NEW! THE SOPRANO ELISABETH MEISTER: FIGHTING BACK FROM WHAT LIFE THROWS AT YOU AND INSPIRING OTHERS

03/01/2017

Fighting Back From What Life Throws At You And Inspiring Others: Jim Pritchard Interviews The Soprano Elisabeth Meister

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Elisabeth Meister

One of the highlights of the recent concert performance of Die Walküre for the Saffron Opera Group was Elisabeth Meister’s wonderful Sieglinde. Peter Reed in Opera magazine described how ‘gathering depth and brilliance’ she ‘built towards an orchestra-surfing “O hehrstes Wunder!” of pulverizing grandeur’. On this site I said she just ‘got better and better’ and how ‘Meister is an intelligent singer who knows how to project her voice, and she achieved extraordinary heights of passion in Act III without pushing the voice beyond its limits.’ (For full review click here.) I also mentioned how Elisabeth was – with this performance – returning to singing after something of a hiatus to her singing career, which was set to have a meteoric rise after leaving the Royal Opera’s Jette Parker Young Artists Programme. Elisabeth has a remarkable – and inspirational – story to tell which involves losing and regaining her singing voice. Read more

NEW! MONICA HUGGETT IN CONVERSATION WITH GEOFFREY NEWMAN

17/10/2016

MONICA HUGGETT IN CONVERSATION WITH GEOFFREY NEWMAN

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Monica Huggett © Hiroshi Iwaya

If one wanted a broad picture of the evolution of historical performance, with intriguing little nuances revealed along the way, there would be few better musicians to talk to than Monica Huggett. She has been an unremitting force for four decades, well known from her early association with the Academy of Ancient Music and the Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra, and these days as Artistic Director of the Portland and Irish Baroque Orchestras, and Adviser to the Juilliard Historical Program. This interview traces the violinist’s experiences from the time when the authentic movement was just gathering momentum. Most important are her insights about how historical performance has developed out of a number of contrasting approaches that have cross-fertilized each other. Equally interesting are her ideas on where historical scholarship and performance practice still have room to grow, what she wants to achieve from an orchestra in interpretation, and how she has maintained an undiminished inspiration all this time. The interview took place in conjunction with the Vancouver Bach Festival in August 2016, where Monica Huggett directed the Pacific Baroque Orchestra in the Complete Bach Orchestral Suites (review).    Read more

NEW! ARABELLA STEINBACHER IN CONVERSATION WITH MICHAEL COOKSON

10/09/2016

Arabella Steinbacher in conversation with Michael Cookson, Dresden 2016

My first exposure to the playing of Munich born violinist Arabella Steinbacher was in 2011 when reviewing her recording of the Shostakovich violin concertos on Orfeo. http://www.musicweb-international.com/classrev/2011/June11/Shostakovich_Steinbacher_C687061A.htm

A child prodigy on the violin Steinbacher started lessons aged 3 and 5 years later became the youngest violin student of Ana Chumachenko at the Munich Academy of Music. In 2000 Steinbacher won the Joseph-Joachim-Violinwettbewerbes Hannover when she was 19 and the Förderpreis des Freistaates Bayern a year later. In 2004 she made her concert debut playing at short notice for an indisposed soloist with the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France under Sir Neville Marriner in Paris.

Certainly a thrilling musician, Steinbacher has made an impressive reputation for herself with several excellent recordings under her belt. One of the finest violinists around compared to a group of talented soloists of her generation, curiously, she is not as well known as her talent deserves; especially in the U.K.    Read more

NEW! JAN VOGLER IN CONVERSATION WITH MICHAEL COOKSON

23/08/2016

Jan Vogler in conversation with Michael Cookson

Jan Vogler © Jim Rakete

Jan Vogler © Jim Rakete

Not only is Jan Vogler a renowned cellist on the international stage but driven by his insatiable appetite for music he also serves as Intendant of the Dresden Music Festival; with his contract recently extended until 2021. I have attended the festival for several years and under Vogler’s management the festival has grown to one of international renown attracting the world’s finest artists. Read more

NEW! INSIDE AND OUTSIDE CONDUCTING: AN INTERVIEW WITH CHRISTOPHER SEAMAN

12/07/2016

Inside and Outside Conducting: Geoffrey Newman Interviews Christopher Seaman

VCMSeamanPic3

Christopher Seaman (c) Rochester Democrat & Chronicle

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NEW! PIOTR BECZALA in conversation with Michael Cookson

05/07/2016

Piotr Beczała in conversation with Michael Cookson

Piotr Beczala © Jean-Baptiste Millot (1)

Piotr Beczala © Jean-Baptiste Millot

It was wonderful to have the opportunity to interview star international tenor Piotr Beczała whom I met in the lounge of his Dresden hotel. There was a great feeling of anticipation in the city for the revival of Christine Mielitz’s Lohengrin at the Semperoper as in few days time. Piotr was to sing the title role with Anna Netrebko as Elsa; their first Wagner roles. Read more

David McVicar’s Production of Aida Returns to Valencia

04/03/2016

Verdi, Aida: Orquestra de la Comunitat Valenciana, Cor de la Generalitat Valenciana, Ramón Tebar (conductor), Palau de Les Arts, Valencia, 2.3.2016 (JMI)

From Aida ©Tato Baeza

From Aida ©Tato Baeza

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NEW! The Pursuit of Discovery: An Interview with Conductor John Storgårds

26/02/2016

 The Pursuit of Discovery: An Interview with Conductor John Storgårds

John Storgårds © Heikki Tuuli

John Storgårds © Heikki Tuuli

Over the last five years or so, Finnish conductor John Storgårds has seemed to be everywhere: his compelling performances with the BBC Philharmonic, his Proms appearances, his recent recordings of the complete Sibelius and Nielsen symphonies for Chandos, and many other recordings on Ondine, including his new Zemlinsky. Yet Maestro Storgårds, now 52, really only picked up a baton some twenty years ago, having spent most of his early career as a violinist and concertmaster. Even his early focus as a conductor was hardly standard: he endlessly sought out the scores of hitherto-neglected Finnish and Nordic composers, often premiering their works and recording them for the first time. These projects are still ongoing, perhaps even accelerating, and have been sufficiently extensive that the conductor already has over fifty recordings to his name. Read more

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