Monday, April 24, 2017
The musician and author on growing up a child prodigy, dealing with anorexia, and coping with the loss of a beloved Stradivarius worth £1.2mMin Kym got a cheap violin at six, passed her grade 4 music exam eight weeks later, and at seven became the youngest-ever student at the Purcell school. Twenty-five years later, the professional musician’s precious Stradivarius – worth £1.2m – was stolen as she ate a sandwich at Pret a Manger in London’s Euston station. After a huge criminal investigation, it was found three years later. Her memoir, Gone: A Girl, A Violin, A Life Unstrung is published this week.Your child prodigy narrative is atypical. Your parents weren’t pushy: you played violin simply because you were sitting with your mum waiting for your sister to finish her piano lessons in a local music school, you were bored, and there was a space with the violin teacher at the same time. Does your career feel like blind luck? It was all a set of peculiar coincidences. I mean, my mum found the music school in the Yellow Pages! They were winging it, really. But I found playing the violin really fun straight away – it wasn’t like work. My first teachers would tell me the stories about the pieces I was playing, so it was like getting lost in their worlds. Sometimes I’d make stories up – I’d mix up the story of Icarus with Wieniawski’s Légende and imagine the bird flying close to the sun as I was playing. Continue reading...
We are informed of the death of Nada Puttar-Gold who was a member of Berlin’s City opera in the late 1950s and of the Frankfurt company until 1966. She then returned to her native Croatia, singing at Zagreb Opera until 1979. She commanded more than 60 roles, from Purcell’s Dido to late Richard Strauss.
Love, Hate and Design Research Sigh. We live in interesting times. Increasingly folks are driven further apart, retreating into factions that love one thing/person or hate another. Naturally, we are right and they are wrong. ... read more AJBlog: Field Notes Published 2017-03-19 Operas That Dance The Brooklyn Academy of Music presents Mark Morris: Two Operas (Benjamin Britten's Curlew River and Henry Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas), March 15 through 19. ... read more AJBlog: Dancebeat Published 2017-03-20 Film Composition We had composer Chris Heckman in on Friday to talk with our composers about careers in Film Composition. ... He was direct and informative with the students: no sugar-coating, no blasting the bad guys, just shared a clear sense of how the profession works. A few themes emerged. ... read more AJBlog: Infinite Curves Published 2017-03-20 The awkward master Marsden Hartley was a major American painter, to my mind a great one. Robert Hughes called him “the most brilliantly gifted of the early generation of American modernists,” ... Yet his work has never come close to receiving its due, ... read more AJBlog: About Last Night Published 2017-03-20
Duncan McTier, 62, pleaded guilty in 2014 to indecent assault on young women from the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester and Purcell school in Hertfordshire. He was given a three-month suspended sentence and 240 hours of community work. Now the high court in London has ordered the education secretary to review a ‘draconian ‘ ban on McTier resuming his teaching career.
The Empire Theatre in Hong Kong, where Benjamin Britten and Peter Pears did a gig on 3rd February 1956. The programme included songs by Dowland, Purcell, Schubert, and Britten's Seven Sonnets of Michelangelo, plus Britten's folk song arrangements. On the 6th, the Governor of Hong Kong, Sir Alexander Grantham, invited Britten and his party to,lunch at Government House. In the afternoon, Britten and Pears visited the studios of Radio Hong Kong, where they were inteviewed and gave a short recital,which was recorded, and is available below. On the 7th February, they gave another recital featuring Schumann Dichterliebe "in the private house of a curious man" as Britten wrote the following day to a friend. Britten's friend and travel companion, Prince Ludwig of Hesse, wrote about the concert "at the unpleasant finance manager's home. The clever and really very nice governor and his petite wife were also there. One cannot get rid of the feeling that the sinister nabob had harnessed famous English artists and foreign royalty in order to lure the important governor into his den" Somewhat bitchy, perhaps ? Grantham was not a particularly pleasant man, but the visitors weren't in a position to judge the local situation. There's no indication who the"finance manager" was, whether he was a government official, a businessman ir even British. That might be relevant. Since Britten and his party spent much of their time in Hong Kong in the company of the governor, it's possible that they would have been influenced by his views. Colonial society was a cliquey place. The Empire Theatre, built in 1952, was built to state of the art standards, with huge steel buttresses, (see pic above) and decorated in Shanghai art deco style. The owner was Harry OIdell, the local impressario, who had himself come from Shanghai. In 1957, the Empire was closed and re-opened as the State Theatre which became a Hong Kong landmark. Recently, it was shortlisted fo a heritage site for preservation.
Deshayes/Academia Montis Regalis/De Marchi (Sony)Sonya Yoncheva’s increasingly starry trajectory has her heading towards more fulsome-voiced heroines but Handel is not unknown territory for the Bulgarian soprano, who started off in the baroque hothouse Les Arts Florissants. Her expansive, red-blooded approach to these arias and duets – 10 by Handel, one by Purcell – won’t suit all tastes, but her singing is genuinely distinctive, thoughtful and never less than convincing. The selection leans towards weighty laments – Agrippina’s Pensieri is a highlight – but in lighter numbers, including Alcina’s Tornami a vagheggiar, she sounds as fresh and agile as one could want. The Academia Montis Regalis offer vigour if not always the last word in poise or refinement; Lascia ch’io pianga could be the soundtrack to a state procession. Karine Deshayes’s fruity mezzo-soprano is well matched with Yoncheva in duets from Rodelinda and Theodora. The latter, like Dido’s Lament, is in English – but best to listen without thinking too hard about that. Continue reading...
Great composers of classical music