Tuning the Concert

Gold Arts Award Portfolio

Looking beyond classical music September 26, 2010

Filed under: 1C: Impact — concerttuning @ 6:57 pm
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I have come to the realisation that before I started my Gold Arts Award, my listening habits were very restrictive. I have since  started to listen to a broader range of music.

I grew up choosing to listen to classical music because it was the type of music that I was playing and I also wanted to learn about it. However, this was to the detriment of listening to pop, folk, world, jazz, rock etc.

Attending some alternative concerts, has showed me that not only do I enjoy listening to non-classical music but it is a vital way to invigorate concerts and classical music. See my reviews about jazz and folk at the BBC Proms.

Subsequently, I have started to expand my CD collection.

  • It all started when I went to Exhibition Music Day. There was a large selection of music from all styles and nationalities to sample for free. As well as buying Ballake Sissoko and Vincent Segal’s CD after hearing them in concert (which I reviewed here), I also very unusually for myself, bought an album by a singer who I heard do an acoustic set at the French Institute. I liked her innocence and simplicity. It reminded me that music does not have to be complex to have an impact. The album is called ‘Inside Over Here’ by Rozi Plain.

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

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

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Interview with an animateur, Sam Glazer August 4, 2010

Filed under: 1B: research — concerttuning @ 10:39 am
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I met up with Sam Glazer after a schools project to hear about his career and his opinion on tuning the concert.

After an English degree he went into marketing and PR. However, after a musician training project with the ASMF in Colchester he decided to undertake a career change to become a musician and animateur. He held an apprenticeship at Spitalfields Music and trained on the job working for institutions such as Wigmore Hall and Glynbourne. He says he is very happy with this decision to change career as he has gained confidence in the process as well as it being a journey of discovery.

Sam explained that what he does is not teaching nor is it his aim is to bring classical music to people but rather to ‘make music with people’. Regardless of technical ability and personality, music can be a meeting point as it is such a collaborative art form.

It was suggested that classical music should look outside itself and be open to influence from folk and art. This was the case in the past for composers such as Dvorak and Liszt but today classical music has become very fixed, as we play the same repertoire. Sam explained that you cannot have a dialogue on one person’s terms but it is necessary to talk to others. This is the case with classical music.

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Cross-Genres: Baroque & Jazz June 29, 2010

I went to another concert that combined a new genre with classical music. It was The Sixteen & Julian Joseph at Spitalfields Music Festival on Thursday 24 June. I went along with other young professionals from Young People in the Arts who I believe were attracted by the novelty of the unusual combination of genres.

The concert combined Monteverdi with Jazz improvisation. The conductor explained beforehand:

‘The first programme contains some of Monteverdi’s most vivacious sacred music but in the second programme we, along with the charismatic jazz musician Julian Joseph, have decided to revisit this great master. Instrumental ritornelli (short recurring passages) occur in all the pieces and in Monteverdi’s time these would have allowed the players a freedom of expression, embellishment and improvisation. With Julian and Mike Hodgson we will extend that idea into a baroque-jazz synthesis and see just how far we can take it.’ Harry Christophers

The very different sets of musicians created a dialogue between each other by either the jazz musicians continuing improvising over a theme stated by the singers or by introducing them. The music was re-composed by Harry Christophers to allow the merging of these two different genres and the most magical moments were when they played simultaneously. I thought it was interesting how the combination emphasised the dissonances in both styles of music showing how music written hundreds of years apart still have things in common.

At the post-concert talk, Julian Joseph explained how it was a good way to introduce people to early music such as Monteverdi. While they may be drawn to the concert by the jazz and the legendary musicians names, they were given a  taster of another sound world.  (However, the audience attending appeared to be made up of a traditional classical demographic). Equally Harry Christophers commented how he thought it was a great experiment and one to be developed. In particular I would like to see more ways in which the two different genres: jazz and baroque could be combined simultaneously rather than alternating between the two.