A Performance Guide to the Songs of Jean Sibelius


Kathleen Roland-Silverstein

A Performance Guide to the Songs of Jean Sibelius, by Kathleen Roland-Silverstein, is to be published by Oxford University Press (anticipated release date: late 2024). The book is intended to be an aid to performers of all of Sibelius’s songs, with phonetic and word-for-word translations, historical information about his poets and singers, a guide to Finnish and Finland-Swedish lyric diction and performance recommendations for each song opus.

Kathleen Roland-Silverstein is also the author of Romanser: 25 Swedish Art Songs with Guide to Swedish Lyric Diction (Gehrmans Musikförlag, 2013) and is the music reviewer for the Journal of Singing (National Association of Teachers of Singing). In addition, she is a highly regarded concert soloist and specialist in the music of the 20th and 21st centuries, and has been a featured singer with many music festivals, including the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, the Britten-Pears Institute and the Tanglewood Music Festival. International performances include concerts in Sweden, Finland, Vietnam, Cambodia and Germany. She is a member of the faculty at Syracuse University in New York, at the Setnor School of Music.

Sibelius’s early Piano Quartet to be performed in USA


The Varro Quartet (photo: © Ching Ching Yap)

The Varro Quartet was formed by four young musicians from Georgia: Didi Stone (violin), Lucas Nyman (violin), Richard Wang (cello) and Erin Li (Piano) for the Franklin Pond Chamber Music ‘Fall into Spring’ Pro­gram. Franklin Pond Chamber Music is an organization that provides training for young musicians year-round to learn and perform chamber music.

Having secured permission from the Sibelius family, the Varro Quartet will perform Sibelius’s early and rarely heard Piano Quartet (1884) for the final concert of the Franklin Pond Chamber Music Program on 30 April 2023 – the first performance of the work in the USA. It may also be played this piece in the context of the Franklin Pond Chamber Music Com­pe­tition in May 2023.

A complete performance of the Piano Quartet by these performers can meanwhile be found on YouTube:

Quartet in D minor, JS 157, for two violins, cello and piano (1884)
I. Andante molto – Allegro moderato [11’51]: https://youtu.be/mSDkvs3KIzY
II. Adagio [6’49]: https://youtu.be/OHjJx82iDtA
III. Menuetto [4’43]: https://youtu.be/Jas1Es4UK2o
IV. Grave – Rondo. Vivacissimo [8’40]: https://youtu.be/3Dfi_5A9u9A

Further information about the Varro Quartet and this project can be found in the current issue of the Sibelius One magazine.

Sibelius Concert at York University


Fenella Humphreys and Joseph Tong recording
music by Sibelius in 2020. Photo: © Dave Rowell

Fenella Humphreys and Joseph Tong will include a number of works by Sibelius in their recital at York University on Wednesday 22 February 2023 at 7.30pm.

Sibelius   Five Pieces for violin and piano, Op. 81
Cheryl Frances-Hoad   Sonatina
Sibelius   Four Pieces for violin and piano, Op. 115
Rautavaara   Summer Thoughts
Sibelius   Danses champêtres, Op. 106
Ravel   Sonata No. 2

Fenella Humphreys  violin
Joseph Tong  piano

Venue: Sir Jack Lyons Concert Hall, Campus West, University of York

Winner of the BBC Music Magazine Instrumental Award in 2018, Fenella Humphreys is admired by audiences the world over for the grace and intensity of her playing. She is joined by renowned British pianist Joseph Tong in a programme featuring some of Sibelius’s best-loved works for violin and piano. ‘Album of the Weekend’ on Scala Radio and ‘Chamber Choice’ in the March 2022 edition of BBC Music Magazine, the duo’s recent recording of these works has garnered widespread critical acclaim [click here for more information about the recording]. Alongside these charmful and inventive examples of Sibelius’ chamber music, their programme also includes Ravel’s jazz-infused Sonata in G major, Rautavaara’s romantic Summer Thoughts and the dynamic and charismatic Sonatina by former winner of the BBC Young Composer of the Year Competition Cheryl Frances-Hoad.

Click here for further information and to book tickets.

Sibelius One Magazine – January 2023

The new issue (January 2023) of Sibelius One’s full-colour magazine has now been sent out to subscribers.

Update for non-UK subscribers, 21 January 2023: All magazines have now been despatched although it is possible that there will be some delays with delivery owing to the ransomware attack affecting international post from the UK.

This issue includes:
Janne’s Rhine Journey: What Sibelius learned from Wagner  Stephen Johnson
An interview with Dalia Stasevska
Following in Sibelius’s Footsteps
The Varro Quartet: introducing Sibelius’s Piano Quartet to the USA

To subscribe or order a copy, please click here to visit the Magazine page of this website.

Sibelius’s Trees at Wigmore Hall


Joseph Tong
(Photo: © Sibelius One)

Pianist Joseph Tong will perform Sibelius ’s Five Pieces, Op. 75, ‘The Trees’ at the Wigmore Hall in London at 1 pm on Friday 25 November 2022.

Programme:
Robert Schumann: Arabeske in C, Op. 18
Jean Sibelius: Five Pieces, Op. 75, ‘The Trees’
David Matthews: Five Trees (London premiere)
Franz Schubert: Fantasy in C, ‘Wanderer’, D 760

Following studies at Wells Cathedral School, the Royal Academy of Music, Christ’s College Cambridge and privately with Piers Lane, Joseph Tong has carved out an individual niche for himself among the most talented musicians of his generation. Sibelius is one of his specialities: the collection ‘The Trees’ was included on his first album devoted to the composer’s music, while David Matthews’s piece was commissioned especially to be heard alongside it. The autograph score of Schubert’s ‘Wanderer’ Fantasy is dated November 1822 and the work is thus celebrating its 200th anniversary.

As well as recording several discs of Sibelius’s solo piano music, Joseph Tong also participates on a widely acclaimed disc of Sibelius’s violin and piano music with Fenella Humphreys. More information about this CD and Sibelius One Member Discount: click here.

This concert is part of the CAVATINA Chamber Music Trust ticket scheme, offering free tickets to those aged 8–25.

More information about the concert and link for tickets: https://wigmore-hall.org.uk/whats-on/joseph-tong-202211251300

Total Immersion: Sibelius the Storyteller

The BBC Symphony Orchestra is arranging a Total Immersion day entitled Sibelius the Storyteller on Sunday 9 October 2022 at the Barbican Centre, London.


11.00am
Fountain Room, Barbican
Talk
An introduction to Sibelius’s music and the stories in this Total Immersion day, with Daniel Grimley.


1.00pm
Milton Court
Concert 1
Songs and Melodramas: Phantoms, Visions, Siren Voices
Jean Sibelius
Seven Songs, Op. 13 – selection
Seven Songs, Op. 17 – selection
Six Songs, Op. 90 – The North
Melodrama from ‘Nights of Jealousy’
A Lonely Ski-Trail
Curt Ray & Shayde Sinclair reciters
Aina Miyagi Magnell narrator
Caroline Bourg soprano
Felix Gygli baritone
Violetta Suvini violin
Gabriel Francis-Dehqani cello
Thomas Jesty, Luke Lally Maguire, Edward Picton-Turbervill piano


3.00pm
Barbican Hall
Concert 2
Stories, Quests and Secret Sagas
Jean Sibelius
Scènes historiques, Suite No. 1: All’Overtura
En saga
The Bard
Pohjola’s Daughter
BBC Symphony Orchestra
Sakari Oramo conductor


5.30pm
Milton Court
Concert 3
Songs and Seasons: Spring Dreams, Summer Fire, Winter Nights
Jean Sibelius
Six Part-songs for male chorus, Op. 18 – selection
Leevi Madetoja
Songs for mixed choir – selection
Toivo Kuula
Seven Songs for Choir, Op. 11 – selection
Jean Sibelius
Rakastava
Hughie O’Donnell reciter
BBC Singers
Owain Park conductor


7.45pm
Barbican Hall
Concert 4
Crossings, Creations and Immersions
Night Ride and Sunrise
Six Songs, Op. 72 – The Echo Nymph
Five Songs, Op. 37 – Sunrise
Luonnotar
Tapiola
Anu Komsi soprano
Ólafur Darri Ólafsson narrator
BBC Symphony Orchestra
Sakari Oramo conductor


Further information and tickets: https://www.barbican.org.uk/whats-on/2022/series/bbc-so-total-immersion-sibelius-the-storyteller

Folke Gräsbeck becomes President of Sibelius One


Folke Gräsbeck (photo: © Veli-Pekka Väisänen)

Sibelius One is delighted to announce that Folke Gräsbeck has become President of Sibelius One. He was elected unanimously by those present at Sibelius One’s AGM in Hesan kamari, Ainola, Finland on 1 September 2022.

Folke Gräsbeck is the second person to hold the post of President, succeeding John Davis who passed away in 2021.

A leading pianist and Sibelius scholar of worldwide renown, Folke Gräsbeck studied at the Turku Conservatory under Tarmo Huovinen and won the Maj Lind Competition in 1973, when he was seventeen. On several study trips to London he had private lessons with Maria Curcio-Diamand. He gained a Master of Music degree from the Sibelius Academy in 1997, and became a Doctor of Music in 2008 (topic: ‘The Piano in Sibelius’s Youth Production’). Between 1985 and 2017 he was a lecturer and chamber pianist at the Sibelius Academy. He has performed in many countries including the USA, Egypt, Lebanon, Israel, the United Arab Emirates, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mexico, Japan and China. He has also performed at concerts organized by Sibelius One.

He has performed more than 400 of Sibelius’s total of around 600 works, and is one of the central interpreters in BIS Records’ Complete Sibelius Edition, where he participates on 24 discs including the complete solo piano music (10 CDs), the Piano Quintet (‘Best Recording’, American Record Guide), solo songs, chamber music and choral works.

Gräsbeck has been artistic director of the Sibelius in Korpo Festival since its inception in 2002. He was decorated with the Cross of Merit of the Order of the Lion of Finland in 2009 and received the Sibelius Medal in 2014.


Folke Gräsbeck (left) addressing Sibelius One members in Lahti, 2022