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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What can a comedian do with an orchestra? July 17, 2010

Filed under: 1C: Reviews — concerttuning @ 8:31 pm
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The comedian, Rainer Hersch conducted and presented the first half of the concert on Sunday 11 July by Philharmonia Britannica.

He used a combination of jokes, re-compositions of well-known classics, and juggling tricks to bring a new life to the concert format. While many of the audience were elderly, they equally warmed to comedian and joined in with enthusiasm.

Who on earth is Rainer Hersch?

Rainer Hersch is a comedian and musician who has performed on every major comedy stage in Britain and abroad.  He has appeared twelve times at the Edinburgh Festival; had numerous comedy-concert series at the South Bank in London; featured in comedy clubs all across Europe and in TV shows around the world.

However, particularly at the beginning of the concert I was so engrossed with the audience participation (in group 3 saying cuc-koo to the accompaniment of the Hornpipe) that I didn’t get a chance to properly listen to the orchestra. The concert encourages a different intensity of listening. The music tended to be short extracts or broken up with dialogue. This is ideal for people new to classical music, but if you didn’t know anything about music, some of the jokes may not make sense, particularly the mickey takes about Mahler’s 1st Symphony.

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Schools Concerts: Spitalfields Music Festival June 30, 2010

Filed under: 1C: Reviews — concerttuning @ 8:51 pm
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I went to two schools concerts as part of Spitalfields Music Festival running from 11-26 June 2010. They couldn’t have benn more contrasting in content, presenters and musicians but there were some key aspects common to both in the way they presented the music to children.

The first concert on Fri 18 June 2010 10.30am at Shoreditch Church was presented by Sam Glazer with students from the Royal Academy of Music where we were transported into the unique sound world of the inspirational composer Iannis Xenakis.

The second concert on Wed 23 June 2010 10.30am at Christ Church Spitalfields with The Sixteen and presenter Hannah Conway was specially-designed to introduce the music of Monteverdi’s music to all ages and attention spans.

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Another way: an informal jazz concert June 4, 2010

I heard the Yazz Ahmed Trio perform at the National Portrait Gallery as part of the Late Shift events going on in the art gallery.

What I found interesting was the flexibility in the way you could listen to the concert. Audience members came and went as they pleased. They either sat down to focus on the music, or some just lingered or merely walked on past.

This recognises that different audience members will have different attention spans for a multitude of reasons. Conditioned by classical concerts, it made me feel quite awkward to leave half way through the set, as it seemed disrespectful to the musicians. However, I came away with a much more positive memory of the experience having left when I had reached saturation point, rather than forcing myself to listen to it all and get bored.

Perhaps we should try to offer this flexibility in classical concert too? However, this would not be as feasible in a paid concert, as audience members may feel that they had to get their monies worth. Perhaps we could offer an alternative activity if people needed a break from the music i.e. go and get a drink (like during the Night Shift concerts by OAE) or provide paper and pencils for drawing activities.