Monday 6 July 2020

Zooming the woods with Siegfried

This should have been the third September of taking my Ring course to the amazing Gartmore estate in the Trossachs near Stirling, courtesy of the Wagner Society of Scotland. For obvious reasons that won't be happening. How I shall miss the possibility of waking up to misty mornings like this

followed by days of blazing sunshine. Well, that was last September, and Scotland's second heatwave of 2019, so probably it won't be repeated. But I would have been swimming regularly in a pool of the Forth I discovered on my last day.

No matter; next year is already booked, though whether it will be for Götterdämmerung - probably most participants are more likely to want to join my autumn term Opera on Focus course, since that will almost certainly revert to Zoom , too - or Tristan und Isolde remains to be seen.

In the meantime, though it's run under the aegis of the Wagner Society of Scotland, anyone can still sign up for the Zoom Siegfried course, due to start this Wednesday afternoon at 2.30pm, running until (approximately, since Zoom time gives us luxury to over-run) 4.30pm, and then for nine more Wednesdays. It's a bargain at £100 for the whole term. If you'd like to join, just email me at

Who knows whom we will be able to entice as special guests this time? My summer courses have been on such a roll. Cue namedrop: Ermonela Jaho, Sirs Antonio Pappano and Mark Elder for Madama Butterfly (Tony, as we can call him, had so much of wondrous interest to say that I didn't get my stint in, so am more than happy to offer an extra class this afternoon) plus Susan Bullock on Elektra; for the symphony classes, Vladimir Jurowski, Paavo Järvi, Vasily Petrenko and Mark Wigglesworth among the megastars plus equally fascinating contributions from conductors Catherine Larsen-Maguire, Kristiina Poska, Jonathan Bloxham, Andres Kaljuste and Ian Page. This Thursday Elizabeth Wilson of the superlative Shostakovich: A Life Remembered and violinist/leader/conductor Peter Manning join us for thoughts on the master's Fifteenth Symphony. This has been a rare time, and the fact that I've been able to live and breathe the music of both courses in between classes has been an extra boon,


John Graham, Edinburgh said...

glad you got Pappano along as one of your speakers. I always enjoy his related yet very informative manner on radio and also on DVD documentaries, never in the least condescending or arch, but warm and engaging and keen to draw you in, unlike say Peter Phillips of the Tallis Scholars, who can be very Jacob Rees-Moggish and distant

David said...

Pappano is a true Mensch, shrewd, unsparing but always kind about some of the singers he works with. The perfect mixture of passion and precision. So professional in the lead up, too, writing the bare minimum but always managing to seem affable with it. And as he was in Italy, his mind must already have been on his Beethoven cycle in Rome. Jurowski is the same. They know their worth and are confident but never over-assertive. And willing to have a laugh, too. IF you drop me an email I can send you the recording(s).

David Damant said...

As my mother used to say, it's an ill wind that did nobody any good...and one can hope that there will be some degree of follow on post virus

Also congratulations on seizing the moment

David said...

Obliquely, I should also note as a lapsed oboist that my instrument has been described as 'an ill wind that nobody blows good'. Let's just say that it takes a very long time to make a decent sound on it.

Susan Scheid said...

You have done brilliant work with these courses, including surmounting the technical challenges of zooming! I want to highlight your comment, "the fact that I've been able to live and breathe the music of both courses in between classes has been an extra boon." True for me, too. You've really brought music back to me, better than I was able to do on my own. So thank you, and I am looking forward enormously to the Adams segment.

David said...

Couldn't ask for a lovelier comment. Thanks for your support all the way. The symphony course is one I really don't want to let go...but good to quit with a full house of wonderful special guests. The large score of Adams' Harmonielehre arrived yesterday, hurrah.