Radio 3 BBC Prom 50

For those of you who can get it, there are five more days of Prom 50:

The Radio 3 information is here:


1 hour, 30 minutes

First broadcast:
Monday 19 August 2013

BBC SSO and Ilan Volkov live at the BBC Proms with Gerald Barry, Feldman’s Coptic Light and the World Premiere of Frederic Rzewski’s Piano Concerto with the composer as soloist.

Live from the Royal Albert Hall, London

Presented by Andrew McGregor

John White: Chord-Breaking Machine
Gerald Barry: No other people. (UK premiere)
Frederic Rzewski: Piano Concerto (BBC commission: world premiere)
Feldman: Coptic Light

Frederic Rzewski (piano)
BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra
Ilan Volkov (conductor)

Ilan Volkov brings his spirit of adventure to this late night Prom, featuring music as beautiful as it is ground breaking.

The BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra performs music by a quartet of visionary and idiosyncratic composers, including two premieres. John White’s Chord-breaking Machine could be seen as belonging to a tradition of experimental English minimalists, deconstructing musical material into its constituent parts and reforming as repetitive machine structures; Irish maverick Gerald Barry’s No Other People, tonight receiving its first UK performance, also draws on repetition and seemingly simple musical figures, but here to create strongly contrasting canvases of bold, wild and stark music.

Frederic Rzewski’s BBC Radio 3-commissioned Piano Concerto, tonally kaleidoscopic and stylistically far reaching, receives its world premiere, with the composer as soloist. And the concert concludes with Morton Feldman’s late masterpiece, Coptic Light, a meditation for orchestra: a beatific and spiritual end to this late-night Prom.

See what you think and let us know. We liked the White of course, and the Feldman — always good. Nice of Ilan Volkov to programme this. He’s been an enthusiastic proponent of this music for some time. And he got the Beeb to programme John White. Cool.

Okay, one gripe. We’re hoping that someday the BBC will not only programme the music, but also someday actually learn something about it; for instance, the description, ‘John White’s Chord-breaking Machine could be seen as belonging to a tradition of experimental English minimalists’. Well, duh. John White is the main man, the big daddy, the big Kahuna, the founder and leading exponent of English minimalism. He invented Machine processes and if we’re talking about any minimalism in Britain before 1980, that minimalism has White to thank in some small part or other — for Machines and other systems processes. If you don’t know John White’s minimalism, try his Promenade Theatre Orchestra music. Or his electric music. Then try some Parsons, or Skempton, or Bryars, or Nyman, or Hobbs, or Dennis, or Shrapnel, or Smith, or Lewis, or Hill, or….

Hobbs and Budd on the wireless

It’s amazing what one comes across when idly surfing the web. For one thing, although we know Music from Other Minds Friday radio show on KALW and love what Richard Friedman and Charles Amirkhanian does with it, we have missed a lot of these programmes. Luckily, these days we can get to them any time, such as this show, 308: Mostly Rare, from 11 May 2012: , which features (along with a bit of Delius, Hauer and Stephen Montague), two excerpts from Marty Walker’s old Advance album. There’s Hal Budd’s In Delius’ Sleep (1974), played by Walker (Bb clarinet) and Barney Childs (piano and percussion) and Chris Hobbs’ Recitative (1979), played by Walker (bass clarinet), Childs (celesta), Virginia Anderson (percussion), and Hobbs (vibraphone). If you haven’t heard these two pieces from the 1970s, it’s worth a listen.

Smith Planets off!

Dave sends us sad news about this event:

Dear all,

Regretfully my concert featuring “The Planets” planned for Friday 13th
September at Schotts recital room has had to be postponed. Apologies for
this. “The Planets” will appear on another occasion!

Best wishes


We hope to see it soon!

Fossils and Monsters concert

Our friend, Ian Mitchell, sends us news of a concert:

Fossils and Monsters

Thursday 8th August & Friday 9th August, 2013 18:55-19:55

fossils and monsters
Alison Wells, Ian Mitchell, Catriona Scott


Judith Bingham, Christopher Hobbs, Colin Riley,

William O. Smith

Judith Bingham, John Ginman

Costume Designer: Carolyn Richardson
Electronics: Colin Riley

Mary Anning: Alison Wells
Mary Shelley: Alison Wells
Clarinet: Ian Mitchell
Clarinet: Catriona Scott

Fossils and Monsters presents the tales of Mary Anning and Mary Shelley – both living in the 19th century but from very different backgrounds; both experts in their field but largely unrecognised in their time. Alison Wells performs Mary Anning by Judith Bingham and Science Fictions by Colin Riley, framed by extraordinary pieces for clarinets played by Ian Mitchell and Catriona Scott.

With up to 3 shows a night for just £7.50 (£5 concessions) each why not make and evening of it? The Festival is programmed so you can see a number of shows on the same visit, have a look at the calender HERE to see what else you can book for.

John White Prom

After more years than you can shake a stick at, the BBC Promenade Concerts at the Royal Albert Hall (the premiere British summer concert series), fondly called the ‘Proms’, will finally play music by John White. White’s Chord-Breaking Machine will open a concert of music by Frederic Rzewski, Morton Feldman, and, lest you think that they lost their heads and abandoned other music, the premiere of a piece by Gerald Barry.

This will be White’s first Prom. It’s a late one, of course, but it’s a Prom. And Cardew only got a Prom last year (the previous one in 1972 was the infamous Maoist Great Learning Prom, which seems to have scared the Beeb off any experimental music for a long time). Chord-Breaking Machine (1971) was commissioned by the Orchestra of King’s College School in Wimbledon. It is one of White’s Machine process minimalist pieces, related to White’s Gothic Chord Machine, a piece written for the Promenade Theatre Orchestra, a quartet (White, Christopher Hobbs, Alec Hill, and Hugh Shrapnel) who played virtuosic music on reed organs and toy pianos. Chord-Breaking Machine takes the ‘gothic chord’ idea to orchestral levels, consisting of a percussion pulse, successions of chords that ‘break’ from one to the other through diffusion, and brass ‘milestone’ chords. As far as we can tell, Chord-Breaking Machine has not been played since 1971. Should you have access to it, Brian Dennis’ review of the premiere (‘John White’, in ‘Music in London’, The Musical Times, 112/1541 (1971), p. 681) is a joy to read, not only for his account of Chord-Breaking Machine, but also for his assessment of White and Cardew playing White’s ‘Cello and Tuba Machine at the Queen Elizabeth Hall on May 17 of that year, where he refers to Stockhausen’s ‘mystical (and egocentric) ramblings’ elsewhere in the issue.

The Chord-Breaking Machine concert will be broadcast live on Monday, 19 August 2013 at 10.15, on the BBC (Radio 3). For information and tickets for the live event, see: .