All Playing articles

  • Abel Selaocoe_BBC National Orchestra of Wales_BBC_CR.Chris Christodoulou_1
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    Abel Selaocoe: Uniting voice


    South African cellist-singer-composer Abel Selaocoe’s genre-defying performances have earned him several recent awards and a recording contract with Warner Classics. Tom Stewart meets the Manchester-based musician following his powerful BBC Proms 2021 debut

  • Boston residency at the Epiphany School in Dorchester, MA. Violist Sarah Darling. Cr Iaritza Menjivar
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    Black America: A race for change


    Still now, in the 21st century, black people are inadequately represented within classical music. Pauline Harding talks to string players in America about lingering social oppression and what the wider community can do to bring about progress

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    Beethoven from a string player’s perspective


    Top string players share their thoughts on Beethoven’s string repertoire. Spoiler: it’s not always smooth sailing

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    Nupen and du Pré: Golden girl


    Documentary maker Christopher Nupen made several groundbreaking films with Jacqueline du Pré. Here he shares his memories of the legendary British cellist who tragically died at the age of 42 after battling with multiple sclerosis

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    Historically informed performance: Baroque revolution


    Historically informed performance requires no secret code, argues Baroque violin professor Walter S. Reiter. The information is out there for the taking, and modern music colleges need to get ahead of the game

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    Female violinists of 18th-century England: Portrait of a lady holding a violin


    Taking a Regency portrait of an unknown violinist as his starting point, Kevin MacDonald investigates the lives and careers of Louise Gautherot and other female violinists of Georgian England

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    Villa-Lobos and the cello: A voice for Brazil


    Heitor Villa-Lobos began his musical career as a cellist and wrote numerous works for the instrument, including the monumental Second Cello Concerto. However, his primary interest lay in promoting the folk traditions of his Brazilian homeland rather than advancing the cello’s virtuoso repertoire, writes Felipe Avellar de Aquino 

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    Joseph White: Making history


    Cuban-born violinist Joseph White’s 1875 debut with the Philharmonic Society of New York was both a triumph and enormously significant – as the orchestra’s first performance with a soloist of African descent. Yavet Boyadjiev explores the event itself and the circumstances surrounding it

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    Encores: Time to shine


    Throughout much of the last century, technically showy encores by Paganini and Kreisler were standard fare for violinists, but in recent years players have moved away from the established virtuoso works to embrace everything from solo Bach to folk tunes and contemporary commissions. Charlotte Gardner talks to top players about ...

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    Strings and Piano: a sound balance


    Producing a nuanced, well-balanced and blended combination of piano and strings can be a difficult performance feat to achieve. Pauline Harding talks to chamber musicians, soloists and teachers to discover some of their secrets

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    Orchestral Tricks: in plain sight


    Gerald Elias has spent many years as a professional orchestral violinist – in the Boston SO and Utah Symphony – and has been music director of Salt Lake City’s Vivaldi by Candlelight chamber orchestra since 2004. Here he explores some of the universal challenges faced by orchestral string players which ...

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    Chevalier de Saint-Georges: the remarkable revolutionary


    Too long overlooked, the extraordinary life of 18th-century violinist and composer the Chevalier de Saint-Georges has once more been celebrated over the past 25 years. Yet his compositions remain unfairly neglected, writes Kevin MacDonald

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    Two-fingered Tchaikovsky: Beating the odds


    Despite losing the function of the third and fourth fingers of his left hand through focal dystonia and a shoulder injury, violinist Clayton Haslop was determined to continue playing. Here he shares his story

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    Vieuxtemps cadenzas: Following the clues


    The recent discovery of another cadenza to the first movement of Beethoven’s Violin Concerto, likely by Vieuxtemps, sheds an interesting light on the early performance history of the work, writes Martin Wulfhorst 

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    The Spice of Life: Teaching different styles


    Too often string teachers shy away from embracing styles outside the Western classical canon, but in doing so they’re ignoring a wealth of useful skills and techniques, not to mention repertoire, writes Julie Lyonn Lieberman

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    Ensemble Diderot: Hidden Gems


    This month Ensemble Diderot releases The Berlin Album, the latest in its ‘cities’ recording series, juxtaposing works by established 17th- and 18th-century composers alongside those of lesser-known contemporaries. Ensemble founder and violinist Johannes Pramsohler speaks to Pwyll ap Siôn about why these works deserve greater attention

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    Ida Haendel: Grande dame of the violin


    Following Ida Haendel’s death at the age of 96 in July, Tully Potter surveys the career of an exceptional performer and a remarkable woman

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    In search of perfection: finding the right bow


    Violinist and Metropolitan Opera concertmaster Benjamin Bowman has spent his entire playing career in search of ever more subtle and responsive bows. Here, he charts his journey to finding his ‘forever bow’, and advises string players on how they, too, can invest in this most important of assets

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    Writing a Cadenza: Creativity Unchained


    Cadenza writing has enjoyed a renewed surge in popularity over recent years. Pauline Harding talks to soloists, teachers and competition jurors about why the trend has been growing, and why more performers should take the plunge

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    Working with Conductors: Natural Balance


    When playing a concerto, the string soloist is rarely fully in charge – and working with opinionated conductors means that sometimes disagreements will occur. Charlotte Gardner speaks to three top performers and a conductor to find out how to strike the right balance