'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

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.