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….

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