thu 06/08/2020

Classical Features

theartsdesk in Istanbul: East meets West at the Istanbul Music Festival

alexandra Coghlan

There’s a peculiarly boundless quality to Istanbul – a city where private domestic life sprawls publicly out across pavements and parks, the bustle of the city seeps out beyond land onto the commercial waterways of the Bosphorous, and cats stroll casually in and out of concert halls.

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Interview: Film composer Ilan Eshkeri

Peter Culshaw

At his studio near White City in West London (he did say it was Notting Hill) Ilan Eshkeri’s is adding a scratchy cello to a key moment in Ralph Fiennes film of Shakespeare’s Coriolanus. It’s the moment the inhabitants of Rome realise that Coriolanus, an exile, is about to attack them.

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theartsdesk in Raploch: Sistema Scotland Makes Big Noise

Jasper Rees

For perhaps the most widely cheered orchestra on the planet, it doesn’t look like much of a concert venue. Fenced in with wire, flanked by a road which leads away to low-rise housing, a scrappy patch of scrubland stretches over a few nondescript acres. Indeed the only hint of anything to caress the eye is the looming silhouette of Stirling Castle on an adjacent promontory.

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theartsdesk in Bergen: Sunny Festival in the City of Rain

alexandra Coghlan

“Bergen is the most beautiful city in the world when it doesn’t rain,” said one Norwegian to me. There was a pause. “It always rains in Bergen.” Mention Norway’s second city to anyone and the first reaction is always the same. They don’t describe the UNESCO World Heritage Site that is the quayside Bryggen quarter, nor the city’s astonishing outlook – caught between mountains and sea – nor even the annual Bergen International Festival, the largest festival of its kind in the Nordic countries...

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theartsdesk in Istanbul: Borusan boosts the Arts

Peter Culshaw

The workers at the smart Borusan Holdings head office are expected to be tidy, especially on a Friday. That’s because their office doubles up as an art gallery, the Borusan Contemporary, at weekends. There are some paintings, like the attractive wall paintings of Jenny Zenuik, although the main thrust of the collection is up-to-the-minute electronic art.

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theartsdesk in Abu Dhabi: The Art of Diplomacy

alexandra Coghlan

You can’t walk down the street in central Abu Dhabi. Not because of any danger or prohibition, but simply because there just aren’t any pavements yet. Look out of any one of the high-rise buildings that dominate the city, and you’ll see a landscape modestly veiled in the dust of construction. Roads, schools, hospitals and inevitably hotels are all emerging from the desert at a rate that renders the city map unrecognisable every six months.

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theartsdesk at Chetham's: New Life for an Old School

philip Radcliffe

Like a streamlined sandstone-coloured satellite berthed unexpectedly in Manchester’s medieval quarter, the new addition to the country’s largest specialist music school, Chetham’s (pronounced Cheetham’s), makes a confident statement for the future. It looms seven storeys high amidst atmospheric buildings dating back as far as 600 years. 

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theartsdesk in Reykjavik: A New Musical Landscape for Iceland

alexandra Coghlan

It’s 11pm on a Thursday night. The kind of weather that makes balloon animals of umbrellas, that raises a tsunami in a bird-bath, is raging outside. Inside the Harpa concert hall some 300 people are gathered in attentive silence while five musicians, each sat at a brightly-coloured piano barely two feet tall, play hairdryers, flippers, and drop small change from boxes onto the floor, in a solemn performance of John Cage’s Music for Amplified Toy Pianos.

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theartsdesk in Soweto: Strings Theory in the Townships

Stefan Simanowitz

Diepkloof, a suburb of the sprawling township of Soweto, is not the most likely of places to find a classical music school, but at the end of a dusty road in the grounds of a Presbyterian Church the haunting strains Dvořák hang above the corrugated iron roof-tops. The hall is home to the Buskaid Soweto String Project, a remarkable initiative which for over 15 years has given hundreds of township youngsters the chance to learn to a classical instrument.

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theartsdesk in Dalarna: Skating through Vinterfest

Kate Connolly

As concert venues go, this one is perfect – a barn-like structure, whose pine timbers emit a fragrance not unlike that of a sauna, whose long glass windows look out across oxon-red wooden Swedish farmsteads and the frozen expanse of Lake Orsasjön. The Vattnäs Konsertlada is the labour of love of local girl, the international opera singer Pers Anna Larsson, and is being used at Sweden's by now best-known music festival, Vinterfest, for the first time.

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