tue 21/01/2020

First Person

Bridging the cultural divide: Armenian conductor Sergey Smbatyan on marrying east and west

We’re touring across Europe in January 2020, visiting five countries to perform eight concerts with the world-class violinist Maxim Vengerov as our leading soloist. The tour has been organized by the European Foundation for Support of Culture.As...

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'Divinity is all around us': soprano Susanna Hurrell on Ravi Shankar's 'Sukanya'

In 2010, my best friend and I made a whimsical decision to go backpacking in India over the Easter break. I had developed an interest in Eastern philosophy through exposure to the teachings of the ancient Vedas, and through the practice of...

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Planting seeds for change: Helen Wallace on a year of seminal events at Kings Place

When I mention Nature Unwrapped, a year-long series at Kings Place subtitled "Sounds of Life", the responses are often tinged with cynicism: "Oh, very 2020", "So, what’s the carbon footprint with all those musicians flying in?" There’s an assumption...

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'The Academy and I': composer and viola-player Sally Beamish on a special relationship

I was 13. It was a Saturday, and Mum was working. On this occasion she asked if I’d like to come along and bring a book. I was wearing a dress I’d made myself – psychedelic orange and pink, with red edging. It was 1969. I don’t remember what the...

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Music for Youth's Judith Webster: '91% of the young people we work with are from state schools'

Music resonates with everyone. It plays a powerful and evocative role in people’s lives; it punctuates our memories and changes our mood. We can all remember our first album and the songs our parents and grandparents listened to. One of the first...

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'These were the quartets that made us fall in love with the genre': Dudok Quartet Amsterdam on Haydn

As a string quartet, it’s not easy to distinguish yourselves from others. There are so many string quartets playing the great repertoire, and the level of quartets has never been as high as it is now. Everybody is trying to be unique.We are all part...

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First Person: Simon Stephens - the contemplation of kindness

Light Falls is the sixth play that I have written for the Royal Exchange theatre in Manchester and the fourth that its outgoing Artistic Director, Sarah Frankcom, will direct.She directed On the Shore of the Wide World, Punk Rock and Blindsided. In...

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First Person: Hannah Khalil on museum as metaphor in her new play for the RSC

It all started in 2009 in the National Portrait Gallery. I’d had a meeting nearby so popped in to get a cuppa and stare at the beautiful rooftop view of London from their top-floor café, but a picture caught my eye. It was part of an exhibition of...

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‘We must not allow boorish, opportunistic autocrats to hijack music’: Gabriela Montero on life and art

For as long as I can remember, there has been a continuous loop of original music playing in my mind. My father used to joke about my “tuyuyo” – a little bump I have on the back of my head – that it was my personal repository for music. My husband,...

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Charles Owen and Katya Apekisheva on the London Piano Festival: 'It's not just playing one concert and going home'

We’ve been friends for many years, since the mid-1990s when we were both studying at the Royal College of Music with the same inspirational piano teacher, Irina Zaritskaya. Our first duo performance was in 2001 at the Homecoming Festival in Moscow,...

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Simon Halsey on Tippett’s ‘A Child of Our Time’: ‘the biggest lesson was how to feel what he had written’

I was greatly privileged to know Sir Michael Tippett and to chorus-master his recording of A Child of Our Time. In my childhood, the two giants of English composition were “Tippett and Britten” - in that order. Since their deaths, Britten has...

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Foragers of the Foreshore - London's mudlarks on show

Over the weekend, exhibitions and installations have started to bubble-up on the riverside walkway in London. Still-life photography of mudlark finds and a "scented history" of Barking Creek outside the National Theatre. Artwork from a dozen...

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