Tuning the Concert

Gold Arts Award Portfolio

Penguins allowed at the Proms September 20, 2010

Filed under: 1C: Reviews — concerttuning @ 9:42 pm
Tags: , , , , , ,

When flicking through the Proms booklet, the photo of the Penguin Cafe always caught my eye. The group looked a bit quirky and as it was a Late night prom I expected something a bit different. Even when I mentioned the group to friends, they had heard of the group or had a vague notion of who they were (which is not a usual occurrence when telling friends about a concert I am attending).

My anticipation had not been misguided, as the concert was certainly uber cool. I attended the prom on Wednesday 8 September with my friend Emma (a beginner ukulele player) who is currently setting up a band www.emmadaianwright.com/band/. The Penguin Cafe were different, a bit anti-classical and with their vintage clothes certainly had stage presence.

I excitedly we heard about how the original founder of the band, Simon Jeffes became disillusioned with the rigid structures of classical music and the limitations of rock music. You can read more about his philosophy at http://www.penguincafe.com/. He consequently started to compose a new style of music, which is a cross between folk and minimalism. Interestingly, this shows how my own tiring of classical music is not new, as in the 70s people were feeling the same thing.

(more…)

Advertisements
 

A taster: working with BBC Proms learning Team September 7, 2010

I volunteered over the bank holiday weekend to help with the family orchestra and chorus who performed in Prom 60 on Monday 30 August.

Families from Cornwall and London had been selected to première a BBC commission by Graham Fitzin. The participants ranged from 5 years to 80+ and covered a spectrum of abilities. As well as the performance sounding truly impressive (you can hear it on BBC iplayer), it was very interesting to see how the participants had been taught the music and how it was put together.

There was no music, but instead they learnt numbered themes, which the section leaders indicated using hand signs. For example, theme 1 in the violins was a clenched fist and it was bowed (mimed bowing). Furthermore, there were three conductors as well as the section leaders. This included the conductor for the BBC Concert Orchestra, Keith Lockhart, the workshop leader, Lincoln Abbotts and the composer, Graham Fitkin. The conductors kept time, while the sections leaders told their musicians exactly when to come in, stop and which theme to play. It was a very clever way to build a complex piece with a mixed ability group of musicians.

(more…)

 

PROMS PLUS is the best bit of the Proms September 1, 2010

Filed under: 1C: Reviews — concerttuning @ 11:33 am
Tags: , , , , ,

Proms Plus: Family Music Intro

The BBC Proms has developed a series of introductions to its evening concerts. The Family Music introductions are aimed at young people, but this does not stop people of all ages attending. While aimed at newcomers, I suspect that many a seasoned concert attendee does and should attend.

The idea is to introduce the works, players and background in a fun and lively manner, so that you can then go onto listen to the main concert better informed. It is an ideal time for families at 5.30pm, as they can come straight from school. However, I saw many a family did not stay for the evening performance. The Proms plus is enough of an event in itself – you get to hear all the best tunes, the funniest facts about the composers and even play along with the professionals. What else would you want? Plus it is more intimate as you can get up close to the players and it is less overwhelming then listening to a full orchestra. It makes you question why you would want to go to the main concert, especially as Proms Plus events are free.

I attended the Family Music Introduction to Proms 44 on Wednesday 18 August. Fraser Trainer presented the concert/talk in an informal and humble manner with 3 members of the Russian National Orchestra – a violinist, flautist and trumpeter.

(more…)

 

Late Night Prom looks outside the ‘closed classical box’ August 27, 2010

Filed under: 1C: Reviews — concerttuning @ 10:03 am
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Last night I went to the coolest Prom yet! Jamie Cullum with his four piece band joined the Heritage orchestra for what turned out to be cross between a civilised concert and hot and steamy jig.  

The audience was predominantly composed of 20-35 somethings (especially in the packed promming arena) but I was impressed by the number of ‘oldies’ who braved the concert. While the Proms aims to introduce newcomers to classical music, last night I think it actually introduced many to jazz. Due to my sheltered ways, I’ve certainly never been to anything like this and it was eye opening to see of the mixing board on stage and the staged drama, which included two fishermen at the start of the set. Not only did Jamie draw in a predominantly younger audience, but he pulled in a packed auditorium (which can’t be said for all the late night proms).

However, the audience’s classical background was evident in the polite twitters in response to Jamie Cullum’s performance antics. It must have been a bit of a shock to some to see so much exuberance on stage. Jamie frequently got up to dance at the front, stood on the piano and even did a flying run across the stage. Towards the end Jamie had charmed the audience and had everyone clapping and singing along, the arena had turned into a jumping pit and people were even dancing in the boxes!   

(more…)

 

BBC Proms Inspire Day August 4, 2010

Filed under: 1B: volunteering/training/shadowing — concerttuning @ 11:01 am
Tags: , , ,

I volunteered at BBC Proms Inspire day on 2 August. The participants were teenagers who had entered the BBC Proms Young Composer Competition who travel from as far as Scotland to come to the young composers’ day.

I helped on the day by directing and instructing the participants at the BBC studio, participating during the workshop and helping the stage moves during the concert at the Royal College of Music.

The day was led by composer, Stephen and four musicians. When entering the Hall the young composers were thrown amidst an improvised composition where they participated by ringing their mobile phones when they saw a sign with the month of their birthday. This was then followed by an exercise where they sang happy birthday as slow as possible out of sync. This produced some beautiful harmonies.

Then followed a number of composition workshops, introducing them to the workshop musicians as well as composition techniques. They evaluated their work as they went along and all got a chance to participate. The day culminated in an experimental composition called ‘Poldergeese’ with the 100+ young musicians. This was made up of various pieces of material which were then combined and ordered by the conductor. I got to play the tam tam!

(more…)

 

BBC Proms Family orchestra

I went to observe and help at the BBC Proms family orchestra workshop on Saturday 31 July. The workshop was themed on Sonheim to link in with the evening’s Prom in celebration of Sondheim’s 80th Birthday. The idea was to bring people of all ages and abilities to play together.

I helped by signing the families in when they arrived, handing out the BBC Proms 2010 badges as well as distributing and collecting the evaluation forms. I also joined in with the percussion session during the workshop.

Sat in their instrumental families, each section was lead by a BBC musician and assisted by a music student while Lincoln, the workshop leader conducted. We were taught a number of well know tunes from works that influenced Sondheim as well as creating different sound effects. We slowly built up over the course of 2hrs the sections for our final performance without the aid of any notated music. However, it was easily memorable due to the verbal instructions from the conductor as well as the pictorial or programmatic nature of the music.

I was impressed at how attentive the families were and that they didn’t play their instruments when the musicians were talking.