'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

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Coffee in Alicante

We have had a strange few days.
Robin and son left Crystal Serenity some time ago.
To prove Robin did actually do a concert whilst there, here's the poster:

And this was taken during the sound check:

They then spent a few days in Spain preparing for the concert with Izzy Cooper. This is one of many rehearsals:

Apparently the concert was a huge success.
The beautiful setting was the perfect backdrop for a lovely concert, with a programme that included pieces by Leo Delibes, Manuel de Falla, Villa-Lobos, Leo Brouwer, Tarrega, Joaquin Rodrigo, Handel, Puccini and many more, and there was even a firework display at the end!
I'm hoping to get some pictures at some point, but I do know that the audience had a wonderful evening.
Despite some technical problems, which required Robin to tell a few jokes whilst the team sorted it out, all went extremely well.
So successful was the event that a recording will hopefully be made in the next few months.
It was 2am before the audience finally let the pair go, so it was rather a tired party that arrived to meet me at the airport.

Not that I minded.
I'd been up incredibly early myself in order to arrive in Spain at 11 am....
The reason for this madness??
Well, when it was arranged that son number one would accompany Robin on the Crystal trip we thought they would both be returning home at the end of it.

After all flights were booked and plans made, it became obvious that the only available date for the Robin and Izzy to perform, was the 28th August.
So, the Hill men were diverted to Spain.

Unfortunately, Robin then had to fly straight off to Malta...
So, on Friday, I flew over to Spain to collect my son, before he became an abandoned child.
We had checked out all possibilities for him to fly solo, but unbelievably it isn't possible between Alicante and Manchester before he is 12 years old!!

Actually, it did at least mean that I briefly met Izzy, and also had a whole 2 hours with my husband.
Obviously coffee and a sandwich in Alicante airport isn't the romantic of settings, but when he's away for a month anything is a bonus.

The time sadly flew by, and before we knew it there was a tearful farewell, as Robin boarded a plane to Malta.
Son and I then spent many hours sitting in the sun, outside the airport, catching up with news, before our flight home.

Now Robin has joined the Queen Victoria where he has two concerts over the next week, the first one today.

More on that soon. Hopefully.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Still Missing and 'Maestro' BBC 2

I have a confession to make.
I am addicted to the BBC2 series 'Maestro'.
Luckily for me, the third episode was shown last night, as it helped take my mind off the missing suitcase.
Yes, the case is still missing, and Robin's concert with soprano Izzy Cooper is tomorrow....

The BBC's aim, along with the series, 'Classical Star',(which I have previously posted about here, here, here, here and here) is an attempt to introduce fresh viewers to the area of classical music.
This must be a good thing.

The selection of contestants appears to be well thought out, as they include 'celebrities' from such varied backgrounds they will hopefully bring their own 'fan base' along.
The initial eight were, 'Goldie', 'Jane Asher', 'Bradley Walsh', 'Peter Snow', 'Sue Perkins', 'Alex James', 'David Soul' and 'Katie Derham'.

The idea is that the 8 novice conductors are gradually whittled down to one final winner, who will then go on to conduct the BBC Concert Orchestra in front of 30 000 people at the Proms in the Park.

I'm not going to divulge the 'evictions' so far, as some of you may wish to see for yourselves.
The judges, Sir Roger Norrington, Zoe Martlew, Simone Young and Dominic Seldis have been offering advice, (often amusing), alongside voting contestants off the show.
All this is overseen beautifully by Clive Anderson.

The BBC Concert Orchestra, a very fine orchestra, (and one that Robin has performed with on a number of occasions), possibly have the most difficult task of actually following these novice conductors as they learn to multitask like never before...

I hope that the programme has been successful in its aim.
I did find an active forum debating each episode, which I suppose is a good sign.
However I would like to hear the views of the various 'classical music blogs', so far I have found little, except a brief mention by conductor Kenneth Woods, that he has been watching.

As the BBC are offering a much needed opportunity for classical music to be seen on television then maybe we should start discussions in the blogging world...

I've outlined it, you debate it.

Monday, August 25, 2008

No News is Good News?

The news is - that I have no news....
Actually it has all been rather difficult for the last 24 hours.
Here are the facts so far:

I know that Robin, and son, left Crystal Serenity on Sunday morning as they called me from a hotel whilst waiting for their transport to Athens airport.

I also know that they arrived at the airport and boarded a flight to Madrid.
After the recent dreadful events there, I was rather anxious about this particular flight. I know this was completely irrational, but try telling that to your brain as it works overtime.

The anxiety then increased when there was no call on arrival at Madrid.
However, I reminded myself, frequently, that it was a rather tight connection, and that the flight Athens - Madrid had been delayed by 30 minutes, thus making the situation worse.

So, with the aid of a glass of wine on Sunday evening, I reassured myself that there just hadn't been time to call home.
Then, later, I got a call - from a public 'phone box (Remember those things!)

They had landed safely in Madrid, run as fast as they could to make their connection, and caught it - just. Then they flew to Alicante.

The battery had gone flat on the mobile, hence the use of a 'phone box.
That's all OK, I was just relieved that my two Hill men had arrived.

10 minutes later another call.
"Can you get hold of Izzy (Cooper) and tell her we are here but they have lost our luggage..."
The 'phone line went dead.
I called the only number I had, spoke to a very helpful lady who said she would pass the message on, and basically that was the last thing I heard.
This was late Sunday evening.

So all day I have been thinking about what might be happening. (Apart from a very pleasant few hours when I was out with family.)
No news is good news, right?

My current thinking is that the luggage didn't appear as the charger for the 'phone will have been in the suitcase.
But to lose both sets of cases!!!
Maybe they are still on the dockside in Athens. Or perhaps left in Madrid. Or even on the wrong plane completely and are right now in Honolulu....

The concert is on Thursday so there is time for the cases to appear.
But I have been concerned how Father and son have been coping with the complete lack of clothes, wash bags etc.
More importantly, strings, nails repair kit and most of Robin's music will also be missing....

Actually, I'm rather pleased I'm not there.
And as the 'phone can't be charged until the case arrives, I don't even have to deal with any of the 'long distance' fallout.

But this is a scenario that we are unfortunately rather familiar.
A few examples, 'The Robin Hill Saga', 'A Case of the Borrowed Tuxedo', or, 'Lost Luggage Again', and the most frightening, 'Missing - Miguel Rodriguez Churchdoor...'.

An added frustration has been an inability to access Twitter. This is ongoing and I don't know if it is just me, or whether the whole system is down.
The lack of tweets for 24 hours has made me realise just how much I use it - and how much I needed a few reassuring words from the global community over the last day.

But for now all I can do is wait.
Hopefully at some point the cases will be returned.
So the 'phone and charger will be reunited.
Then I can find out exactly what has been going on.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Happy with Havana

No, Robin hasn't suddenly arrived in Havana, he's enjoying the delights of Istanbul.

It remains difficult to communicate with him at the moment so seemed a good time to tell you of another project I'm involved in.

I was recently asked to take a look at a new site, and to give my opinion.
Well, I like a challenge.
Especially when the site in question is called '' There can't be a musician in the world who hasn't been influenced by Cuban music in one way or another.

Just the name of the capital city, Havana, is enough to cause great excitement in this house.

It is after all the country of birth of the guitarist/composer/conductor Leo Brouwer.
You can read a recent post about him here.

And who hasn't heard of the Buena Vista Social Club?

Cuban music is so familiar to us all. Cuban rumba, son, guaracha, bolero and cha-cha to name but a few.

But it's not all about the music. Havana is arguably Latin America's best preserved colonial city. Then there's the cars, the tropical climate plus the fact that centuries of Spanish and African interaction have created a diverse culture.
Actually, even the Cubans are astonished at their own evolution.

So, I took the project on.
The aim of the site was to produce a "sophisticated consumer-orientated website to encourage web users in all things Cuban," and to, "generate interest in what makes Cuban culture so unique."

I must say, having spent a great deal of time on the site today, that it seems to have achieved its goal.

It did take me a little while to navigate my way around, possibly the down side of all the 'sophistication', as my poor old computer struggled at times. Plus it wasn't initially clear that when you click on the photographs at the bottom of the page you are rewarded with some wonderful videos.
Subtitles are provided in English, if required, and hearing Spanish as I watched just enhanced the whole experience.

It is certainly an excellent 'platform for modern Cuban artists to reach out globally'.
But it's not just musicians. All area of the arts are covered.

I would like to have seen a section devoted to the history of the arts in Cuba. Whilst I recognise that this would be a huge undertaking, I feel it would be worthwhile cause.

I have always been interested in Cuba so it was no surprise that I enjoyed the footage and information given on this site.
But I feel sure that anyone about to visit Havana, would gain a lot of inspiration, and insight, by taking a look before they travel.

So basically, yes, go visit 'Havana-cultura'
and discover not only the music, but all the arts of this amazing place.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Opera House Odessa, Snails and a Tea-cosy

The travelog continues.

Odessa proved to be a fascinating place.
Situated in Southern Ukraine on the shores of the Black Sea, it has always been a strategic port.

It has quite a Mediterranean feel, partly due to the French and Italian influences on the architecture of some of the buildings.

An example is the Opera house, this rather elegant and spectacular building, with a small boy in front talking on the 'phone. (I'm really dreading this 'phone bill...)

The cosmopolitan nature of Odessa is documented by the great Russian poet Alexander Pushkin, who lived in internal exile here for a year.

The continental flavour was continued, in a culinary sense, when son number one elected to eat snails for the first time.
Well, not exactly elect, it was actually more of a dare.
The prize must have been exceptional though, as he managed to consume the entire plate, and I hasten to add there were no ill effects.

As far as I'm concerned, snails should stay in the garden.
They hold no appeal to me at all.

I suspect that this was also the view of Doug Larson, judging by this quote I found sometime ago, and never thought I'd get the opportunity to use: (regular readers will remember another obscure quote I was delighted to include regarding Billy Connolly and a teas-cosy. You can read it here.)

"Never doubt the courage of the French. They are the ones who discovered snails are edible."

Monday, August 18, 2008

Mr. Creosote and a Pelican in Mykonos

Communication has been patchy, to say the least, over the last few days.
We have been able to talk briefly on the 'phone, but e mail has been particularly unreliable.
As you can imagine this is frustrating for all concerned.

However, Hill and son have been having an exciting time.
On Saturday they were in Mykonos, Greece, where they enjoyed a typical Greek island and made friends with one of the locals:

Sunday was spent cruising the Bosporus strait and the Black Sea whilst enjoying games of tennis and table tennis.
Son number one also mentioned that he was beginning to feel rather like 'Mr Creosote' after all the fine dining...

By Monday, today, they had reached Yalta, Ukraine, and enjoyed looking around this fascinating place.

Of course, between all this sightseeing, Robin has been preparing for his concert on Wednesday.
And whilst his Dad was rehearsing, well, like all good boys, son number one has been calling his Mum...

Friday, August 15, 2008

Take Five, Spain and MySpace

It's rather a strange experience for me, and for Robin, on this trip.
He is so used to travelling alone, and even has his usual room on Crystal Serenity, but this time is sharing it with son number one.

For me, it's odd to be receiving e mails from both of them, and pictures of my eldest, globetrotting around Europe!

To prove they are both there, here is the official Crystal photograph, of them beside Serenity:

The first two days were spent in Venice, and here he is again, sporting a Crystal t-shirt given as a present from a previous trip:

After a day at sea, they arrived in Katakolon, Greece, and spent a very pleasant time having a good look around.

But it isn't all fun.
Robin has also been working hard. Not only on the programme for his recital in a few days time, but also the new pieces and arrangements for the concerts in Spain, with Izzy Cooper, which are on the 27th and 28th of August.
You can see details of the Spanish concerts, including the official poster, here.

Meanwhile, here at Hillhouse it has also been busy.
I have been very pleased with a number of comments recently over on our MySpace page.
Go and have a look, and if you haven't been there for a while, you'll see there is now another track added, 'Footsteps of the Moai', taken from the new CD, 'Eyes That Talk To The Sky'.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Wife of a Musician - Revisited

Robin and son have been enjoying Venice and the last I heard had just visited the Vivaldi museum.

I am pretty sure that after a couple of hours sightseeing the pair will return to their quarters as Robin will need to start rehearsing.
Whilst son is on holiday, Robin certainly isn't.
He will have a few high profile and high pressure concerts in the next few weeks on Crystal Serenity.

But I, as I completed some regular site checks, was once again struck by the number of followers we have, interested in the 'wife' of the musician, as much as the 'life' of the musician.

So, as I reflect on the trials of the last few days, it seemed an appropriate time to point people in the right direction for posts related to the 'wife' of this particular musician.

For example, 'The Wife of a Musician - Part 1 - The Music' seemed a good starting point.

Neatly followed by 'Part 2 - Travel'. (Very appropriate at the moment...)

Guitarists nails have been mentioned many times here, and this post looks at the problem from a slightly different perspective, 'Guitarists Hands - and Nails'.

'Sound Checks Complete and Wives of Musicians Unite', has always been a popular post.

Or maybe you could try, 'Creativity and the Wife of a Musician'.

Finally, for today, 'A View From The Stage'.

There are others, so if your desperate for more, then take a look around. Alternatively, look at any post and read between the lines - I did after all write them...

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Hill and Son on Crystal Serenity

Excuse my absence for a few days but it has been a busy time.
Robin has spent the grand total of three days at home before embarking on a lengthy 4week trip away.

This will be something of an ordeal for all involved.
We have occasionally coped with three weeks but never four.

However, Robin has company for part of the month.
Our eldest son has joined him.
He has seen his Dad in concert many times before, but never on foreign trips, so there has been great excitement here.

Son number one won't be there for the whole time, but his presence will certainly help Robin cope with being away from home for so long.
What started out as a simple 2 week trip, escalated into a complicated sequence of events, which will become clear over the next few weeks, so watch this space...

But for now, they have arrived in Venice, are settling into their room on Crystal Serenity, a territory that Robin is very familiar with, and is looking forward to showing his young companion.

I meanwhile am recovering from a hectic few days.
So I am feeling a little jaded, and yes, I am expecting a great deal of support and sympathy from the blogging community.
Thank you in anticipation.
I didn't have to wait long - I've already had a message via Twitter and I haven't even posted yet!

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Hill at Home and the Nigel Kennedy Effect

Robin is home, albeit for only three days.
As he is playing twice in this short time, we are in for a busy weekend.
However, there has been time for him to catch up with all that has been occurring at home in his absence.
One thing in particular caught his attention.
The violin.

Twitter friends will know that son number two has started to learn the violin.
We are in the very early stages, (thank goodness for mutes), but, he is coming on in leaps and bounds.

One thing Robin has always encouraged in his students, and in fact mentions in, 'The Guitar Gymnasium', is to watch and learn from other musicians. Whatever the instrument.
To see a virtuoso performance is a great inspiration and worth a million CDs.

So, Robin was keen to see how our 5 year old had progressed after watching the recording of Nigel Kennedy at The Proms the other day. This is the post I ran about it at the time, 'Nigel Kennedy Proms 2008 - Monocle Poppin' Innit?'

I must say Robin was impressed.
Sound quality and bow control and were all greatly improved.
Enthusiasm and imagination were enhanced with new compositions called, 'Always Love Your Monkey', and 'Land of the Winds', rather atonal and a bit 'far out' for me, but none the less, a musical experience.
This progress was backed up by his teachers words at the end of his last lesson, "More Nigel Kennedy please!"

So yes, at any age, it is so important to go and see musicians play, if possible live, but as we found, just as important to watch on the television if you get the chance.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

A 'Lollipop' in Cannes

Robin has spent a hot and humid day in Cannes.
I must confess my sympathy was 'reserved' to say the least, as I contended with two children, housebound by rain, and not so quietly going mad.

However, Cannes always brings back a flood of memories for Robin.
Our day started with 'over the 'phone' reminiscing, all with musical connections, some I have mentioned before, and often connected with Madeline Bell.

At one point Robin did ask me if son number one knew where he was.
He did.
He had in fact woke this morning and asked the latest destination.
When I informed him that Robin was in Cannes he replied, "Oh, right, well that's nice. That's where one of my films has been shown."
For those new to the blog, this is what he was talking about.

To watch the short film either check out the links or click here.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Prepare for 'Viva La Classica!' - Robin Hill and Izzy Cooper

Robin continues to be busy whilst away on the Queen Victoria.
He has made a quick visit to Gibraltar and is certainly enjoying the sunshine after a month at home, in which it rained constantly!

But he has to prepare for his second concert, which will be held tomorrow, so only allowed himself an hour or so on land, before returning to continue his rehearsals.

Robin is also putting the finishing touches to some arrangements for the very special concerts on the 27th and 28th of August, with Izzy Cooper, 'Viva La Classica!'

The programme is varied, and Robin has produced some fantastic arrangements, which compliment Izzy's voice beautifully.
Publicity is well under way over in Costa Blanca, as you can see in this interview with Izzy, by Jack Troughton, 'The Return of Izzy'.

It's an interesting article which tells you how the concerts came about, and some hints at the programme, which covers everything from 'Les Filles de Cadiz' by Leo Delibes, to Gypsy Kings!

Held in the gardens of Teulada's Salon El Canor, they will be two very special evenings.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Power of the Internet - Stolen Lute Update

Do you remember a post I put up in March, 'Have You Seen This Lute?'

Well, I have an update for you.

Late last night I had an e mail from the owner of this delightful instrument.
His lute has been returned, and all thanks to the internet.
Apparently, the lute was put on eBay!!!
If you recall, the Lute Society had been informed of the loss, and thankfully a vigilant member came across it as they browsed.
They recognised it as the stolen lute and contacted the owner.
After a quick call to the police, it was recovered, along with many other stolen items.

This makes me think the thieves had no idea what they had, or, how to dispose of it.
Thankfully due to their ignorance and the keen eye of the lute society member, their little plan was foiled.

As I said at the end of the last post on this matter, "Lets see if the power of the internet can reunite this instrument with its rightful owner."
Well, the internet has proved itself as an extremely powerful tool on this occasion, as without it, this lute could have been lost forever.

Friday, August 01, 2008

New Release on CD Baby 'Eyes That Talk To The Sky'

Today I can announce that a new CD has been released on CD Baby.

'Eyes That Talk To The Sky' is now available on CD Baby, with iTunes, Napster, Rhapsody, and many others to follow shortly.

This is a very different album, comprising of all original Robin Hill compositions, which have been inspired by Robin's fascination with the island of Rapa Nui, also known as Easter Island.

As long as I have known Robin he has been intrigued by this curious and enigmatic place, which is reflected in this recording, by lyrical and emotional guitar compositions.

It's the sort of CD that you should put on, sit back, and relax...and after the last few days here at Hillhouse, that is exactly what I shall be doing this evening.
Go over and have a listen to the clips and I hope you enjoy!