wed 08/07/2020

First Person

Joe Boyd's Recording Heaven

When it comes to making records, I love deadlines. Embarking on an open-ended project, particularly with the infinite number of overdubs made possible by ProTools, is my idea of hell. Back in the Nineties, I once spent an afternoon combining vocal...

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'Pause. Notice. Breathe': Elena Urioste on self-love in a time of coronavirus

In my second year as a violin student at the Curtis Institute, my right arm started going numb from my elbow to my fingertips on a fairly regular basis. It was rather like how your limbs feel right before they fall asleep: not full-on pins and...

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First Person: Electra Perivolaris on composing for BBC Radio 3's 'Seven Ages of Woman' project

My brief for this exciting and empowering project was to compose a new choral piece for the BBC Singers, to form one movement of a composite work, bringing together seven female composers spanning the generations of womanhood. The project offered...

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First Person: Hassan Abdulrazzak on the real-life drama behind American deportation to the UK

You are at a party having a good time when someone gives you a glass of champagne. You take one and then another and soon the party is over. You get in the car to go home and are driving along when you see a police car in the rearview mirror: how...

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'You’re Jewish. With a name like Neumann, you have to be'

It was during my first week at Tufts University in America, when I was 17, that I was told by a stranger that I was Jewish. As I left one of the orientation talks, I was approached by a slight young man with short brown hair and intense eyes. He...

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Young people's guides to the orchestra: the making of 'Not Now, Bernard & Other Stories'

"Let’s make an album” is an easy thing to say but an infinitely more difficult thing to actually make happen. But at some point in early 2016 conductor Tom Hammond said it to me (or I said it to him, we can’t remember which) and four years later Not...

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Bridging the cultural divide: Armenian conductor Sergey Smbatyan on marrying east and west

We’re touring across Europe in January 2020, visiting five countries to perform eight concerts with the world-class violinist Maxim Vengerov as our leading soloist. The tour has been organized by the European Foundation for Support of Culture.As...

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'Divinity is all around us': soprano Susanna Hurrell on Ravi Shankar's 'Sukanya'

In 2010, my best friend and I made a whimsical decision to go backpacking in India over the Easter break. I had developed an interest in Eastern philosophy through exposure to the teachings of the ancient Vedas, and through the practice of...

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Planting seeds for change: Helen Wallace on a year of seminal events at Kings Place

When I mention Nature Unwrapped, a year-long series at Kings Place subtitled "Sounds of Life", the responses are often tinged with cynicism: "Oh, very 2020", "So, what’s the carbon footprint with all those musicians flying in?" There’s an assumption...

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'The Academy and I': composer and viola-player Sally Beamish on a special relationship

I was 13. It was a Saturday, and Mum was working. On this occasion she asked if I’d like to come along and bring a book. I was wearing a dress I’d made myself – psychedelic orange and pink, with red edging. It was 1969. I don’t remember what the...

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Music for Youth's Judith Webster: '91% of the young people we work with are from state schools'

Music resonates with everyone. It plays a powerful and evocative role in people’s lives; it punctuates our memories and changes our mood. We can all remember our first album and the songs our parents and grandparents listened to. One of the first...

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'These were the quartets that made us fall in love with the genre': Dudok Quartet Amsterdam on Haydn

As a string quartet, it’s not easy to distinguish yourselves from others. There are so many string quartets playing the great repertoire, and the level of quartets has never been as high as it is now. Everybody is trying to be unique.We are all part...

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