gillian Humphreys presented Concordia Artists Yuri Kalnits violin, Costas Fotopoulos piano and Magdalena Makowska violin at this gala occasion.
Thanks to Chairman of the Friends of Concordia Richard Nevill for enabling Concordia to hold its Jubilee fundraising dinner and recital held HM Tower of London. Concordia Artists presented excerpts from Gilbert & Sullivan’s Yeoman of the Guard.
The launch of the Concordia concert series in Hanoi was a great success. We gave two concerts with the Vietnam National Symphony Orchestra conducted by Graham Sutcliffe. Seventeen-year-old Cliodna Shanahan from the Yehudi Menuhin School played the Second Piano Concerto by Shostakovich. Daniel Vaiman of the Royal Academy of Music played the First Piano Concerto by Beethoven.
By a strange coincidence, the grandson of the late Lord Menuhin was travelling in Vietnam at the time, and he attended the concert and met the artists.
In June, baritone Rodney Clarke won the finals of the English Singers and Speakers Competition, held at the Purcell Room. The Concordia Foundation was pleased to have supported the prize for five years. Our dear friend Catherine Lambert, a tireless supporter of the prize, helped tutor many young singers and musicians in their speech and presentational skills.
Other winners included joint winner Heather Withers mezzo-soprano and David Cleggcounter tenor (1999), Tessa Spong soprano (2000) and Howard Wong baritone(2002).
Our first opera venture to Vietnam was two stage performances of Cavalleria Rusticana with the Saigon Concert Orchestra. Gillian Humphreys presented the Gala at the Saigon Opera House, with performers Tarsha Cole soprano, Robert Millner tenor, William Allenby baritone, Ann Atkinson and Heather Shipp mezzo-sopranos and conducted by Graham Sutcliffe MBE. It was the first Western style opera to be presented at the Opera House since its renovation in 1995. The production was directed by Sarah Chew and supported by the Italian Chamber of Commerce.
Later that year, the Foundation flew to the US to present Patti, Patti, Patti, a musical biography of 19th century diva Adelina Patti, at the Thomasville Arts Festival as guests of Mrs Teresa Brown. We were lucky to have survived the tropical storm en route! This musical event was also performed at the Corcoran Art Gallery in Washington. Directed by Michael Fry, the production featured Gillian Humphreys, Ian Puleston-Davies actor, Erika Nastro violin and Vadim Peaceman piano.
Concordia presented the London Schubert Players string orchestra, conducted by Gheorghe Costin, in the Waterloo Chamber at Windsor Castle, as part of the 1998 Windsor Festival. Gillian sang Four Shakespeare Songs by Cecilia McDowall and violinist Yuri Zhislin played Rondo in A for violin and strings by Schubert. Bernie and Rosemarie Smythe supported the production.
Our Mediterranean Journey concert at the Purcell Room featured world premieres of Two Shakespeare Sonnets by Delfine Colomé andFantasie on Carmen by Costas Fotopoulos. The Spanish Embassy supported the production. Soloists Sarah Barnes cello and Jesus Carrasco Barea piano, invited us to initiate an educational project in La Linea, Andalusia following the production.
We held concerts in Spain, with the Samantha Newbold Piano Quartet and classical guitarist Phuong Nguyen. We also gave masterclasses with the Children’s Orchestra of the Muñoz Molleda Conservatoire, which was founded by Sarah Barnes.
Later, whilst touring South America, Concordia was invited to give a Gala Concert forSave the Children Argentina at the British Embassy in Buenos Aires.
Concordia also gave a concert tour of Switzerland, the highlight of which was our performance at the Dolder Grand Hotel, Zurich. Our early sponsor, Tan Sri Dato’ Francis Yeoh Sock Ping, invited Gillian to appear in a Millennium Concert of Celebration, in Kuala Lumpur, with Michael Ball and Italian flautist Andrea Griminelli.
The Concordia International Gala Showcase featured our artists at St John’s Smith Square. John Wilson conducted the Sinfonia of Westminster, Andrew Haveron violin played the Waxman ‘Carmen’ Fantasie and sixteen soloists, including Colin Lee tenor, Alfie Boe tenor and James Rutherford bass performed Vaughan Williams’ Serenade to Music. Gary Ryan guitarplayed Concierto de Aranjuez by Rodrigo, and Bobby Chen piano played Capriccio Brillante by Mendelssohn. Filmed extracts from the performance are available at www.concordiafoundation.com/about-concordia.
Vladimir Ovchinnikov, winner of the 1987 Leeds Piano Competition, played for the Foundation at a gala reception hosted by Philips International in London, at the invitation of their director Christopher Hawkings.
University students Camilla Ferrier and Catherine David travelled to Sfintu Gheorge, Romania as ambassadors for the Foundation, in the summer of 1996. They brought books donated by their universities to the library at Shakespeare Kingdom House, a centre for Shakespeare studies. The girls assisted Attila Nagy in cataloguing the library. They also taught English and directed plays for children and teenagers at a local secondary school, coordinated by teacher Agnes Fazakas.
For the Foundation’s concert at St Giles Church, Barbican, on 11th December 1996, Gillian commissioned Chiswick composer, Cecilia McDowall to compose a new cantata Every Winter Change to Spring. An appreciative audience enthusiastically received the concert, many of which have remained loyal supporters of the Foundation. Neil Thompson conducted the London Schubert Players, and soloists included Gillian Humphreys soprano and Jeremy Huw Williams baritone. Guest artist Anda Anastasescu played Bach’s Piano Concerto In F Minor.
Concordia arranged an extensive UK tour for Cantorino children’s choir from Zalau, Romania. Lord Menuhin, our first patron, extended a welcome for “the success of this inspiring tour.” Cantorino began their concert series at St Michael’s Church in Bedford Park. Musical director Dorina Cret and pianist Christina Para accompanied the choir on tour.
The children stayed with families in Chiswick during their first few days in London. They found the accommodations very exciting—particularly their occasional visit to McDondald’s! Another high point of the tour was meeting the former King and Queen of Romania in Chiswick and singing with Gillian on a BBC radio programme.
Throughout their time in the UK, Cantorino captivated audiences at concert halls and churches in South Wales, the Midlands, St Peter’s College, Oxford and St Paul’s Church in Bedford. The children were overjoyed to be sharing platforms with violinist Corina Belcea and pianist Ekaterina Apekisheva. They gave their final concert for the Hutterian Brethren in Robertsbridge, who had given them hospitality on their last night in England.
During this period Concordia began its journey of Building Bridges through Music and the Arts. In 1995 Concordia Foundation became a registered charity (No. 1045967.) It all began with work in Romania in the early 1990s.
In 1992, the director of the London Schubert Players Anda Anastasescu invited Concordia to perform Shakespeare in Love at the Silvestri Festival in Tirgu Mures. The program was an anthology of verse, prose and music, devised by Gillian Humphreys and Edward de Souza. In 1994, performances were given at castles in Peles, Bran and Arcos, at the invitation of the Romanian Ministry of Culture. There was also a performance at Tescani, the former home of the Romanian composer Georges Enescu.
A hallmark of Concordia’s work is its holistic approach. In addition to the tour ofShakespeare and Love, Concordia gave Young Audiences concerts in orphanages throughout Romania, which were later endorsed by Mother Teresa. Concordia also arranged for The Vox Humana Choir from Transylvania to sing at St George’s Church, Hanover Square, en route to the Festival at Llangollen in North Wales. At this concert that representatives of Hextall Erskine Solicitors suggested we become a registered charity.