When the UK premiere was announced, the response in some corners was less than supportive
Key issues are explored – in a disturbing section, Wallfisch reads a long list of those who have been murdered as Rolph recalls a transphobic attack – but, pleasingly, Hannah gets a happy ending, finding peace as her true self.
It was a bold programming choice by artistic director Odaline de la Martinez, creatively presented by director Benjamin Davis. When the UK premiere was announced, the response in some corners was less than supportive. “Woketastic” and “thanks for the warning” were some of the more benign below-the-line comments on one classical music news site – surely making this run of As One all the more necessary.
Controversy of a very different sort surrounded Classic FM’s recent gala concert at the Royal Albert Hall.
Nigel Kennedy pulled out of a scheduled performance at short notice after a spat with organisers over repertoire. Kennedy claims that the radio station prevented him from performing a Jimi Hendrix tribute, requesting that the superstar violinist play Vivaldi’s Four Seasons – a work that Kennedy recorded back in 1989 – and insisting he play with a conductor.
The Big Wish
Support The Big Issue and our vendors this Christmas
Every time you buy a copy of The Big Issue, subscribe or donate, you are helping our vendors to work their way out of poverty by providing 'a hand up not a hand out.' You’re helping Big Issue vendors achieve their #BigWish
Kennedy had been due to perform with Chineke!, an ensemble founded in 2015 by double-bassist Chi-chi Nwanoku to provide opportunities for young black and ethnically diverse classical musicians.
“This is musical segregation,” Kennedy told The Guardian. “They’re effectively saying that Hendrix is all right in the Marquee Club, but not in the Albert Hall.”
It does seem a strange decision on Classic FM’s part – the broadcaster regularly features music that is often not, strictly speaking, classical. Guitarist Miloš has recorded Harold Arlen’s Over the Rainbow and Street Spirit (Fade Out) by Radiohead for the Classic FM sessions and I once heard the Ayoub Sisters perform Scottish folk songs at Classic FM Live. And Welsh opera singer and Classic FM favourite Katherine Jenkins has never, to my knowledge, sung in an opera.
Anyone who has been to a Nigel Kennedy concert knows that he generally leads the orchestra himself, without a conductor, and that pop improvisation is an important – and enjoyable – part of his set.
“The Berliner Philharmoniker, the best orchestra in the world, never asked me to have a conductor,” said Kennedy, adding, “I’ve got a name for Classic FM: Jurassic FM.” At least the furore is well timed: Kennedy’s new memoir and three-CD box-set, both titled – appropriately – Uncensored, are due for release on November 4.
This article is taken from the latest edition of The Big Issue magazine. If you cannot reach local your vendor, you can still click HERE to subscribe to The Big Issue today or give a gift subscription to a friend or family member. You can also purchase one-off issues from The Big Issue Shop or The Big Issue app, available now from the App Store or Google Play.