fri 24/05/2019

Classical Interviews

theartsdesk Q&A: Conductor Gustavo Dudamel

Jasper Rees

At the Royal Albert Hall one summer evening in 2007, a teeming ensemble of young South Americans served up a BBC Prom that is the most YouTubed classical concert this side of the Three Tenors. Under the baton of the compelling Gustavo Dudamel, an all-dancing, all-shouting account of “Mambo” from West Side Story has become the roof-raising sign-off of the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela, who last year dropped the word Youth from their name.

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theartsdesk Q&A: Countertenor Iestyn Davies

alexandra Coghlan

Recently hailed by The Observer as “today’s most exciting British countertenor”, Iestyn Davies is on a roll. Indeed, many critics would – and have – gone further, seeing this young British singer as the natural heir to David Daniels and Andreas Scholl, the pre-eminent countertenor of his generation.

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theartsdesk Q&A: Conductor Ilan Volkov

alexandra Coghlan

Relentlessly energetic, opinionated, and never less than passionate about music-making, Ilan Volkov is a close as you get to a prodigy in the world of conducting. Appointed as Young Conductor in association with the Northern Sinfonia at just 19, at 28 Volkov became the youngest ever chief conductor of a BBC orchestra, and almost 10 years later still continues his relationship with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra as their Principal Guest Conductor.

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Q&A Special: Arts Patron Donatella Flick

ismene Brown

Donatella Flick, one of Britain's most important arts patrons, is furious. "Madness!" she cries in her lush Italian voice. "This is a country that was fantastic, and now there's a demolition going on, bit by bit!" We're sitting in Sir Winston Churchill's old drawing room - now her drawing room - near Kensington Gardens, and I would give a lot to see David Cameron flinching on her huge black sofa as he got a withering dressing-down.

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theartsdesk Q&A: Arts Patron Jonathan Moulds

ismene Brown

Critical, urgent, hard - those are the three words used about the challenge to get the rich to pay more for the arts by the new man at the tiller. He should know. Jonathan Moulds, European President at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, is one of the super-successful, super-wealthy financiers to whom the Cameron government is desperately looking to pick up the slack as they cut back public spending.

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theartsdesk Q&A: Conductor Stéphane Denève

David Nice

He's just launched the last of seven phenomenally successful seasons as music director of a transfigured Royal Scottish National Orchestra. Subscriptions for the Edinburgh and Glasgow concerts have doubled, attendances soared, and Stéphane Denève is a popular figure not just in the musical world but also in Scotland's wider cultural scene, not least as measured by his special guest appearance in the Sunday Post's long-running cartoon series The Broons.

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Q&A Special: Pianist Barry Douglas

ismene Brown

The Russians have always been particularly picky about the playing of the piano. Chief among the piano gods on the 20th century’s pantheon are Richter, Gilels, Horowitz - and even now names such as Ashkenazy, Kissin, Sokolov still elbow out many of the European and American names in the public consciousness. There remains a powerful mystique about Russian piano-playing.

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theartsdesk Q&A: Soprano Susan Bullock

alexandra Coghlan

It may have taken her until 2005 to get her Wigmore Hall debut, until 2006 to break onto the stage of the Royal Opera House, but at 53 Susan Bullock has finally arrived, claiming the crown of soloist for this year’s Last Night of the Proms, a firm foothold at Covent Garden and her rightful place as Britain’s finest dramatic soprano. For a singer who “started singing by mistake”, whose musical training began in a council house in Cheshire on a piano rescued from the local rubbish dump, it’s...

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theartsdesk Q&A: Conductor Neeme Järvi

David Nice

Honour your senior master conductors: there aren't so many of them left now. Abbado and Haitink spring most readily to mind, but orchestral musicians may also nominate Neeme Järvi, who celebrated his 74th birthday last week. A passionate patriot and the man his country voted "Estonian of the Century" in 2000, he proudly sports the colours of the national flag in concert attire by virtue of a natty added blue handkerchief.

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theartsdesk Q&A: Trumpeter Alison Balsom

Jasper Rees

A tall and exceptionally striking Valkyrie of a blonde, Alison Balsom (b 1978) is the polar antithesis of a hard-drinking, slightly tubby, very male trumpeter from central casting. For the photoshoots which fetch up on her CD sleeves, and public performances such as Last Night of the Proms in 2009 and this month’s Classic Brits, she pours herself elegantly into a series of dresses in the style of a hot young violinist kidnapped by the marketing department. But there is of course a great deal...

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