Scratching the glass ceiling

Your starter for ten: name a top female conductor (no Googling please?)  That’s any Musical Director or conductor of the world’s top 15 orchestras?  After 2014’s Last Night of the Proms you might have heard the name Marin Alsop along with the  sound of a glass ceiling being scratched, if not shattered.

Marin Alsop Photo by Grant Leighton

Seven years ago, Marin Alsop became the first woman ever to lead a major orchestra (the Baltimore Symphony.)  In her speech at the Proms she alluded to the gender inequality still prevalent not just in classical music but across many fields and remarked wryly, that she hoped the next female conductor at the Proms wouldn’t make headlines – like she did – simply because she was a woman.  It’s a very real possibility as attitudes appear to be changing.  Scandinavia and Asia still lead the way in the growing numbers of women studying to be conductors – Europe still lags a little behind.  Continue reading

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“Stranger Danger” – shall we tell the children?

Stranger2A friend of mine shared this post which offered an insightful and thought-provoking view on why parents should not teach children about “stranger danger,”  It’s a dilemma every parent faces: at what age do you progress from the softly-softly, safety advice given to toddlers and young children to tips on how to stay safe in a wider context with full knowledge of what could happen if you don’t? There’s some good pointers in the post – It’s worth a read.

 

 

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Singing for Pleasure, always!

Have a listen to some of the new recordings from Sing for Pleasure’s Summer School in August 2014.

Some wonderful arrangements from their songbooks as well as the premiere of Oli Tarney’s sublime, Magnificat.  It was a privilege to be one of the soprano voices on these recordings.  

Photo copyright: Sing for Pleasure

Photo copyright: Sing for Pleasure

Photo copyright: Hilary Griffiths

Photo copyright: Hilary Griffiths

From the SfP website:  Recorded excerpts from the first performance of Oliver Tarney’s Magnificat, from Summer School 2014. SfP plans to publish it, record it and make it available for choirs to perform in the future. It is a hugely varied, interesting and approachable piece!

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Time for Tea

AfternoonTea

I came across this great list of some of the most gorgeous tea rooms around the UK. Because I love afternoon tea as a special treat, I thought I’d post it here and share it with my readers. I’m very grateful to (and envious of) whoever’s done the donkey work to compile this list!

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“Gibraltarians have come into their own” – my article in the New Statesman.

Photo: courtesy Catherine Cleverly

Photo: courtesy Catherine Cleverly

My favourite meal as a child growing up in Gibraltar was “tortilla de patatas” (Spanish, potato omelette) with a dollop of tomato ketchup and baked beans.  As an adult I’m still partial to this curious, Anglo-Spanish, culinary combination, which perfectly encapsulates the hybrid nature of the Gibraltarians.  Fiercely British with a strong, Mediterranean influence, all aspects of life on the Rock of Gibraltar – from the “llanito” mishmash of English and Spanish spoken everywhere to the local traditions and way of life – feel just as curious a mix as that plate of tortilla and baked beans. Continue reading

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Musical legacy

WilliamGomezphotoIt’s amazing how a piece of music can move you to tears, give you goose-bumps. I came across this clip of the stunningly beautiful “Ave Maria” written by the late, Gibraltarian guitarist and composer, William Gomez, conducted by another supremely talented Gibraltarian, conductor Karel Chichon. This was performed by the Latvian soprano, Elina Garanca at the Vienna State Opera House. One talented “llanito” (Gibraltarian) keeping another’s musical legacy alive. Continue reading

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Keep the beat, improve your language skills

Here’s an interesting article I’m reproducing here, courtesy of the BBC.

Moving in time to a steady beat is closely linked to better language skills, a study suggests.

MoveToTheBeat
People who performed better on rhythmic tests also showed enhanced neural responses to speech sounds. The researchers suggest that practising music could improve other skills, particularly speech. In the Journal of Neuroscience, the authors argue that rhythm is an integral part of language. “We know that moving to a steady beat is a fundamental skill not only for music performance but one that has been linked to language skills,” said Nina Kraus, of Northwestern University in Illinois.

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