Tuesday 4 March 2014, 00:23
BBC SO sub-principal viola Phil Hall reports from backstage at rehearsals with viiolinist-conductor Maxim Vengerov.
Tuesday 4 March 2014, 00:23
BBC Symphony Orchestra sub-principal viola Phil Hall always has a ringside seat close to the conductor at concerts and rehearsals. Here, Phil reports from the rehearsals for last Friday’s BBCSO concert at the Barbican.
Guest leader Simon Blendis and Maxim Vengerov Photo: Mark Millidge When it came to the orchestra's attention that the great Russian violin virtuoso Maxim Vengerov would direct Rimsky-Korsakov's Sheherazade from the violin, my curiosity was aroused. Not because I doubted Vengerov's musicianship or talent but because I had never heard of any violinist attempting this extraordinary juggling act. Not that surprising as it turns out since, as Maxim claimed, no-one has done it since the great Belgian violinist Eugene Ysayë a hundred years ago.
Maxim began the rehearsal with an apology: ‘I must say sorry to Simon our concert master for stealing his beautiful solos.’ But as soon as he launched into the first solo there are smiles all round as his big, passionate Russian sound heated up the chill of Maida Vale Studio 1. Maxim was a pleasure to rehearse with – a very big-hearted, charming person, constantly addressing the orchestra as ’friends’ with names of principal...
Tuesday 25 February 2014, 17:45
Producer David Coomes introduces this week's broadcasts in The Essay.
The Essay this week is given over to reflections on Forgiveness, a word we often use swiftly and glibly, without fully understanding its meaning and consequences. Five essayists approach Forgiveness: what it is, what it isn't (or shouldn't be), and how to do it.
Do we appreciate how hard it is truly to forgive? And do we confuse it sometimes with forgetting? In fact, is it possible at all? Do we mistakenly think of it as a magic wand, giving us a warm, cosy glow inside, helping us to evade or cope with the consequences of the wrong? Do we too easily forgive retrospectively or vicariously? Where is there a place for justice to be done and to be seen to be done?
The series kicked off last night with journalist and writer, Madeleine Bunting. 'Nothing is a more familiar part of our moral furniture,' she says. As a child growing up a Catholic, she recited The Lord's Prayer and its plea to be forgiven 'as we forgive others'. In later life, she has discovered that forgiving is hard, very hard, a choice rather than an emotion, and 'emerging as one of the dominant themes which has shaped the struggles of (her) own emotional...
Tuesday 25 February 2014, 15:46
My colleague Roger Short and I arrive at night; several bats are flying around outside the airport and a couple of large black beetles scuttle into the arrivals lounge, alongside the passengers.
We drive to Zelda Game Farm, close to the Botswana border; to meet a Nharo family, one of the many indigenous hunter gatherer communities of southern Africa, sometimes collectively referred to as the San. They have one of the oldest genetic lineages stretching back thousands of years, from which all modern humans may originate. One thing is certain, they are some of the warmest and friendliest people we meet on our trip.
the Nharo family Over the course of several hours, they share their songs, dances, stories and traditional crafts with us – something they do for anyone visiting the area. After years of displacement and changes to their way of life, they are keen to preserve a largely oral tradition, and cultural tourism seems to play an important...
Friday 21 February 2014, 14:32the Ruk a Tuk band
It is said that if you set sail westward from the UK and follow the currents you will always land up in Barbados and curiously in some ways Barbados still feels quite closely connected to British culture.
On a scorching day just before Christmas, we met Wayne ‘Poonka’ Willocks and his Ruk a Tuk band on the beach near Bridgeton. I was astonished when I heard this three piece drum and penny whistle band by how familiar it sounded – like a mini Scottish pipe...
Friday 21 February 2014, 10:26
The first thing I noticed about my guest Douglas Kennedy was how energetic and fresh he seemed...could it be true that he had just flown in from America? Here is a person who really knows how to travel, I thought, and he clearly has it down to a fine art. Douglas told me he had slept soundly during his flight: that's the secret, and I admired him for managing to drop off in those slightly surreal circumstances (being surrounded by other people, all wrapped in light acrylic blankets, 35,000 feet up in the air, etc.). He tackled the interview with great relish - so enthusiastic and knowledgeable...
Monday 17 February 2014, 16:23
Keith Lockhart, Principal Conductor, BBC Concert Orchestra. Photo: Chris Christodoulou The BBC Concert Orchestra’s Principal Conductor Keith Lockhart reflects on his two upcoming concerts at Southbank Centre’s Queen Elizabeth Hall: World To Come (24 February) and World Once Known (31 March).
2014 marks the beginning of the worldwide observance of the centennial of World War I. As such, it is the perfect time to reflect on the changes wrought by 'the war to end all wars.'
When the smoke cleared in 1918, most of the social and political structures that had defined life in Europe since...
Monday 17 February 2014, 15:16
Anton Hunter - photo by Mark Whitaker © 2013
Spontaneity and improvisation are words close to any jazz musician's heart – but what happens when you take it one step further to improvise the whole line-up of a band? Well, our annual event, Adventures in Sound dares to do just that, as we invite musicians from all corners of the improvising world, stick them in ad-hoc groupings and throw them on stage before they've even had time to shake hands. If you think that sounds daunting, then you might be quite surprised by the results in this week's programme.
Mola Sylla at Adventures in Sound...
Wednesday 12 February 2014, 17:44
Learning patience under an African sun from a desk in rainy Glasgow
So there I was at home in Glasgow sitting in my dressing gown at 9am on Christmas Day waiting for two people in East Africa to get themselves in the same place at the same time so we could record an interview.
The recording had been postponed on several previous occasions but I was reassured by the wonderfully named Modestus...
Monday 10 February 2014, 11:53David Helbock - © 2013 Jazzfestival Saalfelden
Tucked away in the Austrian Alps, Saalfelden Jazz Festival has been going strong for almost 35 years, playing host to local and international acts alike. Every year, thanks to the hard graft and solidarity of the European Broadcast Union, a package of highlights arrives at Jazz on 3 of new, experimental jazz from the festival – and this year didn't disappoint.
It’s tradition that a local Austrian artist is commissioned to open the show and this time it was the turn of young pianist David Helbock with his quartet Action Figures. David is from...
Thursday 6 February 2014, 16:26
Producing this feature has been an immense JOY and researching the music of the fascinating island of Newfoundland has been a truly illuminating experience for me. It's amazing to learn of how strong an impact Scottish, French and Irish music have had on the traditional music of Newfoundland and how their lasting influence can still be heard today.
I initially made contact with some musical friends, both Canadians, drummer Mattie Foulds and singer songwriter Michael...