Katy Fennema is the newest member of Woodend Music Society (WMS) and she has been busy working on a cultural round-up of classical music to listen, watch and participate in during lockdown. Katy studied oboe and piano at the Royal Academy of Music, London and has performed solo recitals at the Wigmore Hall, Queen Elizabeth Hall and the Bridgewater Hall, Manchester. She has also played principal oboe in many orchestras, including the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, BBC Philharmonic, Scottish Chamber Orchestra and BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra.
Two weeks ago, when the world was a totally different place, I watched a live stream of the Berlin Philharmonic and conductor Simon Rattle playing Bartok’s Concerto for Orchestra. When the camera panned around the hall, we could see that every seat was empty, as Germany had banned large gatherings. At the end of their performance, the orchestra stood, and Rattle said ‘A pleasure, thank you so much’, before silently walking offstage.
This performance reminded me of a summer when I was working with the Mahler Chamber Orchestra in Provence. French theatre workers were on strike and so our first and only performance of the season was to my mother, sat alone high up in the stadium. A surreal and almost eerie experience.
As musicians we play because we want to move people, to transport them somewhere, inspire them. Now that we are all in lockdown, musicians still want to do this. I wanted to share some of my favourite free concerts, currently streaming live and recorded over the last couple of weeks.
Every Sunday and Thursday, the London Symphony Orchestra is streaming a concert from their archive, along with programme notes. On 9 April they feature a programme of Stravinsky’s ballet music that I’m particularly looking forward to.
The Royal Opera House has also created a schedule of free broadcasts. Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf ballet is one for all the family. I just wish that my instrument, the oboe, didn’t have to portray a duck…
Not to be outdone, The Metropolitan Opera is offering a daily streaming of their award-winning Live in HD series. Each performance will be available for 23 hours, which could keep you rather busy.
The Russian-German pianist Igor Levit has been rather busy too, giving recitals from his living room via his Twitter page. I have found his performances compelling and immediate.
The violinist Daniel Hope has opened his living room to the public, giving fourteen concerts over two weeks. Hope has converted his apartment into a fully equipped recording studio. In another part of the building, world-renowned sound and film crews are operating remote cameras. There is live interaction with his audience on Twitter and even the opportunity for requests.
The London Mozart Players have launched their new series, At Home with the LMP, which includes concerts for young people and lessons in conducting.
I’ve been enjoying listening to my former orchestra, the Royal Scottish National Orchestra’s Facebook posts. Transform your family and kitchen utensils into a Samba band with their RSNO Challenge series.
Do also listen to Arias and Credenzas, commissioned from David Ward by WMS and sound, this 20 minute premiere was part of Sound Festival 2017.
I’m still teaching my oboe and piano students during this difficult period. It’s taken a couple of weeks for us to build up a strategy that works online, but we’re enjoying the new experience. Now is a great opportunity to dust off the instrument you have been talking about learning for years. Play With a Pro offers online lessons with professional musicians from around the world.
You may not be able to go to a concert, but it’s all there in your own home.