Michael White’s classical news: Pride; Salon Music


Barbican-bound: Oliver Zeffman [Rebecca Reid]

GAY musicians aren’t exactly underrepresented or uncelebrated in the Western classical tradition – think Tchaikovsky, Britten, Bernstein, Poulenc… through to (very likely) Handel, Schubert and Ravel. But that’s a reason in itself to attach a classical concert to Pride Week, according to the conductor Oliver Zeffman who has duly set one up at the Barbican on July 7. “Classical music owes a lot to LGBT people,” he argues. “It’s worth saying so. And having a Pride concert is also a chance to engage with people outside the core audience for classical music, who wouldn’t normally come to a Barbican orchestral event but might if they’re drawn by the LGBT connection.” All of which makes sense. And from the artists he drawn into his Classical Pride event, it’s going to be a big deal – with pianist partners Pavel Kolesnikov and Samson Tsoy, American baritone of the moment Davone Tines, star tenor Nicky Spence, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra… and the premiere of a new piece by leading composer Julian Anderson. A case of out and loud. barbican.org.uk

On a less blazing scale, the intimate Salon Music concerts that run at the Highgate home of Michelle Berriedale Johnson continue July 13 with a seriously attractive recital of English song – based on settings of Thomas Hardy by the likes of Britten and Finzi, but with a brand new cycle by contemporary composer Arthur Keegan. Soprano Lotte Betts-Dean and guitarist James Girling perform. And the price of your ticket includes a Hardy-esque supper: presumably something Tess of the D’Urbervilles would have snacked on overnight at Stonehenge. Sounds tasty. salonmusic.co.uk

• Two major choral concerts surface this week, one of them July 9 at Alexandra Palace where Crouch End Festival Chorus pair the Brahms Requiem with a cantata by the African-American composer William Grant Still based on his wife’s experience of fleeing Russian pogroms in the early 20th century (cefc.org.uk). The other, also July 9 but at the Albert Hall, has the Bart’s Choir celebrating the 900th anniversary of Bart’s Hospital with an account of Vaughan Williams’ Sea Symphony. Not sure I get the connection there, unless it’s an oblique reference to the NHS in floundering distress (royalalberthall.com).

Last week the boss of the London Symphony Orchestra, Dame Kathryn McDowell, was widely quoted in newspapers lamenting the lack of music education in state schools: parents need these days to look elsewhere. But there are interesting new initiatives about. And one just starting in Highgate is Tales and Tunes: a series of family concerts for young children given by reputable musicians with an actor who tells the story behind the music. Set up by local resident Nicky Thomas, who once worked as the Barbican’s press officer, it launches July 10 at St Michael’s Highgate where pianists William Vann and Rokas Valuntonis join with actor Scott Karim to expound on Grieg’s Peer Gynt – complete with Nordic trolls and mountain kings. Attendance in costume is invited. And I only wish I knew what I’d done with my horned helmet. Details: nickythomasmedia.com

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