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  1. A Soho Symphony

    Monday 17 November 2014, 14:51

    Graeme Kay Graeme Kay Producer, R3 Multiplatform

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    Soho

    Tomorrow night (Tuesday 18 November), the BBC Concert Orchestra and conductor Clark Rundell are appearing at the EFG London Jazz Festival with two new BBC commissions. The BBC CO's Associate Composer Guy Barker has used a scenario by Robert Ryan to paint a portrait in music of London's Soho, and BBC Radio 3 New Generation Artist Trish Clowes appears with her own quintet with tracks from her new album and 'The Fox, the Parakeet and the Chestnut', also written specially for this concert.

    You can hear the concert at 7.30pm live on BBC Radio 3, introduced by Sara Mohr-Pietsch. Guy Barker’s collaborator, Robert Ryan, says: ‘Earlier this year, I received a phone call from Guy Barker, saying he had a hankering to write a new orchestral piece for the BBC CO;  however, he was staring at a blank page and needed a framework. We have done this before, with dZf, a re-working of The Magic Flute, and last year That Obscure Hurt, a Henry James/Britten-inspired piece. I give Guy a narrative: he builds his music around it. This time all he had was “Soho” as a theme…’

    Rob gives a fascinating and detailed explanation of the narrative he devised for Guy in this recommended personal blog...

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  2. A Violence of Gifts

    Wednesday 12 November 2014, 15:05

    Mark Bowden Mark Bowden Resident Composer BBC NOW

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    Mark Bowden and Owen Sheers Mark Bowden and Owen Sheers at CERN

    In the first of a series of blogs, Mark Bowden, resident composer at the BBC National Orchestra and Chorus of Wales, writes about the journey from initial idea to world premiere – as he prepares to write a new work for the crchestra and chorus

    Everything came from nothing. Time, space and matter. Life. Ideas, even. This simple yet devastating scientific concept, put forward by the physicist Lawrence M. Krauss, is the starting point for my current project: a new work for soprano, baritone, chorus and orchestra on the theme of creation. The piece is for the BBC National Orchestra and Chorus of Wales, and is created in collaboration with the poet Owen Sheers.

    Herschel William Herschel Since Plato suggested music and astronomy ought to be studied together as part of a classical education, many composers have been influenced by harmony’s relation to cosmology and the origins of the universe. A famous example is Haydn’s oratorio The Creation. Haydn claimed a visit to William Herschel ‒ composer, astronomer and discoverer of Uranus ‒ in Slough in 1792 helped him to write his most famous work. After looking through Herschel’s telescope, Haydn...

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  3. Jez Nelson previews the 2014 London Jazz Festival

    Monday 10 November 2014, 18:19

    Jez Nelson Jez Nelson Radio 3 Presenter

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    I love the EFG London Jazz Festival. I honestly think it’s the best jazz festival in the world. It might not have the sun of Nice or the wine of Monterey but what it boasts is an extraordinary range of music across a huge number of performances. Londoners are spoilt anyway because there’s always a handful of excellent jazz gigs happening most nights of the year. But somehow the festival takes things to another level, bringing together as it does the biggest stars and the hottest new names from the UK, Europe and beyond.

     

    Jez Nelson Jez Nelson

     

    Jazz on 3’s opening night show which comes live from Ronnie Scott's likes to reflect the range of the festival and pick up some of the themes that it will be celebrating. So I’m delighted we’ll be hosting South African drummer Louis Moholo-Moholo with a quartet drawn from his Dedication Orchestra. The festival is marking 20 years of South African democracy with a series of special concerts and Louis is one of the most important jazz sons of that nation. Also on the bill is one of the most influential British saxophonists of all time, John Surman, who celebrates his 70th birthday this year. Completing the lineup are two US stars who I...

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  4. Planes, trains and mobiles - the BBC Symphony Orchestra on tour

    Tuesday 4 November 2014, 12:59

    Phil Hall Phil Hall BBC Symphony Orchestra

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    BBC Symphony Orchestra sub-principal viola Phil Hall reports from Spain

    The tour did not begin well ‒ I left home with my wife's car keys in my pocket and no passport. Fortunately I realised these blunders just before boarding the train to Heathrow. The orchestra has been split into two groups for travelling to Alicante and my second group arrives at the hotel at midnight after 2 flights and a G&T stop in Madrid airport in between.

    After the cool of London, Alicante is deliciously warm in the balmy night air and we check-in to the luminously-named Eurostars Lucentum hotel, opposite the wonderful...

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  5. Sarah Walker talks to Camila Batmanghelidjh

    Friday 17 October 2014, 16:00

    Sarah Walker Sarah Walker Presenter, Essential Classics

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    I confess that, before interviewing Camila Batmanghelidjh, I was not aware of her strong background in the performing arts. As it turns out, this leading charity worker and businesswoman is one of the most creative people I've ever met. 

    Camila Batmanghelidjh This week's guest Camila Batmanghelidjh

    Her love of colour is pretty apparent - anyone who's seen Camila talking about her work on TV cannot have failed to notice her amazing dress sense – but only during the interview did I learn that the children she works with often source the fabrics used to make her amazing outfits, from all sorts of places including...

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  6. Terry Riley premiere for Cameron Carpenter and the BBC Concert Orchestra

    Thursday 16 October 2014, 12:27

    Victoria Peet Victoria Peet

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    Cameron Carpenter Cameron Carpenter

    This Saturday the BBC Concert Orchestra will give the UK premiere of Terry Riley’s organ concerto At the Royal Majestic with virtuoso Cameron Carpenter in a concert dedicated to visionary American composers.

    A true maverick, Cameron Carpenter smashes the stereotypes of organists and organ music – all the while generating worldwide acclaim and controversy. To find out more about our soloist, we asked what was on his playlist and why; here’s what he said:

    Charles Ives / Henry Brant: A Concord Symphony - San Francisco Symphony / Michael Tilson Thomas

    Among the many...

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  7. We're going behind the beard - The Brahms Experience

    Thursday 2 October 2014, 15:23

    Tom Service Tom Service Presenter Radio 3

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    Poor old Brahms...It's weird to feel sorry for a composer as celebrated and performed as any of the greats, whose works - and whose preternaturally effulgent beard - are as familiar as anything in classical music.
     
    But I do. That familiarity is precisely the problem. What do we hear when we hear Brahms' music? The acme of solid - even rather stolid - 19th century classicism? The comforting, perfected endpoint of a German tradition that goes back to Johann Sebastian Bach Henirich and Schütz? Or a “leviathan maunderer” (George Bernard Shaw's phrase) whose earnestness and self-conscious historicism...

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  8. Last bash for BBC SO timpanist John Chimes

    Wednesday 1 October 2014, 16:01

    Phil Hall Phil Hall BBC Symphony Orchestra

    John Chimes John Chimes The BBC SO’s indefatigable timpanist John Chimes is retiring from the orchestra. Sub principal viola Phil Hall leaves his desk and climbs the risers at Maida Vale to talk to his noisy colleague at the back …

    PH Tell us a little about your background; did you play any other instruments before learning the timpani?

    JC I played the piano up to Grade 7 but I also played the guitar and the bass guitar. Then I started to play the drums with my father who was a semi-professional saxophone player. We played in bands in the '60s for weddings and social functions. That was where I received...

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  9. How classical music can seriously enhance your life

    Thursday 25 September 2014, 13:42

    Suzy Klein Suzy Klein Presenter, BBC Radio 3

    Like most people, my love of classical music happened through a series of unrelated fortuitous events. My mother used to blast Cosi fan Tutte out of the cassette player in her old Nissan Sunny in a bid to try and keep her four unruly offspring quiet. I thus have Mozart and da Ponte to thank for avoiding a collision on the school run, as we children inevitably got into a wildly distracting scuffle in the back seats. Lesson no. 1: classical music is like balm for the soul/stops kids punching one another. 
    Then, I remember my head virtually exploding with excitement when the music teacher played us...

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  10. Meeting John Humphrys

    Wednesday 17 September 2014, 08:38

    Sarah Walker Sarah Walker Presenter, Essential Classics

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    John Humphrys and Sarah Walker Sarah's guest this week is the journalist, broadcaster and author, John Humphrys.

     

    When guests arrive in the yellow studio, my first question after greeting them is usually along the lines of “Have you travelled far?” Author Douglas Kennedy wins the prize for having travelled the furthest (he flew in from America), but my latest guest arrived in a state of advanced fatigue, despite having come just a few yards from a nearby studio in Broadcasting House. He’s John Humphrys, and he had a darn good excuse to be tired after getting up at 3.30am to do his regular stint presenting Radio...

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