:: Tampere Vocal Festival


Tampere Retrospect

Saturday, June 11th, 2011


Jussi Chydenius, who’s the artistic director of this year’s Tampere Vocal Music Festival, said yesterday how strange it felt not to be on the ensemble jury this year. I felt exactly the same at the last festival two years ago when I was in Jussi’s position, and it was great to be back in the jury once again. This year’s finalists were all of a very high standard, and if we’d had enough time we’d have liked to put all of them into the final concert. It’s always so hard on those who don’t go through. Groups came from as far away as Mexico and Namibia, and the music ranged from dynamic Finnish folk to renaissance polyphony and beatboxing. And the sun shone all day (and most of the night). The organisation is almost miraculous, a heart-warming balance of friendliness and efficiency, and it’s one of the events I most look forward to.

Being Dufay

The first day was a long one, judging ensembles from after breakfast till the evening, then Ambrose and I did Being Dufay in the Customs House. I’ve always wanted to do a gig in there. Wonderfully atmospheric venue. We had a great time, and put in a bit of the new album (on no rehearsal, perforce) but with only a small (but very enthusiastic) audience as the previous concert up in Tampere Hall overran by miles. There are some atmospheric pics by Maarit Kytöharju here and here’s one taken by Anders Jalkeus:

 

Classical vs non-classical

I did a short in interview for Radio Three’s Michael Surcombe, who was here doing an edition of The Choir for transmission in a few weeks time (it’ll be a 90 minute celebration of the Festival, so keep an ear out). He asked if it would be possible for a completely classical group to win the competition. Interesting question. When the contest started over twenty years ago we sometimes even had a classical category, and groups still in a post-King’s Singers phase often did very well. The models changed over the years and the scene became heavily influenced by The Real Group, and then by groups (such as Rajaton) who’d themselves been inspired by TRG but taken the music on a slightly different track. I think we may have made a mistake in not sending the English Vocal Consort of Helsinkii through to the final round: they’re an excellent young ensemble and (as I confessed in my speech) gave the best performance of Lassus’ ‘Chi chiri chi’ that I’d ever heard. They tried really hard to get round the problem of how to present music that large parts of the audience are probably going to find rather dull. The trouble is, even the best performance of any piece of Lassus isn’t going to leave the audience gasping in admiration: it’s classical repertoire, therefore by definition not exactly in the moment. Difficult.  I went to see the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir who sang to a packed cathedral. Their solution to this sort of problem is a conventional one, a rather clinical  professionalism –  and with rather a lot of  pieces that I’d heard before, but beautifully done. I first met the founder and first conductor Tonu Kaljuste with Veljo Tormis  on one of the Hilliard Ensemble’s first visits to Finland eons ago. After the concert two impressively strange men came up to us and gave us LPs. We had no idea who they were, but when I got home and played the records I became totally hooked on Tormis, and the choir (which had only just acquired its name) were something visceral, one of the most exciting choral sounds I’d ever heard (and not at all like western choirs). The CD they made later of the same repertoire is still exciting but by then they were on the way to becoming a generic western professional choir. They’re still a terrific choir, but  they sound not unlike the BBC Singers or a rather sophisticated opera chorus. It was a bit of a contrast to a choir like  the extraordinary Anglo-Chinese Junior College Alumni Choir the previous day. Maybe that’s where the future of choral music is to be found.

Beating the beatbox

One of the biggest influences on vocal ensembles has been Bobby McFerrin, and vocal percussion has become almost axiomatic for many groups. There were no live players at all this year for the first time (they’re allowed up to five). Signs of evolution here though: those who use it routinely can sound pretty naff and clichéd, whereas the ones who explore some of the infinite creative possibilities are beginning to take it somewhere else. There’s something pretty impressive about a true virtuoso like  Indra Tedjasukmana, whose group Sonic Suite came second in the competition.  Maybe the genre needs to progress beyond pastiching bass and drums (try Beardy Man to see what can be done) and one way of doing this is through technology. Last time’s winners, the German group Klangbezirk were very skilful with footpedals, and this year’s winners, the Danish Postyr Project, also had a cool tech set-up that complemented the singers and was well-integrated into the ensemble. They also sang impressively acappella, and one the members said to me afterwards they were very surprised we’d chosen the looping/beat box numbers for the final concert. But it was those that gave them the edge, enabling them to be really creative with their own material. Both these groups write their own stuff, another huge plus. The days of sub-RTG arrangements seem to be behind us at last (long live the real TRG!).

Africa!

We don’t often get groups from Africa, so it was a real treat to have the extraordinary Vocal Motion 6 from Namibia. Hannu Lepola, the Real Group’s tenor, told us that in a coaching session TRG had with them one of them said he’d noticed all these professional groups using pitch pipes and so on to get the note, and should they do that too if they wanted to be really professional. It brought a lump to the throat; the pitch giving business often completely breaks whatever atmosphere has been built up – we want pieces to start by magic not by fiddling with a fork (those I’ve coached will have heard this many times…). Hannu rightly told them to carry on with the way they do it – just start! They had atmosphere and heart to spare, and we were so amazed at their performance in the final concert that we created a special prize for them. In the heats there’d been an electrifying moment when the last piece seemed to fall apart, and they did several re-starts in different keys till they got one they were happy with, all with riotous good humour (quick-fire repartee about taking medicine). It was so fast and hilarious – they’re genuinely funny guys (which most singers aren’t) that we couldn’t tell if it was pre-planned. We asked them to do it again in the final so we could find out. What happened was completely different. They must either have had a number of possible options or have been confident they could sing their way out of any situation. Whichever way, it was hugely exciting. They don’t read music, but they certainly live it.

Anna-Mari Kähärä

All that was before the last event I went to, the AnnaMari Kähärä Orchestra. I want to be her in my next life, or failing that either of her two guitarists or the drummer. Though I’d hope for a name that was a bit easier for English people to pronounce  –  when you hear Finns say her name it just sounds as though they’re clearing their throats. I couldn’t begin to describe the gig. Jazz-rock? Sort of.  She is a phenomenon; the whole band is (Marzi Nyman & Jarmo Saari guitars, Zarkus Poussa drums). They all sing at the same time as playing, and Zarkus Poussa even played the drums with his vocal mic. You just had to be there. I Googled them all but couldn’t find anything remotely like they did in the Customs Hall Club, and hardly anything in English. Anna-Mari Kähärä, who actually sat on the jury some years ago, is also a composer among a huge number of other things (she produced the first Rajaton album) and earlier in the day the Helsinki University Choir workshopped her Robert Louis Stephenson setting Requiem. By way of an encore the band started on their version of the piece (there’s a relatively restrained version on her self-titled album).  As soon as they recognised it, the choir members in the audience started to join in, singing the polyphony.  Absolutely amazing. If you get a chance to hear them or her live, don’t pass it up.

Heavy Metal

Sadly, I had to go home before the mega event of the Saturday night. I had a couple of hours to spare after I’d checked out of my hotel so I went and sat by the water and promptly fell asleep. I was woken by someone apparently talking in my ear. It turned out to be the PA of the Heavy Metal Festival which was just starting up a couple of kilometres across the water. The volume was about right, as I’d have it at home if I didn’t want to annoy the neighbours. I don’t know what the band was – they sang in English but did their announcements in Finnish. They obviously knew their Led Zep and Genesis so it wasn’t unpleasant to listen to. The singer would have made a Wagnerian Heldentenor with only small adjustments to his technique. But unconstrained by composery craft he could soar to stratospheric heights with an intensity of expression that Wagner himself surely would have admired.

diary update

Tuesday, May 17th, 2011

Cork venueBeing Dufay in Cork was terrific – great people and and a wonderful occasion celebrating the opening of the Triskel Christchurch Arts Centre. And great to talk on John Kelly’s RTE radio show – he’s one of the most creative  music broadcasters,  up there with John Schaefer of Radio NYC and our own Fiona Talkington and Verity Sharp.  After that I went on holiday – with not a note of music or a word of writing for two weeks.

 

Upcoming events this month and next include:

Germany: Katholische Akademie, Schwerte

27-29 May: paper at the Tenor: Mythos, Geschichte, Gegenwart conference

 

Sweden: University of Gothenburg

31 May – 1st June: PhD examining

 

Finland: Helsinki

6-7 June: Vocal ensemble  Versio coaching sessions

 

Finland: Tampere

8 June: Being Dufay (Tampere Hall)

8-10 June: Tampere Vocal Music  Festival Ensemble Jury

 

London: June 14

Talk for the Recorded Vocal Art Society

 

Cambridge: June 26

Great St Mary’s Church: Messiah in aid of the Clifford Bartlett  Appeal (with Emma Kirkby, Michael Chance, Stephen Varcoe and Peter Holman). Tickets for this can be booked either through Cambridge Early Music or the Suffolk Villages Festival.  Clifford Bartlett has been a fantastic friend and supporter of  so many in the early music world and it’s a privilege to help the cause. I hadn’t intended to do another olde Handelian warhorse, but for Clifford… So this will definitely be my last, and it’s rather fitting as Great St Mary’s is where I did my first Bach Passion eons ago as a student.

 

I’m hoping to update the rest of the site shortly…

 

 

 

 

 

 

Singing Book, Syd Barrett & Braunschweig Blues

Thursday, April 7th, 2011


The Book

…is finished…sort of.  As with all books, you don’t ever actually finish – you just get to a point where it seems OK to stop. Neil Sorrell and I have finally got there and it’s on its way to Cambridge University Press and we now await editorial fall-out from some of the fireworks we may have set off, and a publication date.

 

The Plainsong & Medieval Music Society  symposium

I gave a paper entitled ‘Finding a Voice: the medieval singer in the 21st Century’ at the Birmingham University PMMS symposium hosted by Mary O’Neill.  I was focusing on the early 13th century repertoire that Jan Walters and I did in Braunschweig last season, so to get an idea of the difficulty of being anywhere near right when you perform music from 800 years ago I played an old demo of my blues band in 1964, then fast-forwarded the conference to 2811 and tried to reconstruct the song from the scrap of paper on which I’d written the words and chords… distressing some German musicologists in the process (and they weren’t even alive in 1964).  But I think it made the point – that worrying over the niceties of pronunciation, syllable counts, mode and the like are as nothing when you have no idea what the singers actually sounded like. After all, music is for listening to, and it doesn’t really matter what it looks like.

The Sound & the Fury

Mauerbach

We recorded five new masses at Karthause Mauerbach (2 by Caron and 2 by de Prioris – who was new to me – and one by Pierre de la Rue). These sessions are always inspirational (though sometimes a bit awkward, with our wonderful resident musicologist sitting in like a member of the politburo representing the dead composers). We also did the usual live broadcast – this time preceded by a spontaneous performance of ‘Flow my Tears’ with Evangelina Mascardi.

John Potter & Evangelina Mascardi

The two of us were caught by Bernhard Trebuch having a quick run-through in the corridor 2 minutes before we went on air.

 

Constant Penelope & Syd Barrett: unlikely contemporaries…

David Sloan played the legendary Gentle Power single at his daughter’s wedding (having thoughtfully rejected the idea of asking us to do it live…), and we hear that the album Circus is in real  danger of being re-released.  Sixties freak beat (as it’s apparently called now) is  commercially viable in a way that it obviously wasn’t in the sixties. There won’t be any reunion tours though since we only get together when one of us dies, and hopefully that won’t be for a while yet. Cambridge memories came flooding back with the new Syd Barrett book by Rob Chapman. I didn’t know the Floyd members, though my wife Penny was at Cambridge Art  School (the famous Tech) with Syd Barrett and actually introduced me to the then unknown Dave Gilmour whom we encountered on our way to the Arts Theatre for one of my very rare opera gigs. Syd Barrett: a Very Irregular Head mentions Syd and Dave swapping Chuck Berry licks in the Cambridge Tech canteen, which is exactly what Penny remembers (the Chuck Berry bit, that is) and which none of the other Floyd histories mention). ‘Memphis Tennessee’ was a favourite, apparently. Penny’s folio contains at least one  fascinating sketch of an arty guitarist  but we don’t think it’s Syd, sadly.  This is one, though, is unmistakably the Barrett head:

When I taught at the University of York several of my postgrad students were Syd Barrett and Pink Floyd fans, but unfortunately none of them wanted to do a  PhD in Prog Rock.

Tenor updates/obits

Now that the history book is finished I have time to update the tenorography for the Yale tenor book web page. Very sad to hear of the death of Robert Tear, who was a choral scholar at King’s Cambridge when I was a treble there. It was hearing him (and fellow tenor Brian Head) sing day after day that convinced lots of us that we’d be tenors when we grew up. Robert Ponsonby’s Guardian obit perfectly captures the man.

Videos with Harp

Jan Walters

Back in January Jan Walters came up to York and Mick Lynch filmed the two of us in St Denys church (which has some of the oldest and finest stained glass in the country). It was very cold and one of the cameras packed up, but Mick did a great job, aided by  Ambrose Field as sound man. Jan did a solo Cantiga and we did spontaneous performances of an anonymous Minnelied and song by the troubadour Bernhard de Ventadorn.   There’s clip from our 2009 Braunschweig performance here, but the acoustic was a bit much for one singer and a tiny harp.

 

April Diary/site updates

I will be updating the  other pages when I have a minute.  There have been interesting developments in my ECM vihuela project and all sorts of things are bubbling away for later in the year. There are two interesting projects this month. The practical experimental sessions for the SouthamptonUniversity  Conductus Project finally start.  Chris O’Gorman and I will begin looking at facsimiles and finding out how to declaim 13th century Latin, and we’ll be joined for some of the sessions by Rogers Covey-Crump.  Ambrose Field and I will be be doing an interview down the line for RTE Lyric FM’s  The John Kelly Ensemble on Thursday 14th April ahead of our gig on the 16th at the Triskel Arts Centre in Cork. The interview goes out on the 15th in the afternoon. This is an exciting new venue – a  converted and restored church – and it’ll be the Opening Weekend. Tickets are free and expected to be in short supply, so grab one while you can.

Much of May will be spent exploring France, Italy and Germany, ending up with PhD viva-ing in Gothenborg and a conference on the Tenor in Schwerte. That’s followed in rapid succession by coaching the vocal ensemble Versio in  Helsinki and returning to chair the ensemble contest at the Tampere International Vocal Festival.

There’s an internet radio festival of the music of Gavin Bryars on the New York based radio station Q2 from April 14 to April 20.

 

Ensemble Singing, Singing Teachers and the Pavarotti syndrome

Thursday, December 30th, 2010

British universities (not just Oxbridge) produce a huge number of outstanding  ensemble singers, who for decades have sustained  successful professional choirs from the Monteverdi Choir (recently described on Radio 3 as the best choir in the world) to The Sixteen and a plethora of creative ensembles from the Hilliard Ensemble to Juice. Conservatories don’t really do ensemble singing (being still geared to the mass production of conventional soloists); nor do most singing teachers anywhere: they seem only to be able to think in terms of increasingly over-powered solo singing. Has your teacher ever tried to engage with a line of Ockeghem, the Berio Sinfonia, or considered tuning problems in Lassus? But then you may well have learned with one of those teachers who used the same book of arias for forty years, so maybe not.  Strange how there are colleges all over the world dedicated to churning out the same old stuff, but so many singers actually earn their living in rather creative ways that don’t have much to do with what they were taught. There are hundreds of British non-opera singers who, like me, earn their living mostly in mainland Europe (where the work is) so tend not to figure on the UK radar. We do lots of creative stuff, often with European colleagues, and in many ways we’re a great British export. One thing we tend to have in common is a sense that very little of what we were taught by our singing teachers has been of any use to us in our professional careers.

You were born to sing Bach, Mozart, Schubert…Puccini?

To over-simply only a little, our singing teachers had a very sure idea of how we should earn our living, and they were almost without exception wrong. I had some very distinguished teachers. One told me I was a Mozart singer, another said I should focus on Bach and Handel, yet another wanted me to do Lieder full time. One spectacularly misguided one even had me singing Puccini (he was also rumoured to have danced with Diaghilev).  What they all had in common was that none of them could envisage my doing anything else. None of them knew anything about the professional world that I or my more adventurous contemporaries would later work in. One didn’t let me sing any music at all – just exercises, week after tedious week. He never told me what they were for, and he was such a distinguished teacher and I was so green I didn’t dare ask him. The then principal of the Guildhall School once told me that it was his duty to ensure that I became an opera singer as within ten years nobody would be singing anything else.

Having just emerged from a decade in a university (which included three years as an eternal examiner at a major UK conservatoire) I can confirm that nothing much has changed: most singing teaching continues on its traditional path (some teachers still claiming unique links to a glorious past) oblivious to the realities of a fast-changing profession.

Generic teachers produce generic singers

Singing teachers are too often out of touch with the profession as it currently is. Some  teach because they simply don’t have enough work as performers (or are simply past it). How many are familiar with the huge amount of research that’s been done in performance and education?   The older (and generally more distinguished) ones base their pedagogy and their predictions on the world as it was when they were younger, and on skills they acquired from their own teachers. This narrowness of experience means that so much teaching is still teacher-centred (do it my way) rather than student orientated (explore your own potential).  There is also an assumption that everyone wants to be a success in the mainstream, so if you’re a tenor you aspire to be the next Pavarotti or whoever, and you always sing the repertoire that your teacher is familiar with from when he aspired to be Pavarotti’s predecessor. A very narrow skill-set is taught, in an effort to get the student to conform to generic norms – you have to sound like a TENOR: it’s no good sounding like YOU!  At its worst (in the USA, often) it narrows still further, as your teacher insists that you stick to your chosen (by him/her) Fach. Not only are you programmed only to be an opera singer, but to specialise in a tiny, fixed number of roles. How different from 200 years ago, when singers were some of the most creative performers ever known.

Educating for unemployment?

Conservatories are very successful by their own (self-justifying) criteria – and these great music factories are now so efficient that they can turn out top class soloists  just as easily as  the pop industry can create  boybands. Boybands have a limited life-span, partly because it’s so easy to create them once you know how,  and partly because there are so many of them that the market very soon becomes saturated.   The pop industry is entirely at the mercy of market forces, and is therefore genuinely self-regulating. Conservatories aren’t – as long as they can secure funding (from the state, students and private sponsors) they can continue to produce more singers than the market can actually absorb. A few years ago I was part of a big research project which aimed to discover how you create better performers. No one asked why we need to know, or what we’d do with the information if we found the answers.  It didn’t occur to anyone that if everyone could perform Beethoven Sonatas like Barenboim, you wouldn’t need to pay someone to do it for you.

A new European model?

Most British conservatoires are still in denial (though you will hear slightly embarrassed talk of portfolio careers), but on the European mainland there are signs of fresh thinking.  Some music colleges are beginning to ask themselves if they should perhaps focus on developing individual creativity rather than insisting on the time-worn standard repertoire and dooming so many to unemployment. In Oslo, for example, the conservatories produce up to 50 world-class opera singers every year. There are five professional opera companies in the country. The figures for the UK are quite similar, so both countries have, in effect , to absorb huge numbers of brilliant singers every year, or export them. Where do they export them to? Germany, the USA, and other European countries, some to the Eastern hemisphere – Japan and Australia. But all of these countries have the same problem – vast over-production of singers. The Norwegian government, though, makes a point of directly subsidising a very wide variety of creative work, which includes the many great Norwegian choirs, and ensembles such as Trio Mediaeval and Nordic Voices. That’s a start. Incidentally, if you want to know what non-generic voices can sound like, have a listen to Sweden’s Real Group or the Finnish Rajaton (or any of the winners of the contest for vocal ensembles at the Tampere Vocal Festival over the last twenty years).

Are university music departments becoming second-rate conservatoires?

You’d expect universities to be able to do rather better in all this. After all, they’re filled with clever people and students go there to think, not just to sing.  But the university world  now too often mimics elements of the conservatoire system, to the extent that many music departments sometimes look like second-rate conservatories, with their Solo Recitals and arcane assessment criteria. Such a shame there’s so much focus on product (they call it ‘outcome’ – and it has to be easily be measured, however bizarre this may seem from the outside). You’d have thought universities would have the wit to understand that music is not quite the same as  biology or physics, or doing your accounts.

There is a benign effect of all this seemingly pointless teaching though: quite lot of singers are probably a bit better than they would otherwise have been, and many of them become fine choral singers. Ironic really, as many conservatoire teachers forbid their pupils from singing in choirs and certainly wouldn’t teach them how to do it. I personally don’t think it’s either healthy or creative to lean on your teacher for ideas or inspiration, or to be told what repertoire to specialise in, but it works for some.  It’s also OK if you really are the next Pavarotti. But it’s not much use if you don’t want to sing opera or what we used to call oratorio, or you want to record for ECM or Nonclassical, start a professional  ensemble or do creative work beyond the mainstream. And that’s where you will need to work if you want to make an impact (unless you’re the next Pavarotti): the core of the profession is full to bursting, so anyone who tells you that you can make living singing Bach, Handel or Lieder is way out of touch. Yet all too often univesities are suckered into shelling out huge sums on singing teaching in response to teachers’ insistence that they need to see students once a week for three years to work on their Lieder or whatever. It’s simply not true. They wouldn’t dream of stumping up for weekly maths coaching.

It’s not surprising that many of my contemporaries who stuck to the tried and tested path now find themselves underemployed: there’s no point in a promoter paying vast sums to an established ‘star’ (unless they’re very big box office) when a newly graduated conservatoire product will do the same job for a fraction of the price. Even those who are initially successful in the mainstream are always at risk of being undercut by the next ever more brilliant generation, and unless something is done to address the problem, even quite successful singers are probably doomed to very short careers.  The ultimate logic of all this is that a generation or two down the line highly trained young singers may well have driven down the cost of  a Messiah or a Manon so far that the mainstream will be a virtually amateur ‘profession’.  But on the bright side, there should be some fantastic choirs…

The best singers invent themselves

Pavarotti would have made it whoever taught him. He was the first Pavarotti, after all. Like many of the great singers of history (Fischer-Dieskau springs to mind) he invented himself. That’s what ‘ensemble singers’ do too, with their vast repertoires, sophisticated skill sets, their ability to interact rather than compete with each other –  and not least, their creative entrepreneurship.  Sadly, many talented singers, seduced by the singing teacher sales talk, will never discover that. They’ll go on singing the Schubert and Bach they were ‘born to sing’ until it’s too late. Or, like ensemble singers of my generation, they realise that it was all a bit of a waste of time and money, and just get on with unlearning what they were taught.

BEING DUFAY IN FOLIGNO

Saturday, June 19th, 2010

The Dancity Fesival, where Ambrose Field and I present the next Being Dufay  on June 26, is a riot of multi-media events with a siginificant ECM flavour. We were all asked to provide some footballing thoughts, the festival presumably thinking that if you can’t beat them, join them (Ambrose being the Field of play, of course).

These were mine:

“Ho conosciuto mia moglie nel 1966 quindi non potevo a quel tempo interessarmi di calcio.
Nel 1994 la canzone per i mondiali dei ‘Tre Tenori’ era numero 1 in tutto il globo dunque l’album ‘Officium’ dell’Hilliard Ensemble era fermo al Numero 2.
Quest’anno però ‘Being Dufay’ ha avuto un successo inaspettato, come Totò Schillaci in Italia 90…”

(with thanks to Ned for the Schillaci reference…)

We have performances in Germany and Slovakia over the summer, and we will soon be scheduling performances of the new programme (once we’ve thought of a title) for 2011.  Ambrose’ new piece will be a stunning audio experience (the extracts I’ve heard are like nothing I’ve heard before). It still has the old/new agenda, but this time he tributes fifteenth century composers who are tributing their own predecessors.  I’ve always found composers working with other composers’ music very moving (even just thinking about singing the three note ‘Ockghem’ motif in Busnois’ In Hydraulis can bring a lump to the throat), and this album and its associated multi-media event will do that in excelsis.

The Sound & The Fury in Vienna

The Sound & The Fury get together twice a year to record Franco-Flemish polyphony. The line-up varies at top and bottom depending on the music, but normally consists of David Erler (countertenor), Klaus Wenk and me (tenors),Thomas Bauer (bass) – whose idea the whole thing was – and Richard Wistreich (bass).

Kloster MauerbachThe recording project is a collaboration between Bernhard Trebuch of ORF and the artists Markus Muntean & Adi Rosenblum. We’ve made 10 albums to date, all on ORF’s label, and this July we will return to Kloster Mauerbach just outside Vienna to sing more music by Ockeghem and Caron. There will be a live broadcast on ORF at midnight on July 9th (probably including the Ecce Ancilla mass). The eccentric timing is at least an improvement on the last live brooadcast,  when the temperature in the church was minus 12 with all of us wearing all the clothes we had with us and the audience covered in blankets.

It is, of course, a bunch of (mostly) old (-ish) blokes getting together to do the music we love and have been doing for longer than most of us can remember, and our sessions locked away in the monastery (we sleep in the cells) are among the most enjoyable things I do.  There is an added frisson provided by the fact that although we ‘know’ how the music goes, it’s nearly always new material that none of us knew existed, and there’s always lots of it so little time for re-takes. It’s a high-risk process…

Tampere Vocal Music Festival 2011

Details of how to apply for the ensembles and choir competitions have just been announced. You can download entry forms here. Tampere Concert HallThe Tampere Festival is one of the great vocal music weeks of the year anywhere, and I’m delighted to be back chairing the ensemble jury after doing my year as artistic advisor last time. For vocal ensembles the festival means maximum fun, lots of networking and plenty of performance opportunities. Some 30,000 people reckon it’s THE place to be in the second week of July every other year.

Work not in progress…

Liz Haddon and I have postponed what would have been our final ‘work in progress’ session. We’ll be finding interesting places to do similar events once I’ve left the day job at the end of September.