After 20 years in the business, you’d think I’d be used to it – but the new season has kicked in with a vengeance, and suddenly I haven’t a spare moment. That meant two separate reviews last week of the Birmingham concert by my charming hosts in Denmark back in June – Birmingham Post here and The Arts Desk here, and this week, yesterday’s season opener by my old colleagues at the CBSO.
Simon Trpceski was the soloist, and he was as glorious as we’ve come to expect. But we’re well into the post-Nelsons interregnum in Birmingham now and the conductor – Cristian Macelaru – was new both to me and to Brum. I have to say, I liked him. OK, I wasn’t picking up “music director” vibes from the friends I spoke to in the orchestra, but I think everyone was still pretty impressed. Review here.
And on Wednesday, I made my first ever visit to the Royal Academy of Music in connection with an exciting new project I’m working on for The Amati Magazine. Watch this space for more details of that, but meanwhile, I had no idea that the Academy itself was such a shrine to musical history. It’s got a lovely little public museum (why did no-one ever tell me about this before?): Mendelssohn’s letters, Maxwell Davies and Michael Kamen manuscripts, Ligeti and Tavener autographs – plus the manuscript score of The Mikado.
And the college building itself is a real treasure house of music-related paintings and sculpture. They’ve got the stone composers’ busts rescued from the rubble of Queen’s Hall when it was bombed. They’ve got paintings of the Griller Quartet and Harrison Birtwistle.
They’ve even got John (or “Giovanni” as he was then) Barbirolli’s baby-violin and waistcoat. And a whole room devoted to the saucy bedroom exploits of Harriet Cohen and Arnold Bax. OK, not quite. But apparently there’s a Chagall in there. I’m determined to get back in there some time soon, purely to have a proper look.
Meanwhile: my Birmingham Post boss, mentor and colleague Chris Morley – the Midlands’ pre-eminent music critic for well over 30 years – has taken the plunge and joined Twitter. Follow him on @cfmorley47