I have written before about how most musicians have supported their composing or performing with other work, and recently I’ve been thinking about the importance of teaching in the lives of musicians. Not for myself – I’ve known since before I went to uni that I absolutely never want to teach (and have steered my… Continue reading Musical ancestry
Let me stay in my lane
There is an increasing expectation in the arts for people to be excessively multi-skilled. This pressure has only increased in the current arts shutdown situation, but it’s been going on for the last few decades and it’s a source of frustration for many artists. There was a time (although who knows when that actually was)… Continue reading Let me stay in my lane
The working lives of instruments
Seeing an instrument behind glass is, for me, a distressing experience. These objects are designed to be played, they’re alive: whether they are interesting is beside the point. There has been a lot of coverage in recent years of the ever-inflating market for high-end instruments. Italian violins fetching millions of pounds, historical pianos covered in… Continue reading The working lives of instruments
Maybe the audience is the problem?
Audiences for classical concerts and opera could learn a lot from those for theatre and dance. Classical audiences are a conservative bunch. The aversion to ‘new’ music has resulted in ensembles doing all sorts of workarounds to try and trick the audience into putting up with a new work. One of the more entertaining, and… Continue reading Maybe the audience is the problem?
The secret to a smooth performance
It may be just my own approach (although I am somewhat experienced in these matters) but for me there is only one technique in making any performance smooth and polished. I’m not talking about the musicians: there are countless people extolling the value of practise, talent, luck, alcohol etc. I’m talking about the performance as… Continue reading The secret to a smooth performance
Whatever happened to music appreciation?
When I was at school, our textbooks mentioned a mysterious thing called ‘music appreciation’. This appeared to be a worthy pursuit whereby a neighbourhood watch group would get together and a local musicologist would lead them in weighty musical discussion about Wagner or Schubert. Like a book club but for classical music. It was smug… Continue reading Whatever happened to music appreciation?
London orchestras are homeless
It may come as a surprise to many, but many of the orchestras in the UK, and particularly London, are functionally homeless. Sure, the administrative staff are based in a permanent office, but the orchestra itself lives an itinerant lifestyle that belies the slick and polished performances. Visitors from other countries, such as the US,… Continue reading London orchestras are homeless
In defence of the day job
There are almost no composers, at any level of success, who just do composition full time. I’m talking about the world of ‘classical’ concert music rather than media work, but even in those fields composers might have other gigs as performers, teachers, etc. The most frustrating thing, from the point of view of someone trying… Continue reading In defence of the day job
Classical Music’s Naughty Secret
Let me let you in on a dirty little secret of the classical music industry: Encores are not a surprise. I saw a question posted on a classical music subreddit recently where the poster was asking about why, when the audience was asking for an encore at the end of a concert, the orchestra and… Continue reading Classical Music’s Naughty Secret
Looking scruffy in a video
And used the word ‘chunk’ as a real-life composer. Not a great quality video, and I’m certainly a scruff, but nice to keep these things somewhere. The piece we are talking about can be found elsewhere on this site.