Dan-Iulian Druțac – violin
Jure Smirnov Oštir – violin
Emily Newman-Pond – viola
Mike Newman – cello
Ben du Toit – double bass
Meera Maharaj – flute
Laura Roberts-Campbell – oboe
Joel Roberts – horn
Steph Yim – clarinet
Hugh Woolley – bassoon
|Red Clay & Mississippi Delta
|Nonet in E-flat major, Op.38
More (Not So) Hidden Treasures
Just as we had finalised ‘Hidden Treasures’, our 75th anniversary season celebrating women composers in 2022/2023, along came the Meliora Collective with a brilliant programme that would have fitted in beautifully. No problem, we said, come to Skipton next year instead!
Born out of a love of chamber music, the Manchester-based Meliora Collective strives to celebrate the shared joy of music making, both with audiences and amongst themselves. Founding members, Meera and Steph dreamt up this ensemble in the midst of the pandemic, following many years of friendship and a long-held desire to launch a flexi ensemble of this nature.
The versatility afforded by their set-up - consisting of five string and five wind players - allows for intriguing programming, spanning a range of styles and incorporating concert favourites alongside less familiar but equally enchanting repertoire. Meliora Collective enjoys presenting highly inventive arrangements, ranging from Mendelssohn to Tchaikovsky. This year, they received an award from the Oleg Prokofiev Trust, as well as an RVW Trust award to fund a new commission by award-winning composer, Rafael Marino Arcaro.
As recent graduates of conservatoires including the Royal Academy of Music, Guildhall School of Music and Drama, and the Royal Northern College of Music, each of the musicians brings a strong musical identity to the ensemble. The ethos of shared responsibility and collaborative music making is integral to the ensemble. They look forward to a busy 2023/2024 concert season with performances throughout the UK and we look forward to welcoming them to Skipton.
To find out more about the group, see melioracollective.co.uk
Photo credit: Shiv Maharaj
With kind support from 8Woodview Design and The Railway, Skipton
Verve and Elegance from the Meliora Collective
Skipton Music’s audience braved the worst of Storm Jocelyn to hear this enthralling and varied concert from the London-based Meliora Collective. The ‘Collective’ is a flexible group of musicians who can form various combinations of wind and string instruments, from quartets to decets. This was a welcome opportunity to hear some fascinating music which is rarely heard in live performance.
The outstanding work was the nonet (wind quintet plus string quartet) by the French pianist and composer Louise Farrenc – another ‘hidden treasure’ to add to those revealed in last year’s season of music by women composers. This piece, which firmly established Farrenc’s reputation in the Paris of the 1850s, is full of enticing melodies and imaginative instrumentation, and worthily bears comparison with Beethoven’s youthful septet. The Collective responded with verve and elegance to its very considerable technical and musical challenges, with violinist Dan-Iulian Druţac and flautist Meera Maharaj outstanding.
In the first half we heard four contemporary pieces, all composed within the last 15 years. This might seem daunting but each piece has very accessible aspects, not least the bluesy final part of Valerie Coleman’s ‘Red Clay and Mississippi Delta’ with clarinettist Steph Yim calling the shots. Your reviewer found the two nonets the most compelling on a first hearing, Deborah Cheetham’s ‘Ngarrgooroon’ invoking the wide Australian landscape and her aboriginee ancestors, and Jessie Montgomery’s ‘Sergeant McCauley’ the ‘Great Migration’ of African-Americans to the industrial cities of the northern USA. The Collective’s committed and sensitive playing brought out all the pathos and humanity of these evocative pieces; I would gladly have heard them a second time to savour more fully their intimate details. Perhaps we can persuade the Collective to come again in a future season!