‘Scotsman’ article today on piano competition

Posted by Susan Tomes on 15 September 2010 under Concerts, Daily Life  •  Leave a comment

Following on from yesterday’s post about the Scottish International Piano Competition, anyone who’s interested in the new chamber music round may like to read Kenneth Walton’s article on the subject in today’s Scotsman newspaper. The chamber final is tonight at 7pm in the Concert Hall of the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama.

Trillions of notes

Posted by Susan Tomes on 14 September 2010 under Concerts, Daily Life, Musings  •  2 Comments

I’m in rainy Glasgow, half way through my fortnight on the jury of the triennial Scottish International Piano Competition. Obviously I can’t say much as the competition is still in progress, but I can say how absorbing it’s been to hear so many accomplished young pianists from all around the world.

So many different styles of playing, such varied types of platform presentation, such different cultural attitudes, and yet all linked by the fact that at their young age they have already attained a level of excellence which would astonish some of the composers whose music they play. I imagine that Liszt, for example, might never have imagined that people would actually take the trouble to play every one of the trillions of notes he wrote in his sonata and his virtuoso arrangements. And yet they do; they regard being able to play every note as an obvious starting-point.

I said something about these high-achievers this evening in a radio interview for CBC. The presenter asked me whether such achievement inevitably means that the people concerned ‘have no time to stop and stare’. Do they know anything about world events? Do they go to the theatre? Are they fun to go for a drink with? And of course I wonder too.

More musical if wearing a long frock

Posted by Susan Tomes on 5 September 2010 under Concerts, Daily Life, Musings  •  Leave a comment

Much discussion yesterday about Ben Goldacre’s ‘Bad Science’ column in the Guardian. This time he was reporting a piece of good science, a paper by Noola Griffiths which shows that young women violinists are judged more musical and more technically proficient if they are wearing formal concert clothes. You can read his description of this elegant experiment here.

Of course no woman musician would be surprised to hear that the audience prefers them in formal concert clothes. Over the years, as society at large has adopted a wide variety of ‘going out’ clothes, musicians both male and female have experimented with dressing differently for concerts. But there’s great resistance to us changing our traditional concert wear. Lots of women musicians have experienced the audience’s vexation if they dress in a way that audiences find disappointing or inappropriate. Indeed, comments about one’s concert clothes are a regular part of after-concert conversation.

What I hadn’t quite realised is how much one’s style of dress influences how the audience assesses one’s talent. I knew they didn’t want us to appear on stage in jeans or a clubbing dress, but I didn’t know they would actually judge us to be less musical and less technically proficient if we did. Alas, can it really be that simple?

Herald article about SIPC

Posted by Susan Tomes on 2 September 2010 under Concerts, Inspirations, Musings, Travel  •  1 Comment

Today’s Glasgow Herald has an article about the Scottish International Piano Competition, which starts next week in Glasgow. I’m  on the competition jury.

The board of the competition have made some wise and welcome changes to the requirements, which we all hope will encourage well-rounded and deep-thinking musicians to apply. The finals are now divided into two parts, one with the usual concerto with orchestra, and one in which the finalists play a major work of chamber music with the Brodsky Quartet in a public concert. They hope it will make everyone realise that accomplished pianists should be able to listen to others as well as to themselves. The winner of the previous competition in 2007, Tom Poster, is already a role model in this respect with his dual commitment to solo and chamber music.  Read the Glasgow Herald article here.

Last roes of summer

Posted by Susan Tomes on 31 August 2010 under Daily Life  •  Leave a comment

autumn deerAll right, natural science correspondents, I may have got the deer species  completely wrong, but I couldn’t resist the pun.

After so much bad weather here recently, with autumn seeming ever closer, the wind dropped today and the sun seemed to gather itself for one renewed effort on the last day of August. The bracken in the park has grown very tall, hiding the deer until a moment before you see them. The deer have grown big antlers. I was so pleased to snap this little beauty today.