The stories that matter, the people that matter, the music that matters
A global temperature
Kate Molleson looks at how music venues and institutions across the world are responding creatively to the programming and performance challenges of COVID-19. Kate talks to Deborah Borda, Chief Executive of the New York Philharmonic. The orchestra has cancelled all scheduled concerts until June 2021 but its musicians have been reaching every corner of the city by performing music on the back of a truck as part of their new live concert format, NY Phil Bandwagon. Composer and vocalist Jennifer Walshe has recently been elected into Aosdána, the affiliation of creative artists in Ireland whose work has made an outstanding contribution to the arts. Jennifer talks to Kate about her recent project involving artificial intelligence and how she is gathering source material during these uncertain times. The prize winning novelist and music journalist, Sean Michaels shares his thoughts on how Montreal’s vibrant venues and music makers have become silent again. We hear from Chief Executive of the São Paulo Symphony Orchestra, Marcelo Lopes and composer, João Ripper about how they have been welcoming back live audiences and continuing to premiere new works. Finally in Kenya, Elizabeth Njoroge, Founder and Director of the Art of Music Foundation, she talks about her music education and social project, Ghetto Classics.
Messages of hope...
Tom Service talks to the American composers Michael Gordon and Julia Wolfe about Bang on a Can’s live-streamed music marathon, the nine works receiving their world premiere over the course of the event, and how the project explores artistic responses in times of crisis. We’re joined by composer Tania León and flautist and composer Nathalie Joachim, two musicians taking part in this marathon, who reflect on what it means to be an artist in America today and how this COVID-19 watershed can be a catalyst to help reshape things to come. As the school year starts, we've an update from James Dickinson, Head of Hull Music Hub and Chair of The UK Association for Music Education, about how are schools in England coping with music tuition after the coronavirus. We also hear another instalment from our ‘musicians in our time’ series with the violinist Rakhi Singh.
Stars and Strads
Tom Service hears from Ray Chen about the online videos he’s created during lockdown, which have attracted hundreds of thousands of followers, and Ray compares his ten million dollar Stradivarius with a $69 violin. We speak to the writer Stuart Clark about the ancient Greek theory that linked music with the stars, and his new book, Beneath the Night: How the Stars Have Shaped the History of Humankind. And, ahead of his performance as part of this autumn’s “Live from the Barbican” series, Orkney composer Erland Cooper reflects on the influence, in his music, of the islands' landscape and people. We also mark the centenary of the death of composer Max Bruch, with contributions from critic Wendy Thompson and violinists Tasmin Little, Elena Urioste and Jack Liebeck.
Kate Molleson speaks to the Canadian soprano and conductor Barbara Hannigan about a new scheme to help support young artists share the stage with the world’s leading soloists, and grant young professional conductors opportunities to lead an orchestra during rehearsals. We also hear another instalment from our ‘Musicians in our time’ series, and are joined this week by guitarist Sean Shibe who shares his reflections about the impact of the pandemic on his life plans, the way he plays, and why he’s choosing alternative repertoire. The rock critic Paul Morley, who made his reputation in the 1970s and 1980s writing about Manchester punk, post-punk and New Pop, tells Kate what happened when he set out to rewrite the entire history of classical music. And Music Matters joins the sitar player Baluji Shrivastav and musicians from his Inner Vision Orchestra - the UK’s only professional ensemble of blind and visually impaired musicians – who describe how the mechanics of hearing and their experiences of making music have changed during lockdown.
Music changes lives - and changes lanes
Tom Service catches up with viola player Lawrence Power to talk about his filmed series of Lockdown Commissions from major composers, and his imaginatively re-worked West Wycombe Chamber Music Festival in Buckinghamshire. The newly installed Artistic Director of English National Opera, Annilese Miskimmon, revels in the return of live opera with ENO's new drive-in production of La boheme from the car park of Alexandra Palace in North London, and reveals her vision for the company's future. To mark National Alzheimer's Day on Monday, Tom talks to Dr Sylvain Moreno, one of the world’s leading researchers on how music can positively affect the brain, and to front line workers with people suffering from dementia - Camilla Vickers and soprano Francesca Lanza from Health:Pitch, and Rebecca Seymour from Celebrating Age Wiltshire. And Music Matters' Musicians in Our Time series, following leading musicians as they face the challenges of their lives and remake the musical world over the course of the next year, continues with flautist Jane Mitchell of the Aurora Orchestra, recent recipient of the Royal Philharmonic Society’s Salomon Prize.
Photo Credit: Jessie Rodger
Roll-up, roll-up! Live music’s back…
Radio 3’s flagship magazine programme Music Matters returns this Saturday as Tom Service surveys the developments that have occurred in the musical world during an unprecedented summer period blighted by COVID-19. Discussing the significance of local performance, the role cities play in creating cultural energy, how music is serving audiences in both the community and online, and how freelance musicians might continue to support themselves as government support schemes are wound down, Tom is joined by the ISM’s Deborah Annett, Manchester Camerata’s Bob Riley, and the economist Gerard Lyons. We visit the organist and pianist James McVinnie and London gallerist and founder of Bold Tendencies, Hannah Barry, during rehearsals for their public concert series at Peckham’s Multi-Story Car Par, to see how living musical culture is returning in an of era social distancing. And the soprano Mary Bevan tells Tom how she created opportunities for performers to make live music outside a church tower in Hornsey. He also hears from the classical music critic Fiona Maddocks, and speaks to programmer, curator & producer, Toks Dada, about how the industry needs to adapt and innovate in order to survive.