Unique concert for music society

Sarah Beth Briggs and James Lisney
Sarah Beth Briggs and James Lisney

Filling in as a late addition to the calendar, an old friend will perform at the next Alnwick Music Society concert.

With the Alnwick Castle Guest Hall no longer available for use by the society, the planned concert by Alexandra Dariescu, on Thursday, February 25, has been postponed.

But Sarah Beth Briggs has managed to fill in the gap and will perform with James Lisney at Alnwick Playhouse on Wednesday, February 24.

The concert is a unique one for the music society as it is the only occasion on which it has presented two pianists at the same keyboard.

Sarah Beth Briggs has played for the society on many occasions in the past.

A pupil of the late Dennis Matthews, she gained worldwide recognition as joint winner of the International Mozart competition in Salzburg at the age of 15. She then gained a Hindemith Scholarship to study chamber music in Switzerland with the celebrated violist Bruno Giuranna.

Her career has taken her to all the prestigious concert halls of Europe and the United States, where she has performed as a leading recitalist, a concerto soloist and a chamber musician.

In this country she has played with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra on the South Bank and at the Barbican, the Halle at the Bridgewater Hall, the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic and the Northern Sinfonia.

Renowned not only for her performances but also for engaging and informative introductions to recital programmes, she is a popular artist with societies and festivals throughout the UK.

James Lisney will be accompanying Sarah. He made his Wigmore Hall debut 30 years ago at the age of 24, and he too has performed as a leading recitalist, concerto soloist and chamber musician.

The music of Schubert and Beethoven has been a central pre-occupation in performance and recordings on the Naxos label, but his repertoire ranges from baroque masterpieces to the present day.

Using the Playhouse Steinway B, Sarah and James will offer the society a wide ranging programme of piano pieces by Poulenc, Mozart and Schubert before the interval, and by Faure, Dvorak and Debussy after the interval.

It is an eclectic mix which the programme notes describes as rather like a meal – an opening appetiser with Poulenc, then the main, more substantial, course of Mozart, Sonata and Schubert, with a selection of sweets to conclude with Faure, Dvorak and Debussy.

The concert begins at 7.30pm.

Non-members are welcome – tickets are £16, £15 concessions from the Playhouse box office in person, by calling 01665 519785 or on ine at www.alnwickplayhouse.co.uk

As usual students in full-time education will be admitted free of charge.

The Alexandra Dariescu concert is still set to go ahead but will now take place later this year.

Because the Guest Hall is unavailable for the forseeable future, the society was unable to rearrange for her to perform in the next few months.

Instead she will be the recitalist at the first concert of the 2016-17 season, which will begin earlier than it ever has done before, on Tuesday, August 20, at the Playhouse.

Alnwick Music Society’s season continues with two more performances at the Playhouse.

On Tuesday, March 29, the Waverley Harp Trio will perform.

They are a Scottish-based ensemble whose members have worked regularly with a variety of chamber music groups and with orchestras including St Martin’s in the Field and the Scottish Chamber Orchestra.

And on Tuesday, May 3, it will be Laura van der Heijden on cello and Piotr Liminov on the piano.