28th January: Youth are turning to classical music, English National Opera reveals diversity drive, grammy-award winning composer Michel Legrand dies

Monday 28th January 2019

Young people are turning to classical music to escape ‘noise of modern life’

To many, the decision announced last week to launch Scala Radio, a major new station founded on the belief that classical music can appeal to younger audiences, will have come as a surprise. But research has shown clear indications of new listening trends, with almost half (45%) of young people saying they see classical music as an escape from the noise of modern life.

The new digital radio station will have DJ Simon Mayo at the forefront of its presenting team when it launches in March. Mayo, who left BBC Radio 2 last year, will be joined at Scala by the unorthodox orchestral music lover Goldie and Observer film critic Mark Kermode, who will play many of his favourite film scores.

The launch of a new classical entertainment station aimed at younger listeners is based on more than a hunch. Research found that a new generation of listeners was switching on to classical music through different sources, with 48% of under-35s exposed to it through classical versions of popular songs, such as the Brooklyn Duo version of Taylor Swift’s Blank. And 74% of people in the same age group had experienced classical music via a live orchestral performance at a film screening, according to analysts at Insight working for Bauer Media, owner of the new station.

Jack Pepper, Britain’s youngest commissioned composer, will also be joining Scala. The 19-year-old said: “Classical music is surrounded by the misconception that it’s irrelevant, sterile and inaccessible. What many people don’t realise is there is an authentic modern-day narrative to accompany classical music which is really connecting with people.”

Citing the appeal of soundtracks for video games as well as for primetime TV dramas and the cinema that “make your heart race”, Pepper said that even the greats of the conventional repertoire still had something to say. “Even the classical masters have shocking, entertaining, humorous and sometimes tragic life stories. A classical composer is a normal human being with the same ups and downs we can all relate to.”

The growing popularity of classical music among young people follows recent survey results highlighting young people’s use of art galleries and museums as sanctuaries and figures released last week showing rising sales of poetry among younger readers.

[via the Guardian]

‘Preserved in aspic’: opera embarks on diversity drive

Opera is shockingly white, overly traditional and too slow to change, according to the leader of one of the UK’s leading companies.

Stuart Murphy, the former TV executive who joined English National Opera as its chief executive last spring, made the damning assessment as he announced new measures to tackle its lack of diversity.

That includes positive action to recruit at least four chorus members from a black, Asian and ethnic minority (BAME) background.

Murphy recalled joining the company and and finding it “really shocking” that 39 of ENO’s 40-strong chorus were white. “We weren’t true to our values, we didn’t represent Britain,” he said. “It just felt strange to me … Young white audiences also think it is weird.”

He pointed to figures showing that of the 170 permanent chorus singers in the UK, less than five were from a BAME background. In terms of representation, it should be 22. “As an industry we are getting it really, really wrong.”

Murphy said the founding principle of ENO was “opera for everyone”. “It is in our DNA, it is in our core values and we’ve got to make it work for every single bit of the organisation.” Not representing the British population meant it was not being true to its core values, he said.

“An overrepresentation of white people must affect the make-up of who applies to us, who works here, who sits in the audience. It looked patently unfair to me and old-fashioned.”

He said it had generally been “white men from Oxbridge, like me” doing the recruiting. “It is no surprise if we keep doing the same interview and audition process, the same adverts … they are going to hire their own.”

The lack of diversity in the arts is one of the sector’s most urgent issues and ENO is not the only company trying to tackle it.

Murphy said opera had a particular problem. “There has been something about classical music and opera that tends to hire its own, whether its class, whether its gender, or ethnicity. That just felt strange.

Four new members of the chorus from a BAME background will be hired for the 19/20 season with a view to extend for a further season. It would also seek to employ singers from a BAME background for extra chorus positions.

He also announced three annual and paid ENO “director observerships” offering emerging BAME directors the chance to work alongside “world-renowned opera directors”. The measures add to a change made by ENO last year in its orchestra recruitment when it introduced blind auditions for musicians.

The company is also trying to diversify its audience and announced before Christmas free balcony tickets on Saturday nights for under-18’s.

[via The Guardian]

Filmmusik: Komponist Michel Legrand ist tot

Seine Filmmusiken setzten Maßstäbe und gewannen Oscars: Im Alter von 86 Jahren ist der Schöpfer von “Yentl” und “Die Regenschirme von Cherbourg” in Paris gestorben.

Der französische Filmkomponist Michel Legrand ist tot. Er starb in der Nacht zum Samstag im Alter von 86 Jahren in Paris, wie sein Presseagent mitteilte.

In seiner mehr als 50 Jahre währenden Karriere errang Legrand Weltruhm und arbeitete mit Größen wie Django Reinhardt, Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie, Ray Charles, Frank Sinatra, Jessye Norman, John Coltrane, Edith Piaf und Charles Trenet. Er schrieb die Musik zu rund 200 Kino- und Fernsehfilmen. Besondere Beachtung erhielt er für die Komposition der Filmmusicals Die Regenschirme von Cherbourg mit Catherine Deneuve (1964) und Yentl mit Barbra Streisand (1983).

Fünfmal wurde Michel Legrand mit dem Grammy ausgezeichnet. Er war zwölfmal für den Golden Globe sowie ebenso oft für einen Filmmusik-Oscar nominiert. Den Preis der Oscar-Academy erhielt er schließlich dreimal, für die Soundtracks zu Sommer ’42 und Yentl und für das Titelstück Windmills of your Mind zum Film Thomas Crowne ist nicht zu fassen mit Steve McQueen und Faye Dunaway in den Hauptrollen. Der Song wurde Ende der Sechzigerjahre in Versionen von Noel Harrison, Dusty Springfield und anderen zum Welthit.

Frankreichs Kulturminister Franck Riester würdigte Legrand am Samstag als einen “genialen Komponisten”. Die Sängerin Mireille Mathieu erinnerte sich an ihre Zusammenarbeit mit dem Musiker, der für sie mehrere Lieder geschrieben hatte. Legrands musikalische Ideen “verzauberten die ganze Welt”, sagte die 72-Jährige. “Für mich ist er wegen seiner Musik und seiner Persönlichkeit unsterblich”, sagte der Komponist Vladimir Cosma zum Tod seines Kollegen.

French film composer Michel Legrand has died in Paris at the age of 86.

In his more than 50-year career, Legrand gained world fame and worked with stars including Django Reinhardt, Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie, Ray Charles, Frank Sinatra, Jessye Norman, John Coltrane, Edith Piaf and Charles Trenet. He wrote music for around 200 cinema and television films. He received particular attention for the composition of the film musicals “The Umbrellas of Cherbourg” with Catherine Deneuve (1964) and “Yentl” with Barbra Streisand (1983).

Michel Legrand won five Grammy Awards, was nominated twelve times for the Golden Globes and was  often recognised for his film music at the Oscars. He eventually received the Oscar Academy Award three times, for the soundtracks for “Summer ’42” and “Yentl”, and for the track, “Windmills of your Mind” on the film Thomas Crowne, with Steve McQueen and Faye Dunaway in leading roles.