New chamber opera double-bill comes to Canterbury this Sunday

October 23, 2014

Canterbury’s contemporary music fans are in for a treat this Sunday, as Nova Music Ensemble brings a double-bill of new chamber opera to this year’s Canterbury Festival.

Cecilia McDowall’s Airborne marks this year’s World War One centenary theme in a tribute to the forgotten pilots of the Royal Flying Corps; here she is talking about the work

Fournier: The Funeral of Shelley

Fournier: The Funeral of Shelley

Partnering this is Prometheus Drowned by Stephen McNeff, examining the strange death of Shelley; here’s Stephen talking about the piece and the influence of Fournier’s famous painting.

Both works were premiered earlier this year at the Presteigne Festival; this will be a great opportunity to catch them in Canterbury this weekend. More details here.


Artists, collaboration and risk-taking: useful insights from Margaret Heffernan

February 6, 2014

There’s a very useful article over on the Huffington Post by Margaret Heffernan called ‘What Are the Arts For ?,’ one section of which contains a trenchant encapsulation of the challenges faced by those working in the contemporary arts:

Successful artists are the most tough-minded people I know, able to contain and manage uncertainty, risk and experiment. With no guarantee of success, they work night and day to create something no one’s ever seen before for an audience or market they can’t be sure of. They do so unstintingly, tearing down what they’ve done, rebuilding, revising, reworking, pushing to make the work better, funnier, more moving, clearer, more challenging. They don’t stop until they’re satisfied and even then they’re driven to improve, often without reward, incentive or applause. They’re experts in what all of us need to do: pay attention to the thoughts of others, pick up and elaborate on them, experiment with them, take risks with ideas and own the task of making them better.

With the way arts organisations and funding mechanisms seem to be favouring collaborative endeavour, this is particularly relevant.  And the idea of being prepared to take risks with new ventures, new works and new ideas has resonances for all of us championing contemporay music.

Read more in the article itself online here.