James M. Potter

writings on music, games, and culture

Listening: Harrison Birtwistle

Harrison Birtwistle performed by Ensemble ISIS, 25/06/14

Birtwistle is probably the Harrison with whom I am least familiar. Harrison Ford comes first, and then…actually I’m struggling to think of any others. I suppose a distant second could be the work of Harrison & Harrison, organ builders. Very distant second. But behind even them, Birtwistle – a lack of familiarity my phone keyboard chose to illustrate by rendering this week’s event as ‘birthwhistle concert at christ church’.
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Listening: BBC Choral Evensong/Vespers

Listening to online broadcasts of sung services might seem like something of a busman’s holiday for someone who regularly sings eight of them a week. However there’s a peculiar pleasure to sitting down with a cup of tea on a Monday morning (don’t be alarmed – it’s the church musician’s day off) and catching up with the BBC’s weekly broadcast, laconically reclining at one’s desk and asymptotically idling towards Inbox Zero. Read the rest of this entry »

Opera: all about the voice?

There’s a sort of war being waged in the media right now. It concerns comments made in reviews of a new production of Der Rosenkavalier. These comments focus on the physical stature of one of the performers in a way that has been widely seen as inappropriate. Rather than weigh in on social media (much as I enjoy wading through shrill, nuance-less chunks of opinion), I thought I’d set down a few brief thoughts. Read the rest of this entry »

Listening: Buddy Whittington

Buddy Whittington and Band, The Haven Club, 28/04/14

It’s not often these days that I get to what I think of as a ‘proper gig’. Back room of a pub, a few rows of leather jacket-wearing, slightly grizzled bluesmen and women, and a three-piece band rocking it. I was fortunate therefore to get a dose of all this last Monday. Read the rest of this entry »

Diary: Stars

For a concert with my choral group, Fratres, I’ve been preparing a piece by Latvian composer Ēriks Ešenvalds. It’s a setting of a poem, Stars, by Sara Teasdale, and the composer sets it for a choir which accompanies itself on tuned wine-glasses. Read the rest of this entry »