Blogging on ... to the Free Thinking video stream
Former President of Ireland, Mary Robinson. Photo © BBC
Radio 3 Listener Blogger Rosalind Porter reports from Free Thinking 2012 at The Sage Gatehead
Once again the foyers and halls are bustling with thinkers and there's a major new innovation to bring more people into the live experience: many of the sessions are streamed live on the Radio 3 website. If you can't be in Gateshead to share your thoughts in person, then you can watch online, and you can let Radio 3 know your impressions - positive or negative - by commenting on this Blog. Does the live streaming add to your enjoyment of the Festival? Does a visual image distract from events which are produced as radio programmes? Does watching the live streams make you more likely to listen to the broadcasts on radio? I'm going to be providing some blogs on both the internet and live experience this weekend and all feedback is very welcome.
Last night kicked off with a live broadcast of In Tune, providing a smorgasbord of contributors who will be sharing their views over the weekend, combined with the usual diverse mix of music and musicians ranging from BBC Radio 3 Young Generation Artists Leonard Elschenbroich (cello) and Alexei Grynyuk (piano) to local folk music maestro Alistair Anderson and his band. Having a live audience adds a certain frisson to any radio broadcast and presenter Sean Rafferty certainly seemed to relish our presence. The excellent Voices of Hope Choir under the direction of Simon Fidler, provided a heartfelt a cappella contribution including a very apt rendition of 'When the Boat comes in' and an intense performance of Bruckner's moving Ave Maria. But my personal highlight had to be the pairing of Leonard and Alexei and their interpretation of Debussy's cello sonata. Several members of the audience around me commented on the impressive fact that Leonard performed all of his pieces from memory, something which wouldn't normally be picked up if we were simply listening at home as usual.
Hopefully many In Tune listeners will have been inspired by the wise words of Mary Robinson, former President of Ireland, to listen to her Free Thinking Lecture later in the evening, and there was a real treat in hearing the author Colm Toibin read an extract from his latest book The Testament of Mary, such evocative and musical prose gave an enticing preview to his interview this Saturday morning, which I'll be commenting on later.