Among the ongoing events that continue to make a profound mark on the young decade, the world of music lost one of its brightest lights. In July, composer Ennio Morricone died at the age of 91, leaving behind a vast body of work, much of it cherished by many. Such affection was clear to see in the sincere and diverse tributes to man and music that emerged in the wake of his passing, but it’s evident that his exceptional achievements still merit more than the discourse currently surrounding not only them, but film music composition generally.

There's more to Morricone than spaghetti westerns

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1. Sogno di Volare ("The Dream of Flight")
It's probably no surprise, but the main melody for Sogno di Volare is inspired by the chorales in both Saint-Saëns Organ Symphony and Sibelius' Finlandia. There's something stately and magnificent about that type of block homophonic writing, especially when sung. The Saint-Saëns has the added influence of that massive cathedral organ barreling in at the end of Sogno di Volare!

The music that inspired To Shiver the Sky


People are often fascinated when I tell them I am a professional conductor. Sometimes they do a little imitation of a band director they had back in school, or talk about the time they saw a great conductor at a concert. Once in a while, they ask what train company I work for. But when it comes down to it, the reaction is always a variation on the same theme - “what does a conductor really do?” 

What does a conductor actually do?


In exactly one month I will be 40, and I'm thoroughly looking forward to it. I don't think I've ever felt so secure in my own identity, so comfortable in my own skin. A lot of this feeling is probably just down to getting older and realising what's genuinely important in life, but a massive amount of hard work, a good dollop of luck, and a decent amount of privilege have also played their part. To be honest, the only time I think about my identity these days is when I am filling in funding applications, or taking part in school workshops...

Cheryl Frances-Hoad: music and my identity


On a cool March evening in Lucerne, I walked back to my hotel room after an exorbitantly priced pizza (certainly so for an eighteen year old yet to receive his concert fee) to find myself entranced by the distant sound of a horn call. The mellow tones that enveloped Lucerne’s old style buildings, shimmered across the lake and bounced around the mountains ignited my curiosity as to its source. My quest to find the source led to the eventual parting of yet another precious...

Evolution of the Horn: from shepherd's tool to "soul of the orchestra"




Lying on his deathbed in February 1934, Edward Elgar summoned the strength to whistle to a friend the main theme of the first movement of his then neglected, but now enduringly popular, Cello Concerto, and to reassure him that: ‘If ever you’re walking on the Malvern Hills and hear that, don’t be frightened. It’s only me.’ Of all the great composers, it is Elgar who has perhaps most successfully attained the status of an ‘icon of locality.’ Like the first-century British chieftain Caractacus before him, he is an integral part of the ‘spirit of place’ of the Malvern Hills. 

Whistle and I'll come to you:' walking with Elgar on the Malvern Hills


I woke up under a heavy Kashmiri sky and washed my face with fresh rainwater. Abdul’s house was set against the side of a hill in the low Himalayan foothills, offering a good vantage point over the rest of the village. People began appearing on rooftops to hang out their washing; brightly coloured saris crisp against a monochrome sky. We had a busy day ahead: a three-hour drive around the vast Mangla Dam, up into the mountains to perform at a wedding. I was in the village of Khari Sharif, resting place of the local Sufi saint Mian Muhammad Bakhsh, and home to my mentor, Ustad Abdul Ali Khan. 

The Wood of the Flute: Stories from Kashmir