thu 16/09/2021

First Person

Summer seasons in a Covid world: five opera company movers and shakers reflect

The bleakest time of all for live music during the Covid crisis came in the first four and a half months of this year. Re-emergence came too late for many of the big national opera companies – though the Royal Opera threw down a sensational gauntlet...

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First Person: theatre director Christopher Haydon on how the Rose Theatre, Kingston, can bloom anew

Programming a theatre during a pandemic has been like trying to nail jelly to a set of constantly moving goalposts. Government indecision meant that reopening dates shifted repeatedly while the configuration of our auditorium kept changing as we...

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First Person: pianist Filippo Gorini on head, heart and the contemporary in Bach's 'The Art of Fugue'

A past work of art either still speaks to us in the present, or it is dead. To try and understand a masterpiece, we tend to look at its past: we study it, analyse it, read biographies of the artist behind it and chronicles of its historical...

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First Person: composer Joseph Phibbs on rescoring Britten

The music Britten composed in his twenties occupies a special place in his output. Even among his detractors there are some who begrudgingly concede that this early period is somehow different: fresher, more extroverted and daring, perhaps less...

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First Person: theartsdesk writer Bernard Hughes on composing for the BBC Proms

For many years, first as a punter then latterly as a reviewer, I have sat in the section of the Royal Albert Hall stalls near stage right, under the BBC Radio broadcast box, knowing that that is where they sit the composers being premiered at the...

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First Person: young musicians Brooke Simpson and Erin Black on the National Youth Orchestra's 'Hope Exchange' project

The National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain’s Hope Exchange is an explosive return to the concert platform for hundreds of teenagers like us, playing a variety of new pieces, with the preparation beginning in hundreds of primary schools across the...

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'You have to be willing to kill your darlings': conductor Clark Rundell on advice from composer Louis Andriessen (1939-2021)

It’s taken me a day to try to find some words to share at the passing of my dear friend, mentor and guardian angel Louis Andriessen and I’m grateful to theartsdesk for giving me the space. It is such a profound loss because of the profound gifts he...

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First Person: Héloïse Werner on a live collaboration with fellow composers and performers

It’s not every day that you have the opportunity to perform with musicians like the ones I’ll be sharing the St John’s Smith Square stage with on Saturday 3 July; organist Kit Downes and cellist Colin Alexander are some of the best musicians I know...

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'In music, we are together': saxophonist Jess Gillam on returning to concerts with audience

For over a year, many concert halls' doors have been firmly shut, the curtains drawn and the lights out. As we begin to emerge into a new world and live performance makes a comeback, I feel we are facing a bittersweet moment in the arts. As some...

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First Person: Roxanna Panufnik on a new version of her 'Letters from Burma' in aid of Myanmar refugees

A month ago, I sat in St Martin-in-the Fields listening to London Mozart Players recording my orchestral version of Letters from Burma. I have never been to Burma but I was inspired to compose this work after reading a collection of 54 letters by...

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From cancellation to new vigour: pianist and artistic director Joseph Middleton on Leeds Lieder

April 2020 was to have been the celebratory 10th Anniversary Festival of Leeds Lieder, the organisation I’ve been fortunate enough to direct since late 2014. I’d called the Festival Ode to Joy and in a curious turn of programming, geekery...

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First Person: playwright Tanika Gupta on being back in the rehearsal room once more

On the first day of rehearsals for Out West at the Lyric Hammersmith in May, myself and fellow playwrights Roy Williams and Simon Stephens stood, masked up and lateral flow tested for Covid, and listened as the Lyric Hammersmith's artistic director...

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