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8 March 2008

Saturday 8 March 2008 12:15-13:00 (Radio 3)

As the Grand Union Orchestra celebrates its 25th birthday, Petroc Trelawny meets the recently formed Grand Union Youth Orchestra as they prepare for a performance in East London.

Plus a review of Alex Ross's new book about 20th-century music The Rest is Noise, and miniature opera, with a look at five 15-minute chamber operas, the fruit of collaborations between Scotland's leading creative figures.


45 minutes

In this programme

Scottish Opera - Five:15
5:Fifteen - Ashley Neilson Kate Valentine Kings Conjecture, courtesy of Richard Campbell
Five fifteen-minute operas in one evening is the latest project at Scottish Opera. Each one has been written by a leading contemporary Scottish composer with librettos by distinguished authors including Ian Rankin, Alexander McCall Smith and Bernard MacClaverty. Subjects range from the historical, with an account of the murderous composer Gesualdo, to the modern, in a piece about an Asian Glaswegian working out who she is as she walks to work in a Govan kebab shop. Petroc Trelawny went to see how this initiative to introduce new audiences to opera had worked out.

You can still see Five:15 at The Hub, Edinburgh: Saturday 8th March at 3 & 7.30pm and Sunday 9th March at 3pm.

The Rest is NoiseAaron Copland 
The music critic for the New Yorker magazine, Alex Ross, has had a smash hit in the U.S. with his new book: The Rest is Noise. Now the book has been published in the U.K., presenting its own vision of twentieth-century music, with some key figures only making a brief appearance while some more obscure composers are discussed at length. Petroc asks Alex about his thinking behind the book and is joined by poet James Fenton and writer and critic Morag Grant to review it.

Alex Ross - The Rest is Noise: Listening to the 20th Century. Pub. Fourth Estate, h/b £20

Grand Union OrchestraThe Grand Union Orchestra
For a quarter of a century, the Grand Union Orchestra has been bringing together musicians from the many different communities and cultures in London. As they celebrate their anniversary, the orchestra has also grown to include a Youth Orchestra - the key to the musical legacy envisioned by its founder, Tony Haynes. Petroc talks to Tony Haynes about this unique ensemble, finds out from members of the main orchestra what it is that makes it special, and goes to hear the Grand Union Youth Orchestra in rehearsal.

Forthcoming dates for the Grand Union Orchestra include The Bromsgrove Festival on 3rd May, Beck Theatre in Hayes on 17th May and the Spitalfields Festival in London on 18th June.

Alex Reedijk
Alex Reedijk, General Director Scottish Opera, courtesy Christopher BowenWhen Alex Reedijk became the new General Director at Scottish Opera two years ago, things had not been going well for the company. The Scottish Executive had tired of years of debt in the organisation and ordered the company to stop performing for a season. Then the chorus was axed and the number of productions each season had to be cut back. Reedijk brought a new enthusiasm and vision to Scottish Opera and hopes for a brighter future. He talks to Petroc about his plans for the Company.

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