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If you look back at our daily news page on our website, it is not an exaggeration when I say that in the last few weeks almost every day there has been a news story about Sir Simon Rattle. Everyone has had their say on the concert hall rumours and now it is time for WildKat PR to add to the debate with our take on the whole issue.

I have always liked Simon Rattle, maybe it is because my grandparents, who live in Birmingham, are regulars at the Symphony Hall and talked about him when he was at the CBSO, maybe it is his musicianship, or maybe it is our mutual love for Mahler. Either way, I would love to see him back in London after he leaves his post as Principal Conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic in 2018. But what of his concert hall demands? It is generally accepted that London lacks a world class concert hall in terms of acoustics when compared to the likes of Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw and Berlin’s Philharmonie. It seems a bit of an oxymoron to have our prestigious orchestras housed in halls that have been described as a ‘complete joke’ by some musicians in terms of acoustics and backstage facilities. So, Rattle’s suggestion is not entirely unreasonable in this sense.

Rattle Picture

Photo: Sipa Press / Rex Features

However, as Ivan Hewett commented in The Times, it is not that the acoustics in London are bad, others are just better. Just talking about acoustics only provides one part of the story and does not take into account the psychological factors when listening to a performance: the emotions we feel and pictures the music conjures up. We do not want the acoustic question to veil the actual music. There is a special something about our concert halls in London which implants itself when you come to a concert here: their history, the grandeur of the building itself and the thrill of who else has performed on that stage. Can you imagine the Proms anywhere else other than the Royal Albert Hall? Pageantry and tradition is something the UK has perfected and our existing concert halls are a part of this.

There is a political side to all of this too. I must admit that part of me agrees with Jessica Duchen, that much of George Osborne’s commitment to a ‘feasibility study’ is probably General Election talk to get us all on side. With the economy still in a tight spot, spending however many millions on a new concert hall is not sensible. Indeed, Charlotte Higgins argued that if we need to spend any money on a new music venue in London, it needs to be a Glyndebourne-esque space for the crisis stricken English National Opera.

And then there is the question of its location. Where in central London is both available and suitable?

As much as I would love to see Sir Simon back in London, building a whole new concert hall seems hard to justify in these times especially when some say the acoustic argument is exaggerated. Spending the money on music education instead sounds like a better idea. If, after May, the new government uphold this enthusiasm then perhaps the idea will be taken more seriously but, how likely this is is left to be seen.

Rattle Blog Pic

Illustration: Robert G Fresson

 

(Written on February 25, 2015 )

The Guardian

Polish tenor hits back after a ‘fanatical minority’ boos La Scala production

Piotr Beczala says he will not take another role in Italy after section of audience boos new production of La Traviata

Limelight Magazine

What’s the value of sacred music in a secular age?

Is sacred music past is sell-by? Religious leaders, musicians and non-believers share their views

Classic FM Online

Joseph Calleja hangs out with Snoop Dogg at Kennedy Center Honors

Maltese tenor Joseph Calleja performed an aria from Verdi’s Aïda last night at the Kennedy Center Honors ceremony

Andrea Bocelli Foundation donates $500k to MIT

Tenor Andrea Bocelli’s charity foundation has donated a sum of around $500,000 to aid MIT in researching new technology products for the blind

ABO

New Directions – Conference 2014

In 2014, after a break of 25 years, the ABO Conference returns to the capital for three days of crucial debate and discussion, networking and learning, and analysing of the future of the orchestral sector in the UK and around the world

Manassas Patch

Holiday Flash Mob: Manassas Cellist Leads First-Ever By Air Force Band

The flash mob took place in the middle of the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum

Drowned in Sound

Drowned in sound reveal their Top 20 albums of this year

A mix of genres and styles for the ‘ listmas’ of 2013

Der Tagesspiegel

Wuschelköpfe

Hat der 32-jährige Gustavo Dudamel das Zeug dazu, 2018 Sir Simon Rattles als Chefdirigent der Berliner Philharmoniker zu beerben? Jetzt war der Dirigent aus Venezuela mit Werken von Schubert, Beethoven und Strawinsky bei dem Orchester zu Gast

The Guardian

The Guardian

(Written on December 10, 2013 )

Gramophone

Leila Josefowicz puts her violin up for sale

The 1750 instrument by Michele Angelo Bergonzi will be auctioned through Ingles and Hayday

Classic FM Online

Jack Topping to enter race for Christmas No. 1

Jack’s hoping he’ll be ‘Topping’ the charts come Christmas Day, fending off competition from this year’s X factor winner

The Globe and Mail

Once banned, classical music finds an unlikely future in China

Having been banned during the time of Mao, classical music has had a boom since it was allowed back into China. Shi Shuai is the face of classical music’s most promising new frontier

New York Times

Columbia to House a Trove of Prokofiev’s Items

A foundation dedicated to Sergei Prokofiev will give a priceless trove of musical manuscripts, letters and other items belonging to the composer — including a suitcase — to the Rare Book & Manuscript Library at Columbia in an effort to make them more accessible to scholars

Muscle and Speed Win a Crowd’s Adulation

Mariinsky Orchestra Closes Carnegie Run With Rachmaninoff

Arts Professional

Festivals in the frame

Why do we need festivals? Do we simply enjoy coming together to celebrate culture − or is it more than that? Debate today at 5pm for discussing this topic

FONO FORUM

„Ehrliche Virtuosität macht Spaß“

Seit Jahren gehört Hélène Grimaud zu den erfolgreichsten und beliebtesten Pianistinnen der Klassik-Szene. Anders als viele ihrer französischen Klavierkollegen hat sie auch ein besonderes Faible für die Werke von Johannes Brahms. Nun hat sie beide Klavierkonzerte eingespielt

Classic FM Online

Classic FM Online

(Written on October 17, 2013 )

WildKat is pleased to announce that Raymond Yiu, award-winning composer, is going to be speaking at an event in September in the Barbican, London.

‘Battle of Ideas’ will take place on Monday 27 September. It forms part of a series of events held by the Institute of Ideas, consisting of two days of high-level, thought-provoking, public debate.

The event, ‘Hipster International? Music in a Global Age’, will focus on the presentation of classical music in a modern world and will centre its debate around the ever-changing digital age versus traditional, cultural music; Is anything lost in translation? Has the digital age realised a dream of music without borders? Does it make sense to talk about musical cultures in nationalist terms?

These questions, alongside others, will be discussed at length by Raymond, along with musician and teacher Cara Bleiman, and music critic Paul Kilbey, in what will be a fascinating and thought-provoking event.

For more information about the event and to get tickets click here

Raymond Yiu 'Room 101' 2012

(Written on August 21, 2013 )