Issue 25: Broadening the Scope

Welcome. In this issue we’re broadening the scope of Notes from the Podium. Alongside a fascinating in-depth interview with one of the world’s leading choreographers, we have a conversation on Dame Ethel Smyth (continuing the theme of the last issue), and a film review.

Sir David Bintley is a world-renowned choreographer, and former Director of the Birmingham Royal Ballet and Artistic Director of the National Ballet of Japan. He has collaborated with a vast array of artists over the decades, including many conductors (in particular Paul Murphy, BRB’s Principal Conductor). David chose to focus on his work with the Australian composer Matthew Hindson, which gave us an opportunity to discuss the nature of collaboration between the composer, choreographer and conductor. During our conversation he also covered his work with Sally Beamish, with whom he created The Tempest and now A Christmas Carol, to be performed later this year in Helsinki, Finland. It was absolutely fascinating to probe into David’s huge wealth of experience, and found our conversation to be a wonderful addition to the other interviews in the archive on the ballet repertoire.

It’s always a pleasure to speak with John Andrews, Principal Guest Conductor of the National Symphony Orchestra and Artist-in-Association with the English Symphony Orchestra. He has spoken to Notes twice before, on Wolf-Ferrari’s Il secreto di Susanna and Gilbert and Sullivan’s Haddon Hall, as well as contributing the very popular article ‘The Maestro: Benevolent dictator or collegial facilitator?’ back in 2020. This time we discussed his new world premiere recording of Dame Ethel Smyth’s one-act opera Der Wald, which is to be released in September 2023. John, working from the original handwritten score, conducted the BBC Symphony Orchestra and the BBC Singers, with principal roles sung by Robert Murray, Natalya Ramaniw, and Claire Barnett-Jones. We hope that this conversation whets your appetite for the recording, as well as possible future performances!

A few months ago the film TÁR – written and directed by Todd Field and starring Cate Blanchett – was quite the hot topic. Although the film’s zeitgeist may have come and gone, writing an in-depth review needed time. Shortly after the film’s release, a constant barrage of negative comments appeared on my social media feeds, complaining about the film’s pretentiousness and implausibility. However, having now seen the film numerous times for myself I wondered if I had watched the same movie. Am I the only classical musician who thinks TÁR is a masterpiece? I decided to take the opportunity to write an in-depth review and explain why this is the case. I hope you enjoy it.

As ever, huge thanks to David and John for their involvement. It was great to be in touch again. Also huge thanks to my Associate Editor, Dr Justin Grize, who has been invaluable in assisting with this issue’s diversification.

Dr Hannah Baxter (Editor)