sun 21/07/2019

Classical Interviews

Koen Kessels: 'there's a joke in ballet we only have two tempi' - interview

Hanna Weibye

Koen Kessels is on a mission to change the culture around music in ballet. Anyone who has heard the Belgian conduct will know that he is the right person for the job: Kessels makes the classic scores come alive in the pit like nobody else I’ve heard.

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theartsdesk Q&A: Horn-player Alec Frank-Gemmill

David Nice

Traditional musical formats rarely suit the individual talent, but the highly-motivated player always finds a way. I first got to talk to Alec Frank-Gemmill in the very sociable surroundings of the Pärnu Festival in Estonia, a gathering most musicians describe as the highlight of their year, with the phenomenal Estonian Festival Orchestra brought together by Paavo Järvi as its core. Frank-Gemmill's secure base is the Scottish Chamber Orchestra...

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Brighton Festival 2017: 12 Free Events

Thomas H Green

The Brighton Festival, which takes place every May, is renowned for its plethora of free events. The 2017 Festival is curated by Guest Director Kate Tempest, the poet, writer and performer, alongside Festival CEO Andrew Comben who’s been the event's overall manager since 2008 (also overseeing the Brighton Dome venues all year round). This year the Festival’s theme is “Everyday Epic”.

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10 Questions for Conductor Paavo Järvi

David Nice

Now at the very top of his game and master of sundry great orchestras around the world, Paavo Järvi is the conductor students of the art like to follow for his perfect technique. Time was when he seemed like the cooler version of his peerless father Neeme; now, if he can still at times come across as more cerebral than his impetuous but also excellent younger brother Kristjan, he often seems touched...

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theartsdesk Q&A: Conductor Jakub Hrůša

David Nice

Only four flutes were on stage at the start of Jakub Hrůša’s latest concert with the Bamberg Symphony Orchestra, the reins of which he took over from Jonathan Nott last September. Charles Ives would have been amazed to hear his “Voices of Druids” on the strings sounding, along with the solo trumpet, from the distance. I suddenly realised why Hrůša smiled enigmatically when I had asked him in interview the previous day whether he would segue straight from ...

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theartsdesk Q&A: Pianist Idil Biret at 75

David Nice

Has any living pianist had a richer or more charmed life than Idil Biret? As a child prodigy she studied in Paris with Nadia Boulanger and Alfred Cortot, and both there and in Germany with Wilhelm Kempff. At the age of four she was reproducing Bach Preludes and Fugues on the family piano in Ankara simply from hearing them on the radio. When she was seven the Turkish Parliament passed "Idil's Law", enabling not her but also other gifted children to study abroad.

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theartsdesk Q&A: Mezzo Anne Sofie von Otter

David Nice

What's a world-renowned mezzo-soprano in her middle years to do? Slimline of voice, tall and handsome in person with piercing and slightly intimidating blue eyes, Stockholm-born Anne Sofie von Otter isn't likely to sing what is known in the operatic world as "all those old bag parts", though she's a good enough actress to have carried off a few.

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10 Questions for Conductor Sir John Eliot Gardiner

Peter Quantrill

The Lobgesang "lies very near my heart," wrote Mendelssohn. And the composer was so self-critical that the published order of his symphonies bears no resemblance to their composition: this "Hymn of Praise", known as the Second, was the penultimate before his symphonic masterpiece, the "Scottish". It is more often performed in recording studios, to satisfy recording companies’ hunger for complete cycles, than in concert, at least outside the composer’s native Germany.

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10 Questions for Conductor Thomas Dausgaard

David Kettle

One of two Danish Thomases at the head of BBC bands (compatriot Thomas Søndergård is at the helm of the BBC National Orchestra of Wales), Thomas Dausgaard joins the Glasgow-based BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra as chief conductor this season.

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theartsdesk Q&A: Violinist and Conductor Nikolaj Znaider

David Nice

Unquestionably one of the greats as a performer, Danish-Israeli violinist and conductor Nikolaj Znaider divides opinion over his forthright views in interview: either honourable and refreshingly candid, or troublingly indiscreet. After an hour and a half with him between the two finals of the Carl Nielsen International Violin Competition in Odense, I plump fervently for the former.

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