BBC BLOGS - Scottish Symphony Orchestra blog BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra home Scottish Symphony Orchestra blog home

Archives for June 2010

The Musical Isle

Post categories:

BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra | 11:53 UK time, Thursday, 24 June 2010

Comments (2)

greg.jpgThis island is jumping with music, and not just the music that's taking place in the festival. I mean the music that takes place here all the time. Today I gave some master-classes at the Orkney Grammar school with Mark O'Keefe the principle trumpet in the SSO and I wasblown away. The commitment of the teachers and the vibrancy of the music department was just so inspiring and as a result, the level of musicianship on this island is prolifically high. While we taught, there was a constant Birtwistle-like experience of surround sound coming from all the other classes taking place within the department. Everywhere, kids just playing with music. Getting their hands into the earth and just having fun. I heard tunes I knew being given different treatments by children in an environment where they were allowed to experiment but where they also had the guidance of a teaching staff of such skill and dedication it made me wish I had grown up here as a child. It's left me excited and inspired beyond any expectation I could have had.

Read the rest of this entry

Relaxing in Orkney

Post categories:

Anthony Sayer Anthony Sayer | 22:24 UK time, Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Comments

"....must be nice for you to relax now that your main season has finished!" Don't believe it. 'Listen Here', our open weekend of four concerts, launched our 75th birthday season. Straight on to five programmes on the trot up here in Orkney, giving us nine completely different programmes back to back. More for some players: sundry extras like the Big Noise birthday concert in Stirling, the Merchant Sinfonia summer concert, chamber concerts and master classes in outlying islands, playing with the Hebrides Ensemble for their composer forum - some very busy players. Probably more music in a given time span than the orchestra has seen since the early sixties, when a six day week and three session days were the norm, all 'dry' studio work. But, not every player is in every piece at every concert - except Iain Crawford, he's squeezing in performances with Alastair Savage's trio for the West End Festival and the St Magnus Festival club - he should get the endurance medal. Don't ask about what's coming up for Edinburgh and the Proms after the hols. I'll be looking forward to a bit of peace and quiet when our main season starts up again......with Act 1 of Walkyrie. Mind you, some of us will have a chance to relax and wind down in the Glasgow half marathon the day after Mahler 8, the last gig of the summer silly season.

Read the rest of this entry

"There's no such thing as bad weather in Scotland, only inappropriate clothing" Billy Connolly

Post categories:

BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra | 10:36 UK time, Monday, 21 June 2010

Comments

greg.jpgThe wind blows on Orkney. I had forgotten just how much the elements influence life up here. Walking the sheltered streets all built to protect you from the prevailing winds gives you a kind of false sense of security until you turn a corner and some ancient screaming North Easterly tries to remove any article of loose clothing you haven't strapped down thoroughly. The first time it happened to me today, my sunglasses were whipped off, my jacket almost stripped from my body and my shirt blew up over my face all in less than a second. One moment I was admiring the beauty of the cathedral with its wind sculptured surface, the next I was locked in an embarrassing battle with an invisible enemy intent on removing most of my clothes. I wrestled my shirt back down and bending over to retrieve my sunglasses, presented the elements with an altogether more attractive target. Before I knew what was happening, my jacket was blown over my head and had transformed me into some sort of human kite. Somehow, and with the help of some elderly passers by, I managed to retreat round the corner where I tried to find some dignity and plan an alternative route home.

Read the rest of this entry

Orkney Stage One

Post categories:

BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra | 18:54 UK time, Friday, 18 June 2010

Comments

greg.jpgWell, the first stage of my adventure with the BBC SSO to Orkney and the St Magnus Festival passed off in a surprisingly trouble free and rather pleasant way. In a day when travelling as a musician is usually an event that requires the patience and saint like resignation of a member of a silent order due to an embarrassing series of friskings, pattings, searchings and scrutinisings with shoes on and off, belts done and undone, violins ex-rayed and the ultimate dilemma question to ask a musician "Is the nature of your trip business or pleasure?", I have arrived and am feeling genuinely relaxed. Partly due to the fact that the management team organised everything so well that I didn't have to engage my brain at all with logistics and mostly I think because I walked through security chatting non stop with my friend and fellow violinist Alex Gascoine. One minute I was arriving at the Airport with Alex and the next minute we were putting our shoes back on, on the other side of security. We were probably frisked but we were probably chatting, I can't remember. Our violin cases were quite possibly opened and whilst chatting to each other we probably explained what they were and carried on chatting. I can't remember. All I can remember is having a good natter with a mate whilst some things of great importance to other people occurred all around me. And when we touched down on Orkney in what really is a large field, we were greeted off the brilliantly small plane by a man whose wonderfully bearded and relaxed face spoke of all the benefits of island life whilst he smiled warmly and said "Hello and welcome". From his greeting, I was no longer tired at the prospect of a very heavy concert schedule, I was suddenly excited and can't wait to give him something in return. Flying to Orkney in other words reminded me of how travel used to be and as long as you take Alex Gascoine with you, it still can.

Greg Lawson
Principal Second Violin

After the honeymoon......

Post categories:

Anthony Sayer Anthony Sayer | 17:35 UK time, Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Comments

Less than a year into his tenure with the LA Phil, Dudamel has been touring major USA cities - so I followed the reviews - easily done with the web. Tours forge relationships between players and conductor - proved in our first Polish trip with Maksymiuk - and to be proved again on tour with Donald this autumn. Dudamel's inaugural concert in LA was the same day as Donald's with us, both featuring Mahler 1. Preceding ours was a TV documentary about Donald, in which Norman Lebrecht commented: "The newly hyped maestro is expected to persuade audiences that the orchestra is playing better than for any previous maestro". Bull's eye. I relished its myth busting cut. But I winced. Why: because I resent the suggestion that I, or any of us, ever play anything less than our best (given that our 'best' is contingent on conditions beyond our control), and I resent any devaluation of the many great performances that we've delivered in the past - some led by un-hyped conductors. So let's do a little scrutiny of this post-honeymoon process. What endures?

Read the rest of this entry

BBC iD

Sign in

BBC navigation

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.