sat 02/07/2022

Classical Features

First person: Ukrainian violinist Valeriy Sokolov on performing while his homeland is destroyed

Valeriy Sokolov

A fortnight ago I performed Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto with the Aurora Orchestra, joining them and their Principal Conductor Nicholas Collon in Cologne. Tonight we shall present the same programme at the Royal Festival Hall. These are my first appearances with Aurora and as a Ukrainian, I feel so grateful that even during a terrible time like this, I can continue making music.

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First Person: director Richard Wilson on a musical midsummer night film premiere

Richard Wilson

In today’s near-normal times it is easy to forget how hard COVID-19 had hit the music industry, especially for touring orchestras like the Academy of St Martin in the Fields. Masked, socially-distanced performances; streamed concerts from empty venues; and an outpouring of home-made YouTube films helped to keep musicians working and audiences culturally fed. However, there was a feeling across the industry that something more inspiring was needed.

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First Person: composer Gavin Higgins on his new cantata 'The Faerie Bride'

Gavin Higgins

I was a strange child, I didn’t really fit in. I would twitch and distort my face into awkward shapes. I obsessively bit my fingers and knuckles till they bled. I collected leaflets and piled them high in neat stacks in the corner of my room. I was constantly bombarded with invasive thoughts that would leave me completely paralysed. Teachers would admonish me for ‘showing off’, people would stare,  doctors would shrug.

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First Person: folk violinist István 'Szalonna' Pál on true Magyar style

István 'Szalonn

There's a famous saying that Hungarians are in the middle of Europe. From the West, we have Bach and Palestrina holding our hands; from the East, the Caucasian Turkic peoples. Other nations still need 1,000 years to understand what it means to be Hungarian. In Liszt Mosaics, we want to show our culture, our history and show what the Hungarian soul consists of.

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First Person: Christina McMaster - seeking musical cures for modern malaise

Christina McMaster

In 2020, during a gentle easing of lockdown restrictions, I was asked to play for the Culture Clinic sessions at Kings Place, a creative initiative where small groups of up to six people could book a ticket for a private, personally tailored performance. After speaking together briefly, I would then prescribe and perform music I felt they needed to hear.

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theartsdesk at the Dresden Music Festival - orchestral abundance in a spectacular setting

Gavin Dixon

Dresden is filled with music at this time of year. The Dresden Music Festival runs through May and early June, with concerts at all the famous venues – the Frauenkirche, the Semperoper – but also recitals in smaller halls and unlikely settings.

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'An invitation to stillness and reflection': saxophonist and composer Christian Forshaw on collaborating with top choir Tenebrae

Christian Forshaw

The idea of recording an album with Tenebrae has been bubbling away for a number of years. Nigel Short and I first worked together in 2007 when I asked him to direct the vocal consort for a UK tour I was doing with my own group. Since then we have worked together on a number of projects and regularly discussed the idea of a collaboration with Tenebrae.

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First Person: composer Michael Price on responding to Bach's Second Brandenburg Concerto

Michael Price

There are lots of ways that we respond to great works of art – intellectually and emotionally, then visually, aurally and even by taste and smell, depending on the art in question. I have a habit of screwing my eyes tight shut and bringing to mind a piece of favourite music, or book, or person, and it seems a glowing imprint forms behind your eyelids. You could try it now!

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First Person: composer Mason Bates on the powers and perils of musical storytelling

Mason Bates

What do Beethoven and Pink Floyd have in common?

Narrative – ingeniously animated by music.

From the Ninth Symphony to The Wall, narrative music has brought a new dimension to the forms and genres it has touched.

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Russians and friends play on for Ukraine

David Nice

National sensitivities are running understandably high right now in the thick of an ever-escalating aggression. What a shame that the Southbank Centre has excluded Russian artists from performing alongside British and Ukrainian performers to bring a message of peace through the arts in their upcoming fundraiser. Not so "Dance for Ukraine" at the London Coliseum, including Natalia Osipova in its line-up.

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