Howard Skempton, Martyn Brabbins, Women's Revolutions per Minute
Tom Service meets the composer and accordionist Howard Skempton as he turns 70, and the conductor Martyn Brabbins as he starts his tenure at English National Opera.
Tom Service meets composer and accordionist Howard Skempton as he turns 70. Skempton's music is known for its deceptive simplicity and emphasis on the beauty of sound itself. He was also central to the experimental music scene in the 1970s. He talks to Tom about why simplicity helps find the essence of music, his encounters with his friends and fellow experimentalists Morton Feldman and Cornelius Cardew and why he recommends listening to the accordion from the next room.
Tom talks to the conductor Martyn Brabbins as he starts his first season as English National Opera's Music Director. Alongside opera he has one of the broadest repertoires of any conductor working today - from world premieres by contemporary composers to neglected concertos and the great orchestral masterpieces. He talks about the challenges at the helm of the company, learning to conduct in the Soviet Union and why the older he gets the more emotional he finds conducting.
In 1977, Women's Revolutions Per Minute was set up - a unique collection of recordings of music performed and composed by women that wasn't available anywhere else, from folk and rock to classical composers like Elizabeth Maconchy and Alma Mahler. It began as a mail-order business run from a bedroom but is now held at Goldsmith's University in London. Tom visits the collection and speaks to activist and folk-singer Peggy Seeger, whose music was distributed by the WRPM in its early days.
Plus, in the wake of the elections in Austria, Tom speaks to journalist and music critic Gert Korentschnig about what the expected coalition government might mean for Austrian musical culture.