CONCERT REVIEW: String and woodwind set adrift on eclectic bliss

The Trio Alexander: Caroline Sonett (flute), Adam Paul Cordle (viola) and Rosanna Moore (harp).  Photo by Anna Lenhert Photography.

The Trio Alexander: Caroline Sonett (flute), Adam Paul Cordle (viola) and Rosanna Moore (harp). Photo by Anna Lenhert Photography.

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Four months since flute, harp and viola trio The Globe Ensemble visited Swineshead, another combination of string and woodwind musicians delighted an audience in Sleaford on Sunday.

Four months since flute, harp and viola trio The Globe Ensemble visited Swineshead, another combination of string and woodwind musicians delighted an audience in Sleaford on Sunday.

But rather than take the more traditional route sailed by Luce Zurita (flute), Valeria Kurbatova (harp) and Shiry Rashkovsky (viola), The Trio Alexander were much more daring and unconventional in their recital at Riverside Church’s The Source.

The Trio Alexander, Americans Caroline Sonett (flute), Adam Paul Cordle (viola) and Caythorpe Heath harpist Rosanna Moore, laid out a diverse and mould-breaking mix of compositions by Frenchmen Claude Debussy and Jacques Ibert, Welshman William Mathias and American Michael Frazier.

But in a concert very personal to Rosanna, having spent five years honing her skills in Caythore, Fulbeach, Sleaford and Stamford under the guidance and encouragement of both Canon Brian Lucas and Vivian Hill, there had to be an offering from distant relative Elizabeth Poston as well.

Before the concert though, Rosanna took her New York-native, musical collaborators on a tour of southern Lincolnshire.

It’s always nice to come back to where you have quite happy memories, especially of when I was younger, and where I was given so many opportunities

Harpist Rosanna Moore, The Trio Alexander

Adam said: “This area is beautiful and it’s incredible seeing Rutland Water which is an incredible area.”

Caroline added: “Coming from the New York area, where it’s rather urban, it’s such a novelty to see the sheep and the rolling hills.”

The three musicians all met at New York’s Eastman School of Music whose alumni includes American soprano Renee Fleming, jazz pianist Bill Cunliffe, the late American conductor Frederick Fennell and actor Lance Reddick, probably best known for his role as Lieutenant Cedric Daniels in US TV crime sries The Wire.

Caroline said: “We’re committed to bringing new works by young composers to light, especially ones that we know.

“So at every recital, we tend to try and have at least one piece that we’ve either commissioned or has been recently composed.

“But if someone has heard of this trio, it’s because of the Debussy piece (Sonata for Flute, Viola and Harp, 1915) which is really like the grounding history that started this type of group.”

But what took Rosanna from the quiet Lincolnshire village of Caythorpe Heath to a highly energetic and academic world in the “city that never sleeps”, made famous by Frank Sinatra’s song New York New York?

“I started my Masters’ degree in music at Eastman in 2012 and I decided to stay on for a Doctorate,” Rosanna said.

“Then these two lovely people, Caroline who was doing her Masters’ degree and Adam who was coming back to start his Doctorate at the same time as me.

“I was looking for a flute player for another group I was putting together and when I found out that Caroline was a flute player, I asked her if she wanted to play with us.

“We just started talking, while me and Adam were in all of the same classes and lectures, so I said to him that I really liked this repertoire and would love to do more of it.”

A particular strength of Adam’s is his commitment to “develop the potential of music as a means for social justice through research and programming”.

“Some of the efforts I have made have been to work really hard to programme under-represented composers and increase the canon of conventional pieces, increasing the awareness of what’s really out there.

“On other levels, I work really hard in terms of teaching and administrative opportunities to make sure that any child who wants to study has the opportunity to study.

“Also, anybody who doesn’t have the resources to be able to study then I work really hard to be able to find ways to enable them to do so.

“The only way of being the best performers that we can possible be is if we are rooted in a human experience and we get that from teaching.

“But on the flip side of things, the only way of being the best teachers that we can possibly is to be rooted in an excellent performance tradition.

“They feed off each other in a way that if a person gets trapped in a cycle of only doing one or the other, they risk not being able to achieve their full potential.”

Caroline has a similar coommitment to sharing her musical knowledge and experiences with others, including the opportunity of having performed in the New York Philharmonic Orchestra’s “Very Young Composers” programme.

“I did most of my musical performance activities in New York and around New York when I was studying for my undergraduate degree in music at Columbia University”, Caroline said.

“The programme was half-teaching and half-performance where people would work on compositions with very young children up to the age of 12.

“I was brought in, along with a couple of other teaching fellows and members of the New York Philharmonic, to perform their works.

“It was particularly interesting because I’m very keen on teaching, especially in chamber music and composition for young kids.

“I’m interested in collaborations that really gives them their own initiative to be interested in finding things out and moving forward with their dreams.”

But it would be inaccurate not to say that most of the Riverside Church audience came to see The Trio Alexander to find out what Rosanna Moore has done with her life in music since her days of performing at the Sleaford Playhouse and Lincolnshire Oak Hotel ten years earlier.

“My parents moved away from Lincolnshire 11 years ago and because I was then at music school in Manchester, I didn’t really have that much of an opportunity to come back here,” Rosanna said.

“I always enjoyed living round Lincolnshire, although my parents moved around a lot when I was younger.

“But this was the first place where they stayed for any length of time, so I enjoyed being here when I came home and got used to going round the same places.

“It’s always nice to come back to where you have quite happy memories, especially of when I was younger, and where I was given so many opportunities outside of what I was doing in Manchester.

“I got to come home and play for people who I don’t see every day which was really quite wonderful.

“You always have to have an appreciation of teaching to be able to grow as a musician personally, as well as passing anything on - whether it’s in a teaching setting or if it’s a young child coming to watch your concert and deciding they want to play an instrument.

“The music world, especially the classical music world, is changing so much and the market is saturated now that you have to be able to do a little bit of everything.

“That suits me down to the ground because I love teaching, I love playing with orchestra, I love playing in my chamber groups and all sorts of things.

“This goes for the three of us and it’s part of why we’re all doing a Doctorate in music as it allows us to do all of these things to the highest level possible.”

Hopefully, the trio’s intimate and knowledgeable audience appreciated the quantum leaps taken on a most trend-setting night.

Review and interview by Winston Brown