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‘Rebel of the Keys’ – André Tchaikowsky documentary in Warsaw

30 November 2015 The premiere screening of the André Tchaikowsky documentary ‘Rebel of the Keys’, which tells of Tchaikowsky’s life and music takes place in his birth town Warsaw, Poland. Various interviews of artists and friends of André are included as well as performances of his music. Nico de Villiers plays sections of the piano sonata in the documentary and …

In Conversation with Peter Klatzow: Come and Study with me in Paris

Marie Vassiliou, my soprano counterpart of the Melicus Duo, and I were invited by Florian Uhlig, the Artistic Director of the Johannesburg International Mozart Festival, to perform a song recital in February at this year’s festival.  The composer-in-residence for this year’s festival was the eminent South African composer Peter Klatzow. When we were discussing programming to fit in with the …

In Conversation with Leon Bosch

Over the past few months I have from time to time worked with double bassists Leon Bosch as he was preparing for recordings. From my student days I knew of Leon Bosch and it was with real excitement that I met up with him for these sessions. Very soon, however, it was clear to me that he was on top …

Is it thy will, thy image should keep open

 In this fourth sonnet from Tchaikowsky’s Seven Shakespeare Sonnets the piano opens with notes quietly dripping like a tap that keeps you awake at night. The voice soon intimates that the speaker is suffering from insomnia due to questions that keep “my heavy eyelids” from sleeping. At first it seems that the sleep-deprived speaker is unable to get any rest due …

In Conversation with Clarinettist Janet Hilton

Recently British clarinettist Janet Hilton visited Leeds College of Music to give masterclasses to clarinet students. What struck me most during each session she taught was her utter commitment to every student and her ability to choose her words so carefully that every bit of feedback was encouraging as well as hitting the nail perfectly on the head. She has …

Against that time, if ever that time come

This sonnet looks to the future to a time when the love affair will be properly in the past. The speaker takes full responsibility for the disintegration of the relationship even though it is the beloved that leaves, avoiding the speaker’s eye. Despite the speaker’s seeming innocence, it is the beloved that is stripped of all guilt and forgiven in …

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Adina Monroe – What we lose in translation

Marching to the beat of a different drum It is well-known that practise makes perfect. As it is the case with everything that becomes familiar to an individual over time, so it is then of course with music. Works are studied closely over and over again, usually spanning a considerable period of time. Of course one of the aims for …

Painted in Honey

Jean-Antoine Watteau – Les Plaisirs du Bal Following the death of the Louis XIV of France (Le Roi-Soleil – The Sun King) aristocracy abandoned the grandeur of Versailles for the intimacy of the townhouses of Paris. In this more relaxed environment, the aristocratic revellers could flirt and play, and act out scenes of the commedia dell’arte. In its essence commedia dell’arte creates …

Staying true to oneself

MusicaLego: Building Baroque I recently performed as accompanist in a masterclass held by soprano Deborah York at the Leeds College of Music (LCoM). Deborah York’s involvement at LCoM as visiting professor is in the beginning stages of developing a Baroque tradition at LCoM. During Deborah’s previous visit in April this year I accompanied the students on the piano. This time …

The Story Continues – seunitnoC yrotS ehT

In my recent posts I wrote about steps I regularly use for singers to get their heads and mouths around German, but of course these methods can be used in other languages too. Last week I used these methods to help a native German speaker to help her with English texts. Once it was all taken apart the tricky moments …

The Shapeshifters – the Plight of Consonants

In this series of blogs dedicated to finding a systematic way of learning German repertoire by studying the text of a song, aria or recitative first before continuing to sing it I have spoken about the differences between languages and the importance of noticing what happens in the mouth when speaking as to singing the text. In a quest to …

Im wUndErschOEnEn mOnAt mAI

 Speak then Sing – The Importance of Being Earnest…  I have mentioned in previous posts the importance of being able to speak the text fluently before singing it. This would be the case in any language – be it the singer’s mother tongue or a foreign language. I find that the speaking of the text in voice lessons is irregularly …

Zwischen zwei Zweigen zwitschern zwei Schwalben.

I recently wrote about my experience of coaching singers at the University of Pretoria.  A couple of weeks I coached at the Day of Song hosted by Leeds Lieder+. Since 2008 I have coached singers (mostly American) at AIMS in Graz, Austria and in London I regularly coach young singers in various repertoire. Spending so much time explaining rules on …

One-sided Conversations

As part of the Leeds Lieder+ Day of Song this coming Sunday I will be coaching two singers in front of an audience in order to give an insight into the work going on during the preparation process towards a recital. One of the songs to be discussed comes from the four songs of Strauss’ opus 27. The songs are …

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In Conversation with Peter Klatzow: Come and Study with me in Paris

Marie Vassiliou, my soprano counterpart of the Melicus Duo, and I were invited by Florian Uhlig, the Artistic Director of the Johannesburg International Mozart Festival, to perform a song recital in February at this year’s festival.  The composer-in-residence for this year’s festival was the eminent South African composer Peter Klatzow. When we were discussing programming to fit in with the …

In Conversation with Leon Bosch

Over the past few months I have from time to time worked with double bassists Leon Bosch as he was preparing for recordings. From my student days I knew of Leon Bosch and it was with real excitement that I met up with him for these sessions. Very soon, however, it was clear to me that he was on top …

Is it thy will, thy image should keep open

 In this fourth sonnet from Tchaikowsky’s Seven Shakespeare Sonnets the piano opens with notes quietly dripping like a tap that keeps you awake at night. The voice soon intimates that the speaker is suffering from insomnia due to questions that keep “my heavy eyelids” from sleeping. At first it seems that the sleep-deprived speaker is unable to get any rest due …

In Conversation with Clarinettist Janet Hilton

Recently British clarinettist Janet Hilton visited Leeds College of Music to give masterclasses to clarinet students. What struck me most during each session she taught was her utter commitment to every student and her ability to choose her words so carefully that every bit of feedback was encouraging as well as hitting the nail perfectly on the head. She has …

Against that time, if ever that time come

This sonnet looks to the future to a time when the love affair will be properly in the past. The speaker takes full responsibility for the disintegration of the relationship even though it is the beloved that leaves, avoiding the speaker’s eye. Despite the speaker’s seeming innocence, it is the beloved that is stripped of all guilt and forgiven in …

So are you to my thoughts as food to life

 In complete contrast to the languid atmosphere of the opening Sonnet, the second song in Tchaikowsky’s septych opens with a gust of notes in the piano, which sweeps the voice into motion. Tchaikowsky’s setting reflects the manic emotions depicted in Shakespeare’s text and the voice and piano interweave the one moment and unravel the next. The inner torment of the …

To me fair friend, you never can be old

André Tchaikowsky composed the Seven Shakespeare Sonnets in 1967 for mezzo-soprano Margaret Cable (pictured here with André Tchaikowsky). Their paths crossed at the Dartington Festival and Tchaikowsky was so taken by Cable’s talent that he immediately set to work to compose these songs for her. The sonnets that Tchaikowsky chose for this set of seven songs are not the most …

An Interview with Clare McCaldin

Preparations for the André Tchaikowsky   Symposium at Leeds College is well underway. The day’s programme has been typed and proofread. I have met with Sebastian Müller and Alfia Nakipbekova for a rehearsal of the Trio Notturno. The Piano Sonata (1958) is kept on the go.  Great excitement and inspiration ensued when mezzo-soprano Clare McCaldin and I met for the first time yesterday for …

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Is it thy will, thy image should keep open

 In this fourth sonnet from Tchaikowsky’s Seven Shakespeare Sonnets the piano opens with notes quietly dripping like a tap that keeps you awake at night. The voice soon intimates that the speaker is suffering from insomnia due to questions that keep “my heavy eyelids” from sleeping. At first it seems that the sleep-deprived speaker is unable to get any rest due …

Against that time, if ever that time come

This sonnet looks to the future to a time when the love affair will be properly in the past. The speaker takes full responsibility for the disintegration of the relationship even though it is the beloved that leaves, avoiding the speaker’s eye. Despite the speaker’s seeming innocence, it is the beloved that is stripped of all guilt and forgiven in …

So are you to my thoughts as food to life

 In complete contrast to the languid atmosphere of the opening Sonnet, the second song in Tchaikowsky’s septych opens with a gust of notes in the piano, which sweeps the voice into motion. Tchaikowsky’s setting reflects the manic emotions depicted in Shakespeare’s text and the voice and piano interweave the one moment and unravel the next. The inner torment of the …

To me fair friend, you never can be old

André Tchaikowsky composed the Seven Shakespeare Sonnets in 1967 for mezzo-soprano Margaret Cable (pictured here with André Tchaikowsky). Their paths crossed at the Dartington Festival and Tchaikowsky was so taken by Cable’s talent that he immediately set to work to compose these songs for her. The sonnets that Tchaikowsky chose for this set of seven songs are not the most …

An Interview with Clare McCaldin

Preparations for the André Tchaikowsky   Symposium at Leeds College is well underway. The day’s programme has been typed and proofread. I have met with Sebastian Müller and Alfia Nakipbekova for a rehearsal of the Trio Notturno. The Piano Sonata (1958) is kept on the go.  Great excitement and inspiration ensued when mezzo-soprano Clare McCaldin and I met for the first time yesterday for …

The Fox and the Raven

Aesop/De La Fontaine: Le Corbeau & Le Renard The story of the fox and the crow originates from the ancient greek story teller, Aesop. This fable has been depicted in various pathways of art including tapestry, architecture and music through the ages. These fables have found their way into specifically the French literature and culture via the pen of Jean …

When Roses Bloom

Recently I was asked by Leeds Lieder+ to provide some programme notes for the recital by the Kathleen Ferrier Competition Winner Recital. One of the sets of songs to be performed by Natalya Romaniw and Elizabeth Rossiter in Leeds on 6 June 2013 will be Edvard Grieg’s Sechs Lieder, op. 48. At the end I include a recent performance by the …

Painted in Honey

Jean-Antoine Watteau – Les Plaisirs du Bal Following the death of the Louis XIV of France (Le Roi-Soleil – The Sun King) aristocracy abandoned the grandeur of Versailles for the intimacy of the townhouses of Paris. In this more relaxed environment, the aristocratic revellers could flirt and play, and act out scenes of the commedia dell’arte. In its essence commedia dell’arte creates …

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