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
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
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
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?
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?
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
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
Well, I’m a couple of days later than promised, which isn’t very good, but I have been beavering away on a second choral composition, and have got it to a state where I can share my thoughts about it. This week’s work has been a setting of the Agnus Dei, the text of which can… Continue reading An Agnus Dei in a Dei or Two