Category Archives: Classical Pit

New music on the Beeb: a reversal of fortune

In The Guardian, Susanna Eastburn, head of Sound and Music (the organisation that advocates for contemporary composers in the UK), has written a fine, to-the-point post asking why the BBC assumes that its audience won’t like new music. This results fro…

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Undersung heroines: a way to sing them

After yesterday’s little bit of awardish news, a few of us tweeps are starting a #fantasticfemales hashtag to help keep great female achievers in our sights, and yours. We’re aiming to tweet about five fantastic females per day each. Please retweet us or tweet your own contributions. And the more men who join in, the better! It’s about celebration, after all. Nothing more, nothing less.

Here are my first five: 
1. @SaintHildegard, medieval musician extraordinaire
2. Fanny Mendelssohn: the composer who never gave up, despite brother’s best efforts
3. Claudia Muzio (1889-1936), one of the all-time great Italian singers. Hear this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LVcIBzMgTaQ 
4. Gioconda de Vito, the amazing violinist who stopped her career at its height because she did not want her playing to deteriorate
5. Clara Haskil, pianist supreme: dogged all her life by ill health & nerves, but an interpreter of genius

Enjoy.
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Gramophone Awards – for blokes

Wonderful list of winners for this year’s Gramophone Awards. All top-quality stuff, including such luminaries as Jonas Kaufmann, Mahan Esfahani, Jean-Efflam Bavouzet, Arcadi Volodos, Iestyn Davies, Riccardo Chailly…

Oh, and, er, all the composers and conductors and instrumentalists are blokes. Great guys. Amazing musicians. Phenomenal talents, the very best in the business. But still, all blokes.

Plus ça change.

Now, there are some fabulous women involved in the line-up. George Benjamin’s opera Written on Skin features the soprano Barbara Hannigan and director Katie Mitchell; there are female singers, of necessity, in the likes of the Ravel double bill from Glyndebourne, the Mozart Requiem and (I think) Marenzio’s Madrigals; and the Pavel Haas String Quartet does have one female member. Plenty of women in the orchestras, choruses and so forth. But still, we hope there might even be some proud women included among the actual front-runners accepting the awards on the platform – not just another row of men in suits?

A few key awards remain to be announced on the day, e.g. Recording of the Year, Artist of the Year, Young Artist of the Year, Lifetime Achievement Award and Outstanding Achievement, etc, so hope remains. Shall we venture to hold our breath this time?

This is not to denigrate any of the winners – all deserve enormous congratulations and fulsome applause. But the issue needs addressing. If the Gramophone Awards are for men, we need some other music awards that are for women.

Full list here. http://www.gramophone.co.uk/awards/2014

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