mon 18/10/2021

Classical Features

Interview: Eric Whitacre, Virtual Choirmaster

Adam Sweeting Eric Whitacre: From electropop to choral music for the cyberspace era

McDonald's (the hamburger people) are rarely acknowledged for their contributions to the arts, but without them we may never have witnessed the meteoric rise of composer Eric Whitacre. When he was 14, he heard a casting call on the radio for a McDonald's TV ad, persuaded his mother to drive him into Reno, Nevada to join the throng of hopeful teenagers, and ended up making a brief appearance in the "McDonald’s Great Year" commercial.

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The Seckerson Tapes: Conductor Stephen Layton

Edward Seckerson Conductor and choral scholar Stephen Layton: One of the lucky ones

Conductor and choral scholar Stephen Layton once said that he often wondered what happened to the little boy at his primary school who he thought sang better than he did. The discovering and nurturing of raw talent is an issue very close to his heart and he offers three heartfelt cheers for the work of TV's Gareth Malone in that regard. Stephen was one of the lucky...

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theartsdesk in Berlin: More Venezuelans, Even Younger

Kate Connolly

Just seconds into a performance by the Orquesta Sinfónica Juvenil Teresa Carreño it is immediately clear what Sir Simon Rattle meant when he said, “I have seen the future of music.” The passion and physical and mental energy with which they play, along with the sheer joy they seem to glean from it, is enough to instill hope in even the staunchest cultural pessimist.

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theartsdesk in Llantwit Major: Arvo Pärt in the Vale of Glamorgan

stephen Walsh

Amazingly, the Vale of Glamorgan Festival has been on the go for more than 40 years, and has got better and better as it has gone along. Until recently, any kind of mould-breaking musical enterprise was likely to collide with the entrenched interests of the Taffia, the Cardiff and County Club, the Welsh Arts Council and the Land of Song.

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The Seckerson Tapes: René Jacobs Interview

Edward Seckerson The multi-talented René Jacobs tackles Mozart's beloved Singspiel 'Die Zauberflöte'

René Jacobs: singer, conductor, scholar, archivist, alchemist, teacher. In recent years he's been "rehabilitating" the Mozart operas for the Harmonia Mundi label, eradicating 19th-century retouchings and stylistic anomalies in order to restore these great works to their vibrant original colours. He and his handpicked performers have now arrived at Mozart's beloved Singspiel Die Zauberflöte and the results are quite revelatory.

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Sarah Willis, First Lady of the French Horn

Jasper Rees

No woman has ever achieved a higher profile on the French horn than Sarah Willis. Why? It's not as if she is a renowned soloist. But she is the first and only woman to join the brass section of the world's most celebrated and widely followed orchestra. It will be no surprise if this Saturday the BBC cameras as usual pick her out from row upon row of Teutonic males in the second of the Berlin Philharmonic’s two Prom 2010 appearances.

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theartsdesk from Colombo: A Pianist of the World

ASH Smyth Tanya Ekanayaka: One of Sri Lanka’s pre-eminent concert pianists

Since winning the Symphony Orchestra of Sri Lanka Concerto Competition at the tender (and record-setting) age of 16, Tanya Ekanayaka has become one of Sri Lanka’s pre-eminent concert pianists. Last month she was the first from her country ever to appear in the long-running Pianists of the World series at St Martin-in-the-Fields, with a programme featuring Bach, Beethoven, Ravel and her own improvised composition, Adahas: of Wings of Roots.

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theartsdesk in Bregenz: The Genius of Mieczyslaw Weinberg

stephen Walsh

Ever since I can remember, the composer Mieczyslaw Weinberg has played a walk-on part in histories of Soviet music. If you find him in an index at all (probably under Vainberg or Vajnberg, and usually with the first name given him by a box-ticking Soviet border guard in 1939: Moisey, or even Moshe), you’ll usually end up reading one of those melancholy and unhelpful lists: “Shostakovich’s followers include...”

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theartsdesk in Verbier: Musicians Peak in the Alps

David Nice

You want to see Yuri Bashmet, arguably the greatest living viola player, but you can't because you've chosen to go to a recital by Yevgeny Kissin, one of the world's top pianists, on the same evening in another hall. Even the option of dashing from one half to another is complicated by timing and distance. No, this isn't Berlin, London or Vienna.

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The Man Who Could Upstage Dame Judi At The Prom

Jasper Rees 'You start and you finish and that's it': the profoundly deaf Paul Whittaker signs 'Jerusalem' with The Sixteen

It has just been announced that Dame Judi Dench will be making her Proms debut this Saturday. Sondheim at 80 is the occasion, and she will reprise her rendition of “Send in the Clowns” from the National’s 1985 production of A Little Night Music. “It’s yours now,” Sondheim told her when he heard her performance. She will line up alongside Bryn Terfel,...

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