Classical music should drop its silly conventions
'Young people don't like concert halls... and wouldn't normally go to one except for amplified music. There is a big divide between amplified and non-amplified music... The future must bring things which are considered blasphemous like amplifying classical music in an atmosphere where people can come and go and even talk perhaps.. and certainly leave in the middle of a movement if they feel like it. Nobody should be deprived of classical music, least of all by silly conventions.'That is Jonathan Harvey talking about the future of classical music in an exclusive interview being broadcast and webcast on Future Radio on Sunday Sept 4. Which is the day after the composer's choral work Dum transisset sabbatum is being performed at a BBC Prom.
Jonathan Harvey is seen above talking to me at his home in Sussex during the recording. In the interview he talks about musicians he has known including Benjamin Britten, Hans Keller, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Milton Babbitt and Pierre Boulez. He also discusses his deep interest in mystical religions and the musical topics range from the future of classical music to serialism and spectralism. The interview concludes with Jonathan Harvey giving an invaluable introduction to his new composition for large orchestra and electronics, Speakings, and this is followed by a complete recorded performance of the work.
There is some priceless material in the interview so it is being made available in several formats. The broadcast version is being aired on FM locally in Norwich, England and worldwide via the internet at 3.00pm UK time this Sunday Sept 5, with a repeat for North American listeners at 1.00am the following morning, i.e. the night of Sept 5-6. (Time zone convertor here.) This broadcast will be a 28 minute edited interview ending with Jonathan Harvey introducing a full performance of Speakings which lasts for another 28 minutes.
A streamed version of the complete interview is now available on Soundcloud and a text transcription can be read On An Overgrown Path. Some background to the interview. is below.
* The interview with Jonathan Harvey was recorded using the Zoom H2 recorder I am seen holding in the upper photo. Sound quality recording in MP3 format at 320kbp is excellent, but inevitably these recorders do pick up some handling noise. Expert editing was by volunteer editor Tim Wilds in the Future Radio studios using Adobe Audition software. (Good luck at Goldsmiths College Tim!) Silly conventions were ignored in the final edit, so the performance of Speakings starts under Jonathan Harvey's voice and ends under mine. This is because the opening and closing bars are extremely quiet and without the overlap it sounded as though the broadcast had broken down. (Yes, I know.)
** My thanks go to Jonathan Harvey for making time available before a demanding trip to Japan, and to John Cronin who helped set it up. The interview could not have happened without the tireless support of Future Radio; if you appreciate their backing please send them a message saying so. All my work for the station is done on a pro bono basis. The recording of Speakings is on a new Aeon CD of Jonathan Harvey's music recorded by the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra conducted by Ilan Volkov.
Also available on Twitter and Facebook. Photos are (c) On An Overgrown Path 2010. The Aeon CD Speakings was supplied as a requested review sample. Report broken links, missing images and errors to - overgrownpath at hotmail dot co dot uk