Reviews

'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

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Review of 2009

As is traditional at this time of year, I have decided to do a quick review, and highlight some of the most popular blog posts.

2009 has certainly been busy.

Despite global recession Robin has travelled to over 30 countries (I gave up counting in the end...) and performed to many thousands of people.
It is always a delight when Robin receives comments and feedback after a concert, and when someone goes to the trouble of seeking the artist out to express their enthusiasm, it is even more rewarding.

It hasn't all been good though.

We have been plagued by 'pirates' with well in excess of 10 000 illegal downloads, and those are the ones I know about.

Not unrelated, as major record companies try to find a way around these issues, was a particular low spot for me, as we had to pull out of recording Robin's concerto, 'Eternal Dances' with the fabulous London Symphony Orchestra due to funding problems related to the recession.
However, yesterday I was delighted to receive an email from a gentleman in Ireland, who had heard one movement played on RTE, and was so taken by it that he managed to contact me to express his enthusiasm.
I know that this piece will be an exceptional addition to the classical guitar concerto repertoire and will therefore pursue the project with renewed energy in 2010.

Looking back through some of the blog posts in 2009 there were a few that stood out.

Back in February we joined Reverbnation.
This post, 'The Stories Behind the Music - Robin Hill on Reverbnation' does exactly as it says. A little insight into each of the pieces available on the player.

Then in March there was a performance of Rodrigo's, 'Concierto de Aranjuez' and the corresponding post, 'The Concierto de Aranjuez, an ancient vinyl and advice on nail care.'

In June we were delighted to discover that one of Robin's pieces, 'Dolor de Muelas' had been nominated for an award, 'JPF Music Awards 2009 - Nominee...Robin Hill!!'
Whilst the piece didn't go onto win, it was a massive achievement to reach this stage.

Also in June a surprise favourite post that came about from a simple question posed on Twitter, as to whether musicians like to eat before, or after, a concert.
I'm indebted to all those that replied, and would like you to know that this post continues to be read daily around the world! 'To Eat or Not to Eat - Before a Concert'.

Then in July a milestone was reached as we celebrated our 3rd Birthday. Quite an achievement in the blogging world, and one that I am rather proud of. 'Life of a Musician' 3rd Birthday'.

By far the most popular post of the entire blog, never mind the last three years, was written in October.
'Music Practice Tips - Classical Guitar' continues to be read worldwide on a daily basis.
The post itself is an extract from Robin's book, 'The Guitar Gymnasium', so all those who have found it interesting should perhaps order themselves a copy, as the post is only a fraction of information that has been tried and tested over a lengthy performing career.

But for now I would like to thank all my readers for continuing to follow the life of this particular musician and to wish you all a very happy and healthy 2010.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Back to the Amazon

As you know, prior to Christmas, Robin was in South America.
It's actually the second time this year that he has ventured up the Amazon, here's the post I wrote last time:
'Arrival in the Amazon, Caruso and Fitzcarraldo'

Before Crystal Symphony set sail there was a couple of days to enjoy Manaus, Brazil, especially as Robin had 9 days before his first concert...

Here you can see the famous Opera House and beautifully decorated tree:





A trip to the fish market highlighted the many different fish available when shopping in the Amazon, Robin was however quite pleased to be recovering from a cold and therefore had a reduced sense of smell...




It was in the tiny village of Boca de Valeria that one really sensed they had arrived in the Amazon:



This is a typical village house:



A local tradition for recycling involves old Kayaks. Put to good use growing flowers and herbs:




It was a particularly long trip, especially for 2 concerts, but both were received enthusiastically with standing ovations.
Appropriately Robin played lots of South American music, featuring composers such as Federico Bustamente, Dilermando Reis, Pernambuco and Heitor Villa-Lobos.



Robin kept busy though with lots of practice and plenty of table tennis although he declined to try piranha fishing.
Not being a fisherman, I think it was a wise choice, his fingers are rather important to him....

There were plenty of concerns about getting home for Christmas.
First British Airways threatening to strike. And as soon as this situation resolved, the weather changed.
Severe snow hit the UK.
Robin left Buenos Aires, Argentina, for Heathrow without any problems, and 15 hours later arrived to find his connecting flight cancelled.
Eventually a coach was supplied and a travel weary musician slowly made his way home.

At least it gave the rest of us time to make this little fellow for him:


Wednesday, December 09, 2009

'Musical Bar'

As Robin makes his way up the Amazon on Crystal Symphony, it became obvious that Christmas preparations were underway in Manaus, Brazil:



He has already visited some incredible places and I'm hoping for photographs soon.
However sending them is proving a problem just at the moment.
But regardless of the fantastic sights he is seeing Robin has two concerts to prepare for, so he is keeping busy.

Meanwhile I thought I would share this joke with you.

It was sent to me by our wonderful friend Paul Griffin.

So at this busy time of year, take a few minutes to sit back, relax and release the inner musician...

Musical Bar

C, E-flat and G go into a bar. The bartender says, "sorry,
but we don't serve minors." So E-flat leaves, and C and G
have an open fifth between them. After a few drinks, the
fifth is diminished and G is out flat. F comes in and tries
to augment the situation, but is not sharp enough.

D comes in and heads for the bathroom saying, "Excuse me.
I'll just be a second." Then A comes in, but the bartender
is not convinced that this relative of C is not a minor.
Then the bartender notices B-flat hiding at the end of the
bar and says, "Get out! You're the seventh minor I've found
in this bar tonight."

E-Flat comes back the next night in a three-piece suit with
nicely shined shoes. The bartender says, "you're looking
sharp tonight. Come on in, this could be a major
development." Sure enough, E-flat soon takes off his suit
and everything else, and is au natural.

Eventually C sobers up and realizes in horror that he's
under a rest. C is brought to trial, found guilty of
contributing to the diminution of a minor, and is sentenced
to 10 years of D.S. without Coda at an upscale correctional
facility.


AXJ66SAEE4BT

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Monte Carlo or Bust of Napoleon?

Travelling around the Mediterranean on board the luxurious Queen Victoria isn't a bad way to spend two weeks of your life.
However, for Robin, it was no holiday.
Four concerts, all entirely different programmes, require an awful lot of preparation.
The concerts were split. Two within the first few days, and the final two towards the end of the trip.
Consequently, Robin had time to visit some incredible places, in between practicing and rehearsals.

Firstly, here is a more unusual image of the Queen Victoria, and a picture Robin is rather proud of:



Then, a more conventional view of the QV, nestled in the background whilst docked in Ajaccio, Corsica:



Throughout Ajaccio you can find many statues of Napoleon Bonaparte as he was born here in 1769:



One can't help imagining that Napoleon would have walked down this very street at some point:



After a day in Civitavecchia, which consisted mainly of rehearsals, they arrived in Monte Carlo, Monaco. Robin has visited Monte Carlo many times and has very fond memories of this particular trip, 'Monte Carlo and Madeline Bell'.
Only in Monte Carlo would the corner shop sell Ferrari's...and why has the motorbike in the foreground got 2 front wheels?




I must say I rather like the posters for the Monte Carlo Orchestre Philharmonique:





And this beautiful stairway, which is apparently much larger than it appears in this photograph:



Plus a typical church below the famous mountains of Monte Carlo:



After all this French speaking it seemed appropriate that Robin was reading this book:





But now Robin is home.
The concerts all went very well and the director is keen for him to return.
He may have to wait a while.
Next stop, well, you'll have to wait and see...

Monday, October 19, 2009

Music Practice Tips - Classical Guitar

Today is a very special post by the man himself - Robin Hill!

It was originally written as a guest blog for the Australian violinist Ben Clapton, back in 2007.

Enjoy!



Music Practice Tips – Classical Guitar

By Robin Hill

When approached by Ben, to write a guest blog spot on ‘practice tips’ for the classical guitar, I wondered where to start.
Having written an entire book, ‘The Guitar Gymnasium, A Mental and Physical Workout, Designed to Develop Flawless Technique,’ published by Mel Bay, it seemed a difficult task to summarise into an article.
Most of my thinking on these matters has been precipitated by the ‘front line’ experiences of concertising, recording, broadcasting and teaching, and a life long passion for the classical guitar, and music in general.

Outstanding performance on any musical instrument can only be achieved through hard and painstaking work. The musician who excels above his colleagues is, generally, the one who has taken more pains.
Regular practice is essential, with technical work of high priority, and whilst students may not want to hear this, there is no escape from scales and arpeggios!

One of the most basic and important principles in guitar technique is economy of movement, not only of both hands, but, of any part of the body involved in the production of the note.
It’s worth investing in a full length, movable, mirror, as I watch myself playing frequently, not out of vanity, but to constantly check positioning and posture.
For practice, I’ll break it down into sections, and start with the arpeggio.

The Arpeggio.

The right hand should remain completely stable with the knuckles immobile and parallel to the strings. The fingers themselves move in a minimal way, pressing, rather than hitting the string.
Initially you can practice this silently by touching the string but without producing any sound.
This helps to establish playing ‘from the string’ and using the minimum amount of movement.
Silent practice should be accompanied by ‘hearing’ the notes mentally, and thus, reinforcing the inner ear.
In fact it is always good practice to ‘hear’ notes in one’s mind a split second before playing them.

Initially the arpeggio should be practiced slowly, gradually increasing the tempo, and the use of a metronome is recommended, but not all the time.
Fluency, technical command and accuracy are paramount.
Variety in practice is important, try to surprise your fingers with new challenges and studies, but always practice attentively. Be aware of the deadly routine of wading, without concentration, through studies and exercises.



The Scale.

There are many different methods of playing scales on the guitar. As a general rule, if alternating between i and m, it is undesirable to cross strings using mi when ascending and im when descending. Whilst not always possible to avoid, it should be seriously considered. So, the guitarist must learn a flexible approach to scale playing, using inventive fingering to avoid undesirable crossings.
It should be remembered, that printed fingering is never sacred, there are usually viable alternatives.
During scale playing the same principles of economy of movement and right and left hand stability apply.
I have also found that practice with the backs of the nails i.e. movement in the opposite direction to the normal stroke, is extremely beneficial. It’s a similar effect to practising rasgueados and leads to improving the right hand’s ‘feel good’ factor.
When practising major and minor scales try playing along with the metronome (on the offbeat) and also using various rhythms.

So regular technical exercises are essential. But one doesn’t need to have an instrument in one’s hands to practise, particularly in the field of memorization.
I personally derive a great deal of benefit from not only ‘playing’ a piece mentally, and hearing the sound and timbre of the notes, but also in imagining a successful concert scenario.
Even when practising with the instrument I feel it is an intellectual rather than a physical exercise.

The temptation to play a piece up to tempo should be resisted, as unless the technical and musical foundations have been laid we will not gain mastery over the music.
The repetition of, ‘hit and miss’ renditions, only serves to ingrain bad habits further.
Difficult passages must be played slowly, with phrasing and musical expression, to prevent the bad habits developing.

One never arrives at the point when one can say, ‘I can now play,’ it’s a lifetimes work for anyone, whoever they are, and one’s ideals are often subtly changing.
I am frequently asked how much practice should be done each day, but it is, of course, quality and not quantity that is paramount.
Generally I practice no more than one hour at a time, but it is a pointless exercise, unless concentration and attention are maintained.
Over an average day I would practise at least five hours, about half the time on technical work, and the other half on musical aspects (learning new repertoire, maintaining established repertoire etc.)

I strongly recommend reading and re-reading every possible tutor and manual on playing and technique. Not just for the guitar, but different instruments, particularly the violin and piano, as there are very often common principles to playing any instrument.
It is impossible to overestimate the importance of going to hear and see as many first class players as possible, of any instrument, as this is one of the most exciting and inspirational ways to learn.
But it is also important not to forget one’s original inspirations and to refer back to them often. They are, after all, the reason you play, and generally, you will still find them inspiring.
Listen and luxuriate in your favourite recordings and let them fuel your enthusiasm. Although there are now many fine players of the guitar worldwide, it is still, unfortunately, rare to get the chance to see and hear them. If you do get the chance, make sure you take it and hear them live, it’s worth a million CDs.

Also play with other musicians. The guitar combines particularly well with the violin, the voice, the flute, the mandolin, the recorder, the oboe and with all manner of small chamber ensembles. This will open you up to the full musical picture and not just ‘your’ part, increasing your appreciation and pleasure on the way.

Much of the information I have discussed today, has come from my book, which also has all the technical exercises, I work through each day.
I will also be going into more detail about practice and performance over on my blog in the next few weeks and months.
But for now, many thanks to Ben for the invitation, and, happy practising!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Lunchtime Recital

If you are in the North West of the UK and want to liven up your lunchtime this Thursday, 15th October, then why not go to a concert.

It is the last chance to see Robin perform in the UK this year, so if you can make it, the place to be is St. Andrews & St. George's Church.

Lunch will be served from midday and the concert starts promptly at 12.45, finishing at 1.30.

The programme will include Renaissance Lute Pieces, Tarrega, Dilermando Reis, Iradier, Sabicas and some traditional flamenco, so is an ideal way to brighten up your Thursday.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

In Ibiza with Robin Hill & Izzy Cooper

Anyone considering a career in music might be swayed by this post.

The years and years of dedication to your instrument can result in some very special events.
To be booked to play at a private party on a private beach was one such occasion.

Robin was flown from the UK, whilst Izzy Cooper arrived from Spain, and with only two days rehearsal it was a pretty tight schedule.
However, they have performed together before and had been working on their parts separately for some time.

By all accounts it was a fabulous evening. But then with such a beautiful backdrop everyone was bound to be moved:




As Robin and Izzy performed the sea rolled gently in behind them and after the interval Robin couldn't resist informing Izzy that the waves were now only a matter of feet from them....
Ever the professional, and also used to Robin's sense of humour, she managed to remain calm and they finished the programme without getting their feet wet.

Whilst not rehearsing Robin could sit back and enjoy the view from his hotel:




And in fact spoke to me a number of times from his balcony:




But this was always going to be a busy weekend.
The next morning Robin had an early flight to Stansted as he was performing a concert that night at the Rhodes Art Complex, Bishop's Stortford.

They had thoughtfully put a poster in the window so that the travel and work weary musician knew he had arrived at the correct destination:



As I write Robin is off on his travels once again and can currently be found somewhere in Canada.
But more of that trip on another occasion.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Robin Hill - UK Concert - Don't Miss it!

With only a couple of weeks to go it is time for a reminder.

Robin will be performing at Rhodes Arts Complex , Bishop's Stortford, on Saturday 26th September. More information and ticket details can be found here.

It is one of only two concerts in the UK for the remainder of this year, as the rest of Robin's work will be performed abroad.
So, if you have an interest in the guitar, and music in general, then Rhodes Arts Complex is the place to be.

As James Burton of the Herts and Essex Observer recently said, "...Next up is a trio of concerts by some top musicians...Rounding off the hat-trick is classical guitar virtuoso Robin Hill.... his recital will be a tour through the ages, including tunes from Renaissance composers through to the present."
You can read the full report here, 'Autumn delights at Rhodes'.

Sadly I won't be able to attend.
Robin is flying straight there from a private function in Ibiza with soprano Izzy Cooper.
But we are all in for a busy weekend.
Robin will be setting off home bright and early the next day as an eager youngest son will be awaiting his return.
It will be his 7th birthday!

Friday, September 04, 2009

Samba, Bossa Nova and the Joy of Latin Homework

It has been very nice to have Robin home for a few weeks but he has not been idle.

He has been working hard on an alternative show which he has been asked to organise, featuring himself, plus an extensive band.

The pieces are varied, ranging from original compositions to arrangements of standards, which have all been given the 'Hill' treatment. There's everything from latin/jazz to swing and even some rock.

One piece, an original composition, is called Brasilia.

This is in a bossa nova style featuring guitar, bass, flute, clarinet, alto & tenor sax, trumpet, trombone, Latin American percussion and even a cuica. All resulting in a rather fabulous latin/jazz feel.

'Dolor de Muelas', which has recently been nominated for an award, is a piece in a samba style which has also been given the 'Big Band' treatment.

Arrangements have also been done for a number of well known pieces such as 'Can't Buy Me Love', 'Bach Prelude', 'Fragile', 'Here Comes the Sun', 'This Masquerade' 'Classical Gas' and many more, all naturally heavily featuring the guitar.

Amongst this musical extravaganza will also be a few pieces from Robin's solo guitar repertoire.

The whole show will be taken for a test drive before too long, and we will be searching for various musicians at some point.
But be warned, Robin is known for writing rather tricky trumpet parts, you only have to listen to 'Celebration' in the sidebar to see what I mean...
You can read more about Force Ten here.

Paul Griffin is responsible for hitting the very high notes on the trumpet. Based in New York, Paul was the product of a very musical background. His father Chris was one third of Benny Goodman's 'Biting Brass' trumpet section, and Paul himself played at John F. Kennedy's funeral.

I wonder if we can coax Paul back out on the road. That would be some show....

Monday, August 10, 2009

Interested in a Course on Music & Creative Industries Management?

An exciting and innovative new course has come to my attention which may be of interest to some of you.
The 'Music and Creative Industries Management - MSc' aims to 'support careers in media, creative and digital industries, with particular relevance to music.'

The course is a part of the 'Business Logistics Innovation & Systems Research Centre', or the more manageable, BLIS Research Centre, at the University of Bolton.

There really will be many aspects of a career in music covered, both theoretical and applied.
From sound engineering, graphic design, the games industry, performance skills, management and development, e-marketing tools, legal aspects, copyright and many more.

If you are lucky, you may even see me there holding a few workshops on the murky role of the manager/agent and applied promotional strategies
If you are even luckier, then Robin will also be available to discuss more about the creative process, performing and recording.
There really is no substitute, for anyone contemplating a professional career in music, for the opportunity to talk to someone already out there in the field.

There may also even be the opportunity to be involved in organising and implementing a large outdoor event, which would provide very valuable 'hands on' experience.

So go and take a look at the course but remember there are limited places so don't wait too long.
Hopefully we'll see some of you there.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

'Life of a Musician' 3rd Birthday!

Today is the third birthday of 'Life of a Musician'.
I'm amazed how quickly the time has passed and how much as been going on.

Regular readers will know that I haven't posted as much recently, but there is a reason.
Unfortunately I can't yet share it with you!
Suffice to say that a project later this year has been taking up a lot of my time and hence the lack of posts.
But many thanks to you all for being patient, and returning regularly to keep updated.

Here's a reminder of our 1st birthday, 'Happy Birthday to Robin Hill's Classical Guitar Blog', and 2nd birthday, '2 Years of Blogging'.

In the past year a lot has happened and you can scroll down through the archives to catch up with events.

MySpace continues to flourish, Twitter has leaped from 93 followers and 838 updates a year ago, to 421 followers and 3795 updates!
Last year we were at 597 post, and now this will be the 687th post!
We have joined Reverbnation, to reach out to even more people, and new Cd's will be available before too long.

But for now, thank you to all those around the world who regularly drop by, and also to any casual visitors.
I hope to see you all over the next year, as we continue the journey.
Feel free to comment or send me a message if there are any areas you would like me to discuss.

For now though, time to eat cake.

Friday, July 17, 2009

BBC Proms 2009

It's that time of year again!

Tonight is the opening night of the world's greatest classical music festival, The Proms 2009.

From 17 July - 12 September an amazing 100 concerts will take place.

The marathon begins today and you can view tonight's programme here.

Coverage of the first night of the 115th season can also be seen on BBC2 starting at 8pm.

To make sure you don't miss anything, BBC Radio 3 have designed a lovely widget which I have displayed below.
This will be regularly updated with videos and links, so feel free to call back over the next 2 months to keep an eye on events.

Enjoy!

BBC Proms 2009

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

A Man, A Guitar and A Song...

There are many hazards when travelling, particularly with musical instruments.

As regular readers will know, we have frequently had problems, especially with lost luggage.
Here are just a few random posts: 'A case of the Borrowed Tuxedo', 'The Robin Hill Saga' and 'No News is Good News?'

But by far the worst situation Robin has dealt with was this one, 'Missing - Miguel Rodriguez Churchdoor...'

Thankfully, we have never had the problem that Dave Carrol of the band, 'Sons of Maxwell' has had to deal with.
You can read the full story here: 'United Breaks Guitars'.
But below is Dave Carrol's musical response to the whole situation. It's worth watching, and also to remember, never come between a man and his guitar...
I wish Dave Carrol the very best of luck with any future guitars.

United Breaks Guitars

Friday, July 03, 2009

Still Waters Run Deep

At last I can reveal the final stage of the Evian campaign!

If you remember, I recently ran a post, 'Arrival in New York and Baby Moonwalk' which included a rather amusing video.

I also ran another post, 'To Eat or Not to Eat - Before a Concert' in which I mention the amount of energy that Robin expends during a performance.

The need to rehydrate is paramount and Robin always has a bottle of water backstage.
After seeing the latest video I may well insist it's a bottle of Evian.
If it can have this effect on babies just imagine his next concert....

The Moonwalking babies have been in training.

They may not be playing Rodrigo's 'Concierto de Aranjuez', complete with 'baby' orchestra, or even attempting some flamenco with 'Malaguena', but I think you'll find the final video rather entertaining, if not a little surreal.

Take a look at the Evian Roller Babies:

Evian Roller Babies international version

At last I can reveal the final stage of the Evian campaign!

If you remember, I recently ran a post, 'Arrival in New York and Baby Moonwalk' which included a rather amusing video.

I also ran another post, 'To Eat or Not to Eat - Before a Concert' in which I mention the amount of energy that Robin expends during a performance.

The need to rehydrate is paramount and Robin always has a bottle of water backstage.
After seeing the latest video I may well insist it's a bottle of Evian.
If it can have this effect on babies just imagine his next concert....

The Moonwalking babies have been in training.

They may not be playing Rodrigo's 'Concierto de Aranjuez', complete with 'baby' orchestra, or even attempting some flamenco with 'Malaguena', but I think you'll find the final video rather entertaining, if not a little surreal.

Take a look at the Evian Roller Babies:






Monday, June 29, 2009

JPF Music Awards 2009 - Nominee... Robin Hill!

We were delighted to discover on Friday, (many thanks to Nik Payton in Brazil for telling me!) that Robin has been nominated for the JPF Music Awards 2009.
The song is, Dolor de Muelas, and it has been shortlisted under the Latin Jazz Song section, amongst 20 other nominees.
To see the full list you can visit here.

This is a substantial achievement.
After 14 months of screening with 5 long rounds and 3 groups of judges made up of the music industry, artists/writer peers and music fans, the nominees were finally selected.
Apparently, 42 000 albums were submitted and a total of 560 000 songs across all genres!
According to the information I have this means that less than 1/3 of 1% were nominated.

Dolor de Muelas, (which can be found on 'Virtuoso' CD Baby, iTunes) may appear an unusual title and that's because when translated it means 'toothache'. At the time of composition Robin was suffering with the aforementioned and decided it would be rather amusing.
However we didn't realise the piece would be under so much scrutiny!
Dolor de Muelas has a freewheeling, samba groove and you can read more about it in the original post, 'Track 2: Dolor de Muelas and Manic Management...'.

So I would just like to say thank you to the judges who selected Robin's piece of music for this stage and wish everyone luck for the final round.
Maybe we'll see some of you in Nashville TN in August...

Thursday, June 25, 2009

To Eat or Not To Eat - Before A Concert

The other day I had an idle thought which I put to my Twitter followers.
Basically I was interested in the eating habits of the musicians amongst them.
The tweet said,

"To the musicians out there. Do you like to eat before a performance or do you prefer to wait until afterwards?"

I was very pleased when I received replies from soprano/pianist Barbara Rathbone, classical musician Jamie Pullman and oboe/English horn player, Patty Mitchell.

I have written before about musicians requirements in preparation of a concert.
Here's an example, 'Sex, Drugs and Classical Music', and another, 'Nigel Kennedy - Running on Pure Adrenaline'.

But this related more to the use of Beta Blockers, not the daily requirement of food.

However I have also discussed Robin's needs pre concert here, with, 'Bananas on the High Seas and Bottom E', and 'From, Fish - Brain Food for Musicians, to Oscar Peterson, to Elgar.'

Robin always eats before a performance, whether it is classical, or with a band. But there is a difference. When playing with a band he just feels better if he has eaten, but if performing a classical concert, he needs to.
I believe this is something to do with not only the increased pressure he feels when playing classical concerts, but also, the level of concentration that is required of him.
He's not alone in this.
The renowned guitarist, Julian Bream, has said that he always has a plentiful supply of sandwiches backstage to eat before his concert.

But you do have to watch these musicians.
There's an amusing anecdote around Handel and his dietary requirements.
He was frequently known, when entertaining guests, to suddenly announce he had a musical idea, and to leave the room.
The 'idea' was simply that he kept his high quality wine in his music room, whilst serving a cheaper version to his guests, and had simply 'nipped' out for a quick drink...
Whether or not the great man ate before a concert is not known but I would be extremely surprised if he didn't!

Getting back to the results of this highly unscientific research, well, the results were mixed.

Barbara, a singer, always eats after a performance as she finds eating before affects here voice. When I asked about the energy required to perform, she acknowledged it was adrenaline that got her through.

This is completely understandable. A singers needs are very different to other instruments.

The orchestral player Jamie Pullman had a different approach. If performing with the orchestra he ate before, but if with his quartet, then afterwards.
The increased exposure, and therefore pressure, of the quartet performance appears to alter his needs. Although he did add that he found it easier to concentrate on the music if he was 'uncomfortable' due to being hungry.

Patty Mitchell, another orchestral player, always eats before a performance, although only a small amount. I assume this is provide just the required amount of energy without causing discomfort.

It seems, as you would expect, that every musician has their own way of dealing with the question of whether to eat before or after a performance.
It also appears that nerves/stress, the need to focus on the job in hand, and the ability to concentrate all play a part.

From observing Robin perform over many years I know the amount of energy he expends when on stage. Yes, when you watch a programme about classical musicians and see them sweating away under the bright lights, it's all true, not just sprayed on for effect.

But there was one aspect to all this that struck me.
Only 'classical' musicians amongst my twitter followers responded to the question.
Initially I had addressed it to all musicians.
There could be many reasons for this.
They may not have been 'watching' at the time the tweet was posted, they could have been busy doing other things rather than replying to a random tweet from me, or they simply may not have felt the issue was important to them for their particular style of playing.
This in itself raises more questions so I would love to hear from musicians from all walks of life to hear their views.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Arrival in New York and a Baby Moonwalk

There has been a frustratingly small amount of communication from Robin over the last few days.
By now he will have performed his final concert on the QM2 and later today will be arriving in New York.
At least I shall then be able to speak to him and find out a few more details.

I do know that his first concert went very well and he was delighted with the response from both the audience and also fellow musicians.
Nicola Loud, winner of the BBC Young Musician of the Year at the age of 15, and the Tenor, Preston Coe, were also on the QM2, and most enthusiastic about the performance.

Likewise, Robin thoroughly enjoyed their concerts and also enjoyed having the opportunity to 'talk music'.

Now for the 'Baby Moonwalk'.
Well, this is connected with a post earlier in the week about the marketing strategies that are now an essential part of promoting your product.
And it is a rather funny example from Evian and their 'Live Young' campaign.
The outcome is somewhat given away in the title but it is still worth watching.
The interesting thing about this campaign is that the rest is unknown.
The only brief I have at this stage is, "They're small, they're incredible...and they're back on July 3rd."

So who knows what the next stage will be.
I'm hoping for a baby playing playing Rodrigo's, 'Concierto de Aranjuez', with a whole baby orchestra.
Or even a 'baby' soloist playing a fast and exuberant flamenco style piece such as Malaguena.
But we will have to wait and see.
I'll keep you posted.
Enjoy the Baby Moonwalk!



Monday, June 15, 2009

John Paul Gaultier and the Life of a Musician?

Robin is on the QM2 and has already completed his first concert.
It all went very well and he is now preparing for the next one.

But I haven't been idle as I've had other things to think about, and therefore have something a little different for you today.

I have been asked many times by various companies to 'discuss' their product on this blog.
Sometimes it's an easy decision to make.
If the product is relevant, and I believe in it, then there's a chance I will write about it.
Sometimes I just like the approach they have taken and think it might be nice to add something a little different.

However, it can also be a balancing act.
You don't want to alienate your regular readers with blog posts that won't interest them.

A few days ago I was approached to show a 'teaser video' for John Paul Gaultier.

Basically, "MA DAME is celebrating her first birthday and has invited an artist to the party whose favourite art is one of surprise".

I watched the video and thought it was very good.
Then spent some time trying to think of a way that I could possibly connect this to the 'Life of a Musician'.

Other than the fact that I am a fan of Gaultier perfume I couldn't really come up with anything.

But, the campaign does highlight the need to approach marketing from a new perspective.
The pressure to come up with fresh ideas, ways of connecting with ones audience, and making use of technological advances are all essential marketing tools.

So in the end, I decided that if John Paul Gaultier was happy to invest in me, then I should return the favour and show you the video.

But there are other reasons.

Those who regularly read the blog and twitter, will know that I follow, listen and try to learn from those at the cutting edge of promoting their music.
One of my roles is to try and convince the world of 'classical music' that this is the way forward.
As we try to encourage younger people to learn to love all types of music, we have to meet them in the arena in which they are most familiar, so the use of the Internet is vital.
Already there are changes, for example, many orchestras now use Twitter as another way to promote themselves and engage their audience.

So that's why I decided to show you the video.
It's a great example of creating a buzz around your product, and, in this case, beautifully done.

So, for a few days, enjoy 'What's happening at Jean Paul Gaultier Maison de Courture' by clicking on the image in the sidebar.

Monday, June 08, 2009

A Brace of Concerti

The last few days on the Queen Victoria went very well. Two concerts performed, one more standing ovation and many lovely comments from both audience and staff.

But it wasn't all work.
One day was spent in Geiranger, one of the most breathtakingly beautiful places Robin has seen, with air that smelt like wine - apparently.
Then they moved onto Bergen, where, despite the pull of a visit to Edvard Grieg's House, Robin felt he had to resist and remain onboard as he had a performance that night.

But since his return there has been a lot going on.
Things are moving on with Robin's latest concerto, 'Eternal Dances', so final decisions are being made about every aspect of the score.

Those following me on Twitter have been witnessing this final editing process.
They will have also have seen that this isn't achieved in isolation.
I have frequently been called in to listen to, and look at, the entire orchestral score. Note by note.

I know, it's late in the day as discussions are already underway with various orchestras, but I suppose the composer has the right to make changes as and when he feels it appropriate or at least up to the point when the parts are sent out...

Whilst waiting for further news of 'Eternal Dances', you can read an old post, and review, about 'Concerto Primavera', another of Robin's compositions, here.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

From Wild Wood to Norwegian Wood

The life of this musician has been a busy one.
Last weekend Robin enjoyed a very successful concert in Kent at the 'Wild Wood Barn'.
The venue was sold out with an appreciative audience and very hospitable hosts.
Robin was interested to discover that the home of Charles Darwin was merely a few yards down the road, but sadly wasn't open when he was ready to set off home again.

After a long drive back he had only a few days to prepare for another trip.
This time joining the Queen Victoria in Southampton for a week in the Norwegian Fjords.

His first concert was the very next day, and I must say that I have rarely heard Robin so enthusiastic about his performance.
Like many musicians he is highly critical of his work, but on this occasion he actually said it was one of the best he had done.
The audience seemed to agree as he was rewarded with a standing ovation and many shouts for more. It was left to the MC to calm them as Robin left the venue.

However, due to the reception he received, he has been asked to perform an extra concert this evening, so is currently preparing a third programme!

It hasn't all been work though.
Yesterday he was in Stavanger, and enjoyed a walk around despite the weather being cold and wet.
However, today the sun is shining and Robin is investigating Alesund.

I look forward to news of the concert this evening and also hearing about some very interesting places coming up in the next few days.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Toucan Play...

The concert last night evolved in a rather extraordinary way for two musicians from Huddersfield.
They actually first met in Lima airport, Peru!
Robin spotted Simeon, submerged beneath a pile of flute cases, and likewise, Simeon rightly surmised, with incredible deductive powers, that Robin was also a musician, as he was sitting with his guitar flight case.
The two struck up a conversation and found they were destined for the same place.

Here they are, later in the trip when they were in Costa Rica:



Last night the venue was full, with some members of the audience travelling quite large distances, as they had previously seen the pair play when in South America.


The programme was eclectic, with Simeon playing a wide variety of flutes and pan pipes in a combination of duets and solo performances.

Programme:

Entracte - Jacques Ibert Robin Hill/Simeon Wood

Fairie Queen - Trad. Robin Hill/Simeon Wood

She Moved Through the Fair - Trad. Robin Hill/Simeon Wood

Malaguena - Trad. Robin Hill

Un Dia de Noviembre - Leo Brouwer Robin Hill

Tango En Skai - Roland Dyens Robin Hill

Gabriel's Oboe Theme - Ennio Morricone Simeon Wood

Devotion - Simeon Wood Simeon Wood

Concerto in D - Vivaldi Robin Hill/Simeon Wood


INTERVAL

Sonata in D - Christian Gottlieb Scheidler Robin Hill/Simeon Wood

Grasping the Thistle - Simeon Wood Simeon Wood

Adagio: Concierto de Aranjuez - Rodrigo Robin Hill

Rakes of Kildare - Trad. Robin Hill/Simeon Wood

Danza Brasileira - Robin Hill Robin Hill


ENCORE

Improvisation - Robin Hill & Simeon Wood (Chinese Flute)

The concert was a great success and both musicians look forward to playing together in the near future.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

BBC Composers of the Year

The BBC are doing an excellent job, on both Radio and TV, promoting 'Composers of the Year'.
This weekend BBC Radio 3 are celebrating the 200th anniversary of Mendelssohn's birth with many hours of fabulous music. For more details you can visit here.

However, they also have a specific site dedicated to the 'Composers of the Year', Purcell, Handel, Haydn and Mendelssohn, with lots of information and audio extracts.

They even have a snazzy little button to make life easy for you!



As if that weren't enough, Conductor, 'Charles Hazlewood', is presenting, 'The Birth of British Music' on BBC 2 tonight at 8pm, commencing with 'Purcell:The Londoner'.

So, if you can't get to Robin's concert tonight, there are plenty of other inspiring and uplifting events going on, both on Radio and Television.

If you require even more Mendelssohn, then there is always, Hill/Wiltschinsky Guitar Duo performing 'Song Without Words Op62.No1' on their 'Arrival' CD, Track 8, found here, iTunes, and many other digital outlets.

So have a good weekend!

Friday, May 08, 2009

Robin Hill and Simeon Wood - In Concert

Rather late notice, and please don't sack the manager - after all, one of my Twitter friends, Jonathan Harris, said this about me today:

"#followfriday @annahill for knocking spots of other music industry managers in her use of the internet. and she does it for love !!"

But if you are in travelling distance of Shelley, Huddersfield, then you will be able to see Robin in concert with Simeon Wood.

As the promoters say:

Robin Hill and Simeon Wood in concert together
Saturday 9th May 2009, 7:30PM - 10:00PM
World-renowned guitarist Robin Hill joins forces with flautist Simeon Wood to become The Dream Team - hugely popular in this area this will be our first opportunity to hear them combined in one great evening of music- with their own laid back style!
Admission Details:
Tickets £10 (children & students £8) available from Shelley Spar Stores or ring 01484 604486


There will be a mixture of solo pieces by both performers and a number of duets. It will be a fabulous evening and a great way to spend your Saturday night.

Details can be seen here


For more information, contact:
Mrs Priestman
Tel: 01484 604486

Venue:
Shelley Village Hall,
Huddersfield Road,
Shelley,
HD8 8HE

Monday, April 27, 2009

An Unexpected Concert and the Palau de la Musica Catalana

Robin had an eventful first few days on the Queen Victoria.
Three concerts in three days, one of which came as rather a surprise.
After settling in, his first performance went very well, with a particularly good response from the audience to the three pieces by Dilermando Reis, and 'Zapateado', by Sabicas.

On the second day Robin couldn't understand why people kept saying they were looking forward to his concert - later. (He was lying on a sun lounger reading Sherlock Holmes at the time...)
As far as he was aware this was a day of rest and rehearsal.
Eventually, he returned to his room only to receive a frantic 'phone call.
There had been some sort of schedule mix up and he was asked to play an extra performance that very day - in an hours time.
Actually, I'm quite pleased I wasn't in the vicinity when he took the call...

Luckily Robin has four complete programmes at his fingertips at the moment, so he rushed off to warm up and prepare for this unexpected concert.
Despite the short notice the performance went very well, as did the one the following day.

Since then Robin has had plenty of time to recover.
He arrived in Barcelona and made straight for the 'Palau de la Musica Catalana'.
The reason for his interest, was not only the stunning building, but also because this was the venue for the premiere of Rodrigo's 'Concierto de Aranjuez', back in 1940.

He thoroughly enjoyed his day soaking up the history and only detoured to a guitar shop he has visited once before. (Mainly because it was nearby and Robin can't resist any guitar shop, but also because he has been there once before and discovered they stock copies of his book, 'The Guitar Gymnasium'.)

Since then he has been to Monte-Carlo, well actually a port not far away as the weather was too bad to dock in Monte-Carlo itself, and then to Civitavecchia.
Today he should have been in Alghero, Sardinia, but once again the weather has thwarted plans and the QV is unable to dock.
This is rather a shame as Alghero looks very nice and is also one of the few places Robin hasn't been to before.
Never mind. Maybe next time.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Miles Davis, Stravinsky, Herrmann and The Beatles - A Musical Connection?

One of the nice parts of Robin being home for a few weeks is that we get to spend time together listening to music.
Generally the whole family is involved in this practice and occasionally some strange conversations ensue.

It's so important for everyone to listen to a variety of styles, but more so for musicians.
For centuries musicians from all genres have listened to and learnt from their predecessors. Inevitably they are influenced by the music they hear and especially those pieces which have a powerful effect on them.

The whole conversation started as we listened to the Psycho Suite by Bernard Herrmann.
The original handwritten score for this seminal piece of film music was recently offered for auction but, suprisingly, didn't reach it's minimum price.

Herrmann always will be associated with the many fabulous scores he wrote to complement some of Alfred Hitchcock's most successful films.
One of the most famous being 'Psycho'.
Most people recognise the famous dissonant violin glissandi which are inextricably linked to the famous shower scene, but in fact the entire score is an outstanding piece of music.

This brought the conversation round to George Martin and The Beatles.
Apparently, after seeing Psycho, George Martin was inspired to write the string quartet arrangement for Eleanor Rigby.
When you listen to the original Beatles track rcorded in 1966 you can certainly hear the 'Psycho' influence.

But our musical connections route continued.
Robin felt there was another connection to Igor Stravinsky's 'The Rite of Spring'.
As we listened we both could hear echoes of Herrmann's Psycho Suite.
Could it be that Bernard Herrmann had been inspired by The Rite of Spring?

Then an even more unusual twist.
Robin realised there was a possible connection between the second lyrical theme from the Psycho score and Miles Davis' second contrasting lyrical theme from 'Milestones'....could it be that Herrmann was, wittingly or unwittingly, also influenced by Milestones?

We could certainly hear similarities between this and the second theme of Psycho which provides a perfect release of the tension created by the initial rhythmic and nervous twitching of the strings.
'Milestones' predates Psycho and could well have been part of Herrman's musical landscape.
No music is composed in a vacuum and influences can be very diverse and, sometimes, completely unexpected.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

'The Waterfront' - New on Reverbnation

Today I am going to talk about a new track I have added to the player in the side bar, which is also available on our Reverbnation page.

The piece is called 'The Waterfront', and came about after a long day in the recording studio with the Hill/Wiltschinsky Guitar Duo.

The engineer asked Robin to stay behind as they had been working on a piece and wanted some electric guitar adding.

Always ready for a challenge Robin put away his classical guitar and was duly supplied with an electric one.

The resulting piece of music is strangely hypnotic, and in a very different style to the one Robin had been working on all day!
In total it is 4 minutes 36 seconds long and as the piece progresses there are a few Hill specialties in there with some nice answering phrases.

So listen and enjoy 'The Waterfront', either in the side bar player, track 4, or over on Reverbnation.

Monday, March 30, 2009

The 'Concierto de Aranjuez', an ancient vinyl & advice on nail care

For a solo performer there is always something particularly exciting about being on stage with an orchestra.
The powerful sound of this mighty instrument, especially when sitting inside it, is incredible, and to be surrounded by so many people with the common interest of making music is a delight.

But not without its worries.
For the soloist a lot is at stake.
They shoulder the responsibility of the major part of the performance.
That's why so many months, and in fact years, go into the preparation. Robin was actually hard at work on this piece the day after this performance and had, as is often the case, learnt much from the previous day's experience.

Robin has performed Rodrigo's, 'Concierto de Aranjuez' a number of times before.
The most prominent being with the Liverpool Philharmonic in front of an audience of 3500 people.

But Saturday's concert with the Fylde Sinfonia, conducted by Peter Buckley, was equally important as was reflected by the full house and enthusiastic audience.

Already a comment, and question, have been left on Robin's site, in the guestbook. For anyone with an interest in guitarists and their nails you may like to read Robin's response!

But being a soloist is also a lonely pursuit.
Here's Robin trying out the acoustics in the venue earlier in the day:




Looking slightly preoccupied here:






The advantage Robin had was his guitar. After much deliberation he decided to use his 1980 Rodriguez. This is such a powerful instrument that only minimal amplification was needed, as you can see in this picture:





Between rehearsal and performance Robin was able to admire some of the other instruments:




Then of course you can always abandon your valuable guitar and leave it balanced precariously on a chair....




The concert itself went very well.
Audience, orchestra and soloist all enjoyed the experience and after the event Robin had the opportunity to speak to many people.
He was somewhat surprised to find himself talking to an ex-pupil, from 1981, who was brandishing a vinyl copy of, 'Virtuoso Music for Two Guitars' on Hyperion label, by Hill/Wiltschinsky!
We have recently re-released this album, plus a few bonus tracks, as 'Arrival'. You can read about it here, and listen to/buy on CD Baby, iTunes and many other digital outlets.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Super Mario, Shame Nose Flute, Guitar Strings Revisited

It has been quiet on the blog front since Robin's return from the Amazon but be assured there has been plenty going on.
The majority of time has been spent in practice, and lots of it, for concerts that are coming up and also working on new pieces.

However, there also seems to have been a stream of guitars arriving at the house, three in total, all to be tried, tested, and enjoyed.
Although all three are lovely instruments, none have passed the Hill test and will be returned in the next few days.
I shall not only be breathing a sigh of relief, but also very pleased to reclaim the downstairs of the house.
Three guitars in large flight cases, plus three huge boxes and the accompanying packaging, all take up rather a lot of space.

While all this has been going on I have rounded up another couple of unusual Google searches for you.
They are always popular and also serve to remind me about some of the strange things I have written about over the years.

1) How to play Mario on the guitar?

As we have two young sons I am fully aware that the person making this search was far more interested in Mario and Luigi than the Mario I was discussing..., but I hope they enjoyed it anyway. Here is where they landed:
'Hill/Wiltschinsky Guitar Duo Play Mario Gangi'

2) Polynesian nose flute national instrument

The post I wrote in 2007, 'Shame (Flute) about the African Nose Trumpet', has been a surprise hit for me. This post gets so many hits, mainly from America, and I have yet to figure out why???

3) Opera tea cosy

This search landed on the post, 'Opera House Odessa, Snails and a Tea-Cosy', one you may well remember from earlier Google searches due to the tea-cosy element.

4) Recorder notes to old house

One of the more unusual requests but none the less, they found their way to, 'Notes on a Recorder to Notes on a Scandal'.

5) Bird paintings by Robin Hill

This final search left me a little baffled as the unsuspecting researcher landed on five different blog posts, none of which I can really figure out. So if any of you can offer up a theory then feel free to leave a comment!

i) 'Classical Guitar Sound Waves...'

ii) 'Monet for Nothing...'

iii) 'An Eerie Quiet in Hillhouse'

iv) 'Domenico Scarlatti and the Honky Tonk Piano - Revisited'

v) 'The Many and Varied Uses of Savarez Guitar Strings...'

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Escape from Devil's Island

Robin has been home for a few days now and had time to reflect on his latest trip.
From a musical point of view it was a huge success.
Two concerts, both very well attended, were enjoyed by audience and musician alike.

But this particular trip took Robin to some incredible places.
He has returned with hundreds of photographs and many memories that shall remain with him always.

As this is all about the life of a musician, I thought I'd share some of the photographs with you.
I think the first is so evocative of the whole region.
To look out of your window and see the muddy waters of the Amazon against the backdrop of the lush rain forest is an amazing sight in itself.
But then to have a brief snapshot of life on the Amazon takes it to another level.





The local people, of all ages, from the very young to the old, paddled up in their canoes to wave and say hello:




All this against the exotic sounds of the jungle that were all around.
It was a heady experience.

But the fascinating tour continued.
After a few days they arrived here:



Devil's Island is an extraordinary place and one that, generally, is only enjoyed vicariously through travel programmes, history classes or through books such as Henri Charriere's, 'Papillon'.

Whilst the wildlife is certainly exotic and plentiful:



The accommodation for the prisoners was far from attractive:




It must have been an horrendous experience for all those poor souls interned in such a place.
The humidity and heat is intense, and solitary confinement and torture were rife at the time.
To add to the inmates' joys the coast of Venezuela can clearly been seen from the small islands but any thoughts of escape had to be carefully planned as the surrounding waters were, and still are, shark infested, which is not exactly conducive to an exhilarating swim for freedom.

But even on the island great care is needed when walking around.
Can you discern a rather 'snappy' friend which Robin, luckily, spotted before it spotted him....



But the advantage of visiting Devil's Island as a tourist, (or in this case musician having a few hours off...) rather than a prisoner, is that you get to leave at the end of the day and return to the luxury of your room:



Robin only spent a short time on the Island as his concert was that evening.
But he was there long enough to realise how desperate and difficult it must have been for the inmates.
Somehow his guitar concert that night felt slightly easier...

Monday, March 09, 2009

First Performance and a pair of Pink Dolphins

Robin has been having quite an adventure, and seen some fabulous sights, over the last few days.
Unfortunately internet access is painfully slow, if working at all, so he has been unable to send any photographs.

However, after one conversation, which was constantly interrupted by shouts of, "Wow, a pair of pink dolphins," I have found you a picture:



These are incredible, beautiful creatures, which are now at risk due to the rapid changes in the area. You can read more about them here.
The need to preserve this fabulous part of the world is something that Robin has been involved in previously. Here's the post, 'Help Save the Brazilian Rainforest'.

Robin also really enjoyed watching as groups of very small children paddled up to the ship in their canoes, waving and smiling, and generally having a wonderful time.

But there has also been work to do.
During this trip Robin has had two concerts to perform, the first of which was on Friday.
It was an easy job for the sound man on this occasion as all that was required were two microphones and a chair with no arms!
So after a simple sound check the concert got underway and went very well indeed.
Since then Robin has had the opportunity to speak to many of the audience and received excellent feedback.
No comment yet from the pink dolphins...
I do hope they manged to pick up a few sound waves and enjoyed the experience.

Today is concert day once again.
Preparations will have started, and luckily they are now heading towards Devil's Island, and the sea has calmed down a little.
That's a relief as it isn't much fun practicing scales and arpeggios whilst trying to remain upright in ones chair.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Arrival in the Amazon, Caruso and Fitzcarraldo

Finally, after a very frustrating and tedious journey, Robin has arrived at his destination and joined Seabourn Pride.
All started off well, in that he arrived at Manchester airport on time, but things deteriorated from there.

A delay in take off resulting in a missed connection and a 10 hour wait in Paris....

Those following Twitter will have read about events as they unfolded, and the support and advice on, 'ways to amuse oneself during long delays at airports', were much appreciated.
Special thanks must go to one of my Twitter friends, missmussell, over on, 'The Omniscient Mussel', for providing games and advice during this time!

On reaching Sao Paulo, and once more 'waiting', Robin was rather amused to hear someone calling his name.
It was a magician, who had appeared from nowhere, and was accompanying Robin on the final leg of his journey.
He was pleased to have the distraction of some much needed company by this point.

But after 38 hours Robin arrived in Manaus, Brazil, and was able to recover from his journey in luxury.
Incidentally, Robin made it with only about 3 hours to spare...no wonder we were all getting a little tense here.

Manaus is an incredible place, situated in the middle of the Amazon forest. But it isn't as one would imagine. Having become very wealthy in the early 20th Century, Manaus is a bustling city.
The Opera House, built during the heyday of the rubber trade was once visited by all the most famous Opera Divas and Maestros.

Thankfully Robin has a few days to recover and acclimatise before his concerts, the first one not being until Friday and the second a few days later.
When Robin joined Seabourn Pride she was actually docked on the Rio Negro, but within a few hours set off to cover the 4 miles to the Amazon.

He's ready for it though.
Last time I spoke to him he was heading up to the top deck armed with an old 78 of Caruso, which he was going to play at high volume.
If you are unsure what I'm talking about, then you are probably unfamiliar with Brian Sweeney Fitzgerald, a rather eccentric character. His story was told in the film, Fitzcarraldo.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Concert in Mugdock

Mugdock Country Park was the beautiful setting for a highly successful concert last night.
As predicted, the venue was sold out well in advance, which always bodes well for an appreciative audience.
Robin wasn't disappointed.

It was one of those nights when all factors seemed to fall into place.
Not just musically with a lovely programme including pieces by, Tarrega, Sor, Brouwer, Dyens, Albeniz and Sabicas. Not to mention some of Robin's own compositions, one being 'Return to Islay', which he composed after being inspired by the beautiful island of Islay on a previous Scottish tour.

This piece he dedicated to the memory of an old friend, and previous manager, Dave Barnes, who had first introduced Robin to Mugdock, and seen him perform there many times.
Some of his family and friends were present and a few tears were shed during this tranquil and evocative piece.

But equally as important as the music are the spoken introductions.
It's vital that any artist engages with their audience to create a wonderful and entertaining evening.
As I have said previously here on the blog, luckily for Robin, he is quite at ease with this aspect of his performance.
That isn't to say he doesn't invest a lot of time and energy researching the pieces he is playing, and deciding the points of interest which may just add that little bit more to the audiences enjoyment.
Alongside short discussions about the techniques employed in certain pieces this makes for interesting listening for guitarists and non-guitarists alike.

There was one difficult moment for Robin, right at the beginning of the concert, in the first piece, Malaguena.
Part way through his false thumb nail flew off.
Regular readers will know this happens from time to time.
On this occasion he was able to complete the piece and the offending nail was pointed out to him by some of the more observant members of the audience.
He retrieved it and re glued it into position all whilst introducing the next piece.

Many of the audience spoke to him after the concert which is always a nice way to receive feedback.
Then it was back to the hotel before a quick dash to a local pub to partake in a little post concert relaxation.

Now he is home but not for long.
Packing is underway for an exciting trip next week.
Although Robin does find it difficult spending such a lot of time away from home, even he is looking forward to this one.
It will be a first for him and you will just have to keep checking in to find out where he is and what he is doing......

Friday, February 20, 2009

The Stories Behind the Music - Robin Hill on Reverbnation

Many, but not all, of the pieces featured in the new player, found in the sidebar, have been discussed here before on this blog.
But I thought it might be nice for new readers and followers to access the background information to these pieces, and have the opportunity to listen whilst they learn about some of the history of Robin and his music.

So to make life easy for you I have put all the links together in this post today.
So here goes.

Track 1: Eternal Dance.

Eternal Dance has been discussed many times here as it is a powerful piece of music. To learn more about the concerto version, as found on 'Virtuoso', visit. 'Arrival on iTunes and Eternal Dance - Robin Hill'.

For the quartet version, found on, 'Eklectica', then try this page, 'Robin Hill and Eklectica Play 'Eternal Dance'.

Track 2: Hispanic Dance.

One of the posts relating to 'Hispanic Dance' gives details of the composer, Claude Bolling, and more information about the four members of 'Eklectica', alongside details of the seven movements featured in the concerto, of which Hispanic Dance is the first. 'Robin Hill Plays Claude Bolling's 'Concerto for Classic Guitar and Jazz Piano Trio'.

Track 3: Bach Invention No 8.

Bach invention was first mentioned, very briefly, here, and in a bit more detail with this post, 'Robin Hill and Peter Wiltschinsky 'Arrival'.
I must say, that the Bach, along with track 8 on Arrival, Felix Mendelssohn's 'Song Without Words No1 Op62', are two of my duo favourites.

Track 4: Fiesta de Xabia.

I should point out that no bulls were hurt during the inspiration for this piece. To understand how Fiesta de Xabia was conceived then read, 'Fiesta de Xabia' by Robin Hill - Guitar'.
As yet, this piece is not available to buy, but one of the advantages of reading a blog such as this one is that you get little taster of things to come!

Track 5: Tarantella - Suite Italiana.

Suite Italiana was composed especially for the Hill/Wiltschinsky Guitar Duo, which you can read about here.
This honour came about after Mario Gangi heard the duo performing one of his pieces, 'Suite Spagnola', which you can read about on the post, 'Track 4 - 'Arrival' - Mario Gangi'.

Track 6: Wheatfield Under Troubled Skies.

This is an orchestral composition by Robin and you may be surprised to hear there isn't a guitar in it!
It's a beautiful piece of music and there are more details on the post, 'World Premiere - 'Wheatfield under Troubled Skies' - Robin Hill'.

Track 7: Palace of the King.

Now for something completely different, and one that really does highlight the unusual twists and turns that a career in music can take.
This is true Rock 'n' Roll with some of the world's best. Read this, 'Deep Purple Haze Days'.

Track 8: Wizard of Waukesha.

This is one of Robin's bands, Hooper, and yes, the man in the picture with very long hair, and playing a Les Paul guitar, is Robin....take a look here.

Track 9: Fast Forward.

This song has been around for many years, and is another example of Robin on electric guitar, playing one of his own compositions. To find out more about Robin's band, 'Hooper', (which, incidentally, includes two BBC Philharmonic Orchestra players!) read, 'Robin Hill and Travis Bean...Rewind to Fast Forward.'

Track 10: Caprice No 7 - Legnani.

Another example of a track not yet available to buy, but our gift to you. Learn more about Legnani here.

Finally,

Track 11: Celebration.

'Celebration' is a song performed by another band Robin has been involved in. They made an incredible sound and had a phenomenal brass section. Check them out at, 'Force Ten To Be Reckoned With'.

So there we are.
A little bit of history attached to all the tracks currently in the player.
I can, and will, be adding new pieces from time to time, so be sure to keep checking!
Just follow the link and then 'click' on the desired track in the player.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Robin Hill Joins Reverbnation

You may have noticed a few new elements to this blog.
To help spread the word of music we have now joined Reverbnation. This is Robin's Reverbnation page.

This enables us to reach a wider audience and also to share in other peoples' musical experiences.
There's a permanent link to this page in the sidebar, plus an area for you to add your email address, if you wish to keep informed of any new developments.

You will also see a music player in the sidebar which has a selection of solo, duo and electric guitar pieces, (all featuring Robin), for you to choose from.
This will remain in place, and there should be something there to suit whatever mood you happen to be in!

So have a listen, and remember, you can play any of these tracks whenever you visit.
Enjoy!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Two Guitar Concerts for You

Two dates for your diary:

Mugdock Country Park - Friday 27th February @ 7.45 pm

Mugdock Country Park is a beautiful setting, and one of Scotland's most popular visitor attractions, making it ideal for an evening of lovely music.
Details of the concert can be found here, 'Mugdock Country Park - Events,' and as they say on their page, "booking is essential," "classical guitar at its best," and, "not to be missed!"
Robin has performed here many times before, so if you are able to attend, I really do recommend order tickets very soon.
They are priced at £15/£13 which includes a light supper in the interval.

However, if you can't wait that long, and happen to be in the Blackpool area tomorrow, you can catch a lunchtime recital in Poulton-Le-Fylde.
It's the perfect way to spend your lunch break, with the hour long concert starting at 1pm.
The venue:

Poulton-Le-Fylde Methodist Church
Queensway
Poulton
FY6 7ST

I know it will be Friday the 13th, but we're not superstitious here....
Apparently, for those not familiar with the area, the Church is near the Teanlowe Centre.