Humming bees

With temperatures shifting unpredictably, the hibernating bee must occasionally get confused about when it’s time to rise from slumber and resume its pollinating routine. In many parts of the world, however, they’ll have long been about their business. This week’s blog gives a nod to that vital work they do, and a mention of some Read More …

Pizz eerier?

The ten years I spent as a newspaper arts reporter carry many happy memories of interviewing world-leading artists and academics. My recollections of their contributions to classical music brim with unforgettable anecdotes, both heart-warming and disturbing. Being based in south east Asia, the latter usually referenced the dark days of China’s Cultural Revolution; the former Read More …

Classic tweets

I don’t know if the art of précis is still taught in the classroom. It was one of my stronger points as a teenager, although in a subsequent phase as a journalist, and in the face of a word count that exceeded the interest factor of the commissioned piece, it was easy to succumb to Read More …

Cirque des Oreilles

There’s nothing worse for digestion than unshackled youngsters disturbing a restaurant’s oasis of calm. So there I was the other day, taking lunch in a restaurant I hadn’t tried before, appreciating its rather rare quietude, trying to think of a focus for this blog. And then all became clear; both the reason behind the peaceful Read More …

Wine bars

At the start of my teaching career, way back in the 1970s, I had to drive through deep countryside to reach the school where I worked. One memory from that period recalls passing a farm where, every afternoon, strains of Elgar’s orchestral music wafted over fields of corn from the cowsheds. The farmer was convinced Read More …

Podcast: A Bohemian Rhapsody

Reminiscent of the music of Smetana and Dvořák, Vitĕzslav Novák’s works are surprisingly little known outside his native Bohemia. Peter Hall talks with JoAnn Falletta, music director of the Buffalo Philharmonic, about the latest release in her long list of recordings for Naxos that both surprise and delight with their engaging discoveries. Here they unwrap Read More …

Sleeping beauties

You may have missed it, but March 17 was World Sleep Day. Its slogan: ‘Sleep soundly, nurture life.’ Part of its mission: ‘ …to lessen the burden of sleep problems on society through better prevention and management of sleep disorders.’ Ernest Hemingway would probably have signed up: ‘I love sleep. My life has a tendency Read More …

Ad lib.

#MyFreedomDay takes place on March 14. It’s a project conducted in partnership with CNN, during which young people around the world will be holding events to raise awareness of modern slavery. If you thought that human trafficking was neatly tucked away into history’s dark chapter on the African slave trade, then you will have to Read More …

Facing the music

I’m sure I’m not alone in finding it hard to put names to faces on occasion. Which got me thinking about composers who have put music to faces, names, personalities, and so on. The practice has quite a long history, but for this week’s blog I’ve homed in on some examples from the past hundred Read More …

A bridge to nowhere, except…

The rainbow. A beautiful natural phenomenon with its terminus of an illusionary pot of gold. A bridge to nowhere. Except in the imagination, that is. Which got me wondering how composers have tackled the tricky task of recreating the concept of a rainbow in sound, approaching the subject variously via mythology, folklore, fantasy and religion. Read More …