fri 22/03/2019

Classical Features

White smoke at the CBSO: Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla for Music Director

Richard Bratby

The City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra's appointment of the Lithuanian conductor Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla as its new Music Director won’t have surprised many concertgoers in Birmingham – or indeed regular readers of theartsdesk. The post has been vacant since Andris Nelsons’ premature departure in summer 2015, and the last few months in Birmingham have seen a string of concerts clearly intended as thinly-disguised auditions for conductors of various ages and nationalities.

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Boulez, The Rite and the National Youth Orchestra

theartsdesk

David Nice writes: 2016 began by ringing in the new with concerts by the ever-astonishing National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain, and continued by ringing out the old-new with funeral bells on the news of Pierre Boulez’s death at the age of 90.

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Opinion: The new London hall - 10 Questions we need to ask

Jessica Duchen

So the feasibility study for the new concert hall – The Centre for Music – has finally surfaced, a little later than planned. It’s being greeted, generally speaking, as if it’s to be the next London Olympics. “A global beacon,” declares the Evening Standard...

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theartsdesk in Örebro: Brandenburgs plus

David Nice

In 1981 a 20-year-old Swedish trumpeter on national service turned up in the town – city, by Swedish reckoning – of Örebro as soloist in Bach’s Second Brandenburg Concerto.

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Kurt Masur (1927-2015)

David Nice

This is difficult. An official obituary, such as the one I’ve just finished for The Guardian, has no problem in pointing out the achievements of Kurt Masur’s distinguished career. Whatever his party-line status in Honecker’s East Germany, which he used to get the Leipzig Gewandhaus rebuilt to his own satisfaction, Masur did play a crucial role as one of five spokesmen preventing a Tiananmen Square-style massacre before the Berlin Wall fell.

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Jaap van Zweden: ‘A great orchestra needs to be a chameleon’

Gavin Dixon

Jaap van Zweden is going places. At 55, he is already 16 years into a second high-profile musical career. His first, as a violinist, saw him appointed leader of the Concertgebouw, the youngest ever to hold the position. From there, he moved to the conductor’s podium, and is now Music Director of the Dallas Symphony and the Hong Kong Philharmonic. According to some rumours, he is also under serious consideration for the New York Philharmonic.

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Farewell to Stravinsky's right-hand man

David Nice

Missionary angel or twelve-tone devil? Musical figures like Poulenc, perhaps too much attached to the diabolical element in Thomas Mann’s Doktor Faustus, were inclined to see the incursion of Robert Craft into Stravinsky’s Hollywood life in 1948 in demonic terms.

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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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