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 …

From Mandalay to Tinseltown. An excursion with Rudyard Kipling.

Were you among the traditionalists who tuned in to the UK’s annual televised Royal Christmas address, broadcast on Christmas Day? It’s currently delivered by Queen Elizabeth II, who was just a 6-year old when the first such royal broadcast was made by her grandfather, King George V, in 1932. He opened this enduring tradition with Read More …

Exercising choice

So, with the festive season’s excesses not long past and New Year resolutions on our minds, it doesn’t take much of a leap to imagine that many of us will be thinking about taking more exercise. Going to the gym these days seems to demand the heavy beat of pop music as a constant companion. Read More …

Out of the blue

I’ve always thought of musical blues as being a tad unfair on the colour. Although ‘feeling blue’ is a convenient phrase to express a state of feeling emotionally low, there’s a lot more character to the colour to be found in recording catalogues. And in life, too. Living in Bangkok, I’m endlessly fascinated by the Read More …

Giving voice

The second Sunday of December each year is designated World Choral Day. I’m not sure when it was established, but I suspect that my primary school teacher may have preempted it: he always reserved one day per year as his Opera Day. That was over 50 years ago. For the whole morning and afternoon, we Read More …