Thursday, February 17, 2011

Today's newsround...

  • It's the world premiere of Turnage's Anna Nicole at the Royal Opera House tonight. After all the hype, will it match expectations? And after 100 years of "epater les bourgeois", can art still shock us? More importantly, will it do more than that? We Shall See...meanwhile the discussion on Twitter has been about what we ought to wear to attend it. Norman Lebrecht, Fiona Maddocks and I are all going in thongs. (At least, I think we are. We agreed on *something*, but that may have been: to cover up. It's very easy to get your tweets in a twist, so I am now completely confused...Anyway, I'll be the one in the sensible shoes.)
  • Next, the hills are alive with the sound of hollow laughter as yet again the media portray orchestras as many things they are not. This caused the biggest bellyache: an American site suggesting that being an orchestral musician is a stress-free, well-paid job. Ha bloody ha. [heavy sarcasm] I bet they loved that in Detroit... Oh, and it says similar crap about writing. Where do they get this stuff?! I see around me a world in which many orchestral musicians -- just for starters -- travel for hours each day because they can't afford to live in the city where they work, and have a reputation (sometimes justified) for popping beta-blockers in order to get through a concert without shaking. Stress-free, schmess-free.
  • Meanwhile, in The Guardian, the excellent Tom Service doesn't seem to have noticed that seat-of-pants music-making is usually the conductor's responsibility and that the same orchestra can sound completely different, depending on who's waving the stick. In any professional orchestra these days, the standard required to be accepted as a member means that the guys and gals can play anything, technically speaking; but it's the maestro's job to make it more than that. Tip-off: try that Russian bloke beginning with a V. and often found at the helm of the LSO. That other Russian bloke beginning with V. at the helm of the LPO is also not 'alf worth hearing. And the third Russian bloke beginning with V. up in Liverpool is bloody marvellous. But we could usefully surmise from Tom's piece that maybe, apart from Valery, Vladimir and Vassily, there aren't enough really galvanising stickwavers around...until you remember Andris at the CBSO, Mark at the Halle, that extraordinary chap at the Northern Sinfonia, and...
  • Sir Colin Davis, one of the finest of them all, apparently tripped and fell over at the Royal Opera House last night and pulled out of conducting The Magic Flute. The ROH promises us that he's had a check-up and is absolutely fine.
  • On a more serious note, though, I was absolutely horrified to hear today of the death of our colleague Lynne Walker, who has passed away after a battle with cancer. Lynne was a joy: one of the most positive people in the business, always with an interesting question or a fresh angle at the ready and author of many fascinating, insightful and lucidly written reviews. I did a couple of pre-concert talks with her at the Bridgewater Hall in Manchester, her home base, and loved her upbeat attitude, plus her fount of information and funny stories. All our thoughts are with her husband, Gerald Larner.