A new article by Fiona Richards has been published in the Australian journal Southerly:
It focuses on the writer Randolph Stow, who was born in Western Australia and emigrated to England in the 1960s, basing himself first in Suffolk and finally in Harwich. He has distinguished musical connections, writing the libretti for two works by Peter Maxwell Davies: Eight Songs for a Mad King and Miss Donnithorne’s Maggot, as well as using music extensively in his writings. This article looks at ‘islands’ in Stow’s life and output, linking his preoccupation to that of composer Peter Sculthorpe, born in Tasmania. Stow’s places range from the Scottish island of Handa to Malta, from the Trobriand islands to an isolated mission station in the Kimberleys.
Catherine Tackley will be a panellist on BBC Radio 4’s ‘Thinking Allowed’, hosted by Laurie Taylor (pictured), broadcast live on Wednesday 22nd May at 4pm. The discussion will be inspired by Frith/Brennan/Cloonan/Webster’s The History of Live Music in Britain, Volume I: 1950-1967 (Ashgate) – an output from an AHRC funded project at the University of Edinburgh (also see Live Music Exchange).
“Symphony”, the OU’s award-winning collaboration with BBC4, is to be re-screened on BBC4 beginning this Friday at 8pm. The four-part series is presented by Simon Russell Beale and features performances by the BBC Symphony Orchestra, the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, and the Hallé.
The first episode is entitled ’Genesis and Genius’ and can be seen on Friday 24 May at 8pm on BBC4. Episode two, ‘Beethoven and Beyond’ follows on Friday 31 May.
The series, which won several awards, was produced as a collaboration between BBC4 television, the Open University Music Department (with Robert Samuels as lead academic), BBC Orchestras, Radio 3, and the BBC Symphony Orchestra Learning division. Essays on the associated website were contributed by OU music department members Robert Samuels, Fiona Richards, and Ben Winters.
This weekend, the Southbank’s ‘Rest is Noise’ Festival is devoted to the ‘Art of Fear’, and OU music lecturer Robert Samuels will be contributing to the events by giving a ‘bite-size’ talk on Sunday at 12.30pm in the foyer of the Queen Elizabeth Hall.
His talk is called ’The Music of Total War’, and looks at three works: Michael Tippett’s oratorio, A Child of Our Time; Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem; and Dimitri Shostakovich’s Babi Yar Symphony.
More details can be found on the Southbank centre’s website, and on the OU’s OpenLearn pages.
Last night, Catherine Tackley’s book Benny Goodman’s Famous 1938 Carnegie Hall Jazz Concert (OUP) won Jazz Publication of the Year at the nineth PPL sponsored Parliamentary Jazz Awards, judged by the All Party Parliamentary Jazz Appreciation Group. Catherine was presented with her award by Keith Ball, son of the late British jazz musician Kenny Ball, at the House of Commons at an event which was attended by a record number of MPs and peers, showing a cross-party love of jazz. The UK jazz awards were hosted by broadcaster Moira Stuart OBE.
The UK premiere (and first performance anywhere for 250 years) of Antonio Lotti’s Mass for Three Choirs will take place at 7pm on Saturday 13 April at Grosvenor Chapel, South Audley Street, London W1K 2PA.
The Buon Tempi Consort will be conducted by PhD student Ben Byram-Wigfield, who is carrying out his research on Lotti’s sacred music. The work shows off the famous polychoral tradition employed at the Basilica San Marco in Venice.
Take this opportunity to catch a rarity! Tickets are £10 and available on the door.
This weekend, the Southbank’s ‘Rest is Noise’ Festival is devoted to ‘America, 1900-1950′, and OU music lecturers Ben Winters and Catherine Tackley will be contributing to the events. Ben will be talking about the Viennese opera/film composer Erich Korngold, and will be in conversation with Jessica Duchen at 12.30 on Sunday in the Purcell Room.
Catherine will be giving a pre-concert talk on Sunday at 18.15 in the Queen Elizabeth Hall, prior to the BBC Concert Orchestra’s performance. She’ll be talking about the blues and how they influenced the music of William Grant Still and Duke Ellington, and will be joined by musicians from Dune Music and Tomorrow’s Warriors.
More details can be found here.
On Saturday 23 March the University of Bristol is hosting a study day on the English composer Frank Bridge. The details can be found here: http://bristol.ac.uk/music/CHOMBEC/bridgestudyday2013.html
Fiona Richards is giving a paper on the musical connections between Bridge, his pupil Benjamin Britten and the conductor Boyd Neel. A GP and keen amateur musician, Neel formed a new string ensemble in 1933. The Boyd Neel Orchestra went on to play an important role in the creation and performance of music for string orchestra, commissioning pieces by many British composers, including Bliss, Britten, Howells, Ireland, Vaughan Williams and Walton. In 1937 Britten wrote his Variations on a Theme of Frank Bridge, which was premiered in Salzburg on 27 August. In 1939 the orchestra took the Variations to Portugal, performing them in Lisbon, Oporto and Coimbra, where a circus was to appear later, with all the animals lined up at the back of the stage listening to the concert! For the orchestra’s 10th anniversary Britten produced a Prelude and Fugue with one part for each of the eighteen players. In 1947 the orchestra toured Australia and new Zealand, – quite an undertaking at that time. It took 9 days to fly to Sydney via San Francisco with a number of changes: Dublin-Shannon-Gander, Newfoundland-New York-Los Angeles-San Francisco-Honolulu-Canton Island-Fiji-Sydney. When Neel was invited to be a guest on Desert Island Discs in 1963 he chose as one of his eight records the Variations on a Theme of Frank Bridge. There are thus many different connections between these three musicians.
Open University students can hear some relevant works by logging into these links on the Naxos site:
Britten Variations on a Theme of Frank Bridge and Prelude and Fugue
Boyd Neel orchestra playing Handel Concerti Grossi
Bridge Idylls, on which Britten based his Variations
OU musicologist Catherine Tackley appeared on the BBC2/Culture Show documentary ‘Swinging into the Blitz’, a counterpart to the successful drama ‘Dancing on the Edge’. The documentary discussed Ken ‘Snakehips’ Johnson and Leslie Thompson’s bands of black British and West Indian musicians active in the UK during the 1930s and 40s. Catherine has written a chapter comparing this scene with that of jazz dance in the 1980s which will be published shortly in ‘Bodies of Sound’, and is currently working on a chapter about the aftermath of a World War Two bombing in which Johnson and one of his band members were killed, an incident which also split the band.
The documentary is repeated on Tuesday 19th February on BBC2 at 11:20pm and available until Wednesday 27th February here.
This new collaboration between BBC4 and the Music Department tells the story of modernism in the 20th Century. It airs on Tuesday 12 February at 9pm with the first of three one-hour documentaries (“Wrecking Ball”).
The series features a number of newly-recorded interviews with composers – including Boulez, Birtwistle, Maxwell Davies, Pärt, Reich, Glass, Adams, Benjamin, and Tavener – and also discusses music by Schoenberg, Webern, Stravinsky, Shostakovich, Varèse, Messiaen, Stockhausen, Nono, Xenakis, Ligeti, Cage, and Feldman (among others). Commentators include Erik Levi, Marina Frolova-Walker, Michael Tilson Thomas, and Tom Service.
It’s well worth a look, and more details can be found here….