Christmas is underway. The decorations are up at Thoroughly Good HQ. I can smell the approaching holidays. I can’t wait for things to get underway. I know things are tougher this year. Bills will be higher. Things will need to be tightened. Still, for those who pay heed to Christmas, the thought of escape, rest, and reflection gets me all giddy.
The Philharmonia’s 2022 Christmas video is ramping up the emotion too.
A deft piece of marketing featuring musicians from the database coming together to perform an arrangement of Shchedryk, a Ukrainian song celebrating New Year later reworked by composer Peter J. Wilhousky in the 1920s, more commonly known as Carol of the Bells.
The carol is often contextualised as ‘the music from Home Alone’. Given events this year that connection seems facile.
In highlighting the roots of the carol and one of its players connections with it, the Philharmonia have shown solidarity with an ongoing cause. It’s a touching performance, saving the most vulnerable moment right until the end.
An artistic brands relevance isn’t only measured by the number of tickets sold for live concerts. It’s also about how it can illustrate its understanding of the world around it in the content it makes.
There’s a new phrase to look out for in press releases: live audience. Guaranteed to bring a smile to my face. Worthy of bringing to the attention of readers. Necessary to celebrate. Important to underline.
Now is the time to bring attention to those intrepid arts administrators who are scheduling their first events for people in real life.
I’m not entirely sure whether I can keep a regular set of updates on here, but I am going to try my very best. Here’s the first selection of ‘trailblazers’ bringing live music back to the real world.
Hertfordshire Festival of Music 2021 (4-10 June 2021)
Conductor (and Thoroughly Good Podcastee) Tom Hammond and composer James Francis Brown are staging last year’s COVID-post-poned Hertfordshire Festival of Music, with the help of the music of Judith Weir, violinist Chloë Hanslip, pianists Florean Mitrea and Danny Driver, the Albion Quartet (their Dvorak string quartets 5 & 12 released on Signum from 2019 is worthy of your attention if you haven’t already experienced it), and the ridiculously energetic cellist and actor Matthew Sharp.
It seems like a ridiculously way off (and in a far-away land in Kings Place, London), but the further away that live music experiences are billed, the more reliable the guarantee will be closer to, what feels like now, a nostalgic sense of normality. The brilliant Gabriela Montero, another Thoroughly Good Podcastee, brings The Immigrant, a recital culminating in a live improvisation to Charlie Chaplin’s short film to LPF this year.
There’s a premiere of premiere of Sally Beamish’s new two-piano work, Sonnets. In the same concert a group of five pianists – Katya Apekisheva, Finghin Collins, Gabriela Montero, Charles Owen and Kathryn Stott – perform works by Mozart, Schubert, Ravel, Rachmaninov and Poulenc on two interlocking Steinways.
The Festival culminates on Sunday morning when Charles Owen is joined by mathematician Marcus du Sautoy to explore the symmetry between maths and the music of J.S. Bach, including a performance of Goldberg Variations. Live performance AND immersion in nerdy detail. I’m in the queue before YOU.
This completely passed me by. I didn’t see it in my social media feeds. And I am ENORMOUSLY relieved to discover that in whatever form the BBC Proms is going to go ahead this year. And I am prepared to wait my turn to attend.
London Philharmonic Orchestra and Philharmonia Concerts at Southbank Centre from 28 May
News from the Southbank Centre is that two of their resident orchestras the London Philharmonic and Philharmonia will announce their live audience events on 14th April.
Manchester Collective at King’s Place
Manchester Collective (18 June 2021)
Manchester Collective show interrogates the darker side of the American dream, evoking the intrigue and momentum of New York City’s sleepless nights and crowded streets. Steve Reich’s signature throbbing masterpieces bookend the programme and set the tempo throughout. Fast. Slow. Fast. The Double Sextet features an explosion of fractured rhythms and the composer’s characteristic shifts of mood. Elsewhere in the programme, the Collective perform the world premiere of a new work by the “inventive, challenging, and glorious” Hannah Peel. Finally, David Lang’s underhand masterpiece ‘Cheating, Lying, Stealing’.
The Philharnonia premiered a concert this evening via their YouTube and Facebook channels, with a simulstream via that other radio station dedicated to classical music, Classic FM.
Some thoughts bubbled up to the surface whilst I was chopping veg for the casserole tonight.
First, the slew of YouTube premieres from various bands are a lovely thing. But, tonight’s I find myself listening to the Philharmonia’s like it’s a radio broadcast. Then when there’s conversation in between performance, I focus in on what’s being said.
Second, the conversation challenges assumptions. Anne Marie Minhall is a brilliant broadcaster. Solid. Authentic. Trusted. The conversation she facilitates with Jaarvi and Benedetti is enlightening. Touching. Fitting perhaps. There is a sense of occasion about it even though I’m listening on my smart speaker not watching.
Third, I end up thinking that Classic are basically nipping at the heels of Radio 3. At least online they are. And that’s quite some achievement.
Lovely setting. Beautiful photography. And even though I’m getting a little sick of Lark Ascending there is a valid argument for the value of the work’s repetition right now.
Nice work everybody. You’re still my favourite band Philharmonia.