Music and the Deaf: The 4ORTE Ensemble

We’ve just returned from a wonderful evening at King’s Place, London, where we saw Music and the Deaf’s 4ORTE Ensemble perform a moving selection of solo, accompanied and ensemble musical pieces.

Music and the Deaf are a UK-based charity promoting musical opportunities for deaf children worldwide through workshops, talks and training sessions. The 4ORTE Ensemble brings together a small group of extremely talented deaf and hard of hearing musicians from across the UK who are challenging misconceptions of deaf participation and enjoyment of music.

Pianist Danny Lane, also Artistic Director of the charity, introduced his colleagues and their work, and delivered stirring performances of Prelude in G Minor by Sergei Rachmaninoff and Étude Opus 10 No. 3, in E major by Frédéric Chopin. The latter, he remarked, brought back memories of his childhood.

Flautist Ruth Montgomery played an exciting contrast of up tempo and haunting melodies, featuring Armando’s Rhumba by Chick Corea, and Romanian Folk Dances Sz. 56 by Béla Bartók. She was accompanied at times on guitar by her father, Roger Montgomery, with his piece, El Cabello, being a particular highlight for its evocative imagery.

Sean Chandler on cornet delighted us with Johann Hummel’s Trumpet Concerto and his skilful delivery of Harold Moss’ complicated The Nightingale. Comic relief was also provided by his hilarious in-character rendition of The Lazy Trumpeter by Edrich Siebert.

Soprano Eloise Garland was wonderful, showing her range and energy with a resonating performance of composer John Hosking’s setting of Algernon Charles Swinburne’s poem Music: An Ode. Her later pieces, Lascia ch’io Planga and Let Me Wander Not Unseen by George Frideric Handel were both hauntingly beautiful.

A special guest appearance by concert pianist Elizabeth Elliot was a welcome addition, with a wonderful performance of Frédéric Chopin’s Nocturne Opus 9 number 1, in B flat minor. 

The Ensemble performed a couple of pieces as a group, complementing each other well in Danny Lane’s arrangement of Giulio Caccini’s Ave Maria, and revelling in their performance together. They finished with Londonderry Air with Eloise Garland providing the most beautiful vocals of Danny Boy that i’ve come across.

Admittedly, I do tend to find classical performances a bit intimidating – and i’d be lost without the Programme for all of the above – however tonight’s format and performers made for an intimate and unforgettable evening. They each revealed a little about their musical journey and delivered an evening of inclusive, masterful entertainment. It’s not often that I experience musical instruments up close and this was a real treat. I was particularly impressed with the sound from the cornet. The venue itself was beautiful and the performance made accessible with sign interpreters for the spoken sections.

Additional performances still to be confirmed, however you can find out more about Music and the Deaf and the 4ORTE Ensemble performers themselves via the links below:

Music and the Deaf

Danny Lane
Ruth Montgomery
Sean Chandler
Eloise Garland

What was the last concert you went to? Has reading about the 4ORTE Ensemble changed your opinion of deafness and music?

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