'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

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Tidy up...

Robin has been home a few days and enjoying playing with the children and taking the dogs out. Even the torrential rain hasn't dampened his enthusiasm!
It goes without saying that practice has continued at a normal level, general maintenance of his solo programme, and thinking about new pieces. However, I was shocked today when he started clearing out drawers in the music room. This is unheard of!
Anyone that is familiar with a musicians mind will realise that all their energy goes into the music and interpretation. The music room itself is complete chaos, to my eyes anyway, although Robin does appear to have a vague idea where various pieces of music are. Piles and piles of music and manuscript paper don't just contain themselves to the music room. We once had a freezer delivered, and when I got round to cleaning it up and plugging it in, guess what I found inside, yes, at least a foot high pile of music. When I challenged Robin about this all he said was, 'It's good to keep a fandango in the freezer.'!
Consequently, you can imagine my surprise to find him emptying drawers and sorting out. I haven't yet had an explanation for this strange behaviour, but fear the 'sorted out' music will appear, redistributed, around the house..

Friday, August 25, 2006

Home Again

Robin is home again and very pleased to be back with his family. However, the concerts went so well on the QM2 that they have re-booked him for just over a weeks time! Whilst we still have the fears about flying that everyone does at the moment, at least for this next trip we don't have to try and locate an extra flight case. The extreme case we got in the nick of time seemed to work well. The guitar arrived in one piece and did its job beautifully. Whilst it is not ideal I think that for the time being it is something all musicians will have to cope with.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

QM2 Recital 2

The second recital has also gone very well and Robin has had lots of positive feedback from members of the audience. It is always nice for him to hear that people have enjoyed the music as so much time goes into planning the programme and rehearsing the pieces.
Robin then had three days left on board without a concert to prepare for. So far he has spent the time walking around the decks, catching up on some films and of course plenty of practice!

Sunday, August 20, 2006

QM2 Recital 1

I've heard from Robin and the first recital went very well. The theatre on board ship is very nice and there was a good audience. He had a standing ovation and was congratulated by the cruise director, so everyone is happy. He is spending a lot of time in his room preparing for the second recital which is today. Hopefully he won't get cabin fever.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

New York, New York

The new flight case arrived, a bout of illness passed, and finally Robin set off for New York. He left a day later than planned but managed to make it to the QM2 with an hour to spare!
He was able to enjoy a view of the Statue of Liberty from his cabin before setting sail but had to go and record an interview for the in-house t.v station to publicise his first concert which was the next day. Consequently he missed the sights as they left New York but not to worry as he's back again in a couple of weeks.
Our only way of communicated now is via e-mail, so details may be brief for the next week.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Difficult Days

It is a difficult time at the moment. Robin was due to fly to New York next week to join the QM2. He was perfoming two concerts on board ship during the journey fron New York to Southampton.
The current situation with terror threats is making the whole thing very difficult.
Not only do we have to weigh up the safety issues on a transatlantic flight, but the current restrictions mean his guitar would have to go in the hold.
In all his years travelling the globe the guitar has always gone on board with him and fits easily into the overhead lockers.
The guitar is a very expensive instument but the main problem is that if it were damaged in any way he would be unable to just replace it. A guitar of this quality is just so rare.
We are holding are breaths at the moment to see how things develop but will have to make a decision in the next few days.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Japanese Wedding

Today Robin has played at the Japanese wedding and it has gone very well. A large number of guests had flown over especially for the day. He always feels it is an honour to take part in such a significant event in peoples lives especially when he plays whilst the bride walks down the aisle!
The father of the bride beamed at Robin saying, 'guitar, very good', so he took it that he'd enjoyed the playing, and the bride and groom were very pleased, so a job well done.

Unusual Venues

Today Robin has done rather a strange concert. A few years ago he was booked for three afternoons over the summer to play at a remembrance park so that people would come and listen to the music and take in the beautiful surroundings. It was so successful that he has done it every year now for about 5 years. There is now a large audience that attend each concert and enjoy a picnic whilst listening to some fabulous music!
It shows how versatile a musician today must be.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

The Barking Dog

I have just been looking at a few other sites and read an entry from Drew McManus regarding the distraction of a dog barking at a music festival. It reminded me of a tour Hill/Wiltschinsky did in the Philippines a few years ago. There was not only a barking dog outside but due to the nature of the venue it was able to come in and wander about the stage at will! Whilst this is obviously a distraction for musician and audience alike I feel that dealing with any form of audible or visual disturbance is a skill the musician must learn.
I have been to some concerts where the artist has asked people to stop moving around or only cough in between pieces. Whilst this usually gets a ripple of laughter, I do feel there is often a slightly uncomfortable feeling amongst the audience from that point.
This has sparked many conversations over the years with Robin, and his general view is that audiences have paid good money to come and be entertained, not shouted at. A reassuring smile to the parents of a wriggling child, or a joke along the lines of 'even the local wildlife seem to be enjoying the music', get a much warmer response from any audience.
The ability for musicians to deal with these intrusions is an art in itself, and one I feel they improve with over time, but that all artists should be aware of this responsibility.
Robin has managed to achieve this to such a level that at a duo concert, whilst in the middle of a piece, a newspaper photographer came right up to the stage saying, 'keep playing lads, it looks more natural.' The duo didn't miss a note...

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Introducing Classical Music

One of the aims of these entries is to show people what goes on behind the scenes in the day to day life of a musician. However, I also want to stimulate discussion about music in general, and hope to introduce people to the area of classical music in which they might previously have felt intimidated.
The term classical music seems to alienate huge sections of the community as they think they don't understand it and the whole scene is too 'precious' and esoteric.
We need to remember that whilst we now regard Mozart as 'classical', he was in his day, particularly with regards to his operas, a composer of popular music.
In my experience the greatest challenge we have today is actually getting people to attend concerts. There are currently an unprecedented number of distractions which vie for their attentions. This applies particularly to the younger generation.
Once you do get an audience to attend it is essential to have given the programme a great deal of thought in order to provide the best possible experience for that particular audience.
The music, when played well, can cross all generation gaps and leave the public feeling uplifted and positive. The promoters of a recent concert in Hebden Bridge commented on the ability of Robin to reach out to all ages amongst the audience. The feedback a few days later from one member of the public was, 'the best concert I have ever been to,' and from her 12 year old daughter, who is learning the guitar, 'he taught me to play from the heart'.
So I hope that over time I can gradually introduce more and more people of all ages to classical music in general.