Beyond the grave: Rachmaninov ‘gives recital’ in Italy
14 January 2015
Notes from the afterlife: Sergei Rachmaninov© Tully Potter Collection
Rachmaninov has given a ‘live’ recital at Italy’s Teatro Mediterraneo – curiously overcoming his death in 1943.
The event, dubbed a ‘Ghost Concert’ by organisers, was the brainchild of Italian pianist Roberto Prosseda, in collaboration with Julius Tuomisto, CEO of the Finnish software company Delicode. Tuomisto and Prosseda converted piano rolls of works recorded by Rachmaninov into MIDI format. The files were then played by a Yamaha Disklavier Piano at the opening of Piano City Napoli, a festival that presented 200 piano recitals – performed by living pianists – in Napoli during 5-7 December.
An animated 3D image of Rachmaninov’s ghost playing the piano was also projected on to the stage. During the recital, Prosseda ‘interviewed’ Rachmaninonv – thanks to computer trickery by Italian computer graphic artist Adriano Mestichella.
‘The project was conceived to bring classical music to people beyond the traditional audience,’ explained Prosseda. ‘Only two or three per cent of the population normally attends piano recitals, and our goal is to reach the other 98 percent, using an innovative and attractive format, but still focusing on great music.’
Yamaha’s Disklavier technology is opening doors for pianists who are willing to experiment with new formats. In 2013 Jim Aitchison’s Portraits for a Study was performed on four pianos, in four different venues – by one pianist.
Notes from Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival (hcmf)
7 January 2015
Nicolas Hodges performed as part of the Trio Accanto, to great acclaim© Marco Borggreve
Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival (hcmf)
Huddersfield, Various Venues
21-30 November 2014
The big pianistic event at this year’s hcmf was the performance of James Dillon’s Piano Concerto ‘Andromeda’ from 2006, by Noriko Kawai with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra under Steven Schick. Dillon has a dramatic style that invokes the elemental, and he’s never shied away from big themes – here he’s inspired by the Andromeda galaxy, the most distant object in space visible to the naked eye, named after the nymph chained to a rock as a sacrifice to Poseidon, and rescued by Perseus. His brilliant colour-sense allied to formidable musical intelligence, it’s rightly been commented that he now creates music less dauntingly dense that in his earlier career. It’s not unprecedented for an avantgardist to re-explore classical tradition in their later career, and in this engrossing work the echoes of concerto form, with its solo and concertante roles, is apparent, with Kawai informing them with fire and warmth.
Singaporean pianist Mei Yi Foo’s excellent contemporary recital was notable for Richard Baker’s organically unified Breaking The Ground (2003). Written for any keyboard instrument, Jukka Tiensuu’s Fantango (1984) was richly entertaining, but Kurtág’s modern classic Játékok (Games) was the most substantial offering. Dai Fujikura’s Piano Etudes, in contrast, was underwhelming. But the pianistic highlight, for me, was the Trio Accanto concert, featuring Nicolas Hodges (piano), Marcus Weiss (saxophones) and Christian Dierstein (percussion). Andreas Dohmen’s recent work Versi Rapportati featured incendiary effects; Jo Kondo’s A Shrub (2000) was almost anti-expressive. Toshio Hosokawa’s Vertical Time Study II and Hans Thomalla’s Lied completed a programme notable for some spectacular interpretations.
Apply now for the Rhinegold Charity Fund – worth £10,000!
2 January 2015
Applications are now open for the 2015-16 Rhinegold Charity Fund. The scheme offers one music sector charity £10,000 to spend on advertising across Rhinegold’s wide portfolio of classical music publications, websites and services. It will provide the chosen charity with opportunities to publicise their work and initiatives, with account management support on aspects of marketing and design from Rhinegold.
Last year’s fund was awarded to the Pro Corda Trust – a music and educational charity established in 1969 to provide education in the ‘art, philosophy and theory of music’ to young people across the UK.
‘The Rhinegold Charity Fund has been a truly exciting opportunity for Pro Corda,’ says Pro Corda CEO and artistic director Andrew Quartermain. ‘Besides the obvious benefit in kind of such a publicity package, the additional benefits for a national music education provider like ourselves were immense. The year allowed us to develop an imaginative publicity strategy, with all arms of Rhinegold’s expertise working with us to give a joined-up process which has reached – both through adverts and editorials – a diverse audience. The year has lifted our publicity drive to the highest potential and allowed us to reach literally thousands during a very significant chapter in our development. Thank you, Rhinegold!’
The winning charity will be selected by Rhinegold’s board of directors, alongside Stephen Turvey, chairman of the Rhinegold Charity Fund, and the winner will be notified in March. The £10,000 fund will be available for use from April. Applicants must submit an application form by 13 February, forms are available online here. Alternatively, application forms can be downloaded from the website and sent to John Barnett, marketing & events executive, via email on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Joanna MacGregor launches Dartington International Summer School 2015
16 December 2014
Joanna MacGregor has revealed the full programme for Dartington International Summer School’s 2015 instalment, her first as artistic director. MacGregor, who is head of piano at the Royal Academy of Music, took over the post on a permanent basis following the interim appointment of Nicholas Daniel for 2014’s summer school.
Dartington International Summer School (DISS) runs from 1 to 29 August in 2015 – providing participants with an extra week compared to 2014 (although remaining one week shorter than in 2013 and in the years prior to that). It also includes the restoration of jazz courses and the popular advanced opera class to the programme.
Speaking at the launch event against a backdrop of enticing photographs depicting the Devonshire setting, MacGregor described the summer school’s rural location as ‘dream-like and very inspiring’.
‘Dartington Summer School has been at the hub of many musicians’ lives for over sixty years,’ explained MacGregor, citing some visitors who make it an annual pilgrimage. ‘Musicians such as Yehudi Menuhin, and currently, Emma Kirkby, came to the school as students and then returned as teachers.’
The school is divided into four week-long mini series and pianists will be most interested in week three (15-22 August), which features Alfred Brendel and Steven Osborne. Osborne leads several masterclasses and prospective attendees are invited to apply in advance by sending two contrasting recordings and a short CV to email@example.com. The esteemed Brendel will give three 70-minute lectures (18-20 August); the third takes its title from Brendel’s recent short survey A Pianist’s A-Z. MacGregor will also give a session on Mozart’s piano concertos that week, teaming up with the conducting course to consider contrasting interpretations of Wilhelm Kempf, Clara Haskil and Daniel Barenboim.
‘There is a uniqueness to the scope of the summer school,’ says MacGregor. ‘Our ethos has always been to cater for both amateur musicians and professionals. We’ve put together a meaningful programme that offers something for all visitors; from Medieval through to contemporary music.’
Bursaries are available; applicants must send two contrasting recordings or scores and a short CV to firstname.lastname@example.org by 31 March.
Dame Fanny Waterman to step down from Leeds International Piano Competition
16 December 2014
Dame Fanny Waterman, who turns 95 next yearPhoto by Andy Manning
Dame Fanny Waterman has announced that she will retire from her role as chairman and artistic director of the Leeds International Piano Competition following the 2015 event. The exact date of her retirement will depend on the appointment of her successor.
Dame Fanny Waterman’s decision comes as she approaches her 95th birthday in March.
With her late husband, Dr Geoffrey de Keyser and with Marion Thorpe CBE, then the Countess of Harewood, and with the support of Jack and Roslyn Lyons, Dame Fanny Waterman founded the Leeds International Piano Competition in 1961. The first event followed in 1963. The 18th instalment of the triennial Competition takes place between 26 August and 13 September 2015 in Leeds.
Under Dame Fanny Waterman’s leadership, ‘the Leeds’ has long been regarded as one of the most coveted platforms in the piano world. Artists including Radu Lupu, Murray Perahia and Sunwook Kim launched their careers by taking first prize at ‘the Leeds’; Sir András Schiff, Mitsuko Uchida and Lars Vogt, meanwhile, are among the Competition’s illustrious finalists.