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Tilehurst composer's premiere at site of Aldworth Giants 'an absolute triumph'

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Top-class musicians from the Adderbury Ensemble premiered Quartet, the work of Tilehurst composer John Whittaker at St Mary's Church, Aldworth, on Saturday. The church was packed with more than 100 people who came to hear the piece, which featured in its second movement the very medieval stone effigies - The Aldworth Giants - that they were sitting alongside.

Retired teacher Mr Whittaker said: "I thought the whole concert, organised and run by the members of the church, was a great success – an interesting blend of history and music.

"A talk by historian Chris Paterson was a great way of introducing people who had never been to St Mary's Church before to the history of the 14th-century effigies.

John Whittaker with The Adderbury Ensemble, picture Geoff Fletcher
John Whittaker with The Adderbury Ensemble, picture Geoff Fletcher

"The programme played by the Adderbury Ensemble traced the three ages of quartet music – classical, romantic and modern. My piece, being newly-written, fell into the last category.

"The quartet played with energy, expression and finesse with obvious enjoyment to all the audience. I was so pleased with the performance they gave of my piece – especially the movement entitled Effigies that related to the Giants."

After the evening performance Mr Whittaker received many plaudits, including: "Your piece was an absolute knock out last night - the way you introduced rhythmical variation and complexity was so impressive! And the way the same tune was modified and then brought back again was very clever. The viola solo was super – a really lovely change of sound and richness. A fantastic blend of Holst, Walton and Vaughan Williams (I'm sure I heard little nods to the 'Lark Ascending' in there somewhere in the first movement?) but in your own distinctive style. An absolute triumph."

Some of the Aldworth Giants
Some of the Aldworth Giants
Composer John Whittaker, picture Geoff Fletcher
Composer John Whittaker, picture Geoff Fletcher

And praise too for the chamber musicians, whose programme also included Mozart's Quartet in C and the Dvorak Quartet in F. "The Adderbury Quartet really worked hard to realise your music, they were so committed, and it all came together so coherently. And such an experience, to hear your composition, with all those extraordinary effigies in front of us...

"Also thanks for giving us the incentive to return to such a lovely spot on the Downs that we haven't visited for so long. Doesn't get much better, does it?”

D) “A very special evening last night, thank you very much. Everyone I

spoke to enjoyed you music, I thought it was better than the Mozart by far!

We thought the talk was very interesting but missed the main point - why

were all the Effigies lying around? Answer, 'cause there was no room in

the pews! “

E) “Really enjoyed the concert this evening. I think your quartet was the best piece they played (the Dvorak came a close second!). Altogether a lovely experience. “

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