mon 04/07/2022

Classical Features

Through hoops and hurdles to sheer joy: BBC Proms Director David Pickard on a season like no other

David Pickard

As anyone who has been trying to steer an arts organisation through the pandemic will tell you, the greatest challenge has been uncertainty; learning to live with the unknown and the unexpected.

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First Person: composer Joseph Phibbs on rescoring Britten

Joseph Phibbs

The music Britten composed in his twenties occupies a special place in his output. Even among his detractors there are some who begrudgingly concede that this early period is somehow different: fresher, more extroverted and daring, perhaps less driven by serving a purpose (or “being useful”, in the composer’s words).

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First Person: theartsdesk writer Bernard Hughes on composing for the BBC Proms

Bernard Hughes

For many years, first as a punter then latterly as a reviewer, I have sat in the section of the Royal Albert Hall stalls near stage right, under the BBC Radio broadcast box, knowing that that is where they sit the composers being premiered at the Proms.

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First Person: young musicians Brooke Simpson and Erin Black on the National Youth Orchestra's 'Hope Exchange' project

Brooke Simpson

The National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain’s Hope Exchange is an explosive return to the concert platform for hundreds of teenagers like us, playing a variety of new pieces, with the preparation beginning in hundreds of primary schools across the country.

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First Person: Héloïse Werner on a live collaboration with fellow composers and performers

Héloïse Werner

It’s not every day that you have the opportunity to perform with musicians like the ones I’ll be sharing the St John’s Smith Square stage with on Saturday 3 July; organist Kit Downes and cellist Colin Alexander are some of the best musicians I know. I say “share the stage”, but that’s not technically correct.

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'In music, we are together': saxophonist Jess Gillam on returning to concerts with audience

Jess Gillam

For over a year, many concert halls' doors have been firmly shut, the curtains drawn and the lights out. As we begin to emerge into a new world and live performance makes a comeback, I feel we are facing a bittersweet moment in the arts.

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First Person: Roxanna Panufnik on a new version of her 'Letters from Burma' in aid of Myanmar refugees

Roxanna Panufnik

A month ago, I sat in St Martin-in-the Fields listening to London Mozart Players recording my orchestral version of Letters from Burma. I have never been to Burma but I was inspired to compose this work after reading a collection of 54 letters by Aung San Suu Kyi. The first excitement that morning was to be in the presence of an orchestra.

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From cancellation to new vigour: pianist and artistic director Joseph Middleton on Leeds Lieder

Joseph Middleton

April 2020 was to have been the celebratory 10th Anniversary Festival of Leeds Lieder, the organisation I’ve been fortunate enough to direct since late 2014.

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First Person: Boris Giltburg on lockdown interruptions to filming Beethoven's 32 piano sonatas

Boris Giltburg

About a year ago, in a distant pre-pandemic world, I remember walking down Edgware Road one cold London evening. I was heading towards Jaques Samuel Pianos, my favourite haunt in London, to meet filmmaker Stewart French from Fly On The Wall.

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First Person: composer and Renaissance man Tunde Jegede on transcending genres

Tunde Jegede

In this era when there is so much talk and discussion around crossing musical boundaries, diversity in music and inter-disciplinary work it seems strange that there is still so little knowledge of how, why and when it works. Ironically, much of this type of work and collaborative process is much older than we often think and give credit to.

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