Explore Schubert’s Octet with Peter Fender

British violinist, conductor and composer Peter Fender

Join ACMP on Sunday, June 30 at 2pm Eastern time, for the first meeting of its new online Listening Club!

British conductor, composer and educator Peter Fender will guide us in an in-depth exploration of the first, fourth and sixth movements of Franz Schubert’s Octet in F major, D. 803 for clarinet, bassoon, French horn, string quartet and double bass. As is so often the case with Schubert’s music, the Octet is a relentlessly sunny work, yet which betrays moments of reflection and shadow. We will see where it fitted in Schubert’s life, look into its structure, and consider in detail how we can perform this wonderful work.

During COVID, Peter had produced a regular music appreciation podcast “Masterworks Unwrapped,” delving into great pieces in the orchestral canon. One of his regular fans was the Chair of ACMP’s International Advisory Council, Sean Knox, who recently introduced Peter to ACMP. We look forward to hearing his take on Schubert’s monumental chamber work!

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Admission is FREE, but donations are gratefully accepted.

About Peter Fender

Acclaimed violinist, conductor, composer, and educator Peter Fender shares his passion for music with audiences and orchestras in his native England and beyond, combining deep musical sensitivity, a strong stage presence and great motivational and communication skills.

As a conductor he is experienced in orchestral, choral and operatic music, and in working with professionals, amateurs and children. He is currently Musical Director of Philharmonia Britannica and the Angel Orchestra in London, plus the Six Centuries Chamber Choir. He has conducted a number of other orchestras and groups in the UK, Italy, Bulgaria, and Romania.

Peter’s musical career began as a violinist and violist. He has played principally with period instrument groups such as the Academy of Ancient Music, the London Classical Players, the Consort of Musicke and The Sixteen. He has been leader (concertmaster) for many concerts, and also directed a good number from that position. In 2006 his focus changed to conducting, after studying with Michael Rose (MBE), Achim Holub, and Peter Stark (from the TV series ‘Maestro’), and participating in master classes in England, Italy, and Austria.

In 2007 he formed the orchestra Philharmonia Britannica, to create an orchestra which would regularly work with other art forms. PB concerts have subsequently included mixing live orchestral music with actors, poets, dancers, painters, live video displays, and even the great classical comedian Rainer Hersch! Through this Peter has been looking to draw in people who wouldn’t be interested by a ‘straight’ classical concert, and also looking for some interesting syntheses and juxtapositions. He also seeks to remove the ‘high brow’ from classical orchestral concerts. To this end he often gives short explanations of the music, interspersed with enlightening comments about composers, aiming to make the music of interest to those who have never attended a classical concert – as well as those who are seasoned concert goers.

Peter teaches conducting privately and on courses and workshops. He has created a course for those new to conducting (including non-musicians), and further courses leading up to weekend workshops with full orchestra for more experienced conductors. He also gives talks on music-appreciation both online and in person.  

As a composer Peter has now written a variety of works for different sized groups. He strives to create music that is accessible to both players and audience alike but which is also compositionally interesting. A number of his orchestral works are on a CD released in 2012, chamber music works on one released in 2019 and music for video game on a release in 2020.  

Peter has a blues harmonica which he hopes to learn one day!

A cello section in one of Peter’s orchestras – front cellist: IAC Chair Sean Knox

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