Musical director of the English National Ballet heads to Lancashire

Gavin Sutherland
Gavin Sutherland
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Gavin Sutherland, conductor, pianist, and musical director of the English National Ballet, brings his remarkable repertoire to the Ribble Valley when he celebrates Violin at the Movies at Clitheroe’s Grand Theatre this month.

And for all lovers of music from the films, Sutherland joins forces with violinist Geoffrey Allan to deliver an evening of picture classics written specifically for the violin or for films featuring violinists as the central character.

“The Violin at the Movies allows us a lot of latitude with regard to what we do, with a wide variety of pieces which have a connection to the silver screen,” said Gavin.

“Some of these movies are more remarkable for their musical content than their plots, especially as some of the greatest violinists have contributed to the soundtrack.

“Music in a film establishes a mood from the first bar, and can keep the action going. It is as much a part of the production as the script.”

Excerpts from several violin concertos are included in the varied programme.

“It is a project dear to both our hearts and it will be a delight to play the pieces, from Heinz Provost’s Intermezzo from the 1939 movie of the same name, starring Leslie Howard and Ingrid Bergman to John Williams Schindler’s List.

“That will be familiar to many people through Itzhak Perlman’s evocative performance on the soundtrack of Steven Spielberg’s film, as will Williams’ main title music for Fiddler on the Roof.

“A lot of writing for the big Hollywood block-busters was done by European composers and there is a huge link there.

“The evening will be a selfish wallow in a broad spectrum of music from the silver screen.”

Sutherland is in demand for his conducting skills throughout the world and recently conducted two weeks of the acclaimed Swan Lake production in the Royal Albert Hall before jetting out to play at the Sydney Opera House, where he holds the post as Principal Guest Conductor of the Australian Philarmonic Orchestra

In addition to his work as a conductor, Gavin is a composer and arranger, having recorded works as diverse as Elgar’s Dream of Gerontius and the chart-topping Carry On album.

He also contributed orchestral arrangements for Coronation Street, Last of the Summer Wine, Match of the Day and Batman.

Three years ago he was appointed chairman of the Light Music Society, inheriting the role from Longridge composer Ernest Tomlinson, who was awarded an MBE for services to music in 2012.

“Of all the great times I’ve enjoyed in music, when I was asked to be chairman of the Light Music Society, taking over from somebody like Ernest who was at the sharp end of light music for so long, was probably my greatest honour,” he added.

“Music has always beguiled me and I could play the piano when I was three.

“I remember one of the first pieces of music I ever heard was the The Dream of Olwen, which was on an EP by Russ Conway, and I still love that song today.

“Music has changed because of the digital revolution and is accessible to far more people and that has to be a positive.”

Violin at the Movies featuring Gavin Sutherland and Geoffrey Allan, The Grand Theatre, August 24. £15 and £13.