Euan Murdoch is travelling Around the World in 60 Days and blogging about it…
Last night I attended my final concert at Wigmore Hall and like all farewells it was a little sad. It was fitting that the programme included one of my favourite works for string quartet by an Englishman played by the Endellion String Quartet. Britten’s second quartet is such an inventive and profound work. It was wonderful to hear it performed by an ensemble who knew it inside out. I sat next to a couple from Northern California who were making one of their regular pilgrimage’s to Wigmore and they were pulsing with excitement and expectation before the concert began. The Britten was new to them and they loved it too.
Other concert highlights from the week included the second all-Beethoven programme by the Hagen Quartet and a concert by our good friends from Vienna, the Eggner Trio. As I observed in my last post, it is very unusual to have two ensembles comprising three siblings. This makes for a unique almost innate sense of communication between them on stage. I can imagine some of the family dynamics at rehearsals having grown up myself as the youngest of three boys with our own string trio. In conversation with Florian, the youngest and also the cellist of the Eggners after their concert, I was fascinated to hear that he had studied with the Hagens’ cellist…perhaps they exchanged some family secrets. Other family ensembles over the years include the Mozarts and Menuhins, the Kontarsky brothers and the Labéque sisters to name a few. I guess this makes sense when you consider that we are often encouraged by our parents to take up music. Family musical evenings have been around since the beginning as social occasions and provide an important (mostly friendly) performance platform. It’s a small step from this to house concerts where you invite your friends and neighbours, and there you have the roots of chamber music!
On Monday I spent a very enjoyable day at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama listening to some fresh talent as part of the auditions for the Young Classical Artist Trust. These outstanding young instrumentalists, pianists, singers and ensembles were vying for the chance to be selected, mentored and managed by this organisation. Many former YCAT artists have gone on to illustrious and successful careers including groups like Kungsbacka, Gould and Leopold Trios, Doric and Belcea String Quartets and solo artists such as trumpeter Alison Balsom and Kiwi singer Wendy Dawn Thomson. As one of four on the selection panel I felt a huge responsibility to get it right! Fortunately in the end we were unanimous with our selection for the final to be held at Wigmore Hall in mid-May. I will be watching with keen interest to see who is finally taken on to their books and wish all of them every success.
We fly to New York this evening and a new chapter of my journey begins. Just to whet your appetitie with a few highlights, I’m looking forward to hearing Tokyo String Quartet at 92nd Street Y on Saturday evening and Kronos Quartet in a late night concert at Carnegie Hall the following Friday. I have a full calendar of visits and meetings with Juilliard and Mannes Schools of Music, the Chamber Society of Lincoln Center and Young Concert Artists (their equivalent of YCAT) plus a whole city to explore. Fortunately it’s the place that never sleeps and I just need to emulate that, hopefully the coffee is good!
Farewell UK it’s been a privilege and I’ll be back soon for more…
– Euan, 25.04.13