Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment

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Well our arts blog, Current Distractions, has taken a little break of late but it’s back today in a bumper classical music edition, dealing with awards, boycotts and much more besides – including a little smudge of visual art.


The Classical Oscars

The Royal Philharmonic Music Awards, the Oscars of the classical music world, took place this week. Winners included our fellow Southbank Centre residents the Philharmonia in the Audiences and Engagement category, the ever-innovative London Contemporary Orchestra in the Ensemble category – a huge achievement for this youthful ensemble in a category often won by more established groups and singer (and OAE soloist) Mary Bevan in the Young Artist Category. See the full list of winners here.


Politics Vs Music

Earlier this year (we’ve taken a break so we’re a little behind the times) pianist Valentia Listsa was suddenly pulled from a Toronto Symphony Orchestra programme. The reason it seems was her political views – pro Russian and anti Ukraine. An interesting debate on whether politics should impact on music making ensued, with the Orchestra commenting “As one of Canada’s most important cultural institutions, our priority must remain on being a stage for the world’s great works of music, and not for opinions that some believe to be deeply offensive”. Read more in The Guardian.


Overt speculation – the Proms and the Berlin Phil.

rfh-lpo-maisky-reviewsWe do love the wild and often totally unfounded speculation that can be found in the Slipped Disc blog. It’s author, Norman Lebrecht, certainly knows how to get people reading, or less favourably, is really good at what is called ‘click bait’. Anyway, two more far-out pieces of speculation to ponder upon. First, could one-time London Philharmonic Orchestra boss Serge Dorny, lately of Lyon Opera take the reins at the BBC Proms? And second, is OAE Principal Artist Vladimir Jurowski in the running for the top job at the Berliner Philharmoniker?


Who doesn’t love the rush hour?

Well, most of us. Packed tubes, delayed trains, your face being squished into someone else’s sweaty armpit… What else to do though? Well it’s been tried several times before, but how about rush hour concerts. Despite many many attempts they’ve never really taken off in the way that Orchestras have hoped, but that hasn’t put the Zurich Tonhalle Orchestra off. (apologies for another Slipped Disc link). Should it, could it, work in London?


Should we have a classical Biennale?


The Venice Biennale is one of the visual arts worlds biggest events – and its hit the headlines in the British press this year for some controversial British contributions. Whatever you think of the art it certainly puts visual arts on the map and the news agenda, and enables different countries to showcase their artistic prowess. What would a classical version look like? Could we generate the same debate and news and put classical music more clearly on the arts map? The Guardian on the Venice Biennale – in pictures.

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