Tuesday, August 15, 2006

A BBC musician blogs ...

Here we are now, having just taken the biggest band ever to the BBC Proms for Heldenleben (even bigger this week for Firebird), folk are raving about the potential educational value we have - a bunch of crazy musicians - everybody is talking ‘live’, or ‘interactive’, and ‘community'. It’s what I've always wanted for us and it’s happening! Wow! How much do we all need folk to do more music? Our elected leaders are trying to screw us up to new heights of paranoia. Can’t we join together and shout loudly enough at them, “There is another way!”

Oops! That sudden lurch into politics was provoked by the Jonathan Harvey piece we’re rehearsing at the moment, ‘….towards a pure land’. If you listen to this at home, you’ll probably miss most of it. It hovers around the wrong side of silent and then murmurs its way over the threshold of the inaudible (there are long bits where we actually have to play – and make no sound at all!), but at least there are two huge arcs of shimmering instrumental colour and rhythmic complexity, so you’ll know that we haven’t just gone to the pub. It’s beautiful music. The Buddhist ethos in this music is powerful, it cries out in whispers (we actually have to make whispering noises). Stop, think, listen, be quiet - hear the sounds, listen - hear the suffering, be compassionate. Violence begets violence, the violence we have unleashed in the Middle East has unleashed and legitimized more and more and more violence, and that’s the violence that sits deep in every one of us, just press its button and it legitimizes itself…. if we could only just acknowledge that. Well ... I’m sorry if that’s all a bit off task, but it’s the sort of thing I think about in rehearsals.


Now that’s what music blogging is all about, and it’s on a BBC website! It was written by Anthony Sayers who plays cello in the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, and it was posted to the BBC SSO blog. Composer with a big future Jonathan Harvey's … towards a pure land’ was given its London premier by the orchestra at the Proms on August 9. On An Overgrown Path has been a huge fan of the BBC Scottish Orchestra from the time they were my own home band in the MacRobert Arts Centre in Stirling, Scotland. The enthusiasm seems to be reciprocated as their recommended links read BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, BBC Radio 3, On An Overgrown Path ....

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4 comments:

Berend de Boer said...

Anthony: Our elected leaders are trying to screw us up to new heights of paranoia, etc. etc.

I hope this guy isn't taxpayer funded...

Pliable said...

Berend, I am sure the story of the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra will gladden even your hardened free market heart.

In 1980 the BBC decided to bow to market pressures and halve the number of BBC orchestras, with one of the casualties the BBCSSO which was to be disbanded.

A long and bitter industrial dispute ensued, one consequence of which was the loss of twenty-seven Proms concerts. Support for the BBCSSO came from around the world, including the Berlin and Los Angeles Philharmonics. In the end a messy compromise was reached which resulted in the loss of the Scottish Radio Orchestra instead of the BBCSSO, however the BBSSO was left with only 62 players, and with no permanent conductor.

The BBC Scottish Orchestra has fought back over the last 25 years from that position to become a world-class orchestra capable of playing Ein Heldenleben and The Firebird with the best of them. They now have one of the finest concert hall complexes in the world as their new home, and they have had a string of top flight young Chief Conductors culminating in the inspirational Ilan Volkov.

The BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra are funded from my BBC license fee, as well as from concert and recording income. They have fought tooth and nail for that funding, they deserve it in bucket loads, and I am damn proud to contribute to that funding.

Berend de Boer said...

Heh, I agree. I love it as much as anyone when others are paying for my free goodies! Bring on the free Proms download :-)

sfmike said...

"The Buddhist ethos in this music is powerful, it cries out in whispers (we actually have to make whispering noises). Stop, think, listen, be quiet - hear the sounds, listen - hear the suffering, be compassionate."

In contrast to your previous commenter, I hope Anthony Sayers IS taxpayer-funded.

Berend strikes me as somebody who loves it when "others are paying for his free goodies," but hates it when he has to pay for anybody else's. It's a very ugly, very narrow view of the world.