Tuesday, September 23, 2014


The centenary of the great Polish composer Sir Andrzej Panufnik is being celebrated across the UK on his birthday, i.e. tomorrow (indeed, all this week; and indeed, all this season). At Symphony Hall Birmingham, the CBSO is performing his Piano Concerto, with Peter Donohoe as soloist, and perhaps his most celebrated work, the Symphony No.2, 'Sinfonia Elegiaca'. To start the evening, I will be presenting a pre-concert interview with Panufnik's daughter, the composer Roxanna Panufnik, to offer an intimate memoir of Andrzej's life and his influence on her own work. Panufnik was chief conductor of the CBSO at one time, so we are particularly thrilled that his music is under the spotlight at "his" orchestra. Please join us at 6.15pm tomorrow! Info and booking here. 

Meanwhile, Panufnik senior is composer of the week on BBC Radio 3; the LSO will be holding a Discovery Afternoon at St Luke's devoted to his work on 19 October (and performing his music in Katowice, Poland, with Tony Pappano conducting); and there is a Panufnik Day at Kings Place on 30 November entitled Panufnik 100: A Family Celebration, including several different performances and films (this one among them).

Here, by way of taster, is his Violin Concerto, just because it happens to be a favourite of mine.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Prokofiev needs your help

Gabriel Prokofiev - grandson of Sergei and a terrific composer and groundbreaking figure in his own right - asks for our input in a new book project about the alternative classical scene. Please jump in!

'We Break Strings'
Is a book of photos, interviews & essays charting the rise of the alternative classical music scene in London.

This 144-page, high-quality book is the first time that the contemporary classical scene in London has been properly investigated in a single printed document. Photographer Dimitri Djuric's photos give a unique insight into the London scene, and writer/blogger Thom Andrewes remarkably thoughtful and thorough text investigates the social, cultural and aesthetic implications of the scene.
Thom spent months interviewing many of the people involved, and Dimitri spent over 2 years photographing events. Thom was very careful to get a really balanced and wide view of the scene; so that the book reveals the amazing diversity of approaches that are been taken to presenting classical music in new ways.

Please visit the kickstarted page to find out more about the project & support it:

Classical music rarely gets the printed visual representation that other genres of music & art-forms get, and having witnessed how much this 'alternative' classical scene has grown over the last ten years - it feels like the right time to share this growing new movement in contemporary classical music in a visual form, and I think this book will really help get more people interested in the music & the scene.

We have launched the Kickstarter project in order to fund the printing of the book. But, we've been very generous with the Kickstarter 'rewards', and on Kickstarter you can actually buy the book in advance for less that it will cost once it is officially released in November. But, you are welcome to donate more to the cause if you wish, and we also have bigger rewards such as exclusive prints from the book, and guest-passes to Nonclassical events…

Please pass on this email & the kickstarter link to everyone you know - it's a unique chance to discover more about a significant new development in classical music - and we still need to raise much more funds to cover all the costs.

Saturday, September 20, 2014


I just came across the site of Cmusic.org, which here posts 14 rare bits of footage of some early 20th-century composers and conductors of note (Saint-Saëns and Shostakovich among them). While recordings exist of Fauré playing his own music, I've never before seen actual film of my beloved Monsieur Gabriel, aka The Archangel, and got quite choked up on viewing this.

He slightly resembles an elderly, nervous and rather unwell Charlie Chaplin. In fact this was 1913, 11 years before his death; he would have been about 68. One can't help suspecting he was in the process of smoking himself into his grave. But look at those twinkly eyes.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Better together

Scotland has decided to stay after all, which is nice. Above, a picture of me and Murray McLachlan finishing the Alicia's Gift concert at Chetham's last month with clear proof that a Scot and an Englishperson can cooperate rather beautifully when given half a chance. Murray hails originally from Aberdeen and is now head of piano at Chet's.

Speaking of Alicia's Gift, the first of several for the new season finds me reunited with Viv McLean this Sunday at 4pm at Westminster Cathedral Hall, courtesy of the Chopin Society. We're very honoured to be part of such a distinguished series - and are looking forward, additionally, to the wonderful tea that habitually follows these recitals. Do please come along and join us. Info and tickets here. (and more about the book here.)

By way of a taster, here's Viv playing Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue, which features in the programme alongside the likes of Chopin, Granados, Falla, Debussy and Ravel.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

How Ealing Studios predicted Britain's breakaway state

Here in sunny London we don't get a say in the future of our own country after today's Scottish referendum on independence, so I thought we'd relax and have a laugh while we wait for them to get their act together. Here's how the Ealing Studios predicted a breakaway state within the UK back in 1949. The score, incidentally, is by the fabulous Georges Auric.