Saturday, April 23, 2016

Will power!

Happy Shakespeare's Birthday, everyone! 

There are Shakespeare concerts absolutely everywhere tonight and I'm off to do a pre-concert talk for the one at Symphony Hall, Birmingham, where Lahav Shani - the young conductor who won the Gustav Mahler Conducting Competition the time I went to watch it in Bamberg - is at the helm for the CBSO's one. The programme involves three very different works based on the same Shakespeare play: Romeo and Juliet. We'll be looking at how Tchaikovsky, Prokofiev and Bernstein all made this drama their own, each staying true to the spirit of Shakespeare as they viewed him, yet imbuing the story with their own time, place and personality. The talk is at 5.45pm - please note, half an hour earlier than usual! - and the concert starts at 7pm. Info and booking here. Do come along.

I am quite sorry not to be hearing the LPO's Shakespeare extravaganza today, though. They're doing everything from A Midsummer Night's Dream to Henry V and finishing with the end of Falstaff, and they've got Simon Callow and an amazing line-up of singers including Toby Spence and Kate Royal. Vladimir Jurowski conducts. Read Vlad's Shakespearean insights here.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

I'm off to a WIPO conference

Going to this tomorrow at the World Intellectual Property Organisation in Geneva: 

Image: WIPO

WIPO Conference on the Global Digital Content Market

April 20 – 22, 2016 (Geneva, Switzerland

The creative content economy has seen radical change to access and business models
 for more than a decade.
The tensions between increased access and a sustainable economic value chain 
are the essence of this conference, which will explore:
-- copyright in the digital age
-- the impact of the digital environment on creators
-- the role for publishers, producers and distribution platforms
-- digital markets, access, and participation
The conference will feature sessions on music, film, broadcasting and publishing, 
as well as collective management and emerging models and markets.
The proceedings are being live-streamed and you can tune in here.
  • Back in a while...

What percentage?!

five15 Launch Video from London Oriana Choir on Vimeo.

Bravi to the London Oriana Choir. When it turned out that fewer than 4% of people questioned could name a composer who was female, they decided to do something to help redress the balance.

Their new project, five15, centres on the commissioning of 15 new works, aiming to give "a voice" to women composers. Cheryl Frances-Hoad is to be composer in residence. The project will launch formally with a concert on the Cutty Sark on 6 July.

It looks absolutely excellent and includes everything from a competition for young composers to a recording, the publication of an anthology, workshops and incentives for others to follow suit.

The website explains everything. Do take a look.

The project’s aims are:

To help address the lack of recognition shown to women composers in the UK.

To champion the work of British women composers so that they and their work are more widely recognised for the long term.

Through our performances and education/outreach work, to provide opportunities for women composers and mentoring for young composers.

Activities planned over the five years include:

Commissions: Commissioning 15 new choral works from five emerging women composers of all ages over a period of five years which the choir will perform in the UK and abroad. Each composer will have the chance to work closely with the choir and Music Director over a period of a year and receive three paid commissions.

Anthology: Publishing an anthology of work by British women composers, including all the works the choir commissions, to provide a useful resource for other choirs.

Competition: Organising a competition for 18-24 year old composers and performing the top three winning works.

Programming: Committing to including the work of women composers in its self-promoted concerts, wherever possible.

Workshops & training: Developing and promoting a programme for workshops and training for the next generation of British women composers, including mentoring by an existing established female composer such as Cecilia McDowell and others.

Recording: Creating an album of all the commissioned five15 items and other works by women composers.

Festival: Launching a high profile festival with other partners devoted to the works of women composers.

Pledge: Encouraging other choirs in the UK to take the five15 pledge to support the work of women composers and commit to performing more of their works.

The choir’s passion and dedication in the project is demonstrated by the fact that it is funding the commissions in the first year out of its existing funds but will be seeking partners and other forms of sponsorship to help with executing the other aspects of the plan.

Why do we care so much? Look at the results of our survey into awareness of women composers

Monday, April 18, 2016

Choristers aren't only for Christmas

The composer Roxanna Panufnik isn't only writing an opera at the moment (our Silver Birch for next year's Garsington). She's also raising money for Friends of Cathedral Music, which aims  to support the making of music in cathedrals and sustain it for future generations. Reduced funding means that an increasing number of cathedral choirs are under threat and with them the wonderful musical experiences and educational opportunities for their young choristers. Rox has helped to launch the Diamond Fund for Choristers. They're doing a sponsored cycle to get the fundraising underway. Not just another Beethoven cycle, either: they're riding from Windsor to Westminster.

Choristers off duty! Photo: Steve Bainbridge
Here's a message from Roxanna:
Every Christmas we take for granted the sublime angelic voices that radiate from radio and TV - and are part of the very fabric of British culture. But many cathedrals choirs are at risk because of reduced funding and not enough boys and girls are aware of the amazing experience, opportunities and education being a chorister can bring. The Diamond Fund for Choristers has been launched by Friends of Cathedral Music as a supersonic drive to keep our choristers flourishing - please support us in our epic cycle, from St George's Chapel Windsor to Westminster Abbey as part of this journey! 
Love from the WACky RacerS(cycling team of Westminster Abbey Choir School) xxx

Sunday, April 17, 2016

It's the Proms!

A concert in a car park, pufferfish with doughnuts and a dancing Katie Derham: here's my Proms preview for the new-look Independent. 

It's a very safe season, on balance, but there are some great experiments with venues, five women conductors (in two months of daily concerts...I haven't worked out the percentage, but it's small) and some real gems among the performances. The selection of top ten Proms is my personal one, but there are at least ten others I could have included equally happily. 

I wouldn't say no to a waltz around the arena, but I do think it would be more of a thrill if some conceptual feathers could be ruffled now and then... Still, we all think we know what we want of the Proms - but we aren't the ones who have to deal with the realities of filling that hall.