HISTORY OF NOVA MUSICHISTORY OF NOVA MUSIC
Orchestra Nova, the senior element of Nova Music, began life as an offshoot of the Presteigne Festival Orchestra having made its debut at the Purcell Room on London’s South Bank in October 2001. The group’s first commercial CD, a recording of Stephen Dodgson’s Concertino for two guitars and orchestra, was chosen as Editor’s Choice in the March 2003 edition of Gramophone magazine. John Duarte wrote: ‘In every respect the performances and recording are of the highest quality … This is a landmark recording.’
Orchestra Nova performed at Stephen Dodgson’s 80th birthday concert and has released a steady stream of highly successful discs for the Dutton Epoch, Naxos and Guild labels – five CDs of choral and orchestral works by Cecilia McDowall; British works for viola and orchestra by Alwyn, Holst, Elizabeth Maconchy, David Matthews and John McCabe with soloist Sarah-Jane Bradley; two discs of orchestral and vocal music by David Matthews; a CD of string concertos by Paul Patterson; works for oboe and strings with soloist Virginia Shaw by Benjamin Britten, John Joubert, Kenneth Leighton, John McCabe and Cecilia McDowall; Michael Hurd's comic one act opera The Widow of Ephesus and, most recently a CD of chamber orchestra works by John McCabe.
In the field of chamber opera, George Vass and Alison Porter worked together as music director and producer on two highly successful seasons for the Hampstead and Highgate Festival. In 2008, Hampstead and Highgate Festival Opera premiered That Man Stephen Ward, a virtuoso hour-long music theatre piece by Thomas Hyde to a libretto by David Norris. After the success of That Man Stephen Ward, Hampstead and Highgate’s Springfest Opera gave a critically acclaimed production of Britten’s church opera Curlew River in May 2009, with cast members including Robert Murray (Madwoman) and Lynton Black (Abbot) and in 2010, Nova Opera was heard for the first time at the English Music Festival in a performance of Holst's chamber opera Savitri with a cast that included David Wilson-Johnson as Death.