The stories that matter, the people that matter, the music that matters
Kate Molleson talks to the pianist Anne Queffelec about one of her life’s passions, Satie, the clarity she observes in French music, and how writing is helping her during lockdown.
The musicologist Jillian C. Rogers, author of a new book ‘Resonant Recoveries: French Music and Trauma Between the World Wars’, describes how sound played a role in healing throughout the interwar period, and draws parallels with today's world during the Covid-19 pandemic.
As the Endellion Quartet announces its retirement, we speak to violinist Andrew Watkinson and cellist David Waterman about the joy of playing card games during concert intervals, arguments over concert attire, and more than four decades of life together inside the ensemble.
And following the recent announcements of plans to ease lockdown restrictions, we ask musicians on the ground to share their expectations and fears for performance as well as what the roadmap might mean for musical activity. We hear from the Afrobeat band leader and educator, Dele Sosimi; solo horn with the City of Hull Band, Wendy Orr; and soprano with the Tallis Scholars, Amy Haworth.
How music sculpts memory
Tom Service is joined by the artist Edmund de Waal and composer Martin Suckling as they discuss the relationships between the crafts of porcelain and contemporary composition. We hear how Edmund’s book, The White Road, and his work as a master potter, inspired Martin to pen his flute concerto.
The American composer, John Corigliano, speaks to Tom about writing music which chronicled the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s, and looks forward to his new opera, The Lord of Cries.
Ahead of a year-long festival at Kings Place, London, the journalist, broadcaster and author Kevin Le Gendre, and the historian and writer Leanne Langley share their perspectives on the way migration has shaped music making in the capital city.
And the soprano Anna Prohaska tells Tom how, as well as making space for four recording projects during lockdown, she’s found room to concentrate on projects she might not otherwise have had time for.
Uighur culture, Richard Tognetti, business models
Tom Service talks to Richard Tognetti, Artistic Director of the Australian Chamber Orchestra, about the return to concert life Down Under and how he’s putting together a number of high-tech music films in response to the pressures, both artistic and financial, of living under COVID-19.
We explore, too, how the pandemic is changing the relationship between players, agents and institutions, and hear from Jasper Parrott, Kate Adams, and Kitty Whately about how the classical music industry’s business models might be shaken-up.
Rachel Harris, Professor in Ethnomusicology at SOAS, speaks to Tom about her new book 'Soundscapes of Uyghur Islam', and we’re also joined by the ethnomusicologist Mukaddas Mijit, to discuss how the culture and music of this minority population in China is under increasing pressure from Beijing.
And with accusations against the Chinese authorities about Human Rights issues, we ask if the West should continue pursuing cultural projects such as orchestral tours and residencies in China. We’re joined by Cathy Graham, Director of Music at the British Council, and Charles Parton, former diplomat with more than 20 years of experience in China, Hong Kong and Taiwan.
Girl power in the 1940s
Tom Service celebrates the musical legacy of British band leader Ivy Benson in the company of former band members Joyce Terry, Claudia Lang-Colmer, and Carol Gasser, as well as the author Janet Tennant whose new biography, Sax Appeal, is published this month. Ivy rose to fame in the 1940s with her All Girl Band. She and her band members risked their lives entertaining Allied troops in war-torn Europe and battled the inequalities between male and female musicians back home.
Tom speaks to Alan Gilbert, the chief conductor of the NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra and conductor laureate of the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra, about musical performances during the pandemic.
And Tom hears from the multi-media musical entrepreneur ThatViolaKid, otherwise known as Drew Alexander Forde, who has made viola practice, conservatoire training, Bartok and Shostakovich, and covers of Alicia Keys and Gnarls Barkley into musical YouTube phenomena.
Jackie Kay, Meredith Monk and Virtual Nature
Credit: Library of Congress, Carl Van Vechten Collection [LC-USZ62-94955]
Kate Molleson talks to Scottish writer and poet Jackie Kay about the extraordinary life of the pioneering blues singer Bessie Smith, and asks what Bessie's blues can tell us a century on.
Kate also hears from American composer Meredith Monk about the recurring nature of the big themes of her work, from plagues to dictatorships, and we hear about the piece she’s currently working on, Indra's Net – 10 years in the making and a work dedicated to humanity’s relationship with nature.
Plus, as part of the BBC's 'Soundscapes for Wellbeing' project, we look at how natural and musical soundscapes can affect mental health, including a groundbreaking study by the University of Exeter called 'The Virtual Nature Experiment', which explores how digital experiences of nature might impact wellbeing. Kate is joined by Alex Smalley from the University of Exeter, the sound recordist Chris Watson, and composer Nainita Desai.
Democracy from Wynton Marsalis
Bleak news on the classical music front this week, including Sir Simon Rattle's departure from the London Symphony Orchestra in favour of the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra in Munich; and reports that musicians touring in the EU will need work permits for each individual country they perform in. Tom Service talks to Charlotte Higgins of The Guardian, and Jamie Njoku-Goodwin of UK Music to make sense of it all.
We hear about the little-known Welsh chanting tradition of Can’r Pwnc, and how the Cardiff theatre company August 012 is remoulding the style as a frame for ancient love poetry.
The American scholar Rachel May Golden has written a new book on southern French troubadours during the time of the Crusades, showing how many of their songs were effectively pro-Crusader proaganda - and she follows the stories of troubadours such as Jaufre Rudel, who died during the Second Crusade, according to legend in Tripoli the arms of his lover.
American jazz composer Wynton Marsalis joins Tom to trumpet his views contemporary America, as reflected in his new album The Democracy! Suite, released in the week leading up to the inauguration of the 46th President of the United States. Marsalis hopes that jazz. as America's own music, can inspire Americans to find ways to heal the divisions.