The members of the London Chamber Orchestra (LCO), the longest established professional chamber orchestra in the UK, collectively focused on a baton-wielding conductor standing tall and confident on a centre podium at Westminster Abbey. With a tap of his wand and one single swerve, LCO music director and principal conductor Christopher Warren-Green cut the air with timely gestures and the orchestra filled the Gothic chapel with English pastoral music as per the Duchess of Cambridge’s request for her big day on April 29, 2011. The royal wedding was about to begin.
The widely-televised ceremony was witnessed by millions across the globe. And seven years later, Warren-Green was again invited to conduct at another royal wedding — this time for Prince Harry and Meghan Markle — with the English Chamber Orchestra, BBC National Orchestra of Wales and Philharmonia Orchestra.
Since then, the LCO and Warren-Green have been busy performing all around the world, collaborating with international soloists and staging premieres and narrator debuts on top of their eclectic 2018/19 season, which featured oeuvres by Mozart, Mendelssohn, Suk, Dvorák Roxanna Panufnik and both Sergei and Gabriel Prokofiev. Warren-Green has also been investing his time in Music Junction, LCO’s education and outreach programme that brings children and young people together for orchestral instrument workshops. And this month, for the first time, the LCO will be travelling to Southeast Asia to perform in the Toyota Classics’ 30th concert tour in Laos, Thailand, Brunei, Malaysia, Cambodia and Vietnam.
“On behalf of the LCO, we are absolutely thrilled to be partnering Toyota Classics for its 30th tour in Southeast Asia,” said Warren-Green. “It will be our first time visiting these countries, and we are excited for the experiences to come.”
Since its inception in 1990, the Toyota Classics — one of UMW Toyota Motor’s biggest corporate social responsibility activations — has brought some of the world’s most renowned soloists, conductors and orchestras in classical music to Asia to raise funds for community-based charities and organisations. This year, the concert programme will include Mozart’s Divertimento K.136, Beethoven’s Romance No 2 in F major and Neruda’s Trumpet Concerto. Joining the LCO is 20-year-old soloist Lucienne Renaudin Vary, an impeccable trumpeter who wields her instrument with knowledge and experience beyond her years.
Unlike most musicians, Vary’s fondness for the trumpet was not borne from a childhood of after-school music classes, though she loved music. “I discovered the trumpet by chance,” said Vary. “I studied music theory and two trumpet teachers came into the class to give a workshop about the trumpet and I just fell in love with the instrument.”
Her journey into the orchestral world began after she was recognised as the first trumpet student ever to be accepted in both the classical and jazz departments at the prestigious Conservatoire National Supérieur de Paris. She is also signed to Warner Classics and her first album, The Voice of the Trumpet, was released in 2017. Her second album, Demoiselle in New York, recorded with the BBC Concert Orchestra under Bill Elliott, will be released in autumn this year.
“She’s extremely talented,” exclaimed Warren-Green. “Being a soloist at such a young age, her trumpet skills are absolutely out of this world.”
Toyota Classics’ tagline is “Music that Moves Lives” and its philosophy is to use classical music as a tool to touch lives within and beyond the concert hall by supporting charitable organisations.
“It’s an honour to have Warren-Green, Vary and esteemed musicians and instrumentalists from the chamber orchestra performing with Toyota Classics this year,” said UMW Toyota Motor president Ravindran Kurusamy. “Not only does it show how diverse, fascinating and progressive the world of classical music can be, but it is also a gathering of like-minded individuals, coming together to perform and support Toyota Classics’ vision of helping charitable organisations.”
This year, the Malaysian beneficiaries of the Toyota Classics are the Sabah Wetlands Conservation Society and Universiti Malaysia Pahang. The allocated proceeds will be used to rehabilitate and restore degraded mangrove areas in Sulaman, Tuaran as well as educate students of Universiti Malaysia Pahang on science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
Students from the Faculty of Music of UiTM will be given the opportunity to have a workshop with the orchestra members, with a Music Junction-style class. “Given our commitment to Music Junction, our own education programme in the UK, and that Toyota’s initiative is ‘Start Your Impossible’, we are particularly looking forward to partnering local organisations to share our experiences with students in Southeast Asia and learning from them in return,” said Warren-Green.
'Toyota Classics 2019' will be held on Oct 29 at Dewan Filharmonik Petronas, Level 2, Tower 2, Petronas Twin Towers, Kuala Lumpur, 8.30pm. Tickets are priced at RM100, RM150, RM200 and RM250. Buy tickets here.
This article first appeared on Oct 21, 2019 in The Edge Malaysia.