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Philip Glass, Gerald Barry, Lothar Koenigs, The Trumpet

45 minutes
First broadcast:
Saturday 21 April 2012

Tom Service talks to Philip Glass about his opera Einstein on the Beach and to Gerald Barry about his new operatic setting of The Importance of Being Earnest.

  • Einstein on the Beach

    Einstein on the Beach

    In 1976 Philip Glass’s Einstein on the Beach broke all of the rules of conventional opera. Non-narrative in form, it used a series of powerful recurrent images as its main storytelling device shown in juxtaposition with abstract dance sequences. Instead of a traditional orchestral arrangement, Glass chose to compose the work for the synthesisers, woodwinds and voices of the Philip Glass Ensemble. As the work receives its first UK performances at the Barbican Theatre Tom Service talks to Glass, the director Robert Wilson and choreographer Lucinda Childs about their thoughts on the piece three and a half decades after they originally conceived it.

    Photo: Einstein on the Beach – Antoine Silverman © Lucie Jansch

  • Lothar Koenigs – Music Director of WNO

    Lothar Koenigs – Music Director of WNO

    Lothar Koenigs became Music Director of Welsh National Opera three years ago, and has had some stellar successes, notably with Berg's Wozzeck and Wagner's Die Meistersingers, a new production which starred Bryn Terfel and was reprised at the Proms. Koenigs outlines to Tom his vision of what WNO and its orchestra needs to be in the future, his working relationship with WNO's new Chief Executive and Artistic Director, David Pountney - and how his Welsh is coming along!

  • The Importance of Being Earnest

    The Importance of Being Earnest

    The Irish composer Gerald Barry’s operatic setting of Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest was garnered with great praise at its premiere in Los Angeles last year. It was described by the critics as zany, hysterical and sophisticated. The work is now receiving its first European performances by Thomas Adès and the Birmingham Contemporary Music Group at the Barbican Hall, London and Birmingham Symphony Hall. Tom meets the opera’s composer and two of the singers taking part – Barbara Hannigan who sings Cecily Cardew and Alan Ewing who plays Lady Bracknell.

    Photo: Gerald Barry, (left) composer of The Importance of Being Earnest, and (right) Thomas Adès, who is conducting the opera. © Katie Henfrey

  • The Trumpet

    The Trumpet

    In the new book The Trumpet the authors John Wallace and Alexander McGrattan trace the surprising evolution and colourful performance history of one of the world’s oldest instruments. They chart the introduction of the trumpet and its family into art music, its rise to prominence as a solo instrument from the Baroque “golden age” through the advent of valved instruments to the trumpet’s renaissance in the jazz age. Tom discusses this history with the authors whose lifetimes of experience in performing and teaching contribute so much to the book.

    Photo: Trumpeters in the orchestra of the Bavarian Court of Albrecht V directed by Orlande de Lassus, from Mielen Codex. By permission of the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, Munich.



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