|John Wilson and members of the John Wilson Orchestra|
Also included in the programme is music from the Tom and Jerry cartoons, which John describes as the hardest thing they have played. The John Wilson Orchestra is popular, their 2013 BBC Proms appearance playing music from Tom and Jerry got over 3 million hits on YouTube. John finds it interesting to present such pieces away from the visuals; until they hear them in concert John thinks that most people have never really place the music in the foreground.
This was the second interview in a week where one topic which cropped up was the difficulty of getting the source material (see my interview with Odaline de la Martinez, talking about her problems getting music by Dame Ethel Smyth). Some of the film studios were famous for dumping the musical material, and John has not yet done a concert where he did not have create a lot of the material. For the November tour they are playing material which they performed at the Proms, but for the Proms performance John had to create a lot. He describes it as a labour of necessity, but you suspect it is also a labour of love too.
The John Wilson Orchestra has changed somewhat since John first founded it in 1994, the repertoire has broadened and the orchestra has got bigger. But John points out that a lot of the players are the same and that the orchestra has had a very settled line-up for the last decade. The group has also got more ambitious, with a great orchestra like the MGM Studio Orchestra to emulate they are always striving to create the Hollywood sound and play to Hollywood standards. As the players have developed individually and become more self-critical, then ironically it gets harder rather than easier. But with the stability of the ensemble, the players have come to trust each other and are used to playing together.
John was born and brought up in Gateshead, Tyne and Wear (and still has something of a Geordie accent), going on to study composition and conducting at the Royal College of Music. And he says that as a kid he never thought of one type of music as different to any other music, his interests were wide listening to Elgar one week, musical comedy, Mozart or film music. When young, John feels, people do not erect barriers, and he has simply carried this through into adult life.
|John Wilson and the John Wilson Orchestra recording at Abbey Road Studios|
So, in fact, when working with classical orchestra, John is invited to conduct classical music and has relationships with a number of UK orchestras, as well as being Associate Guest Conductor of the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra and principal conductor of the RTE Concert Orchestra. Has lots of different projects lined up, working through the RVW symphonies with a variety of orchestras (you can hear him conducting the CBSO in RVW's London Symphony on YouTube), doing a French programme of Ravel and Debussy, and conducting Rachmaninov Symphony No. 2, Szymanowski's Symphony No. 4 and Brett Dean's Komarov's Fall with the National Youth Orchestra in January 2017 (see the orchestra's website for details). With the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra he will be conducting Mendelssohn, Schubert songs (with baritone Benjamin Appl) and Korngold's Symphony in F sharp minor in March 2017, and Britten's Serenade for Tenor, Horn and Strings and Elgar's Symphony No. 3 in April 2017 (see the BBC website for details).
|Glyndebourne on Tour - Madama Butterfly - Matteo Lippi, Karah Son - photo CLive Barda|
It is a work with which he feels very at home, his first recording of it (acquired when young) was the recording by John Barbirolli with Renata Scotto in the title role. Juggling two tours this Autumn requires careful planning, and John comes off the Glyndebourne tour after Milton Keynes (12 November) and Gareth Hancock takes over, so that John can concentrate on the John Wilson Orchestra tour.
When I ask if he would like to return to the pit for an other opera, he laughs and says that he would love to provided they ask him back. He feels very at home. But performing opera in the theatre adds and extra layer of complexity to the performance, which means more rehearsal time, and John quotes Sir Thomas Beecham's maxim that 'Concerts are there to train the public up for opera'
John Wilson and the John Wilson Orchestra – Music From The Movies
16 November Bristol - Colston Hall
17 November Poole - Lighthouse
20 November Glasgow - Royal Concert Hall
21 November Gateshead - Sage
22 November Nottingham - Royal Concert Hall
23 November Cardiff - St David’s Hall
27 November Birmingham - Symphony Hall
28 November Liverpool - Philharmonic Hall
29 November Leeds - Town Hall
30 November Manchester - Bridgewater Hall
01 December Brighton - Dome
03 December London - Royal Festival Hall
John Wilson, National Youth Orchestra, Tamara Stefanovich (piano) - Brett Dean, Szymanowksi, Rachmaninov
5 January 2017 Nottingham - Royal Concert Hall
6 January 2017 Birmingham - Symphony Hall
7 January 2017 London - Royal Festival Hall
John Wilson, BBC Symphony Orchestra
16 March 2017 Glasgow - City Halls
27 April 2017 Glasgow - City Hall
John Wilson and the John Wilson Orchestra on disc
- Gershwin in Hollyood
- Cole Porter in Hollywood
- The John Wilson Orchestra at the Movies
- Rogers and Hammerstein at the Movies
- That's Entertainment: A celebration of the MGM film musical
Elsewhere on this blog:
- Sisters are doing it for themselves: Recent recordings of girls choirs - CD review
- Climax worth waiting for: Simone Piazzola at Rosenblatt Recitals - concert review
- As the composer intended: Stravinsky's Mass from Edinburgh - CD review
- Wonderful record of a treasured performer: Alexandra Dariescu in Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No. 1 - CD review
- Admirable introduction: The Sixteen explores Edmund Rubbra's sacred music - CD review
- A sort-of opera which fails to ignite: And London Burned at Temple Church - Opera review
- Intertwining of music & science: Galileo at Brighton Early Music Festival - music theatre review
- Apropos Anastasia Thoughts on Kenneth MacMillan's ballet following Royal Ballet performance - ballet review
- La dolce vita-inspired: Don Giovanni from Glyndebourne on Tour - opera review
- Shakespeare celebration: Anne Sofie von Otter, Henry Goodman, Julius Drake - concert review
- Lyrical response to a difficult subject: Concerning Matthew Shepard - Cd review
- Throw of the dice: Josquin's Missa Di Dadi from The Tallis Scholars - Cd review