'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

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Classical Star BBC2

We have been drawn into the BBC2 television programme 'Classical Star'.
I'm not altogether surprised at the lack of coverage it has received from the blog world, many appeared to be hostile to the whole idea, prior to transmission.
I must say that we weren't intending to like the programme, but, are now keen to see the outcome.
But, it has been highlighting some interesting areas.

Last week the contestants had to play to a 'hostile' audience, made up of peers, with no knowledge or interest in classical music.
All the performers managed to win over the audience with varying degrees of success, and it was an interesting process to observe.
As one member of the audience pointed out, he 'didn't even know that classical music existed,' until his involvement in the programme.
The fact that he, and many others, may well have been exposed to a new area of music, can only be a good thing.

The judges, and Matthew Barley, have all been doing a good job. It's a very difficult task to observe, and find faults, with such young performers.
Sometimes their job is easy, and other times, a lot of thought has to go into each decision.
All the judges, Charles Hazelwood, Jason Lai, Chi-chi Nwanoku and Steve Abbott, have made very good points and brought different perspectives to their decision making process. Whether that be musical ability, content, stage presence or sheer commercial appeal.

Our interests obviously lie with Ian Watt, the 16 year old classical guitarist.
What a position he finds himself in.
He has an obvious passion for the instrument and his technical ability is excellent for one so young.
He also appears to be blossoming under the 'Academy' situation, gaining confidence with each week.

Last night the focus was on recording.
The pressure mounted for each participant as their hour in the studio got closer.
Recording requires a completely different mindset, and, is one that most of the candidates will have had little experience.
Having observed the process, at first hand, many times, I could understand the agonies they were going through.
There really are no hiding places when notes are recorded, and to try and put across the excitement of a performance, in a recording setting is a difficult one.
The guitar is also notoriously difficult to record, but, Ian appeared to get down as much as he could in the required time.

It is difficult to assess each individual when only hearing such small snippets of each performance.
But the judges will be getting a much better overview of each contestant than we are privy to, and fortunately, they seem very able to see and hear each contestant objectively.
This will always be an issue when broadcasting a weeks worth of 'living in the Academy' into just one hour.

It is also very difficult to compare different instruments.
The piano and the guitar, and to a lesser extent the violin, all require multiple note playing, whilst the saxophone and bassoon are strictly monophonic.
Factor in sound quality and the necessary 'star' quality these students will require, and there are some difficult decisions to be taken.

The classical guitar has an up hill struggle in the concert environment, as peoples' perception of the instrument is very different to, say, the violin or piano.
Fortunately, the judges were able to hear Ian's potential and he has made it through to the next round.

We shall continue to watch, and hopefully, the aims of the programme will be achieved.
It remains to be seen whether a 'star' can be found, but, at least the programme has introduced some people to the area of classical music, and also highlighted the dedication required to attain mastery of an instrument.

No comments: