• Holy Trinity Church (map)
  • High Street GU1 3RR
  • Guildford
  • United Kingdom

It takes two to Tango!

An exciting evening of Latin American music.

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The Santiago Quartet and Icosa Choir join forces with children from St Thomas of Canterbury Catholic Primary School in Guildford for a concert of exciting, rhythmically-charged, Tango-inspired Latin American music for all the family on Monday 6th May at 6pm at Holy Trinity Church, Guildford. It is unusual for a choir and string quartet to perform together but this concert is a natural collaboration for the Santiago Quartet and Icosa, who are both keen to extend the performance parameters of their respective musical repertoires and bring them to new audiences. Tickets are available from Guildford Tourist Information Centre: Adults: £18; Under 18s and Unemployed: £6. 155 High Street, Guildford GU1 3AJ; 01483 444334 www.visitguildford.com 

The Santiago Quartet and Icosa Choir are led by musicians with connections to Guildford and the local area.  The Santiago Quartet is a classical ensemble, founded in Merida, Mexico in 2005 by Guilford-based cellist Jonny Hennessey-Brown. The Santiago Quartet is unlike other string quartets. Instead of performing traditional classical programmes of Mozart and Beethoven, the group specialises in music that’s a bit different. Together, they blend the sensuous mood of Tango music with vibrant energy and originality. Their repertoire comes from many sources, including film scores and songs, and focuses on pieces with an emotional pull. A striking characteristic of the Santiago Quartet sound is the haunting melodies of the bandoneon, performed by Julian Rowlands, the virtuoso bandoneon player and Tango music specialist (who is regularly heard on BBC’S Strictly Come Dancing) creating the signature sound of the Tango.

Icosa is a young professional chamber choir of 16 top quality singers founded by Luke Mather in 2015. Luke started his musical training as a Music Scholar at St George’s College, Weybridge before moving to Manchester University to complete his training. Icosa, through their London and UK-wide concerts, have gained a reputation for their versatility through innovative and engaging programmes, performing demanding new works alongside more familiar pieces from pop, folk and classical genres. Since their inception, Icosa has performed over 50 new works, programming the music of female composers in equal measure to their male counterparts.

Both Icosa and Santiago Quartet are committed to bringing music to young ears, working in schools as part of their respective educational outreach programmes.  Children from Year 3 of St Thomas of Canterbury Catholic Primary School in Guildford will join Icosa and the Santiago Quartet in the concert to sing Latin American folk songs. The concert has developed organically out of links between the founders of the Quartet and Icosa, and with St Thomas of Canterbury School where Jonny teaches the cello and Luke’s mum, Maureen Mather, is the school’s music teacher. As part of the school’s new Visiting Musician Programme, the Santiago Quartet visited the school last year, bringing the sights and sounds of the Tango direct to the School Hall, complete with two professional Tango dancers, Richard Manuel and Paula Duarte. Icosa’s Director, Luke Mather, will visit St Thomas’ this term to lead three choral workshops with the children, teaching them the Latin American folk songs they will perform at the concert. 

This unique collaboration builds on St Thomas’ strong musical provision which the school sees as a vital part of providing a broad and balanced curriculum. These opportunities are all the more important at the moment, given the considerable pressures on arts provision in schools due to funding cuts and a gradual narrowing of the curriculum. The school’s Head teacher, Mr Neil Lewin, explains how important it is to give children the opportunity to hear and perform live music: “I am delighted that our Year 3 children have the rare chance to perform with these two exceptional professional ensembles in the beautiful setting of Holy Trinity Church. Singing is a big part of daily life at St Thomas’ so it is great to now be developing links with Luke and Icosa who will be coming in to school to teach the children Latin American songs. This concert also gives us the opportunity to develop our links with the Santiago Quartet. They visited us last year for a day as part of our Arts Week and the school was buzzing with their vibrant and energetic rhythms and sounds. Many of our children learn an instrument, including all our children in Year 4, who learn to play a string instrument in addition to their class music lessons, thanks to the Southern ProMusica Schools’ String Programme. So the 6th May joint concert will be a tremendous introduction to string playing for our Year 3 children, never mind the unique opportunity to sing with Icosa and be accompanied by the Santiago Quartet! I know myself how much effort, stamina and determination goes into learning an instrument. We hope this concert and Icosa’s school workshops will inspire our children’s own musical learning and give them valuable musical role models to look up to and emulate.”