The author Umberto Eco had a library of an astonishing 30,000+ books, most of which he had not, and probably never did read. Nassim Nicholas Talib (author of The Black Swan) calls this an “anti-library” and believes it represents an ongoing intellectual curiosity and thirst for knowledge, for all those unread books contain what one does not know yet. The more one reads, the more one’s knowledge increases; the books one hasn’t read are a research tool, a means to extend one’s knowledge further.

The same can perhaps be said for musical scores. On the bookcase in my piano room are many scores of music which I may never play, but I have acquired those scores out of curiosity, and many of them represent, for me at least, an acknowledgement that my musical knowledge continues to grow. Some scores are also research tools, purchased for their detailed notes and annotations rather than the music itself; others I bought because I simply wanted to possess them. Some I have been sent by composers, hopeful that I may play their music. All of them are the music I haven’t played yet.

Years ago, long before I started writing this blog and interviewing musicians on a regular basis, I went to interview a concert pianist at his home in the leafy suburbs. One wall of his piano room/office was filled with scores, floor to ceiling – dusky blue Henle, brick-red Weiner Urtext and pale green Peters editions and many more. This collection, including some very well-thumbed, much-used editions, represented a lifetime’s work in the profession, but I suspect there were more than a few scores that may never be opened, yet they had their place in this library as the music he hadn’t played yet.

In the world today, knowledge can be accrued incredibly easily and quickly via the internet, and this accrual of knowledge becomes a compulsive need to enable us to rise in the hierarchy of  perceived “intelligence” or “knowledgeability”. I am always rather suspicious of people who tell me they have played all of Beethoven’s piano sonatas, this completist approach suggesting a certain lack of humility, as if to say “that’s it, I have mastered the instrument and its literature!”. I prefer to subscribe to a more humble approach, based on the knowledge that a piece of music is never truly “finished”. People who lack this humility may enjoy a sense of pride at having ‘conquered’ Beethoven, without acknowledging that learning is an ongoing process.

The music we haven’t played yet may well be the most interesting in our repertoire, for it offers new possibilities in broadening our musical knowledge, extending our technical and artistic facilities, and widening our cultural horizons. It is a sign of an ever-expanding understanding of our competence and a necessary spur to mastery.

In fact, all the music we haven’t played yet represents a wondrous opportunity – it is just waiting to be explored!

collections-music-scores

 

 

Who or what inspired you to pursue a career in music?

It might sound weird, but music itself guided me to become a professional musician. As a child and teenager, I lived in my own world and spending time playing and listening to music was my favourite activity. It was much later – around my 15th or 16th birthday – when I realized pursuing a different career would equal spending less time with music and that was no option for me. You could say I was naÏve enough to think you could just choose a life. With time I learned that you have to make your way first.

Who or what have been the most important influences on your musical life and career?

Without doubt the people I love – my parents, my sister and my wife. They supported me from early on and without them I would not have had the luxury of mainly focusing on music. As a musician, I’m convinced it’s impossible to fully seperate the professional from the private parts of life. It’s interwoven and therefore I don’t like to call a vocation a career.

What have been the greatest challenges of your career so far?

I’ve always believed in doing what I love and avoiding the things I don’t like as much as possible. Music has become such a big part of myself; therefore certain elements such as competitions never fit with my perspective on it.

The greatest challenge is, consequently, to stay true to yourself and to keep in touch with your instinct, especially in our noisy, stressful and competitive world. 

Which performances/recordings are you most proud of?

This is impossible to define, because my assessment constantly changes. When I record I have the exact version in mind and I want to believe it is set in stone and made for eternity. However I have learned that even after a few months my concept has evolved and the recording is not up to date any more. The same applies to live recordings or performances. At first it frightened me, but thinking about it now, isn’t change the only true certainty we know?

Which particular works do you think you perform best?

That I can’t decide. All I know is that my interest and passion are generated by the works I play or record. It’s hard to choose favourites, because music is too diverse and too dependent on mood and many other parameters.

I feel a strong affinity for Alexander Scriabin and also Franz Liszt, but that doesn’t mean I don’t equally enjoy Scarlatti, Ravel, Yun or Brahms. 

How do you make your repertoire choices from season to season?

I love compiling recital programmes, creating  a proper ‘menu for the ears’. Proportion, variation, dimension and relations in between the works chosen make such a big difference. Sometimes promoters engage me for certain works desired and some other times they like my suggestions. It’s very much a fluctuating thing.

Do you have a favourite concert venue to perform in and why?

I love the Wigmore Hall, like so many other musicians do. Venues with a rich history usually fascinate me, but there is a few, partly modern concert halls I enjoy very much, such as the Philharmonie Luxembourg, the Maison Symphonique in Montréal or the wonderful Concertgebouw Amsterdam.

A great venue is more than just good acoustics – it’s atmosphere, surroundings, spirit and architecture.

What is your most memorable concert experience?

There are many memorable experiences on stage. Alongside the highlights, such as sharing the stage with close friends or living legends such as Yannick Nézet-Séguin there is a series of exceptional incidents I encountered so far: Medical emergencies on or off stage, pets smuggled into concert halls or drunk promoters involuntarily popping up live on stage…

As a musician, what is your definition of success?

Success is when you achieve separating your self-worth as a person from the satisfaction with your performance. I strongly believe you can only remain independent and free if you don’t allow your personal approach on music to be commercialized.

It’s a lot harder to achieve than it sounds.


Joseph Moog’s ability to combine exquisite technical skill with a mature and intelligent musicality set him apart as a pianist of exceptional diversity. A champion of the well-known masterworks as well as a true advocate of rare and forgotten repertoire paired with his quality to compose and arrange, Joseph was awarded the accolade of Gramophone Young Artist of the Year 2015 and was also nominated for the GRAMMY in 2016.

Read more

(artist photo: Askonas Holt)

The therapeutic properties of music are well-documented and studies show time and time again how listening to and playing music can heal emotional suffering.

Garreth Broke’s new album ‘Healing’ seeks to explore this complex and sometimes contradictory emotional process from several perspectives and is, in part, a highly personal response to grief and subsequent reconciliation and recovery.

‘Healing’ explores the complex, not always linear process of healing. Any struggle is full of contradictions: there are moments of pain and relief, tension and release, opacity and clarity.

– Garreth Broke

Created in collaboration with his partner, German contemporary artist Anna Salzmann, ‘Healing’ is Garreth’s musical response to 11 abstract artworks by Salzmann. A suite of 10 movements for solo piano, lasting c25 mins, ‘Healin’g traces the arc of grief and recovery. The music is by turns tender, melancholy, poignant and ultimately redemptive in the joyous final movement ‘Cave, Mind, Clear’.

Designed to be performed live, with accompanying projection of the artworks, ‘Healing’ is a unique and innovative project, immersive, eloquent and profoundly moving with a universal message.

To seek to heal is to be human. Everyone suffers grief, loss, and fear. Everyone feels pain. Although this project came from us, it is not about us. The strength of any person comes from their willingness to confront the darkest moments, to accept reality for what it is and to choose to move forward.

– Garreth Broke

‘Healing’ is released on disc by 1631 Recordings/Decca and is also available Spotify, Apple Music and YouTube. A vinyl release of ‘Healing’ is planned for spring 2020. The sheet music of ‘Healing’ is published by Editions Musica Ferrum.


Born in Hereford in 1985, Garreth Brooke (aka Garreth Broke) is a pianist and composer, now based in Frankfurt, Germany. He has an MA in Music from Oxford, where he studied under Dr Roger Allen and Professor Laurence Dreyfus. Although trained in classical piano, he developed an interest in composing his own music from an early age, initially to avoid practicing what he was supposed to, but increasingly it became a way of escaping from the crisis that enveloped his family when his severely depressed mother attempted suicide.    

Now heavily involved in the contemporary classical scene, Garreth has released music under the name ‘Garreth Broke’ on 1631 Recordings / Decca and THESIS, and performed with many contemporary classical artists including Simeon Walker, Clemens Christian Poetzsch, CEEYS, Hania Rani, Pianofield, Tom Blankenberg, Nathan Schubert, Jakob Lindhagen and Vargkvint.. He also runs the charity sheet music project Upright Editions, a collaboration with many other artists including Michael Price, Oscar Schuster and Danny Mulhern. 

garrethbrooke.com

healinggarrethbrokeannasalzmann
Heart (Map), by Anna Salzmann (from Healing)

Who or what inspired you to pursue a career in music?

My first clarinet teacher, Frank Holdsworth who was Principal Clarinet with the Bournemouth Sinfonietta was my mentor from the beginning and he continued to give good advice even when I became a Principal player myself in the Philharmonia Orchestra. As a child I liked the way music could make me feel and I seemed to be good at it too so I really had no doubts that it was the right path for me.

Who or what have been the most important influences on your musical life and career?

All the great musicians you meet along the way have an effect on developing your own musicianship and I have been fortunate enough to play with most of the world’s great musicians.

What have been the greatest challenges of your career so far?

Getting a job, keeping it, making it work with family life and making enough money.

Which performances/recordings are you most proud of?

I recorded the Mozart Concerto and solo directed it, Stravinsky’s Ebony Concerto with Robert Craft and Chris Gunning’s concerto too. Orchestrally I like my playing in VW’s Norfolk Rhapsody with Philharmonia/Slatkin but usually I can’t stand listening to myself play.

Which particular works do you think you perform best?

Those that reflect the human condition

How do you make your repertoire choices from season to season?

Other people tend to do that

Do you have a favourite concert venue to perform in and why?

The Suntory Hall in Tokyo and the Philharmonie in Berlin are both good examples of modern concert halls and the Musikverein in Vienna has the classic shoebox shape so loved by musicians.

What is your most memorable concert experience?

Pavarotti in Hyde Park. Princess Diana was there in the pouring rain and we were recorded for Decca. It was part of my trial period for the Philharmonia so I felt a lot of pressure especially as I had a big solo to play from Tosca.

As a musician, what is your definition of success?

Feeling that I’ve done the music justice

What do you consider to be the most important ideas and concepts to impart to aspiring musicians?

Leave ego behind as much as possible and serve the music.

Where would you like to be in 10 years’ time?

In the sunshine

What is your idea of perfect happiness?

A great meal with fine wine with my family

What is your most treasured possession?

My Grandmother’s biscuit tin

What is your present state of mind?

Semi mental

Michael Whight performs with The Lisney Trio in Messiaen’s Quartet for the End of Time at the Purcell Room at London’s Southbank Centre on Monday 9 March. The programme also includes Beethoven’s ‘Archduke’ Trio. Further information and tickets


Michael Whight has a varied career as an orchestral player, soloist, chamber musician, recording engineer and producer, conductor and teacher.

A former Principal Clarinetist with the Philharmonia Orchestra and Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, he has also played guest Principal with all the London orchestras as well as the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Chamber Orchestra of Europe and Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra. Conductors he has worked with include Giulini, Maazel, Abbado, Levine, Ashkenazy, Sawallich, Sinopoli, Salonen, Sanderling, Svetlanov, and Harnoncourt.

Alongside some 200 orchestral recordings are Stravinsky’s Ebony Concerto with Robert Craft and the Philharmonia Orchestra, the concerto by Christopher Gunning ( of Poirot fame) and the Mozart Concerto which he directed from the basset clarinet with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. This was voted ‘the top of current offerings’ by International Record Review. He also collaborated with John Adams in performances of his concerto Gnarly Buttons in San Francisco conducted by Kent Nagano. As a session player he has appeared on the soundtracks for films such as Lord of the Rings and the Harry Potter Series and can regularly be heard on TV series such as Father Brown and Granchester. Michael is also the clarinetist on the theme tune for Coronation Street.

In chamber music Michael has worked with Gidon Kremer and friends, the Lindsay Quartet, the Medici String Quartet, the Schidlof String Quartet, the Razumovsky Ensemble, the Nash Ensemble, Robert Cohen and Barry Douglas as well as recording the complete chamber music of Richard Strauss with London Winds for Hyperion and with the Wind Soloists of the Chamber Orchestra of Europe for Teldec.

Michael was the first British winner of the International Clarinet Congress Competition and won the woodwind prize at the Royal Overseas League. He was invited by Valery Gergiev to play in the World Orchestra for Peace. As a conductor he has given concerts with Northern Sinfonia, and the Royal Philharmonic and Pohang Symphony Orchestras.

Michael also has a growing career as a recording engineer and producer. He has recorded and produced for the Naxos and Toccata Classics labels and mixed a soundtrack for BFI/Miramax, in conjunction with the Library of Congress. Michael has also produced two soundtracks for wildlife films, one for Austrian TV/Schlamberger and the other for Netflix/Silverback Productions. This year will see the launch of his own recording label, Marlie.

Michael is Professor of Clarinet at Trinity Laban in London

michaelwhight.com

March 21 & 28 2020, Clarendon Muse, Watford

The Master Music Festival returns in March 2020 to Watford’s Clarendon Muse. Headlining the festival is legendary Brazilian concert pianist Artur Cimirro, who will be making his long-awaited UK debut with a recital on March 28th at 7pm. Alongside much-loved classics, Artur will showcase his own compositions and arrangements. The festival is bringing back the hugely successful educational Children’s Concert, this year featuring flautist Daniela Mars, who will introduce young audiences to the world of classical music with a range of flutes. Chart-topping Steinway Artist Ji Liu will return to adjudicate the festival’s piano competitions. The competitions cater for all ages and levels of ability, providing local talent with a superb platform to showcase their achievements.

Director of Master Music Publications, Benjamin Williams, created the festival to bring today’s finest classical musicians to Watford to reach and engage new audiences of all ages. Master Music Publications is a publishing house providing original compositions, transcriptions, interpretative editions and educational resources by the world’s finest contemporary musicians. As well as the beautifully produced environmentally-friendly scores, Master Music Publications offers a wealth of additional information, biographies, context and a link to an online study guide with useful tips, videos and a discussion section.

The Festival Programme:

Artur Cimirro – Piano Recital – March 28th, 7pm

Headlining the festival and making his UK debut on March 28th 2020, Artur Cimirro will present a piano recital featuring a wide repertoire from Bach to Beethoven, Chopin, Liszt and Rachmaninov. Artur Cimirro enjoys an eclectic career as a pianist, composer, arranger and writer.

Artur Cimirro says ‘Performing at the Master Music Festival will be my first musical connection with the English people – a connection where beauty of the musical art can be shared with so many special souls in a land where fairy tales and history are always somewhat together. Showing my art in England is a joy for my heart!’

100% of profits from this performance will go to The Hospice of St. Francis.

Children’s Classical Concert – March 28th, 4pm

The Children’s Concert, taking place on March 28th 2020, aims to inspire and educate young audiences of all ages in the world of classical music. This eagerly anticipated concert will feature Daniela Mars, who will discuss and perform on a range of different flutes. Daniela Mars is a Brazilian flautist, Trevor James Artist and composer who enjoys a rich musical life as a chamber musician and soloist. Daniela mastered her art at London’s Guildhall School of

Music London and City University (London), and Vienna’s Prayner Konservatorium of Arts. Pianist Benjamin Williams, who recently graduated from Trinity Conservatoire of Music (London) with honours, will accompany Daniela.

Piano Competition – March 21st

The competition offers performance opportunities for all ages and abilities. Each participant will receive invaluable feedback from our adjudication panel, which so far includes Chinese Steinway Artist Ji Liu and British composer Andrew Harrod. If participants wish to have the performance experience without the pressure of competing, they can choose to enter non-competitively. Performers also have the option to have their performance professionally video recorded. Medals, certificates and a range of prizes will be awarded to participants who achieve 1st, 2nd and 3rd place. The winner of each age group in the advanced category wins the additional prize of an invitation to London’s Steinway Halls for a master class with a Steinway Artist.

Benjamin Williams, Director of Master Music Publications commented: ‘It has been a privilege to bring such incredibly talented artists to Watford, for an occasion all can enjoy!

 

Venue: Clarendon Muse, 70 Rickmansworth Road, Watford, WD18 7JA

Box Office: 020 8987 8082 / mastermusicpublications.com/festival20

MMF_Flyer_Page_1


source: press release

From healthy technique to natural artistry


Not so long ago a book as comprehensive and user-friendly as this would not be possible. It would require essential supplementary materials – DVDs and CDs – to cover all the ground. But with ease of access to the internet and smart phone technology at one’s fingertips, The Complete Pianist is exactly what it says it is: a comprehensive, generous guide to playing and teaching the piano, and one of the most significant volumes on piano technique to appear in recent decades. The benefit of technology means that pianists, whether professional or amateur, teachers and students can access some 300 video demonstrations via QR codes within the text, all of which have been recorded by Penelope Roskell herself to demonstrate a specific exercise, aspect of technique or musical point described in the pages of the book.

The Complete Pianist is the result of a lifetime of piano playing, teaching and research, and in it Penelope Roskell, renowned pedagogue and concert pianist, aims to help pianists of all levels improve their playing from the very earliest stages of learning a piece, through all the technical challenges and interpretative decisions to finding inspiration in the act of performance itself. Throughout, there is a strong emphasis on healthy technique and playing without tension, and Penelope continually reiterates that technique should serve the music, that it is a means to enable the player, whatever their level of expertise, to play with expression, vibrant colour and confidence.

Penelope Roskell’s approach to technique grew out of personal experience. As young pianist she experienced unpleasant physical symptoms while practising Liszt’s second piano concerto, and found that physical tension adversely affected her sound. She set out on a lifelong mission to develop a healthier approach to piano playing, drawing on yoga, Alexander Technique, Tai Chi and Feldenkrais, an understanding of anatomy, and her own research, often trying out exercises and techniques with her students to establish what worked or was most beneficial, both to the physical body of the pianist and the production of expressive sound.

Anyone who has studied with Penelope Roskell will be familiar with her technical and musical exercises, such as Empty Sleeves or The Hot Air Balloon and Parachute Touch, which aim to balance and relax the body or simplify and explain the physical movements required to create a particular sound or effect on the piano. Such descriptive, easily understood exercises can be particularly appealing to young people or early students who may find visual cues more helpful than verbal explanations. In addition, many of the exercises which Penelope advocates are based on the naturally flowing bodily movements we use in everyday life, thus making them relevant and more easily put into practice at the piano. The Complete Pianist contains 250 exercises, newly-devised by the author.

This comprehensive book covers all aspects of piano technique including posture, finger touch and tone production, chords, octaves, rotation, and lateral movements. There are also sections on mental preparation, effective practice, sight reading, memorisation, phrasing, rhythm, articulation, sound production, pedalling, injury prevention and understanding and managing performance anxiety.

The emphasis on preventing and managing injury is particularly important: until fairly recently, musicians’ health and wellbeing were rarely discussed and hardly touched upon in their teaching and training. Injury was regarded as a taboo subject, not to be mentioned for fear of revealing a weakness that may lead to loss of work, and musicians tended not to seek specialist help for health issues such as RSI or tendonitis. As the UK’s foremost piano teacher specialising in pianists’ injuries, and Piano Advisor for the British Association for Performing Arts Medicine ((BAPAM), Penelope Roskell offers highly informed, but straightforward and pragmatic advice for pianists of all ages and levels to encourage healthy technique. The Complete Pianist includes sections on injury recovery, rehabilitation and prevention, developing hand and finger strength, and hypermobility (double-jointedness) and specific issues relating to this for the pianist. In addition, section 22 (The Inspired Pianist) debunks many of the myths and obstacles of piano playing and performance, and offers intelligent suggestions to encourage motivation, set realistic goals and build confidence to maintain one’s interest in and enthusiasm for the piano. There is also a lengthy section on understanding anxiety, a significant issue for many pianists, professional and amateur. Once again, Penelope offers sensible, sympathetic advice – from understanding the physiology of anxiety and the effects of the release of adrenaline to dealing with perfectionism and negative thinking.

In addition to the many videos throughout the book, which range from simple piano pieces to concert repertoire, there are detailed appendices on anatomy and a glossary of terms which occur in the text.

In sum, The Complete Pianist is a remarkable achievement, a comprehensive manual for pianists and teachers, packed with invaluable accumulated wisdom and intelligent advice, and excellent supporting materials. Penelope Roskell simplifies the craft and art of piano playing, without ever devaluing musical ability, talent and artistry, and provides pianists with the tools to practice and work independently, yet with the sense of a supportive, sympathetic teacher always at one’s side, encouraging one to continually develop one’s artistic skill.

Highly recommended

The Complete Pianist is published by Edition Peters UK and retails at £44.95


A postscript….

I took private lessons with Penelope Roskell for six years from 2008, a few years after I had returned to playing the piano seriously after an absence of some 20 years. I went to her initially with a hand injury – tenosynovitis which had developed as a result of attempting to play the octave passages in Schubert’s first Klavierstück, D946, too quickly, too loudly and with poor technique. In the space of 6 months, she had transformed my technique, filling in the gaps which were missing from my piano studies as a teenager, and built my confidence to such an extent that I felt able to attempt a professional performance diploma, which I passed with distinction in 2011 (I subsequently took my licentiate diploma just 14 months later, with Penelope’s encouragement, also achieving a pass with Distinction).

Returning to the piano as an adult was not easy, but Penelope’s intelligent, sympathetic and respectful approach made a huge difference, not only to my own playing but also to my fledgling teaching career. She was always generous with her advice and suggestions, urging me to try her exercises with my own students and report back to her. Her weekend piano courses were stimulating events and through them I discovered new repertoire and met other pianists, a number of whom have become close friends.

Her new book is a comprehensive and inspiring distillation of her experience and wisdom.

(Frances Wilson, The Cross-Eyed Pianist)

peneloperoskell.co.uk

Meet the Artist interview with Penelope Roskell