Press Releases and Enquiries

REVIEW: 5* Christine Rice, Julius Drake, Middle Temple Hall

David Nice, The Arts Desk

Christine Rice at the Royal Opera House Covent Garden April 2015


Glorious abandonment and perfect technique from one of the world’s great mezzos

To catch the searing desolation of a lover scorned, you need to be the complete artist, with temperament and technique in perfect equilibrium. Mezzo Christine Rice has taken us from Berlioz’s Marguerite and Mozart’s Donna Elvira at English National Opera via Birtwistle’s Ariadne to Haydn’s, and – most taxing of all – the end of an affair by telephone in Poulenc’s La Voix Humaine. The abandoned heroines of Haydn and Poulenc found themselves in the most exposed surroundings possible, the intimacy of a song recital in the giving acoustics of Middle Temple Hall, with only a superlative pianist, Julius Drake, as lethal accomplice.

Of our three great British mezzos, Rice is poised somewhere between the refinement, sometimes verging on the chilly, of Sarah Connolly and the go-for-broke intensity of Alice Coote. This was a programme of supreme daring. The two monologues, in effect one-act operas, were separated by Ravel songs in five languages – Spanish, French, Italian, Yiddish and Hebrew – in what could have been an intermezzo but ended up in equal intensity: Rice’s vivid characterisation of the dialogue between inquiring Jewish father and his piously rapturous son segued straight into what in effect became the boy’s hymn of praise, a Kaddish of mesmerising power. The flashing power of Cancion española suggested that a whole evening of Falla, Obradors and Mompou from this chameleonic artist and her pianist would be utterly beguiling and idiomatic.

Read the rest of the review here

REVIEW: Intense abandon – Christine Rice and Julius Drake in Haydn and Poulenc

Robert Hugill, Planet Hugill

Christine Rice at the Royal Opera House Covent Garden April 2015

Star rating: 4.5

Christine Rice incarnating two abandoned women in an evening of intimate intensity

Mezzo-soprano Christine Rice is a relatively rare visitor to London’s recital halls so it was a pleasure to be able to hear her in recital with Julius Drake for the first of Temple Music‘s Temple Song series of 2017, at Middle Temple Hall on Monday 23 January 2107. Abandoned women seemed to be the underlying theme of the programme as we opened with Haydn’s Arianna a Naxos and closed with Poulenc’s La voix humaine, in between there were Ravel’s Chants populaires and Kaddisch.

Read the rest of the review here

REVIEW: Handel’s Messiah, Intimate and text-driven (Temple Winter Festival)

Robert Hull, Planet Hugill


Intimate and text-driven: Handel’s Messiah from Ian Page and Classical Opera 

The Temple Winter Festival came to a close on Monday 19 December 2016 with a performance of Handel’s Messiah in Middle Temple Hall, with Ian Page conducting the choir and orchestra of Classical Opera plus soloists Sarah FoxAngela SimkinStuart Jackson and Neal Davies.

This was a relatively intimate account of the work, with a choir of nine young professional singers and an orchestral ensemble based on nine string players. This meant that the soloists could take advantage of the relatively favourable balance, and this was a very text-based performance as it should be. Ian Page favoured quite brisk speeds, particularly in the choruses as he was able to take advantage of the high degree of flexibility and technical expertise from his small group of choristers.

The overture moved from intimacy to grandeur, ending with a nicely perky fast section. The smaller string contingent meant that we got a lovely experience of Mark Baigent’s oboe.

Read the rest of the review here

REVIEW: Temple Song 2016 Roderick Williams, A chance to hear some less familiar gems

Barry Millington, Evening Standard

Roderick Williams 12 July 2010

Roderick Williams/Julius Drake, review: A chance to hear some less familiar gems

Roderick Williams offered an engaging stage presence at Middle Temple Hall, writes Barry Millington

The baritone Roderick Williams has sung Schubert’s Winterreise in both German and English, but has long specialised in the English repertory. It was a logical step, therefore, to come up with An English Winter Journey – namely a sequence of English songs that traces a similar arc to that of Schubert’s cycle.

There are many neat parallels. The ambulatory Gute Nacht that opens Winterreise is mirrored here by the striding rhythms of Vaughan Williams’ The Vagabond, while the cantering triplets of Schubert’s Die Post become a speeding train in Britten’s Midnight on the Great Western.

While not denying himself the opportunity to offer a handful of favourites – Butterworth’s The Lads in their Hundreds, Vaughan Williams’ Linden Lea and Whither must I Wander?, for example – the English Winter Journey concept also allowed us to hear some less familiar gems. Five of Ivor Gurney’s inspired settings were included: Sleep and Lights Out were both movingly projected by the singer, their melting harmonies sensitively unfolded by pianist Julius Drake.

Read the rest of the review here

REVIEW: Temple Song 2016 Roderick Williams

Claire Seymour, Opera Today

Roderick Williams 12 July 2010

An English Winter Journey

Roderick Williams’ and Julius Drake’s English Winter Journey seems such a perfect concept that one wonders why no one had previously thought of compiling a sequence of 24 songs by English composers to mirror, complement and discourse with Schubert’s song-cycle of love and loss.

Baritone and pianist are both experienced exponents of Schubert’s Winterreise, having performed the work, in Williams’ case, in both German and English, and in Drake’s case with numerous internationally renowned singers. This Temple Song Series recital was musically rewarding, intellectually stimulating and emotionally fulfilling in equal measure.

Read the rest of the review here

REVIEW: And London Burned

Jenna Douglas, Schmopera

And London Burned

In this 350th year since the Great Fire of London in September of 1666, Temple Church has commissioned the new opera by Matt Rogers and Sally O’ReillyAnd London Burned.

O’Reilly’s libretto draws from the historical accounts of the fire that swallowed a massive area of the City of London, along the Thames roughly between the Tower of London and Blackfriars Bridge, and north of the river as far as the Barbican Centre of today. Most of the City’s buildings and churches – including St. Paul’s Cathedral – were destroyed, along with the homes of 70,000 of the then 80,000 residents.

Read the rest of the review here

REVIEW – A Celebration of Shakespeare: Anne Sofie von Otter, Julius Drake and Henry Goodman

Robert Hugill –

Anne Sofie von Otter

Ann Sofie Von Otter. Photography: Mats Bäcker

A Celebration of Shakespeare in Words and Music at Middle Temple Hall on 26 October 2016 was a late celebration of Shakespeare 400 in the only surviving venue from Shakespeare’s time where his plays were performed (Middle Temple Hall saw a performance ofTwelfth Night in 1602). Presented by Temple Music as part of their Temple Song series, the evening featured mezzo-soprano Anne Sofie von Otter accompanied by pianist Julius Drake, with actor Henry Goodman. The programme was curated by Sophie Hunter and featured songs by Purcell, RVW, Britten, Schubert, Korngold, Berlioz, Sibelius, Tippett, Rufus Wainwright and Cole Porter, interleaved with readings from Shakespeare.

Read the rest of the review here


REVIEW – Nadine Koutcher: impressive technique, delicacy and drama

Martin Kettle, The Guardian

Belarussian soprano performing on stage with Julius Drake, pianist

Warm musicality … Nadine Koutcher and accompanist Julius Drake.Photograph: Tristram Kenton for the Guardian

Last June Nadine Koutcher took the 2015 Cardiff Singer of the World title by storm. Now, nearly a year on, the Temple Music Foundation pulled off the notable coup of presenting her London recital debut in Middle Temple Hall, with its artistic director Julius Drake as her considerable accompanist.

The technique was every bit as impressive as it had seemed in Cardiff , but now one also noticed the expressive delicacy and colour of the voice as well as its impressive evenness, caressing the opening phrases of the Liszt’s S’il est un charmant gazon with ideal softness and spinning out the final invocation of the beloved in Oh! Quand je dors surrounded by a garland of Lisztian arpeggios from the keyboard. That softness came again in Berg’s Im Zimmer, but in these songs it was the sustained command of the lush vocal line that impressed even more.

Read the rest of the review here

REVIEW The delight of having both – A Midsummer Nights Dream

Robert Hugill –

two cast members on stage of A Midsummer Night's Dream

Lucy Thatcher and David North - A Midsummer Night’s Dream                                           Celia Bartlett Photography

Middle Temple Hall‘s connection to Shakespeare dates back to the playwright’s lifetime when we know that As You Like It was performed there, so that the hall is the only surviving venue we have where Shakespeare’s plays were performed in his lifetime. Temple Musicnow puts on a highly regarded concert series in the hall, so in celebration of the Shakespeare 400 anniversary, they presented a performance of Shakespeare’s play A Midsummer Night’s Dream with Mendelssohn’s incidental music, we caught the second performance on 3 May 2016.

Seeing the way text and music interacted was fascinating. The larger intermezzos set the scene and each had a little in the way of action so that we were not simply sitting listening to music, whilst the extra smaller pieces were all designed to enhance the text. The melodramas for Puck and for Oberon worked superbly, enhancing the magical element though of course presupposing a rather stylised way of declaiming the text. Using Mendelssohn’s music has far more presence than a director might wish for in a modern production and this conditioned the overall style, making the performance more traditional, as well as making the actors declaim the text in the melodramas in a way they might not otherwise have done.

Read the rest of the review here

REVIEW Mendelssohn’s incidental music adds to an enchanted Shakespeare evening – A Midsummer Night’s Dream

David Nice, The Arts Desk

cast of a midsummer night's dream on stage

Ill met by moonlight: the four lovers in Middle Temple Hall, plus garlanded musicians    All images by Celia Bartlett Photography

You rarely see a full production of Shakespeare’s dream play so magical it brings tears to the eyes. But then you don’t often get 42 players and 14 voices joining the cast to adorn the text with Mendelssohn’s bewitching incidental music, plus the Overture composed 16 years earlier – certainly the most perfect masterpiece ever written by a 17-year-old. Add a fluent ensemble of actors, a sense of high style in costume design and, above a simple stage with audience on three sides and the orchestra on the fourth, a hammerbeam oak forest in the very hall where Twelfth Night had its first known performance, and you can expect a certain perfection.

Tightly organised romantic sentiment comes before the Shakespearean sharp edges of David Edwards‘s pacy supervision, trimming the text but never butchering it as seems to have been the case with Garsington’s version last summer. James Henshaw, assistant chorus master at English National Orchestra and working on the company’s forthcoming Jenůfa, has the total confidence to get the right precision from the excellent young Outcry Ensemble – game to be flower-wreathed – in the Overture’s fairy music, the perfect shaping of its love themes and a rustic rudeness to the mechanicals’ bergomask stomp.

Read the rest of the review here

Support us

If you would like to help support any of the various Temple Music activities through sponsorship

More information
  • Support Us

    Support Us We have many varied and inspiring projects for which we welcome sponsorship, support and partnership, please click above for more information.
  • Temple Shop

    Temple Shop CDs from the Temple, CD recordings of Choral and Organ music. In addition, a variety of books relating to the Temple Church and its work.
  • Music in the Temple

    Music in the Temple For centuries to the present day, music has been at the heart of the Temple, an oasis lying between the City of Westminster and the City of London.
  • News & Updates

  • © Copyright Temple Music Foundation 2017
    Registered as a Charity No. 1095141 and a Company No. 4594413