Sat, 26 Dec 2020
Eliza, Simon Tarrant, Camilla, Nick and ‘our own Sugar Plum Fairy Percy’ Ref: 51-2020B
Korros Ensemble: Christmas Concert in aid of Barnardo’s, recorded at The Old Chapel, West Ilsley, and available online until January 31
MUSICIANS now have to find any way they can to keep their morale up and their fingers from wasting away. Korros Ensemble – Eliza Marshall (flute), Nick Ellis (clarinets) and Camilla Pay (harp) – have uploaded a Christmas Concert, available until January 31, with half the £10 ticket price going to Barnardo’s. Filmed in a Victorian chapel in West Berkshire complete with candles, Christmas tree and a few cameos from Nick Ellis’ miniature schnauzer Percy, the recording opens with celebrity endorsements from Davina De Campo (famous, I now know, from RuPaul's Drag Race UK) and Catrin Finch, harp professor at the Royal Academy of Music.
The players are out-and-out virtuosi with an immediate and infectious rapport. The principal work on the programme is Nick Ellis’ skilful arrangement of Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite, which lends itself perfectly to a transcription of this type, with the great soaring tunes on flute and clarinet and the harp providing
sumptuous harmonic support.
All our favourites are there: the Little Overture, the March, the Sugar Plum Fairy, the Russian, Chinese and Arabian Dances, the Mirlitons (pastries shaped like a reed-pipe, apparently) and the Waltz of the Flowers. Between these are a number of delightful intermezzi: Debussy’s piano Arabesque is lustrously seductive (another felicitous transfer), and Shostakovich’s grim, but somehow uplifting Waltz no.2 for Variety Orchestra oozes the sardonic gallows-humour of the Soviets.
Camilla Pay gives a bewitching account of the harp Interlude from Britten’s
Ceremony of Carols, luscious but with celestially twinkling harmonics. Her contribution to the arrangements is a suitably gooey version of Hugh Martin and Ralph Blane’s Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas. And yet another inspired choice is Prokofiev’s Troïka from Lieutenant Kijé, with its shivering sleigh bells surfing through the winter snow.
Spread throughout the concert are short engaging clips, showing each musician’s talents as communicator. Eliza Marshall speaks eloquently about musicians coming together in this arid time, Nick Ellis about his arrangements and future plans, Camilla Pay about the different disciplines of chamber music and orchestral playing. And over-the-top Davina returns to introduce a short promotional video about Barnardo’s valuable work, with some touching stories from young people they have helped.
It’s there for another few weeks. Help yourselves!
JOINT organiser and host Simon Tarrant said: “We enjoyed a wonderful day filming the Korros Ensemble perform Tchaikovksy’s Nutcracker Suite at the Old Chapel in West Ilsley. This was the first time we have hosted a concert at the chapel, having spent the last two years renovating it. How inspiring to hear the music soar into the rafters of this historic building. We felt incredibly lucky that the Korros Ensemble was able to perform this concert after a long period of lockdown with all of the
associated restrictions for musicians – how amazing to be able to broadcast much-needed online live music into people’s homes. Also how wonderful that so many people have bought tickets, meaning that we have been able to support such a worthwhile cause as Barnardo’s charity.”
Nick Ellis added : “It has been an incredible experience just being able to do what we have dedicated our lives and careers to, to rehearse, engage and perform music. With such a devastating year behind us, it has been a positive and delightful project to finish 2020, performing music we love.”
Eliza Marshall, who also has the flute chair at Disney’s Lion King in London’s West End, said: “We are not the type to sit and watch the world go by, so we jumped at the opportunity to play in such an acoustically resonant and atmospheric venue when live music events are so few and far between.”
Camilla Pay, harpist, said: “Like so many others, 2020 has presented a whirlwind of emotions, and it has been great to focus on a positive venture. We are thrilled to present this year’s nut-cracking Christmas Concert in aid of Barnardo’s.”
The event has been made possible through a partnership with streaming company TicketCo TV. To book to watch the concert visit