sat 21/09/2019

Classical Features

theartsdesk at Savannah Music Festival

Kate Connolly

Over four days I've gorged on some world-class music. If you take a pretty city in the full swing of spring, add a dose of Southern US hospitality, some exquisite venues, and a music promoter able to garner the cream of musical talent from across the genres, you have arguably found the perfect ingredients for a top-class musical extravaganza - and a wonderfully restorative experience for a music-lover ready for anything.

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Arvo Pärt Special 1: How Sacred Music Scooped an Interview

Simon Broughton

When I was asked 12 months ago by the BBC if I’d be interested in making a film on Henryk Górecki  (in Poland) and Arvo Pärt (in Estonia) for their Sacred Music series, I said yes, almost immediately. I’d been very impressed by the first series and liked the idea pairing of two composers writing religious music in the communist Eastern Bloc who have become almost cult figures in our secular age.

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Arvo Pärt Special 2: 'If you want to understand my music read this'

peter Quinn

My first encounter with Arvo Pärt’s music is indelibly etched on my consciousness. My piano teacher – the late Susan Bradshaw – placed a piece in front of me which, from a visual point of view alone, was immediately intriguing. Consisting of just two pages, what was most striking about the music was its utter simplicity: there was no time signature; no changes of tempo, key or dynamics; no textural variation.

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Philip Langridge, 1939-2010

David Nice

Britain's most communicative singing actor, lyric-dramatic tenor Philip Langridge has died at the age of 70. I offer a personal reminiscence, looking back on some of the greatest theatrical experiences of my life, and ask conductors Sir John Eliot Gardiner, Sir Mark Elder, Edward Gardner and Vladimir Jurowski as well as director Richard Jones what Langridge's example has meant to them.

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The Seckerson Tapes: Opera North's Howard Assembly Room

Edward Seckerson

Opera North's Howard Assembly Room (above) is no longer a well-kept secret. Lovingly restored to its former Victorian glory, this one-time annexe to the Grand Theatre, Leeds, has had a chequered history - even briefly servicing the furtive mackintosh brigade as a picture palace of the bluest persuasion. Now, though, it's been born again as a vibrant performance space. A new season of events under the umbrella title of VOICES is about to launch featuring acts as diverse as The Tallis Scholars,...

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The V&A is Wrong

ismene Brown

I took advantage of one of the last "extra" opening days the V&A is offering for its musical instruments gallery to check out the fuss. Having been sitting on the fence - sympathetic to the pleas for historic fashion displays, though drawn by my background as a violist and pianist to the music side - I came out fuming.

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theartsdesk in Baku: Festival puts 'Azerbai-where?' on the map

Tom Birchenough

It’s a rare national culture festival that presupposes its audience will have no knowledge whatsoever of the culture concerned - or even be able to locate the country itself on a map. But that, we must assume from the “Azerbai-where?” promotional bus ads, was the starting point last November for organisers of the BUTA Festival of Azerbaijan Art, a series of very well-connected art and music events in London going on this month.

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Ottorino Respighi, the forgotten composer

william Ward Ottorino Respighi: more than picturesque

The latest subject in the BBC Four series of composer portraits by Christopher Nupen is Ottorino Respighi. One of the most unfairly neglected major composers of the first half of the 20th century, his reputation has suffered less from not being considered at all, but for having been confined to his trilogy of tone poems that evoke respectively the...

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The Seckerson Tapes: Lenny Bernstein's right-hand man, Craig Urquhart

Edward Seckerson Conductor Leonard Bernstein at the Royal Festival Hall, London

Craig Urquhart was Leonard Bernstein's personal assistant for the last five years of his life. In this touchingly frank interview he talks about the man he knew, the man he revered, the man who wanted to be all things to all people and who consistently pushed himself to the limit in the service of the music that drove him.

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The Seckerson Tapes: Craig Urquhart, Lenny's right hand man

Edward Seckerson Lenny Bernstein (left) with Craig Urquhart at the Berlin Wall

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