Instant Commentary

Posted by Susan Tomes on 9 December 2010 under Concerts, Daily Life, Musings  •  1 Comment

Interesting article the other day in The Guardian about the fact that many people now chat online about what they’re watching on TV, while they’re watching it. They don’t wait for the end of the programme, but start commenting on Twitter right away about things that annoy them, please them, or make them laugh. TV producers are used to having their work viewed in its entirety before anyone tries to assess it. They find this barrage of instant commentary disturbing, partly because it often focuses on things not intended to be in the foreground.

I don’t use Twitter, so I have no idea whether this kind of thing has extended into the concert hall. Do people sit there, sending witty or scathing messages to their followers about the clothes I’m wearing, the fingering I just used, the impact of the tempo change I just made? I find this an unnerving prospect. When I went to Sadler’s Wells recently, the management asked us not only to turn our mobile phones to ‘silent’ but to turn them off altogether, ‘because the lighted screens can disturb people sitting near you’. I was puzzled by that at the time. Why would anyone need lighted screens during the ballet? But now I realise that some people sit there tweeting in the dark. ‘Orchestra rubbish in overture.’ ‘New costumes for mice tonight’. ‘So-and-so just did huge leap’.

A present from Japan

Posted by Susan Tomes on 2 December 2010 under Books, Daily Life, Inspirations  •  2 Comments

Noriko OgawaI had a lovely surprise recently, and have been waiting for an opportunity to mention it. The distinguished Japanese pianist Noriko Ogawa read my book ‘Out of Silence’ recently, and told me that she would like to translate it into Japanese. She has now been commissioned to do so for the Tokyo publishing house of Shunju-sha, who specialise in books on arts subjects, memoirs and philosophy.

This feels like a very special development, partly because in the world of pianists, it might be fair to say that there’s often more spirit of competition than of collaboration. Therefore it’s amazing – and heartwarming – to hear that another pianist likes my book so much that she’s prepared to spend a considerable portion of next year translating it, despite her own busy concert schedule. It’s also very pleasing that this initiative should come from Japan, a country whose art I have admired for so long. Altogether, Noriko’s project is one of the nicest things that has happened to me this year.

Noriko Ogawa is best known in this country as a performer, of course, but she is also well known in Japan for her articles about music and musicians, and she writes a regular column in one of Japan’s most widely-read piano magazines.

Alumna news

Posted by Susan Tomes on 1 December 2010 under Musings  •  Leave a comment

My old college has picked up on my book having been included in The Independent’s ‘Pick of 2010’ last Friday. Read the article on the college website, where you can also find some fab photos of the chapel and so on.

Lake in D

Posted by Susan Tomes on 30 November 2010 under Daily Life, Musings  •  4 Comments

Richmond ParkThe lake in Richmond Park had frozen over for the first time this winter. People were breaking off pieces of ice from the shore line or picking up stones from the paths, and skimming them over the frozen surface of the water.

To my amazement, each stone played the same musical note as it bounced, the note D. ‘Chook-chooka-chooka-chooka-chooka-chhhhhh’, sang the stones on D as they skittered to a stop far out on the ice. All around the lake, in the brilliant winter sunshine, the ice rang out like tuned percussion. I had not thought of the lake as having ‘a note’ before.

‘Pick of 2010’

Posted by Susan Tomes on 27 November 2010 under Books, Reviews  •  1 Comment

My book ‘Out of Silence’ has been chosen by The Independent as one of the ‘best books for Christmas – our pick of 2010’. I’m told by my publisher that this has led to …. well, if not a surge exactly, then a ‘bijou surgette’ in orders on Amazon. Hooray!

The Independent’s literary editor, Boyd Tonkin, said:
‘..In another part of the musical forest, but with just as sure a literary touch, that outstanding pianist and educator Susan Tomes took us inside the world of the over-worked, under-valued classical player in ‘Out of Silence’. I wish idiots who bleat about the ‘elitism’ of the classical tradition could at least pick up this generous, friendly, revealing diary of a year’s hard slog.’

Read the article in The Independent