Showing posts with label Kathryn Stott. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Kathryn Stott. Show all posts

Tuesday, March 06, 2018

In which Anna Magdalena goes to Australia

You might remember I trotted off to Leipzig in October and was duly bowled over by Bach's Thomaskirche, to say nothing of all the Mendelssohn and Schumann connections. But there was a special reason for going to see Bach's home environment, and at last it is all announced.

Kathryn Stott, who has taken over as artistic director of the Australian Festival of Chamber Music in Townsville, Far North Queensland, has assembled an astounding, fresh and gorgeous festival for this July-August, with a stunning array of international performers and repertoire old, new and brand-new, from Chausson to Bach - the violin partitas by candlelight with Karen Gomyo - to the Gypsy Kings; Chinese music from Sheng master Wu Tong, and Argentinian bandoneonist JP Jofre with tango; and there'll even be concerts on uninhabited coral islands - Townsville is on the Great Barrier Reef coast. The full festival programme is here. And I am just a little bit thrilled to be part of it all. The festival has performed some of my stuff before - A Walk through the End of Time and the Viardot-Turgenev programme were both done there 8-10 years ago under Piers Lane's direction - but for logistical reasons this will be my first visit.

Kathy has commissioned a new music-and-words piece from me called Being Mrs Bach. It's the story of Anna Magdalena Bach and will be in the Bach by Candlelight evening on 1 August, with music from baritone Roderick Williams, soprano Siobhan Stagg, cellist Guy Johnston and many more - here's the full programme and line-up - and I get to narrate it myself. I am also giving a talk in the festival's Winterschool about some notable women composers of the past. As for the prospect of sitting on stage while Roddy Williams sings 'Mache dich mein Herze rein', I reckon for that it would be worth going to the ends of the earth. (And do you think Anna Magdalena wrote the cello suites?)

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Hotting up at cool Fjord Classics

As if taking over the artistic directorship of Australian Festival of Chamber Music weren't enough, the inimitable Kathryn Stott has joined forces with Norwegian violist Lars Anders Tomter (both, left) to start a new chamber music festival a little bit further north: Fjord Classics. They have assembled a seriously impressive line-up of artists, including Leif Ove Andsnes, Ruby Hughes, the Skampa Quartet, Vikingur Ólaffson, Christian Poltera and many more, ready to awaken the town of Sandefjord to the sounds of music from Mozart to Messiaen, Rebecca Clarke to Janáček, Alma Mahler to Fauré. The festival runs from 27 June to 2 July. I asked the energetic British pianist what they're doing, and why, and how, because it has all happened rather quickly...

Kathryn Stott
JD: Kathy, what inspired you and Lars to start Fjord Classics?

KS: Originally Lars had invited me to work on a different project with him, but when that took an abrupt turn, we started to consider other options and were very determined to find a way to get our collaboration up and running. Where to begin when starting a new festival is both daunting and exciting in equal measure, but we were more than thrilled when Vestfoldfestspillene offered us the opportunity set up Fjord Classics under their larger umbrella. 

JD: You’ve pulled it together incredibly fast - what’s that been like?

KS: If you’d asked me this question just before Christmas, I’d say we were out of breath for a few months. Thats probably an understatement! Firstly we put a lot of thought into choosing the right venues, in particular the main festival town. When we looked around Sandefjord we knew that was the one. Lars had a number of musicians all on hold from his previous venture and I have to say their loyalty in following us through to Fjord Classics speaks volumes. From there we added more musicians as our programming took shape but obviously the pace was very fast and I look forward to next time when we can focus solely on artistic thoughts and not the logistics of setting up a new festival. Our theme, 'The Dance of Life’ by Edvard Munch, gave us amazing inspiration so let's say that was a major springboard for musical ideas both on the track and some off piste!

Lars Anders Tomter
JD: How is it different from the other festivals you’ve been (and are) involved with?

KS: As you know, since 1995 I’ve been an Artistic Director on many projects but they have all been one-offs or with no real thought to follow through. That changed when I was appointed AD of the Australian Festival of Chamber Music so I was already extremely excited to have that opportunity to be creative with a vision towards the future. With Fjord Classics, Lars and I share the role. Between us we have an abundance of ideas but I think more than anything else, we compliment each other in having different skills and approaches. I see that as so positive and an aspect of our working relationship which is to be treasured.

JD: What do you think is most attractive about it for the audience?

KS: Huge variety! This year we really went for the max in all respects and from this we will see how to continue in the future. However, our primary thoughts have always been about quality and so this is never compromised. We have gathered the best musicians and put them with the greatest of music, so what is there not to like? I hope our audience is excited by what we are offering and will hold onto memorable experiences long into the future. This is just the beginning.

JD: What are you most looking forward to in it?

KS: In a way its not so much the performing aspect myself, but seeing how the programmes come together in reality and most of all, the joy of bringing musicians together from around the world and seeing what they create. Apart from anything else, I love going to concerts, so it's a musical feast whichever way you look at it.

JD: How’s your Norwegian?

KS: What was the question? Pass…...

More details and booking at

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Dream job for British pianist

Kathryn Stott. Photo:
British pianist Kathryn Stott has just been announced as the new artistic director of the Australian Festival of Chamber Music in Townsville, taking over from Piers Lane.

The town in Far North Queensland has its fair share of palm trees, sunshine and proximity to what remains of the Great Barrier Reef; for decades the festival has welcomed the great and good of the music world to its delights. Piers has been in situ 11 years and Kathy will be only the third director to hold office.

Born in Lancashire, Kathy studied at the Yehudi Menuhin School and at the Royal College of Music with Kendall Taylor. Aged 19 she was a finalist in the Leeds International Piano Competition and shot to fame; now she has long enjoyed a busy career juggling solo work, chamber music including a duo partnership with Yo-Yo Ma, teaching at the Oslo Conservatory of Music, and the occasional curating of festivals and concert series. She tells me she had been keeping an eye out for something longer term in that department, but is more than thrilled to have been recommended to the AFCM, where she has been a frequent visitor, by Piers himself.

I'm not sure for whom I'm happier: the festival having her, or her having the festival. Congratulations all round!

Here's Kathy playing Fauré's Impromptu No. 2.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Hold on to your's the R3 Girls

It's BBC Children in Need again and Radio 3 is pitting girls against boys as their competitive star turn. So here are the girls. Singers are Ruby Hughes, Clara Mouriz, Charlotte Trepess, Elizabeth Watts and Kitty Whately, with the ladies of the BBC Philharmonic and The Halle conducted by Sian Edwards. And look out for special guests in the ranks: violinist Tasmin Little and pianist Kathryn Stott. (Why not a woman composer too? As for Pudsey Bear - we don't know about that...)

Happy Friday. I am chopping a script, and it hurts. Cuts are a vicious matter. I'm wondering if this is how our prime minister feels sometimes.