It’s about listening, that’s all

Roxanna Panufnik, the Bach Choir, and the Royal Albert Hall (along with a host of others – geddit?) feature in a promo on the Guardian website today brought to my attention by Petroc Trelawny referring to it on Radio 4’s Broadcasting House earlier today.

The story is essentially a puff-piece designed to flag the Christmas Classics concert later this week during which a new carol by Panufnik will be premiered.

There is we learn a resurgence in carol-writing and according to Roxanna, carols are a great way to engage a new audience demonstrating that new classical music can be ‘tuneful’.

“She [Roxanna Panufnik] recognises that many people consider new classical music to be esoteric and difficult, and believes carols are an ideal way to engage them.”

Esoteric and difficult? That might be what some people think about ‘new music’ but that view is based on an assumption held by those people shaped in no small part by lazy writers.

New classical music isn’t something which needs to be made more engaging. It, like the works from history, doesn’t insist on prior knowledge, or expertise. All music needs is for people to listen to it and listen to themselves whilst they do so. 

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Review: There will be two wars / Spitalfields Festival

All of the usual conventions and preoccupations with staging live performance had been left outside on Shoreditch High Street. The usual clutter had been cleared away, leaving us able to focus on the art.

That this was by design and not by accident meant I felt I connected with the organisers. Thats a highly-prized audience experience.

This was where live performance was at: innovative; fresh; authentic.

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LSO: Birtwistle Violin Concerto / Knussen Symphony No. 3 / Elgar Enigma / Simon Rattle

The opportunity to witness a developing relationship and discern the resulting change in the auditorium makes Rattle and the LSO not just a brilliant musical pairing, but one underpinned by drama.

A faultless performance would have denied us jeopardy. What we’re left with now is the concert-hall equivalent of a cliffhanger just without the peril, and the promise of an ongoing story. That’s something the classical music world desperately needs right now.  

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