mon 06/12/2021

First Person

First Person: composer Cheryl Frances-Hoad on a musical love letter to the natural world

 In the darkness my dreams are interruptedI see the blackbird in my mind and the whirring of my brain beginsScenes from the Wild begins at dawn on a spring day, at that moment between sleep and wakefulness where dreams and reality are...

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First Person: composer Conor Mitchell on challenging religious orthodoxy from a queer perspective in MASS

A mass, in its simplest form, is the order of prayers that are said in a religious service. It is standardised and has been for centuries, in order to create a theatrical journey that takes us through a service. Composers have always been drawn to...

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Judith van Driel of the Dudok Quartet Amsterdam: 'the more we played Brahms, the more freedom we found'

In every life there are moments of great significance. Experiences that stick with us and define our own personal story.Growing up as a young violinist, one of those defining moments for me was the first time I played a piece by Johannes Brahms. It...

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First Persons: Susan Bullock, Gerald Finley and Stephen Higgins on a 'Bluebeard's Castle' with a difference

Tonight a version of Bartók's Bluebeard's Castle launches in the intimate surroundings of Stone Nest, a former Welsh chapel in London's West End. Its conductor along with soprano Susan Bullock and baritone Gerald FInley, alternating in the roles of...

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First Person: ethnomusicologist Shumaila Hemani on global musical traditions and Concert for Afghanistan

In early 2020, the year that soon saw  COVID-19 lockdown, I served on the music faculty for Semester at Sea, Spring 2020 voyage, where I taught self-designed courses on global music cultures as well as a course called Soundscapes. This course...

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'The din is loud these days': playwright Cordelia Lynn on her imminent premiere at the Donmar Warehouse

As I write this, we've just had our final day in the rehearsal room and are going into tech onstage next week with my new play, which is also reopening the Donmar not only to live performance but follows major renovations at their home address.It’s...

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First Person: Andrea Levy's husband recalls her path toward becoming a novelist

The opening sentence of Andrea’s 2010 historical novel The Long Song is in the voice of Thomas Kinsman, who is introducing the reader to his mother, July."The book you are now holding in your hand was born of a craving," Kinsman declares. "My mama...

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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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