Thursday, 21 April 2016

The gods make this a happy day…


Entering Holy Trinity Church to the strains of Vaughan Williams’ Tallis Fantasia has to be the most wonderful start to the day (reminding me, coincidentally, of walking through the chapel of St John’s College, Cambridge, many, many years ago, surrounded on all sides by a hidden rehearsal of the latter’s awe-inspiring Spem in Alium…) – haunting moments, both: which saturate the soul in blessedness. That this was soon followed by Tamsin’s plangent rendering of the opening of the former’s The Lark Ascending – reverberating gently around these hallowed walls, before climbing heavenwards – heaped perfection upon glorious perfection. It is a privilege to witness such wonderments being practised so perfectly… – being the Orchestra of the Swan’s Writer in Residence has so many rewards.

Monday, 18 April 2016

The Immortal Shakespeare was born in this house…

Dobrinka Tabakova – photo by Sussie Ahlburg

Interview with Dobrinka Tabakova, Orchestra of the Swan’s award-winning Resident Composer (including Immortal Shakespeare – première: 21 April 2016)
– by Stephen, OOTS Writer in Residence

I first came across Dobrinka Tabakova’s music just over eleven years ago: when Orchestra of the Swan (OOTS) gave the second performance of Bell tower in the clouds in Pittville Pump Room, Cheltenham. Back then, Dobrinka was still a music student; and, unbeknown to me, was actually sat in front of me and my young son. He commented, at the interval, on some of the technical aspects of the piece (harmonics in the cellos representing the bells, I think): and she was gracious enough to turn round and thank him. Even then, it was obvious from the orchestration – which was quite inspirational and innovative – as well as the emotion her music provoked – that here was a composer to watch; here was a composer who would go places.

It was therefore a great honour, just before Easter, to talk with her, over the telephone, about her music; and particularly the works she has written for OOTS.

Friday, 15 April 2016

Your intervention is most helpful…!


Many musical works – for instance, Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto – begin delicately: easing you in gently to the fireworks that will later appear (and how…). Some – like Mozart’s 25th Symphony – punch at full, syncopated pelt from the opening notes. Thus, this blog will do, too: launching on Angel of the North-sized wings and a very forthright orison!

So, no introductions – except to say “Welcome!” – and that I hope you will stay with us: as David, Artistic Director of Orchestra of the Swan, and I, Stephen, its freshly-anointed Writer in Residence, try our very best to develop a conversation around some of the background, backstage goings-on, that may not readily be apparent from the concerts (or even their associated pre-concert talks).