It’s not every day that one sees a star of the magnitude of Claire Bloom billing at the local theatre.

So I was absolutely thrilled when Miss Bloom agreed to join me for concerts of William Walton’s ‘entertainment’, Façade, to be staged in my hometown of Southwold, on the Suffolk coast, on Saturday 29th June 2013, and in Aldeburgh the following evening.

Joining us in the concert will be writer and broadcaster Humphrey Burton CBE, leading pianist David Owen Norris – well known to audiences from his highly engaging appearances on radio and television – and a superb ensemble of young instrumentalists from London under my direction.

Façade is a bit of a musical phenomenon. It sets Edith Sitwell’s eccentric poetry to be ‘recited’ over a series of jazzy musical numbers so popular in the 1920s, when it was composed.

Sitwell’s poetry doesn’t exactly tell a story but, through its subtle references to her childhood and upbringing, conjures up the potent atmosphere of the Jazz Age, viewed from the upper echelons of society – long cigarettes, cocktails before dinner, and a series of characters straight out of P.G. Wodehouse.

The music displays all manner of jazz influences, featuring dances and popular numbers from the era, such as Fox-Trots, Polkas, Waltzes, Tangos, and the like.

The two concerts also offer the chance to hear a rarely performed work by one of Walton’s close friends and collaborators – Constant Lambert. His Concerto for Piano and Nine Instruments, in which David Owen Norris will be soloist, is also very heavily influenced by Jazz, although of a somewhat more Bohemian nature than the aristocratic flavours of Walton’s music.

Claire Bloom knew Walton from her work in starring roles in Laurence Olivier’s Richard III, for which Walton wrote the music. In a career spanning 60 years she has worked alongside no end of theatre and film legends, including John Gielgud, Charlton Heston, and Charlie Chaplin, who chose her specifically to act with him in his 1952 film, Limelight.

Humphrey Burton was also a close friend and biographer of Walton. He and Claire will open the concert by reminiscing about their friendship with the great composer, bringing a fascinating insight into the man behind the music.

As a Masters student, I wrote my thesis on William Walton’s music, so it is a real privilege to be working so closely on this concert with two people who knew him and his work so well.

I do hope you will be tempted to join us for one of these truly special evenings – Saturday June 29th, 7:30pm, in Southwold – intriguingly split between St Edmund’s Church (1st half – where there is an excellent piano) and St Edmund’s Hall (only 3 minutes walk away, refreshments on arrival…!) or Sunday 30th June, 7:30pm, in the Aldeburgh Jubilee Hall.

Tickets for either evening are £15, and can be purchased from Spring, in Southwold, on 01502 726 161, or by emailing [email protected].

Please see www.southwoldconcertseries.co.uk for more information on both evenings.



Dates of performances:

• Saturday 29th June 2013, 7:30pm – Southwold St Edmund’s Church (first half) and St Edmund’s Hall (second half) – the split venue is due to a piano being needed for the first half, which is only available in St Edmund’s Church

• Sunday 30th June 2013, 7:30pm – Aldeburgh Jubilee Hall


Constant Lambert – Concerto for Piano and Nine Instruments

William Walton – Façade, ‘An Entertainment’ for Reciter and Ensemble


Claire Bloom and Humphrey Burton CBE – reciters

David Owen Norris – piano

Southwold Concert Series Ensemble

Nathan Williamson – conductor

The Southwold Concert Series is run entirely by volunteers. Founded in 2008 by Nathan Williamson with the generous support of local advertising agency, Spring, it stages several high-quality concerts each year in Southwold and nearby. It also provides education opportunities to local schools. www.southwoldconcertseries.co.uk

Nathan Williamson (b.1978) was brought up in Southwold and, after time away for studies at the Guildhall School of Music, Yale and Oxford Univerisities, returned to the town in 2009. Nathan is an award-winning composer and pianist, writing for musicians from around the world, from full symphony orchestras to smaller ensembles and theatre. As a pianist he has performed at many of Europe’s most prestigious venues as soloist and collaborating with leading instrumentalists and singers. He released his debut CD this year. www.nathanwilliamson.co.uk

About Spring

Spring is a marketing communications agency which creates extraordinary ideas that help brands grow. Spring’s clients include Adnams, Bollinger, The Conservative Party, Marriages Millers, EDF Energy, The East of England Co-op and SolarAid. Two Spring clients are officially CoolBrands: not bad for an independent agency headquartered on Southwold beach.

Spring is Chief Patron of the Southwold Concert Series as part of its corporate social responsibility programme.

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