Monday, 6 April 2020

Jess Gillam's Virtual Scratch Orchestra

Jess Gillam's Virtual Scratch Orchestra
Saxophonist Jess Gillam is inviting performers to join her Virtual Scratch Orchestra which will debut on 17 April 2020. The idea is that performers will play David Bowie's Where are we now? from Gillam's debut album, Rise, each recording their performance at home and the results will then be mixed together.

Jess Gillam said: ‘For me, music is all about people! People uniting, people sharing and people listening. At a very difficult time, when it is not currently possible to be physically together to share and make music, hopefully this is a way in which we can create something together from afar. ‘Where Are We Now?’ is one of my favourite songs by David Bowie. It’s hauntingly beautiful and seems very appropriate as we all reflect on the world and what is happening around us. This is the first song he released after a long period of silence in 2013.

There are full instructions, parts to download and a click track, on Jess Gillam's website. You have to have sent the recordings in by Friday 10 April 2020 at 6pm, and the results will debut on Gillam's Instagram page at 6pm on Friday 17 April 2020.

Bach, the Universe and Everything on-line: Can Bacterium Compute?

The Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment - Bach, the Universe and Everything on-line: Can Bacterium Compute?
The Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment (OAE) has a regular Sunday morning series, Bach, the Universe and Everything at Kings Place which combines the performance of a Bach cantata with a science lecture, a slightly surprising combination but one that works.

The concert for Sunday 5 April 2020 (Palm Sunday) was cancelled but nothing daunted, the OAE and Professor Susan Stepney from the University of York have gone on-line to present the concert, with each member of the OAE recording their part separately and the results then being mixed together. Stepney's talk looks at how harnessing the power of bacteria might lead to exciting new developments in the future of computing, alongside Bach's Cantata BWV 172 'Erschallet, ihr Lieder', with soloists Zoe Brookshaw, Sinead O'Kelly, Laurence Kilsby and Dominic Sedgwick, directed by Steven Devine, and there is also music by Buxtehude and Lassus.

You can see the event at the OAE's YouTube channel, and also download a programme (PDF).

Music without Quarantine

Music without Quarantine is offering on-line concerts, where a number of performers come together each in their own home. There are regular concerts at 6pm (UK time, 7pm European time) on Wednesdays. On 8 April 2020, the on-line event will feature harpsichordist Diego Ares (from Basel), pianist Danae Doerken (from Berlin), cellist Benedict Klockner (from Paris), pianist Mario Pri-suelos (from Madrid), violinsit Ivan Pochekin (from Madrid), Evgeny Serebriany from Moscow, pianist Kiveli Doerken (from Berlin) and violinist Mikhail Pochekin (from Salzburg), in a programme of music by Soler, Couperin, Paganini, Ysaye, Chopin, Suk, Ares and the contemporary Spanish composer Tomas Marco.

Then on Good Friday, 10 April 2020 (at the same time, 6pm UK time, 7pm European time), there is a special concert of music by Bach with Danae Doerken in the Partita in A minor BWV 827, Benedict Klockner in the Suite in C minor BWV 1011 and Mikhail Pochekin in the Sonata in A minor.

Full details from the Music without Quarantine on Facebook.

The first woman to conduct the First Night of the Proms, Karina Canellakis, appointed principal guest conductor at the London Philharmonic Orchestra

Karina Canellakis (Photo Chris Christodoulou)
Karina Canellakis (Photo Chris Christodoulou)
In 2019, the young American conductor Karina Canellakis made history by becoming the first woman to conduct the First Night of the Proms [she conducted the BBC Symphony Orchestra in Janacek, Dvorak and Zosha di Castri, see my review], and now the London Philharmonic Orchestra (LPO) has announced that Canellakis will be its principal guest conductor from September 2020.

Canellakis made her debut with the LPO in October 2018, in Sibelius, Dvorak and Bartok. She won the Sir George Solti Conducting Award in 2016, and is currently chief conductor of the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic and principal guest conductor of the Rundfunk Sinfonieorchester Berlin. In fact, she began her career as a violinist, training at the Curtis Institute, then playing n the Berlin Philharmonic as a member of its Orchester-Akademie, playing regularly with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and appearing as guest leader with orchestras like the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra. She studied conducting at the Juilliard, and made her professional conducting debut in 2013 with the International Contemporary Ensemble in New York.

Canellakis will conduct four concerts during the London Philharmonic Orchestra's 2020/21 season at the Royal Festival Hall, with repertoire including Beethoven's Symphony No. 8, John Adams' concerto for string quartet, Absolute Jest, Komanov's Fall by Brett Dean (the LPO's composer in residence), Brahms and Beethoven. She will also conduct one of the orchestra's FUNharmonics family concerts.

Full details from the London Philharmonic Orchestra's website.

The most successful opera composer of the 19th century? A look at Meyerbeer and his operas

Meyerbeer: Le prophète - Deutsche Oper, Berlin 2017 (Photo Bettina Stöß)
Giacomo Meyerbeer was one of the most successful, perhaps the most successful, opera composers of the 19th century. With the decline of Meyerbeer’s reputation during the 20th century, we have lost sight of the significant influence that his operas had on his contemporaries, including Richard Wagner and Giuseppe Verdi. In a series of articles, I will be looking at the intriguing relationships between the 19th century’s two greatest opera composers (Wagner and Verdi) and the most performed opera composer of the century (Meyerbeer). But before we look at his influence, I first wanted to explore a little more about Meyerbeer and his music.

Giacomo Meyerbeer, engraving from a photograph by Pierre Petit (1865)
Giacomo Meyerbeer,
engraving from a photograph by Pierre Petit (1865)
Giacomo Meyerbeer was born in Prussia, near Berlin, and his studies included periods under Antonio Salieri, and as a fellow student of Carl Maria von Weber. After some initial success, he travelled to Italy and a series of Italian operas culminated in Il crociato in Egitto (1824, La Fenice, Venice) which brought him to international prominence. On moving to Paris, his opera Robert le Diable (1831) was the first in a sequence of French Grand Operas which built on the genre established by Auber’s La muette de Portici (1828) and Gioacchino Rossini’s Guillaume Tell (1829). Meyerbeer would dominate French Grand Opera until his death in 1864 and the posthumous performance of L’Africaine (1865). Thanks to his continuing contacts with the Prussian court, Meyerbeer also wrote a German opera thus achieving what would be an ambition for the young Richard Wagner, to write German opera for the Germans, Italian opera for the Italians and French opera for the French.

It is perhaps worth bearing in mind that Meyerbeer was an entirely different generation from Verdi and Wagner. Born in 1791, he was an almost exact contemporary of Rossini (1792-1868). Musically he was not an innovator, but more of a synthesizer, his works for Paris combine Italian vocal lines, innovative orchestration and harmony, these latter two very much derived from his German background and training, along with contemporary innovations in theatrical techniques.

French Grand Opera of the period 1828 to 1850 developed partly in response to the changing demographic of the opera going public. The rise of the middle-class audience meant that people were no longer interested in operas based on Greek gods and goddesses or glorifying the rulers of the regime. And the 1820s was a striking decade in the French capital, Louis XVIII died and Charles X was crowned, and at some point during the decade Victor Hugo, Eugene Delacroix, Berlioz, Stendhal, Rossini, Madame de Satael, Gericault and many more were active.

Catch up on what you've missed on Planet Hugill

Many of us have got extra time on their hands at the moment. I have taken advantage of it make sure the Planet Hugill index pages are up to date, so why not browse them and catch up with reviews and articles that you may have missed:

Sunday, 5 April 2020

A life on line: the Metropolitan Opera in Poulenc, Verdi and John Adams, the corno da tirarsi, and not forgetting the Louloubelles

With the removal of live performance and the usual personal interactions of musical life, all our lives have changed significantly. Like many people, my cultural life has moved far more on-line, becoming an end in itself rather than simply a way of catching up on live events which have been missed. Many people and organisations seem to be experimenting with the possibilities that technology brings.

Groups like Eboracum Baroque are giving regular coffee concerts via Zoom, and members of The Telling are giving weekly on-line workshops, whilst I know that a number of amateur groups, my own choir London Concord Singers included, have been experimenting with using Zoom for rehearsals, though the technology is too limited to be able to sing together.

What can be achieved, though, is remarkable and the Oxford Lieder Festival replaced its Spring Song weekend with a series of on-line events, Social DistanSong which including performances which singer and pianist had recorded remotely, a remarkable feat and an imaginative response to the challenge, often using Social Media to distribute.

Soprano Louise Alder has created the Louloubelles, a close-harmony group which has been giving some delightful renditions of mid-Century popular songs (and the Flower Maiden's scene from Parsifal). Tenor, Jorge Navarro Colorado has recorded one of Paul Carr's songs, accompanied remotely by Paul, on YouTube but also a multi-tracked Gastoldi madrigal. Horn player Anneke Scott is playing #AChoraleADay on the corno da tirarsi, an unusual Baroque horn which Bach wrote for. And a number of organists seem to be taking the time to work their way through Bach, and publish and on-line #BachAThon. And there are many more

My own activity has gone on-line too. Next week I will be starting to conduct interviews via Skype, something I have done before but which is now a necessity. However, it means that we can still keep talking to each other and exploring musical culture. And having caught up on our television watching (you can only cope with so many Scandi-Noir series) we have been exploring on-line opera offerings.

Poulenc: Les Dialogues des Carmelites - Metropolitan Opera
Poulenc: Les Dialogues des Carmelites - Metropolitan Opera
This week it seems to have been the turn of the Metropolitan Opera, New York.

Saturday, 4 April 2020

Remembering Jeffery Babb

Jeffery Babb
Jeffery Babb
In music, as in many other subjects, an inspiring teacher can make the world of a difference to the way children, and adults, approach a subject. The death was announced this week of the conductor Jeffery Babb, perhaps not a name well-known to everyone, but if you were involved in music-making in North Lincolnshire then he was someone who almost certainly touched your life.

When I was in my teens (in the late 1960s) I joined Grimsby, Cleethorpes & District Youth Orchestra (GCDYO), playing first in the intermediate orchestra and then from 1971 in the senior orchestra. Through this organisation I came into contact with Jeffery Babb who was principal music director of GCDYO (a post he held for around 40 years). He was an inspirational conductor, managing to make young players not only want to perform, but to perform new and interesting works to the best of their ability.

One of my first exposures was sitting on the back desk of the violas in the senior orchestra, and opening a new piece of music, planned as part of the orchestra's concerts during the Vaughan Williams' centenary year in 1972. I had never played anything like 'The Dance of Job's Comforters' from RVW's Job, with its shifting harmonies and almost sleazy saxophone solo. In fact, I had never come across a saxophone performing in classical music, and had no idea that music could sound like this. We went on to perform a good half of Job, touring it to Germany and it inspired in me a love of RVW's music which persists still. More than that, it made me realise that classical music stretched beyond the Bach, Mendelssohn and Tchaikovsky that I heard at home.

There were other amazing pieces, symphonies by Edmund Rubbra and by William Boyce, a cassation by Malcolm Williamson called The Stone Wall which called for audience participation.

I was only exposed to Jeffery Babb's conducting for a limited time, after all he shared the conducting honours in GCDYO, but even so his charismatic and inspirational leadership made a significant difference to my musical outlook.

Jeffery Babb was head of music at Wintringham School, Grimsby from 1962 to 1988, he conducted the Grimsby, Cleethorpes & District Youth Orchestra for 40 years, the Grimsby Bach Choir for 22 years and the Youth Music Weeks from 1972 to 2003. The youth orchestra's Facebook page has a fine tribute to Jeffery Babb from the present chairman and musical director, Leo Solomon, who knew him far better than I.

His 90th birthday was celebrated in 2018 with an amazing concert at Grimsby Methodist Central Hall, I went along with a cousin who had also performed under his baton, and he was present. It was a wonderful way to remember him.

Friday, 3 April 2020

BBC Radio 3's Culture in Quarantine

As a result of the current restrictions, the BBC has had to re-think its content. Many of us are coming to rely on BBC Radio 3 for its content, the BBC has introduced some interesting innovations as part of an on-going response to the challenges presented.

When Max Richter's Sleep was first broadcast in Radio 3 it broke two Guiness World Records, for the longest broadcast of a single piece of music, and the longest live broadcast of a single piece of music. The work is being re-broadcast from 11pm on Saturday 11 April to 7am on Sunday 12 April, as part of Slow & Mindful, a new night-time slot in the period running up to Easter which will include music from the monks of Downside, Belmont and Pluscarden Abbeys.

BBC Radio 3's 'drive time' slot, In Tune has had to re-invent itself, with performers introducing music via the phone and featuring Home Sessions, music recorded at home. In addition, Postcards from Composers will feature music from leading British Composers who have been invited to write sonic postcards of hope for audiences at home. The short pieces, for solo instruments, will be specially commissioned and will run throughout the schedule.

With live concerts being cancelled, Radio 3 is replacing its live coverage with recordings from the archives, but to support groups whose appearances have been cancelled, they are being invited to pick a repeat of an earlier broadcast which will enable musicians to get valuable income which accrues from broadcasts. Highlights include the London Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Edward Gardner in Elgar’s the Dream of Gerontius with mezzo-soprano Christine Rice and tenor Paul Groves among the soloists (14/04/2020 – as originally transmitted in March 2011); the Berlin Philharmonic and Sir Simon Rattle in Bach’s St Matthew Passion as part of the 2014 Proms, with soloists including baritone Christian Gerhaher, mezzo-soprano Magdalena Kožená, and tenor Mark Padmore (10/04/2020 – as originally broadcast on 6 September 2014, see my review) as well as highlights from Rattle’s opening season as Music Director of the London Symphony Orchestra, the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain with Vasily Petrenko presenting a programme of Vaughan Williams, Turnage, and Beethoven with soloists including soprano Ailish Tynan, tenor Toby Spence, and baritone Gerald Finley (16/04/2020 – as originally broadcast in August 2013).

The season is part of a wider BBC Arts, Culture in Quarantine. More details from the BBC website.

Introducing the Baroque Spoons: the OAE launches an ambitious bid for 100,000 subscribers on YouTube

Given that music making has had to go almost exclusively on-line, it seems that everyone is trying to boost their subscribers on YouTube (if you have favourite performers, do them a favour and find their channel on YouTube and subscribe, it can really make a difference).

On Wednesday, the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment launched an ambitious bid to get 100,000 subscribers on its YouTube channel before September 2020. The OAE's chief executive, Crispin Woodhead explains the difference this could make:

'The more subscribers a channel has, the better placed the videos will be in YouTube’s organic ‘suggested content’ algorithm. For the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, this will increase the exposure of the organisation’s videos and therefore provide work and generate revenue for the players during a worrying time of cancelled engagements and lost income.'

To celebrate the launch, the OAE released a new video, a history of the Baroque Spoons. And yes, Wednesday was April Fools' Day.

Enjoy the video, then head over to the OAE's YouTube channel and click subscribe.

The Telling's Free live-streamed workshops prove popular

 Gardens of Delight - Ciconia, Hildegard of Bingen, Machaut, Zacara; The Telling; FHR
Last Friday, 27 March 2020, in response to cancellations of live performances, The Telling launched a weekly series of on-line workshops. This first workshop proved very popular with 100s of people joining Hastings-based singer Ariane Prüssner on Zoom.

This week, the workshops continue at 11am today when Prüssner will will teach participants how to sing the beautiful Sephardic song La Rosa, which was on The Telling's recent Cd, Gardens of Delight, [see my review]. The following week on Friday 10 April 2020, Clare Norburn will join Ariane to present a concert, including a mass sing-along of the pieces the participants learnt in the previous two workshops.

So put 11am on Fridays into your diary now.
To join today's workshop visit,, anyone can join you don't need a webcam or a camera.

A new recording of Handel's first version of Messiah (Dublin 1742) with a largely German speaking cast

 Handel Messiah; Dorothee Mields, Benno Schachtner, Benedikt Kristjansson, Tobias Berndt, Gaechinger Cantorei, Hans-Christoph Rademann; Accentus
Handel Messiah; Dorothee Mields, Benno Schachtner, Benedikt Kristjansson, Tobias Berndt, Gaechinger Cantorei, Hans-Christoph Rademann; Accentus
Reviewed by Robert Hugill on 1 April 2020 Star rating: 4.0 (★★★★)
The quirky first, Dublin version of Handel's masterpiece from a German choir with a long history of performing Baroque music

Anyone with a moderately long memory will associate the name of the Gaechinger Cantorey with the conductor Helmut Rilling who directed the choir (then called the Gächinger Kantorei) for several decades and developed an impressive pedigree in Baroque music albeit in a style which was larger scale and less attuned to period practice than is the case nowadays. Founded in 1954 by Rilling, since the 2013 the ensemble has been directed by Hans-Christoph Rademann and the choir was refounded and re-named as a smaller ensemble with a period instrument orchestra, rather more in the contemporary historically informed style. Whilst Bach remains the ensemble's focus, Rademann and his performers have also been exploring Handel.

On this set from Accentus, Hans-Christoph Rademann conducts the Gaechinger Cantorey in George Frideric Handel's Messiah with soloists Dorothee Mields (soprano), Benno Schachtner (alto), Benedikt Kristjansson (tenor), Tobias Berndt (bass), using Handel's 1742 Dublin version of the oratorio.

Handel: Messiah - Gaechinger Cantorey recording session, September 2019
Handel: Messiah - Gaechinger Cantorey recording session, September 2019
Messiah went through gradual and continual changes throughout Handel's life, from the 1750s it settled into something like modern standard version (see my selection of recordings at the foot of this review). For anyone unfamiliar with it, the 1742 Dublin version has a number of interesting and striking differences. Handel originally wrote the work in 1741 before he travelled to Dublin, and before he knew who his soloists were which was a very unusual procedure for him. Handel's writing was quite conservative, and to a certain extent the work's performances in London in the 1740 were closer to his intentions as he simplified things for Dublin. Following the successful premiere in Dublin, its London outings were relatively unsuccessful until in 1750 Handel used Messiah to inaugurate the chapel of the Foundling Hospital and what became the annual Foundling Hospital performances went a long way to generating the work's present success. Each performance had some modification, those made in 1745 (many at the librettist Charles Jennens' behest) went a long way toward moving the work towards the one we know, and when in 1754 the alto castrato Gaetano Guadagni joined the roster of soloists, Handel created a separate part for him (rather than allocating him to the female alto part, thus creating a version which had five soloists, soprano, contralto, castrato, tenor and bass).

The other point of interest in this recording is that a work traditionally associated with the British choral tradition is being sung in English by a German choir, itself with a long Baroque performing edition, and by a quartet of soloists for whom English is not their mother tongue. The results are impressive and engaging, and the disc certainly repays listening.

Thursday, 2 April 2020

Filling an important gap: the sacred music of Henry Aldrich, Oxford divine and contemporary of Purcell, performed on Convivium Records by the Cathedral Singers of Christ Church, Oxford

Henry Aldrich Sacred choral music; The Cathedral Singers of Christ Church, David Bannister, The Restoration Consort, James Morley Potter; Convivium
Henry Aldrich Sacred choral music; The Cathedral Singers of Christ Church, David Bannister, The Restoration Consort, James Morley Potter; Convivium
Reviewed by Robert Hugill on 31 March 2020
Filling an important gap in catalogue, this disc introduces us to the music of Purcell's contemporary who was Dean of Oxford.

No, I hadn't heard of Henry Aldrich either. He was a late 17th century divine who was heavily involved in the campaign against King James II's attempts to re-Catholicise the University of Oxford, and in 1689 Aldrich became Dean of Christ Church where he was in place for 21 years. He also served as Vice-Chancellor of the University from 1692 to 1695. Aldrich seems to have been something of a polymath, a logician, a skilled architect, a musician and a composer; during the 1690s he was heavily involved in the cathedral's music programme and also sang in the choir. He also held regular musical gatherings in his rooms at college.

This new disc on Convivium Records focuses on Henry Aldrich's sacred music, with The Cathedral Singers of Christ Church, Oxford performing 13 of Aldrich's anthems and the Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis from his Service in F major, conducted by James Morley Potter with David Bannister, organ. Also, on the disc is Aldrich's music for the 1682 Oxford Act, with the Restoration Consort (Conor Gricmanis & Alison Earll violins, Gavin Kibble viola da gamba).

Aldrich seems to have written mainly sacred music, for use in services at the cathedral. There are four complete services, seven full anthems and sixteen verse anthems, plus Aldrich's arrangements with English text of Latin motets by Palestrina, Carissimi, Byrd and Tallis.

On this disc we hear the Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis from the Service in F, five verse anthems, six full anthems, plus music which Aldrich wrote for the 1682 Oxford Act. From 1672, this annual event at the Sheldonian often featured music by Aldrich, and we hear the ode Conveniunt doctae sorores and Aldrich's only surviving instrumental music, all from the 1682 Oxford Act.

#OperaHarmony: creating micro-operitas on-line in response to the crisis

Opera director Ella Marchment has come up with an intriguing response to the shuttering of opera companies and the close confines required by the current crisis, #OperaHarmony. Micro-operas presented on-line, pairing composer and librettist, and teaming them with director and performers who all record their contributions to create a mini-opera which is shared on line.

Marchment has evidently got a strong response, and #OperaHarmony already has its first composer/librettist pairing, composer Heathcliff Blair and librettist/director John Ramster are planning a work on the Spanish flu epidemic.

As well as working as a director and teacher at venues such as Guildhall School of Music and Drama, The Julliard School, Dutch National Opera, Wexford Festival Opera and The Royal College of Music, Ella is one of the founders of SWAP'ra [see my article], and Ella has herself been responsible for the development of a significant body of new opera with her ensemble the Helios Collective, and the company premiered my opera The Genesis of Frankenstein at the CLF Art Café in 2015 [available on Vimeo].

More about #OperaHarmony on its Facebook page.

Wednesday, 1 April 2020

An on-line contribution from Klemens and Uta Sander to Oxford Lieder's Social DistanSong

Last year, the Austrian baritone Klemens Sander jumped in at 24 hours' notice to perform Schubert's Die schöne Müllerin at the Oxford Lieder Festival, and it was intended that Sander return to give a full recital at Oxford Lieder's 2020 Spring Song. As this has been cancelled, as part of the festival's on-line Social DistanSong, Klemens Sander and his wife Uta have recorded a selection of Schubert songs which are available on the Oxford Lieder Festival website. There is also a video of that 2019 Die schöne Müllerin performance with Sander accompanied by Sholto Kynoch.

This latest posting from the festival also includes Stewart Campbell discusses his PhD research, offering insights into the role of song in the contemporary world, full details from the festival's Social DistanSong website.

The Czech Philharmonic celebrates its 125th anniversary with its 2020/21 season, the third with chief conductor Semyon Bychkov

Semyon Bychkov and the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra (Photo Petra Hajska)
Semyon Bychkov and the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra (Photo Petra Hajska)
The 2020/21 season marks the Czech Philharmonic's 125th anniversary, and the season will also by Semyon Bychkov's third as chief conductor. Bychkov will be launching the season on 17 November 2020 with a concert commemorating the 1989 Velvet Revolution, with the commemorative concert planned to become an annual event. On 17 November, Bychkov will conduct the orchestra in Shostakovich's Leningrad Symphony and Mystery of Time by the Czech composer Miloslav Kabeláč (1908-1979).

During the season Bychkov will be conducting world premières of works commissioned from Bryce Dessner, Detlev Glanert and Thomas Larcher, with other concerts given by orchestra's two principal guest conductors, Jakub Hrůša and Tomáš Netopil. Netopil will be conducting Bohuslav Martinu's Ariane, whilst Sir John Eliot Gardiner will conduct Janacek's The Cunning Little Vixen. David Robertson will conduct the first performance of the third of the nine newly commissioned works from Czech composers, Miloš Orsoň Štědroň's Bimetal.

2019/20 saw the completion of Semyon Bychkov's The Tchaikovsky Project, and during 2020/21 he and the orchestra will launch a new Mahler initiative featuring the composer's music alongside works by his contemporaries. Many of these concerts will be filmed for Czech Phil Media, the orchestra's new audio-visual label.

In addition to its regular concerts at Prague's Rudolfinum, the orchestra will be performing at the Dvořák Prague International Festival and Smetana's Litomyšl Festival, as well as giving concerts in Vienna, Slovakia and Spain, and giving a major European tour to Paris, Brussels, Amsterdam and London.

Programme of the first Czech Philharmonic concert  (Photo: archive of the Czech Philharmonic)
Programme of the first Czech Philharmonic concert  (Photo: archive of the Czech Philharmonic)
The orchestra gave its first concert as the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra in 1896, when Antonin Dvorak conducted a programme of his own works, though the origins of the idea go back earlier to the 1860s when Bedrich Smetana wished to create a Czech symphonic tradition, and to 1882 when the Society for the Maintenance of a Large Orchestra in Prague was created.  At first the orchestra was made up of members of the orchestra of the National Theatre, but as a result of a strike in 1901 the two organisations became independent of each other.

Full details from the Czech Philharmonic's website.

A dialogue with the past: the chamber music of Riccardo Malipiero from the Rest Ensemble

Riccardo Malipiero chamber works; Rest Ensemble; Brilliant Classics
Riccardo Malipiero chamber works; Rest Ensemble; Brilliant Classics
Reviewed by Robert Hugill on 30 March 2020 Star rating: 4.0 (★★★★)
Four chamber works from the 20th century Italian composer Riccardo Malipiero, combined twelve-tone technique with a dialogue with the past in terrific performances from this Italian ensemble

What does the name Malipiero mean to you in terms of composition? For me it primarily evokes the editor of the early editions of Vivaldi's Gloria which used to be standard issue for choral societies, though I was hazily aware that Malipiero was also a composer.

In fact the Malipieros were a dynasty of composers, Francesco Malipiero (1824-1887) was a composer of operas in the mid 19th century and his grandson, Gian Francesco Malipiero (1882-1973) was an important composer, editor of Monteverdi and Vivaldi, and teacher. As well as a significant body of compositions, Malipiero edited a complete Monteverdi edition and much Vivaldi (editions which have been superceded but which played an important role in the development of the 20th century performance traditions of these composers). He was also a notable teacher, whose pupils included Luigi Nono (1924-1990), Roger Sessions (1896-1985) and his own nephew Riccardo Malipiero (1914-2003), who is the subject of a new disc.

I have to confess that, until I listened to this disc of Riccardo Malipiero's chamber music on Brilliant Classics, I had never come across the composer's works. Here we have four works spanning a significant part of Malipiero's career from 1956 to 1987, Sonata for violin and piano, Ciaccona di Davide for viola and piano, Mosaico II for violin solo and Trio for piano, violin and cello, performed by the Rest Ensemble, Rebecca Raimondi (violin), Daniele Valabrega (viola), Michele Marco Rossi (cello) and Alessandro Viale (piano). Any you may recognise some of the performers from pianist Alessandro Viale's recent Minimal Works CD [see my review].

Rest Ensemble
Rest Ensemble
Malipiero's early works all used free atonality but from the mid-1940s he devoted himself to the twelve-tone technique and became one of the pioneers of that technique in Italy. In 1949, he organized the First Congress of twelve-tone music in Milan which was attended by such composers as John Cage, Luigi Dallapiccola, Karl Amadeus Hartmann, René Leibowitz, and Bruno Maderna.

Apart from the Ciaccona di Davide, which was recorded in the 1970s, all the recordings on this disc are premieres, and the ensemble's intention was not only to plug a gap in the recording catalogue but to encourage other ensembles to perform the works. What is perhaps notable about Malipiero's chamber music on this disc is that, despite his modernism, he writes for traditional classical ensembles so that we have the usual line-ups of violin and piano, viola and piano, solo violin and piano trio, so there is no reason why other adventurous performers should not explore the works.

Tuesday, 31 March 2020

Music v. Corona: Julian Perkins of Sounds Baroque

Julian Perkins (Photo: Benjamin Harte)
Julian Perkins (Photo: Benjamin Harte)
Like many musicians, Julian Perkins from Sounds Baroque is finding creative ways to cope with the necessary isolation. He is introducing a regular Bach at 9 recital series, starting at 9.00pm (UK-time) every day except Mondays and featuring Perkins playing a Bach prelude and fugue from the Well-Tempered Clavier on the clavichord, reputedly Bach's favourite keyboard instrument.

And from Friday 3 April 2020, there will also be Duets at 10, at 10pm (UK time) on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, when Emma Abbate and Julian Perkins will introduce and perform keyboard duets by composers including J. C. Bach, Clementi, Mozart, Weber and Dodgson.

Full details from the Sounds Baroque YouTube channel.

Those who wish to support artists whose income has been decimated, can click on the link on the top right of the channel page, and proceeds will be divided equally between the charity Help Musicians and each performer.

Comfortably Classical at Home: the City of London Sinfonia

Katherine Spencer (Photo Suzi Corker)
Katherine Spencer (Photo Suzi Corker)
The musicians of the City of London Sinfonia's response to self-isolation has been to set up a regular streamed event, Comfortably Classical at Home on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 11.30am when one of the musicians hosts a short concert live from their homes − music for anyone and everyone, from young children to older adults. 

These are relaxed, casual events and at the first one on 26 March, Katherine (Principal Clarinet) performed Stravinsky in the sunshine in her garden, introducing listeners not only to the chalumeau, a predecessor of the clarinet, but also her chickens.

Today's episode (Tuesday 31 March) is Joely Koos, Co-Principal Cello, with Alexandra Wood, Leader and Creative Director, and Daniel Bates, Principal Oboe, scheduled for next week.

The concerts are broadcast live on the orchestra's Facebook page where you can catch them afterwards too

Sullivan at his peak, but without Gilbert: Haddon Hall gets its first professional recording

Sullivan Haddon Hall, Ford Mr Jericho, Cellier Captain Billy; Ed Lyon, Henry Waddington, Adrian Thompson, Ben McAteer, Donald Maxwell, Sarah Tynan, Fiona Kimm, Angela Simkin, BBC Singers, BBC Concert Orchestra, John Andrews; Dutton Epoch
Sullivan Haddon Hall, Ford Mr Jericho, Cellier Captain Billy; Ed Lyon, Henry Waddington, Adrian Thompson, Ben McAteer, Donald Maxwell, Sarah Tynan, Fiona Kimm, Angela Simkin, BBC Singers, BBC Concert Orchestra, John Andrews; Dutton Epoch
Reviewed by Robert Hugill on 29 March 2020 Star rating: 4.5 (★★★★½)
Sullivan's first major operetta without Gilbert receives its first professional recording in a terrific performance which shows the work has a lot to enjoy

After the production of The Gondoliers in 1889, the relationship between Sir Arthur Sullivan and Sir W. S. Gilbert fractured, apparently irrevocably. There had been rocky patches before, and the remarkably success of Alfred Cellier's Dorothy in 1888 and 1889 caused problems, as did Sullivan's preference for moving towards more serious subjects. Gilbert would give Sullivan The Yeomen of the Guard, the pair's most serious operetta, but would not go as far as out and out serious opera. Outside of his relationship with Gilbert, Sullivan had success with his oratorio The Golden Legend (1886) and his opera Ivanhoe (1891, which had remarkable success but no obvious successor).

Logic would have said that it was perfectly possible for Sullivan to write comic operas with Gilbert and more serious ones with others, but Gilbert's quarrel with impresario Richard D'Oyly Carte over the finances of the Savoy Operas led to a final break which prevented further Gilbert and Sullivan operas (the two would eventually get together again for two more, Utopia Limited and The Grand Duke, but the magic was gone).

So in 1892, D'Oyly Carte turned to the playwright Sydney Grundy who had already written the libretto for Edward Solomon's 1882 comic opera The Vicar of Bray (which had a successful revival at the Savoy Theatre in 1892). Grundy and Sullivan wrote Haddon Hall, an historical romance rather than comic opera, which seems to have been an attempt to continue the vein of The Yeomen of the Guard.

Haddon Hall had a moderately successful premiere run at the Savoy Theatre, and remained popular with amateurs well into the 1920s. The work was one of a number, I think, whose performing materials were disposed of by publishers during the post-War period which meant that any modern revival had to start with the creation of new performing materials. Sydney Grundy's libretto evidently leaves something to be desired, and whether the work would find a home on the modern stage is an interesting question. But the music is undoubtedly Sullivan at his prime.

So we must be grateful for this new recording of Sullivan and Grundy's Haddon Hall on Dutton Epoch, with John Andrews conducting the BBC Concert Orchestra and BBC Singers, with Ed Lyon as John Manners, Henry Waddington as Sir George Vernon, Adrian Thompson as Oswald, Ben McAteer as Rupert Vernon, Donald Maxwell as McCrankie, Sarah Tynan as Dorothy Vernon, Fiona Kimm as Lady Vernon and Angela Simkin as Dorcas. The piece is accompanied by two shorter contemporary works, Ernest Ford's Mr Jericho from 1893 and Francois Cellier's Captain Billy from 1891.

Grundy's libretto for Haddon Hall takes an historical event from the history of the Manners and Vernon families of Haddon Hall in Derbyshire, when heiress Dorothy Vernon eloped with John Manners, but moved it from 16th century to the 17th so that the differences between the Vernons and the Manners are also ones of politics, the difference between Royalists and Parliamentary supporters. Keen eyed opera lovers will also spot links to Donizetti's opera Lucia di Lammermoor, the heroine forced to marry a man chosen by her father/brother but in love with her father's/brother's enemy (Donizetti's opera debuted in 1835 and was first performed in London in 1838 and was an operatic staple).  And Sullivan's operatic style does, in some ways, hark back to this type of Italian opera as much as the operas of Jacques Offenbach, which are in some ways the closest model.

Sullivan: Haddon Hall - Act One Finale from the 1892 premiere
Sullivan: Haddon Hall - Act One Finale from the 1892 premiere

Monday, 30 March 2020

Academy of Ancient Music's digital concert series

Handel's Heroines - Mary Bevan, Jennifer France, Laurence Cummings, Academy of Ancient Music
Handel's Heroines - Mary Bevan, Jennifer France, Laurence Cummings, Academy of Ancient Music
For the duration of the current crisis, the Academy of Ancient Music (AAM) has launched its new digital offering Streaming Sunday Series, with HD videos of recent concerts available free on-line. The concerts are streamed at 3pm on Sundays and are available on AAM's YouTube channel

Released so far has been Handel's Heroines with sopranos Mary Bevan and Jennifer France, and the AAM directed by Laurence Cummings in Handel, recorded live at Cambridge's West Road Concert Hall on 12 March 2020 (particularly for those who had hoped to see the programme at this year's London Handel Festival), and Sound the Trumpet with trumpeter David Blackadder and soprano Soraya Mafi, with the AAM directed by Chad Kelly in Purcell, Handel, Bach and Torelli, recorded live at Leeds Town Hall on 16 March 2020.

To come, we have the following to look forward to:

5 April 2020 - The Art of the Lute – with Thomas Dunford
The virtuosic Thomas Dunford joins the Academy of Ancient Music to showcase the lute, performing and directing works by Vivaldi, Bach and Buxtehude [see my review]
Recorded live at London’s Milton Court Concert Hall, 20 February 2020.

12 April 2020 - Handel’s Messiah – with soloists from VOCES8
The Academy of Ancient Music presents Handel's Messiah, joined by VOCES8, Apollo5 and the choir of the VOCES8 Foundation under the direction of Barnaby Smith.
Recorded live at the Chapel of Trinity College Cambridge, 3 December 2019.

19 April 2020 - Bach & Haydn – with Viktoria Mullova and James Hall
Violinist Viktoria Mullova and countertenor James Hall join Richard Egarr the Academy of Ancient Music for a concert of Bach, Haydn and Grimani.
Recorded live at London’s Milton Court Concert Hall, 20 November 2019.

26 April 2020 - The Marriage of Figaro
Mozart's terrific comic opera, The Marriage of Figaro in a concert performance by Richard Egarr, the Academy of Ancient Music and cast including Roberto Lorenzi as Figaro, Ellie Laugharne as Susanna, Toby Girling as Count Almaviva, Simona Mihai as the Countess, Wallis Giunta as Cherubino, and Rowan Pierce as Barbarina [see my review of the stage performance at The Grange Festival]
Recorded live at London’s Barbican Hall, 4 July 2019, in partnership with The Grange Festival.

3 May 2020 - Beethoven and Witt – with Chen Reiss
Chen Reiss and the Academy of Ancient Music under the direction of Christoph Altstaedt present Beethoven's Creatures of Prometheus overture, Symphony No. 4, and stunning concert arias for soprano, in a programme which also includes a symphony by Beethoven’s contemporary, Frederich Witt.
Recorded live at the Germanisches National Museum in Nuremberg, 4 March 2020.

Full details from AAM's YouTube channel.

A major addition to the symphonic repertoire: Erkki-Sven Tüür's 'Mythos', commissioned for the centenary of the Republic of Estonia

Erkki-Sven Tüür Symphony No. 9 Mythos', Sow the Wind...; Estonian Festival Orchestra, Paavo Järvi; ALPHA CLASSICS
Erkki-Sven Tüür Symphony No. 9 Mythos', Sow the Wind...; Estonian Festival Orchestra, Paavo Järvi; ALPHA CLASSICS
Reviewed by Robert Hugill on 27 March 2020 Star rating: 5.0 (★★★★★)
The centenary of the Republic of Estonia celebrated in a powerful new symphony

Erkki-Sven Tüür's Symphony No. 9 'Mythos' was commissioned by the  Government Office of Estonia to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Republic of Estonia, and the work was premiered in Tallinn and Brussels in January 2018 by the Estonian Festival Orchestra conducted by Paavo Järvi.

On this new disc from Alpha Classics, Paavo Järvi conducts the Estonian Festival Orchestra in live recordings of Erkki-Sven Tüür's Symphony No. 9 'Mythos', Incantation of Tempest and Sow the Wind..., and the disc also celebrates the composer's 60th birthday.

Erkki-Sven Tüür is one of the major contemporary Estonian composers; he studied at Tallinn Conservatoire with Jaan Rääts, and with Lepo Sumera. For a period he was part of the progressive rock group, Spe. His output includes nine symphonies and an opera, Wallenberg.  We caught music by Tuur and by Raats at the Tallinn Chamber Orchestra's concert at the 2015 Vale of Glamorgan Festival [see my review].

Paavo Järvi founded the Estonian Festival Orchestra in 2011 as being resident at the Pärnu Music Festival, bringing together the best of Estonian talent alongside leading musicians from around the world. The orchestra became the first Estonian orchestra to perform at the BBC Proms in 2018 [see my review].

Paavo Järvi and the Estonian Festival Orchestra
Paavo Järvi and the Estonian Festival Orchestra

The symphony starts from 'primordial chaos', with Tüür gradually creating a sense of order through an emerging string figure which develops.

Sunday, 29 March 2020

Oxford Lieder's Social DistanSong

This was supposed to be Oxford Lieder Festival's Spring Song weekend, and instead of live concerts the festival has developed Social DistanSong, an on-line festival. 

The first, impromptu, event took place yesterday and can still be viewed on-line; soprano Ailish Tynan and pianist James Baillieu, who were due to be launching the festival, have remotely recorded a Grieg song and a Libby Larsen encore. Tynan has put together a Spotify playlist of the songs that she was due to be performing, whilst Helen Abbott and Natasha Loges have recorded versions of their talks that were due to take place as part of the Poetry Making Song study day.

Like many arts organisations, the festival is fundraising so that it can support festival artists from the cancelled events by paying them.

Full details from the festival website.

Saturday, 28 March 2020

All opera is community opera: I chat to director Thomas Guthrie

Jonathan Dove: The Monster in the Maze - Simon Rattle, Andrew Rees, Yvonne Howard - Barbican 2015 (Photo: Alastair Muir/PR )
Jonathan Dove: The Monster in the Maze - Simon Rattle, Andrew Rees, Yvonne Howard - Barbican 2015
(Photo: Alastair Muir/PR )
The director Thomas Guthrie's name is one that has cropped up over the years, often attached to performances in more unusual venues, not to mention his parallel career performing with Bjarte Eike's The Alehouse Boys. So I was delighted to meet up with him recently. Ostensibly our conversation was about his production of Jonathan Dove's The Monster in the Maze at the 2020 Grange Festival, though with the on-going emergency this has now been cancelled, alas. But we also talked about a wide variety of other things, from how he came to start directing, to his love of working with non-professionals, the fascination of early opera and of course playing the violin with The Alehouse Boys.

Jonathan Dove's The Monster in the Maze is labelled a community opera; it tells the story of Theseus and the Minotaur using professional soloists, an adult amateur choir, a young persons choir and a children's choir, with an orchestra made up of professionals and students.  Thomas has a long pedigree with the work, he directed the UK premiere of it in 2015 with Sir Simon Rattle conducting at the London Symphony Orchestra and the Guildhall Symphony Orchestra at the Barbican, and there were also premieres (with different directors and performers) in Aix-en-Provence and in the Philharmonie in Berlin.

Thomas loves working with amateurs, and comments that for him 'all opera is community opera', and when directing amateurs he does not deal with a work significantly differently. And he feels that non-professional performers often get to the heart of what, for him, opera is about - a community telling a story. After all we all want music to move us, to tell a story, and he thinks it is sometimes easier to achieve this with amateurs as they have nothing to lose.

Thomas in fact started out as a singer, and when he was performing with Robert Hollingworth's group I Fagiolini, they sang at the opening of The Sage, Gateshead. The centre of the building, its heart, is a workshop space and anyone can come and use what is a really community space. For Thomas this is, in many ways, how all organisations should be, with the community at their centre.

Performances like the ones planned for The Monster in the Maze, would involve people who may never have performed before. Such participation helps the art form, helps keep it honest, after all opera and all music is about communication so involving the community should not just be about letting people in and giving them a taste.

Verdi: Aida - Liceu, Barcelona (Photo A Bofill)
Verdi: Aida - Liceu, Barcelona (Photo A Bofill)
Thomas's approach, working with amateur performers, does not differ wildly from his approach when using a fully professional cast, though he would usually have longer working with the amateurs. Thomas recently directed Verdi's Aida at the Liceu in Barcelona, and had just one day working in the studio with the chorus, but the way he worked moment to moment, was the same as with amateurs. The process is about discovering how to communicate the text, responding to the moment and then doing it again better.

Friday, 27 March 2020

Arte Concert: Hope@Home, DG's Musical Moments

The Arte Concert website is collaborating with a number of artists to create new content, recorded as private concerts and streamed on-line. The violinist Daniel Hope has started a new Hope@Home series with regular chamber music performances with friends which is being broadcast at 6pm Berlin time every night. The first episode, last night, featured one of Bach's violin sonatas with Hope and pianist Christopher Israel.

And now Deutsche Gramophon has announced that it is building on earlier impromptu events at Berlin's Meistersaal to have regular Musical Moments, starting tonight (Friday 27 March 2020) at 7pm and Sunday 29 March at 4pm, and the episodes will be available on the Arte Concert website. the first four episodes will feature Berlin-based artists Andreas Ottensamer, Anna Prohaska, Avi Avital and Albrecht Mayer in recital performances with chamber music partners.

Full details from the Arte Concert website.

LPOnline – Connecting through music

Violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter was due to perform Beethoven's Harp Quartet with members of the London Philharmonic Orchestra this week, but with the cancellation of performances the four performers, Mutter, Pieter Schoeman (violin), Richard Waters (viola) and Kristina Blaumane (cello), came together digitally to perform part of the work, each recording their own part at home. The result was streamed on the LPO's website last night (Thursday 26 March 2020) as part of a new digital initiative whilst concert halls are dark.

Further newly created live or 'as live' music making from LPO orchestra members, LPO’s Foyle Future Firsts Development Programme and the LPO Junior Artists will be available on-line as part of the new programme. And to mirror the orchestra's planned concert programme, playlists of the repertoire that was to be performed at that time at the Royal Festival Hall will be streamed on the orchestra's website with introductions from conductors and LPO musicians, giving their personal take on the music.

The first of these is Saturday 28 March 2020, when Edward Gardner introduces the first concert of the series. To listen, you will need a Spotify or an IDAGIO account but both of these offer free versions.

Full details from the LPO website.

The Leipzig Circle: piano trios by Schumann, Gade & Mendelssohn from the Phoenix Piano Trio

The Leipzig Circle, piano trios by Robert Schumann, Niels Gade, Felix Mendelssohn; The Phoenix Piano Trio; STONE RECORDS
The Leipzig Circle, piano trios by Robert Schumann, Niels Gade, Felix Mendelssohn; The Phoenix Piano Trio; STONE RECORDS
Reviewed by Robert Hugill on 25 March 2020 Star rating: 4.0 (★★★★)
Three composers linked by friendship are explored in this disc of piano trios from the 1840s and 1850s

On 31 October 1847, the Danish composer Niels Gade visited Clara and Robert Schumann in Dresden, with the news that Felix Mendelssohn was seriously ill in Leipzig. Mendelssohn died a few days later after a series of strokes; Schumann and Gade were pall-bearers.

This disc from the Phoenix Piano Trio (Sholto Kynoch, piano, Jonathan Stone, violin, Christian Elliott, cello) celebrates the links between the three composers who all came to know each other in Leipzig in the 1830s and 1840s. The links between Schumann and Mendelssohn are well known, but the presence of the Danish composer Niels Gade is more intriguing, yet when Mendelssohn died it was Gade who was seen as his natural successor in charge of the Gewandhaus Orchester. The Prussian/Danish war of Schleswig-Holstein put paid to that and Gade, returning to Denmark, would live until 1890, becoming a somewhat old-fashioned figure in the Wagnerian flush of the later 19th century.

The Leipzig Circle: Schumann, Gade & Mendelssohn from Stone Records features the Phoenix Piano Trio in Robert Schumann's Piano Trio No 2 in F major, Opus 80, Niels Gade's Noveletten, Op. 29 and Feliz Mendelsssohn's Piano Trio No. 2 in C minor, Opus 66.

Phoenix Piano Trio (Sholto Kynoch, Jonathan Stone, Christian Elliott) at the 2016Oxford Lieder Festival - photo Tom Herring
Phoenix Piano Trio (Sholto Kynoch, Jonathan Stone, Christian Elliott) at the 2016 Oxford Lieder Festival
photo Tom Herring
When Schumann wrote a mad rush of chamber music in 1842, he never quite finished a piano trio, and when he returned to chamber music in 1847 he wrote two, the Piano Trio in D minor Op. 63, and the Piano Trio in F major Op. 80. The first rather troubled, the second (the one on this disc) rather friendlier. Perhaps one stimulus was that his wife had already written her piano trio, her magnum opus, in 1846.

Thursday, 26 March 2020

Music for Mental Health: pianist Yulia Chaplina

Like many artists, the pianist Yulia Chaplina has had a lot of concerts cancelled and her regular schedule has completely changed. She has started recording short online videos with some very light and positive (jazz and classical) music with the hope that the pieces can make you feel better. We all know that music is very therapeutic and provides a great boost for our mental health and Chaplina hopes her music will cheer you up!

You can sample a few of her videos on her web page, where there is a link to subscribe to her newsletter circulating the videos. And if you want some more 'hardcore' repertoire, then head over to her media page.

Pauline Oliveros' The World Wide Tuning Meditation: live, on-line on Saturday

Pauline Oliveros
Pauline Oliveros
The International Contemporary Ensemble and Music on the Rebound are presenting Pauline Oliveros' The World Wide Tuning Meditation live, on-line. 

On four Saturdays, 28 March, 4, 11 and 18 April 2020 at 5pm EDT, Ione and Claire Chase will lead a global performance of The Tuning Meditation by the late Pauline Oliveros (1932-2016), a sonic gathering with a legacy of bringing communities together through meditative singing. Anyone from anywhere in the world is invited to join in via Zoom to sing together from their personal phone or computer.

No music experience is necessary.

Oliveros’ The Tuning Meditation consists of four steps:

1. Begin by taking a deep breath and letting it all the way out with air sound. Listen with your mind's ear for a tone.
2. On the next breath using any vowel sound, sing the tone that you have silently perceived on one comfortable breath. Listen to the whole field of sound the group is making.
3. Select a voice distant from you and tune as exactly as possible to the tone you are hearing from that voice. Listen again to the whole field of sound the group is making.
4. Contribute by singing a new tone that no one else is singing. Continue by listening then singing a tone of your own or tuning to the tone of another voice alternately.

Full information from Music on the Rebound website, where there is a RSVP link.

Always Playing: London Symphony Orchestra on-line

Sir John Eliot Gardiner and the London Symphony Orchestra (Photo LSO)
Sir John Eliot Gardiner and the London Symphony Orchestra (Photo LSO)
The London Symphony Orchestra's on-line performances continue tonight (Thursday 26 March 2020) with Sir John Eliot Gardiner conducting Weber's overture to Euryanthe, Mendelssohn's Concerto for Violin and Piano (with Isabelle Faust and Kristian Bezuidenhout) and Schumann's Symphony No. 3, with Sir Simon Rattle conducting Janacek's Sinfonietta and Sibelius Symphony No. 5 on Sunday. 

Highlights further ahead include Valery Gergiev conducting Szymanowski's Symphony No. 1 and Violin Concerto (with Janine Jansen) on 2 April, Gianandrea Noseda conducting Verdi's Requiem with Erika Grimaldi, Daniela Barcellona, Francesco Meli and Michele Pertusi on 5 April, Sir Simon Rattle conducting Stravinsky ballets on 9 April, Semyon Bychkov conducting Mahler's Symphony No. 2 on 16 April, Simon Rattle conducting Mahler's Symphony No. 10 and Tippett's The Rose Lake on 23 April.

Full details from the London Symphony Orchestra's website, where you can find links to the orchestra's social media pages, as well as extensive digital programme notes for each of the concerts.

Wednesday, 25 March 2020

Voces8: Live from Home

VOces8 Foundation: Live From Home
The present situation is forcing artists and performers to be creative when it comes to creating on-line content. The VOCES8 Foundation has set up its #LiveFromHome initiative which will bring music and other content by Apollo5, VOCES8 and Paul Smith to your homes on a daily basis. They have put together a regular programme of performance videos, Interactive singing videos, workshops, and interviews which will be streamed live, and available via the archive. 

The current schedule is as follows:

Wed 25 March - 2pm GMT - Creative Music Making, Paul Smith
Thu 26 March - 2pm GMT - The Weekly Interview: Roxanna Panufnik
Fri 27 March - 2pm GMT - APOLLO5 video – The Dark Island
Sat 28 March - 2pm GMT - Intonation: A Multi-sensory Experience Blake Morgan
Sun 29 March - 2pm BST - Sheet Music Editing Jonathan Pacey

Full details from their Facebook, Instagram and YouTube pages.

Big Play - a film released every three minutes making a day of virtual celebration of children's music-making:

West Midlands Music: the Big Play
On Friday (27 March 2020), schools across the West Midlands will be celebrating the Big Play, the virtual grand finale of Big Month of Music. Schools with whole class instrumental tuition have been working with their local Music Service to film One Minute of Music in their classrooms. 

Over 150 films have been received and, between 9am and 5pm on Friday 27 March a One Minute of Music film will be released every three minutes on the West Midlands Music Twitter and Facebook pages.

A film about the Big Play will also be shown during the day and Young Ambassadors will be boosting the Instagram channel and doing social media takeovers throughout the day. Big Month of Music is the first major project of West Midlands Music, a collective of all 14 of the region’s Music Services, which is unique in the UK.

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