BBC Radio 3
Sakari Oramo, Chief Conductor, BBC Symphony Orchestra
BBC Symphony Orchestra Chief Conductor Sakari Oramo reveals the intriguing programming behind the conclusion of his Nielsen symphony cycle.
Chief Conductor, BBC Symphony Orchestra
Carl Nielsen at his piano. Photo: The Royal Library, Copenhagen
Most of the BBC Symphony Orchestra’s cycle of Carl Nielsen symphonies is now complete, and I am hugely looking forward to completing this fascinating survey of the great Danish composer’s music mirrored by that of his contemporaries.
This year's other great birthday hero, Jean Sibelius, is an obvious companion, despite the almost diametrically opposed nature of the two composers' musical styles and philosophies. Tapiola (1926) is the Finnish composer's last significant symphonic statement, and here serves the purpose of showing how distant he had become to his Danish counterpart. Tapiola is an incredibly powerful, hypnotic piece of music which, when performed properly, makes a human feel very small indeed at the feet of the great God of the forests of Finnish mythology.
Sergey Rachmaninov is yet another composer who poses interesting possibilities for comparison with Nielsen. The 4th Piano Concerto (1926) is his most intimate, honest and self-revealing piece of music. Composed in a...
BBC Symphony Orchestra
Dalibor at the Barbican Hall. Photo: Mark Allan/BBC
In the past the BBC Symphony Orchestra's former chief conductor Jiří Bělohlávek has conducted a number of Czech operas by Dvořák, Smetana, Janáček and Martinů in highly successful concert performances.
A few years ago we performed Dvořák's The Jacobin which was huge fun for everybody and I remember being surprised to learn that Dvořák had actually written nine others. Yet, surprisingly, his most popular opera, Rusalka, was not staged in London until English National Opera performed it in 1983. The Met in New York waited until 1993 to premiere it and Covent Garden (amazingly) as recently as 2003!
Smetana's jolly The Bartered Bride fared better (reaching London in 1907) and is regularly staged, yet we scarcely hear a semi-quaver of his other eight operas. Part of the problem (as one who has struggled even to pronounced 'Jiří' correctly) is the Czech language: for most people it is very difficult to get your tongue around.
Two weeks ago the BBCSO performed Smetana's third opera,...
Joining forces ‒ the BBC Singers and Singapore Symphony Chorus
This year saw another first for the BBC Singers: a tour to Singapore at the invitation of the Singapore Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, to join them in three performances of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony in celebration of their 36th anniversary. We stayed in the Central Business District of Singapore, all elegant skyscrapers with gleaming surfaces, brand new shopping malls and futuristic parks, complete with the hectic bustle of people heading to work, shopping or eating in the many cafes, restaurants and hawker centres.
It was a short journey on the Metro to the newly refurbished Victoria Hall, on the river front at Raffles Place. Apparently the acoustics of the concert hall still need some tweaking, and duvets can be seen hanging from the walls and ceiling as part of the work in progress. Having met with conductor, Lan Shui, who put us through our paces in preparation for his fast and energetic interpretation of Beethoven’s Ninth, I could happily have made use of one of them! After a...
Editor, Live Music, BBC Radio 3
(L-R) Dame Evelyn Glennie, Danielle de Niese, Katie Derham, Nicholas Collon and pupils from Luton Music Service celebrate the launch of the 2015 BBC Proms ©BBC / Andrew Hayes-Watkins
This is always an exciting day for Radio 3: the moment when the truly salivating line-up of concerts and events that make up the world’s biggest classical music festival is revealed, and we begin in earnest the incredibly detailed planning that goes into broadcasting every Prom live. The technical challenges are huge ‒ in the course of a single day the team of highly skilled studio managers...
Controller, BBC Radio 3
Photo: Mark Allan/BBC
You may have read reports on comments I made this week about levels of classical music literacy now compared to the era of the Third Programme. The reports were given headlines that didn't really reflect what I actually said. Therefore I’d like to expand on my comments here and put them back in the context in which they were delivered.
I was asked about the challenges facing me as Controller...
Resident Composer BBC NOW
Time to Write
The orchestra rehearsals are about to begin in advance of the premiere of A Violence of Gifts. I find the days immediately before rehearsals an unsettling time – a strange mixture of disquiet and anticipation. I think it’s due to the imminent transition from having a new work exist only in your mind to having it brought suddenly and vividly to life by musicians. As I prepare for this experience, I find thinking back to the solitude of the early stages of writing the music helps to calm my nerves…
I hadn’t paid much attention to the North Polar Vortex until the day before I flew...
Resident Composer BBC NOW
As Owen and I emerged from the plane at Geneva airport, grateful to have our feet safely on the ground once more, it occurred to me we would soon be below ground, inside the sonorous caverns of the Large Hadron Collider. We had arrived at CERN – the European Organisation for Nuclear Research – straddling the Franco-Swiss border for our research trip supported by a grant from the...
Radio 3 Presenter
On Saturday 14 March at 10.30pm I shall be presenting Hear and Now, live from Café Oto in Hackney, London. The programme comprises two 4 channel, surround-sound pieces by the Spanish sound artist Francisco Lopez. Radio 3 shall be broadcasting these new works in 4.0 surround-sound, as well as in stereo, and the programme shall be available, in 4 channels, on our website for one month after the...
BBC Symphony Orchestra
Paul Hughes is the General Manager responsible for the BBC Symphony Orchestra, the BBC Symphony Chorus and the BBC Singers. The job involves keeping a giddying calendar of dates stretching years hence, in his head. In this blog, Paul reflects on the 2015-16 season which has just been announced.
The BBC Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Sakari Oramo. Photo: Sim Canetty-Clarke
I find this a strange time of the planning year, when the present season is well over half way...
Radio 3 Presenter
Jason Moran (l) and Robert Glasper
Jez Nelson introduces a special duo concert from two of America’s biggest piano stars
The Blue Note all-stars that headlined the label’s 75th birthday celebrations at last year’s EFG London Jazz Festival were good, but it was the opening duo who stole the show. Jason Moran and Robert Glasper both hail from Houston, Texas and are Blue Note fixtures, but they have very different approaches to the...