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Blog Category: live performance

More Work for less Money

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Categories: contemporary classical music, live performance, music profession
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ABO report 2016More concerts, larger audiences, wider outreach and a 5% drop in income – sound familiar?!

This was in a report commissioned by the Association of British Orchestras showing that orchestras in 2016 “delivered more than 4,000 concerts and reached almost 5 million attendees and 900,000 children and young people amidst a 5% drop in total income”.

Orchestras are succeeding in achieving larger audiences and engaging with more young people but it all has a cost which has to be balanced with an 11% drop in funding from local authorities, discounted ticketing, free concerts and fixed fee performances.

Read the report: The State of Britain’s Orchestras in 2016.

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Music is the DIY profession

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diy-musicianOurs is a do it yourself profession.

Many professional musicians today try to be experts in everything. Not just their “art” whether that is composing or performing or a combination of both but also in marketing, promotion, website design, videos, photography, concert administration, accountancy.

Everywhere we look we are bombarded by “10 things you must do” which will ensure instant success, and it is always a quick fix. But is it?

We were visiting our local picture framer in Norfolk recently and really I do him a disservice to call him a picture framer. We first came across him when we bought a work by a wonderful artist, Rachel Lockwood, who lives on the Norfolk coast and has all her framing done by this particular framer.

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Yellow Lounge Live

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Categories: british composers, british performers, contemporary classical music, eclectic music, live performance, Uncategorized
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Yellow Lounge hits high note for young audiences

I was reading an article in BBC Music Magazine about classical performers increasingly thinking beyond the traditional concert halls in order for classical music to be heard by new audiences.

This thinking is not particularly new of course as musicians have always had to be inventive about how they present and market their music to audiences and has certainly been the case for the 40 years of my professional career.

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Female voices creating disharmony

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female voices creating disharmony
The decision by St Paul’s Cathedral to appoint its first fulltime female chorister, Carris Jones, has led a leading counter-tenor and conductor, Grayston Burgess, to comment, “This ‘politically correct’ decision appears to have been taken without a thought for the musical aspect or its consequence —the next logical step is to appoint another female alto to ‘balance’ the two sides of the choir”. (The Daily Telegraph).

The indignation in this I find hard to understand. As a clarinettist my expertise admittedly is in passing an airstream through a wooden tube rather than across vocal cords but the amount of energy that is extended to keep tradition for its own sake continues to confound me.

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Opinions divided on David Bowie Prom

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David Bowie

David Bowie

Ever since the oversight of Roger Wright, the Proms Festival has pushed its boundaries and widened its horizons.

David Pickard’s crossover programme taking Bowie’s repertoire and giving it new treatments by Anna Calvi, John Cale, Marc Almond, Laura Mvula and Elf Kid, sought to pay homage but has attracted widely and wildly diverse reactions and polarised opinion.

Here’s a sample, which just goes to show, you can’t please all of the people all of the time!

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T.S.Eliot at Kings Lynn Festival

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Guy Johnston

Guy Johnston

Niamh Cusack

Niamh Cusack

Rowan Williams

Rowan Williams

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Guy Johnston, Niamh Cusack and Rowan Williams illuminate T.S. Eliot

The Festival season is upon us! The summer months bring out the banners and bandstands, bowties and batons. Although, it is fair to say that the fervour for music within the British Isles usually means there is something going on somewhere the length and breadth of the year.

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Proms 2016 Panoply – where are the women composers this year?

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David Pickard - Proms Director

David Pickard

The announcement of the 2016 BBC Proms season brought forth a panoply of comment and observation. Here are a few choice entries, editorials and utterances to get your interest piqued.

David Pickard is the new Proms Director and as incoming incumbent he largely inherits what has already been prepared and put into place by outgoing Proms Director, Roger Wright, and perhaps more significantly Interim Proms Director, Edward Blakeman.

 

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Silence Speaks

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Categories: composing today, live performance
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Just a few seconds before 11am on Wednesday 11 November 2015, I was descending the steps into Kings Cross Underground Station in London when a voice came over the tannoy asking that we join with the staff of London Underground in 2 minutes silence to honour those people who had been killed in two world wars and more recent hostilities.

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Young Composer Voices in Cambridge

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10th November saw An Evening of New Music curated by young composers Jay Richardson and Alex Woolf, under the aegis of Young Composers’ Network*. Jay is reading Music at Pembroke College, Cambridge and Alex is in his final year at St John’s College, Cambridge. Both already have impressive CVs which include performances with national orchestras and broadcasts on national radio.

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passionately preparing

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Well, I’m still sharpening pencils and today I have managed to tie up a lot of loose ends which would otherwise niggle away while I am trying to get down to the heart of the matter. I actually managed to create the Finale file where the Impulse Edition of the new work will be published – that is a statement of intent! Tomorrow evening I’m going to lead a ‘Summer Sing’ with the choir who are commissioning the work – the Islington Choral Society. This is a great idea, (which could only be put into action by those completely passionate about their singing), whereby, those unfortunate souls left behind while others prance about en vacances, gather together under the batons of guest conductors to explore some new repertoire. This is particularly good from my point of view as it gives me a chance to get acquainted with the musicians for whom I am writing and their ways of working. I also get to hear something of their strengths and weaknesses, abhorrences and passions, too! I’m going to work with them on breathing, articulating, listening and feeling (well that will all get done in 30 minutes, won’t it!!) and then lay on them a little gem of a choral piece by Grieg which I heard performed a couple of months back by the choir of St George’s Chapel, Windsor – entirely captivating. It is Grieg’s setting of Ave Maris Stella, edited by my good mate, John Rutter.

Now I absolutely cannot write today without referring to an experience about which I feel intensely passionate – last night’s Prom concert. Anybody out there hear it? A chunky programme full of promise with Brahms, Elgar and Strauss (Richard) on offer. The band was the RPO, but I cannot believe what was done to them in rehearsal to produce such extraordinarily inappropriate interpretations. The playing was fine and heartfelt but to my ears, completely off the interpretative radar: Brahms, whimsical and over-sweetly full of vibrato and this was the St Anthony Variations for goodness sake – variations on a theme by Haydn. I hoped for better in the Enigma Variations, but the performance was so precious and placed and saccharine, I could barely listen; as well as the tempi being up the shoot – Nimrod was so slow I thought he’d fallen asleep – so much for the mighty hunter. Regrettably, so much of this had stuck in the craw to the extent that I couldn’t hang in there to listen to the Strauss Oboe Concerto – my loss I fear. I’ll make myself feel better by giving you a link to all the oboe music we have on tutti.

Sorry to moan, but really, Brahms and Elgar are Saxons, not Siamese (no offence to anyone oriental intended!) I’ll let you know how I get on with the Islington bunch, but not ’til Wednesday.

Sarah Rodgers

passionate about tchaikovsky

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Well, to be honest, I would never have thought I would put that as a title for my blog! but the good old BBC has followed up its Beethoven abd Bach extravaganzas with the Tchaikovsky experience. I got invited to an evening at the Russian Orthodox Cathedral in London to hear the wonderful BBC Singers perform a programme of unaccompanied sacred choral music by Tchaik. Well, actually it was a Tchaik sandwich with Stravinsky for the filling – a rather extraordinary but not unappealing juxtaposition. The cathedral is an unremarkable building but has a more than remarkable impact – it makes you want to be quiet. (I remember experiencing that in the Kremlin on entering the church with the Rubalov icons floor to ceiling – that actually just silenced you without and within!) The BBC Singers did a magnificent job although their very beautiful balance didn’t always give that flavour of the basses underpinning not only the music, but the whole wide world! Nonetheless, it was profound – not a word one can use easily these days. I rushed back to tutti to see what Tchaikovsky offerings we have. In sheet music there is some interesting stuff, especially for trumpet, and as for CDs, one rather special recording of Tchaikovsky works for piano duet, including Romeo and Juliet transcribed by Nadezhda Purgold (wife of Rimsky-Korsakov). How’s that for original, but then you wouldn’t expect anything else from tutti. Incidentally there is a new year’s sale at tutti at the moment with 20% off everything. Yes, I said a SALE.

Cheers Tchaikovsky!

Sarah Rodgers

Apologies, promises and passions in 2007

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Duh! Where did all that time go? I know the essence of blogging is that it is regular and continuous in order to keep a thread of ideas and information but in the oh so busy world of a freelance composer and musical entrepreneur gee is that a challenge! Anyway, I’m back after an interval of – I dare hardly admit to it – 2 months. BUT, a fantastic amount of passionate stuff has taken place in that time. First there was the British Composer Awards. I have been spearheading these Awards on behalf of the British Academy of Composer & Songwriters for four years now and they have had a tremendous impact on the classical composing community here in the UK. The Awards give recognition to composers in just about every area of contemporary composition and because we are partnered by BBC Radio 3, there are all sorts of added benefits such as a broadcast festival of the nominated works and performances by the excellent BBC ensembles – Symphony Orchetra, Concert Orchestra, Singers. It’s a really great celebration! After that it was the much lower profile but just as passionately important matter of the church carol service – a chorus of 40 and an orchestra of 20. Well, when I say orchestra, that includes penny whistle and three trumpets, but it’s another great jamboree. I think the orchestra was saved this year by the tutti programmer, Olly, who led with his violin! And now we have turned 2007, there is a whole new year of passionate music matters starting to happen. I have the first of three commissions to start work on and from the end of the week, we will be running a new year sale on tutti with 20% off EVERYTHING! So check that out. In a couple of weeks there will also be clarinet tips on tutti, written by our resident expert and tutti team member Geraldine. Definitely not to be missed – so, I’ll keep you posted! That’s a promise!

Sarah Rodgers

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