Monday, February 16, 2009

I love silence


Last Friday evening at the Barbican, the BBC Symphony Orchestra played Supernova by Guillaume Connesson, a contemporary composer who featured here recently. I lamented to Antoine Leboyer, who introduced Connesson's music to me, that the BBC relay of the concert was marred by intrusive announcements by the Radio 3 presenter. Antoine explained that trop de talk is not unique to Radio 3, as this French joke shows:
How do you recognize that you have tuned in to France Musique - the French equivalent of Radio 3 ?

It is the one station where they speak all the time.
John Cage is the famous champion of silence. But the following quote is from Cage's contemporary William Alwyn, and comes from the newly published biography of Alwyn titled The Innumerable Dance.
I love silence. I love the beauty that lies hidden in silence. For silence in music, said Mozart, is of equal importance to sound. I was born in a time when silence could still be heard ...
It is not far from silence to brain music.
Image credit - Silence by Jarra McGrath. Review copy of The Innumerable Dance - the Life and Work of William Alwyn was supplied by Boydell & Brewer at my request. Any copyrighted material on these pages is included as "fair use", for the purpose of study, review or critical analysis only, and will be removed at the request of copyright owner(s). Report broken links, missing images and errors to - overgrownpath at hotmail dot co dot uk

2 comments:

Pliable said...

From the BBC Radio 3 broadcast it sounded as if presenter Catherine Bott was delivering her announcements from the Barbican's stage. Which means they were being heard by the audience in the hall, and were part of the concert. I know this happens with other concerts that Radio 3 broadcasts live.

Until recently concert listings use to warn if TV cameras were being used in a performance. The Barbican listing for this concert included no warning that the audience would be forced to listen to a 'classical jock' as part of the performance.

For decades BBC presentation announcements at concerts have been made only to radio listeners. Is there any justification for making the presenter part of the performance in the hall, other than further pursuit of the cult of the personality?

Pliable said...

Email received from BT, which, quite appropriately, refers to a French source:

What I learned a few weeks ago about Messiaen and Silence:

One of the elements of Messiaens added value is his idea of “ valeur ajoutée”.

La valeur ajoutée : valeur brève, ajoutée à un rythme quelconque, soit par une note, soit par un silence, soit par le point... Ordinairement, le rythme est presque toujours immédiatement pourvu de la valeur ajoutée, sans avoir été entendu au préalable à l’état simple

See : http://www.ars-classical.com/pageID_5138812.html