|SCGS Members Concert Series|
30th June 2012 - 7:30pm
Southampton Classical Guitar Society is very pleased to present Michael Hulmes in concert. Michael is a long-standing member of the society and a former semi-finalist in the BBC Young Musician of the Year Competition.
Michael started playing the classical guitar aged 11 and gave his first solo recital at Poole Arts Centre three years later. He has since gone on to play all over the UK as well as in France, Germany, America and on British television and radio, all to critical acclaim. His repertoire features a mix of the old and the new giving a very balanced programme, which seasoned guitar lovers and newcomers can both enjoy. In 1989 Michael won a scholarship to attend the Guildhall School of Music & Drama, studying with Michael Edmonds and Robert Brightmore. He continued his studies with renowned British guitarist John Mills at the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama. Over the years he has participated in masterclasses with John Williams, Nigel North, David Russell, Paul Galbraith, Xuefei Yang, Fabio Zanon, Ben Verdery & Andrew York amongst many others.
Whilst in London, Michael became one of only a handful of guitarists to reach the string semi-finals of the BBC Young Musician of the Year Competition and performed on BBC 1, BBC 2 and ITV. During his time in Wales he played live on BBC Radio Wales, S4C (Welsh Channel 4) and was featured in the BBC Radio Two Young Musicians’ Series. In his final year at college Michael recorded his first CD “Performance” featuring guitar classics such as Cavatina, Classical Gas and Bach’s 1st Lute Suite (BWV 1006). He has since recorded two more CDs:“Solo” featuring music by Sanz, Barrios, Tárrega, Lauro, Martin, Tesar and Bach and most recently “Americana”, a collection of 20th Century American guitar repertoire by Andrew York, Benjamin Verdery, Agustin Barrios and Jorge Morel.
Michael is a past member of Yehudi Menuhin’s “Live Music Now” scheme which aims to bring music into hospitals, prisons and schools, giving him tremendous real life performing experience. Since graduating Michael has been in high demand as a performer, giving concerts in Washington, New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles and a Buddhist temple in Hawaii. Closer to home he has given concerts in Stromness on the Isle of Orkney and Castell Coch, Cardiff, Highcliffe and Lulworth Castles as well as Christchurch Priory, Wimborne Minster and Beaulieu Abbey as well as to guitar and music societies all over Europe. In the corporate world he is the guitarist of choice for Sunseeker, British Airways and ICI. Michael is also Head of Guitar at the prestigious Canford School in Dorset, adjudicates music festival throughout the UK and runs a recording studio for classical musicians. He plays a Rohan Lowe Torres style classical guitar, who is affectionately known as Amelia.
You will see from the programme below that Michael has chosen to play music from all around the world, emphasising the global nature of the instrument.
Please help publicise the concert: download/print this colour poster (here) and display it prominently somewhere. Also, you can download/print a sheet of colour flyers (here) and hand them out to friends and colleagues. Thank-you!
(arranged by Miguel Llobet)
Bernstein (arranged Jorge Morel)
& McCartney (arranged Vincent Lindsey Clarkl)
Putting on a concert in what is normally mid-summer during Wimbledon fortnight is always a risk. Sure enough it was a lovely evening when many might have been tempted to the patio, barbecue and a cold beer and Britain's only hope was playing an important match late into the evening. Nevertheless, we had a pretty good turnout at St Boniface Church to hear Michael play for us.
There are many ways to put together a programme and Michael supplied a more-or-less traditional chronologically ordered set of pieces. I like that. It feels right, especially when the publicity has been aimed at those less familiar with the instruments repertoire. He started with two well known pieces by John Dowland explaining that they were originally for the lute. Both were played using F# on the 3rd string and a capo. The Frog Galliard and Lachrimae Pavan were suitably embellished with appropriate ornaments and gave an excellent opening to the concert.
They were followed by an unusual set of three preludes by J S Bach. Michael had played these at an SCGS members evening a few meetings ago and I was very much looking forward to hearing them again. The 1st Lute Suite Prelude, originally for Lute harpsichord, came first followed by the Prelude from Prelude, Fugue and Allegro and finally the very famous 1st Cello Suite Prelude. Each was executed superbly well. Sometimes, certain pieces taken out of a suite and played independently can leave one wishing to hear the whole suite and this is always true for me with the "PFA" as the Fugue is such a strong section of that excellent work. Nevertheless, the three put together as a set works well and was very well received by the audience.
One of the highlights for me of this concert was the two Cimerosa Sonatas, particularly the second one, which was originally for oboe. They are reasonably well-known but I don't think they are heard that often today in concert. This is a shame as they are beautiful tunes. Michael played them both very well indeed. He then moved on to more recent works with three Catalan folk songs arranged by Miguel Llobet. We heard El Testament d'Amelia followed by Canco del Lladre and El Noi de la Mare. In contrast to the Cimerosa, these pieces are heard a great deal as they are all witching the grasp of intermediate players. Even so, it is good to hear them played well by such a talented performer.
Taking us up to the interval was The English Suite by John Duarte, another of my very favourite pieces. The Prelude to this is such a distinctive, English sound and it was good to hear the Folk Song and Round Dance too. Even now, a few days after the concert, just typing the title and I have the tune back in my head. Such a happy piece!
After the break, much of the second half was from the other side of the Atlantic, commencing with Vals Op. 8 No.3 and No 4 by Agustin Barrios. Michael seems a natural with Barrios' music (as well as several other composers from this continent) and it was clear that the audience felt this way to. He explained that Barrios was not great at writing down his music and that the cadenza in the first waltz was added spontaneously years after he wrote the main body of the piece. Not only that but he improvised it differently for every concert. (As an aside, I read that this year's set piece for the GFA was written by Roland Dyens and contains a section in the middle where improvisation is required).
We were then taken abruptly back to Europe for a short while with the Czech composer Milan Tesar's superb Four Ballad Songs. I love these pieces and, once again, I don;t think they are played in concert enough. Michael's command of his guitar in these four contrasting little pieces was impressive. They were, perhaps, the one part of the programme least likely to capture the non-guitarists in the audience but you could have heard a pin drop while he was playing them.
Back to South America and Lauro was next. His lovely Suite Venezolana is another concert favourite and it was well presented by Michael from the opening Registro, through the Danza Negra to the Cancion and final Vals. Lauro's music is, to me, a little like Bach's in that it looks much easier on paper than it is in reality. It is quite approachable by modestly talented players but you only hear the true character of them if the performer is really skilled. And Michael is.
Concluding the publicized programme, Michael played Jorge Morel's Danza Brasilera which certainly got a few feet quietly tapping. It never fails to please. He played this as a set with Jorge's arrangements of three pieces by Leonard Bernstein from West Side Story. As he explained, to fit all (well, most) of the notes from the orchestral and vocal scores of I Feel Pretty, Maria and America on to the guitar is no mean feat. Playing them is likewise quite an endeavour as was obvious from the gymnastics performed by his hands.
The audience asked for two encores and so Michael gave them to us. He first played an arrangement by our own Vincent Lindsey-Clark of Lennon & McCartney's When I'm Sifty-Four, which had been commissioned for a friend's birthday who was a fan of Villa-Lobos and Bach and as such elements of each had been cleverly woven into them.
He left us all in a very relaxed mood for the journey home (and knowledge that Andy Murray was still on court for another hour or more) with a piece of Andrew York. A Michael Hulmes concert is not complete without something by this composer whose style seems to suit Michael very much. The piece was Sunday Morning Overcast, which was apparently written in France during a wet spell when he had wanted to go sight-seeing. Michael's performance of this relaxed and relaxing piece was outstanding even though I know from experience it is not at all simple to play.
An excellent evening enjoyed by everyone who embraced the essence that expertly executed entertainment excels everything electric. (Got a bit carried away with the 'e's there but you know what I mean: 'live' is better than TV!). Michael has performed many times for the society and we are very lucky to count him as a member since not long after he did so well in the BBC Young Musician of the Year competition.
© Wayne Lines 3rd July 2012
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Updated Tue, July 3, 2012 20:30