Rough Book #3: Vanessa Mae, Big Boms, President Obama & The Violin Doctor

My now regular commitment to rounding-up the arts stuff I’ve been interested in across the web – my Thoroughly Good Rough Book – is slowly growing in length with each successive post. What follows features more of a video bias, a reflection I suspect of where my short attention span has been falling over the past seven days.

First off, Vanessa Mae. The former Royal College of Music violin student later Sony crossover artist (seen here skimply dressed playing a nauseating arrangement of Bach’s Toccata and Fugue and encouraging us to admire her brilliant white teeth), has mustered her considerable PR forces to announce something of a career gear shift. She’s a skiier with Olympic dreams as well as a professional violinst.  I bet she was head-girl too.

Vanessa Mae
Vanessa Mae. Dancer. Violinst. Skiier.

Over on The Voice of Russia, journalist Alice Lagnado speaks to Gleb Dozdov, the Marinsky Theatre’s dedicated ‘Violin Doctor‘ who works day and night repairing various house band instruments. 

The Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment’s ever resourceful multimedia producer Zen Grisedale has put together this tantalising number promoting the band’s forthcoming collaboration with choreographer Henrik Oguike in a special performance of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons on 8th February.

V4: The Seasons: OAE & Vivaldi & Henri Oguike from OAE on Vimeo.


From the well-produced to the simply shot, percussion hire company Bell Percussion based in Acton have (I don’t know if they realise it) stumbled on a pretty nifty way of providing an enhanced catalogue of their wares. I include their most recent upload here: a short demo of a ‘Big Bom‘. I just like the name “Big Bom” and the sound the instrument creates sounds cute too. Quite why manufacturer Schlagwerk uses a small child in its demo version I’m not clear.  If like me, Bell’s video has piqued your interest, take a look at percussion Brian Melick playing his Big Bom. I particularly like his shirt.

A few things in the news caught my eye too.

First, Charlotte Higgin’s slightly more measured piece on English National Opera’s accounts from last year. It reminds me I’d rather be on the wrong side of her than Rupert Christiansen at The Telegraph.

Next, there’s the truly shockingly bad story of the acid attack on Bolshoi Ballet artistic director Sergei Filin. When did the arts world turn into such a risky place to be?

The Guardian also has a great introduction to The Rest Is Noise festival which kicked off at the South Bank last week. There’ll be a post on this fine blog in the coming days.

Over on The Independent, Opera Holland Park General Manager and regular Huff Po blogger Michael Volpe starts a series of features throwing light on how an opera is produced. His most recent blog is also worth a read.

Composer John Adams appeared on BBC Radio 4’s Start The Week yesterday. Thanks to Larry Ogden at The Audio Works for flagging that up. His tweet confirms what all should know about Adams already.

Finally, in light of the Presidential Inauguration yesterday,  NPR’s post about the musical setting of Obama’s inauguration speech from 2009 seems timely. It’s surprisingly not sentimental, like this manuscript of this special setting of the Star Spangled banner for any sporting event.



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