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Sunday, May 07, 2006

BBC Proms

Nicholas Kenyon had a piece earlier in the week in The New Statesman talking about this year's BBC Proms. Much more than the final last night at Royal Albert Hall, it is an 8-week, mid-year festival, featuring both the old and the new. Amongst this year's 70 concerts are Hosokawa's "Circulating Ocean", and a BBC commissioned "Andromeda" by scottish composer James Dillon. Mozart and Shostakovich are heavily programmed, this being 250 and 100 year anniversaries.

Nicholas goes on to write about some of the audience initiatives in the past decade, most notably the Proms in the Park, utilising gigantic screens for live broadcasts. Personally, I would like to attend the "Come and Sing Workshop" on July 29, where you just turn up, take a seat, and sing.

A huge lineup, read more about it here.


Happy Birthday Brahms!

May the 7th, and it's a big day for Taurus fans out there. May 7 is the birthday of two key mainstays of the classical repertoire - Johannes Brahms and Peter Tchaikovsky. I'll dedicate this post to Brahms, as I consider his contribution the more sizable, as well as the more significant one, the Russian birthday boy will get his dues next year.

Brahms slaved over his works - compositions lived many incarnations before settling on a fixed instrumental group. Sonatas became Symphonies, then were scaled back to Concertos - this errant aiming is one of the features of the man, as well as his music.

The Handel Variations are a good place to start for those who have been intimidated and bored by Brahms in the past. It's a sticky tune, and all the piano thunder and glitz will have you smiling. Then give the First Symphony a roll, it's palatable, and not an exhausting journey.

Here's a link to some Brahms midis, here.