Santoor Maestro Tarun Bhattacharya comes to Southbank Centre

Santoor Maestro Tarun Bhattacharya has been a pioneering and revolutionary musician of the Maihar Gharana. His influence has changed the face of Indian classical music, and through his innovative techniques of playing the santoor he has developed a distinct style that has enthralled audiences around the world. On 1 December, he is joined by the prolific and widely admired musician Kousic Sen on tabla at Southbank Centre for a concert in the Purcell Room.

 

Catch Tarun Bhattacharya as part of Milapfest’s Music for the Mind and Soul concert series at Southbank Centre’s Purcell Room at Queen Elizabeth Hall on Saturday 1 December. Get tickets here. 

 

‘Patri Satish Kumar mesmerised listeners with his rhythmic excellence’ (The Hindu)

Patri Satish Kumar is a Carnatic musician and mridangam player, whose performances have given him great recognition all over the world. He has toured extensively with many high profile Indian musicians, and carved a place for himself as one of the leading mridangists of our time.

Have a listen to Tani Avartanam by Patri Satish Kumar from a concert on 28 February 2010 at the Panchanatheeswara Temple Mandapam, Thiruvaiyaru, as part of the Prakriti Foundation’s annual, Festival of Sacred Music.
 

Hear Patri Satish Kumar at Southbank Centre’s Purcell Room at Queen Elizabeth Hall on Friday 30 November as part of the Undiscovered India series. Get tickets here. 

Listen to our Undiscovered India Spotify playlist

Milapfest return with a series of concerts exploring the best in Indian classical music featuring performances from Tarang, Alif Laila, Patri Satish Kumar and Tarun Bhattacharya. We’ve put together a Spotify playlist to give you a taster of what to expect.

Take a listen here.

Listen here

Take a look at Milapfest’s Undiscovered India series from 3 November – 1 December at Southbank Centre. More info and tickets here. 

GETTING TO KNOW JOSIE D’ARBY – PRESENTER OF CHOIR OF THE YEAR 2012

With just a few days left to go until the Choir of the Year 2012 Grand Final at Royal Festival Hall, we caught up with show’s presenter Josie d’Arby ahead of the big day.

You’re going to be presenting at the Choir of the Year 2012 Grand Final this Sunday. What are you most looking forward to about the concert?
This is my fourth time presenting on this competition and I think the thing that always impresses me the most is the that the competition always brings out the best in these already excellent choirs. They seem to thrive on the pressure and no matter how well they’ve sung in the heats, something about the final brings out even more. It makes it a joy for the music lover but also a thrilling competition.

Can you tell us anything about the music we can expect to hear being performed?
Let’s just say the ladies are very well represented this year and everyone has gone for a repertoire which will both challenge them and entertain the audience. Should be a gorgeous afternoon.

Have you ever performed as part of a choir / a musical ensemble
I have , I have been in church choirs and I was also part of the choir at The Royal Academy of Dramatic Art for three years, so I know very well how wonderful it feels to sing as part of an ensemble and how you all lean on each other. And when you get it right: it’s magical.

Did you find performing as part of an ensemble to be particularly rewarding experience?
Incredibly rewarding , being part of any team has its own unique specialness, the friendships forged and of course it’s a lovely social activity but above all playing your part in the whole, is the essence of what teamwork is about and a lovely thing to experience

What other talents or skills would you like to possess?
Haha, I’m something of a jack of all trades and put a lot of effort into a lot of different things – still I would like to be a better singer. I used to sing a lot, it used to be my main thing but I haven’t sung in such a long time that my instrument is somewhat rusty and that muscle very weak. Still I get a thrill listening to others who have honed their craft.

Is there a piece of music you would pick out as one of the ‘best’ works ever written?
For a music lover such as myself that is an impossible question. To narrow it down, In terms of choral music, I would say I like the classics, like Handel’s Messiah , it’s so stirring but equally a good gospel choir can send chills down your spine. When the music and the meaning come together wonderful things can happen for the listener.

And is there a work that is for you, emotionally, especially important?
Again so many , when I listen to music I really open myself up and allow it to have the desired effect on me, there are so many pieces that bring to the fore so many wonderful emotions, again it would be impossible to narrow it down. I have a soft spot for strings though, in all their forms….

If you could programme your ideal Southbank Centre show, which artists (living or dead) would you bring together?
These questions are so hard, my taste is so eclectic but Nina Simone would be there, Van Morrison, Berlin philharmonic Andre Rieu and Yanna.

What is the most played piece of music on your mp3 player or in your CD collection?
Possibly ‘ a love before time’ from the ‘crouching tiger hidden dragon’ soundtrack a lovely song called ‘the promise’ by Yanna and Gold by spandau ballet – random I know.

Do you have any strange rituals you carry out before appearing on stage?
I like to say a little prayer and give thanks for the opportunity to once again do something I enjoy so much

@josiedarby
josiedarby.com

Limited tickets are still available for the Choir of the Year 2012 Grand Final.
CLICK HERE to buy yours!
To find out more about the competition, you can visit: www.choiroftheyear.co.uk

Royal Philharmonic Orchestra Interviews Natasha Paremski

Ahead of next week’s Royal Philharmonic Orchestra concert on Tuesday 16 October,  Hannah Nepil caught up with pianist Natasha Paremski for the RPO’s Ovation newsletter. Here is the piece below:

‘As a little girl I dreamt about playing Tchaikovsky’s first piano concerto,’ says Natasha Paremski. She has been performing it since she was fifteen and now, ten years on, she will play it again for her Southbank Centre debut with the RPO. But while admitting that the concerto is still one of her favourite pieces, Paremski’s approach to it has matured over time: ‘the music is so thrilling that often we can get selfish about the way we play it, and not actually connect with the audience. So I find it rewarding to go back to the score and see what this piece is all about.’

At only twenty five, this pianist speaks from experience. By now her CV includes gigs with orchestras such as the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Royal Scottish National Orchestra and, of course, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, with whom she has been playing since 2010. Born in Moscow, she first crawled to the piano at the age of two. ‘I started playing on it almost every day,’ she says, ‘so eventually my parents said ‘We’re not listening to this any more, she’s going to start playing some real music.’

Though talented, she stopped playing when she was eight years old,  after her family moved to California. ‘In Russia (lessons) were paid for by the government. In the USA it’s out of your own pocket and it’s very expensive,’ she says, ‘so my parents had no money even for a piano, and no money for lessons.’ Nevertheless, she soon resumed. ‘After a year I started to feel incredibly sad. And I thought, ‘I can’t live without it. It’s really killing me’’

Not that she was always an obedient student. ‘If my teachers’ expectations had nothing to do with what I felt about the score, I challenged them. And there were times when, if they insisted, I’d storm out of the room. I’d call my mother and say, ‘I’m done with the lesson. I want to go home.’’

Paremski spent a lot of time discovering the piano for herself without a teacher, so it’s just as well that she was self-motivated. ‘My parents were not stage-parents. If I was being lazy my mom made sure I knew it but I had the option of dropping the piano,’ she tells me, ‘I just loved practising.’ And she still does. ‘It’s like I’m only half awake or half alive when I don’t play the piano,’ she tells me. ‘Playing is like a drug. A new kind of reality. It’s a total hallucinogen.’

 

Get to know pianist Rolf Hind

Rolf Hind, photo: Skel Nicolau

To celebrate the 100th anniversary of John Cage’s birth, pianist Rolf Hind, one of our great interpreters of modern piano music, collaborates with acclaimed choreographer Rui Horta, dancer Silvia Bertoncelli and a cat named Mia in a new work that showcases the genius of one of the twentieth century’s great artists. We caught up with Rolf to ask him some quick questions.

What do you fear the most and why?
Death. For all the usual reasons.

What – or where – is perfection?
Everything is as it is meant to be.

What’s your favourite ritual?
Meditation. Also drinking coffee!

Which living person do you most admire (and why)?
One – of many – who just springs to mind: Arundhati Roy. wrote a wonderful book, but didn’t make a ‘career’ of art. Now a very brave and vocal activist and polemicist. True to herself.

What other talent or skill would you like to possess?
I wish I’d started the cello when I was young. I adore the instrument, it has a kind of embodiment and sheer physicality that surpasses all the others. Sounds beautiful across an enormous range too.

Tell us about a special memory you have of Southbank Centre?
Ten years ago I played a QEH concert for Boulez’ birthday with newly commissioned pieces which all came out on CD after the event. It was an exciting evening.

If you could programme your ideal Southbank Centre show, which artists (living or dead) would you bring together?
Rumi, Kabir, Farinelli, Szymanowski, Bartok, EM Forster, Proust, Rufus Wainwright, Bjork, Messiaen, Lachenmann, Diamanda Galas. That’s just the top dozen!

What is the most important lesson life has taught you?
Be kind. And start with yourself.

What is the most played piece of music on your MP3 player or in your CD collection?
I hardly listen to recorded music. Prefer to make, play, hear or imagine it live. But if I need a boost I often return to the gypsy music of Taraf de Haidouks.

Tell us a bit about how the collaboration for Danza Preparata came about.
The very foresighted artistic director of the Casa da Musica in Porto approached me a couple of years ago and I went to see some work of Rui Horta’s in Lisbon. I was blown away by Rui Horta, as man and artist. He is an extraordinary bundle of energy and a serious polymath, whose work should be even better known than it is.

Sum up Danza Preparata in one sentence.
Exquisite dancing, lighting, concept and music, respectful and playful: a lovely gift for Cage.

How much of an impact do you feel Cage made on 20th century classical music?
A large one: I see him as the Warhol of music (many may disagree!) I don’t always love all the work, but even when I don’t I see it as something akin to the meditation I practise – an opportunity to find new perspective on one’s experience, or to dwell on an idea (like a Zen koan, a kind of riddle..)

It allows listeners, composers and performers to react in a new way. It also marks a serious attempt to integrate the philosophical tenets of certain aspects of Eastern thought with Western sounds, in a much more thorough way than the ‘orientalisme’ that often came before.

It’s also about emancipation: for instruments (redeployed, reconfigured, reinvented) for sound (liberated from the heft of grammar and meaning) and for the USA (liberated from Western Europe!)

What’s next for you?
On November 24th in the Barbican, the wonderful accordionist, James Crabb, premieres my biggest orchestral piece, a concerto called The Tiniest House of Time with the BBCSO.

See Rolf Hind performing John Cage’s Sonatas and Interludes for Prepared Piano in Danza Preparata as part of Ether 2012 at Southbank Centre’s Queen Elizabeth Hall on Tuesday 16 October. Get tickets here. 

John Cage iPhone app!

Celebrate John Cage’s 100th birthday by playing the CagePiano app on your phone!

One of the many ingenious innovations of American composer/writer/artist John Cage was his creation of the ‘prepared piano’, in which he placed objects beneath and between the strings of a grand piano to create an entirely new instrument.

John Cage Prepared Piano app

John Cage Prepared Piano app

John Cage Prepared Piano app

Southbank Centre’s Ether 2012 is presenting John Cage’s Sonatas and Interludes for Prepared Piano live at Queen Elizabeth Hall on Tuesday 16 October. Get tickets here.