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44 minutes | Oct 1, 2022
Kate Molleson talks to the German violinist Christian Tetzlaff as he prepares for a recital in London. They discuss the intensity of performing live, the joy of playing chamber music, and playing one last time with his musical partner - and soul mate - Lars Vogt, who passed away recently. Also, in light of rising living costs and of the latest Government measures, Kate is joined by critic and broadcaster Ivan Hewett, and Jamie Njoku-Goodwin, Chief Executive of UK Music, to assess how the music industry is being affected. There's also news of a recently launched orchestra in Colombia, consisting entirely of female players, the Women's Philharmonic Orchestra. Writer Mark Katz tells Kate about his new book 'Music and technology: a short introduction', in which he suggests music and technology have co-existed for much longer than we might think, to explain why technology can be used for good or evil, and how technology have empowered marginalised communities in societies across the world.
44 minutes | Sep 17, 2022
John Adams's new opera 'Antony and Cleopatra'
In an extended conversation with Tom Service, the American composer John Adams, who's turned 75 this year, discusses his life in music, the importance of his legacy, and focuses on his new opera 'Antony and Cleopatra'. It was premiered this week, with a libretto adapted by the composer from Shakespeare, Virgil, and the Egyptian book of the dead and it's Adams' very first stage work inspired by characters from Ancient history. Sir Nicholas Kenyon, who was at the premiere of Adams' new piece in San Francisco, reviews the opera for us. And J.S. Bach’s mysteriously unfinished ‘Little Organ Book’ is finally completed with the composition of 118 new pieces by contemporary composers - we visit a church in Chelsea to hear from one of the contributors, Roxanna Panufnik, as well as from organist William Whitehead, who conceived the project and who leads its premiere in London later this month.
44 minutes | Jul 9, 2022
The musical life of Blackpool
Presenter Tom Service visits Blackpool to explore the iconic seaside town’s rich musical history and learn more about the energy of a musical ecosystem famed for its ballrooms, dance bands, and Wurlitzer organs; to hear from the those responsible for creating new musical opportunities for the area’s residents and visitors; and to speak those nurturing the next generation of musicians from across the town. Tom starts at the world-famous Tower Ballroom, where he hears organist Phil Kelsall after his turn at the Wurlitzer Organ. He also tours the wider Blackpool area with Andrew White, Head of Blackpool Music Hub, who tells Tom about his organisation’s work to break down the barriers that often exist in providing all children with access to musical instruments as well as giving them memorable opportunities to perform in Blackpool’s many entertainment venues. Music Director Helen Harrison also joins Tom to discuss the role of Blackpool Symphony Orchestra and its place at the heart of the town’s musical community. Tom speaks to luminaries of Blackpool’s long tradition in band music, including David Windle, who directed the Tower Circus Band, as well as Bandleader Albie Hilton, and discusses the legacy of music making within the town’s dance circuit. And, local resident Elaine Smith reminisces about tripping the light fantastic in Blackpool’s many dance halls. We’ve contributions, too, from Blackpool brethren including singer Alfie Boe and the singer-songwriter Rae Morris, eavesdrop on the George Formby Society convention, and talk to the visiting guitarist Alexander Hacke reflects on how the town inspired his experimental band Einsturzende Neubauten while recently recording their new album on location.
44 minutes | Jul 2, 2022
Music in a changing world
Tom Service is joined in the studio by Jamie Njoku-Goodwin, chief executive of UK Music; Kate Whitley, composer and founder of the Multi-Story Orchestra in south east London; and Olivia Giovetti, music journalist and editor of VAN Magazine, who joins the panel from Berlin. They deliberate on the pressing issues concerning the music industry this year. They hear from Ukrainian musicians, Herman Makarenko and Valeriy Sokolov about how the war in Ukraine is affecting their lives and their music. The panel also responds to Arts Minister Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay as he presents the new National Plan for Music Education, which applies to England only, and sets out the government's vision for music education running to 2030. Eight months after COP26, the UN Climate Change Conference, Tom talks to Luke Jenkinson, Managing Director of the climate conscious Global Music Vault in Norway about his commitment to safeguarding and preserving music on glass. And finally, the irrepressible violinist, Patricia Kopatchinskaja shares her thoughts on how to creatively safeguard classical music audiences as the industry continues to recover post-pandemic.
44 minutes | May 28, 2022
Freddie De Tommaso, Andre J Thomas
Tom Service meets the British Italian tenor Freddie De Tommaso ahead of his starring role in Madame Butterfly at the Royal Opera House. Conductor André J Thomas, who has just been announced as LSO Associate Artist, tells Tom about his life in choral music and his project to unite the voices of gospel and community choirs from across London. There's also a report on the innovative music programme to help rehabilitate inmates at Karachi Central Jail in Pakistan, and news of a project taking music into schools in Bristol.
44 minutes | Mar 19, 2022
Ludovico Einaudi, Peter Grimes, Anna Clyne
Ahead of a new production of Britten's Peter Grimes at the Royal Opera House, Sara Mohr-Pietsch hears from members of the creative team bringing this compelling tale of an outsider to life, in a post-pandemic, 21st-century context. The composer Anna Clyne also talks to Sara about her latest work, including a Handel-inspired piece to be premiered later this month by the Academy of Ancient Music and the National Youth Choir of Great Britain. As the situation in Ukraine continues, Sara looks talks to Peter Gelb, general manager of the Metropolitan Opera in New York, about the company's parting of ways with Russian soprano Anna Netrebko, and to conductor Thomas Sanderling about the decision to leave his post at the Novosibirsk Philharmonic Orchestra, asking the question of how one effectively balances art and politics. And the phenomenally successful Italian composer Ludovico Einaudi joins Sara from his home studio in the Italian Alps, where the pandemic allowed a break in his usual hectic schedule to reappraise his creative process. Producer: Sam Hickling Image: Ludovico Einaudi (c) Duet Postscriptum
44 minutes | Sep 11, 2021
Music Under Restriction
As Music Matters returns to the airwaves for the Autumn, and classical music emerges from Covid along with the rest of the world, Tom Service assesses the current state of play with musicians and industry leaders, and asks them how much has really changed in the last eighteen months and what the future holds. Gillian Moore, Director of Music at the Southbank Centre in London, and Roger Wright, Chief Executive of the newly-merged Britten Pears Arts in Suffolk, explain how they navigated the issues raised for their organisations by Covid restrictions, and what they take from these experiences moving forward. Freelance trumpeter Chris Cotter spoke to Music Matters last year about finding a new living from painting and decorating when his concerts dried up in lockdowns, and he updates Tom now on his return to live music. Soprano Juliet Fraser talks, too, about her adventures with the TC Helicon during lockdown and her experiences of returning to the stage. Tom Service also speaks to Igor Toronyi-Lalic, arts editor of the Spectator and director of the London Contemporary Music Festival, who points out what went wrong for classical music in its digital online ventures. To discuss the many issues raised by these experiences of the classical music world during the Covid era, Tom Service is joined by Jamie Njoku-Goodwin, Chief Executive of UK Music, Stephen Maddock, Chief Executive of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, and Sarah Willis, horn player with the Berlin Philharmonic. When the Taliban held power in Afghanistan in the late 1990s, they banned music and persecuted musicians. Two decades later as they regain control of the country, we speak the Director of Afghanistan's National Institute of Music, Dr. Ahmad Sarmast, about his fears of a clampdown on music by the new regime. We talk to the BBC reporter Yalda Hakim about the evolving situation inside the country and hear from Afghanistan’s most famous pop-star, Aryana Sayeed, about why musicians’ lives may be endangered as they become political targets. We speak, too, to Massood Sanjer, who’s in charge of Afghanistan’s Tolo TV network, and hear how the Taliban’s disapproval of music affects their output.
44 minutes | May 15, 2021
Dennis Brain, Anthony Payne, and music’s healing nature.
Tom Service takes a look at the influence of horn player Dennis Brain in his centenary year - We hear from two of today's leading horn players Ben Goldscheider, who is releasing an album centred around Brain's legacy, and Sarah Willis who talks us through some iconic Dennis Brain recordings. Plus we speak to retired horn player Andrew McGavin, who played second horn to Dennis in the Philharmonia in the 1950s, for some first hand memories of the legend that was Dennis Brain. As live music venues start to open their doors to audiences with the easing of COVID restrictions we take a look at the issues surrounding physical access for disabled and neurodiverse audiences. We speak to Susanne Bull, founder of 'Attitude is Everything', Andrew Miller co-founder of the UK Disability Arts Alliance, #WeShallNotBeRemoved and audience ambassador Vivien Wilkinson about the issues and also the potential for a hybrid form of concert going that includes live streaming. As part of Mental Health Awareness Week writers Horatio Clare and Stephen Johnson reflect on how music, literature, art and nature have helped them through some of the darkest times imaginable, and Alex Smalley updates us on the results of The University of Exeter's Virtual Nature Experiment. Composer Gerard McBurney and Ann McKay from the BBC Symphony orchestra pay tribute to composer Anthony Payne. Producer: Martin Webb
44 minutes | Jun 21, 2020
Will classical music survive Covid?
Major players in the classical music world congregate online and take part in a debate hosted by Tom Service. With practitioners from around the globe, this landmark programme examines how the classical music industry can rebuild and sustain itself following the Covid-19 lockdown. With contributions from violinist Nicola Benedetti, founder of the Chineke! Foundation Chi-chi Nwanoku, the managing director of the Metropolitan Opera in New York Peter Gelb, the director of music at the Southbank Centre Gillian Moore, chief executive of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra Stephen Maddock, general manager of the Berlin Philharmonic Andrea Zietzschmann, music programme manager at Nottingham's Royal Concert Hall Neil Bennison, director of music at Arts Council England Claire Mera-Nelson, composer and clarinettist Mark Simpson, director of the London Contemporary Music Festival Igor Toronyi-Lalic and chief music critic of The Times, Richard Morrison.
44 minutes | May 18, 2019
Stephen Kovacevich, Thomas Ades and Howard Skempton
Tom meets American pianist Stephen Kovacevich, who candidly discusses stage fright as well as the dark side of Chopin; he appraises the music of composer Howard Skempton with Esther Cavett, co-author and editor of a new book about him; and talks to conductor and composer Thomas Ades (pictured) about his new piano concerto, and his first foray into film music (the score for Colette, starring Keira Knightley). Plus,Tom visits London's only remaining Elizabethan church to catch a rehearsal of the Grandmothers Project, a community choral work by Esmeralda Conde Ruiz. Photo credit: Brian Voce
43 minutes | Feb 23, 2019
Hel's Deep and Mountains High
We hear about The Monstrous Child and Hel, the heroine of Gavin Higgins and Francesca Simon’s new opera. Pianists Peter Donohoe and Noriko Ogawa discuss and play mountains of the piano duo repertoire: Stravinsky, Rachmaninov & Debussy. Tom speaks to musicians who spend their evenings performing in concert halls, and their days walking in the mountains (conductor Garry Walker) stretching in hot yoga studios (violinist Elena Urioste), or running ultra-marathons (Leon Bosch) to discover the connection between music and sporting disciplines. Tom visits English composer Anthony Payne at home in London hearing about the catalyst that sparked his life in music, Elgar, and why we need more new music in our lives.
42 minutes | Nov 24, 2018
Punching Above Your Weight: Bassoons and Boxing, Dundee and Helsinki
Professional bassoonist and professional boxer Hannah Rankin explains the connections between the two disciplines. Tom Service is in Dundee, exploring the town's musical heritage which ranges from the Scottish Ensemble and Simple Minds to the latest innovations in virtual reality and gaming. Kate Molleson reports from this month's Nordic Music Days festival in Helsinki, which has included the work of Scottish composers for the first time. Pictured is the new V&A Dundee (image © Hufton+Crow).
44 minutes | Oct 27, 2018
Whisky, Beethoven and Crocodiles
Tom Service discusses Beethoven at the keyboard with pianist Angela Hewitt, who is currently touring Beethoven's Emperor Concerto. He also considers animal and human brain responses to music with Henkjan Honing (editor of a new book The Origins of Musicality) and with Felix Stroeckens (who has been putting crocodiles in an MRI scanner and playing Bach to them). He also investigates a new opera being toured round Scotland's whisky distilleries by NOISE, and meets Ewan Campbell to discuss musical maps in the context of radical scores from the Middle Ages to the present day.
43 minutes | Oct 6, 2018
Passion, Masks and Parry
Tom Service meets conductor Jonathan Nott to discuss his passion for music which began as a choral scholar in Worcester, the unanswerable questions that the masterpieces of Mahler and other composers pose as we move through life, and the new concert hall complex being built in Geneva for his Orchestre de la Suisse Romande. Hubert Parry: a major figure in British musical history: Tom travels to Oxford and London to discover two formative musical experiences which changed Parry's life. With Kate Kennedy he discovers what impact studying at Exeter College, Oxford made on his future career as a composer and educationalist, and at 12 Orme Square London, David Owen Norris explains how Wagner was an important stepping-stone in his musical development. Judith Chernaik's new book 'Schumann the Faces and the Masks' reveals new material on Robert and Clara's relationship. Who depended on who? And what couldn't Robert tell the love of his life? The Orpheus and Eurydice myth is re-told in Passion, the first UK production of French composer Pascal Dusapin's dance-opera, currently touring the UK. Members of the production team, Caroline Finn, Michael McCarthy and Pascal discuss the genesis of this work on loss on love.
43 minutes | Jun 2, 2018
Tom Service talks to Christopher Purves, one of the most theatrically and musically vivid bass-baritones on opera stages around the world. Christopher shares his love of Handel, his need to communicate to audiences, discusses how to connect with the darker characters of the repertoire, including The Protector, a role he created for George Benjamin's acclaimed opera, Written on Skin, and talks of his current project, Golaud in Debussy's Pelleas et Melisande. Michael Volpe from Opera Holland Park and Polly Graham, Artistic Director of Longborough Festival Opera join Tom in the studio, to discover if Summer Festival opera companies can advance the art-form, as well as serve the audiences who come for the experience, and Antony Feeny, economist and researcher discusses the business model of these festivals. Music and Maths - Tom explores the spaghetti-like interconnectedness of these two ancient disciplines with Eli Maor, whose new book 'Music By The Numbers' shows how musical ideas have inspired mathematicians over the ages, and Eugenia Cheng, mathematician and musician, who sees a musical-like creativity in maths, and a logic in all classical composition. The Yorkshire Young Sinfonia became the first youth orchestra to play concerts reading their scores from tablets. Some professional orchestras use this technology too. Tom finds out what are the benefits and limitations surrounding digital technology on the concert platform.
44 minutes | Feb 3, 2018
Is Iceland the world's most musical country?
In this week's Music Matters Tom Service visits Reykjavik to ask whether Iceland is the most musical country in the world? With a population of just 350,000 Iceland still boasts multi-million-selling pop acts like Sigur Ros and Bjork, a world class orchestra, Oscar-winning composers, countless music festivals as well as a vibrant and world renowned contemporary music scene. And all these different genres seem to intertwine with each other effortlessly - so Tom is in Reykjavik to discover what the country's musical secret is. He drops into the Dark Music Days festival, an annual festival of new music which takes place in the darkest period of winter, to ask composers and musicians why their new music scene is the envy of the world. One of their most successful artists is the award winning multi-instrumentalist, composer and producer Olafur Arnalds. Olafur blends classical, pop and electonica and the result is sell-out tours - Tom meets him at his Reykjavik studio to find out how he defines his music and why he sees the heart of Iceland's music not in its nature, but in its people. Aside from the country's professional scene, amateur music making is also thriving - particularly in choirs. Tom meets the Karlakórinn Esja a young, local male-voice choir who meet every Wednesday night to sing together - they tell Tom why being in a choir is something Icelanders need to do. And he learns about the folk history behind Icelanders' love of singing from the ancient Rimur. And composers and experts talk about the importance of landscape in Icelandic music - from the early 20th-century composer Jon Leifs to Anna Thorvaldsdottir, one of the country's acclaimed young composers. Is Icelandic music really all about nature or is it all just a marketing scam?
44 minutes | Jun 17, 2017
Grace Bumbry, Audra McDonald, Bill Fontana
Sara Mohr-Pietsch meets two American singers - the opera icon Grace Bumbry and the broadway star Audra McDonald. Plus a conversation with the sound artist Bill Fontana in Snape, Suffolk, where he's created an installation modifying sounds from the reedbeds, marshes and the Maltings' industrial past, for this year's Aldeburgh Festival. Grace Bumbry's career was launched when she won a competition at the tender age of 17. She was sought after across Europe and the USA as a mezzo soprano and later a soprano. Now aged 80, still actively coaching young singers, she's one of the jurors for the BBC Cardiff Singer of the World 2017. She talks about her life on stage and in the concert hall, and passes on the wisdom of her career.
44 minutes | May 13, 2017
Monteverdi 450: Monteverdi the Radical
Monteverdi the radical: Sara Mohr-Pietsch marks the 450th anniversary of the birth of composer Claudio Monteverdi with an investigation into his life and music, exploring what made him a modernist and a radical in his day. Sara visits the three important cities in which he lived: Venice, Mantua and Cremona, to discover what shaped him as man and musician. She interviews performers Sir John Eliot Gardiner and Ottavio Dantone about their personal perspectives on Monteverdi, and academic Ellen Rosand discusses the latest research into his music. Venice: Justine Rapaccioli, Assistant Choral Director at San Marco talks about Monteverdi's prestigious role there, and Ellen Rosand discusses Monteverdi's style in his last operas and how that relates to his earlier music. Mantua: Sara visits the church of Santa Barbara at the Palazzo Ducale, where Monteverdi was employed by Vincenzo Gonzaga, and sees a fascinating document relating to the first performance of L'Orfeo. Cremona: Sara heads for the city of Monteverdi's birth to find the connection in his music with his early life. She visits the Museo del violino, and takes a look at Monteverdi's birth record. Plus John Eliot Gardiner reflects on how Monteverdi's music has been a cornerstone of his career, and gives his thoughts on the freshness and originality of his operas today.
44 minutes | Apr 29, 2017
Nikolaj Znaider, Philip Glass - Music in Twelve Parts, Daryl Runswick
Tom Service meets the acclaimed violinist and conductor Nikolaj Znaider ahead of concerts involving both his violin and his baton with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra and his Mozart project with the London Symphony Orchestra. Nikolaj talks to Tom about how to engage young audiences, how Colin Davis taught him everything he knew and, of course, why music matters. Up till now Philip Glass's masterpiece Music in 12 Parts has only been performed by the composer's own Philip Glass Ensemble - but Glass has now given his blessing for a new generation of players to take on the three-and-a-half-hour epic. Tom talks to organist James McVinnie and a specially formed ensemble including pianists Timo Andres, David Kaplan and Eliza McCarthy, gamba player Liam Byrne and soprano Josephine Stephenson about the piece. Plus he talks to original Glass Ensemble members Joan La Barbara and Michael Riesman about the original experience in the 1970s. Plus Tom celebrates the 70th birthday of the English composer, arranger and producer Daryl Runswick. A remarkably prolific composer who worked with Berio and Stockhausen, was a successful jazz bassist with the Dankworths, has written over 100 arrangements for the King's Singers, been sampled by pop bands and was head of composition at Trinity College of Music. Tom talks to Daryl about being a musical chameleon.
44 minutes | Feb 11, 2017
Mirga Grazinyte-Tyla at CBSO
Tom Service asks conductor Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla about her plans for the City of Birmingham Orchestra, looks at the slave trade with composer Thierry Pécou, and explores the rarely-performed opera-oratorio, Le vin herbé. Tom visits Symphony Hall to talk to the exciting young conductor Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla about her ambitions for the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and music education in Birmingham. He also discusses the challenges faced by the CBSO with Chief Executive Stephen Maddock following recent funding cuts from Birmingham City Council, plus an update from Julian Lloyd-Webber, Principal of the Birmingham Conservatoire, on the progress of their cutting-edge new building which is due to open its doors to students in September this year. Tom also talks to the French composer, Thierry Pécou, about Outre-mémoire, written for his friend, the pianist Alexandre Tharaud, which delves into the heavy history of the Carribbean island of Martinique and its slave trade, from where Pécou's own family is descended. Plus, as Welsh National Opera prepare to stage a performance of the rarely-performed opera-oratorio, Le vin herbé, Tom finds out why this work was pivotal in the compositional career of its creator, the Swiss composer Frank Martin, and puts forward a case for why we should hear more from this unique voice of 20th Century music. He talks to Nigel Simeone, who is an expert champion of Frank Martin's music, plus the director and conductor of Welsh National Opera's production of Le vin herbé, Polly Graham and James Southall.
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