thu 16/07/2020

Classical Features

First Person: 'We Have Found a Better Land'

Mark Bowden

"Helo, ti yw Mark?" A friendly-looking woman on the tiny plane asks me my name. She is a teacher from a Welsh-speaking school in Patagonia, Ysgol yr Hendre, escorting her pupils home from a trip to Cardiff. "I was told to look out for you on the plane. Come and sit with us!" she continues.

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theartsdesk Q&A: Pianist Stephen Kovacevich

David Nice

“Whatever happened to Stephen Bishop?” is not a question likely to be asked by followers of legendary pianism. Born in San Pedro, Los Angeles on 17 October 1940, the young talent took his stepfather’s name as his career was launched at the age of 11. Later he honoured his own father’s Croatian "Kovacevich", by appending it to the “Bishop”.

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theartsdesk at the Music@Malling Festival

David Nice

One of the summer’s greatest pleasures has been to confirm an often untested truism: that you may hear some of the finest and rarest music-making in out-of-the-way places.

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theartsdesk at the Lammermuir Festival

David Kettle

It’s hard to believe that East Lothian’s Lammermuir Festival has only been around for six years. In that short time, it’s become a cherished fixture in Scotland’s musical calendar. For regular concert-goers, it’s a calmer antidote to the August festival mayhem of Edinburgh, just half an hour away, and just a couple of weeks after the capital’s wall-to-wall chaos ends.

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Sir David Willcocks (1919-2015)

theartsdesk

Even if you never saw him conduct, you may well have sung one of Sir David Willcocks's carol arrangements. I remember the unnatural excitement in our church choir when the orange-jacketed Carols for Choirs 2 arrived on the scene, enhancing our repertoire with some especially juicy settings. Sir David Willcocks, who died on Thursday at the grand old age of 95, was steeped in the British choral tradition; for many, he was its heart and soul.

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'We have a duty to all children to share our rich artistic history'

Sarah Connolly

Two hundred and 74 years ago today, on 14 September 1741, Georg Friedrich Handel completed the first edition of his legendary oratorio, Messiah. It is a work associated with children’s charity, and thanks to a royal charter granted to philanthropist Thomas Coram’s Foundling Hospital in Bloomsbury, Handel raised awareness and money for the orphans with performances every year for decades.

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10 Questions for Conductor Laurence Equilbey

David Nice

It’s a sunny afternoon at altitude – 1,082 metres, to be precise – in the precincts of France’s highest historic building, the austerely impressive early Gothic Abbey-Church of St-Robert, La Chaise-Dieu.

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theartsdesk in Lahti: Sibelius 150, Sibelius Hall

David Nice

When Lahti’s Sibelius Hall finally shone and coruscated into life in 2000, the 100,000 citizens of this modest Finnish town, not to mention acousticians from all over the world, could hardly believe their eyes and ears. Here, at last, was not only a top concert hall fit for what had already become a world-class orchestra under notable Sibelian Osmo Vänskä, but also a twofold architectural wonder.

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theartsdesk in Bucharest: Loving Enescu

Paul Gent

Where in the world will you find the most glittering line-up of international orchestras? The Proms? Salzburg? Lucerne? Edinburgh? Bucharest, actually. The Enescu Festival, which began on 30 August, this year boasts appearances by the Concertgebouw, Vienna Philharmonic, Dresden Staatskapelle, Israel Philharmonic, San Francisco Symphony, St Petersburg Philharmonic and London Symphony Orchestra.

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theartsdesk in Pärnu: Top players, great Estonians

David Nice

In 1989 Neeme Järvi, already rated one of the world’s top conductors and soon to be voted “Estonian of the Century” by his compatriots, returned with his Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra to the homeland he had left for America nearly a decade earlier. I went with them then, and to experience a free Estonia 26 years later was a bracing surprise.

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