Genius examined on Radio 3 tonight ...
The Aurora Orchestra rehearsing at King's Place this morning
We’ve just finished rehearsals in Hall One for tonight’s concert in Hall by the Aurora Orchestra, which includes the last violin concerto, the 'Linz' Symphony, and a pair of ravishing arias sung by the young Welsh soprano Fflur Wyn (left).
The concert was due to be conducted by that great British Mozartian Sir Colin Davis. Alas he has succumbed to ill-health, and is currently being treated for a minor infection. The good news is that he’s expected to be discharged from hospital tomorrow. So that means an unexpected place in the spotlight for Nicholas Collon (below), founder and music director of the Aurora Orchestra. He’s a hot young talent, who is causing much excitement in the business. Having worked with the Britten Sinfonia, London Sinfonietta, Glyndebourne and Opera North, he makes his debut with the London Philharmonic next year. He’s also got a great sense of humour - as seen in his collaboration with Basil Brush at the Proms last summer. So, a chance to catch a new talent early on as he conducts Mozart, live on Radio 3 tonight at 7.30pm.
Tonight's conductor Nicholas Collon
I’m sitting writing this at a long table that stretches through the Kings Place foyer. Students work, pensioners natter, and business people hold informal meetings, good coffee and free wi-fi aiding to the ease of working in this great open space alongside the Regent's Canal. Looking up I can see into the newsrooms of the Observer and Guardian newspapers, Network Rail have office space here (Kings Cross station is next door), and downstairs are a pair of concert halls. The building was the dream of the entrepreneur Peter Millican, who's been around at rehearsals all morning. He’s a passionate music lover, who has personally shaped the venue’s ‘Mozart Unwrapped’ series. For the whole year it will explore the man as both composer and performer, looking at how one talent shaped the other. Imogen Cooper, Rosemary Joshua, Nicholas Daniel and the Chilingirian Quartet are amongst the featured artists; the festival will conclude with a Requiem on December 19th. Peter quotes the words of that great scholar HC Robbins Landon in his introduction to the season – Mozart’s music is ‘as good an excuse for mankind’s survival as we shall ever encounter’.
We are making use of both halls here this evening; in the interval of the concert, live on Radio 3, I’ll be chairing a discussion looking at the nature of genius, with mathematician Marcus du Sautoy, writer Peggy Reynolds and musicologist Simon Keefe. What does the word mean? Do we use it lazily? Can there really be more than one or two real geniuses in each century? I hope it’ll be a thought provoking discussion – it’ll air at about 8.15 this evening on Radio 3.
Great excitement in the production office – Kings Place have just given us £10 vouchers for the café. Excuse me if I bid farewell now - afternoon tea calls.