Friday, 23 October 2009

London Music Masters/Jennifer Pike

I've been doing a tiny bit of filming for London Music Masters, a charity that helps kick start the careers of young professional violinists. One beneficiary has been Jennifer Pike who yesterday presented an afternoon concert at the Wigmore Hall. Charming, especially the Brahms sonata that was full of amazingly lush, almost jazzy chords that really took me by surprise.
But by far and away the best part of LMM's remit is its work in schools via the Bridge Project. With their financial support violin tuition is taught to primary children who wouldn't normally have the means to learn an instrument. I've seen similar programmes at other schools and the results have always been very impressive. As well as acquiring musical skills, confidence, concentration and communication levels also improve. What other subject does this?

Thursday, 22 October 2009

ETO/MusBook TV

Please take a look at the new MusBook tv page.

It's still work in progress but we're kinda getting there. Up this week is a promo I recently shot for English Touring Opera. It's just started its Handelfest tour around the UK, an ambitious project that celebrates Handel's operatic legacy as part of the 250th anniversary of his death. Lead by director and self confessed Handel nut, James Conway, the ETO have bravely incorporated a number of lesser known works into the mix - Teseo and Tolomeo to name two. Definitely worth a look especially if you're a bit Messiah-ed out and keen to discover another side of Handel.

Thursday, 8 October 2009

Alex: A Passion For Life/Channel 4

A rare Channel 4 foray into the world of classical music this time pegged to the moving story of Alex Stobbs. Now a choral scholar at Cambridge University this documentary witnessed Stobbs on-going battle with his debilitating cystic fibrosis while attempting to pull off a performance of Bach's mammoth St Matthew Passion. His enthusiasm for conducting has probably done more for his day to day survival than any thing else. It was especially painful then to see his confidence knocked at the start of a rehearsal after the leader asked him to give a clearer beat. Thankfully he quickly recovered.

Anyway, a nice film about the power of music and one man's exceptional determination to do the thing he loves despite the odds. One slightly jarring thing was to hear the beautiful Bach interspersed with rather banal library music throughout. A strange juxtaposition which kind of watered-down the special quality of Bach's music. Much better to have ditched the wall-paper and let the Bach really sock home as and when it occured.

Wednesday, 7 October 2009


I see conductors have been getting a bit of a kicking in the Guardian today. They're an easy target, I suppose the musical equivalent of a cabinet minister. And it's true, quite a lot of them are paid a ludicrous amount of money. But I'm not sure they're as reviled by orchestral musicians as the article suggests. A friend of mine plays in the RPO and despite their gruelling schedule he loves the job primarily because he gets the chance to work with conductors like Charles Dutoit and Daniele Gatti. If a long-serving rank and file musician can still be inspired by the man (or woman) on the podium then clearly there is still a role for good, well paid, conductors.