mon 30/01/2023

Classical Features

First Person: Mark Bromley of the National Youth Brass Band of Great Britain celebrates a milestone in its history

Mark Bromley

Television coverage of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee weekend included footage filmed in the monochrome world of postwar Britain. Old ways of doing things, however jaded and narrow, were deeply ingrained then. Yet they were offset 70 years ago by the optimism of the new Elizabethan age and its egalitarian spirit of growth and renewal.

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theartsdesk at the Pärnu Music Festival 2022 - conductors from 15 to 85, and the greatest players

David Nice

When I first came to Estonia with a then still-exiled Neeme Järvi and his Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra in 1989, the world-class young musicians who dazzled at this year’s Pärnu Music Festival hadn’t been born.

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First Person: Angela Slater on reaping the rewards of the LPO's Young Composers programme

Angela Slater

When I applied to the London Philharmonic Orchestra’s Young Composers programme and found out that I had been accepted, I was expecting to be working on a new orchestral work as in previous years. However, this year, we were invited to explore the concerto form instead.

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First person: Ukrainian violinist Valeriy Sokolov on performing while his homeland is destroyed

Valeriy Sokolov

A fortnight ago I performed Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto with the Aurora Orchestra, joining them and their Principal Conductor Nicholas Collon in Cologne. Tonight we shall present the same programme at the Royal Festival Hall. These are my first appearances with Aurora and as a Ukrainian, I feel so grateful that even during a terrible time like this, I can continue making music.

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First Person: director Richard Wilson on a musical midsummer night film premiere

Richard Wilson

In today’s near-normal times it is easy to forget how hard COVID-19 had hit the music industry, especially for touring orchestras like the Academy of St Martin in the Fields. Masked, socially-distanced performances; streamed concerts from empty venues; and an outpouring of home-made YouTube films helped to keep musicians working and audiences culturally fed. However, there was a feeling across the industry that something more inspiring was needed.

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First Person: composer Gavin Higgins on his new cantata 'The Faerie Bride'

Gavin Higgins

I was a strange child, I didn’t really fit in. I would twitch and distort my face into awkward shapes. I obsessively bit my fingers and knuckles till they bled. I collected leaflets and piled them high in neat stacks in the corner of my room. I was constantly bombarded with invasive thoughts that would leave me completely paralysed. Teachers would admonish me for ‘showing off’, people would stare,  doctors would shrug.

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First Person: folk violinist István 'Szalonna' Pál on true Magyar style

István 'Szalonn

There's a famous saying that Hungarians are in the middle of Europe. From the West, we have Bach and Palestrina holding our hands; from the East, the Caucasian Turkic peoples. Other nations still need 1,000 years to understand what it means to be Hungarian. In Liszt Mosaics, we want to show our culture, our history and show what the Hungarian soul consists of.

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First Person: Christina McMaster - seeking musical cures for modern malaise

Christina McMaster

In 2020, during a gentle easing of lockdown restrictions, I was asked to play for the Culture Clinic sessions at Kings Place, a creative initiative where small groups of up to six people could book a ticket for a private, personally tailored performance. After speaking together briefly, I would then prescribe and perform music I felt they needed to hear.

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theartsdesk at the Dresden Music Festival - orchestral abundance in a spectacular setting

Gavin Dixon

Dresden is filled with music at this time of year. The Dresden Music Festival runs through May and early June, with concerts at all the famous venues – the Frauenkirche, the Semperoper – but also recitals in smaller halls and unlikely settings.

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'An invitation to stillness and reflection': saxophonist and composer Christian Forshaw on collaborating with top choir Tenebrae

Christian Forshaw

The idea of recording an album with Tenebrae has been bubbling away for a number of years. Nigel Short and I first worked together in 2007 when I asked him to direct the vocal consort for a UK tour I was doing with my own group. Since then we have worked together on a number of projects and regularly discussed the idea of a collaboration with Tenebrae.

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