As friends and some readers/followers of this blog already know, I am leaving London towards the end of this month for a new life in Dorset, in the west of England. I say “new life” though in fact the county is familiar – my husband hails from Dorset (Poole) and we were married in Stourton Caundle, a tiny village near the attractive minster town of Sherborne. So I have had an association with Dorset, and visit regularly, for 30 years.

When I first mentioned I was planning this move, certain friends exclaimed “but how will you manage without the Wigmore Hall and all the concerts/music?“. It’s true that leaving London and its vibrant musical and cultural life will be hard – I have lived in or near London for 40 years and for much of that time, concert-going in the capital has been an important part of my life. But I will not lack music in the West Country: as another friend who relocated to Spain a few years’ ago said to me before she left, “I have lots of CDs to listen to and there’s Radio Three“. Many Wigmore Hall concerts are broadcast on Radio Three, as are concerts from other concerts halls around the UK and beyond, so even if I am not there in person, I can at least be there in spirit! In addition there’s also Spotify, Medici TV and much more. There is also plenty of live music making outside the Metropolis: I have already had friendly exchanges with Plush Festival (Andras Schiff is the headline artist at this year’s festival) and I look forward to reviewing some concerts there later this summer; and many leading artists play at regional festivals and concert societies before presenting their programmes at a London concert hall. It may take a little more effort to get to places, but my husband has promised to buy me a Smart car.

In addition, I am looking forward to forging new connections with musical people in the west country, many of whom I have already “met” online via social media.

The blog of course is not going anywhere – it is both local and global, and will continue in the same vein for as long as I have the interest and motivation to write it. So far, it has brought me many interesting and stimulating encounters with musicians, both professional and amateur, journalists, critics, writers and other bloggers on music and culture, a number of whom have become close friends of mine. This sense of “community” is very important to me, as are the meaningful interactions I have both via the blog and social media in general. It is for this reason that I have, unlike some other bloggers, kept commenting open on the site to encourage conversation and discussion.

In fact, my relocation will, I hope, offer more time to write as I will be giving up piano teaching (at least for the time being). A book has been on my mind for some years, and a number of other writing projects. I am also looking forward to having more time to play the piano – and to reflect on playing the piano (which no doubt will prompt further blog posts!).

Thank you to everyone who reads, follows and shares this blog. I look forward to sharing many more thoughts on music and piano playing with you.

paul

Who or what inspired you to take up composing, and pursue a career in music?

I always wanted to be a musician. My grandparents on my mother’s side were both opera singers – my grandmother was a soprano and my grandfather a tenor, both were principals in the D’Oyly Carte and sang with Carl Rosa. My mother was an artist, an outstanding painter. So I was brought up surrounded by music and art, a lot of it surrealist. I went to some dreadful prep schools, but my mum got me to a Rudolf Steiner School, and there, at Michael Hall, I met the inspiring Mr Masters – Brien Masters. He was a wonderful teacher, musician and poet. He urged me to compose seriously and taught me how to notate, so I have him and that beautiful school to thank especially.

Who or what were the most significant influences on your musical life and career as a composer?

Many people and things have influenced and inspired me and I have seriously eclectic taste. My childhood and grandmother’s stories about Gilbert and Sullivan productions no doubt triggered my passion for opera. Oscar Peterson inspired my teenage years. As a trumpeter, I initially wanted to be a jazz musician, then turned to the baroque natural trumpet and was hooked on Maurice Andre. My student years at the Royal College of Music were the best musical years of my life! Edwin Roxburgh had a profound impact on me, and every lesson was a masterclass in composition. So too did John Wallace, who was an utterly inspirational trumpet teacher and support. But I also learned much from Joseph Horovitz and Richard Blackford, and Michael Finnissy at Sussex – all very different composers. In my twenties I became obsessed with the art and architecture of South East Asia and spent a good twelve years writing pieces directly inspired by Angkor and Javanese temples. I could instil a clear design and adorn it with colourful fantasy – just as the temples are so direct in proportions yet so ornate in final result. In a curious way, that ties in with my love of jazz and spontaneous and effervescent lines. Symbolism too. I love saying things in music that I cannot dare to say in public.

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

I remember Ken Russell’s film about Delius. Towards the end, Delius grumbles that his music is only played on BBC radio once a fortnight when it had been on every day. It said at a stroke that composers/musicians/humans can often be unsatisfied with their lot – even lucky Delius! Personally, I have a hugely fulfilling creative life, which encompasses so many aspects of musical endeavour. However, I always wish for more time to compose. That is a general frustration. I would also say that the contemporary music scene can be too closed. When I ran Sounds New, I believe we broke the mould. We embraced contemporary music of a wide variety and were proud to do so. As a result we attracted ever-growing and increasingly engaged audiences. I think that in an attempt to appear ‘modern’ and ‘of the moment’, too many contemporary music platforms favour hard, gritty and sometimes ugly and dull music. Other more ‘mainstream’ organisations can choose the ‘soft focus’ and ‘easy listening’ approach, which achieves little in the long term. I don’t say that as a fuddy-duddy, traditionalist or dye-hard, just as an aficionado and devotee of all types of contemporary music who wishes to see it more widely appreciated, understood and regularly incorporated into concert life. I know very many who quietly agree with me.

What are the special challenges/pleasures of working on a commissioned piece?

I am impelled to compose, irrespective of whether or not a work is commissioned. And… Commissions are not always easy to fulfil. They can be for forces or subjects that doesn’t immediately get the creative juices flowing. So one has to ‘make’ inspiration out of that challenge. That said, my last serious commission, for the London Chamber Orchestra and around 150 young people (performed May 2017), was something I’d always dreamed of doing – a substantial piece of music that was uncompromising yet totally ‘educational’. That was exceptionally rewarding to do, but hugely challenging in that I had to be totally flexible and continually write a range of parts that embraced the easiest possible – a challenge for us ‘complex’ souls.

What are the special challenges/pleasures of working with particular musicians, singers, ensembles and orchestras?

Working with a special musician, artist or ensemble in mind can be deeply inspiring. To be able to take into account a specific human voice, for instance, understand its most special characteristics and incorporate those into the creative process, can be a beautiful thing. However, I would say that I think of particular musicians even when I am writing for personal pleasure. And when writing operas (my crazy passion) I do think of specific voices as I compose, indeed create a character or role. I think it’s fair to say that every mezzo-soprano part I have ever written has had Sarah Connolly in mind. Hers is the mezzo voice of perfection!

Of which works are you most proud?

At the time, I was very proud of my first opera, ‘The Fisherman’, which was (and I believe remains) the only full-length student opera that the RCM produced in many decades. I was told since Vaughan Williams. That said, VW’s first opera was written after he left the RCM, so I can’t work that out. Maybe it was someone else? However, I now see shortcomings in that early piece. Of other works, there are two specific operas: ‘Bayon’ (totally impractical, in five acts with an enormous cast and vast orchestra) and ‘La Belle et La Bête’ (just completed one act opera, for two voices and another foolishly large orchestra). Both are unperformed and may probably remain so, but I’m most proud of them. Of performed works, I’d cite ‘Three Old Gramophones’ (highly autobiographical, and not without humour) and ‘Don – a Cello Concerto’.

How would you characterise your compositional language?

People tell me that my music is strangely accessible. Often they say that in a surprised way, because it is often so complex, and they had anticipated it to be daunting. That pleases me. I like complex musical webs, yet I like music to be understood and to directly impact on people. Fundamentally, I believe that so-called hard-edged contemporary music can be beautiful and can beguile. I don’t ascribe to compromise, yet I do want the listener to be absorbed ‘within’ a musical voyage that has an effect on them and – for want of a better expression, ‘moves’ them.

How do you work?

In blocks of weeks – ideally uninterrupted, usually in the summer months as university work allows. I create in the morning, setting a rigorous routine. Then in the afternoon and often long into the night, I refine, orchestrate, develop the material I established at the start of the day. Ideas flow that way, and there is continuity to the creation. During the period of composition I am basically totally lost to all others! I write very quickly as a result.

Who are your favourite musicians/composers?

Mahler, Messiaen, Takemitsu, Strauss, Mozart and Bach are among the composers I most adore and whose sound worlds continually inspire me. Exceedingly close behind are Beethoven, Stravinsky, Debussy, Ravel and Xenakis. Oscar Peterson is at the top of the first list too. If a genie ever granted me one musical wish, I’d choose to be able to play the piano like that. ‘OP’ had a profound influence on my development in my early years and I never tire of listening to him.

As a musician, what is your definition of success?

Creative fulfilment and the ability to make a positive impact on others.

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

Be open minded, hard working, focussed, creatively ambitious and giving. We are all vessels through which art passes, and we have a duty to nurture it, support it, create it, foster it and develop it. In other words, be a full part of the creative cycle.


 

Paul Max Edlin has a career that combines composing, conducting, trumpet playing, lecturing and artistic direction.

His compositions have been performed both nationally and abroad by many leading artists, ensembles and orchestras. He has a particular interest in opera, and his first opera, The Fisherman, was premiered to wide critical acclaim in a production for the London International Opera Festival. Opera Magazine described Paul as ‘our latest operatic prodigy’. His most recent full-length opera is an adaptation of Federico Garcia Lorca’s Blood Wedding in the translation by Ted Hughes. In 2013 he completed an operatic monodrama, Frida, a setting of the diaries of the Mexican artist Frida Kahlo. Recent commissions include a new work for Sarah Connolly (Wigmore Hall, 2014), the UK Society of Recorder Players (Kings Lynn, 2015). In 2015 he completed a new work for orchestra, Five Illusions. In 2016 he succeeds Cheryl Frances Hoad as Composer in Residence for London Chamber Orchestra’s Music Junction programme.

Edlin’s works have received broadcasts on BBC 2, BBC Radio 3, as well as on Radio and Television abroad.

He was a founder member of the Artistic Group of Sounds New Contemporary Music Festival, of which he was Artistic Director from 2007 to 2013, a period in which it flourished. In 2005 he was asked to become Artistic Director of the Deal Festival of Music and the Arts, following on from the cellist Steven Isserlis and composer David Matthews. He stepped down in 2010, but was once again asked to return to this role in 2014.

He has many years of experience in university lecturing and teaching and is currently Director of Music at Queen Mary University of London, one of the country’s leading universities and in the Top World 100 (THE 2015). Formerly, he was Professor of Music at Canterbury Christ Church University from 2009 to 2012 having worked there in a series of roles for almost thirty years. In 2011 he was elected President of the Incorporated Society of Musicians.

As a conductor, Edlin tends to focus on contemporary repertoire. He has conducted many premieres of new works as well as UK premieres of such pieces as Beat Furrer’s Ensemble II and Ernst Krenek’s Sestina. In 2010 he conducted the National Philharmonic Orchestra of Malta, allowing him an opportunity to explore the more romantic repertoire of Puccini and Verdi. As a trumpet player, he particularly enjoys the ‘clarino’ repertoire of Bach, Handel and Purcell and has played in many performances of works such as the B Minor Mass, Christmas Oratorio, etc.

Paul Max Edlin studied at the Royal College of Music (composition with Edwin Roxburgh, Richard Blackford and Joseph Horovitz; trumpet with John Wallace and Richard Walton, and conducting with Christopher Adey). He has won many composition prizes including the IX Premio lnternazionale Ancona. He received a Leverhulme Studentship for further postgraduate study at the RCM. He continued his studies with Michael Finnissy at the University of Sussex where he took his doctorate.

A Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and a Fellow of the Incorporated Society of Musicians, he has served on the boards of several music and music education organisations and charities, including Cantoris Charitable Trust, which supports Canterbury Cathedral choristers. He is Chair of the Board of Ora, one of the UK’s most prestigious vocal ensembles, and he sits on the board of the newly formed East London Music Group. Paul Max Edlin has two musical sons. Peter, an artist, photographer and designer, plays lead guitar in the progressive rock group The Boot Lagoon, while Timothy is a bass-baritone.

paulmaxedlin.com

The Keyboard Faculty at Trinity-Laban Conservatoire invites pianists to a series of Yoga and Mindfulness sessions taught by Professor Elena Riu especially designed to address Performance Related Anxiety, injury prevention and build resilience before the final assessment run.
The sessions will take place on Thursdays from 8.15-9.30 am on May 10th & 17th in Room G29 at Trinity-Laban.
Some of the well-documented benefits of yoga :
  • Increases resilience and stamina
  • Reduces anxiety and stress through increased Parasympathetic activation (relaxation)
  • Encourages brain integration and emotional regulation
  • Greater lung capacity and improved Heart Rate Variability
  • Improved circulation, digestion and mental functions
  • Promotes self awareness , self esteem and empathy
  • Prevents injury as it maintains lubrication in all the joints and restores full range of motion
  • Increases concentration and mental focus
The Yoga exercises and breathing we did on the course were easy and calming. Playing the piano afterwards is always different, the anxiety and other negative things get pushed to the back of the queue … I can concentrate much more on the type of sound I want to produce and the mood of the piece.  It was very noticeable when listening to others, the sound made could be incredibly different afterwards.
Jackdaws Music Course participant , May 2015
 

Elena Riu has been a concert pianist for many years and is a Professor of piano at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance where she has recently led a Pilot Study about the benefits of yoga for musicians suffering from PRA and MSD’s. The pilot study was jointly funded by Better Practice: Musical Impacts, Teaching and Learning and the Keyboard Faculty. She also has a dance background.
Elena has taught kids classes at The Special Yoga Centre and at Yoga Home. Last summer and this summer she organized the Yoga for Kids and Families activities at Santosa Yoga Camp where she taught Yoga , Mindfulness and Yoga Nidra for children, workshops on how to incorporate Tich Nath Hanhn’s Pebble Meditation into a yoga class and Womb yoga.

Please don’t shoot at the pianist; he’s doing his best

I sometimes get the feeling people think musicians are invincible….

We engage in a highly complex, technical and artistic activity which requires huge physical and mental agility and concentration. When we perform, our meticulous preparation enables us to make everything we do look effortless, synthesised and beautiful. In the moments of performing, we offer the music to the audience as a cultural gift to be shared between us in the wondrous experience that is live performance. On stage we dissemble, we act, to maintain a veneer of confidence and poise. Because no one can know how many goddam hours you put in in the practice room or that your journey to the venue was delayed, how tired you are feeling from working all week without a break, or how much that recurrent shoulder problem has been troubling you. To publicly admit to these vulnerabilities would quickly destroy the mystique of the performer.

sticking-plaster-on-a-finger-cristina-pedrazzini

As performers, vulnerability is integral to the profession. By performing we choose to put ourselves out there, hold our music, and ourselves, up for scrutiny, for praise and criticism. It can be a lonely, masochistic activity, never more so in an age where live performance has become almost an Olympic sport in its obsessive need for perfection and the general competitiveness of the profession.

Vulnerability develops early on in the musician’s life, usually at an age when we are not yet fully formed, barely aware of our individual self or identity. The special training musicians undergo can engender multiple emotional problems – the autocractic teacher who constantly breaks down the student’s confidence, for example, or the competitive atmosphere of specialist educational institutions. We are taught how and why to practice and perform by more senior practitioners who cannot possibly know what our individual strengths and weaknesses really are, and who may not offer enough concern or advice on managing the complex aspects of the musician’s life. In addition, where one may have excelled at school, a “gifted pupil”, on arriving at music college one may face the uncomfortable fact that one is now just another among equals, and so begins the toxic habit of looking at what others are doing and constantly comparing oneself to them. The training then becomes a kind of rat race or “musical anorexia”, played out in cloistered, rarefied surroundings. Despite all of this, we find we can achieve great things, and so we carry these learnt habits, and vulnerabilities, into adulthood and career, reluctant to give them up.

Get a bunch of musicians together in a “safe space” and they will talk of their vulnerabilities, their anxieties and fears. In researching this article, I inadvertently created such a safe space and the discussion became a kind of help group where people could talk honestly about their vulnerabilities: it was eye-opening and humbling.

Like physical injury and performance anxiety, admitting to emotional vulnerability is a taboo area, an admittance of weakness or lack of ability which may lead to less work. Musicians have a precarious, peripatetic existence at the best of times. The good news is that musicians are beginning to feel more confident about discussing these issues, and some educational establishments now offer specialist support, including mindfulness training, Alexander technique and counselling. Opening up and discussing your vulnerabilities with others can be remarkably reassuring and often cathartic: you realise you are “not alone” – because many of us share the same anxieties.

In addition, growing maturity and confidence encourages us to discover and implement personal innate methods and motivation, which allow us to reject those early, sometimes toxic, influences or processes, and we become better able to manage and even appreciate our vulnerabilities.

each experience, good and bad…..has potential for helping my overall development

– Carla, flautist

Paradoxically, vulnerability makes us better musicians. Without the emotional sensitivity of our vulnerability, we would not be able to develop, create and play music in a meaningful way; nor would we be able to forge connections and unspoken lines of communication between colleagues and audience in performance. Vulnerability also keeps us humble in the face of the greatness of the music. Asking oneself “Am I good enough?” can be curiously empowering too, if one chooses to avoid comparing oneself to others and instead focuses on one’s own work, forging an individual path through growing maturity, self-determination, musical understanding, and mastery with a willingness to embrace setbacks and cul-de-sacs along the way and to learn and move on from these. Acknowledging and accepting the Inner Critic, without allowing its voice to overwhelm us, is also essential to the creative process and should not be regarded as a sign of weakness. It also prevents our ego getting in the way of our creativity.

openness to the full spectrum of our experience is the starting point for compelling and mature musicianship. Suffering and joy are equally endemic to the human condition, and sharing the full range of our emotions with our audiences, through our presence and through the music we make, is not a selfish act, but a generous one

– Nora Krohn, violist

 

It’s vital: vulnerability, doubt, openness – how else to communicate with any vestige of meaning?

– Rolf Hind, pianist & composer

 

I honestly don’t think you can play meaningful music without being at least a little bit vulnerable somewhere – it’s about caring a lot, taking risks and being human

– Carla, flautist


Further reading

Handling your vulnerability as an artist

dsc-98012-lst263101

The 3 British Tenors are…..

Barry Clark, David Heathcote and Matthew Scott Clark

Who or what inspired you to take up a career in music?

Barry: From an early age I sang and acted at school, later joining various local amateur theatre groups. My parents were vociferous in their disapproval of this and actively discouraged any thoughts of my turning professional. I languished as a cartographic draughtsman at the Ordnance Survey for four years before rebelling & applying, successfully, for the chorus of the D’Oyly Carte Opera Company. Through local productions I had acquired a love of the Gilbert & Sullivan operas, their tunefulness and oddly skewed humour being entirely to my taste.

David: from as early as I can remember I was fascinated by opera singers and conductors. In fact, my mum would catch me pretending to conduct orchestras whenever they came on the TV! My biggest influence as a singer has been José Carreras, particularly his beautiful sound, his vocal honesty and connection to the words and music. I also remember the story of his battle with leukaemia, even though I didn’t know who he was at the time; I just somehow knew it was an important story.

Then in 1990 the world changed when The 3 Tenors emerged. I just loved the format and the sheer joy of three tenors on one stage, singing the arias they loved. Listening to Luciano Pavarotti in these concerts is a concentrated masterclass of vocal technique. What a huge talent he was!

Matthew: Music has always been a big part of my life; listening and making it. It’s always been in the family with my parents being opera singers too, but early on I was keen on pursuing a career in acting and even film making. The tipping point came when I played Salieri in a student production of Amadeus; that affectively ignited my love for the music of Mozart, and eventually led me to play Papageno in an amateur production of The Magic Flute. It was thereafter that I knew I wanted to be an actor-singer.

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

Barry: Being self-educated in music & drama, I would say that a particular singing teacher, the singer/actor Andrew Downie, unlocked the voice and got me started on the road to a proper, and stable, vocal technique. Watching the Carte’s “patter man”, John Reed was a great influence; his stagecraft and attention to detail, plus the maintaining of stamina over eight performances a week, have all aided me over the years.

David: my teachers have been amazing and have all brought our something different in me. In recent years Colin Baldy and Justin Lavender have helped me realise what I always knew was there, particularly in the higher registers. But it’s all the wonderful family and friends who have kept me going on my journey. Also my late friend and West Yorkshire singing teacher Steven Mellor, who gave the most important advice ever: “Just open your gob and sing”. Classic!

Matthew: Other than my parents and friends in the industry, I think it’s the music itself and the composers who wrote it. When I hear a piece of music that really affects me it’s a great feeling; and I love being able to express that when I perform, so others can feel it too.

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

Barry: Remaining in work!

David: being business-like is so important. Equal to the dedication of establishing a vocal technique (an ever-present occupation!) and learning the right repertoire is the business and marketing skills to succeed. I have been lucky enough to have worked as a singer and as a producer and also in other business areas. I try my best to apply these skills and knowledge to my own career but I know it is so much harder when you are the product you’re selling.

Matthew: They are too numerous to list here! (Laughs) But the ongoing challenge is just doing it: keeping yourself at that level of performance all the time. That’s really hard.

Why did you decide to form The 3 British Tenors?

Barry: Re-form really. The original act ran roughly from 1995 to 2005 and performed all over the UK & abroad. As the tenors began to seek other work, the act disbanded. I decided that the time was ripe for a revival and with the new team of myself, David Heathcote and Matthew Scott Clark we tried out at the Chapel of the Royal Foundation of St Katharine, London, towards the end of 2017.The response was heartening enough for us to decide to continue and we are looking forward immensely to building the act during 2018.

David: Barry Clark was one of the original The 3 British Tenors and enjoyed great success in the UK and internationally. With my background in the music business, Barry approached me to sound me out about bringing the it back, which I was delighted to do. We tried out the format at an intimate concert in the Chapel of The Royal Foundation of St Katharine in London and were convinced by the audience reaction in our sell-out performances. Now we know it works we look forward to having lots more fun performing together in 2018!

Matthew: I just remember seeing Dad in the original Three British Tenors back in the ’90s, and it was this great operatic cabaret act with sparkly curtains and synthesisers and wonderful old stories from the world of opera; and as a kid I just loved it. So when Dad said he and David were thinking of reprising the act with the three of us in mind I said “Hell yeah!”

Which performance/recordings are you most proud of?

David: our launch concerts in autumn 2017 were special occasions for us. Can we report back in a year’s time?

Matthew: Other than our recent performances at St Katherine’s Foundation, I have to say performing the role of Bardolpho in Verdi’s Falstaff for Royal Welsh College a couple of years ago. It was this wonderfully creative production set in the 1980s, with some great up and coming people in the principle roles. It was conducted by Carlo Rizzi, so it was like being conducted by Verdi himself! And the characterisations were just so nutty, which are the best kind of roles for me.

Which particular works do you think you perform best?

Barry: My particular love has always been operetta, not just Gilbert & Sullivan, but the Viennese répertoire: Lehar, Strauss, Kalman etc.

David: the beauty for us is that we can choose repertoire that suits us individually and then come together in the famous songs and arias that the audience expects from having three tenors together on one stage. I am most at home in the coloratura madness of Rossini and Donizetti and I love singing the famous tenor songs with Barry and Matt. The audience love it when we come together to sing the classics such as O Sole Mio, La Donna è Mobile and Nessun Dorma, for example.

Matthew: Anything that tells a story, and has some really stand out emotive hooks or amusing jokes thrown in there. I love the character roles, because they are just so much fun to play; but with the lyrical roles you can really make a mark, change people’s hearts. I can never decide what I enjoy more! (Laughs)

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

David: for our general performances we choose arias that suit us well and make sure there are always some pieces with the ‘wow factor’ when we come together as a trio. Our Christmas programme was pretty special as we choose classical and operatic repertoire that was connected to the season: Rossini’s Si, Ritrovarla io Giuro from Cinderella, Britten’s The Holly and the Ivy and Warlock’s The First Mercy were crowned with O Holy Night in our Christmas concert.

Matthew: For me, it’s really a choice of what speaks to me the most. There are some roles or pieces which are essential for any singer’s repertoire; but if there’s a particular tune or scenario in a piece that affects me in particular, then that’s the deciding feature in my mind.

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

Matthew: I love the Buxton Opera House. I was there a few years ago in a production of Handel’s Acis and Galatea for Mid Wales Opera, when I was a member of the chorus. It’s just such a gorgeous venue, all the royal greens and golds; and when you see the names of William Shakespeare and Sir Arthur Sullivan painted opposite to each other in front of the stage, you know you’re in exactly the right place!

What is your most memorable concert experience?

Barry: Participating in the 25th anniversary celebrations of “The Phantom of The Opera” at the Royal Albert Hall in 2011.

David: I was lucky enough to perform the role of Gandhi in what was possibly the professional British premiere of Philip Glass’ opera Satyagraha at The Midlands Arts Centre (sorry ENO but it wasn’t you!). That was an emotional experience and the start of my professional career in 1999.

Matthew: Singing in college chorus for a Royal Welsh performance of Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem, conducted once more by Carlo Rizzi, with baritone soloist Simon Keenlyside and tenor soloist, my teacher, Adrian Thompson. It was such an incredible piece to be a part of, not just for the personnel, but for that truly heartrending score!

I remember one movement towards the end where it feels as though the whole world has ended beneath you, and you’ve left the ground without anything to grab onto except the words on the page! It was nuts.

As a musician, what is your definition of success?

David: getting paid to make people happy.

Matthew: Audience reaction. If you can convince them for one song, that’s the biggest success in my book.

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

David: don’t be afraid to treat you and your art as a business. You need a great product and absolutely to love performing but you can’t sustain it if you’re not bold enough to be business-like.

Matthew: Honesty. Always look for the truth in what you do. Otherwise what’s the point?

Where would you like to be in ten years time?

Barry: In comfortable retirement!

David: Going around the world singing my favourite repertoire would be heaven!

What is your idea of perfect happiness?

Matthew: Knowing your vocation, and sticking to it. That and Netflix.

What is your present state of mind?

Barry: Buoyant!

David: Excited!


 

The 3 British Tenors have entertained audiences in concerts and private and corporate events for over 20 years in the UK, in Europe and the United States of America.

As you’d expect, the tenors include the great arias such as the world famous Nessun Dorma (which was sung by Pavarotti on the eve of the 1990s World Cup), the brilliant, La Donna e Mobile and wonderful arias by Puccini, Verdi as well as the great Neapolitan songs such as O Sole Mio.

Throughout their performances, The 3 British Tenors sing as a trio to create magical moments from opera, music theatre and songs.

Being British, the tenors like to lighten things up with humour and audiences love the stories they tell throughout the programme.

www.the3britishtenors.co.uk

 

 

 

 

  • Five new productions and four revivals
  • collaborations with the Unicorn Theatre and Theatre Royal Stratford East
  • ENO’s 2018/19 season is the first curated by Artistic Director Daniel Kramer and Music Director Martyn Brabbins
  • Director Adena Jacobs opens the season with her UK debut, a bold and radical feminine interpretation of Salome conducted by Martyn Brabbins and starring Allison Cook in the title role
  • John Wilson conducts Porgy and Bess, performed for the first time in the company’s history and featuring Eric Greene, Nicole Cabell, Latonia Moore and Nadine Benjamin
  • ENO’s Olivier Award-winning Chorus will present Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem, designed by Turner Prize-winning photographer Wolfgang Tillmans
  • World premiere of Iain Bell and Emma Jenkins’s Jack the Ripper: The Women of Whitechapel with central female roles created by some of the UK’s most esteemed singers, including Dame Josephine Barstow, Susan Bullock, Janis Kelly, Lesley Garrett and Marie McLaughlin
  • Opera for All: 50 Years of Opera at the London Coliseum – a special evening of performances celebrating moments from operas that have played an important part in ENO’s history, performed by stars from ENO’s past and present
  • Revivals comprise David Alden’s striking Lucia di Lammermoor, Jonathan Miller’s much-loved La bohème, Phelim McDermott’s Olivier Award-winning Akhnaten and Simon McBurney’s standing-room only production of The Magic Flute
  • Colaboration with the Unicorn Theatre in May 2019 to present 19 performances of Dido, inspired by Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas, specially aimed at teenage audiences
  • In July 2019 ENO will collaborate for the first time with Theatre Royal Stratford East to present Noye’s Fludde, directed by Lyndsey Turner and bringing together professional performers, children and community groups from across Newham with participants from our ENO Baylis programme
  • More than 42,500 tickets are available at £20 or less across the 2018/19 season, increased from 39,500 last season

This season will see 85 performances of opera at the London Coliseum, having increased from 79 in the 17/18 season and 73 in the 16/17 season. In the 19/20 season ENO will be increasing to 10 fully-staged productions at the London Coliseum.

ENO’s Artistic Director, Daniel Kramer said:

“I am delighted to present ENO’s 2018/19 artistic season, the first we have curated in full since Martyn Brabbins and I joined the company. This season comprises nine main-stage operas, two ENO Outside projects, a very special gala to celebrate 50 years at the London Coliseum, and the work of our learning and participation programme, ENO Baylis.

The nine operas that we’ll be performing at the Coliseum this season explore and examine some of the patriarchal structures, relationships, and roles of masculinity within our society.  From our radical, feminine interpretation of Salome through to the bold Merry Widow and our female-led retelling of the Jack the Ripper story, I hope that these productions will prompt conversation around what an improved balance of masculine and feminine might look like, what a healthy masculine might encompass, and the changes we need to make for this to be possible. 

I am immensely proud that our Olivier Award-winning ENO Chorus will join our 40-strong, handpicked Porgy and Bess ensemble for our presentation of Britten’s War Requiem, ENO’s commemoration of the end of the First World War.

I would like to thank my colleagues onstage, offstage, in the pit and behind the scenes who have worked so hard to bring together this season. We look forward to welcoming you to the Coliseum and to sharing with you the endless ways in which opera continues to entertain, electrify and enlighten us all.”

ENO’s Music Director, Martyn Brabbins said:

“It has been a privilege to conduct two operas as ENO Music Director this past season, and I am looking forward to conducting Strauss, Britten and a world premiere from British composer Iain Bell next season.

At ENO we strive to move our audiences by the passion and brilliance of our music making, and through the intensity and commitment of our Orchestra and Chorus.

Opera has an unrivalled ability to communicate, and it is gratifying to know that our performances are reaching an ever wider and more diverse public.”

ENO’s CEO, Stuart Murphy said:

“It has been a great first few weeks as CEO of English National Opera.

I’ve been struck by how passionate people are about what we do, both within the company and outside, which makes me even more keenly aware than I was of my duty to renew, grow and embolden us for the future. That requires the continued dynamism of the exceptional teams I’ve encountered here, as well as support from our thousands of production partners, performers and friends across the world.

I am pleased to share that, during the 17/18 season, our average sold occupancy increased from 67% in the 16/17 season to 72%. Additionally, we have seen a real shift in our audience, with the percentage of audience members under 44 increasing by 13% year-on-year and the proportion of our audience with a black or minority ethnic background increasing from 4% to 10%. We have so much more to do in this area, but to see this shift start to take place is truly exciting.

ENO Baylis, our learning, participation and outreach programme, is absolutely core to what we do. Equally vital is ensuring that people are never priced out of enjoying one of our operas, and so maintaining our ability to sell over 40,000 tickets a year at £20 or less remains key. Opera is for everyone and we are committed to ensuring that increasing numbers of people, from all walks of life, know that.”

New productions at the London Coliseum

Salome

The 18/19 season opens with a radical feminine reading of Strauss’s Salome from Australian director Adena Jacobs in her UK debut.

Adena Jacobs is the Artistic Director of Fraught Outfit, known in Australia for its stark reimaginings of classical and biblical stories from a contemporary feminine perspective, and in 2014-15 she was Resident Director at Belvoir. The all-female creative team is completed by award-winning Designer Marg Horwell and Lucy Carter, one of London’s most sought-after lighting designers.

Talking about the production, Adena Jacobs said:

“This production of Salome is mythic, feminine and brutally contemporary. Imagined through Salome’s perspective, Strauss’s opera becomes a fever dream, a dark fantasy, and an examination of patriarchal power and control. My approach to Salome is through the lens of trauma; the ways in which cycles of violence have inscribed themselves on to the bodies and psyches of these characters.” 

Scottish mezzo-soprano Allison Cook makes her ENO debut in the title role, following acclaimed performances of 20th century roles such as the Duchess in Thomas Adès’s Powder Her Face and in Britten’s Phaedra. Susan Bickley sings Herodias, with English bass David Soar as Jokanaan and tenor Michael Colvin as Herod. The ensemble of Jews, Nazarenes and soldiers includes members of ENO’s award-winning Chorus stepping into principal roles.

ENO Music Director Martyn Brabbins conducts the first of his three engagements with the company this season.

Porgy and Bess

A landmark in the history of opera, jazz and theatre, the Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess is presented by ENO for the very first time.

Artistic Director at the Opera Theatre of St. Louis, James Robinson will direct this co-production with the Metropolitan Opera, New York and Dutch National Opera. Conductor John Wilson will lead the ENO Orchestra for the first time. Best known as the head of the John Wilson Orchestra, his performances of Gershwin have been called “the greatest show on earth” (The Spectator).

American baritone Eric Greene returns to ENO after Tansy Davies’s Between Worlds (2015) to sing the role of Porgy, while Bess will be performed by Nicole Cabell, BBC Cardiff Singer of the World 2005, in her ENO debut. Latonia Moore makes a welcome return to ENO after her acclaimed performances in 2017’s Aida, Grammy Award-winning baritone Nmon Ford sings the role of Crown and Nadine Benjamin makes her first of two ENO appearances this season singing Clara.

An ensemble of 40 singers, specially brought together for the project, will perform in ENO’s Porgy and Bess and will also appear with Dutch National Opera for the performances in 2019. This ensemble will join ENO’s own Chorus for the performances of Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem later in the season.

War Requiem

Marking the centenary of the November 1918 Armistice that brought an end to World War I, Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem will be fully staged in the UK for the first time.

ENO Artistic Director Daniel Kramer will collaborate with Turner Prize-winning German photographer Wolfgang Tillmans, paying testament to the horrors and contemporary resonances of war through this combination of music, drama and visual arts. Tillmans is one of the most admired photographers at work today. In 2000 he was the first photographer and first non-British artist to receive the Turner Prize and has also been awarded the Royal Photographic Society’s Centenary Medal, the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition’s Charles Wollaston Award, The Culture Prize of the German Society for Photography, and is a member of the Royal Academy of Arts. His first exhibition at Tate Modern was held in 2017.

Wolfgang Tillmans said:

“The piece is universal, and we wanted to put its contemporaneity into focus. In my research again and again I came across the importance of children and youth: playing war and training for war cannot be separated. Britten wrote War Requiem in the spirit of pacifism: what has been forgotten is how much of the rhetoric immediately after the Second World War was about reconciliation between nations, but today we often remember only our own nation’s dead. It was great to work on the production with Daniel Kramer, both in terms of deciding what was there on stage and crucially what would not be there: the look of it is as much about what you can’t see as what you can.”

ENO Music Director Martyn Brabbins will conduct the combined forces of ENO’s Orchestra, 40-strong Finchley Children’s Music Group, the ENO Chorus and the ensemble from Porgy and Bess, as well as three exceptional British solo singers. Baritone Roderick Williams, Singer of the Year at the 2017 RPS Awards, leads the trio of principal singers. He is joined by David Butt Philip, one of Britain’s most exciting young tenors, and soprano Emma Bell, who has given acclaimed performances of the piece around the world.

The Merry Widow

The story of Baron Zeta’s attempt to keep his poor province from bankruptcy by marrying off the wealthy widow Hanna Glawari to the right man has entertained audiences for more than a century. ENO’s history of welcoming both new and existing audiences to an operetta or light opera each season continues with Max Webster’s new production of Lehár’s comedy.

Sarah Tynan returns for her second title role of the season, following Lucia di Lammermoor, as the eponymous widow. She is joined by Andrew Shore, ENO’s master of the comic buffo role, as Zeta and former ENO Harewood Artist Rhian Lois as his wife, Valencienne. Baritone Nathan Gunn makes his ENO debut as Danilo, romantic hero and suitor to Hanna.

Acclaimed for her opera and operetta performances, particularly at the Komische Oper Berlin, Kristiina Poska mades her debut in the ENO pit.

Director Max Webster makes his ENO debut. Associate Director at the Old Vic, where his credits range from Fanny and Alexander to David Greig’s adaptation of Seuss’s The Lorax, his extensive experience across comedy, musicals and children’s theatre will all contribute to making this an operetta to remember.

Jack the Ripper

ENO is proud to present the world premiere of Iain Bell and Emma Jenkins’s Jack the Ripper: The Women of Whitechapel. The stories of these women, often obscured by the gruesome legend that grew around their murderer, will draw together some of British’s opera’s greatest female singers for a sympathetic exploration of womanhood in London’s East End.

Iain Bell is a prolific composer who has mined British historical and literary subjects for his critically acclaimed operas. His first, A Harlot’s Progress, drew on the paintings of Hogarth; the second, A Christmas Carol, on Dickens and the third, In Parenthesis, on First World War poetry. With Jack the Ripper, Bell and librettist Emma Jenkins (who also wrote the libretto for In Parenthesis) draw on the history of those killed by the famous Whitechapel murderer.

Iain Bell said:

“Both my parents were born in the East End and London remains a constant muse in my work. Jack the Ripper: The Women of Whitechapel is the third in a triptych of London operas I’ve written following A Harlot’s Progress and A Christmas Carol. In each of these cases I have sought to delve into the London that gave birth to these characters and circumstances. Jack the Ripper: The Women of Whitechapel first and foremost afforded me the opportunity to explore the dignity and humanity of the women whose lives he stole, whilst cracking opening a window into the life of the Victorian poor; a society with whom we still share uncomfortable parallels. Every street corner, every pub, every alley bears witness to its own Whitechapel.”

The central female roles will be created by some of the UK’s most esteemed singers, including Dame Josephine Barstow, Susan Bullock, Janis Kelly, Lesley Garrett and Marie McLaughlin. Alan Opie creates the role of the Pathologist, 50 years after his ENO debut, former ENO Harewood Artist Nicky Spence will sing Sergeant Johnny Strong and Claudia Boyle returns following her performances in the 2017/18 season’s La traviata.

ENO Music Director Martyn Brabbins conducts, continuing his reputation as a champion of British contemporary music, and ENO Artistic Director Daniel Kramer directs.

Revivals at the London Coliseum

ENO will present four revival productions during the 2018/19 season.

David Alden’s “magnificent conception” (The Daily Telegraph) of Donizetti’s Scottish tragedy Lucia di Lammermoor returns to the London Coliseum for the third time since its initial run in 2008. Sarah Tynan, recently acclaimed for her performances in The Barber of Seville and Partenope, takes on the famously demanding title role. American baritone Lester Lynch makes his house debut as Lucia’s brother Enrico, while Mexican tenor Eleazar Rodríguez, who sang alongside Tynan as Almaviva in The Barber of Seville, returns to the Coliseum stage as her lover Edgardo. Stuart Stratford, Music Director at Scottish Opera, conducts.

Jonathan Miller’s enchanting La bohème, set in 1930s Paris, returns to the Coliseum stage with award-winning Welsh soprano Natalya Romaniw making her ENO debut as Mimí. Garnering huge acclaim for her Tatyana in WNO’s Eugene Onegin in 2017 (“one of the performances of the year” – WhatsOnStage) and for her Jenůfa at Grange Park Opera (“our most promising dramatic sopranos” – The Daily Telegraph), she leads a cast of operatic rising stars.

Jonathan Tetelman sings Rodolfo, also in his ENO debut. Baritone Nicholas Lester sings Marcello and Nadine Benjamin returns for her second engagement of the season, after Porgy and Bess, as Musetta. David Soar also returns for a second engagement, after Salome, singing Colline. He most recently performed the role at the Metropolitan Opera, New York in 2018. British conductor Alexander Joel, a regular guest conductor at the Royal Opera House, Hamburg Staatsoper and Grand Theatre Geneva, makes his ENO debut after a distinguished career on the continent.

Winner of the 2017 Olivier Award for Best New Opera Production, Phelim McDermott’s sell-out production of Akhnaten opens ENO’s 2019 Spring Season. This piece of “astonishing theatre” (The Observer) with visuals of “unforgettable magnificence” (The Independent) features designs by Tom Pye, costume designs by Kevin Pollard and lighting by Bruno Poet. The ENO Chorus is re-joined by the Gandini Juggling Company, whose mesmeric performance gave visual support to Glass’s music.

Countertenor Anthony Roth Costanzo, the man who “exists to transform opera” (The New York Times), once again sings the title role. ENO Harewood Artist Katie Stevenson takes on the role of his wife Nefertiti for the first time and Keel Watson will sing the role of Aye, returning after his performance as Bartolo in The Marriage of Figaro at ENO in 2018. Rebecca Bottone, James Cleverton and Colin Judson reprise their roles as Tye, Horemhamb and the Priest of Amon respectively. Karen Kamensek, one of the world specialists on the music of Glass, returns from both Akhnaten (2016) and Satyagraha (2018), further affirming ENO’s reputation as an important home for the composer’s work.

The “life-enhancing achievement” (The Spectator) of Simon McBurney’s much-loved production of The Magic Flute returns for its second revival. ENO’s collaboration with theatrical powerhouse Complicite provides an “exhilaratingly inventive” (The Guardian) journey into the realm of the imagination, with a foley artist, projections and spectacular visual effects accompanying some of Mozart’s most sublime music.

Lucy Crowe returns to the role of Pamina, which she sang to great acclaim in 2016 (“the best-sung in years” – The Guardian). Rupert Charlesworth takes up the role of Tamino and Thomas Oliemans follows his 2018 performance as Figaro with another comic baritone role, Papageno. Soprano Julia Bauer makes her house debut as the villainous Queen of the Night, having performed the role on many occasions in her native Germany. The Three Ladies are performed by former and current ENO Harewood Artists Eleanor Dennis, Samantha Price and Katie Stevenson. Principal Guest Conductor of the BBC Philharmonic and winner of the Salzburg Festival Young Conductor’s Award, Ben Gernon makes his ENO debut. He is one of the youngest conductors to have held a titled position with a BBC orchestra.

Opera for All: celebrating 50 years of opera at the London Coliseum

On the 10 October ENO will present a very special evening of performances celebrating the last 50 years of opera in residence at the London Coliseum. In 1968 English National Opera, then called Sadler’s Wells Opera, moved into the London Coliseum, performing John Gielgud’s production of Don Giovanni in August of that year. The theatre has been home to ENO ever since.

The iconic Frank Matcham-designed theatre, the largest in the West End, had played host to variety theatre, music hall and a cinema, with an original intention that it be pro bono publico (for the public good), a purpose that remains central to ENO’s work today. Bringing together stars from the company’s past and present, the evening will raise income for future ENO learning and talent development work.

The performance will feature moments from operas that have played an important part in ENO’s history, including Britten’s Peter Grimes, Handel’s Julius Caesar, Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Mikado and Wagner’s Ring Cycle. Artists appearing on the night include baritones Alan Opie and Andrew Shore, tenors Nicky Spence and Gwyn Hughes Jones, mezzo-soprano Sarah Connolly and sopranos Susan Bullock and Claire Rutter, as well as ENO Harewood Artists and the award-winning ENO Chorus and Orchestra. Further special guests will be announced soon.

ENO Outside

In Summer 2019 ENO will stage two productions with other London companies. ENO Outside takes ENO’s work to arts-engaged audiences that may not have considered opera before, presenting the immense power of opera in more intimate theatres.

In May 2019 ENO will collaborate with the Unicorn Theatre, the UK’s leading theatre for young audiences, to create Dido, a reimagining of Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas, directed by the Unicorn’s former Artistic Director Purni Morell and designed by 2017 Linbury Prize Winner Khadija Raza. This modern day production focuses on the relationship between Dido and her daughter, and is specifically for audiences aged 11+. ENO Mackerras Conducting Fellow Valentina Peleggi will conduct.

In July 2019 ENO will collaborate for the first time with Theatre Royal Stratford East to present Benjamin Britten’s Noye’s Fludde. Drawing together professional performers with community choirs, amateur musicians, participants from the ENO Baylis programme and groups of young people from across Newham, Noye’s Fludde will be directed by National Theatre Associate Lyndsey Turner.

ENO will also continue its partnership with Grange Park Opera, launched in June 2018. Each year ENO’s award-winning Orchestra will play for productions presented by Grange Park Opera at West Horsley Place.

Full details at www.eno.org

 

(source: press release)