Young musician returns to his North Devon roots

JOHN Slack, a former pupil of Park School in Barnstaple, returns to his home area for two concerts in this year s North Devon Festival. He is the clarinetist in the Berkeley Ensemble, which will be playing at two very different venues in North Devon as p

JOHN Slack, a former pupil of Park School in Barnstaple, returns to his home area for two concerts in this year's North Devon Festival. He is the clarinetist in the Berkeley Ensemble, which will be playing at two very different venues in North Devon as part of a major tour of the South West.From the Park School, John won a scholarship to study for his A levels at Wells Cathedral School, one of four schools catering for specialist musicians. From there he went to the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London, graduating with a first in 2007. He is currently studying as a post-graduate in Trossingen, in Germany.The eight musicians of the Berkeley Ensemble met when all were members of the Southbank Sinfonia, Britain's only orchestral academy. All have played since then with major symphony orchestras. The ensemble is named after two distinguished British musicians, Sir Lennox and Michael Berkeley, father and son. A finalist in this year's Royal Overseas League competition, the ensemble has been invited to tour China in 2010.The programmes of the two concerts have been chosen to complement the venues. At Barnstaple Parish Church, on Friday, June 19, the main work is Schubert's Octet, one of the finest works in the repertoire. On Saturday, June 20, the ensemble will be playing in the beautiful Elizabethan Colleton Manor, near Chulmleigh. Here, the smaller-scale works, featuring varying groupings of instruments, will be well suited to the intimate venue, and the players will talk about preparing the music for performance. The programme includes Brahms' Clarinet Quintet, a work of which John is especially fond, and Dvorak's String Quintet.Both concerts are presented by Young Musicians' Support, part of the Dartington North Devon Trust. This charity gives grants to talented young people to help them with the cost of instruments and lessons. John enjoyed awards from YMS through his years at school. "I am delighted to be bringing the ensemble to North Devon," said John. "It will be a great opportunity to give something back to the people who have supported me and to help YMS to raise funds to benefit other young people."Tickets for the Parish Church Concert (�10 / �8.50 concessions) can be obtained from the Queen's Theatre Box Office on (01271) 324242. Tickets for Colleton Manor cost �15, which includes wine and nibbles. These can be obtained from Mrs. Beryl Worrell on (01769) 581398.


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