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The digital revolution is still proceeding and affecting nearly every aspect of our everyday life. Talking about music industry, we consider streaming, podcasting concerts and interviews, social media campaigns and online music magazines. The majority of our generation is used to Spotify, Youtube, Instagram and Snapchat.

But what is the impact of digitalisation on classical and contemporary music? One may think that the classical music domain is archaic, old fashioned and still follows old standards. It is undoubtedly a big challenge to apply new technologies to an established sector. Then again, we should consider that new technologies might also bring new opportunities and even encourage the creativity.

Streaming

Music streaming is immediately overtaking downloading as the favoured method of accessing music digitally. Streaming has changed the way the majority of people now listens to music but also the way musicians, agents and companies deliver music to their recipients. Nowadays one can find a big amount of classical and contemporary music on platforms like Spotify and Apple Music. On the other hand there are also services that specialise in classical music streaming only, including Primephonic.

The main challenge in classical music streaming is the correct use of metadata. This field of music industry has some of the most complex metadata regulations. The rules are sometimes not clearly defined. Although, the information tagged to each file, is important for searching, matching and allocating music.

Networking

We are facing diverse and connecting times. Internet and peer-to-peer technology is essential in sharing ideas and creating more perspectives. Everyone is talking about communities and peer-to-peer. Networking on this new level connects different types of music genres and also encourages collaborations between different types of musicians on an international level.

There are several networking platforms for musicians like Hello Stage and Reverbnation to help musicians to collaborate and unfold their potential and creativity.

Podcasting

One more way to reach an auditory is podcasting. Podcasting is a digital recording of music, news or other media that can be downloaded from the Internet to a portable media player.

A popular synonym for podcasting is audio-videoblogging. Spotify, Google Play and some major labels are already benefiting from music podcasts. Classical and other musicians are using podcasts to transmit concerts, interviews and music sessions to their auditory. The advantage of podcasting is building a closer relationship to recipients, appearing more personal providing a face-to-face connection. A popular classical music podcast is Sticky Notes.

There are many ways digitalisation affects classical music. Also disciplines like archiving, composing, teaching etc. are driven by computer-based methods nowadays. Increasing number of musicians is using iPads instead of music sheets and musicologists are digitally combining early editions and manuscripts to get to the bottom of composer’s intentions. Some of the tools can help musicians, teachers, researchers or agents to work more dynamic and efficient. Any other may confuse some people or even slow down the creative process. Nonetheless, it’s necessary to acknowledge that the world is different from even 20 years ago. The digital age is networked, global, and constantly changing. Digitalisation has a huge impact on society, culture and music culture in particular and the utilisation of digital tools and computer-based methods in classical music may bring challenges but also benefits for all the participants.

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See some our clients using digital tools in their creative process:

Corre (a marriage of sounds and visuals)

Inclusive Creativity (performance and composition for less able musicians through the development of new technologies and methodologies)

(Written on October 25, 2017 )

This evening, the Hong Kong Music Series begins with an inaugural concert celebrating the fusion of Eastern and Western classical music at St. John’s Smith Square. This is just the first in a series of concerts celebrating the music of Hong Kong and the 20th anniversary of the establishment of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. Involving over 70 musicians and creatives from Hong Kong, five concerts will be performed in prestigious venues across central London. The Hong Kong Arts Development Council has overseen the organisation of this music series, and they are keen to share the talent and skill of their home musicians with the UK.

(Photo: Eleonora Cecchini)

WildKat PR assisted with a creative campaign day on London’s South Bank to promote the concert series, and engage the public with some of Hong Kong’s more traditional music. The day involved live music performances from a local Chinese music ensemble, traditional ‘bubble’ waffles, and a social media competition to win £100 vouchers from one of the Hong Kong Music Series’ main sponsors, Dorsett Hotels . Many passers-by paused to listen to the beautiful sounds of the ehru, guzheng and pipa, having never heard or seen anything like it before! As our team handed out leaflets advertising the concerts in the music series and chatting to people interested in the music and delicious, sweet smells from the bubble waffle stall, we were confident that the Hong Kong Music Series would be a success. 

(Photo: Eleonora Cecchini)

The upcoming VIP reception on the 7th of July will see the Hong Kong Arts Development team welcoming esteemed guests from Hong Kong and London to meet the performers of Music Interflow – A Dialogue of Two Cultures. The reception will also feature speeches, anticipating the excitement of the upcoming concerts with their diverse musical genres, ranging from classical music, Chinese music theatre, contemporary music and opera. This first concert will represent both the Chinese and British cultural heritage with a repertoire of both classical and contemporary works. Furthermore, the concert will mark the important anniversary of a momentous historical event in the annals of Hong Kong citizens’ close relationship with the British people.

Other intriguing concerts include Beyond the Senses, atmospheric Music Theatre by Law Wing-fai which runs for one show only on the 15th of July at London’s Shaw Theatre. Law Wing-fai is one of Hong Kong’s leading composers, using the contemporary theatre as a means of expression, revolving around the natural timbres of Chinese musical instruments, poetry, songs, music, dance and visual elements to create an Oriental and reflective atmosphere in this production.

We can’t wait to get started, don’t forget to let us know if you’re at any of the concerts! Click here to find out more about the Hong Kong Music Series.

Click here to follow the HK Music Series on Twitter and here to follow on Facebook.

(Written on July 7, 2017 )

We are looking for an Account Manager to join WildKat PR in London, as a member of the team is moving to the Berlin office!

Do you think you would be suitable for this position? Have a read through our job description below.

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 exceptional opportunity for a motivated, intelligent, creative individual to join our London team. Working with the Director, Head of Press, and fellow Account Managers on creative PR campaigns across the classical music and cultural industries, they will be expected to quickly establish and build strong working relationships with press to generate media coverage for our clients.

Key duties

As an Account Manager your role will be:

– To manage your set of clients and work with them to help achieve their PR goals. This includes: gaining press, attracting new audiences, helping to improve their brand, organising events
– 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 integrate digital media into campaigns. This means exploring new technology and developing ways to include it in client campaigns
– To take a leading role in the development and execution of unique, creative campaigns to promote your clients and the company
– To write copy in relation to your clients’ needs, including: fact sheets, bios, blogposts, newsletters, brochures
– To liaise 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 oversee the work of others when required, and to be willing to grow into a more senior role

Opportunities of working with WildKat PR:

– Friendly, 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

– At least one year’s relevant experience in PR
– Interest in classical music, culture and the arts
– Proven administrative and organisational skills
– Excellent verbal and written communication skills
– Ability to take initiative and responsibility when working alone
– Confidence and ability to manage multiple projects simultaneously
– Ability to work as part of a team
– Ability to remain calm when working under pressure and to manage conflicting deadlines
– 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

– Fluency in another language

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 11th November 2016

Salary: Competitive – dependent upon experience

 

(Written on July 28, 2016 )

Since its release on Saturday, the classical version of Turkish pianist, AyseDeniz Gokcin’s Nirvana Project has been shared across the world by a huge range of publications. AyseDeniz featured on the front page of Germany’s taz. die tageszeitung yesterday and was interviewed too. France’s biggest daily newspaper Le Figaro wrote a news story about the new album and there were stories on news pages, as well as rock, classical and lifestyle blogs in the US, Bosnia, Hungary, Turkey, Greece and much more. 

Listen to it here to get a feel for it yourself.

Nirvana Classical

Nirvana Classical

Shortly before the release of the classical version, AyseDeniz spoke to BBC News about why and how she went about giving Nirvana’s famously grungy sound a more classical edge. Since it was published on Kurt Cobain’s birthday (20 February), the video has been shared all over the world, including by France’s biggest weekly newspaper ‘Le Figaro’. Her Nirvana project has also been shared on the official Nirvana Facebook page.

The release date of AyseDeniz’s Nirvana Classical coincided with lead singer Kurt Cobain’s birthday; he would have been 49 this year. The majority of musicians paying homage to Kurt Cobain are, as expected, rock bands doing covers of Nirvana’s songs. AyseDeniz is totally original, in that she makes the music her own by merging rock with classical virtuoso piano, influenced by composers Prokofiev and Rachmaninoff.

This isn’t the first time that one of AyseDeniz’s projects has gone viral. Upon the release of her Pink Floyd Lisztified album in 2012, AyseDeniz received worldwide recognition. You can read the full story here.

AyseDeniz-WildKat-PR-Press

Keep up to date with AyseDeniz on her website, Twitter and Facebook.

 

(Written on February 24, 2016 )

The live streaming of operas has really taken off and this week Wigmore Hall  announced that it’s first online streamed event will take place on 28 January.  Opera Platform has partnerships with 15 theatres across Europe and Cultural broadcaster ARTE links the opera houses with the platform, offering subtitles in six languages. According to The Strad  up to one Wigmore Hall concert a month might be made available online and free of charge.

Wigmore Hall/ The Strad

Wigmore Hall/ The Strad

Streaming live operas and concerts is a great idea but is it the way forward for classical music and opera in terms of expanding audiences and benefiting the companies? The option of seeing opera at the cinema probably suits older audiences in many ways; in the cinema one faces the screen avoiding craning necks and the majority of people live closer to a cinema than to a theatre. Indeed, hotel and travel costs to a concert/opera (particularly in London) can amount to more than the price of the tickets themselves. Furthermore cinema and online audiences need not feel pressured to dress up.

Another advantage of concert/opera streaming is that we get to see the performers close up and focus on every detail including their facial expressions. Perhaps this makes it harder for the performers as they can be scrutinised more closely than they are in the theatre, forcing them to pay even greater attention to their acting (in the case of opera). Live streaming offers the audience many different views of the stage and backstage interviews during the interval are another bonus.

Berlin Philharmoniker's 'digital concert hall', offers 40 live-streams every year. A screenshot from their trailer

Berlin Philharmoniker‘s ‘digital concert hall’, offers 40 live-streams every year. A screenshot from their trailer

The New York Met’s Live in Schools programme brings opera productions to students through screenings at their local cinemas. Educator guides and classroom resources are also on offer, The Met aims to “make opera first accessible, then thrilling, to their students.” Might British opera companies and concert halls follow this lead? 

Whilst Wigmore Hall‘s online concert streams will be free, cinema screenings of opera certainly make financial sense for the companies, as tickets cost much the same as the cheapest seats at theatres.  The local cinema lacks the glamour and excitement of Royal Opera House but it’s probably more practical. One might ask whether the option of seeing an opera or concert at the cinema or online decreases the number attending the actual performance. However the two are completely different experiences and one cannot replace the other. The possibility of going to a cinema screening or streaming a concert online is an extra, yet very worthwhile experience. Certainly Wigmore Hall‘s ‘digital concert hall’ will make their concerts very accessible worldwide and no doubt performances from Berlin’s Armida Quartet, soprano Anna Lucia Richter with pianist Michael Gees, and baritone Andrè Schuen with pianist Daniel Heide on 28 January will attract large online audiences.

 

 

 

(Written on January 15, 2016 )

Whilst most luthiers seem to be men, the shortlist for Menuhin Competition 2016, is dominated by females. In the Strad’s March 2013 issue, violin maker Ute Zahn asked why there are so few female violin makers. One might assume that it’s something to do with the machines and physical work required to make a violin. However Zahn concludes that violin making is for ‘anyone with patience, passion, aptitude and determination.’ These are also some of the requirements for violin playing; it is extraordinary that out of 22 entrants in the senior category, only one is male and in the junior section there are 15 girls and only seven boys. 

 Ziyu He, 16 is the only male candidate competing in the senior category. Although Austrian, he was born in and is representing China. He started playing at the age of five and since October 2011, Ziyu lives and studies in Salzburg at the Leopold Mozart Institute of the Mozarteum University.

Ziyu He/ esc-plus

Ziyu He/ esc-plus

There are seven candidates from South Korea in the senior category but could the winner come from the UK?  With two entrants this year, this is the highest number of British competitors for twenty years. Indeed in a letter to The Times earlier this week, Julian Lloyd Webber accused the government of trying to squeeze arts subjects out of schools. Certainly compared with China, Korea and Japan, it would seem that children in Britain are given fewer opportunities and encouragement to study music or take up a musical instrument. Schools have minuscule budgets for music education and simply can’t afford to provide children with instruments and regular music classes. James Rhodes, TV presenter and classical pianist makes the point that schools would never require students to bring their own footballs and rugby balls for sports classes. There is however one privileged primary school where every student owns a violin, this is the exception though!

Juliette Roos, 20 along with Louisa Staples, 15 and Mathilde Milwidsky, 21 are the three outstanding violinists who will be fighting it out in the senior category for the UK.

Roos was in the strings final for BBC Young Musician 2012, she won her first prize at the age of six and has performed as soloist, in orchestra, chamber ensembles and in masterclasses ever since.

The 2016 Menuhin Competition takes place at Royal Academy of Music, London from 7-17 April. It is Yehudi Menuhin’s Centenary; the 11 day festival features major concerts from London’s best orchestras and international soloists celebrating all things Menuhin. Given the unprecedented number of females shortlisted for this year’s competition, it looks likely that a girl will win. What does the next one hundred years of the Menuhin’s legacy have in store for us?

 

 

(Written on January 8, 2016 )

The Taliban’s acts of cultural vandalism and the war in Afghanistan had a devastating effect on Afghan culture. As well as imprisoning musicians, film makers and artists, they also burned films, CDs books and paintings. Traditional Afghan music, which was once an integral part of Afghan people’s lives, suffered greatly; musical instruments were banned and professional musicians had to flee abroad to make a living.

As young people moved away during the decades of war, they were removed from Afghanistan’s traditional music and instead became familiar with Western styles. Although in some areas of the countryside, traditional music still thrives, in towns and cities, music is unrecognisable from that heard before the Taliban’s rule.

Religious singing, such as ritual chanting was permitted by the Taliban, although instruments were banned. A result of this long- term ban on instruments, people lost interest in traditional instrumental music and it is now hard to find the traditional instruments, which were so popular before the occupation. The “Rubab” is one of a few traditional instruments used nowadays.

Kabul born Homayun Sakhi, one of the greatest performers of the Afghan rubab/ BBC Music Magazine

Kabul born Homayun Sakhi, one of the greatest performers of the Afghan rubab/ BBC Music Magazine

According to enthnomusicologist, John Baily, the Taliban is against any form of entertainment outside the sphere of religion. They claim that Muhammad said that those who listen to music will have molten lead poured into their ears on the day of judgement. Music is recognised as something that can provide transcendental experience, the Taliban therefore see music as a threat to their control of people’s spiritual lives. Non- religious music, is also viewed by the Taliban as an unnecessary distraction from serious matters and it is believed that it leads to immoral behaviour. Not suprisingly, these extreme views and severe constrictions dramatically changed and limited the music scene in Afghanistan.

Since 2001 however, the music scene has developed. Afghan Star, the Afghan equivalent of Pop Idol, is in it’s 11th season this winter and remains incredibly popular. According to judge Tahmina Arsalan, the show helps ease minds in a turbulent, war-torn country and unites people through a love of music. The show has however generated controversy among Afghanistan’s conservative circles, and been dubbed “Satan’s Star” by critics. There are other barriers to a professional music career in Afghanistan; there are no record companies or royalty structures, making it difficult for singers to earn a living. Furthermore, the show receives daily threats from the Taliban.

Afghan Star, season 11

Afghan Star, season 11

Musical education is still frowned upon in some areas, however since the fall of the Taliban, opportunities to study music are increasing. Former presenter at Classc FM, Emma Ayres, now teaches the cello at the Afghanistan National Institute of Music (ANIM). According to the mission statement, “graduates will have the skills, creative vision, and confidence to contribute to the artistic, social, and cultural life of Afghanistan, and to the rebuilding and revival of Afghan music traditions.” The government supported Revival of Afghan Music Project not only seeks to revive Afghan music, it also aims to rebuild a traumatised and shattered country, through the healing powers of music. Despite threats, since 2001, the music industry and education in both classical western music and traditional Afghan music have developed; long may it continue!

Girls at the Afghanistan National Institute of Music/ ABC

Girls at the Afghanistan National Institute of Music/ ABC

Sources:

http://bit.ly/1YgzkeZ

http://bit.ly/1TPEqby

http://bit.ly/1ITXaGn

http://ab.co/1SXH5Ux

(Written on December 16, 2015 )

 

AyseDeniz

AyseDeniz

With the #NirvanaProject, AyseDeniz brings to life the power of music that gave Kurt Cobain the will to live. The album is released today exclusively with iTunes or you can purchase signed hard copies on AyseDeniz’s website.

AyseDeniz was considered a child prodigy in her native Turkey and made her concerto debut when she was just nine. As a composer and pianist, she is always seeking new ideas. For the #NirvanaProject, AyseDeniz has pulled ideas from the lyrics and motifs of Nirvana’s music to create her own adaptations. She tells the story of Kurt Cobain through her classical piano arrangements and vocals; connecting rock and grunge with classical music, in an authentic intimate and nostalgic way.

At the age of 27, the same age as Nirvana’s front man when he ended his life, AyseDeniz dedicates this project to Kurt Cobain to celebrate his legacy through virtuosic grunge.

The project follows the viral, worldwide success of AyseDeniz’s Classical Pink Floyd project, which caught the attention of classical enthusiasts and rock fans across the globe, also securing an endorsement from Pink Floyd’s official social media pages.

The #NirvanaProject is a curious and eclectic venture, which merges different styles in a genre that is impossible to categorise. Buy now on iTunes or get yourself an exclusive signed CD.

 

Keep up to date with AyseDeniz’s news via her website, Twitter or Facebook.

 

 

(Written on November 20, 2015 )

Scriabin, who died 100 years ago this year, was the first composer to associate colours with music; he believed that there is an aesthetic connection between musical harmony and shades of colour. The Russian artist Wassily Kandinsky was inspired by Scriabin, amoung others including Wagner. Kandinsky wanted to create what Scriabin had for music, but for colours and feelings. Kandinsky, had his own colour theory to match colours with musical tones or instruments.

Composition VII by Wassily Kandinsky (1913)

Composition VII by Wassily Kandinsky (1913)

There is a possibility that Scriabin had Synaesthesia, a condition where a sensation in one of the senses, such as hearing, triggers a sensation in another, such as sight. In Scriabin, music triggered a vision of certain colours in a ‘union of his senses’. Each note corresponded to a specific colour: C-red, G-orange, D-yellow, A-green, E-sky blue, B-blue, F#-bright blue, C#-violet, G#-lilac, D#-flesh, A#-rose, F-deep red. However, some composers such as Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, disagreed with Scriabin about which keys related to which colours. It is believed that Messiaen and Liszt were also synaesthete, although the condition isn’t common even in people with perfect pitch. 

A piano illustrating which colour corresponds to which key

A piano illustrating which colour (according to Scriabin) corresponds to which key

Scriabin was also deeply philosophical and mystical; he had visions of other worlds and he wished to transport his audiences to other realms through his music. He had planned a great piece, the Mysterium, which would be performed in a half temple in India. The spectacle would include a light show engulfing performers and audience members, who would sit across a pool of water. Incense and acrid smoke would be blown across the scene, costumed speakers reciting texts would parade with the dancers and Scriabin would sit at the piano surrounded by the orchestra. Scriabin died before the composition was complete, this dream was never realised.  He once boasted that only his music could express the inexpressible.

A few years before his death, Scriabin produced a colour keyboard with colour lamps, known as  a clavier à lumières. In the score for Prometheus: The Poem of Fire (1910), Scriabin described how his clavier à lumières should accompany the orchestra. The colour organ was to be played like a piano but instead of emitting sound, it projected coloured light onto a screen. The only performance using the color organ as Scriabin had envisioned, was in New York in 1915. This was the year that Scriabin died, of an untreated infection under his famed moustache. It seems that Scriabin had vast sources of inspiration and had he lived longer perhaps more of his dramatic, other- worldly dreams would have been realised. 

Scriabin performing in St. Petersburg in April 1915 (his last recital)

Scriabin performing in St. Petersburg in April 1915 (his last recital)

(Written on November 17, 2015 )

In early Italian Opera, from the 1600’s until about 1800, many operatic roles were written for castrati. Recently more men have been trained as countertenors to sing these roles, however it is often women who take on these ‘breeches roles’ in the place of castrati.

From the end of the eighteenth century, when composition for castrati had declined, male operatic roles continued to be written for high voices. Thus, it was intended that a woman should dress up as a man to play these characters. It is important to note, that the quality of the voices and music has always come before realism in opera.

Italian castrato Francesco Bernardi Senasino (1686- 1758) Senesino was closely associated with Handel & sung 17 of his lead roles an

Italian castrato Francesco Bernardi Senesino (1686- 1758). Senesino was closely associated with Handel and sung 17 of his lead roles.

Travesti in Italian means disguised and Travesty applies to roles sung by the opposite sex. This term can therefore also apply to ‘skirt roles’, whereby a man sings a female role.

A long list of lead figures in operas are known as ‘breeches roles’ (‘travesti’ or ‘hosenrolle’) .

Here are some of the most well known Travesty roles in opera.

Octavian Der Rosenkavalier, Richard Strauss

Octavian, young lover of the Feldmarschallin Marie Thérèse, is written as a soprano/mezzo-soprano breeches part. Typical of a breeches role, Octavian must disguise as a woman to hide his identity and involvement with Marie Thérèse.

Christa Ludwig as Octavian

Christa Ludwig as Octavian

Romeo I Capuleti e i Montecchi, Donizetti

When assessing the singers for I Capuleti e i Montecchi, Bellini wasn’t particularly impressed with the tenor. However he admired the talents of mezzo-soprano Giuditta Grisi, so he decided to cast Grisi as Romeo in a breeches role.                                                                   

Anna Netrebko and Elina Garanca as Romeo & Julliet, ROH 2009

Anna Netrebko and Elina Garanca as Romeo & Julliet, ROH 2009

Cherubino, Le Nozze di Figaro, Mozart

Cherubino is an adolescent boy and the counts page. As many breeches roles, Cherubino is played by a mezzo-soprano. Similarly to Der Rosenkavalier’s Octavian, Cherubino must disguise himself as a girl. He is a womaniser and woos both Susanna (engaged to Figaro) and Countess Almaviva (married to Count Almaviva).

Other breeches roles in Mozart’s operas, include Sesto and Annino in La clemenza di Tito,  Idamante in Idomeneo and Amintas in Il re pastore.

Joyce DiDonato as Cherubino at the Metropolitan Opera, New York

Joyce DiDonato as Cherubino at the Metropolitan Opera, New York

Composers chose for male characters to be played by women, due to the sound characteristics of their voices and their physique. Female figures are particularly suited to being cast as young boys, as these roles require narrow physiques and light, clear voices. Although today, it is of course perfectly acceptable for women to perform on stage, in the nineteenth century, woman who went on stage were dishonored and had a lower status. Thus, there were cases of women dressing up, pretending to be a castrati men in order to avoid this. Today’s interest and media focus on gender fluidity suggests that there is great scope for opera to flourish, as modern audiences continue to be fascinated by gender roles.

(Written on November 12, 2015 )