Showing posts with label Institut Francais. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Institut Francais. Show all posts

Wednesday, October 03, 2018

In praise of Barbara Strozzi

Tomorrow evening I'm doing a pre-concert talk with Franck-Emmanuel Comte, conductor of the French baroque ensemble Le Concert d'Hostel-Dieu who are performing at the Institut Français in South Kensington. Above, you can hear an extract from the concert: Heather Newhouse sings Barbara Stozzi's L'Eraclito amoroso. Within just a few bars, the centuries collapse: every woman has been through this experience; each one of us can identify with every note. (Incidentally, in this video interpretation there is also a very wonderful cat.)

Like her compatriot Monteverdi, and her teacher, Cavalli, one gains the impression that there is nothing Strozzi will stop at in her music to bring out the ultimate degree of emotional expression. The unusual thing is that here is a woman writing music about a woman's raw, impassioned, devastating experience, in the 17th century. Monteverdi and others wrote of women's lost loves, and very effectively (try this), but there's an edge to Strozzi's lament which seems to rise from the depths of the soul - and unlike Monteverdi's Ninfa, she's unobserved by men calling her 'Miserella'.

Strozzi was termed "the most prolific composer - man or woman - of printed secular music in Venice" of her day. A poet as well as a composer, and a mother of four, she remained unmarried; she was the mistress of a patron of the arts who was the father of three of the children. Jealous contemporaries said she was a courtesan and the one famous portrait of her shows her with one breast exposed. The reality seems to have been that she was a phenomenally gifted artist who had been encouraged and well educated in music by her father, the librettist Giulio Strozzi. She was supposedly adopted, but most likely the illegitimate daughter of Strozzi and a family servant. An 'outsider', therefore, in terms of social position and artistic inclination, she forged a remarkable and individual path as a musician, with enormous tenacity.

Tomorrow's concert explores not only Strozzi, but also the French composer Elisabeth Jacquet de la Guerre and Strozzi's similarly prolific compatriot Antonia Bembo, also a pupil of Cavalli. Heather Newhouse sings, the cellist is Benoît Morel and Franck-Emmanuel Comte is at the harpsichord. Our talk is at 6.30pm and the concert at 7.30pm. More details and booking here. 

Wednesday, March 07, 2018

Tonight: discussion on Equality and Conductors at the Institut Français

Slightly short notice, I know, but here's what's happening tonight. Do come along if you can. I'm chairing and we have some really amazing speakers! It's part of the Institut Français's Women Shaping the World series and takes places at the Institut's premises in South Kensington.

To celebrate International Women’s Day and echoing French conductor Laurence Equilbey’s concert at the Barbican [tomorrow], the Institut français is hosting a panel of women conductors to debate on gender equality issues in the domain of classical and contemporary music. To this day, the gap between female and male conductors is mind-blowing and should be addressed.
Women conductors Claire Gibault (France), Eimear Noone (Ireland) and Alice Farnham (UK) will bring their own perspective on equality on the podium and the role of women conductors in programming women composers and musicians. Lydia Connolly, joint managing director of Harrison Parrott, a leading advocate for more women on the podium, will also join the debate.
£10, members & conc. £8 
The talk will be followed by a wine and cheese.
See also on 8 March at the Barbican, Insula Orchestra: Beethoven and Farrenc, conducted by Laurence Equilbey and including Symphonie n°3 by French composer Louise Farrenc as well as Beethoven’s Triple Concerto performed by the violinist Alexandra Conunova, the cellist Natalie Clein and the pianist Elisabeth Brauss.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Reading and talking

I've been talking to some interesting people recently...

The unbelievable Edward Watson, who is dancing the lead role in Mayerling at Covent Garden next month. The crazed Crown Prince Rudolf is, weirdly enough, the only ballet prince he's played, other than Albrecht in Giselle, who's not really that princely. A dancer with his levels of drama, flexibility and power would probably be wasted chasing after a swan. Catch him first in the equally incredible The Metamorphosis.

A composer called Nimrod - who, as it turned out, lived next door to me in West Hampstead 20 years ago, except that we never met. The Philharmonia played a work of Nimrod Borenstein's the other week with Ashkenazy conducting, and has commissioned a new piece from him for June at the RFH. He's also writing a violin concerto for Dimitry Sitkovetsky. He's a live wire who thinks big, and talked to me (for the JC) about finding his voice and what he's doing with it now that he has.

It's All About Piano! Francoise Clerc, the one-woman dynamo at the heart of the Institut Francais's classical music programming, has put together an absolute bonanza of a piano festival, which will take place over three days next weekend, 22-24 March. Star performers include Imogen Cooper, Nick van Bloss, Charles Owen, Katya Apekisheva, Cyprien Katsaris and Anne Queffelec; there's a chance to hear some rising stars including a raft of the most gifted budding virtuosi from the Paris Conservatoire, a modern American programme from Ivan Ilic, jazz from Laurent de Wilde, talks by Steinway technicians, children's events and plenty more. When did London last have a piano festival like this? Um. Pass. This is for Classical Music Magazine and you'll need to be logged in to read the whole article.

Meanwhile, if you're in Birmingham on Wednesday evening or Thursday lunchtime, I'm doing pre-concert talks for the CBSO to introduce Beethoven's Symphonies Nos.6 and 7. Andris Nelsons conducts them both. Very privileged to be allowed to hold forth about my two favourite Beethovens, let alone to complement such an event: there's a major buzz about Nelsons' Beethoven cycle and Symphony Hall is apparently packed solid.

And next Sunday at 12.30pm I'm at The Rest is Noise to introduce a talk about Korngold in America and discuss the issues around him with the Open University's Ben Winters. In the Purcell Room, and part of the ongoing festival's American Weekend. (We're not in the current listings PDF as far as I can tell, so this may be a late addition!)