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

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Force Ten To Be Reckoned With...

And now for something completely different...

As I've said before it is important for musicians to have an understanding of other areas in music. These days Robin is known for his classical playing, but where did that energy and expression have its roots?

I've mentioned the band Force Ten previously and the other day Paul Griffin e mailed us with an update of the website. It was fantastic to hear the music again, although we do have some old tapes of these tracks they are rather worn.

Paul explains a little about Force Ten and the reason the album was never released, so if you follow the link you can find out more and even hear 4 of the tracks.

Robin wrote the music and lyrics to all the tracks you are able to hear and in fact most of them on the album, except 'Come Home Baby' and 'Skiddleydoo' - Vinnie Parker, 'Seventh Position' - Steve Shaw, and the whole band collaborating on 'Silly Place For A Zebra'.

Some of my personal favourites 'Portrait of The Artist', 'Full Circle' and 'You' I'm afraid you can't hear at the moment.
However, some of the band members have started talking and catching up on a few missing years. Maybe we could put the pressure on and get them back in the studio.

So next time you are at a Robin Hill recital hearing him play some soothing Italian Renaissance Lute Pieces just remember what you have heard today and that it is possible to cross over to classical music.

Incidentally, Robin still enjoys a good blast on one of his electric guitars, to the delight of all our neighbours.....

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

YouTube and Copyright

It has been reported on the BBC, and probably other channels, that Chad Hurley the founder of YouTube has confirmed they are looking into a 'revenue-sharing mechanism that would reward creativity.' (Lets hope that is 'creativity and not 'risk taking').
With 70 million users a month that could be a challenge.
YouTube, recently bought by Google, has a lot of sorting out to do first.
They state that this offer will only apply to those that own the full copyright for the video uploaded to the website.
That's bound to be a tricky one. In the world of music there have always been struggles and tension over who owns what.
Just because you have composed something and performed it doesn't always mean you own it.....
YouTube say they are working on the technology to identify copyrighted material which they call 'audio fingerprinting'.
Whilst it may be a challenge to police this type of system, for musicians it could be a way of clawing back some income.
What happens if someone posts a clip of one of your concerts. You are the artist but they own the camera.
I'm sure all these areas will be discussed at great length over the coming months as these systems will 'roll out' gradually.
I'll be keeping an eye on developments and uploading a few videos, to which we own full copyright, just in case we will get rewarded for out 'creativity'.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Robin Hill - The Guitar Gymnasium

There has been a sudden upsurge in demand for 'The Guitar Gymnasium' and I'm not surprised. Many times people that have seen Robin play have been amazed by his technique. That is one reason that he wrote the book.
So I've made it even easier for anyone visiting the site that wants to buy a copy.
You can now get it direct from Mel Bay or through Amazon, USA and UK.
Just go to my links section on the left and there they are.
As one review said, "If you are looking to inject level headed inspiration into your technique 'workout' you will not be disappointed."
Happy practicing!

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Heifetz - Hill

This morning we started the day in a very civilised manner listening to Heifetz performing Sibelius Violin Concerto in D Minor. Beautiful music and beautifully played.
As the sound soared around us I couldn't help noticing that Robin seemed a little distracted although listening intently.
Shortly after he disappeared off to the music room and the rest of us got on with our day.
I could tell it wasn't the usual form of practice coming from the room and before long I was summoned in to hear a new composition.
It's a delightful piece called 'One Morning' which is so light and optimistic, just the sort of thing needed on a wet Sunday morning.
It isn't yet complete but I'm sure it will be by the end of the day.
I couldn't help wondering why Robin had suddenly felt the urge to compose so asked him.
He said he didn't really know or understand why, just that as he'd been listening to Heifetz he'd felt that he was hearing the music in a different way and knew that he was going to compose a piece.
The mind of a musician is a strange thing, and one I have been trying to understand for many years, but what a joy to hear a new piece of music come to life.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Pierre Petit and the Cuckoo Clock Pendulum

Today we had one of those random conversations that actually proved quite interesting.
It started when Robin asked me to guess how many beats per minute (bpm) the cuckoo clock pendulum was going.
Initially I said 80 bpm but quickly revised that to 110 bpm.
Robin listened intently for a few seconds then estimated it at 140 bpm.
He got one of his metronomes and 'tapped' along to the pendulum until it informed us that the rate was actually 139 beats per minute.
I was pretty impressed that Robin had been so close with his guess and he profered an explanation.
Toccata by Piere Petit is a fabulous piece that Hill/Wiltschinsky have played many times and recorded. They feel that to gain optimum excitement it should be performed at 155 bpm. So in his mind he'd run through a few bars of 'Toccata' and made a mental adjustment to assess the speed of the pendulum.
Why he chose that piece I'm not quite sure as technically he could have achieved the same result with any. At least it shows a good sense of timing which is essential in his job.
Unlike the cuckoo clock which is usually at least 10 minutes early...

Friday, January 26, 2007

Leeds at Lunchtime

Robin had a lunchtime recital today at Leeds University. The weather forecast had been for snow and ice, so we braced ourselves as he would have to cross the Pennines. Relief first thing to see that it was a beautiful crisp, clear, sunny day.
The concert was in the Clothworkers Centenary Concert Hall, part of the School of Music, and had been very well advertised for almost a year!
It paid off as there was an excellent audience and I'm pleased to say that the majority were young people. I know it's a school of music but it doesn't always follow that students attend. However they did on this occasion.
Robin woke them all up with Malaguena, broke a nail, (oh no..) whilst playing Salterello, the last of the Six Renaissance Lute Pieces, fixed it, and continued the programme with no further mishaps.
After briefly talking to a few suitably inspired students and the organisers asking him come back soon, he snuck out the back door and was home in time to clean son number ones football boots. Actually I did that, too risky with those nails..
Now, time to relax.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Back On Line...

To all the readers worldwide who logged in yesterday only to find I hadn't posted an entry I can only apologise.
It's the first time in the history of this blog that this has happened and it wasn't my fault.
The day started well enough, I sent out a number of important e mails, incidentally if you were one of the people who replied then please send again as 'the system' has managed to loose some mail, then stopped for lunch.
On returning to my desk I was unable to access the Internet, or even sign in. Tried all the usual things - no joy.
Robin decided to leave the premises as my frustration mounted and took son number two to Waterstones for coffee (Robin) and frescato, (son).
Meanwhile I spent a 'pleasant' hour on the 'phone being told to crawl around on the floor to connect various wires, go to certain parts of the computer and type strange messages in, then read back long numbers. After some time of this the disembodied voice said, 'Oh, actually I've just noticed there are some major repairs going on in your area and you'll be off line for 24 hours. Anything else I can help you with?'
Well yes, pay me for the work I've lost in that time, and how about informing us in advance in the future.
There was an up side. As I suddenly had some time on my hands, and couldn't face a huge pile of ironing, (see 'chaos and confusion' entry for reasons), I was able to sit down and finish the book I'm reading. Jessic Duchen's 'Rites of Spring'. It was a captivating read which shows huge insight into the world of classical music and the arts in general. As Anna Britten of 'Classic FM Magazine' says, "..The neatly composed plot charges to a climax as steadily as Ravel's Bolero.."
Couldn't have put it better myself. I'll certainly be getting 'Alicia's Gift' which I believe is out in March.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

How To Cope With Telesales

On Friday Robin has a lunchtime concert at Leeds University, so today his practice has taken a different turn in preparation. We were still making minor alterations to the programme right up to mid-morning when I had to forward the final copy to the venue. That done, my role in proceedings is over, and it's now all up to Robin.
I feel I had the easier task.
Actually my job is not completely over. I do try and fend off unnecessary interruptions as it must be very frustrating to be in the middle of piece, lost in concentration, when the 'phone rings and some sales person comes on the line.
Whilst I generally just get rid of them Robin has his own method.
On one occasion he interrupted their patter to say, 'let me read you some poetry', an proceeded to read an entire poem to the bemused man.
The unexpected outcome was that the sales chap said he was a very kind man and it was the best call he'd made all day.
He has other techniques to deal with them which I shall tell you another time.
It does leave you feeling in a much lighter mood than if you put the 'phone down on them!

Monday, January 22, 2007

Chaos & Confusion - My Desk..

As I was glancing through arts journal I couldn't help noticing a title:
'The Smarter You Are. The Messier Your Desk Is?'
I had to read on.
Apparently, in a book just published, 'A Perfect Mess: The Hidden Benefits of Disorder' by Eric Abrahamson & David H Freedman, they say:

"Office messiness tends to increase sharply with increasing education, increasing salary, and increasing experience."

What a relief. There I was thinking I was a poor housekeeper when actually I'm a genius..(if you could see my desk you would understand, in fact you can't see it for papers, contracts, blah blah blah..)
As for Robin, he's just as bad, even though he now has an excellent filing system, that doesn't account for all pieces of music currently being worked on.
At least I can ignore the mess now in a guilt free manner.
As they said, 'a clear desk signifies an empty mind'...

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Roald Dahl and Live Music!

We all survived the sleep over, albeit in a state of exhaustion.
Very good news to report on the theatre trip to see 'James and the Giant Peach' by Roald Dahl.
There were six actors involved, and all of them played instruments, live on stage!
Between them they played violin, trumpet, flute, clarinet, saxophone, drums and piano accordion.
It can't have been easy finding actors who also had the ability to play to a high standard, but on this occasion they managed it.
Once again, it has meant that some children, with no previous experience of live music, have had the opportunity to see and hear a variety of instruments.
There was a time when most shows featured live musicians as a matter of course, but this has changed dramatically with taped music now being the norm, thus denying theatre goers the thrill and excitement of live musical performance.
It is also another loss of income for musicians.
So well done to this production company!

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Musicians 'Big Brother'...

There is a lot of talk at the moment about 'Big Brother' and the controversy it is causing. Reality t.v. seems the curse of modern day living.
With access to endless programmes of this type, it should be no surprise that there are concerns about the future of classical music. (Not that I necessarily agree with this, I think we just have to learn how to appeal to a new generation with new technological skills..)
However, it got me thinking.
What would happen if there were a 'musical' version of 'Big Brother'.
Basically, you lock a bunch of musicians up in a house for a week. They could come from completely different backgrounds, classical, jazz, rock etc.
You then sit back and see what happens.
My guess is that there would be much more going on that would actually be worth looking at.
One problem would be that certainly the classical musicians would spend most of the day in their room practicing scales etc. which may just drive the viewing public mad.
Jazzers would 'chill' for most of the day, but be hugely entertaining late into the night, and rock, well, who knows, it would depend who was in there.
The only guarantee would be that musicians just can't help 'jamming'.
So once practice was out of the way they would be sure to spend their relaxation time, well, playing their instruments.
That part could prove very entertaining, especially if you throw a bottle of wine into the mix.
I've no intentions of suggesting this to any t.v. executives, I just thought that to have people on television that could actually do something would be a refreshing change.
I hope this has all made sense, but there is a huge racket coming from this house today.
Son number one has turned 10, and currently has 5 friends over for a sleepover.
Robin, incidentally, is off out this evening playing, leaving me alone with all 7 children until sometime after midnight. I shouldn't complain though, he did take them all to see 'James and the Giant Peach' this afternoon.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Bad Nail Day

Today has been a bad nail day. They happen sometimes.
It isn't surprising when you consider the amount of strain the nails are under.
Several hours of practice every day tends to wear them down.
They are also susceptible to 'nail damage' from every day hazards such as opening doors, carrying shopping etc.
Robin is extremely careful with his hands and always wears gloves for any potentially damaging jobs. It's very rare that you would see him doing any form of DIY, or washing up for that matter..
One of the main culprits for literally wearing away nails is playing flamenco pieces, which Robin does on a daily basis, as they are a part of his programme.
Nails do grow quicker in warmer climates, which would account for flamenco players originating from Southern Spain, but not much use to us in the UK, especially in January.
However, repairs have been carried out and Robin is off out playing this evening, so hopefully all will be well.
I've just spoken to Robin in the interval and the nails are holding up fine. That's a relief.
Sometimes I think it would be easier to be a pianist, but then they have to cope with playing on whatever piano the venue has...

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Robin Hill and Atarah Ben-Tovim

I was scanning through the Brit Blog site today and came across an old friend.
Atarah Ben-Tovim and excellent flautist and children's concert presenter.
Back in the 1980's Robin toured extensively with Atarah and her band, promoting classical music to children.
Atarah is a fantastic player, with an infectious enthusiasm for her music, and therefore an ideal person to try an encourage young people to become involved.
In fact audience participation was part of the concert so you can only imagine the noise levels.
As Atarah says on her site:
'About a third of the audience haven't been to a concert before and any child who listens to classical music, even if it's only for an hour, has their soul and mind enriched.'
Here, here.
The band which toured with Atarah were all top class musicians, however, it could be quite a challenge for them. For example, the trumpet player had to play 'Tea for Two' on a tea pot, and yes, he got it right. ( I should add that he was dressed as a bear at the time.)
Robin got off pretty lightly as he only had to play classical and electric guitar.
We have various video footage of it, but no, we won't be showing it!
Robin has very fond memories of these tours as there was a huge amount of 'behind the scenes' japes going on.
Itching powder in the bear suit, that sort of thing, playing in different keys to make it nearly impossible to get any tune out of the teapot.
It was all done in good spirits though and all involved enjoyed the experience.
To pass on what will hopefully become a life long interest to children can only be a good thing.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

The Cavern Club

Yesterday saw the 50th birthday of one of the most influential clubs in the world.
Well, it isn't the original Cavern, but just down the road.
I had family in Liverpool who frequented The Cavern Club pre-Beatles days and spoke of the incredible atmosphere and acts you could see.
Robin has played there on a number of occasions, the first when he was the tender age of 15, in a band called 'Spring'. He felt like he was walking into a hallowed cathedral and was very reverential. Apart from his amp blowing up, and having to borrow one from another band, it was a successful evening.
He performed there a few more times with 'Hooper' and always enjoyed the whole experience.
So Happy Birthday Cavern Club.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Angostura - Antonio Lauro

Robin has been out quite a lot today but when home decided to try out a new piece. He has had the music for years but never played it. Thanks to the new filing system, brought in over the festive season, he was able to lay his hands on it immediately. Filed under 'L' for Lauro.
It is called 'Angostura' by Antonio Lauro, a Valse Venezolano.
The mind is an incredible thing as within half an hour the music was flowing beautifully.
I always enjoy it when Robin plays new pieces and I'm sure it will find its way into the repertoire

Monday, January 15, 2007

Hill Plays Bustamente In The Bathroom

Today Robin has been practicing 'Misionera' by Federico Bustamente. This is an Argentinian piece and Misionera is the plural for young women of that region.
As day wore on into evening I took sons one and two up for their bath and calming bedtime routine.
As they were splashing about, Robin appeared and continued playing to his captive audience, in the bathroom.
Anyone familiar with this music will know that it is an exuberant piece steeped in the folk idioms of Argentina, and not conducive to calming two children at bedtime, particularly as the theme is played with tremelo variations.
By this stage they were in pyjamas, running around wearing Astrix helmets, and brandishing any toy that could be used as a weapon.
Whilst not helping with sleep I'm sure it was doing wonders for their musical education!
I had to step in and put my foot down.
Robin's counter attack was to break into 'Berceuse' by Leo Brouwer, a lullaby.
As both children are now asleep I have to admit it worked.

I couldn't end without acknowledging the news that Michael Brecker has died. This is a very sad day as he was a fantastic musician and the world has been left a poorer place.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Accidents Happen: Part 2

Having publicly humiliated Peter Wiltschinsky yesterday, it's only fair that I tell you of Robin's 'accident' today.
On this occasion Hill/Wiltschinsky were playing in a church.
Robin is the one who introduces the pieces, (apart from his own compositions which Peter does), he always appears relaxed and tries to give the audience some interesting bits of information about the next piece. Robin actually finds this part easy, as he says, it's playing the notes that is difficult.
He does tend to sit on the very edge of his seat when playing, which always makes me nervous, but this is not when the accident happened.
About half way through the concert Robin was introducing a piece and swinging back on his chair as he did. As all school boys know, this is a dangerous thing to do.
They were playing in an old church and the legs of the chair slipped on the stone floor.
As Robin disappeared backwards his very valuable guitar flew up into the air.
Peter acted with lightening reflexes and deflected the guitar from the very hard floor with his left foot.
Robin meanwhile had managed to right himself enough to catch it as it came back down again and before it made splintering contact with the stone floor.
Whilst this was hugely entertaining for the audience, they decided against keeping it in the act.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Accidents Happen: Part 1

The stage can be a dangerous place. I don't mean from an angry audience, although for some artists that may be the case.
I'm referring to accidents.
Hill/Wiltschinsky have been fairly lucky on that score although they haven't got away with it completely. But when you consider the number of years they have been performing then I suppose statistically it's pretty safe.
High on the humiliation level though. You all know how embarrassing it is to trip up in public, and how one quickly scans the area to see if anyone has seen. No such hiding place on stage when a room full of people have entirely focused their attention on you.
One of these occasions was a few years ago and the duo were playing in a venue where the stage had been made up of segments.
They were performing 'Fabulae', a piece by Mario Gangi which is in one continuous movement and lasts about 7-8 minutes, (depends how adrenalised they are!).
Some sections of this piece are very lively and others slow and reflective.
During one of the lively parts the leg of Peter Wiltschinsky's chair gradually worked its way between two of the segments of stage as the players were engrossed in the music.
As the duo entered a slow section, the chair leg finally slipped through the stage sending Peter flying across the room.
I'm pleased to report that he didn't hurt himself, but it was a rather spectacular fall and very noisy.
Robin stopped playing, partly with shock, and partly as he realised his duo partner had disappeared.
All credit to both of them. Peter picked himself up, settled back on his now carefully placed chair, and they carried on from the section that had been so rudely interrupted.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Highs and Lows

Today has been made up of highs and lows.
The high was some advance being made with the new recording equipment. This is great news as it has been very frustrating up to now. We are one step nearer to being ready to record the new CD, but don't hold your breath, as it could be a little time before anything is ready for release.
I think we have a good idea what is going to be on it, but you will just have to wait and see..
The low, was spending a huge amount of time with endless paperwork for a visa we need, as Robin has some concerts coming up that require one, well, two actually but the other one can wait for another day.
It's frustrating as he isn't actually playing in either of these countries, just passing through.
Thank goodness I only have to worry about one musician. It must be a nightmare trying to take an orchestra abroad and I'm sure there are times when concerts don't come off for just that reason.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

George Harrison, Deep Purple and Robin Hill..

It's always a bit more relaxed here on a post gig day. Consequently we started reminiscing.
Robin was recalling a meeting with George Harrison.
At the time he was staying at the house of Ian Paice, the drummer of Deep Purple, as they were rehearsing and recording.
This was quite a few years ago, and at the time Robin still played a lot of electric guitar, however he played classical even more..
One morning, in true rock star style, all band members were fast asleep in bed, despite the late hour, all that is, except Robin.
You guessed, he was up, as he liked to get a few hours of practice in on his classical guitar before recording started.
Whilst immersed in scales the door bell rang and Robin felt obliged to go and answer.
As a massive Beatles fan you can imagine how he felt to open the door and find George Harrison.
They had a brief chat and George said he'd call back later when everyone was up.
Robin, of course, maintained his composure despite one of his inspirations standing before him.
After that there were other occasions when their paths crossed but I'll save those for another day.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Fasten Your Seat Belts - Robin Hill Live In Dewsbury

When a concert is billed: 'Fasten Your Seat Belts - Robin Hill, Classical Guitar', the audience must have wondered what they were in for. I can only imagine that Kirklees Council had remembered a Hill/Wiltschinsky concert there a few years ago.
But fasten them they did and an excellent lunchtime concert was had by all.
The organisers were delighted with attendance and the audience were delighted with the music.
Lunchtime concerts are not always easy for a performer but Robin took it in his stride and delivered a fantastic performance.
One of the representatives of the venue said she had never seen an audience so captivated and excited and had already been asked by many of the public to make sure Robin returns soon.
One lady said that she didn't really like the guitar, but came along as she had a season ticket, she was delighted she had, and said it was 'a superb concert and she had enjoyed it tremendously'.
What can I add to that?

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

The Day Before A Robin Hill Concert

The day before a concert is always a busy time here. Robin tends to do all his usual right and left hand exercises, not forgetting scales and arpeggios. Yes, any students out there reading, it is important to do these and you will see the benefits over time.
Then he will run through the actual programme. I think that I have heard it twice today so far. The concentration involved is immense. Many times I have walked into the room and Robin hasn't known I've been in, or I have made him jump, (not recommended whilst holding a valuable instrument..)
On the day of a concert he will practice until he needs to leave the house, arriving at the venue with an hour or so to warm up.
I'm sure all musicians have their own methods, but this seems to be the one that works for Robin.
Sometimes when talking to members of an audience they have been surprised at the amount of practice done. I usually point out that you wouldn't expect an olympic athelete to turn up without having done any training, months/years of hard work have gone into preparing for that race.
Well, it's pretty similar for Robin.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Classical Music and You Tube

Once again Jessica Duchen has hit the nail on the head with her article on sites such as You Tube in 'The Independent' today.
Now, as you know, we have a video posted, and I understand completely the points that Jessica has made.
From a musicians point of view it is very difficult. The video we have posted has been professionally made, but we need to be adding them regularly to keep up with demand. It is not practical to enrol the services of a production company every time you want to post a new image.
The artist therefore has to weigh up the pros and cons of being viewed frequently against poorer quality image and sound. For any musician this is very difficult. Robin has only just come to terms with listening to music through his computer, previously he always used the recording studio, huge, Tannoy speakers. Having spent a life time training ones ear to pick up on the slightest sound, it's difficult not to be critical.
I know the amount of work that goes into trying to capture the sound of the guitar, with expensive microphones and equipment. Then the painstaking rehearsal and recording of the pieces.
So I can understand Robins reluctance to add 'home made' clips, however, we shouldn't underestimate the audience. Most serious listeners are able to tell the difference between a good player and an amateur. You just have to find your way through the maze that is You Tube.
Maybe because the public have such limited access to broadcasts of classical music these days, they will be a little forgiving.
You'll just have to keep watching here, as I feel we will be adding more footage before too long.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Classical Music On The Up

I was reading Alex Ross: The Rest is Noise and Chris Anderson: The Long Tail today and both were discussing the recently released statistics for the music industry, 2006.
Apparently digital track sales are up 65%, with the fastest growing category being classical music. Now I know Robin has been downloading an awful lot of late, but it can't all be down to him.
As Chris Anderson says, classical music has been 'badly served in music stores', and this is certainly the case where we live. It is virtually impossible to get anything other than 'popular' classics here, and I'm sure it is the same for most people.
There is a lot to be said for downloading though.
You get a chance to listen before buying, as it used to be in record shops, and for those less confident in the whole area of classical music, they can browse without any embarrassment or intimidation.
Record labels haven't helped by making it increasingly difficult for artists to get contracts, and therefore distribution of CDs is affected.
My concern with downloading though, is the musicians themselves. Yes, they are receiving their fees from reputable downloading stores, but I'm sure there are many out there giving away tracks free, without the artists knowledge or consent.
This is an area that has to be reviewed, as after all, the musicians put in a lot of work for these projects and it is their income.
I'll rant more on that another time...

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Quiet....Never in Hillhouse

It was a quiet afternoon, both sons were out, Robin was deep in practice, and I decided to add a few links to the sites I most frequently visit. There are many more, that as yet I haven't added, but it's a start. One has to keep up with what is being discussed.
As I was going about my task the telephone rang, it was an agent.
"Can Robin fit Hong Kong in before Cape Town?"
We discussed it for a while, rather a tight schedule (again), and he may have to go straight from one to the other, but for now I've left it with the various parties involved to see what they can do.
You never know in this business what the next 'phone call will bring...

Friday, January 05, 2007

Hill to Hendrix

I've recently been discussing orchestras in a light hearted way with Jessica Duchen and it reminded me of some concerts Robin did with the BBC Philharmonic. As you know, orchestras don't have guitars, so if a piece comes along that requires a guitarist then the BBC often call on Robin. He has performed many times with various orchestras as a soloist, but it is very different being amongst the ranks.
On one occasion they were rehearsing at Abbey Road Studios, a huge inspiration in itself when you think of those that have gone before, Segovia, Elgar, The Beatles etc. This time was for one of the 'Proms in the Park', and Robin was playing both classical and electric guitar.
There is only one problem with Robin and electric guitars. As soon as he has one in his hands he has to break into some Jimi Hendrix, usually but not exclusively, Voodoo Chile.
So in a quiet moment that is exactly what happened, much to the amusement of the violin section who were seated directly in front of him.
You'll be pleased to hear that he did manage to restrain himself for the actual performance.
It does show however that some classical musicians with certain musical backgrounds do have the ability to crossover as has been debated previously.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Music Whilst You Cook

As I said yesterday normal practice has now been resumed here as Robin prepares for a couple of solo concerts that are coming up. The first is next week in Dewsbury Town Hall, a lunchtime recital.
For me, it's great to be hearing fantastic music drifting around the house as I go about my business. It's a lovely programme, Malaguena (Trad. Arr.Hill), Six Lute Pieces, Three Pieces by Tarrega, Variations on a Theme by Mozart (Sor), El Noi de la Mare (Trad. Arr.Llobet), Three Pieces by Dilermando Reis, La Paloma (Sebastian Iradier), Two Pieces by Brouwer and Asturias (Albeniz).
As it's a lunchtime performance it's only an hour long and a lot of thought goes into trying to make that an exciting and eventful hour, which I think has been achieved.
So if you are anywhere near Dewsbury on the 10th January then go along and check it out. If not, then feel free to get in touch and we'll see if we can organise anything in your area/country.
I remember that some years ago while on a Hill/Wiltschinsky tour in Borneo, many of the audience had flown in specially for the concert from some of the outlying islands. Praise indeed.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Normal Service Resumed

After two days working in an office environment Robin has returned to the music room. The filing isn't yet complete, but is in a much more manageable state. The guitar however is a very jealous mistress that doesn't like to be abandoned for any length of time. Actually, Robin did practice over the last few days, but not with his usual intensity. Even he has to rest those fingers occasionally!
He really doesn't like it if he is unable to play, which is why he finds long haul flights so frustrating. The only day that I have known him not to play at all was on our wedding day, (unless he had a few sneaky scales and arpeggios prior to arriving at the venue..) which I took as a huge honour.
Yes, he took his guitar on the honeymoon, yes, he did practice every day, even if it was only for a couple of hours instead of his usual amount, and no, I didn't mind as he's much nicer to be around once he's played for a while, otherwise he just fidgets and drums his fingers until you 'suggest' he goes off to practice to get some peace.
Why would I mind anyway, I was lying on a Caribbean beach being served the days 'special' drink by the very pleasant waiters.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

The Music Archive of Robin Hill

Robin has been working very hard all day logging and tabulating a lifetime's collection of music. Many long lost pieces have been found and lovingly placed in the appropriate place, Collections, Methods, A-Z Composers and Christmas. As yet, the task is by no means complete, there are still many cupboards and drawers stuffed with manuscripts, but you can walk around the studio with a great deal more ease. The whole process was partially started to make the studio a more pleasant working environment for the next recording which should start fairly soon.
B - was particularly lengthy with 77 pieces, some of which were books of studies, but when you consider Barrios, Bartok, Bach and Brouwer, to name only a few then you can see why.
I was quite surprised by R - only 24 entries (so far) but boy, what pieces. Rodrigo's Concierto de Aranjuez and Madrigal, alongside Four Rossini Overtures. That's an awful lot of notes and amazingly Robin has played them all from memory!
One re-discovered piece brought back pleasant thoughts. It was originally violin studies by a composer called Rowsby Woof. We were so taken by his name that we called our first dog, a golden retriever, Rowsby.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Music, Music, Everywhere

Here we are at the start of another year with the prospect of many exciting things happening over the next twelve months.
Today started with an announcement from Robin that he was going to file all his music. Whilst this may not sound exciting to you, it is certainly jaw dropping to me!
In all our time together I have become used to sharing our home with a huge amount of manuscript paper, scores, studies etc, and a regular cry of, 'have you seen...', to which I always answer, 'no', otherwise you could be lost for days under mounds of music, searching.
The filing cabinets are already there in one of the two studio rooms, and they even have some music in, but not in any organised sort of way.
So, after making this announcement, Robin disappeared this morning and hasn't been seen since.
Son number one said he is up there, and not only is Robin filing alphabetically, but he's logging all pieces on computer too! He couldn't actually see what he has done as he was unable to find a pathway across the room, but I'm very impressed.
This may be a long process though as it's now evening and Robin still hasn't finished the 'A's'...