So here I am in Odense, Nielsen's birthplace, in the Radisson Blu HCA (HC Andersen's birth place too) - with an enormously distinguished group of flautists on the jury, eight of them, and me.......we have Patrick Gallois, Andras Adorjan, and Pierre-Yves Artaud leading the team - all household names to the flute community and more widely. And my neighbour on the jury table is Robert Langevin, principal flute of the New York Philharmonic, from Montreal and formerly of course with the Montreal SO. And his operatic connection is? - his father was the Director of the Montreal Opera when Robert was a young man.........
I feel privileged to be here, but totally comfortable. I even did an interview for Danish TV justifying my presence in such august company.........
We had an arduous day hearing 14 young flautists of exceptional ability, all of them playing the Mozart Rondo K Anh 184, one of the Telemann Fantasias TWV 40, and either the Sonatine by Pierre Sancan, or that by Henri Dutilleux. It was a severe test and extremely competitive. We hear another 12 tomorrow of the total of 26 finalists - and have to reduce to 12.
I can not comment on the competitors this evening - but suffice to say that there were some that made me stop to think, raised a tear of emotion, and made me believe that there are winners already in sight. But tomorrow is another day. My more experienced colleagues believe that the level of this generation is extremely high........so I am sure we will hear a good many future stars tomorrow as well. I do not think that we will have difficulty in filling the 12 places. We may find it difficult to reject some really excellent ones. But the consensus of the nine jurors will be what it is, for better or worse. A moment in time for each and every one of them.
So more news tomorrow if you can be patient. We finish around 6:30 again, and then have a jury dinner. So I will not be writing until late.
I am at Heathrow - in plenty of time on another warm London September morning. Now for a week of flute music - including, no doubt on multiple occasions, Carl Nielsen's wonderful flute concerto.
I am thrilled to be back in Denmark, and to explore its third city Odense. It is the birthplace of Nielsen and Hans Christian Andersen, as well as of the wonderful Caroline Wozniacki! That is a good start!
I hope I can make time in our intensive schedule to enjoy the beauties of this place - and share them with you! This may have to wait until towards the end of the week........but before then I have to arrive in Copenhagen and navigate my way to Odense by train.
I am off to Sussex today - and the glorious weather we are having this month will only make the pleasure greater. And my rail destination is Glynde - one of the more bucolic halts on the Southern railway system.
The Trevor Arms (left) was one of the favourite winter lunch places for Glyndebourne staff in the '60s and '70s - so all this will be familiar!
And this evening on my return to London I will be at the Garrick for supper with a dear friend and supporter from Chicago who is here in London for the week. She will be bringing her cousins along as well so we should have a noisy old time.
I am preparing for a week in Denmark next week - on the jury of the Carl Nielsen competition.
All other members of the jury are flautists! So my role will not be to evaluate the technical aspects......so I will be there to fulfil another requirement - "the Jury must take into account artistic as well as instrumental aspects of the performances." It will be fascinating - and a privilege to spend a week with a good many exceptional artists from another, though related, field.
Work on my apartment continues but may be finally completed today - more shelves and the final reconnection and testing of the central heating. I will not be here to watch.......
A miraculous day on the West coast of Wales - enough said!
Another beautiful day here in Wales in prospect - perfect for a Sunday exploring parts of this beautiful country.
Yesterday afternoon we were at the Mid Wales opera production of Carmen, in a chamber version with an immensely successful orchestration by Stephen McNeff, reducing the players to a mere ten, four strings, guitar, flute/piccolo, two clarinets one doubling alto sax, trumpet and percussion. A considerable achievement and beautifull accomplished by the splendid band conducted by MWO's distinguished and energetic Artistic Director Nicholas Cleobury. This arrangement could go far, and it is good to know that it is published by and available from Peters.
There was excellent singing to be heard in Jonathan Miller's new production and Rory Bremner's revised English libretto, both of which take the drama and emotion some distance from Bizet and Merimée's version of "Spain". However one could admire the warmth and beauty of Helen Sherman's Carmen, and of Marta Fontanels-Simmons' striking Mercedes.
The production is on tour up and down Britain between now and mid November the nearest to London I think being Bracknell on 20 September.
I am now looking forward to a sunny day out, including a visit to the seaside at Aberdovey!
I am in West Wales, some ten miles inland from Aberdovey, in beautiful rolling sheep filled country. It has been a glorious warm day and now in late afternoon the light on the hills is magic. Tomorrow afternoon there will be a trip to Newtown to see Mid Wales Opera's Carmen - meanwhile I have a pretty view from my bedroom window!
Two warm sunny days in early September on the trot does not make an Indian Summer - but what a treat it is to feel that continuing blush to make us happy as the children return to school for the long hard road of the autumn term.
It was a huge pleasure for me yesterday to have a long lunch with old friends David and Carol Lloyd-Jones. And we managed to toast this happy occasion on their sunny little balcony looking south from the Kings Road towards the river and Battersea.
David remains extremely busy and as a leading scholar as well as "practitioner" of Russian music is regularly feted in Moscow. And as Chairman of the Delius Trust was recently in Frankfurt for that opera company's production of A Village Romeo and Juliet.
David's passionate advocacy of British music is reflected in his remarkable list of recordings for Naxos, Chandos, and Hyperion.
Yesterday evening there was more social activity - showing off my "refurbished" Battersea flat to Anthony and Camilla Whitworth Jones. I am looking forward to a trip to Wales with them tomorrow - lots of fun stuff to report over the weekend.
The park across the street from me is a remarkably little known wonder of London. It was a glorious day today so, after a haircut at my old Parsons Green unisex "barber shop", and completion of some paperwork relating to next year's Neue Stimmen, I headed out for a 90 minute walk about.
Battersea's Victorian bandstand above is a handsome example - benefiting from the major restoration of the Park at the turn of the century. Much has happened to transform the park since I lived here before I left for Chicago in 1999.
Its a great thing to have on my doorstep. I lived in the country, in East Sussex, for more than 20 years - this is not a totally bad substitute!
As August comes to an end the blog should be back to its regular more or less daily pattern next week. The new season begins and the September operatic prospects are good. There will be a new production of Otello at the English National Opera that we are all looking forward to - as well as a revival of Nicholas Hytner's ground breaking production of Xerxes. And Anna Nicole is revived at the Royal Opera..........I missed it first time round.
But first up will be the Mid Wales Opera Production of Carmen next weekend when I will make the expedition to Newtown, Powys!
Yesterday brought me some welcome moments off from the horrors of moving from small to smaller.......I think that I really am getting there!! (I hope.....)
Anyway I took an hour off to walk in Battersea Park up to the river, the glorious Thames, and then across to Chelsea Bridge (above) and back home on the excellent 44 bus. Battersea Park is an unknown and neglected jewel. South of the River is not really considered quite "correct". But now that Battersea is becoming "South Chelsea" and the US Embassy is moving in, and Rafael Viñoly's masterplan for the old Battersea Power Station is under construction, we are in the middle of things!! It was a good move to buy my apartment in 1997!
Yesterday evening I made my way to the London Oratory School in Fulham to see the results of Co-Opera's 2014 summer development programme, a production of The Cunning Little Vixen. There was a large distinguished audience - the whole operation is animated by the tireless Kate Flowers. And they have the good fortune to have the use of the superb facilities of the Oratory School.
Kate was in the Glyndebourne company in the good old days, and appeared in the celebrated Jonathan Miller 1975 production of Vixen - in a later revival. So it is good to see that her love affair with this endearing piece continues and that she is bringing the joy of it to the new generation. The young woman, Libby Catlin, who took on the challenging title role did brilliantly - she held the stage - good for her!
I am now on to hanging pictures - a measure of progress........what a nightmare!!!
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