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Koblenz First Concert

It is sometimes very difficult to truly express how one feels after a successful concert. Words somehow seem insufficient. Gratitude seems rather matter of fact, particularly on a public forum like this. 

 

So all I will say is that the Ibert/ Mozart/ Mahler concert was probably one of the most enjoyable and memorable evenings of my life, and everyone involved sang with one honest, truthful, energised voice......and there is simply no way that I can fully express my gratitude to the orchestra. They know how grateful I am, and that must suffice. I didn't make a single sound......

 

And now? We continue with the music as the sole (soul) focus, and make music with joy, energy, fun and courage.

 

Florence

Was in Firenze with the fabulous ORT orchestra in May. Always a great joy to work with them, and fabulous to run around Europe's third most beautiful city....after Edinburgh and Koblenz of course....

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Always a bit off putting when you run round a corner and see this..... 

 

 

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Absolute maze of back streets. 

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And a totally gratuitous picture of cold Scottish mountains just for balance. 

Rare moment off.

Having had next to no time off recently, I decided to have a day running through the Lairig Ghru in the Cairngorms. I've looked up at this cleft in the hills for as long as I can remember. I've walked all of it at some time or other,but never actually  gone through it specifically. It must be one of the most iconic mountain features in Scotland. Got the perfect day for a good run.....cool with no wind! I imagine doing it into the teeth of a gale would be much tougher.

 

As it was, it took me 4 hours dead from Linn of Dee to the car park on the ski road at the top of the Rothiemurchus Forest.

Luibeg

Luibeg

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The Devil's Point and wonderful Glen Geusachan

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Looking up the Lairig from above Corrour

 

 

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The summit of the pass

 

 

Sinclair Memorial Plaque

Sinclair Memorial Plaque

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Chalamain Gap.....much more impressive than I thought it would be. 

Never the Time

A lot has happened over the last few months, not least this....

 

https://bachtrack.com/review-billy-budd-opera-north-aldeburgh-festival-snape-maltings-june-2017/amp=1

 

It was was such a joy to be doing Billy Budd again, a piece which just grows and grows. To have the privilege of doing it at the Aldeburgh Festival, and for it to be the first time (!) that it was performed there was an added bonus. Both performances will remain with me until my last breath, as will the audience reaction.....

 

https://amp.ft.com/content/02b49b2a-5a63-11e7-b553-e2df1b0c3220

 

 

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Aldeburgh beach; fascinating light fo  most of the evening.

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The most iconic building in British Music?

 

Thanks as always to all who made it possible. 

Billy Budd crit. The Scotsman; David Kettle

With designer Leslie Travers’s shabby-chic set, all curling floorboards and distressed paintwork, director Orpha Phelan’s fine production of Britten’s great nautical tragedy for Opera North placed us firmly inside the mind and regretful memories of the aloof Captain Vere. Which felt only right, given Alan Oke’s quietly commanding performance in the role, the still point around which everything orbited – detached at times, yes, but also tracing a brilliantly believable arc from duty to despair to redemption. Billy Budd **** Edinburgh Festival Theatre There were equally fine performances from Roderick Williams in wonderfully rich voice as a surprisingly sturdy, thoroughly likeable Billy, and Alastair Miles, gratifyingly balanced as the sinister Claggart, deeply unsettling in his manipulations of the young and vulnerable, but far from a panto villain in his struggles with his own deep damage. Indeed, Phelan’s honest, intelligent production achieves a fine sense of balance with Britten and librettist EM Forster’s homoerotic subtext, never concealing it, but never overplaying it either – instead leaving it to fester under the surface, and to inform both the opera’s warm, seafaring camaraderie and its darker moments. Two elements really stood out: first, Opera North’s superb chorus, wonderfully roof-raising in the opera’s aborted battle scene but equally eloquent in its ominous opening; and second, Opera North’s equally superb orchestra, which delivered a brilliantly vivid, sharply etched account under conductor Garry Walker, full of surging drama and also moments of exquisite contemplation. This is a glorious, thoughtful production, as strong on technical accomplishment as it is on insight.
Read more at: http://www.scotsman.com/lifestyle/culture/music/opera-review-billy-budd-1-4309032

Red Letter Day

Probably because I seem to be always horrendously busy, I've been very bad at making blog posts, but I thought I'd include the following from a rare day off. 

 

Ocassionally, just occasionally, you get settled periods of cold clear weather in a Scottish winter; days that guarantee that you are not going to have to worry about compass, white-outs, wind roaring in your ears and spindrift exfoliating your face.

 

In March, one of those weather windows opened, and even more astonishingly I had a bit of time off. The East Coast was fog bound, but we were assured that the west coast was clear. Having stopped for a coffee at Tyndrum in grey mist, I had thought we were going to be cheated, but, as we went round the corner and up the side of Ben Dorian, the mist simply stopped, and ahead of us was clear, crisp blue sky.....

 

As we raced across the Great Moor of Rannoch, we got more and more excited. The Big Buachaille looked absolutely fantastic. 

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Our destination was the little Buachaille, and it provided us with one of the most extraordinary days in the hills in recent years. You could see all the way from the Skye Cuillin to the Paps of Jura to the Cairngorms and Schiehallion.

 

Let the pictures tell a thousand stories!! 

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Billy Budd

The last few months have been very hectic with work; hence the reason for a reasonably long silence on this post. We are getting towards the sharp end of Billy Budd with Opera North, and I am very hopeful that it'll be a success. It helps, of course, when you have  fantastic people around you to make everything work, and a real sense of teamwork.

Despite the claustrophobic nature of the settings for Britten's operas (boats, small communities, isolated country houses) the atmosphere throughout production has been very happy and good humoured. 

 

Good music making is not rocket science; it simply requires talented people; a passion for what they do; a willingness to collaborate; a desire to give of their best; and good material to work with.  

New Video

I've posted a new video online of me doing Ross Harris' Violin Concerto wth the Auckland Philharmonia and Ilya Gringolts. It's coming out on Naxos. It's a very difficult piece, with numerous tricky tempo changes and temporal relationships, but it's a really fabulous performance, and really tight.

April/May

The next couple of months sees me totalling up large numbers of air miles with trips to Australia, New Zealand, Rome, The Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland and even Glasgow. All very exciting projects, with repertoire as diverse as Brahms and Bartok, Mendelssohn and Ades, Chopin and Prokofiev, Brett Dean and Hamish MacCunn. There is also an interplanetary journey with Holst, which will be paid for through the air miles I am accruing.....