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Blog Category: british performers

The Political Power of Music

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The Political Power of Music

“The Noise of Time” by Julian Barnes is a novel about the life of Dimitri Shostakovich.

When I was reading it I was interested to be reminded how composers were used by Stalin and the Communist Party in an attempt to control the direction of new music. Stalin applied the notion of “socialist realism” to classical music, which demanded that mediums of art convey the struggle and triumph of the proletariat.

Musicians who hoped to gain financial support from the party were obligated to join the Union of Soviet Composers, a division of the Ministry of Culture. New works were then expected to be presented to the Union of Soviet Composers for approval prior to publication and that is how the Party hoped to control the direction of new music.

It is fascinating that in the 20th century the power of new music was considered to be so great as to be a threat if it was not controlled by the Party.

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Sir John Manduell dies at 89

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Categories: british composers, british performers, composing today, contemporary classical music, music profession, tributes
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Sir John Manduell
Sir John Manduell CBE 1928 – 2017

There was a time when the name of John Manduell would simply have been impossible to escape were you a musician or composer connected to the British music scene. The catalogue of John’s positions of leadership in major musical institutions is unparallelled and the legacy of his influence will continue to be felt and recognised long after his passing.

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Managing Your Concert

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Concert Concerns?

“How do I find and book the venue, promote the concert, print the event material, pay the musicians and still raise funds for the charity I want to support with my concert?”

Impulse music consultants This was the basic content of a telephone conversation we had recently with a musician who was taking advantage of our free half hour consultation.

The musician concerned had sorted out the important elements which was the repertoire and the performers but just did not have the time or mental space to cope with doing anything else and the concert is only a few weeks away.

We helped take the pressure out of the situation as well as ensuring the concert has the best opportunity of not only covering its costs but providing a good amount of profit for the very worthy cause it is supporting. We are supplying them with our knowledge and expertise by creating a plan that they will now put into action for themselves. This includes advice on collaborating with the charity and the venue by asking the right questions and working through a checklist of relevant items, as well as a ‘critical path’ which details what action to take when. Our service also includes one to one follow up over the phone to be a sounding board and support, with the aim of helping them to create the maximum amount of publicity and income with the least amount of stress.

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Let’s hear it for classical music!

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Clapping between movements – good, bad or great?

enthusiastic audience
Listening to Prom (the greatest classical music festival in the world) performances this year, it’s noticeable that audiences are clapping between movements. And why not?

Here are some thoughts.

If you have ever been to an opera in Italy, you will have experienced the adjudication of the performance by the audience at the end of every aria – appreciation or derision!

Under the leadership of Roger Wright, the Proms have evolved to provide not only world class performers but also to explore as many musical connections as possible so that new and different audiences have been drawn in.

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Sheeran takes solo performance to new levels

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The thrilling, vibrant talent of the solo artist

Ed Sheeran at Glastonbury
There are very few solo artists who can totally captivate an audience for one and a half hours in front of a capacity house and that is what Ed Sheeran did at Glastonbury in June. I was fascinated to see the final part of Glastonbury on BBC 2 for which Ed Sheeran was the headline solo act on the Pyramid stage. This is an artist who is used to holding the attention of capacity audiences of 90,000 at Wembley Stadium for a sell-out run on several nights!

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Yellow Lounge Live

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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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A spark has been lost from the world of opera

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I was very sorry to hear today that Marie Hayward Segal has passed away. Whenever I think of Marie I think of her laughter. She was on several musical committees with me and we would meet at various events and I would always be glad to see her as she would brighten up every occasion that she attended. Marie was a dramatic soprano and distinguished opera singer performing at the Royal Opera House, Glyndebourne and in Europe. She has died at the age of 72 and the music profession will greatly miss her. She is survived by her son Benjamin and her grandson George who was born just after her death.

Geraldine Allen

Remembering a great clarinet player

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It seems like ages ago now that I was asked to write a biography on my fellow clarinettist and friend Georgina Dobree for the online edition of the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. It has been published this month at www.oxforddnb.com. The stuff of biography is by its nature the achievements of a lifetime but somehow you cannot convey the friendship and the laughter and the kindness of a person in such a formal setting. As well as being a terrific clarinettist, editor and publisher, Georgina was known by people in the clarinet world for her parties. Whenever there was a visiting clarinettist or bassett horn player in London there would inevitably be a party in her home to which all the clarinet fraternity would be invited too. Georgina in the 50’s and 60’s at the Darmstadt Festival intriduced more ground breaking contemporary music with composers such as Peter Maxwell Davies, Oliver Messiaen, Luciano Berio, Karlheinz Stockhausen and Pierre Boulez than most players will do in a lifetime. She was meticulous in researching editing and performing early music as well as commissioning new works. She died in 1998 having greatly enriched the clarinet repertoire and having been a wonderful supporter of music and players alike.

Geraldine Allen

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