The E.O.F.T. presents a selection of the best outdoor and adventure films of the year. As every year, athletic superlatives, inspiring adventure projects, and authentic portraits turn the E.O.F.T. into a thrilling cinematic experience.
The E.O.F.T. presents a selection of the best outdoor and adventure films of the year. As every year, athletic superlatives, inspiring adventure projects, and authentic portraits turn the E.O.F.T. into a thrilling cinematic experience.
Tickets are available in advance from ellis-brigham.com or eoft.uk
Byrds Flying High…
Where do you begin, with Roger McGuinn? Well you can start with the hits. At his one previous concert I booked at St George’s about eight years ago (there was another in 2009, done as a hire, that I didn’t see), he opened with ‘I’ll Feel a Whole Lot Better’ and over two long sets covered just about every great Byrds song you could name, from ‘Mr Tambourine Man’, ‘Turn, Turn, Turn’ and ‘All I Really Want to Do’ to ‘So You Want to be a Rock and Roll Star’, ‘You Ain’t Going Nowhere’ and ‘My Back Pages’, in a stream of solid gold anthems that just went on and on, gathering momentum all the way. There were Dylan songs, Pete Seeger songs, Woody Guthrie songs (‘Pretty Boy Floyd’), Gene Clark songs and Roger McGuinn songs, all played as perfectly as you could wish for, with plenty of Rickenbacker jangle and that trademark, slightly nasal vocal intonation that together represent the authentic McGuinn experience you remember from the records. I can’t recall whether he did ‘Eight Miles High’ or ‘The Ballad of Easy Rider’ – and he does do them, as this set-list blog attests – but he played a truly spine-tingling version one of my all-time favourites, the beautiful ‘Chestnut Mare’. He’s even been known to cover Tom Petty’s ‘American Girl’, which was Petty’s homage to Roger McGuinn. If this time round he plays the Byrds’ ironic homage to redneck culture, ‘Drugstore Truck Drivin’ Man’, I’ll be in hillbilly heaven.
Just to say that Roger McGuinn performs these songs, however, doesn’t even get close. He’s such a star turn, and so expert a guitarist for solo shows like this, that the songs are no by-rote versions buoyed up on a wave of sentimental goodwill, but definitive readings of absolute classics of the pop/folk/whatever repertoire, and McGuinn delivers them with true fidelity, honouring their origins while re-fashioning where necessary with contemporary updatings of the original chords and structure. He’ll play new tunes and traditional tunes, too, so the history comes all mixed up.
It has to help that McGuinn probably doesn’t need to sing these songs, or to go out on tour at all if he doesn’t want to. More than 50 years into his stellar career, he is in the happy position of playing live shows not for money or ego reinforcement, but because, as a time-served career musician, this is what he enjoys doing, and he knows he does it very, very well. He has also learned to tour in comfort and style, travelling with his wife Camilla, taking the train between carefully selected hotels in carefully selected cities, visiting historical sites, and uploading their experiences onto his blog as they go. The latest entry describes their voyage across the Atlantic on the Queen Mary 2, and eventual arrival in London to take up temporary residence in a Kensington flat they’d chosen because the unusual decor had appealed to Roger’s sense of aesthetics. He also keeps busy curating his wonderful Folk Den website, a hugely important resource for traditional music.
And we end with a little known factoid: those ringing Rickenbacker arpeggios are quite possibly adapted from the five-string banjo-picking techniques McGuinn learned as a teenager at Chicago’s Old Town School of Music. Who knows for sure, but there could even be a bit of banjo-picking on stage at St George’s. Guitar-jangling, however, is a dead cert.
An interview with Daniel Hope
From bestselling albums and intoxicating live performances, to books, films and charitable projects, Daniel Hope is so much more than a violinist. His appearances at the Bristol Proms have left audiences breathless and charmed in equal measure, for Daniel’s exquisite skill with the violin is matched by his warm stage presence and ability to really connect with an audience. It is some twelve years since Daniel was last on stage at St George’s, so his return is long overdue; and it is in these interim years that the musician, writer, producer and activist has truly made his name.
In October St George’s becomes the focus of four nights of live broadcasts by BBC Radio 3 as the Brahms Experience unfolds. With concerts by Skampa Quartet, the BBC Singers and pianist Stephen Kovacevich, not to mention a sojourn to Colston Hall with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, it’s a week-long celebration of one of classical music’s more misunderstood and underestimated composers. Brahms is so much more than a magnificent beard, or that lullaby…
Daniel’s contribution takes in one of Brahms’ closest friends and greatest muses, the violinist Joseph Joachim; with music by both, alongside works by Mendelssohn and Schumann.
We caught up with Daniel last month to discuss who Joseph Joachim was, why he’s so important to Brahms’ music and what audiences can expect from the concert in October.
Daniel, we’re so looking forward to having you with us in October; when was the last time you performed at St George’s?
It was quite a while ago; it was with Paul Watkins and Philip Dukes, we did a Theresienstadt programme. This was probably twelve years ago… at least.
What can you tell us about this long awaited next visit?
It’s an homage to Joseph Joachim, who was the most instrumental and important violinist I think of the nineteenth century. He was somebody that, in so many ways, defined what the violin meant. Firstly he taught over five hundred students, he created the Royal Conservatory in Berlin; he famously introduced the young Brahms to the Schumann family and he was the one who rediscovered the Beethoven Violin Concerto. He made a very conscious decision, having studied Mendelssohn, when Mendelssohn died he moved in a sense to the other side, to Liszt – he became his concert master – and broke very famously with Liszt and crossed again to the other side and that was Schumann, Brahms and Dvořák, all of whom wrote violin concertos for him, including Max Bruch, and that’s why we have those concertos and we don’t have a violin concerto by Wagner, by Liszt. So he was really a forerunner in so many ways, his programming was exceptional; it was what we call ‘cutting edge’ nowadays, mixing genres, putting in symphonies next to chamber music, next to solo stuff, two hundred years before anybody else was doing it and he was a composer in his own right. So the concert looks at all these different influences; it looks at his composition, it looks at pieces that were written for him and it looks at his friends, so Mendelssohn, Brahms, Edvard Grieg…
But despite all of that, it’s a name that not many people would actually recognise? Is Joachim overlooked or forgotten?
I think, you know, at the end of the day it is composers whose names go down in history not interpreters, and that’s the way it is; and I think that’s the right thing because, you know, the composers write things that stay and we’re there to interpret them and share them. There was a time where everybody knew Joachim, but times have changed and his style of playing, his way of doing things I think fell out of fashion at the beginning of the twentieth century – even though he was the first violinist to actually record. There are rolls from 1904 of him, wax rolls, you can actually hear him, it’s amazing. So he was actually pretty advanced, but he belonged to the old guard and he was superseded by glittering violinists like Jascha Heifetz, Yehudi Menuhin, Mischa Elman… It became more about the personality and the brilliance and the perfection, and less about the communication and the feeling of the music. So I think it was just time that took its toll on his name really. And yet there are so many hundreds of pieces that we have because of him, thanks to him.
And this concert is of course part of a five night celebration of Brahms… Is he a composer you enjoy performing?
I absolutely adore Brahms, I just couldn’t live without Brahms… I mean, his chamber music is just incredible; the piano quartets, the piano trios, the piano quintets, the sextets… where do you start and where do you stop? I just can’t get enough of it and I play a lot of his music; I’m touring two piano quartets next year. It’s got something which is so personal and so emotional, and yet it’s controlled as well; that’s the thing about Brahms, he’s a master of control and there’s just nothing quite like it. And, you know, Joachim was – for the most part of his life – his closest musical friend and they broke, split, and then at the end of their lives got back together and the present he gave Joachim was the Double Concerto. I mean what a present! So Joachim really accompanied his whole life and when Brahms thought of the violin, he was thinking of Joachim.
Do you think that Brahms is underestimated as a composer?
I think maybe he’s not everybody’s cup of tea, although he never was, funnily enough. Menahem Pressler, of the Beaux Art Trio, the pianist, he told me he went to play for Darius Milhaud back in the early forties and Mihaud asked him what he’d like to play. He said ‘I have some Debussy’ and Milhaud said ‘Great’, and then he said ‘I have some Brahms…’ and Mihaud said ‘Brahms?! Ha, that Beerhouse composer?!’ I’d never heard Brahms referred to as a Beerhouse composer, but there were people who thought he was unsophisticated and I think some of his works are overlooked; and yet look at the symphonies, look at the violin concerto, look at the piano concertos, to name a few.. incredible. He was such a perfectionist; it was once said that he threw a number of his works into the fire, apparently another four of five violin sonatas, cello sonatas, all the rest of it… he was never happy. But for me, if I had to really choose a genre it’s the chamber music; the chamber music is so incredibly broad, from the sonatas – violin, piano, cello sonatas – the clarinet trio, the horn trio, piano quartets, piano quintets… it’s one piece after the next, every single one is a masterpiece, every one, and that’s amazing.
You’re doing this concert with Sebastian Knauer, with whom you’ve worked a lot – are those kinds of ongoing collaborations important to you?
Very. I’ve worked with Sebastian for twenty years now, we’re very close friends and we travel a lot around the world and he’s a phenomenal pianist and a great musician, great partner. We devise these programmes ourselves, we sit down and work out what we want to do and how we want to do it. Particularly for Brahms you need to have a fine pianist, because these sonatas really the emphasis is on the piano; Brahms was a master pianist himself and so the piano in a sense controls the pieces. So you need to have somebody who has weight and who has real knowledge and also an empathy to it. Brahms was born in Hamburg and Sebastian comes from Hamburg as well; it’s a particular place and he feels very close to him, so I wouldn’t want to do this programme with anyone else.
St George’s of course has a fantastic acoustic; how important is a venue to your performance? Can it inspire you?
Absolutely, I mean there’s nothing nicer than when it all connects; the venue, the audience, the programme and the connection between the audience and what you get back from them – it’s a two-way conversation that’s going on. I do remember the concert we did at St George’s and I remember this magnificent acoustic, and it being very flattering for string players; you have this resonance there, but not too much, so the instruments can really sing and I think for this programme it will be just ideal.
You’re well known for a kind of ‘Musical Activism’… what other issues are out there which would benefit from a bit of musical activisim?
A lot, I mean where do you start? One thing that I think is fascinating and which is extremely important is music therapy, and what music can actually do… That’s not activism, that’s just helping, in a sense; disabled people, autistic children, senile people, alzheimers. It’s incredible the effect that music can have. People who literally don’t know anything anymore – who they are, who their loved ones are – will suddenly recite a song for you with perfect lyrics. There’s something about the connection between the brain and music which I think is amazing; the same with Autistic children, it’s had an incredibly beneficial effect on their peace of mind and on their development. So I think that’s something which needs to be pushed, actually; we need more soloists to get in on it and help and use their names to do things like that. I would link that to music education, as the next biggest problem around the world because it’s just been cut from most curriculums. So that’s a major thing that I spend a lot of time on, working for other children’s charities at children’s concerts or a number of different organisations within Europe that give instruments to kids, or give them the chance to come into contact with music – and not just classical music, music in general, music, dance, singing. Those sorts of things I’m involved with and I do a lot for the music of the composers that were murdered by the Nazis; for example, I made a film about Theresienstadt that came out last year and just this week I did a concert in Munich – a benefit concert – fundraising for families of these composers, to support them. The list is long and there are a lot of very worthy causes and I think it doesn’t take all that much actually to give a bit of help here and there.
And away from that, what’s coming next for you?
I’m about to launch a big new album for Deutsche Gramophon, it’s called Escape to Paradise and it’s about the composers who fled Europe and went to Hollywood and created the ‘Hollywood Sound’. It starts in fact before they were forced out, so it starts with the eleven year old Korngold, with bits of his Pantomime and then it goes into his Violin Concerto and then it goes into the film music of the thirties and forties, so there’s things like Ben-Hur, there’s Suspicion the Hitchcock film, then it also looks at Hanns Eisler and Kurt Weill and Franz Waxman, and I have a couple of very special guests on the album. Sting is singing a song by Hans Eisler and there’s a German chanson singer called Max Raabe who is singing a Kurt Weill song. So it’s a very broad mosaic of, in a sense, a search for the Hollywood Sound – where did it come from, and this whole European tradition which was forced out and created something very special. So that comes out in September and there’s lots of projects linked to that, touring, recording, writing, producing, filming… all sorts.
We understand you also play the Saxophone… are we likely to see you at St George’s doing a Sax recital any time soon?
(laughs) I did at some point, when I was about thirteen or fourteen. You wouldn’t want to hear it, put it that way!
Interview by Michael Beek. With thanks to Daniel Hope, and Sarah Mitchell at Wildkat PR.
Formed in Oslo in 1990, JoKleBa is the legendary supergroup of Norwegian jazz. The three original members (Per Jorgensen – trumpet, vocals, percussion; Audun Kleive, percussion; Jon Balke, piano, percussion) have been at the heart of many of the country’s most important musical developments, and this very special Bristol date forms part of their unique JoKoToUR: an ecological, low-carbon journey across Europe using only sustainable transport, and intended to highlight dynamic ideas of architecture and urbanism in “a synthesis of sound, space and environmental thinking”. The performance will be followed by a discussion with Fiona Talkington.
Come to both JoKleBa and Ketil Bjornstad (7.30pm) for just £15 (saving £7)
Norwegian children’s author Maria Parr makes a special visit to Bristol to join Fiona Talkington in reading and presenting stories from her acclaimed book ‘Waffle Hearts’: the adventures of nine year-olds Trille and Lena in their magical village of Mathildewick Cove. A runaway success both in Norway – where it has been adapted into a television series – and the UK, where Walker Books’ new paperback edition will appear just in time for this event, ‘Waffle Hearts’ conjures up a truly delightful world that playingbythebook.net has called “Perfect for fans of Pippi Longstocking….a heartbreaking, heartmaking, hilariously funny tale…bold and brilliant.”
Accompanied by music from members of JoKleBa.
Suitable for ages 6 and over.
Running Time: 60 minutes (approx.)
You wouldn’t be alone in thinking classical music is not for you, and one man is working hard to change the perception of a genre of music often thought of as elitist or unfathomable. Meet James Rhodes…
He’s a pianist with no formal academic musical education, but James Rhodes is now considered one of the most exciting figures in classical music. His talent at the keyboard is unquestionable and his passion for sharing the power of music has won him many fans. Music has been a therapy for James, who has used the piano as a tool for standing up to his own demons. He has become as much a champion for mental health issues as he has for music education. An evening in the company of James is enlightening and engaging as he leads the audience through the music, immersing them in tales of favourite composers and sharing personal anecdotes. Think of it as classical stand-up…
James makes his St George’s debut on Fri 12 Sept as part of a tour that coincides with his latest Channel 4 series and a new book, ‘Instrumental’, and we caught up with him this week to talk music, mental health and what we can expect from his recital…
You have credited music with having the most profound effect during the darkest times in your life and we’re sure a lot of people would relate to this. However, music education, the arts, and mental health services are the first to be hit by budget cuts; why do you think this is?
Because they’re easy targets. We are still, sadly, allowing ourselves to see music education as a dubious luxury rather than a basic human right. And there is still far too much stigma around mental illness that allows such drastic cuts to go unchallenged. Mental illness is not one of the cuddly, media-friendly diseases – it is gritty and shocking and messy. Which is precisely why it needs to be spoken about more and treated with compassion rather than fear.
How is the digital age affecting the way classical music is experienced? Is it helping or hindering?
I really believe it’s helping. But many classical musicians and industry people don’t seem to be embracing the technology behind it in a way that helps their cause. Tweeting about a new album in the third person, moaning about sneakily-filmed YouTube performances, refusing to engage with audiences both from on and off the stage and so on will only ever hurt sales. There are only a tiny number of solo musicians now who don’t need social media and new technology (Kissin, Zimerman, Argerich etc). The rest need to embrace it and discover ways of using it to their advantage.
Your new Channel 4 series is about giving young people the opportunity to experience classical works, composers and instruments. Why do you think there is such a barrier between young people and classical music?
Because over the years, classical music seems to have been appropriated by a small section of society who seem determined to keep it for themselves. And at the other end you get certain big labels and radio stations pushing crossover as real classical which is manipulative, dishonest and cynical. Classical music (and the industry behind it) has become diluted and even weirder. It apologises for itself too much, has far too many barriers to entry and seems to place far too much focus on the bullshit surrounding it (dress codes, programming choices, venues etc) than the music itself. If I were a 15 yr old who hadn’t been exposed to much classical music and wanted to find out about it, I wouldn’t know where to start and would likely end up with a Classic FM Best 50 Revision Classics Ever Volume 56 or an album with some guitarist playing medleys from Phantom of the Opera. And I think it’s an utter travesty to have that as an example of what classical music is.
How are you breaking down these barriers, and what have you learned about this since starting the project?
By seeing the music and the audience as equals, talking to the audience and hopefully engaging with them, making concerts about storytelling and the music rather than about wearing ridiculous outfits and clapping in the eight places. My experience is that most people want to know more about classical but don’t really know where to start. I hope I’m a kind of gateway drug into the more typical Festival Hall/LPO/Wigmore concerts for them.
Have the young people you have been mentoring taught you anything? Did they surprise you?
Constantly. We (or maybe just I) consistently underestimate young people. All I know is I have never in my life been more astonished or impressed by their capacity for kindness, speed of knowledge-acquisition and utter likeability.
Your new book, “Instrumental” is an “An impassioned tribute to the therapeutic powers of music.”
Can you explain a little bit about it? No. Buy it. Please. I need to eat…
Was it more difficult to express/define the darker moments in words, rather than music?
Of course! Forster said something about music being the ‘deepest of the Arts, deep beneath the Arts’ – it really does just tunnel in at a deeper level than words. Writing well is so much harder than interpreting music well I think.
You have started a new label “Instrumental Records”; is it important to be able to represent yourself and your music on your own terms and in your own style?
Very much so. And also to do the same for other musicians. I can’t wait to start signing new pianists, orchestras, singers, tour as a label, design beautiful albums, start to make music in a way that is more inclusive, fun and less up its own ass.
Your label will start signing artists in 2015. What kind of musicians are you looking for?
Ones with something to say. Doesn’t bother me in the least if you have won competitions or graduated from a conservatory. I just want brilliant playing, engaging artists and to feel that raw excitement we used to have back in the day from soloists.
How is your new album ‘Five’ different to the previous four albums and is it difficult to choose what pieces feature?
It’s not really. It’s still a mixed recital format, Bach, Beethoven and Chopin, played as well as I can and polished to its maximum by a team of sound engineers and producers who do their best to make me sound halfway decent. Choosing repertoire for an album is the most exhilarating part of my job. It’s an embarrassment of riches to choose from. I can spend hours, days, weeks fantasizing about it before making a final selection.
We’re looking forward to having you at St George’s! What can the audience expect from an evening with James Rhodes?
Inappropriate jokes, brilliant music, a lovely atmosphere to bring a date, some bitching Chopin and, if we’re all lucky, a few moments of deep astonishment at witnessing what these genius bastard composers are capable of…
James performs live at St George’s Bristol on Friday 12 September. Tickets are £20 & £15 (plus fees). Click here to find out more, or to book tickets!
Interview by Kirsty Green. With thanks to James Rhodes, and Zoe Caldwell at Glynis Henderson Productions. James’s memoir, Instrumental will be published soon by Canongate Books, priced at £16.99.
With an undeniable voice and an arsenal of powerful songs, Martha Wainwright is a beguiling performer and a refreshingly different force in music. Since 2005, she has released three full length studio albums and various EPs that have been met with worldwide critical acclaim. In 2012, Martha released her latest studio album, Come Home To Mama, which Mojo Magazine stated was “a substantial and brilliantly sung career best.” Martha has been seen performing in Martin Scorsese’s film The Aviator, and also recently completed production as an actor in the upcoming HBO miniseries Olive Ketteridge to be released later this year. She is also currently writing her memoir, Stories I Might Regret Telling You, to be published by Flatiron Books, Winter 2016.
Born into the ‘first family’ of folk royalty, Martha is the daughter of the celebrated singer-songwriters Loudon Wainwright III and Kate McGarrigle and sister of acclaimed singer-songwriter Rufus Wainwright. Born in New York City and raised in Montreal, she spent her childhood immersed in music and often performed with her parents. She took the first step in her own recording career in 1998 when she contributed the song ‘Year of the Dragon’ to her mother and aunt’s album The McGarrigle Hour. The same year she started singing back-up for her brother both live and on record.
with very special guest Greg Varlotta
Legendary American songwriter, virtuoso guitarist and pianist, NILS LOFGREN returns to the UK in January 2015. After touring with Bruce Springsteen as a long-time member of the E Street Band on both the 2012-13 Wrecking Ball tour and the 2014 High Hopes tour NILS LOFGREN is back to perform his own legendary live show.
Known for his world-class guitar playing, and his on-stage acrobatics, NILS LOFGREN is a true Rock legend in his own right. A superb front-man, both with Grin and under his own name. Recently inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of the E Street Band Nils is due to release Face the Music on 5th August 2014, a 10 disc retrospective box set of his 45 years of recording. Nils will be joined for an acoustic set by multi-instrumentalist Greg Varlotta. Expect classic Lofgren favorites like ‘Shine Silently, ‘I Came to Dance’, ‘Keith Don’t Go’ and many others from his vast back catalogue.
“Nils’ singing and guitar playing voice remains as distinctive today as it’s ever been.”
“Listening to Nils play and sing has been an inspiration to me for many years”
The Small is… Festival is coming to St George’s! Based on Small Is Beautiful, the seminal work by E.F Schumacher, this interactive two day festival brings together inspiring speakers, thought-provoking debate, hands-on workshops, and a full programme of world music and conscious visual art.
Incorporating the Schumacher Lectures, and in partnership with Engineers Without Borders UK and Bristol University, this year’s theme “Ideas from 2 million villages” explores ideas and technology for sustainable living from around the world.
Confirmed acts include the Jaipur Kawa Brass Band, The Turbans and The Wonderful Sound of the Cinema Organ
WEEKEND TICKET £50 (£45) (plus fees)
DAY TICKETS £27.50 (£25) (plus Fees)
DAYTIME SESSION TICKET £15 (£12.50) (plus fees)
EVENING SESSION TICKET £15 (£12.50) (plus fees)
LECTURES - 11.30-12.30 & 13.45 – 15.15
Drew Dellinger – Change the Worldview, Change the World
Jacqi Hodgson – Mayor of totnes
Jonathan Dawson – Education for the 21st Century
Amrita Bhohi – A student’s perspective on the future of education
Technology Justice with Practical Action
The Big Nuclear Debate with University of Bristol
Building solar PV panels
Pico hydropower systems
Innovation Hub – Develop ideas for a sustainable world
Water for the World (family workshop)
Challenges in rural electrification
ITDG and the ideas of Schumacher
7pm The Wonderful Sound of the Cinema Organ
From the four corners of the UK comes The Wonderful Sound of the Cinema Organ, presenting a unique sonic and visual experience, bringing the nostalgic warmth of vintage jazz influences and archive footage projections right up to date with a captivating and highly danceable contemporary edge. With an all-live setup comprising string, vocal, horn and rhythm sections, the band shift seamlessly from haunting melodies and rich textures through to hypnotic, floor-shaking drum & bass and dubstep grooves, in an intoxicating display of musicianship and imagination.
8.30pm The Turbans
The Turbans is an international musical collective bringing together exciting music from traditional near-eastern and eastern-European styles and their own compositions, to create a modern and energetic performance with reverence for its ancient roots.
Growing from the intertwining paths of many talented musicians travelling the world, this extraordinary project has grown in a few years from very humble beginnings, into a progressive name on the London music scene.
10pm Jaipur Kawa Brass band
With elaborate rhythms and virtuoso improvisations the Jaipur Kawa Brass Band present a wild repertoire, from traditional Indian classics to popular Bollywood movies hits. These highly talented authentic Rajasthani gypsy musicians always come up with an unexpected and rousing performance, whether on parade in the streets, on a main stage or mingling amongst a crowd.