SOUNDBITES FOR THE RECORD
G A L L E R Y V I E W
ric hitacre’s irtual Choir
The YouTube Symphony Orchestra last year did much to demonstrate ways in which the internet can be used to bring people of disparate cultures together through music. Now, though, composer Eric Whitacre has gone even further.
He has harnessed the power of the web to form what he calls the “virtual choir”. At the time of writing, the choir’s YouTube ilm of Whitacre’s soulful piece Lux aurumque has been viewed nearly a million times. And it is a remarkable achievement.
Whitacre posted a ilm of himself conducting the work, o fered the sheet music as a free download and invited viewers to join his choir. You can see the result above, or complete on YouTube. Posted in March, it featured 185 voices from 12 countries and resulted in a musical experience that works better than anyone might have expected. Whitacre himself
Five “cultural entrepreneurs” are recognised by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation Breakthrough Fund in 2010, including Matt Peacock, founder of Streetwise Opera, who receives £83,000. Other recipients this year are the Whitworth Art Gallery’s Maria Balshaw, Untitled Projects founder Stewart Laing, The Invisible Dot founder Simon Pearce and Eastside Projects founder Gavin Wade.
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gives Scott Haines, who edited the inal ilm (in keeping with the nature of the project, the two men have only met in person once) much of the credit and it does sound as though recorded in a cathedral rather than people’s bedrooms. But any technical trickery doesn’t make it less inspiring.
Whitacre, who has just been signed to Decca, promises more where that came from. Millions may be watching.
The BBC Philharmonic’s 2010 11 season will be Gianandrea Noseda’s ninth and inal year as chief conductor, after which he will become conductor laureate, spending three weeks each year with the orchestra. During the coming season he will conduct works by Beethoven, Rachmaninov, Liszt and Strauss, and conclude his tenure with Verdi’s Otello.
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www.gramophone.co.uk King’s Singers appoint new bass singer The King’s Singers, the six-man ensemble renowned equally for their interpretations of early and contemporary vocal music as for their witty arrangements of popular music, have appointed a new bass.
Jonathan Howard, 23, a graduate of New College, Oxford, where he read Classics and was a member of the choir, will replace Stephen Connolly in the line-up from September onwards.
“It is an absolute dream come true for me to have the opportunity to perform for a living with such wonderful colleagues and singers, particularly since almost every small consort or close harmony venture I have done in the past has been inspired by their work,” said Howard.
Connolly – who, after 23 years, has been in the King’s Singers as long as his replacement has been alive – is becoming Head of Vocal Studies at Cheltenham Ladies’ College. The King’s Singers were founded in 1968 by a group of choral scholars at King’s College, Cambridge.
FOR THE RECORD SOUNDBITES
G R A M O P H O N E T A L K S T O . . .
Paul Watkins The cellist on the music of Martinů and why performing is a family a fair
What is the special allure of Martinů’s music? His music has great depth and variety. It is brimming with lyricism, virtuosity and rhythmic panache. The real allure of the sonatas is the close dialogue between the cello and piano. Martin≤ understands the cello instinctively. His writing is perfectly suited to the instrument and he is not afraid to make ample use of the lowest string, the C string. Many composers force the cello to sing in the highest register all the time but Martin≤ isn’t afraid of the gruff-sounding low notes.
How have your interpretations evolved? I’ve known the sets of variations for the longest time. I learnt them originally as a student at the Yehudi Menuhin School. Actually, I learnt them as a pianist accompanying other cellists. So I guess you could say that my interpretations have “evolved” from the piano to the cello!
Did you listen to other recordings to help inform your own interpretations? Absolutely. I greatly admire Steven Isserlis’s recordings – they are full of amazing insights.
Do you enjoy performing with your brother? I knew that Huw would be the perfect accompanist in this music as it demands great rhythmic control and playing that sparkles, and this is Huw’s particular forte. We recorded this disc near Snape, an area with lots of good restaurants. We both enjoy our food and so we found that our afternoon recording sessions started later with each day that passed as we enjoyed more and more extravagant lunches together. We had a good time!
What repertoire will you tackle next? The next thing with Huw is Mendelssohn’s sonatas and variations. We will record those next year. At the moment I’m preparing the Delius Concerto – it’s immensely difficult! Paul Watkins’ disc is reviewed on page 67
Jonathan Howard and Stephen Connolly
Music in the Round appoints new director Music in the Round, the Sheffield-based chamber music organisation, has appointed a new artistic director. Founded in 1984 as the Sheffield Chamber Music Festival by Peter Cropper, formerly leader of The Lindsays, Music in the Round now presents 150 concerts each year including festivals in Sheffield based around the resident group, Ensemble 360.
Cropper’s successor will be Angus Smith, member and manager of the Orlando Consort. Reflecting on his new post, Smith paid tribute to his predecessor. “Peter Cropper has established Music in the Round as a vital organisation in the presentation of chamber music. While I am looking forward to bringing my own perspective to future programmes and activities, my starting-point will be to maintain the record of excellence, imagination and sheer dynamism provided by Peter.”
The London 2012 Olympics are to celebrate music alongside sporting prowess thanks to the PRS for Music Foundation, which has launched New Music 20x12. The programme will support 20 new works, each lasting 12 minutes, and invites musicians and organisations to present ideas for selection by a panel of experts chaired by Roger Wright by October 1, 2010. The works will be broadcast on BBC Radio 3 in 2012.
On May 30 a gala concert was held at the London Oratory School in honour of English tenor Philip Langridge, who died on March 5. A fund will be established in his memory, offering support to projects and individual performers. An auction of donated items and pledges (including singing lessons from Felicity Lott and Ann Murray) is continuing at the Co-Opera Co website.
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