Pierre-Laurent Aimard, El Sistema, Ulster Orchestra
Tom Service talks to Pierre-Laurent Aimard about modernist repertoire for the piano, and discusses a polemical new book 'El Sistema: Orchestrating Venezuela's Youth' by academic Geoff Baker, challenging the internationally acclaimed organization of youth orchestras in the South American country - we talk to the author and to El Sistema's Executive Director, Eduardo Mendez. Also, the latest about the difficult financial situation the Ulster Orchestra is facing.
The pianist Pierre-Laurent Aimard is widely acclaimed as a key figure in the music of our time and as a uniquely significant interpreter of piano repertoire from every age. He’s also an experienced artistic director curating festivals and institutions such as the Aldeburgh Festival. Aimard has had close collaborations with many leading composers including Kurtag, Stockhausen, Carter, Boulez and Benjamin and had a long association with Gyorgy Ligeti, recording his complete works for piano. He performed Elliott Carter’s last piece: Epigrams for piano, cello and violin, which was written for him and has just given the world premiere performance of Sir Harrison Birtwistle’s new piano concerto. Tom Service talks to Pierre-Laurent Aimard about the impact he thinks he brings when collaborating with composers, about deciding which repertoire to play or programme and about the joy of recording Bach after months of preparation.
EL SISTEMA - CHALLENGING VENEZUELA'S YOUTH ORCHESTRA SYSTEM
The Venezuelan youth orchestra programme known as “El Sistema” has attracted much attention internationally, especially via its flagship orchestra the Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra, headed by Gustavo Dudamel and partly through its use of music education to rescue vulnerable children. El Sistema has spread to dozens of countries but up until now has been the subject of surprisingly little scrutiny and genuine debate. Geoffrey Baker of Royal Holloway, University of London spent a year in Venezuela in 2010 interviewing musicians and cultural figures and has published a study examining El Sistema’s programme of “social action through music,” reassessing widespread beliefs about it as a force for positive social change. He also challenges assertions that the programme prioritises social over musical goals and promotes civic values such as democracy, meritocracy and teamwork. Tom talks to Geoffrey Baker about his findings and puts these criticisms to El Sistema’s Eduardo Mendez. Executive Director of Funda Musical Simon Bolivar.
THE ULSTER ORCHESRA IN FUNDING CRISIS
In October it was announced that the Ulster Orchestra, Northern Ireland’s only professional orchestra, faced insolvency and closure by the end of this year if it did not fill a budgetary hole expected to be more than £400, 000 in 2015. With cuts of 28 per cent to the funding provided by the Arts Council and the BBC over the past four years, the orchestra has tried to save money by cutting concerts, freezing wages for its players and restructuring operations to make them more efficient. Belfast City Council has pledged to help with a one-off £100,000 payment and the orchestra hopes for a five-year rent-free deal on the use of its home venues – Bridgewater Hall and the Ulster Hall. Tom assesses the Ulster Orchestra’s current position and future with its Chairman, Sir George Bain and Terry Blain of the Belfast Telegraph.
|Interviewed Guest||Geoff Baker|
|Interviewed Guest||Pierre-Laurent Aimard|
|Interviewed Guest||Eduardo Mendez|