Last week, the argument about when to applaud at classical music concerts surfaced yet again in The Telegraph, with Michael Henderson fiercely defending tradition. He concluded by affirming, ‘You buy your ticket, you listen in silence to the music, and at the end, should you feel like it, you applaud’ explaining that ‘Tens of thousands of people have been doing it for the past 120 years.’

But perhaps that’s the problem. Is classical music etiquette stuck in the 1900s? It only takes one trip to the Proms to see a mere scattering of youthful faces in a sea of grey hair.

Violinist Nigel Kennedy is renowned for trying to break the classical mould. He argues in The Telegraph that ‘classical musicians should learn from rock stars to overcome snobbery and engage more with their audiences’ and encourages ‘talking to [audiences] mid-performance and letting them show their appreciation.’

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Credit: AFP/ Telegraph

This is all very well, but poses a distinct possibility of putting off the older generation, thereby risking those all-important bums on seats.

So what is the solution? This is a debate that will no doubt continue for the foreseeable future, and to which there is no simple answer. Either extreme would appear to put the future of classical music in danger.

The only way forward can be a balanced approach – one that provides opportunities for fresh faces to be experience classical music in an accessible environment, whilst maintaining those traditions which have been enjoyed by many generations and will hopefully be enjoyed by many more to come. And integrating these audiences? Well that will be the next challenge.

(Written on August 25, 2015 )

We are very happy to introduce our newest client, violinist Yijia Zhang!

Yijia was born and raised in China and started playing the violin at the age of five years old and gave his first performance when he was just seven. He was selected as one of Asian Future Star Musicians and made his western debut with the Cazadero Festival Orchestra in San Francisco aged seventeen.

Despite only just having graduated from the Royal Academy of Music, Yijia has already performed in some of the world’s leading concert halls including the Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, Sydney Opera House, and the National Centre for Performing Arts, Beijing. He is also the director of the Chinese charity concert series Under the Same Sky in Anhui Province, staging concerts in support of underprivileged youths.

We are looking forward to working with Yijia on the release of his exciting debut album, Tango Embrace in October 2015. The disk is a collection of classic tango pieces by renowned Argentinian tango composer Astor Piazzolla and features contributions from six other accomplished musicians including Carl Smith, one of the original founders of the musical STOMP. Post-production was completed by mastering engineer Ray Staff, best known for his work with Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones and Muse.

Don’f forget to keep checking our blog and Twitter for updates as well as Yijia’s website.

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(Written on August 25, 2015 )

With the summer holidays drawing to a close, for students all around the country this means one thing. Results. But one seventeen-year-old girl had other things on her mind.

Jessy McCabe noticed a distinct lack of female representation on the Edexcel A-level music syllabus, with 63 male composers and no females, despite including a variety of genres and eras.

She contacted Edexcel’s Head of Music, who claims “given that female composers were not prominent in the Western Classical tradition (or others for that matter), there would be very few female composers that could be included [in the A Level specification]”. McCabe dismisses this statement. She argues that there are over 6000 female composers in history and BBC Radio 3 managed to programme a full day of music written by women in honour of International Women’s Day.

And it would appear that she is not alone in her opinions. Over 1700 people have already supported her online petition.

This topic certainly has sparked lively debate from both sides. What do you think? Tweet us at @WildKatPR or comment on our Facebook page.

Jessy McCabe

Seventeen-year-old Jessy McCabe
Photo credit: The Independent

(Written on August 21, 2015 )

Summer is always a busy time of year in the music world. With the Proms in full flow and festivals popping up everywhere, the past few weeks have been pretty busy for all of us here at WildKat PR too! We wanted to share with you select highlights of what we’ve been up to in our London and Berlin offices…

Festivals

One of the most exciting events we have been working on this summer is the Tête-à-Tête Opera Festival. With over 100 performances, from Tim Benjamin‘s dark double-bill Life Stories to a flashmob in King’s Cross, it’s no wonder the festival was listed as number one on BBC Music Magazine’s Unmissable Events for August 2015.

Tete-a-Tete blog

Tête-à-Tête pop-up opera

Next came Grimeborn and Constella Ballet & Orchestra‘s Clown of Clowns – a circus-themed operatic and balletic spectacular featuring Schoenberg’s Pierrot Lunaire followed by Leo Geyer‘s jazz-inspired Sideshows. Despite the tube strikes, we battled our way across London to the Arcola and are very glad we did, as this show received glowing reviews from audience members and journalists alike.

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Clown of Clowns, Arcola Theatre

We were lucky to have two clients performing at this year’s Wilderness Festival, Matthew Sharp and Avi Avital. Matthew’s performance with Opera North was exhilarating, featuring devils and fire dancers and Avi left the audience calling for an encore!

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Wilderness Festival, Cornbury Park

Proms

The Mahler Chamber Orchestra has had a busy season at the BBC Proms this year. We were stunned to see the connection between the musicians and the wonderful Leif Ove Andsnes directing from the piano. It was also a very emotional evening since this was the last time they were performing the Beethoven journey together.

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Mahler Chamber Orchestra at BBC Proms. Credit: Paco Varoch

And the promming fun didn’t stop in London… We travelled down to the Bristol Proms to see the Sacconi Quartet in Heartfelt – an extraordinary production which allowed audience members to hold a robotic heart or ‘chestahedron’ and monitor the musicians’ heart rates as they performed.

Heartfelt blog

Sacconi Quartet ‘Heartfelt’ concert

We have also been making the most of £5 promming tickets and particularly enjoyed Prom 35, The Story of Swing – described by Rhian as one of the best concerts she’s ever been to!

Office News

And life inside the office has been almost as busy as our concert schedule!

With both the London and Berlin offices recruiting, it has been a month of advertising vacancies, reading CVs and interviewing. Now that the whole process is over, we are pleased to welcome new account manager Anja in Berlin and look forward to Victoria joining us next month.

We have been darting around, accompanying clients to In Tune, Resonance FM and London Live broadcasts, our new in-house photographer has been taking photos at events and we’ve run industry open sessions at Handel House and Guildhall.

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WildKat PR Industry Open Session at Handel House

We’ve also been travelling further afield, with Carolin in New York with the Mahler Chamber Orchestra, Sarah in Amsterdam with enoa and Olivia and Carolin off to Switzerland for the Gstaad Menuhin Festival.

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New York. Credit: Carolin Denz

It has been a summer of new beginnings, with new and returning clients David Pearl, Constella Ballet & Orchestra, Marina Baranova, Yijia Zhang, Nina Brazier, Katherine Bryan, JSL, Rachael Young, Ensemble Perpetuo, Damian Marhulets, Raymond Yiu, Anneleen Lenaerts and Hideko Udagawa.

We also celebrated the birth of two beautiful babies – Anna’s little girl Greta and Kat and Alan’s baby boy Charlie!

We have a lot of exciting events coming up in the next few weeks, so as always keep an eye on our blog and Twitter for updates!

All photos in this post (excluding credited images) were taken by in-house photographer Rhian Hughes.

(Written on August 20, 2015 )

On the evening of Wednesday 1stJuly, the pianist Lucas Debargue was awarded an unexpected 4th prize in the final of the fifteenth edition of the Tchaikovsky International Competition. The self-taught pianist was not expected to win when the contestants reached the final concerto stage since he had never played with an orchestra before, and his incredibly unconventional jazz technique irritated more than a few orthodox piano teachers and judges. Two eminent Russian judges on the panel praised him as a wonder for all his flaws though. Dmitri Bashkirov, even declared that Lucas Debargue will soon be considered one of the greatest pianists of our times.

The Moscow Music Critics Association, unsatisfied by the judgement, presented him with its prestigious award for his performances during the competition, which “has become an event of genuine musical significance” and to salute a pianists “whose incredible gift, artistic vision and creative freedom have impressed the critics as well as the audience.” Lucas Debargue stole the heart of the Russian public during the competition, even astonishing chairman Valery Gergiev, who broke the protocol by inviting him to play alongside the winners in a recital at the Mariinsky on 14th July.

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Photo credit: Bernard Bonnefon

The self-taught young pianist started playing with friends as a child before being accepted into a conservatoire, but didn’t learn any instrumental technique there! He used to learn Prokofiev’s sonatas by heart and played it faultlessly, admitting himself, “for Rachmaninoff’s 3rd concert it’s impossible, we can’t learn 15 000 different directions. […] But I always learn by ear!” He gave up the piano at the age of 16 and worked in a supermarket to pay for his literature studies. He finally restarted at the age of 20 in a disciplined, professional way to prepare for the Tchaikovsky International Competition and ended up four years later in 4th place, playing with what the media defined as an “unmissable style

Since the competition, the enthusiasm of the audience and the media has grown, enhanced by a wave in social media. Aside from the unusual path he has taken, it’s his personal interpretation of the music that marvels. Recently he has given interviews with both France Musique and Parlons Piano to talk about interpretation. “I think there is a sacrifice to made” he said, “If you want to perfectly execute a piano piece, then you will have to sacrifice the music. Because the pianist puts himself under the spotlights and says “look how well I can play”, but there is no music and the truth is that when you play, you should not know what is coming next in the music”. He explains, that after working hard for hours on a piece, after knowing all the notes, silences and nuances, the only thing to be done is to jump without a parachute, submerged in the music. “ I don’t pursue technical perfection in a difficult piece […]. What is important, is to be carried by the music, to be active in its reception without anticipating what is coming next at all.” And quoting Aristotle, he added “the more violent act between letting an object fall and catching it again, is to catch it, because there is nothing more natural on earth than gravity. With music, it’s the same.”

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Photo credit: Mariinski Theatre

In any case, in this strict orthodox world that is the pianistic sphere, it is nice to have this different approach being recognized for a change. Interpretation and music should speak over technique and the difficulty of a composition. After all, if music is understood as an infinite space of freedom of speech, we should be welcoming a pianist who is already proposing an original and unique language.

(Written on August 19, 2015 )

We are delighted to announce that we will be working once again with acclaimed flautist Katherine Bryan on the release of her new CD, Silver Bow.

Appointed principal flute with the Royal Scottish Orchestra at the age of just 21 and with several successful CDs already under her belt, she certainly is living up to her label as one of Britain’s future musical stars.

Katherine Bryan

Her new disk is particularly innovative. Keen to highlight the versatility and beauty of the flute, Katherine has taken a selection of violin music and adapted it for the flute. The CD pushes the boundaries of her instrument, using complex techniques to show off the flute rather than imitate the violin in classic works such as The Lark Ascending to Zigeunerweisen.

Her skill and musical interpretation allow the flute to achieve its full instrumental capacity, in her words, ‘to transport its listeners through many emotions, evoking numerous sound colours and nuances, and is capable of speaking above an orchestra.’

Silver Bow will be released in the UK on Linn Records on 18th September and is available for pre-order here. In the meantime, keep an eye on her website, Facebook and Twitter for updates, and also on the WildKat blog.

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(Written on August 11, 2015 )

WildKat PR is excited to introduce our newest client, Marina Baranova, a Ukrainian pianist and composer living in Germany.

“She sat down at the piano and played. With her right hand she held a melody, harmonically supported from the left. She was three and couldn’t read music” remembered Marinas Parents, both piano teachers.

Since her very first contact with a piano at the age of 3, Marina has won a long list of international prizes all over Europe. Her debut album Marina Baranova Plays Schumann was enthusiastically applauded by the press, who hailed her as an “excellent interpreter of Schumann”. She is also active as a composer – her last CD Firebird, recorded together with Murat Coşkun, contains only original compositions for oriental percussion and piano.

Marina is currently working on her next CD Hypersuites. The programme will be based on the graceful music of the Baroque period providing a foundation for the brilliant improvisations and deeply personal reinterpretations which Marina specialises in.

We are very much looking forward to supporting Marina in promoting this new album. Keep checking the WildKat PR blog for updates as well as Marina Baranova’s website.

Marina Baranova

Marina Baranova, picture by Yoshi Toscani

(Written on July 31, 2015 )

If you saw ‘Your Call…’ Part 1 in last year’s Tête à Tête: The Opera Festival you’re in for many surprises this year when you see the complete work. Clocking in at about 55 minutes, ‘Your Call…’ has undergone major transformations.

The biggest and most obvious change is the addition of a second Mezzo Soprano. American mezzo Hai-Ting Chinn joins the cast as a second iteration of ‘The Woman.’ Splitting one character between two performers is a reflection on the unreliability of online identity and the ways we can shape our online image, enhancing or subverting reality.

DSCF9417You’ll hear a lot of new music in the complete ‘Your Call…’ Having the second voice much more than doubles the musical possibilities. The second voice enriches and deepens the musical texture in a very dramatic way. Both in speaking and singing they share lines, even splitting individual sentences between them as well as singing together.

The character of ‘The Woman’ has a relationship to technology that is very intense. Her reliance on technology and fear of human-social interactions overwhelm her existence. And we get the sense that she wouldn’t have it any other way. Over and over again she answers a phone, listens and replies, “Oh no, no, no. You’re confusing this one with the other one.” This becomes a real issue for The Woman. Her only interaction with another human always seems to go wrong. She repeatedly retreats to the safety of her phone, even singing, “A friend you can mute is a friend forever.”

Fundamental elements of communication are getting a deeper look as well. The set and props are made of circles, squares and triangles – fundamental elements of visual communication. Made of Boxes, along with many many megaphones, you’ll see circles (end of a megaphone), squares (boxes), and triangles (megaphones on end). The vowels, a, e, i, o, u, fundamental elements of aural communication, are both spoken and sung as well as being presented in sign language and semaphore signals. And then there are the phones, old and new, big and small, everywhere

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S-O-S, the universal signal of distress is a recurring refrain, woven throughout ‘Your Call…’ in Morse code, semaphore signals, sign language and within the score itself. Is this an unconscious cry for help? On the surface she doesn’t appear to want any help. Is this a manifestation of concern from the synthetic voices who see how her over-reliance on technology has taken over her external life? Only The Woman knows for sure.

There is a darkness in ‘Your Call…’ that is juxtaposed with broad physical comedy. We hope that you’ll find it as funny as it is disturbing. The character of The Woman makes everyday gestures into a language of their own. She is clearly unaware that she is expressing herself with her body. She doesn’t need to since her only meaningful relationships are online.

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The difference between the internal and external is accentuated throughout the new version of ‘Your Call…’ Spoken text is external, an increasingly desperate attempt to understand and be understood. Sung text is internal, fragmented, jumping randomly from thought to thought. The theatrical ‘fourth wall’ is repeatedly shattered in the performance, always with spoken text. What’s said needs to be heard. What’s sung is bouncing around inside her head.

Overall the new ‘Your Call…’ is bigger, funnier, darker, and more thought provoking. It’s a wild ride across a theatrical landscape that starts inside ‘The Woman’s’ head, weaves its way through the internet and lands on the floor of King’s Place, Hall 2.

Oh, and we’ll ask you to please mute your phones (we’ll be friends forever) but please do Tweet with the hashtag #ycopera during the show. We’ll be doing that from the stage and we want you all to be in on the fun. Hope to see you there, 8 – 9 August!

Lisa J. Coates & Kevin Jones

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www.yourcallopera.com

http://on.fb.me/1rZvxj1

www.twitter.com/yourcallopera

(Written on July 29, 2015 )

WildKat PR welcomes back the brilliant conductor Rachael Young to its client roster. Highlights of Rachael’s 2015/16 season include 2 performances in Santiago with the Orquesta Sinfonica de Chilé  on the 23rd and 24th October and the 18th May with the Kammerorchester Berlin.

Having started her career as a cellist in her native New Zealand and moving on to Massachusetts and London with her studies, Rachael started conducting in 2009, progressing quickly under the guidance of Maestro Leonid Grin.

Rachael has thrived by working with ensembles including the Russian Virtuosi of Europe, the London Soloists Chamber and the Parnu City Orchestra. Likewise, her experience has grown as an assistant conductor alongside Paavo Jarvi and Leonid Grin and in recordings with Steven Isserlis of the Prokofiev and Shostakovich cello concerto. In recent years, conducting masterclasses at both the Jarvi Academy Summer and Winter Academies in Estonia have further determined Rachael’s growing reputation.

Keep up to date with Rachael on the WildKat PR blog and on her website.

For tickets to her concert with the Orquesta Sinfonica de Chilé click here and for tickets with the Kammerorchester Berlin, click here.

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(Written on July 24, 2015 )

WildKat PR is pleased to be working with London-based Ensemble Perpetuo once again.

Perpetuo’s concerts appeal to all senses through collaborations with choreographers, chefs, artists, sculptors and photographers for their live shows.

Formed in 2013 by British oboist James Turnbull, the group specialises in these multi-art form collaborations, with several talented musicians at the heart of the performance. Traveling around the UK allows them to perform in a variety of locations such as theatres, museums and cafes, enhancing the power of the context of both traditional and contemporary music.

Ensemble Perpetuo presented their sold-out launch event Cityscapes earlier in 2015. With music spanning 200 years inspired by the world’s great cities, art and photographs featuring urban landscapes, sculpture and a dance created for one of the works, the event was a perfect introduction to the group’s work.

In the coming months, WildKat PR will work with the ensemble on two London events. On the 6th September, the group will present Rivers & Oceans, a collaboration with Bitter Suite at Rich Mix London in which the audience will enjoy food themed around each piece of music on the programme. For tickets, see the Rich Mix website.

On the 9th November, they look further afield in their Heavenly Sights concert. Alongside music inspired by other planets, the audience can experiment with an interactive sculpture which converts sound into visible light. Keep an eye on the WildKat PR blog and the ensemble’s website for updates.

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(Written on July 24, 2015 )