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Royal Academy of Music
Teaching Events

Angelika Kirschlager Masterclass at RAM

6th November 2012

An inspiring and transformative master class, in which this favourite opera singer quickly enlivened a stolid account of Schumann's Frauenliebe und leben by encouraging the young mezzo to live the sentiments of the words in gesture and facial expression, to transformative result.

Kirschlager stressed the importance of words, words, words. Consonants to be articulated exaggeratedly even in languages the audience might not know (Russian in Angelika's case).

It's all about creating theatrical illusion.

Tireless on the platform, urging and demonstrating, the atmosphere was well caught in photos by Hana Zuchi (RAM's Visual Resources Creative Developer) - aren't hands wonderful for communicating!

Peter Grahame Woolf

Photos by Hana Sushi

See also http://www.musicalpointers.co.uk/reviews/cddvd12/KirchschlagerDrake-32.html


Martijn Padding at RAM

30/31 October 2012

I was unable to attend the "conversation" session, but the chamber concert was fascinating.

In the pieces chosen for introducing Padding (b. 1946) to RAM's students and afficionados, each played with enthusiasm, he seemed to eschew contrapuntal lines.

Schumann's Last Procession
- Schumann's daily walk in the asylum garden to talk with Beethoven's Memorial there, and his even slower return to his room walking backwards, was characterised by bass trombone and harp (the latter also beating a drum with her spare foot...).

Mordants had violin and piano supporting each other, to unique and striking effect, and One Trumpet for a retiring orchestral virtuoso avoided high notes by special request, descending to the ultimate depths instead. This saved ears in the David Josefowitz Recital Hall (c.p.#brass )

Harp Masterclass and recital
Royal Academy of Music, London, 19 October 2012

Paganini and the Bow Friday 19 October, 2.30–4.00pm Using a variety of early nineteenth-century bows, Peter Sheppard Skærved explores what can be learnt from Paganini’s avoidance of Tourte bow technology - -

One can easily get side-tracked at the RAM, and having intended to pop-in to the last half hour P S S's lecture (he makes the most obscure topics riveting !) I found myself instead spending three enthralling hours with the Harp Department; the last session of Erika Waardenburg's intimate 2-days Harp Master Class (Debussy, Hindemith and Britten) hosted by Karen Vaughan, followed by an event to which we all were invited.

Up in the 4th floor Department itself we were all transfixed at a recital by Joana Daunyte of Fauré; a brand-new competition set piece Oghum by Laurent Pigeolet; Ami Maayani's Maqamat and a really exciting one of numerous harp sonatas by the prolific J-B Krumpholtz; [see Joana at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ivyBr6Mr4IA - the dark haired one !].

That was followed by refreshments organised by the department's international students with an opportunities to talk with some of them individually.

One was left with a clearer than before appreciation of the appeal of the direct fingers-to-strings relationship of the harp which (unlike the piano) the players tune themselves, and a much clearer appreciation of the subtleties of those key works coached in the class.

Peter Grahame Woolf

See also Camac Harp Festival at Trinity College of Music

photo Co Boerse

NB - Links are integral to Mucial Pointers reports; do click on them!


Four in September 2012; 25th & 26th

As a long retired medical doctor and lifelong music enthusiast, it is wonderful to have the possibility to learn more about music in one's old age at of the world's best teaching establishments.

On the Tuesday, three important events ovelapped and it was a pleasure to samlpe them all.

The choral conducting class had the full BBC Singers (one of UK's crack professional choirs) on hand with their conductor David Hill to coach budding choral directors in how to get the best from a choir. I head Helen Smee in elgar, Richard Brain in Vaughan-Williams and Daniel de la Puente in Halffter, who began by reciting Cervantes for its pronunciation in sonorous Spanish ! All three had different approaches and were helped by David Hill to mould the performances into greater precision and intensity, with attention to phrasing and articulation. Members of the chorus chipped in with pertinent questions and observations, and the whole atmosphere was supportive and inspiring. It was sometimes hard to hear all the comments when teacher and pupil conductor were huddled together over the scores.

Between times, it was possible to enjoy parts of Peter Sheppard Skaerved's overflowing enthusiasm for the classic violinists, this illustrated lecture in the Piano Gallery concentrating upon the amazing contents of Paganini's daily journal, preserved for posterity, with details of his travels and contacts (famous musicians - composers and concert promoters) and including accounts of his astronomical earnings).

Whatever his topic, Sheppard is an irrepressible and riveting talker, spilling out his encyclopaedic knowledge with irrepressible enthusiasm.

Hard to tear onself away to sample the last items of the regular Tuesday Lunchtime concert, with the Academy's Total Brass Quintet playing Anthony Plog (heard outside the door, just right) and Bach's D minor Toccata & Fugue (deafening in the David Josefowitz Hall - ear protectors should have been supplied for players and audience members; not, in any case, a persuasive arrangement of the old war-horse...).

Then, back to the Great Hall for the afternoon session of the choral master class, the experience for us eavesdroppers transformed by the introduction of a microphone and loud speakers !

Next afternoon, Elena Vorotko in the Piano Gallery

Peter Grahame Woolf

More clashing events at RAM - January 2012

Throughout term time there continue to be uniquely valuable and enjoyable public events at the Royal Academy, almost day by day.

On 10 January 2012 the new Pythagoras Quartet gave a brilliantly conceived debut recital "TangoFugue" of Bach, Mendelssohn, Mozart & Piazzolla, devised by violist Clifton Harrison and to be repeated at St Martin-in-the-Fields 3 Feb 1 pm - not to be missed!

Before that I had heard part of a fascinating wide-ranging illustrated talk about classic violinists such as Viotti by Peter Sheppard Skaerved, sitting in glory in their Music Museum surrounded by the Academy's Strads etc.

And two days later, Peter S S in a really natural illustrated exchange (far from the usual "interview") with great Danish composer Poul Ruders about his wonderful works for violin (the more innovative because it is an instrument he doesn't play) before a small audience of only a dozen, mostly violinists,...

This was part of Ruders' visit to London, with a session at the PLGYA week and, on the same evening (!), a clashing performance of his Kafkapriccio by the Academy's Manson Ensemble.

Do keep up with the RAM's public events listings.

Peter Grahame Woolf

An evening at RAM:
Mozart & Clementi at the Piano Gallery -
Marimba recital in Duke's Hall
5th May 2006

- - the freshest experiences, and indeed the centre of London's musical life - -

Public events at RAM occur with such profusion that late arrivers to the Historic Piano Soirée complained about its clashing with the simultaneous illustrated lecture-recital on Seventeenth-Century Italian Organ Music which they had been sampling.

Three "thinking pianists" shared the Soirée, with informal discussions about piano making in Vienna and London, demonstrations by Elena Vorotko of Mozart on four early pianos of RAM's great collection, a plea on behalf of Clementi's best sonatas by Jeremy Eskenazi, and finally Daniel-Ben Pienaar discussing Mozart interpretation on modern piano illustrated by Lili Kraus's recordings, and on RAM's 1920s Steinway a carefully considered account of the great C minor fantasia which provoked vigorous audience reaction!

Problems of visibility (pianos in out of the way corners) and audibility (noises off and air conditioning, essential for the pianos) could be usefully addressed for future presentations, perhaps by bringing the audience forward amongst the instruments?

Then straight down to the Duke's Hall for an enthralling marimba recital by Eric Sammut, with his own composition Ameline so melodious and evocative as to make you believe that the marimba was not a percussion instrument at all! His range of colours and timbres in arrangements of Gershwin's Porgy and Bess and Prokofiev's Romeo and Juliet were remarkable, and hearing this familiar orchestral music encompassed by four mallets was as memorable as Stravinsky's Petrushka at RAM on accordion duet.

Sammut's CD
includes items from this recital and Italian opera arias - something there for singers to learn?

Friday 5th May
David Josefowitz Recital Hall 6:00pm
An opportunity to hear the Academy’s rare Neapolitan organ of 1763 in a lecture-recital given by Italian organist Riccardo Bonci.

Friday 5th May
Piano Gallery, York Gate Collections 6:00 pm
Historic Piano Soirée ‘Influences and differences: composers and fortepianos in late Classicism and early Romanticism’

Friday 5th May Duke’s Hall 7:30pm
Eric Sammut, marimba professor at the Academy and principal timpanist with the Orchestre de Paris: debut concert at the Academy

© Peter Grahame Woolf