mon 27/05/2024

Classical Interviews

Rhapsody! How to programme a Hollywood Prom

David Benedict

Fingers on buzzers: which piece of music at this year’s Proms boasts a percussion section including glockenspiel, xylophone, five pitches of cowbells, car horn, taxi horn, anvils, revolving door noise, smashing glass, bubble-wrap-popping, pistol-shot and elastic band? OK, here’s a clue: it’s by Scott Bradley (1891-1977). Who?

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10 Questions for Semyon Bychkov

Jasper Rees

By the time silence descends on the Royal Albert Hall at five o’clock in the afternoon for a performance that will end six hours later, Semyon Bychkov will have been rehearsing for 60 hours. It breaks down into four days of orchestra readings, with tutti and sectional sessions for each act, then two days of the singers and a pianist, followed by six days of everybody together. And all for one performance of Tristan und Isolde with the BBC Symphony Orchestra.

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Sir Richard Rodney Bennett: The Last Interview

John Harle

On Christmas Day last year, we lost Richard Rodney Bennett, a composer and performer who bridged the worlds of classical, jazz and film music with a suave nonchalance that came from inner confidence and a belief in hard work. He and I met for lunch in the summer of 2012 at The Fountain Restaurant in Fortnum & Mason.

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theartsdesk Q&A: Conductor Sir John Eliot Gardiner

alexandra Coghlan

It’s only fitting that Sir John Eliot Gardiner should be celebrating his 70th birthday with a concert in the Royal Albert Hall. That it should be a nine-hour marathon of a concert is not only fitting, but entirely predictable for a musician who has always kept one eye on the next and biggest challenge.

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Q&A Special: Conductor Sir Simon Rattle

Jasper Rees

Sir Simon Rattle (b. 1955) and the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment (est. 1986) have been together from the beginning. Founded by period-instrument musicians eager to run their own affairs rather than play obediently for conductor-managers like Christopher Hogwood and John Eliot Gardiner, the OAE invited Rattle to conduct a concert performance of Idomeneo in that first year.

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10 Questions for Amateur Musician Alan Rusbridger

Jasper Rees

Had we but world enough and time... A new book by the editor of the Guardian makes it clear quite how many hours in the day it takes to run a national newspaper in the digital age. There is the unyielding nature of 24-hour news, while the internet relentlessly asks grave questions of print media’s business model. Some editors respond to the job's demands by keeping obsessively fit, and then there is Rusbridger’s alternative guide to stress-busting: the piano.

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10 Questions for Opera singer Rolando Villazón

Igor Toronyi-Lalic

Few singers provoke more debate than Rolando Villazón. His off-piste projects - from his Romantic exploration of the Baroque to his spell as a talent contest judge - have been much discussed over the years. By comparison, there's something strangely calm and conventional about Villazón's two latest projects: a new album of Verdi on Deutsche Grammophon and a performance of John Copley's La Bohème at the Royal Opera House. Yet you'd be foolish to ignore either.

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Sir Patrick Moore, Xylophonist and Composer

Ismene Brown

The astronomer Sir Patrick Moore was a keen composer of decided musical preferences, and no mean xylophonist. The news of his death on Sunday reminded me of my hugely enjoyable encounter with him - for musical reasons - for the Daily Telegraph in October 1998, heralding the release of a recording of his tunes.

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Interview: Film composer Ilan Eshkeri

Peter Culshaw

At his studio near White City in West London (he did say it was Notting Hill) Ilan Eshkeri’s is adding a scratchy cello to a key moment in Ralph Fiennes film of Shakespeare’s Coriolanus. It’s the moment the inhabitants of Rome realise that Coriolanus, an exile, is about to attack them.

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theartsdesk Q&A: Conductor Gustavo Dudamel

Jasper Rees

At the Royal Albert Hall one summer evening in 2007, a teeming ensemble of young South Americans served up a BBC Prom that is the most YouTubed classical concert this side of the Three Tenors. Under the baton of the compelling Gustavo Dudamel, an all-dancing, all-shouting account of “Mambo” from West Side Story has become the roof-raising sign-off of the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela, who last year dropped the word Youth from their name.

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