Saturday, July 26, 2014

Barenboim: a Chopin recital

...And while I continued to hunt for Barenboim playing Schubert, after I found the two-pianos trailer with Argerich, I then found him in a sensational Chopin recital from Warsaw in Chopin year, 2010.

Listen to the way Barenboim seems to orchestrate at the piano; the range of colour he can draw from the instrument, as if controlling woodwinds and string sections; the way he builds a sense of narrative and allows absolute logic to meld with on-stage spontaneity - e.g. in the "Heroic" Polonaise and the Minute Waltz. And the sheer scruff-of-the-neck way that his musicianship can grab you and command you to listen to the whole concert even when you thought you'd just dip in and hear the F minor Fantasy before getting back to everything else you were meant to be doing today...

I'm off for a spot of summer opera hopping soon - encompassing Monteverdi, Verdi and my first-ever trip to Bayreuth - so I'll shut up now and let the music do the speaking.

How Arab and Jewish musicians have been united in Nazareth

Fantastic article in The Guardian by Maya Jaggi about a project that seems to offer a vision of hope even at a time like this. Please read. http://www.theguardian.com/music/2014/jul/25/polyphony-conservatory-nazareth-arab-jewish-orchestra

Friday, July 25, 2014

Friday historical-to-be: Barenboim and Argerich in duo

I was hunting for film of Daniel Barenboim playing Schubert, when I came across this trailer for a new release featuring him and Martha Argerich playing works for piano duet and two pianos. Schubert, Mozart and The Rite of Spring, no less, recorded live at the Philharmonie in Berlin. This isn't historical yet, but it's a history-worthy occasion.

Barenboim, meanwhile, has written the only wise and constructive article I've yet read about the horrifying conflagration in Gaza. Here it is. Please read.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

More good news! This time, music education

It's in short supply out there in the wider world, but in the UK's musical sphere, hot on the heels of Judith Weir's official appointment up top comes more good news. Protect Music Education says that their efforts have secured a £18m increase in funding for the country's "music hubs" for 2015/16, totalling£75m. Led by the Incorporated Society of Musicians, 134 musical organisations have been involved in Protect Music Education and their tireless campaigning has borne fruit.

And now, hot on the heels of that news, comes a further triumph: the government has backed down on its ghastly plan to recommend that local authorities cut back their funding for music education. Here is an extract from the government statement:




And here is a link to the govt's press release: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/more-funding-to-help-thousands-of-extra-children-enjoy-music

Protect Music Education continues to campaign for firm funding commitments from all the political parties. 

In a nice footnote, they suggest that we all share pictures of our celebrations of the news on social media with hashtags #protectmusic and #musiced. Cheers!

Great news for two wonderful composers, who happen to be women

As of this morning, Judith Weir is officially Master of the Queen's Music. She is off to Buckingham Palace today for an audience with HM.

She is also launching a blog, which you can follow from her website.

Here's Tom Service's interview with her about what she plans to do with the post. 




Meanwhile, here is my interview from today's Independent with another marvellous British composer: the one and only Errollyn Wallen. Her new opera Anon is a very contemporary adaptation of Manon...and was partly inspired by her own experience of nearly getting murdered when travelling around Europe in her teens. http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/theatre-dance/features/errollyn-wallens-anon-manon-lescaut-for-the-21st-century-9619708.html






Apropos of women in classical music, I am delighted to have been invited to join the board of the Ambache Charitable Trust, which awards grants to organisations and individuals for projects that involve the performance of music by women. The aim is "to raise the profile of women composers by funding people who promote their music to the widest possible circle". As it was recently revealed (via the PRS for Music Foundation) that only 7.8 per cent of its income for composers goes to those who happen to be female, I hope you can see how necessary such initiatives remain even today. More information about it on the website, here.

UPDATE: Here is a vital piece (via Sinfinimusic.com) by Susanna Eastburn regarding the shortage of women composers and what we can do about it. Includes some pretty shocking statistics.