fri 14/06/2024

First Person

First Persons: composers Colin Alexander and Héloïse Werner on fantasy in guided improvisation

For tonight’s performance at Milton Court, the nuanced and delicate tones of strings, voices, harmonium and chamber organ will merge and mingle together to tell tales of a rain-speckled landscape, luck and misfortune, forgotten valour, daily...

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First Person: actor Paul Jesson on survival, strength, and the healing potential of art

In September 2022 I had an email from my American friend Richard Nelson: "Would you like me to write you a play?" Such an offer probably comes the way of very few actors and I was bowled over by it. My astonished and grateful response was tempered...

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First Person: author-turned-actor Lydia Higman on a play that foregrounds a slice of forgotten history

I first read Anne Gunter’s story about five years ago, when I was in my first year of university at Oxford, little knowing it would over time lead to our play Gunter [seen first in Edinburgh and transferring 3-25 April to the Royal Court]. The...

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First person: playwright Paul Grellong on keeping pace with American politics

I’m writing this in the lobby of the Menier Chocolate Factory a couple of hours before the first preview. I was last here in February for the start of rehearsals. In the time since, I’ve made a handful of, one hopes, helpful adjustments to the...

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First Person: conductor Peter Whelan on coming full circle with the Monteverdi Choir and Orchestra

There's something undeniable about the way music can weave itself into the fabric of our lives, shaping our passions and leaving an indelible mark on our journeys. For me, this magic has been particularly intertwined with the Monteverdi Choir and...

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First Person: Laurence Cummings on his 25th and final year as Musical Director of the London Handel Festival

At the time of writing, rehearsals are well under way for the London Handel Festival 2024. It’s a big year for me as it’s my 25th and final year as Musical Director.Though preparations are keeping me very busy, I have found the odd quiet moment to...

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First Person: violinist Tom Greed on breaking down barriers in the presentation of chamber music

For musicians, the period from early 2020 to mid-2021 was one of great reflection, with so many questions to puzzle over. Could we satisfy the basic need to interact with others and express ourselves? What on earth was Zoom, and how, as performers,...

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First Person: Ten Years On - Flamenco guitarist Paco Peña pays tribute to his friend, the late, great Paco de Lucía

There are moments that forever remain imprinted in our consciousness, engraved on the general map of our lives. I cannot forget the excitement of seeing snow for the first time in Córdoba, aged three or four, rushing to walk on it only to slip...

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First Person: contralto Hilary Summers on going beyond her baroque and contemporary comfort zones

Back in the summer of 2020 when the arts industry was largely dormant and many professional singers were either moodily knocking back the gin or uploading poor quality phone videos of themselves bellowing Puccini arias from their doorsteps, I...

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First Person: Pulitzer Prize winning composer David Lang on the original Jewish love story

I wouldn’t say that I am super religious, but I am definitely religion-curious. It is a big part of my family background, and, to be honest, a big part of the history of my chosen field, Western classical music. For the past 1000 years, the...

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First Person: Director Sir David Pountney on creating a new 'Masque of Might' from the music of Purcell

Purcell came very early to me. When I was a chorister at St. John’s Cambridge “Jehova quam multi sunt” was a perennial favourite and we were thrilled by the evenings when George Guest brought in some string players to accompany Purcell’s verse...

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First Person: conductor Edward Gardner on some of his questions and obsessions about Mahler's 'Resurrection' Symphony

“If a composer could say what he had to say in words he would not bother trying to say it in music.”“What is best in music is not to be found in the notes.”With these two quotations from Mahler, I already feel like putting my pen down. I had...

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