Hannah Conway will be presenting the first The Works concert of the 2012-2013 Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment season on 6 November at the Queen Elizabeth Hall.  The OAE chatted to her in their latest speed interview…

What/when was your big breakthrough?
I’m not sure I ever had one! I have had wonderful opportunities with many fantastic orchestras and opera houses. I suppose my first job, working for two years with the London Symphony Orchestra was instrumental in launching me into the business.

What do you fear the most?
The crazy speed of life – and not being able to slow down.

Which mobile number do you call the most?
My husband’s!

What – or where – is perfection?
Any empty beach on the north Norfolk coast.

Who is your favourite hero from fiction (book/comic/film/opera) – and why?
Definitely Wonderwoman! I love the boots, the spin and the gold bangles.

What’s your favourite ritual?
A hot bath after a long commute.

Which living person do you most admire (and why)?
I admire many people in my life, but mostly – friends and family who I see giving huge amounts to others.

What other talent or skill would you like to possess?
I would love to be able to draw or paint really brilliantly – I am still at the ‘stick man’ phase!

What is the most important lesson life has taught you?
Ah ha! There are so many aren’t there! – A good work-life balance is invaluable.

What is the most played piece of music on your MP3 player or in your CD collection?
A real mixture always depending on my work – at the moment it is a Tinie Tempah track for a gig that I am conducting at the O2 Arena and also Steve Reich’s Desert Music for an LSO composition project. I don’t listen to much music outside of work. I need my silence!

What’s the best thing about working with the OAE?
The musicians are such lovely, vibrant people who are constantly curious about life and passionate about music.

Hannah Conway presents the Orchestra of the Age of Enligtenment with a programme of Mozart on Tuesday 6 November at Queen Elizabeth Hall.

Find out more / book tickets

Watch Francesco Piemontesi performing at the BBC Music Magazine Awards

Pianist Francesco Piemontesi has garnered a string of accolades that mark him out as a rising star, including his recent BBC Music Magazine Award, presented to him by Alfred Brendel.

“It is most gratifying that in a time when some careers are made with the excessive help of promotion, there is a young pianist with real talent, a pianist of natural poise and grace, of wonderful technical equipment, and of the ability to remind us what beautiful playing means: cantabile playing that is colourful, luminous and harmonious, without in the least lacking tension and atmosphere. I congratulate Francesco Piemontesi very warmly and wish him a wonderful future, and I congratulate the producer for the lovely sound on the record.” Alfred Brendel, speaking at the award ceremony at Kings Place in April.

Watch the award ceremony in full, or jump to 10’29 to watch Francesco Piemontesi performing live at the event:

Francesco Piemontesi makes his International Piano Series debut on Wednesday 7 November, 7.30pm at Queen Elizabeth Hall.

Find out more / book tickets

Royal Philharmonic Orchestra – Interview with Conductor, Pinchas Zukerman

Next Wednesday 23 May, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra return to Southbank Centre to perform Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro, Violin Concerto No.5 in A and K.219 as well as Dmitry Shostakovich’s post-Stalin piece – Symphony No.10 in E minor.

Israeli conductor and violinist Pinchas Zukerman takes the baton and also performs alongside the orchestra, and discusses his path into music from a young age including his education in New York,  the quality of British musicians and how at the age of 63, he’s still learning something new every day.

To buy tickets for this event, click here.

Watch a clip of Alisa Weilerstein playing the first movement of Dvořák’s cello concerto

Alisa Weilerstein performs Dvořák’s Cello Concerto with the Philharmonia Orchestra alongside a programme of Mozart and Tchaikovsky at Royal Festival Hall on Sunday 19 May, 7.30pm.

Read review of the Instrumental Quintet of London

Instrumental Quintet of London

On Friday 27 January, The Instrumental Quintet of London put on a superb concert hosted by The Friends of All Saints Grayswood.

The stage was set, the line up being world renowned flautist Susan Milan with Nicholas Ward violin, Matthew Jones viola, Sebastian Comberti cello and Ieuan Jones on harp. This most prestigious line up of musicians wowed the audience with works by Damase, Mozart, Debussy, Beethoven and Jongen. Their tremendous technique, pure virtuosity and shear enjoyment of the music
prevailed throughout the concert and the wonderful acoustics enhanced the performance. Tuning was most accurate with the whole balance and control of dynamics within the ensemble being excellent.

I especially enjoyed the Damase Quintette Op. 2 with dreamy melodies and Prokofiev like playfulness, the interplay between all of the instruments was just exquisite. The delicate and subtle articulations in the Mozart Quartet in C, and the flexibility of all the players in the Jongen, using various effects, including harmonics was most impressive. In the Beethoven Trio in C
minor Op. 9, the balance in each contrasting movement was just perfect, with a robust, almost rhythmically jazzy figure passing from player to player in parts of the Scherzo. The beautiful lyrical phrases on the flute, always played with precision with just the right speed of vibrato, used with subtlety in the Mozart, but with an almost operatic like gradation of speed and variety of tone colour in the Debussy Sonate en trio, a most reflective work and also in the Jongen Concert a Cinque Op. 71. Here the
flute soared above the other instruments but with a unity and magic which gave the illusion of a huge ensemble. An encore at the end was an extra treat, ‘Marine’ from Prelude, Marine et Chanson by J.Guy Ropartz, was suitably calming.

I strongly recommend their next performance at Southbank Centre, London. Let’s hope they will play again at Grayswood and perhaps this is the start of a possible concert series.

Haslemere Herald, 30 January 2012

See the Instrumental Quintet of London play at Southbank Centre’s Purcell Room on Tuesday 28 February. Get tickets here. 

Watch The Works trailer: your guided tour to the classics

The Works is a brand new concert series from the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, launching tonight at Southbank Centre.

More info / book tickets

Pianist Angela Hewitt talks about her forthcoming recitals

There are two chances to catch Canadian pianist Angela Hewitt at Southbank Centre. Tomorrow’s International Piano Series recital includes a Bach Partita, Beethoven’s Eroica Variations and Brahms’ Handel Variations.  Angela writes:

“My programme pairs two suites of the Baroque period with two of the greatest masterpieces ever written in variation form. It is well known that Beethoven played a lot of Bach as a boy, but perhaps less so that Brahms was greatly attracted to the music of many Baroque composers (including Couperin whose keyboard works he edited in the 1880s). I always wanted to pair a Handel Suite with the mighty Brahms/Handel Variations to show that the connection between the two does not end with the theme. Even Brahms can benefit from a ‘dusting off’ and a fresh look at the score.”

Click here to book.

Then on Monday 4 April she performs concertos by Bach and Mozart with Britten Sinfonia. In this podcast, she talks to Fiona Talkington about how her playing of Bach and Mozart is infused with song and dance, and discusses directing from the piano.

Click here to book.