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Arts & Entertainment

From the Albert Hall to St Peter’s Church – James Kreiling plays the fifth Brilliant Young Pianist recital

James Kreiling is looking forward to playing in St Peter’s Church  (April 14) - the fifth recital in the ground-breaking Brilliant Young Pianists series.   He’s played solo piano in the Albert Hall as part of the BBC Proms, but the smaller venue appeals to him more.

As he told Marlborough News Online:  “I prefer smaller, more intimate venues for solo recitals - it is nice to feel that the audience is close, so a venue like St Peter's is ideal for me. The Albert Hall was an incredible experience, though it is much harder to communicate with an audience you can barely see!”    

When James was growing up in London his musical fare ran from classical to heavy metal – it’s Marlborough’s good fortune he chose to follow his great grandmother and play piano rather than bass guitar: “Both my grandmothers played the piano a bit and my great grandmother was a piano teacher, so I suppose the piano playing gene has always been there.”

Now he’s teaching piano and music theory at Eltham College in London, studying piano with Ronan O’Hora, performing and writing his dissertation.  He’s in his second year back at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama and studying for a doctorate on Scriabin’s late piano sonatas.

One of James’ teachers has been Charles Owen – well known to Marlborough for his many and dazzling recitals here: “Every time I perform I feel indebted to his help and support over the years, and am lucky to have been able to study with him. He has a wonderful musical imagination and his approach to sound at the piano has been very influential - the ability to make the piano not sound like the piano and to truly sing.”

James Keiling & Janneke BritsJames Keiling & Janneke BritsIn the summer of 2011 James married fellow pianist Janneke Brits.  They had studied at the Guildhall at the same time and she had also studied with Charles Owen. But they only met at a chamber music festival in the Swiss Alps in 2005.

Janneke was then studying in the United States: “. After two years of long distance, Janneke came to Guildhall to do her Masters and we have been together in London ever since. She teaches at Eltham and Langley Grammar school, as well as performing - we often play together as a two piano/four hand duo.”

“One of the most memorable concerts was a performance of the Bartok sonata for two pianos and percussion that we gave with David Corkhill - the principal percussionist with the Philharmonia Orchestra, who had previously recorded the work with Solti and Perahia.”

They steer clear of practising together: “It is generally not a good idea to get involved in someone's practice so we don't really help each other practice - other than when we rehearse together and perform for one another.”
Janneke specialises in early music – studying the oboe and harpsichord. A few years ago she was given permission to perform a recital on Joseph Haydn’s own fortepiano.

Between them, Janneke and James are kept very busy indeed.

James does not really have a favourite among the works he will be playing at St Peter’s Church, but finds there’s an excitement in performing them all: “Every performance is very different and so you can play the same programme five times in a row and each time something new happens and each time you might feel that a different piece has come off better. That is what is so exciting (and difficult) about the nature of performance - it's different every time, depending on circumstances, the piano, the acoustic etc.”

“In some ways the Beethoven [Sonata in C minor op. 111] is the hardest to interpret as it was written by a composer towards the end of his life and has a wisdom and profundity that is a challenge to communicate - it's a piece that you live with your whole life and your interpretation evolves as you do.”

If Janneke is able to come to the Marlborough recital perhaps they could be persuaded to play a four-handed piece as an encore. Two years ago she played the Bach Goldberg Variations on St Peter's fine piano, so she knows the instrument very well indeed.

For updated details of James Kreiling’s programme and information about times and tickets click April 14 on our What’s On calendar.

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St John’s student chosen to dance in massive CATS celebration

Cherry MawbyCherry MawbyIt will be the largest ever production of the ever-popular musical CATS and St John’s Academy student Cherry Mawby has been selected to be one of the fifty young dancers at the heart of the performance on Sunday, March 24 in Birmingham’s National Indoor Arena.

This very special production is to celebrate the twenty-fifth birthday of the part-time theatre school network Stagecoach Theatre Arts - an organisation that teaches and nurtures young talent in singing, dancing and acting.

The Marlborough branch of Stagecoach is run by Ingrid Bayley and holds its classes at St John’s. Seventeen year-old Cherry is now teaching its youngest class – for three to four year-olds. She told Marlborough News Online that parents frequently tell her how much the classes have boosted their child’s confidence.

Another young and local graduate of Marlborough Stagecoach is Cameron Strefford who lives in Bedwyn and had a speaking part in the Dr Who Christmas special and a non-speaking part in the recent award winning film of the musical Les Misérables.

The CATS performance involves a prodigious feat of organisation. There will be a professional orchestra (under the baton of Paul Leddington Wright), those fifty main dancers, five hundred Stagecoach singers – and another 2,500 dancers from forty-seven schools in the UK, Malta, Germany and Ireland performing their own creative dances around the vast arena.

As if that wasn’t enough young talent to get to performance level, huge screens will show a virtual choir uniting Stagecoach schools in Canada, Germany, Gibraltar, Ireland, South Africa, Spain and the USA.

Cherry Mawby in the dance studioCherry Mawby in the dance studioCherry Mawby was chosen from the three Marlborough dancers who auditioned at the end of 2012. During last month’s half-term, she and all the other Cats spent six days at a Birmingham hotel for an intensive spell of rehearsals.

The Cats will only get to see their costumes when they arrive in Birmingham on the Saturday before the performance for another full day of rehearsing: “So far I’ve only seen my tail” – which was tabby-style. She will be on stage or purring and scratching her way round the audience for almost the whole performance.

On the evidence so far, Cherry knows it’s going to be an exciting show: “There’s lots of flips and triple cartwheels and I get to do a lot of lifts and fun stuff like that. I’ve enjoyed it so much.”

She’s studying for the International Baccalaureate (IB) at St John’s - with final exams in May 2014. She wants to write her extended IB essay on how the social context shapes plays – perhaps comparing Hamlet with Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead.

One plus is that Cherry’s performances count towards the IB’s compulsory Creative Active Service strand. She has also taken part in Youth Music Theatre UK performances including their 2012 Christmas show Let It Snow at the Regents Hall in London.

And last October she was one of Oberon’s fairies in Pewsey Vale Amateur Dramatic Society’s much acclaimed production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

CATS will be, she says, “an amazing experience”.  And the man who wrote its wonderful music, Andrew Lloyd Webber certainly approves: “I’m absolutely thrilled that so many young people will be able to take part in this very special performance of CATS.  Happy 25th birthday Stagecoach and thank you for giving your students the opportunity to perform the show in such a spectacular way.”

Tickets can be bought online through The Ticket Factory or by ‘phone: 0844 591 4962.


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Singing sensation is a step away from stardom

Rachel AllderRachel AllderTeenage singing sensation Rachel Allder is just one step away from performing onstage at the 02 Arena in London, in a competition which aims to find Britain's next big music star. 

But it almost didn't happen: Rachel lost her voice just days before the auditions for the TeenStar competition, and was reduced to passing handwritten notes to friends and family to spare her vocal cords. 

Luckily, she had sufficiently recovered by the day of the auditions – held at Ferneham Hall in Hampshire – to impress the judges with her stripped down acoustic version of Bon Jovi's rock anthem Living on a Prayer, arranged with the help of Rachel's singing teacher, Aldbourne-based Anna Page.

Now the 13-year-old, who saw off competition in her audition from a rival who is appearing in the musical Cats at the NEC in Birmingham, will be returning to Ferneham Hall on April 14 to compete in the regional final.

And if she makes it through, the St John's School pupil – whose musical heroes include Newton Faulkner and Brit Award winners Ed Sheeran and Emeli Sandé – will perform at the 20,000-capacity 02 Arena in front of a judging panel made up of big names from the music industry.

“When I told the judges I would be singing Living on a Prayer there were some raised eyebrows,” admitted Rachel, who lives in Burbage. “But they really liked my take on the song.”

And she has another surprise in store for the judges at the regional final – an acoustic version of the dance track Titanium, by vocalist Sia and producer David Guetta, which reached number 1 in the charts in 2011.

Friends of Rachel can support her bid for stardom by joining the audience at Ferneham Hall on April 14. Tickets cost £8. For details email Dean Allder at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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Avebury will Rock again in 2013

Dave Frampton and Bob Barrett of Marlborough and Swindon Thamesdown Rotary Clubs (in costume) presenting cheques to  Sheryl Crouch and Amy Fisher from Prospect Hospice, with  Richard Crowley and Mark Lenton-Jink of CALM, and little leukemia survivor Alyssa Lenton-JinkDave Frampton and Bob Barrett of Marlborough and Swindon Thamesdown Rotary Clubs (in costume) presenting cheques to Sheryl Crouch and Amy Fisher from Prospect Hospice, with Richard Crowley and Mark Lenton-Jink of CALM, and little leukemia survivor Alyssa Lenton-JinkCharity music festival Avebury Rocks will be back in 2013, the organisers announced this evening (Wednesday).

The news came as members of the Thamesdown and Marlborough Rotary Clubs handed oer £20,000 to the charities that benefitted from the event: Prospect Hospice, which received £14,000, and CALM, which was awarded £6,000.

The 2012 event was hailed a great success, despite appalling weather conditions. The event was headlined by The Levellers. This year's acts have yet to be announced.

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Angels and the Apocalypse: St John’s Players’ original drama confronts the end of the world as we know it

Angels and the Apocalypse - rehearsalAngels and the Apocalypse - rehearsalAngels and the Apocalypse is an original work devised by St John’s  students and directed by the school’s Head of Drama, Cheri Whitehouse.  Reports from the rehearsals say this is a very powerful piece of theatre.

In Samuel Beckett’s famous play, Waiting for Godot, the central character never arrives.  In Angels and the Apocalypse  the end of the world as we know it does arrive – and the moral dilemmas the survivors face bring the audience close to some central dramas and quandaries of life.

At the end of last year the newspapers were full of forecasts that the world was indeed about to end.  According to the Mayan calendar, on December 21, 2012 the thirteenth b'ak'tun came to an end.

Many people had read these runes wrongly.  This was not the end of the world but rather  the end of an era – also known as the end of the fourth world.  This play sees mankind entering the fifth world – a world where there is no oil, food production grinds almost to a standstill and people turn to violence as a way of maintaining life.

Against this post-apocalyptic background, three siblings struggle to find a way to survive and one of them must decide whether she will take the violent route to survival, or be true to what she knows and believes to be a moral way of living.

A challenging drama to stage – and one that poses important challenges.

Performances on Thursday, February 21 and Friday, February 22 - curtain up at 7.00pm.
Tickets £5 and concessions £3.  Tickets available on the door or call 01672 519537

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Nick Harper to play Marlborough gig in support of Record Store Day

Nick HarperNick HarperSinger songwriter Nick Harper will be performing at Azuza in Marlborough as part of the festivities thrown to celebrate Record Store Day by neighbouring Sound Knowledge, the record store announced today (Wednesday).

The afternoon performance will take place on Sunday, April 21, with final details and lineup to be confirmed. 

Record Store Day takes place on Saturday, April 20. Sound Knowledge will be selling an array of new titles on vinyl, including copies of a 10-inch by Nick Harper. 

This week, record giant HMV announced it would be closing another 37 stores and axing 464, bringing a total of 103 shop closures and 1,500 redundancies.

Stores earmarked for closure include the firm's Swindon and Salisbury branches.

Conversely, a concert by Gabrielle Aplin at Azuza, organised by Sound Knowledge and followed by a record signing at the store, attracted a capacity crowd on Wednesday.

Her single, Please Don't Say You Love Me, was at number 3 in the midweek charts, settling at number 6 when the final top-sellers were announced on Sunday.  

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Wiltshire sings for Comic Relief at St Peter’s Church – and laughs too at the Red Nose Concert

If you cannot think of a way to raise money for Comic Relief, you like to listen to good singing and you need a good laugh - then the Singing for Laughs concert on Saturday, March 2, is just the ticket for you.  

Organised by Vanessa Lafaye and the Marlborough Community Choir it will be the fourth annual Singing for Laughs concert.  Previously they’ve raised £3,000 for Comic Relief and its very worthwhile and necessary work – this year their target is £4,000.

The forty-strong voices of the Marlborough Community Choir, who have performed at many recent celebrations in the town, will be singing their usual eclectic acapella repertoire taking in gospel, show tunes, pop and world music.

They will be joined by four Wiltshire-based singing groups. Kait and Becs are a Pewsey-based vocal and bass duo performing sultry jazz classics.

Mother’s Jam are a Pewsey Vale-based female acapella sextet known in the area for their lovely harmonies.  And just in case you wondered, they are named after a rock formation near Avebury.

Best keep an eye out for the outfits Mother’s Jam will be wearing for this concert – they’ve teamed up with Marlborough boutique Luna to provide some special pizzazz for the evening.

The Magnificent AK47s are a male acapella group which hails from Ashton Keynes (hence the AK, the 47 is for their average age – next year will they have to become a less resonant AK48?) They sing a mixture of the hauntingly beautiful and the hilarious.

Barbarelle are a Swindon-based female acapella quintet featuring leaders of the Swindon Scratch Choir.  They perform music from the 50s and 60s.

All of the music will be light and some will be silly in parts – as befits a concert in aid of Red Nose Day. The ticket price also includes Marlborough’s only cake buffet.

The evening has been designed for families with children. Or for anyone who likes fun music and, of course, cake. A lot of laughter is guaranteed, as well as a high standard of musicianship.

Tickets - £7.50 with under-twelves at £5 - from Marlborough Box Office.

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  • Marlborough-2013-04-18 St Peters