The latest performance of a ‘Summer Evening of fun with words and music’ organised by Alton Music Box took place on 5 June 2015 in the Friends’ Meeting House, Alton, Hampshire. Sue Dell and I were delighted to be there as guests representing Jane Austen’s House Museum.
This splendid evening included the first ever public performance of the ‘Jane Austen Suite’ under the direction of its composer, Philip Andrews.
This very attractive and melodic piece in seven sections was performed by the Alton Chamber Ensemble with linking narrative read by Judith Hepper.
As Phil himself comments, “Having settled on the idea of a suite portraying a character from each of her novels (including Sanditon), I then had to decide which characters would make up the suite. In the end, I chose seven ladies, each of a different personality and demeanour to give the music variation.”
Where he has really scored is in not going for the ‘obvious’ heroine from each novel. So, Pride & Prejudice features Mary Bennet and Emma features the chattering Miss Bates.
The music – quirky, playful and heartfelt in turn - received a very enthusiastic reception from a sell-out audience and it seems likely that, like his previous ‘Chawton Suite’, it will receive many more performances in the future. To emphasise the Chawton connection, one of Phil’s grandfathers was a footman at Chawton House!
In 2014, Luath Grant Ferguson, the organiser of Music Box, and Phil Andrews organised a concert of Phil’s music at Jane Austen’s House Museum. As well as providing a chance to enjoy the music, it also resulted in a very generous donation to JAHM.
On this occasion, the recipients will be East Hampshire Women’s Refuge.
We hope that there will be many opportunities in the future to hear Phil’s lovely music.
Trustee and Steward
Image: Alton Chamber Ensemble: Alison Cairns, flute; Rachel Boardman, clarinet; Christine Meers, violin; Helen Harvey, cello; David Bonser, piano; Philip Andrews, conductor (second from right); Judith Hepper, narrator (not shown).