Archive for December, 2011

First Blog!

Wednesday, December 7th, 2011

As this is my first blog on my new website it’s appropriate to talk about ‘My Life in America’. We have been in Connecticut for almost 5 Years now and experienced hurricanes, blizzards, heat-waves and freezing temperatures that make the temperate climate of England seem almost boring - we don’t miss the drizzle at all! Having now got used to US terminology we no longer ask for rawplugs or rubbers anymore and sometimes have been known to slip into the vernacular as it’s preferable to a response of - ‘Oh I love your accent, where are you from?’ or even worse ‘I was in your homeland last year and loved it’. Really what parts did you visit? ‘We stayed in Sydney most of the time - to which I say ‘lovely city’ and leave it at that!

New Haven is an amazing city with Yale University at the heart of it’s activities. You can travel to New York in  90 minutes or Boston in 2 hrs on good public transport, so if you desire a larger city and all they have to offer then a day-trip in either direction is easy. The home of the New Haven Symphony Orchestra (NHSO) is Woolsey Hall - where Elgar was conferred with an honorary Doctorate by the University in 1906, a ceremony that included the NHSO, conducted by its founder Horatio Parker, playing Pomp & Circumstance No 1 and from which the tradition of every American Graduation today is concluded with the trio section - ‘Land of Hope and Glory’. All he great musicians have performed in Woolsey including Mahler conducting the NY Philharmonic, Rubinstein, Heifitz,Perlman Oistrakh ……. I could go on all night.

The riches of Yale from the Center for British Art and Yale Art Galleries to the Beinecke Library, which houses almost 95% of William Walton’s original manuscripts, is a constant and daily source of joy. For the last month I have been working on Walton’s ‘The Bear’ and ‘Facade’ with the Yale School of Music’s Graduate Students, next Semester I’ll be working with two very talented conducting students in preparation for their concert with the Yale Philharmonia.

The music scene is so totally different to Europe with the majority of the funding coming from very generous individuals, very proactive Boards and a massive diversity of musical styles, stemming from the multi-cultural base of the Country. In these fast changing times we (NHSO) have gone through a massive three year transition asking such basic questions as - Who are we, Who do we serve and what is the relevance of the Orchestra within our Community. These tough meetings, involving the Board, Administration, Musicians and Members of the Community, left a lot of ‘blood’ on the table with people passionately advocating their beliefs for the future. It was a process that we needed to go through to arrive at the point that we have which is - An American Orchestra for the 21st Century concentrating  on American Music (but not exclusively) from the past to the present. This is a real challenge, combining the great music  of the past and being relevant to our community through the performance of music of all ethnicities (Black, Latino, White, etc) both from the past and the present. This has entailed me learning a lot of new repertoire from Jazz-influenced to hip-hop - more on that in  a future blog.

For me moving to America has opened new worlds of music and approaches through which I have met many exciting musicians. I’ll try to blog regularly.