The ninth Planet Tree Music Festival kicks off tomorrow, running until 26th October in Hampstead, North London.


Founder and composer Lawrence Ball has curated the festival with the aim of creating an immersive experience for those wishing to connect to a higher sphere through deep engagement with classical music. Audiences are encouraged to lie down, meditate and experience the sound worlds presented, championing an alternative way of listening. The outdated rules employed in traditional concert halls are discarded in favour of a more accessible experience rooted in spirituality and relaxation. 

Similar in format to Max Richter’s sold-out ‘Sleep’, the 2017 Planet Tree Music Festival offers concert attendees the opportunity to lie down and relax into cosmic sound worlds, with a host of international musicians performing music specially written for this year’s programme.

 

The festival was opened by Terry Riley in 1996, establishing its ethos and reputation as one that showcases tonal, non-elitist contemporary music. The programme deals with the brighter side of contemporary classical music, featuring pieces by popular composers including Max Richter and Arvo Pärt.

Collaborator and performer James D’Angelo says: “The Planet Tree Music Festival has established a new forum for contemporary music that returns music to its spiritual roots and gets people in touch with their souls hungry for impressions of who and what they are… No composer could ask for anything more than the refined atmosphere that is the Planet Tree Music Festival.”

Tickets can be purchased on the door of each of the venues, namely the Rosslyn Hill Unitarian Chapel and All Hallows Church, Hampstead. Full concert details can be found here.

WildKat has, so far, secured coverage for Planet Tree Music Festival in PRS M Magazine, Culture Whisper, International Arts Manager, and local newspaper Camden New Journal. Stay tuned for more!

(Written on October 6, 2017 )

WildKat PR offers a training fund to all members of staff to help them learn new skills, develop their interests, and also to bring something new back to the team. James Hardie returned to his home city of Edinburgh last month to attend International Festival Encounters. Read about his experience below:

I used my WildKat training fund this year to attend International Festival Encounters.  It is a week-long course run by the Edinburgh International Festival in conjunction with the University of Edinburgh and the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.  The aim is to bring together artistic entrepreneurs with leading industry members and academics from all over the world.

It was truly ‘international’.  Amongst the participants were producers, writers, actors, programmers, and performers from Australia, America, Russia, South Africa, Denmark, Hong Kong, Singapore, India, and the UK.  It was a wonderful melting pot of different perspectives and experiences from both young and old, all taking place under the watchful eye of Edinburgh Castle.

We were treated to five productions over the week, including dance, theatre, and opera.  My own highlight was seeing the Nederlands Dans Theater, who performed a show in three segments with scores by Max Richter and Philip Glass.  The middle segment—a haunting series of scenes as a dying man recalls his life’s regrets—was like watching a film; the way the dancers manipulated their bodies brought to mind ‘The Exorcist’.

After each performance, we were given the opportunity to reflect critically on what we had experienced.  After seeing Gianandrea Noseda conduct the Teatro Regio Torino in a somewhat confused production of Verdi’s Macbeth, Kate Molleson (music critic for the Guardian) guided us through our reactions, whilst also giving us a fascinating insight into the dual role of the music journalist as both critic and evangelist.

There were two ideas that have really stuck with me from the course.  Firstly, the idea that financial constraint inspires creativity.  This was most effectively expressed for me by a participant from Russia, who used the phrase, ‘the artist must be hungry’, encouraging enterprise from a position of deprivation.  The second idea concerned caring for and looking after an audience.  The creator of a particularly moving production called ‘Flight’ spoke about the audience leaving an incredibly intense and personal experience in the theatre, and re-joining the busy outside world, and the steps they took to ease this often difficult transition.

My fellow participants were a really inspiring bunch, and I learnt just as much from them as I did the experts.  I’m certain I will collaborate with them again in the future. The training fund is an amazing perk to have, available to us all here at WildKat once a year, and I’m very grateful to have been afforded this opportunity.

(Written on September 25, 2017 )

Olivia Brown has taken up the position of Director, London Office at WildKat PR.  Previously Head of Creative Strategy & Marketing, Olivia will continue to be responsible for creative strategy at WildKat, exploring and implementing new services, and running the branding and social media strands of the company.

Her new role will also entail overseeing all business here in the UK and Ireland, and working with Carolin Denz (Director, Berlin Office) to develop and progress the WildKat brand, as well as working with the Founder, Kathleen Alder, to adapt WildKat to our ever-changing industry.

Kathleen Alder, Founder of WildKat PR commented: “It is with great delight that we announce the promotion of Olivia Brown to Director, London Office. Olivia has always been a dedicated and hardworking member of the WildKat PR team and has displayed a great deal of passion to the field of music and performing arts. Olivia first joined us in her ‘year in industry’ while studying at the University of Leeds, and after joining the London office as a full-time member of staff has overseen the expansion of our traditional services such as PR, marketing and social media to include more creative services such as branding, surveys and a more tailored approach to our services.

“Olivia has a proven track record of team leadership and a determination to provide the best possible service for our extensive client roster, and I am excited to see where she will lead the London office in the future. Olivia’s youth, talent and enthusiasm befits the overall company ethos and she will join myself and our Berlin Director Carolin Denz in running the company overall.”

Olivia commented: “It’s been an incredibly exciting and rewarding adventure to experience WildKat transform in the past 5 years, from when I started as an intern to the newly created position that I began last year.

“I am incredibly grateful to Kat for providing me with the structure and support to confidently lead the company from within, which is often very rare in our industry. Meanwhile, Kat continues to champion the young leaders of the classical music industry, regardless of age, gender, or background. As Director, London Office, I look forward to further leading the company into exciting new territories, both through anticipating the future of the industry and reacting to it, and also overseeing our expansion into the U.S. and France in 2018.”

(Written on September 25, 2017 )

WildKat PR is thrilled to be working with Blüthner on their inaugural Piano Series. Seven virtuosi will showcase the piano with its unique Golden Tone in a series of seven recitals held at St John’s Smith Square over the 2017/18 season.

From its founding in 1853 by Julius Blüthner, the eponymous firm has remained family-run. Current CEO, Dr Christian Blüthner-Haessler, enjoyed a successful career as a cancer surgeon, before taking the reins in 1996, and being named Businessman of the Year in Germany in 2004 after just 8 years in the industry.

From its inception, Blüthner has been an innovative company, which can be seen today in its impressive range of Design Pianos, and the extraordinary PH Grand. Blüthner has also pushed boundaries exploring the mechanics of tone production, with the creation of the Aliquot string, an added fourth string which vibrates sympathetically, cylindrical soundboards, and angle cut hammers, resulting in a truly special sound.

The starry list of Blüthner advocates includes Brahms, Mahler, Bartók, Debussy, Reger, Wagner, Tchaikovsky, Shostakovich, Rachmaninoff, Liberace, Stevie Wonder, and Ariana Grande.

The seven programmes held at St John’s Smith Square will be performed by outstanding talents from across the world, highlighting the versatility, depth, and character of the Blüthner instrument. Repertoire will include Bach, Mozart, and Beethoven; Tchaikovsky, Chopin, and Brahms; Stravinsky and transcriptions of Chinese music; Sjogren, Nielssen, and Nilsson. Tom Poster’s Kaleidoscope Chamber Collective will open the series performing Clara Schumann, Brahms, Schubert, and Robert Schumann.

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(Written on September 14, 2017 )

We are always thrilled when artists return to us to promote their exciting new projects. This is the case with Dmitry Masleev, one of the most promising, rising piano talents of our time. This is our third collaboration and this time Dmitry not only has concerts and debuts around the world, but will also release his highly anticipated debut album on the legendary label Melodiya.

After winning the International Tchaikovsky Competition in 2015, he went on to fascinate audiences all over the world, playing at the Berlin Konzerthaus, the Paris Philharmonie and Carnegie Hall, amongst many others. He has been joined on stage by orchestras such as the Orchestra of Radio France, Munich Symphony and Moscow Chamber Orchestra Musica Viva, also seeking artistic friendship with, Boris Berezovsky and Gidon Kremer.

In the past two years of successful concerts, Dmitry has enjoyed performing in front of a live audience, which has not only given him invaluable experience but has also allowed him to speak and engage with concertgoers directly. It quickly became clear that they highly anticipated a debut recording so, gladly responding to the audience’s demand, Dmitry is now announcing the release of his debut album under the Russian label Melodiya this October. WildKat PR will be supporting Dmitry for this release.

This debut album titled, in pure simplicity, “Piano” will include a selection of Domenico Scarlatti’s sonatas, alongside Prokofiev’s Piano Sonata No. 2 in D minor and Shostakovich’s Piano Concerto No. 2 in F major. Even though Dmitry stated in an interview that Russian music was very appealing to him because of the freedom he feels while playing it, it is no coincidence that the Italian Baroque composer Scarlatti can be found on his album. Scarlatti had an important impact on the development of Classicism, which largely shaped the way Shostakovich and Prokofiev composed.

The release of ‘Piano” will coincide with Dmitry’s debuts at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam and St. Johns Smith Square in London, as part of the Blüthner Piano Series. He will be touring in the US, playing at the Schloss Elma and with the Bamberger Symphoniker at the end of the year. Stay tuned for more details as it will be – yet again – an exciting year for Dmitry!

Dmitry Masleev © Alikhan

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(Written on September 11, 2017 )

Ashia Bison Rouge is a Polish born, American raised composer, cello player and singer, who lives in Berlin. She is a citizen of the world and so is her music.  Combining elements from Jazz, Pop, classical music and ambient sounds, she creates what she calls a ‘Song Archipelego’.

WildKat will be working with her to promote her concert at Körnerpark, Berlin on October 22nd.

 

One could say that there are only so many ways to play an instrument, but Ashia is a virtuoso, bending what is supposed to be the sound and the use of the cello. Combine that with her powerful and soul soaked voice and you get the most beautiful compositions you could have ever wished for. Playing all over Europe and the US, Ashia has performed with the Salem Chamber Orchestra in Salem, Oregon, the Cirque du Soleil and as a soloist at Kater Blau in Berlin.

On October 22nd, Ashia will perform at Körnerpark Neukölln, which is, according to blogs and word-of-mouth, probably one of the best places in Berlin right now. For an exciting artist such as Ashia, it is just the perfect spot. She will perform her own songs and compositions, as well as some extraordinary covers. She will once again be her own one-woman-cello and orchestra. She will once again be her own band. She will be Ashia Bison Rouge at her best.

We are more than happy to support Ashia for her concert at the Körnerpark Neukölln. And since the concert is free, all we can do is recommend to be there early for a great show!

(Written on September 7, 2017 )

WildKat PR is thrilled to welcome Inclusive Creativity! The project, based in Northern Ireland, was devised by composer Frank Lyons of Ulster University. It aims to level the playing field in performance and composition for disabled musicians by developing innovative instrumental technology and methodologies that allow for side-by-side performance with professional musicians.

In 2015, three partner organisations (Walled City Music, Drake Music and St. Magnus International Festival) received funding from the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation to develop a pilot participatory project using ‘inclusive creativity’ as its driving principle. The project brought together musicians and composers to research participant-led routes into collaborative music making. Under the direction of professor Lyons, an ensemble of disabled and non-disabled artists met regularly to improvise and compose music together in Derry/Lononderry. They used assistive music technology (AMT) as well as more conventional musical instruments. This ensemble became Acoustronic.

A performance featuring Acoustronic and partner ensemble the Benyounes Quartet will perform Lyons’s specially-commissioned work ‘NonZeroSum’ and George Crumb’s ‘Black Angels’ at Rich Mix on 5th September.

Olivia Brown, Head of Creative Strategy and Marketing, said: “Inclusive Creativity is an incredibly inspiring project that provides essential opportunities for disabled musicians. Especially with disability often being left out of diversity conversations in the classical industry and beyond, it’s vital that projects like this are championed across the sector and WildKat are delighted to support this pioneering and forward-thinking collaboration.”

The concerts in London and Dublin are kindly supported by PRS for Music’s ‘Breaking Borders’, CGF’s ‘Sharing the Stage’ and the British Council

(Written on August 31, 2017 )

We are looking for a Junior Account Manager to join WildKat PR in London!

WildKat PR

WildKat PR is a game-changer in the classical music industry. We adamantly believe in changing the status quo of our industry, embracing creative values both on- and offline.

WildKat PR is the only classical music PR agency to spread worldwide, having established ourselves in London, Berlin and New York. We are deeply devoted to seeking out and using online platforms to reach and engage substantial new audiences, producing all-encompassing, bespoke, international PR campaigns that are data-driven.

 

Job Description

WildKat PR is offering an exciting opportunity to join our London team. Working with the Founder, Director of the London Office, and Account Managers, they will learn how to develop and execute creative PR campaigns across the classical music and cultural industries in order to generate coverage and publicity for our clients.

 

Key duties

As a Junior Account Manager:

-To support the Director of the London Office with her administrative needs

-To assist the Account Managers in securing opportunities for clients and helping them to achieve their PR goals. This includes: researching publications and opportunities for coverage, organising client events, assisting with client reports and feedback

-To think creatively about how you (and your colleagues) approach campaigns. You will be asked to continually make new connections and approach your work in innovative ways. You will be expected to challenge how we, and the industry, are doing things

-To write copy in relation to client needs, including: fact sheets, bios, blogposts, newsletters, brochures

-To learn quickly and efficiently how to develop and execute creative PR campaigns in order to take on your own clients and manage their PR goals effectively. This will include liaising with journalists to generate and secure media coverage for clients

-To organise client events, as needed. This includes: concerts, VIP receptions, industry networking events

-To attend all relevant artists’ events (which regularly occur outside of office hours) including meetings and performances

-To network within the industry to build your reputation and that of the company.

-To be willing to take on additional responsibilities and grow into a more senior role within the company

 

Opportunities of working with WildKat PR:

-Small, open plan office

-Chance to do diverse things within the role and expand your skillset quickly

-Gain wider industry experience, not just PR

-Supportive colleagues and management welcoming your fresh ideas

-Personalised creative skills training and coaching

-Collaboration with mainstream brands and projects

-Opportunities for travel

-Sociable atmosphere

-Staff benefits, which include annual ski trip, Friday drinks, office yoga, opportunity for sabbatical and 6 hour working days

 

 

Person Specification

Essential

-Interest in classical music, culture and the arts

-A fast learner, able to absorb information quickly and confidently put it into practice

-Ability to remain calm when working under pressure and to manage conflicting deadlines

-Proven administrative and organisational skills

-Excellent verbal and written communication skills

-Ability to take initiative and responsibility when working alone

-Ability to work as part of a team

-High degree of accuracy and attention to detail

-A strong interest in online media

-Self-motivated

-Good standard of computer literacy (Word, Excel, WordPress)

Desirable

-Education to degree level

-Fluency in another language

We are an equal opportunities employer and welcome applications from all suitably qualified persons regardless of their race, sex, disability, religion/belief, sexual orientation or age

To apply, please send your CV and covering letter to olivia@wildkatpr.com with the subject title ‘WildKat PR Account Manager application’ by 5pm on 15th September 2017

Salary: Competitive – dependent upon experience

 

(Written on August 30, 2017 )

Over the past few weeks there has been uproar within the classical music world after the National Musicians Church, St Sepulchre-without-Newgate in Holborn, announced it would no longer be taking bookings of a non-religious nature from 2018.

The Church is where Sir Henry Wood, founder of the BBC Proms, is buried. It is also the home to a book of remembrance for musicians and windows commemorating singer Dame Nellie Melba and composer John Ireland. It has been known as the National Musicians Church for more than 70 years and is a prominent concert venue and rehearsal space that has been used by all types of musicians. Assurance had to be provided in 2013, after the appointment of Reverend David Ingall to the church, as many musicians were worried that the new priest would change the ethos of St Sepulchre as it was known. The recent move has therefore proven the need for this worry and has sparked a coming together of influential musicians to try and prevent the ban.

Since the new appointment of Reverend Ingall, the church has become part of the network founded by evangelical church Holy Trinity Brompton. The ‘evangelical group is known for its youth friendly rock-band style of worship’ and hosts the ever popular Alpha courses.  Reverend Ingall has stated in response to the reaction to the new ban; “Our ministry as the National Musicians’ Church continues to be a core part of our church’s identity and vision… While its expression may be changing, that underlying vision remains unchanged.” This, however, hasn’t settled the minds of leading musicians who believe that the “abrupt move was made without consent.”

In response to the ban on secular bookings, Richard Robbins started a petition to try and reverse the decision. He stated that “the church was particularly valued by musicians because of its heritage and for practical reasons.” He is helping to form a committee to “put forward a positive vision of what the Musicians Church actually is and to try and find a way that both music and ministry can co-exist together in a very open way.”

Photo credit: Making Music

This has consequently led to more than 50 musicians, including top composers, performers, and directors of music at cathedrals, to write a letter to The Guardian protesting against St. Sepulchre’s plans to ban non-sacred concerts. In the letter they state; “the unique ‘mission’ for St. Sepulchre’s has been to musicians, providing a welcoming space and encouraging them to be involved in running the parish. That its custodies are now willing to abandon this unique national cultural remit is difficult to understand and harder to accept.” Among those who signed the letter were Sir James MacMillan, John Rutter, Suzi Digby, Julian Lloyd Webber and Judith Weir.

Reverend Ingall has stated that “in the coming weeks we will reflect and pray, and consult with members of the musicians’ community about how best to fulfil that ministry moving forward.” The final outcome has not been announced yet, but we can hope that the hard work of Richard Robbins to start the petition and the influential musicians pays off.

Update: Over 7,000 people have signed the petition. Read all updates here.

(Written on August 29, 2017 )

Mit dem 3. Oktober hätte sich die Staatsoper Unter den Linden für die Wiedereröffnung keinen geschichtsträchtigeren Tag aussuchen können. Aber warum auch nicht? Schließlich ist dieses Datum fest mit Berlin und dem Tag der Deutschen Einheit verbunden und steht somit symbolisch für frische Neuanfänge. Nun ist Berlin aber auch eine Stadt der nicht enden wollenden Baustellen und es ist kein großes Geheimnis, dass die Renovierungsarbeiten der Staatsoper länger als geplant dauern – stolze vier Jahre länger, um genau zu sein. Doch diese lang erwartete Wiedereröffnung bringt gleich zu Beginn einen kleinen Dämpfer mit sich: Das Opernhaus eröffnet, um sofort wieder zu schließen. Wer nun verwirrt ist, ist dies zurecht, weswegen inhaltliche Ordnung in diesem buchstäblichen Chaos angebracht ist.

Fangen wir am besten am Anfang an und holen Friedrich den Großen mit ins (musikalische) Boot. Berlins ältestes Opernhaus wurde vom Alten Fritz im Jahre 1740 an den Architekten von Knobelsdorf in Auftrag gegeben und am 7. Dezember 1742 vor seiner eigentlichen Fertigstellung eröffnet, um dann im Jahre 1743 komplett fertiggestellt zu werden. In seiner langen Geschichte wurde das Opernhaus bereits sieben Mal umgebaut und baustilistisch stets verändert. Durch den zweiten Weltkrieg fast vollständig zerstört, fand der letzte große Um- beziehungsweise Wiederaufbau in den 50’er Jahren durch den Architekten Richard Paulick statt. Dabei orientierte er sich stark an von Knobelsdorf ursprünglichem Design. Seitdem sind viele Dirigenten ins Berliner Opernland gezogen, weswegen nach der Jahrtausendwende Pläne für einen lang angebrachten Umbau des nach dem Krieg zusammengeflickten Gebäudes ins Visier genommen wurden. So sahen die ersten Baupläne von Klaus Roth beispielsweise eine komplette Umgestaltung des Zuschauerraumes vor, wogegen viele Künstler von nationaler und internationaler Größe mit Protest begegneten, da der Denkmalschutz des Gebäudes missachtet worden wäre. 2008 wurde der Bauauftrag letztendlich an das Architekturbüro HG Merz vergeben, welches sich mehr an der Linie Paulicks/von Knobelsdorfs orientieren sollte. Mit einem beauftragten Büro an der Hand konnten nun die Bauarbeiten im September 2010 beginnen. Theoretisch hätte die Staatsoper bereits ab 2013 wieder spielbereit sein sollen, doch aufgrund von Fehlplanungen und daraus resultierenden Pannen, ziehen sich die Arbeiten bis zum heutigen Tage hin. Wolfgang Brauer, Politiker und ehemaliges Mitglied des Untersuchungsausschusses “Staatsoper” beschreibt die Sanierungsarbeiten wie folgt:

“Man räumte die Stühle raus und fing an mit der Baustelle. Ohne abgeschlossene Bauplanung, ohne solide Bauwerksanalyse, ohne solide Bestandsanalyse und das fiel dann natürlich auf die Füße. Man hatte die Vision entwickelt, dass man baubegleitend planen kann. Und das ist die eigentliche Katastrophe gewesen.” *

Bauarbeiten im Zuschauerraum, ©dpa

Doch bald sollen all die Fehlkalkulationen vergessen sein, wenn das Orchester unter Dirigent und Langzeitwegbegleiter Daniel Barenboim in die musikalische Heimat unter den Linden zurückkehrt. Besonders viel Wert wurde auf eine verbesserte Akustik im Zuschauerraum gelegt: So wurde beispielsweise für die 1.356 Sitzplätze ein dünneres Polster verwendet, damit der Klang nicht zu stark abgefedert wird. Zudem war Daniel Barenboim ein längerer Nachhall ein besonderes Anliegen. Der Zuschauerraum wurde durch die um fünf Meter angehobene Decke so konzipiert, dass nun ein Nachhall von 1,6 Sekunden statt ursprünglich 1,1 Sekunden gegeben sein soll. Außerdem soll auf mehr Beinfreiheit geachtet worden sein und dass man von jedem Platz aus einen guten Blick auf das Bühnengeschehen hat.

Allmählich zeichnet sich auch ein regeres Geschehen in der Staatsoper ab, wo sich seit dem 1. August die Mitarbeiter*innen aufhalten, die bis zum 3. Oktober noch den letzten Feinschliff anlegen. Feierlich eröffnen werden Schumanns “Faust-Szenen” das frisch herausgeputzte Opernhaus  bis zum 7. Oktober. Danach ist erstmal für weitere zwei Monate Schluss. Diesen Zeitraum wolle man zum Nachjustieren der Technik nutzen, nachdem man erste Erfahrungen im neuen, alten Theater gesammelt habe.

Zur endgültigen Normalität soll es schließlich am 7. Dezember kommen, wo der reguläre Spielbetrieb wieder aufgenommen wird auf den Tag genau zum 275. Jubiläum des Opernhauses. Fast so, als ob man von Anfang an auf diesen Tag hingearbeitet hätte.

Bald kann sich die Staatsoper ohne Baugerüst zeigen. ©Hufner

*Zitat aus: Arnt, Susanne: Berliner Staatsoper. Schwere Fehler bei der Sanierung, in: Deutschlandfunk Kultur. 22.06.2016.

 

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(Written on August 24, 2017 )