On Tues 7th Sept at 3.00pm in the Purcell Room there is a unique opportunity to have a moment of insight into the famous Venezuelan music education programme ‘El Sistema’ from one of their leading exponents, the Simón Bolívar String Quartet. Guest-chaired, the discussion will touch on personal experiences of growing up in the El Sistema, the transition from young musician to professional musician and a brief discussion about their sister ensemble, the Teresa Carreño Youth Orchestra of Venezuela, who make their UK debut at Southbank Centre this coming October. There will be the chance to talk with the Quartet’s members in an informal Q and A session, plus some live music from the quartet as part of the afternoon. This is a free event but remember to book a ticket to reserve your place.
This October, legendary pianist Stephen Hough will be playing alongside the internationally acclaimed Singapore Symphony Orchestra. We had the opportunity to ask Stephen a few quick-fire questions and find out a little of what makes him tick.
What music would work as the soundtrack to your life?
Silence with the gentle sound of bells in the distance.
What’s your favourite museum or art gallery?
Very difficult to say, but London’s National Gallery is pretty hard to beat.
What’s been your biggest challenge?
Always the strange balances in a concert pianist’s life – the ‘in control’ aspects of getting to the airport on time and sorting out taxes and other paper work, alongside of the extreme sensitivity to be alert to the beauty of every sound coming out of the keyboard. To be excited by a simple C major chord, and to make sure there are clean socks for the next concert.
What – or where – is perfection?
The unattainable which we strive passionately every day to attain.
Which living person do you most admire (and why)?
The nameless person I see in, say, a supermarket who, amidst frustrations and annoyances, remains calm and kind. They wouldn’t even know I was talking about them.
What other talent or skill would you like to possess?
I’d like to speak at least three more languages fluently.
Tell us about a special memory you have of Southbank Centre (Royal Festival Hall/Queen Elizabeth Hall/Purcell Room/Hayward Gallery)?
I was in the finals of the National Junior Piano Playing competition in 1969. It was my first visit to London and I played on the stage of the Purcell Room in my short pants and stretched-out legs. I didn’t win a prize but I had a special mention from the chairman of the jury, Gerald Moore.
What’s your favourite website?
I don’t really spend a lot of time reading websites, but I’d be lost without Google … and I’d have a different life without my own blog.
What is the most important lesson life has taught you?
To be ready for the new lessons ahead.
What is the most played piece of music on your MP3 player or in your CD collection?
I don’t listen to CDs as much as I would like, but I’ve listened a lot of times to En Avril a Paris sung by Charles Trenet.
Leading a new wave of Korean traditional music Baramgot bring a fresh approach to the mystical, dynamic sounds of their country’s musical heritage.
We have an exclusive peak behind the scenes of one of their recent concerts.
Catch them at Southbank Centre on 13 September.
‘The orchestra has really wonderful players. They have this magic energy and precision. They are amazing.’ (Alejandro)
Sir Simon Rattle agrees holding the orchestra in high esteem – ‘I knew I would be blown away’.
Simon Bolivar String Quartet bring a range of performances to Queen Elizabeth Hall early September. Alejandro comments ‘Playing in the string quartet really opens your ear and your mind to new ideas’. Music is ‘made with passion, love and all your heart. Music is music, and art is art. For us, it’s not separated’.
On 25 June 2010, as part of The Festival of Science + Arts, Philharmonia Orchestra, Philharmonia Voices and Andre de Ridder performed the world premiere of Stanley Kubrick’s 1968 masterpiece 2001: A Space Odyssey with live music here at Royal Festival Hall. Watch a video about this special event:
Presented in association with the BFI, with support from Warner Bros.