'As always, it was sheer pleasure to observe Robin Hill's remarkable fluent technique: everything looks easy when he plays it.' Colin Cooper- Classical Guitar Magazine ----- 'Wonderful for their (Hill & Wiltschinsky) precision, touch and clarity of sound... refined virtuosity, the achievement of a long interpretive process.' Il Giornale D'Italia (Rome) ----- 'I loved your CD and thought your technique and performance were fabulous...' Rick Wakeman

Friday, August 03, 2007

Crowd Control at the Proms...

As always I've been listening to a lot of BBC Radio 4.
Two items caught my attention.
Today on 'You and Yours' with Liz Barclay and John Waite, they were discussing a project to get young people interested in classical music.
I have mentioned this before. It's a scheme headed by the Bournemouth Symphony, along with many other orchestras and conductors, who want to provide free concerts for young people.
They recognise the importance of trying to involve children and young adults in the world of classical music.
They even took along a group from a local 6th form college to hear Beethoven at the Royal Albert Hall.

Prior to the concert the youths thoughts ranged from, 'classical music is too long', 'not cool' and 'boring'.
Obviously we have a lot to do in improving the image of classical music. But that's not all.
Why a generation that can spend hours glued to a playstation would find it 'too long' is beyond me. I feel some work is needed in the area of increasing the attention span of our youth. I realise that to play computer games there's a level of interaction taking place, so we need to get more children playing instruments, and therefore feeling involved.
However, post concert, the comments were more positive.
They seemed to have genuinely enjoyed it, felt that seeing the musicians at work was good, but some had felt intimidated by the silence of the audience.
Some also said that they would like to return and would bring a friend if that friend was already interested in classical music.
Clearly more work is needed in the promotion of the whole area.
Lets hope this project takes off.
I was also delighted to hear that Liz Barclay is a 'guitar' fan, and the Spanish guitar has the ability to bring her out in 'goose bumps'!

The other item I listened to was yesterday's 'PM' with Eddie Mair.
There was a very interesting discussion taking place between Norman Lebrecht and Nicholas Kenyon. This had been prompted by a spontaneous round of applause, between movements, on Wednesday evenings performance of Mahler's 9th Symphony at The Proms.

Now this is an area I have mentioned many times on the blog and debated at some length over on Sounds and Fury forum.
Whilst both Lebrecht and Kenyon made their points very succinctly I must say I fall down on the side of Nicholas Kenyon.
He actually made many of the same points that I have in the past. Whilst it shouldn't be encouraged, if applause occurs in the wrong places, well, just enjoy the fact that you've moved an audience and that they bothered to attend in the first place.
It's also possible for a soloist or conductor to 'help' the audience understand where and when they can applaud, by using their body language.
Given that the conductor Ilan Volkov wasn't put off by this occurrence, and that one of the things preventing a new generation from attending concerts is that they feel intimidated by the situation, then this is an area we need to address.

It's not just the audience though.
You have to keep your eye on the musicians.
Back in 1953 the cellist Ambrose Gauntlett smuggled a camera into the Queen's Coronation, kept it in his cello case and remotely took an unauthorized picture of the proceedings.
To read the full story by Luke Salkeld click here.

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