Thursday, May 2, 2013

Making Sense of 20th Century Music

In Shanghai again, this time to attend the opening concert of Listen to the 20th Century, a mini (4-day) version of the South Bank Centre's year-long The Rest is Noise festival back in London. It's the first part of a three year partnership between SBC and Shanghai Concert Hall. 
Tonight's concert was interesting enough: Debussy's Prelude a l'Apres-midi d'un Faune (actually late 19th Century but usually cited as the beginning of 'modern music'), Bartok, Copland, Vaughan Williams and Prokofiev, performed by the SBC's own Aurora Orchestra. 
But the really interesting thing about the whole programme is the big emphasis on education. Each piece was introduced by Sarah Mohr-Pietsch of BBC Radio 3, giving background to its place in musical history and the politics of the day; and they've brought over their Head of Classical Music, Gillian Moore, and professor of music, Julian Moore, to give more extensive talks, masterclasses etc. The idea, too, is that Shanghai Concert Hall will present Chinese works in London. All good stuff.  See more here
But back to tonight: I particularly enjoyed Prokofiev's Peter and the Wolf. I remember being introduced to this as a child - we had an LP narrated by Peter Ustinov; and of course David Bowie recorded a version; but tonight it was played alongside the Oscar-winning animated film, directed by Suzie Templeton. 

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