Saturday, February 25, 2012

If that is what classical music is, it's really grim


My co-presenter at this evening's Britten Sinfonia pre-concert event in Norwich is violinist Pekka Kuusisto - seen above. While researching the talk I came across this in a 2007 Guardian profile:
Not that he's in sympathy with anything that might be described as crossover. Perish the thought. A few years ago, one of Kuusisto's UK visits coincided with the Classical Brit awards, and he found himself watching them on TV, agog for all the wrong reasons. "Andrea Bocelli got some kind of lifetime achievement award, and then the Opera Babes performed, and the Planets - and so the whole country is being taught to believe that this is what classical music is! It's really grim, you know? I was shocked".
Less grim is the news that the first four New York performances of Missy Mazzoli's new multi-media opera 'Song from the 'Uproar: the Lives and Deaths of Isabelle Eberhardt', which presumably will not feature in the Classical Brits, have sold out - more on Isabelle Eberhardt here.

* Pekka Kuusisto plays Thomas Ad├Ęs' Violin Concerto with the composer conducting the Britten Sinfonia in Norwich tonight (Feb 25), on Monday (Feb 27) in London at the Queen Elizabeth Hall and Tuesday (Feb 28) in Dublin. There is a New York Times review of their recent Lincoln Centre performance here. Kudos to BBC Radio 3 for broadcasting the QEH concert live: however the presenter is Petroc - if that is what classical music is, it's really grim - Trelawny. And yes, I know Pekka Kuusisto's agent is Harrison Parrott.

Also on Facebook and Twitter. I have received compensation in kind for presenting the Britten Sinfonia pre-concert talk. 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

5 comments:

Susan Scheid said...

May I add the horrendous Andre Rieu to Kuusisto's list? I do think there are truly worthy cross-fertilization ventures (the Ecstatic Music Festival is one), but it's refreshing to see Kuusisto's comment. I was lucky enough to hear and see the Britten Sinfonia concert here in New York. A thrilling event, and Kuusisto was sublime.

Pliable said...

Susan, many thanks for that and it is great to hear from someone who was at the Britten Sinfonia's New York concert. But.... http://www.overgrownpath.com/2010/08/may-i-say-word-about-andre-rieu.html

Pliable said...

Email received:

Pekka Kuusisto performed unforgettably in our drafty local community hall in the Blue Mountains in New South Wales. As well as accompanying a young student, he played with a Sydney quartet, Aulis Sallinen's "Some Aspects of Peltoniemi Hintrik's Funeral March."

His generosity to the student musician and the eye opening selection and vivacious reading of the Sallinen piece will be remembered.

Do please return him promptly to Australia!

Regards and thanks for your blog.

Ross Chambers
Blue Mountains
New South Wales

Susan Scheid said...

Well, interesting what Pliable pulled up from an earlier post over here. I'll have to say I'm not persuaded, though, that Rieu offers something worthwhile for those for whom more sophisticated classical music stays out of reach. From my own experience, I'd say outstanding classical music is within everyone's reach. All that's needed is to reach out to it. I just went to another free concert last night, all young composers premiering new pieces. It was thrilling. To my mind, that's what we should all be encouraging. Rieu, on the other hand, is just another version of Marx's opiate, no substitute for the real thing.

Susan Scheid said...

So, of course you've got me thinking further. At the risk of taking up more than my share of the airwaves, here, may I add: I do have a bit the zeal of a convert. I'm not a musician, knew only a smattering of classical music, and next to nothing about today's classical music. Then, just by happenstance, I got hold of a piece of music I loved every time I heard it--Mapping Wales, by John Metcalf. I wrote to tell him how much I loved it, then, when we took a trip to Wales, he out of the blue invited us for a cup of tea. He was so welcoming; we sat there for two hours and had a conversation about music--he talking over our heads a good bit of the time, but never making us feel that way. I left wanting to find out everything I could, and the more I do, the more I find that's simply beautiful, so worthy of support, and so at risk. Rieu, it seems to me, has just come up with a great way of making money for himself--t'was ever thus, I know, but I just wish we would all try, be curious, discover! The In Harmony project you report on, working with the young people of Norwich, is a magical example of what can be accomplished.