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Music leaves the concert hall for Manchester gig

01 Oct 2012

A series of classical performances outside the concert hall are culminating tomorrow (Oct 2) with what is thought to be the first ever concert at a hip Manchester venue.

Academics and students from The University of Manchester have been among the contributors to the week long series organised by Classical Revolution, commissioned by Manchester Peace Festival.

Thirty nine musicians will squeeze onto the Night and Day Cafe stage for the premiere of a new work by University of Manchester lecturer Richard Whalley- setting to music two poems by poet Ira Lightman called This and That.

Also on the October 2 bill will be a piece by fellow lecturer Nina Whiteman called Cloud Fragments.

Guests at the intimate venue will experience the highs and lows of classical music, in many cases for the first time.

Freelance double bass player and Director of Classical Revolution Heather Bird said: “When you go to classical music concerts, it’s striking how few young people there are.

“I think perhaps they may be intimidated by what they find: it’s not done, for example, to clap between movements and to dress informally.

“I have no criticism of the tradition and atmosphere of the classical music experience but it doesn’t have to be like that. There’s no reason why anyone can’t enjoy the beauty and power of a Shostakovich quartet or a Mahler symphony in a range of venues.

“As Mahler argued -  if a composer could say what he had to say in words he would not bother trying to say it in music.

“It’s not about understanding the programme notes but the experience of liking music and what it makes you feel.”

A highlight during the week was a children’s workshop  by students Emma Wilde, David Wishart and Hannah Ashman-  called carnival of the English animals – based on the popular Saint-Saëns suite. The children got the chance to improvise and conduct the ensemble.

Sally Johnson, who also teaches at the University, was among the musicians to perform Britten’s Les Illuminations as part of several performances to crowds at a stage in Albert square-  another unusual location for classical music.

Richard Whalley said: “I’m delighted to have written music for Classical Revolution, as they really care about the future of music.

“After all, if we don’t take music out of the concert hall we’re missing out on the majority of our future potential audience.

“And it’s not even about ‘classical music’ given the diversity of backgrounds of composers – much better just to talk about music.

“In any case I can’t wait to hear what an orchestra and choir will sound like in Night and Day!”

Acclaimed British pianist Martin Roscoe, a supporter of Classical Revolution said: "Classical Revolution is a breath of fresh air which is succeeding in drawing in new audiences to classical music while doing invaluable charity work".

Notes for editors

Richard Whalley and Heather Bird are available for comment.

Images are available.

Classical Revolution at Manchester Peace Festival took place from September 21 until October 2.

Journalists are invited to rehearsals on Tuesday 2 October-  which are taking place from 5pm at Night & Day Café, 26 Oldham Street, Northern Quarter, Manchester, M1 1JN.

For media enquiries contact:
Mike Addelman
Press Officer
Faculty of Humanities
The University of Manchester
0161 275 0790
07717 881567
Michael.addelman@manchester.ac.uk