Monday, January 31, 2011

News, courses, listening...

Happy Monday, all. A few bits and pieces to tell you about today.

1. WEDNESDAY, 2 FEB, SYMPHONY HALL, BIRMINGHAM
Andris Nelsons is conducting Mahler 9 and I will be giving a pre-concert talk. The topic is: "Musical endgames" and it's all about love and death, but will be a lot more fun than that sounds. Kick-off is 6.15pm. Do come along & say hi. More here.

2. RESIDENTIAL KICKSTART WRITING WEEKEND AT POTTON HALL, SUFFOLK
The wonderful recording studio at Potton Hall in Suffolk, not too far from Aldeburgh, is kindly hosting the first-ever residential KICKSTART YOUR WRITING weekend course, 18-20 March. When I first visited Potton Hall I was hugely taken with the atmosphere, the sense of creativity and the beauty of the surroundings. Jeremy and Helen Hayes have been working magic there for music and we intend to do the same for the Kickstart Workshops, which I first designed a couple of years ago as occasional workshops for the many readers who say to me, "I've always wanted to write, but...". We get the juices flowing through games, exercises and discussions that leave you with no excuse not to write and provide tools to help you go away and do more of it.

The weekend opens with a performance of the HUNGARIAN DANCES concert-of-the-novel, starring violinist Bradley Creswick, pianist Margaret Fingerhut and muggins narrating. Concert is open to the public as an event in its own right and the music includes Dohnanyi, Bartok, Debussy, Ravel and Hubay.

More info at the website, here: http://pottonhall.com/

3. KICKSTART SUMMER SCHOOL AT LES CERISIERS, FRANCE
The first-ever KICKSTART YOUR WRITING week-long summer school takes place at Les Cerisiers, Burgundy, from 27 June to 3 July. Again, an atmospheric country location: Janice Barnett's 200-year-old farmhouse which she has transformed into a creative arts centre. And with a week to spread out, relax, enjoy the vicinity, sample local produce and tap into the inspiration of the place, this should be a very special landmark in the Kickstart courses. Full details, prices etc from Janice at The Really Big Dream Company, here. http://www.thereallybigdreamcompany.com/new/index.php?p=Jessica%20Duchen

4. Two deaths of much-loved musicians over this weekend: it is farewell to the glorious soprano Dame Margaret Price and the terrific film composer John Barry.

Beautiful tribute to Dame Margaret here:


And here is John Barry's 'Goldfinger', with a very different Dame: Shirley Bassey...


5. The Arts Desk has carried a remarkable story by Ismene Brown, who's been doing some detective work regarding intimations that Elgar had an illegitimate daughter named Pearl.

6. The past few days I have seen...
...Black Swan - the jury is still out;
...Mahler's Das Klagende Lied - super performance, but please don't make me hear it again, ever;
...Barnabas Kelemen playing Bartok Violin Concerto No.1 and lavish solo encores from Bartok and Bach - glorious;
...The launch of the 2011-12 season at the Southbank Centre, where there will be lots of Prokofiev and Bartok, highlights including the Takacs Quartet in the complete Bartok cycle, visits from some wonderful orchestras including our Budapest Festival Orchestra friends, and the LPO/Vlad will open their new season with the likes of Raskatov (composer of A Dog's Life), Silvestrov et al. But also - give or take Mahler 8 with the Philharmonia and Maazel - the big-heavy-symphony slot will be largely turned over to Bruckner. (You know me and Bruckner. I am thinking of taking up knitting...);
...The inside of a hospital room where a very long needle containing cortisone went into my foot. Blimey, guv. Hopefully it'll stop hurting soon.