Talking about the lives, experiences and stories of people in classical music. If you've wondered what it’s like being a professional musician or you're simply intrigued to find out more about the art form, then Talking Classical is the show to listen to!
Each podcast features a special guest (or two) who shares their perspectives of classical music. We also welcome guests in other "classical" art forms (e.g., ballet) or who've used their classical music background in different ways. This provides new viewpoints as part of a wider picture within the arts, culture and society.
Ep. 54: Julia Bishop
In this podcast, I talked to Julia Bishop, leading violinist specialising in Baroque and historical performance practice. You may also best know her as the co-founder of the pioneering Baroque quartet Red Priest.
In this wide-ranging discussion, we talked about Julia's journey into Baroque music, what it was like to be involved in the early music movement in the 1980s and 1990s and the philosophy behind Red Priest. We also discussed life as a touring musician, acting on stage and feeling confident in what you're wearing on stage, which can aid how you feel when playing in a performance. Red Priest's members wear worn bold, eye-catching costumes when they give concerts.
Julia talked about her approaches to teaching Baroque music as well. Finally, she gave some advice to newcomers, aspiring to get into the music industry.
Julia's bio: https://www.juliabishopviolin.com/gallery-2.
Podcast recorded 18 October 2021; published 16 November 2021.
Music used in the podcast: Antonio Vivaldi, Concerto in E Major - 'La Primavera' (Spring) - Allegro from The Four Seasons, Red Priest (Red Priest Recordings, RP003, 2009).
Ep. 53: James Pearson
Last week, I got to go to the iconic Ronnie Scott's Jazz Club during a brief visit to London. I met the club's Artistic Director James Pearson who is both equally at home in jazz and classical music.
We talked about the similarities and the differences between both genres, playing styles, improvisation, orchestration and how this feeds into the acoustics of music. We also discussed James' programme which he presented last year with his trio at Ronnie Scott's. This concert was live streamed and celebrated the legacy of legendary comedian, entertainer and musician Dudley Moore. He was someone who could effortlessly cross the boundaries between jazz and classical music. Younger listeners should take a look at his inimitable pastiches of Beethoven, Britten, Fauré, Schubert and Kurt Weill, which are available to watch on YouTube.
James reflected on the legacy and history of Ronnie Scott's, including the eclectic range of artists who have performed on the stage. This led us to discuss working across different genres and great pianists such as Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock and Keith Jarrett who learnt jazz music through playing classical piano. Finally, James gave me a walk around the venue, sharing stories about the club and some of the musicians who played there as we went along. This is an experience I will never forget!
Thank you to James and the staff at Ronnie Scott's for making me feel so welcome!
James' bio: https://www.jamespearsonmusic.com/about.
Watch James Pearson presents 'A Portrait of Dudley Moore'; concert with his trio live streamed from Ronnie Scott's on 30 November 2020: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x0LKPt7qFuY.
Interview recorded 20 October 2021; podcast published on 30 October 2021.
Ep. 52: Exploring music technology - interview with PlayScore 2 creator Anthony Wilkes
In this podcast, we're hearing from musician and creator of PlayScore 2 Anthony Wilkes. PlayScore 2 is a music scanning app from Organum Ltd.
Anthony talks about how he came to develop the app and its exciting features that make it essential for any musician. We also learn about the technology behind PlayScore 2 called Optical Music Recognition (also known as OMR). In short, it is the musical version of Optical Character Recognition (OCR). Anthony talks about the development of OMR, some of its challenges and whether technology has improved or impeded the way we learn music today.
Optical Music Recognition on Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Optical_music_recognition.
Organum Ltd is a UK company based in Oxford specialising in printed and handwritten optical music recognition. Anthony also created the handwritten music recognition engine in the popular NotateMe app, and the PhotoScore application from Neuratron Ltd. As a musician Anthony studied cello with Caroline Bosanquet and Rohan de Saram, and plays in several ensembles. You can also see Anthony's composer's page on the IMSLP free music site.
Podcast recorded on 14 October 2021; published 18 October 2021.
Ep. 51: University of Birmingham MA Music (Choral Conducting) - interview with students and course director Simon Halsey
Last week, I went to the University of Birmingham (UK) to learn about its MA Music: Choral Conducting pathway, celebrating its tenth anniversary this year. In the first part of this podcast, we'll hear from the course's director Simon Halsey. He talks about how the course was developed from his desire to pass on what he'd learnt from an extensive career as a choral conductor and director, specifically, training a choir to sing with an orchestra. This is the course's main focus - it's the only choral conducting course to be run with a major international orchestra: the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. However, students are immersed in many genres of choral conducting throughout the degree. It's an intensive course but the students should leave with plenty of ideas about how to conduct choirs in their home countries or other capacities.
Then we'll hear from four students on this year's course (2021/22), why they chose to specifically come to Birmingham, their ambitions and what attracts them to choral conducting.
Simon Halsey occupies a unique position in classical music. He is the trusted advisor on choral singing to the world’s greatest conductors, orchestras and choruses; as an ambassador for choral singing to amateurs of every age, ability and background he has led ground-breaking massed choral events, notably for New York’s Lincoln Center.
Making singing a central part of the world-class institutions with which he is associated, he has been instrumental in changing the level of symphonic singing across Europe. He holds positions across the UK and Europe as Choral Director of London Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, Chorus Director of City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra Chorus, Artistic Director of Orfeó Català Choirs and Artistic Adviser of Palau de la Música, BarcelonaCreative Director for Choral Music and Projects at WDR Rundfunkchor, Conductor Laureate of Rundfunkchor Berlin and Professor and Director of Choral Activities at University of Birmingham.
He is also a highly respected teacher and academic, nurturing the next generation of choral conductors on his post-graduate course in Birmingham and through masterclasses at Princeton, Yale and elsewhere. He holds four honorary doctorates from universities in the UK, and in 2011 Schott Music published his book and DVD on choral conducting, Chorleitung: Vom Konzept zum Konzert.
Halsey's numerous awards include three Grammys for his recordings with the Rundfunkchor Berlin. He was made Commander of the British Empire in 2015, was awarded The Queen's Medal for Music in 2014, and received the Officer's Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany in 2011 in recognition of his outstanding contribution to choral music in Germany.
Born in London, Simon Halsey sang in the choirs of New College, Oxford, and of King's College, Cambridge and studied conducting at the Royal College of Music in London. In 1987, he founded with Graham Vick the City of Birmingham Touring Opera. He was Chief Conductor of the Netherlands Radio Choir from 1997 to 2008 and Principal Conductor of the Northern Sinfonia's Choral Programme from 2004 to 2012. From 2001-2015 he led the Rundfunkchor Berlin (of which he is now Conductor Laureate); under his leadership the chorus gained a reputation internationally as one of the finest professional choral ensembles. Halsey also initiated innovative projects in unconventional venues and interdisciplinary formats.
MA Music (Choral Conducting) students: Jonathan Hatley, Jonathan Lucas Wood, James Bate and Daniel Tíjaro. *Interview with the MA students recorded in the foyer of Birmingham University's Music Hub - edited transcript here: https://bit.ly/3mHZzLf.
Interviews recorded on 4 October 2021; published 12 October 2021.
Ep. 50: Tim Rhys-Evans
In this podcast, we hear from Tim Rhys-Evans who is Director of Music at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama. I talked to him about how the past two years have been in the role (in light of the current COVID-19 pandemic), what his post entails as well as many of the College's exciting and varied opportunities. They include an international concert series at the Dora Stoutzker concert hall and a new BMus programme focusing on areas such as collaboration, artistry and the role of a musician in society.
We also talk about the importance of mental health. Tim featured in a BBC documentary called All in the Mind which won a Welsh BAFTA and aired in May 2016. In this programme, he talked candidly and openly to camera about his experiences of mental health, while maintaining a successful music career, most notably, with his choirs Only Men Aloud (winners of the BBC One reality choir competition Last Choir Standing) and Only Boys Aloud (which made the final of ITV's Britain's Got Talent). This led us to discuss why he made the documentary, advice for music students and young musicians to improve their mental health and what the Royal Welsh College has been doing to promote mental health and wellbeing.
This podcast raises many pertinent issues and questions regarding what a conservatoire should look like in the twenty-first century, and the Royal Welsh College is certainly a prime example.
Please note that the latter half of this podcast contains discussion of suicidal ideation and mental illness.
Recorded 15 September 2021 over Zoom; published 25 September 2021.
Tim's bio: https://www.rwcmd.ac.uk/staff/tim-rhys-evans.
Ep. 49: David Taylor
Today, we’re talking to arts entrepreneur and marketing consultant David Taylor. He works with a range of orchestras, arts organisations and individuals on developing their business and marketing strategy, with particular reference to digital media. In this podcast interview, we consider the changes the classical music industry has seen over the last year and if it has changed with regards to today's current trends and stylistics. We also discuss what the classical sector can learn from other industries such as pop, media and sports with regards to their marketing and branding. Additionally, David talks about how he develops a strategy with the clients he works with, using the example of the Philharmonia Orchestra. We talk about how musicians and organisations can best use social media and interact with their audiences, for example, the concert enhancement strategy of artists talking to their audience during a performance.
Podcast interview recorded 16 July 2021; published 20 July 2021.
One of the leading entrepreneurs in the world of classical music, David Taylor has built his career on a dynamic and energetic approach to bringing innovation to the arts, leading him to be named on Forbes 30 under 30 Europe 2018 list, alongside Paul Pogba, Rita Ora, Dua Lipa, Anthony Joshua, Maisie Williams and Little Mix.
Described as an “arts innovator” by the BBC, David’s accomplishments and pioneering approach to digital marketing in the arts has led him to become a highly sought after consultant with arts organisations and individuals in both Europe and the USA.
David created Yorkshire Young Sinfonia (YYS) in 2015, growing it to reach an audience of over 7.5 million people in just 4 years. He also led YYS to win the Arts and Culture Award at the White Rose Awards 2016, the largest tourism awards in the UK.
In 2015, the BBC Radio 4 programme “Birth of an Orchestra” documented the creation of YYS and allowed David to showcase his passion for classical music on the national stage. In addition, both David and YYS have featured on Sky News, BBC News, The Times, The Telegraph, BBC Look North, Classic FM, BBC Radio 3, Il Giornale and Classical Music Magazine.
In 2017, David led YYS to become the first youth orchestra in the world to be 100% digital in partnership with the app Newzik, using iPads instead of sheet music.
As a presenter, David has created projects with BBC Arts and interviewed Louis Theroux, Romesh Ranganathan, George Shelley and Katie Derham.
David is passionate about enabling the next generation of entrepreneurs, innovators, and 'doers' in the arts. He regularly speaks and writes about entrepreneurship, arts education and classical music.
Prior to his career as an entrepreneur, David taught the cello at the Edward Said National Conservatory of Music in Jerusalem.
Website: www.david-taylor.org Twitter: @davidtaylor_uk Instagram: davidtaylor_uk Facebook: davidtaylormusicuk
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