Tartan Threads at The Queen’s Hall tonight saw the launch event of “Young Classical Artists”, a showcase designed to highlight the next generation of professional talent. With support from organisations and establishments including The Queen’s Hall, The Robertson Trust and The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland (plus others), this event brought a large and diverse selection of talent to stage, and as this event is an ensemble one, I am not using our usual star rating system on this review. A few reasons for this, but high amongst them the belief that it is not fair to single any one person out against the others here and also that many of these young talents simply need time and experience to develop further. The sometimes harsh reviews and opinions of critics and reviewers can wait until another day.
Having said the above, there are a few performances that spoke to me on a more personal level than others, but that has more to do with my own personal tastes than the talent of any performer against another. Our theme for this evening’s music was very much one of music from around the world, and this format allowed us to weave our way in and out of both musical history and cultures, so for me, personal likings were for
Jacopo Lazzaretti from Rome on classical guitar
Amit Anand and his composition merging Indian and Western music (and Latin text)
Also JS Bach Concerto for two violins (1st movement)
Vocalists featured prominently in this programme, and I hope that some get the opportunity in coming years to perhaps take up a place in an “emerging young artist” programme of the type that Scottish Opera offer. For some reason though, amongst all the vocalists tonight, Helen Frances Corlett is the one I remember the most because I can see, given the opportunity, that there is wide scope for Helen’s talents in performance arts and not only the classical music world.
There were a few nervous looking starts here from some of our young performers, but that is something that time and experience will quickly correct, and hopefully that small window of opportunity that opens up for anyone in the highly competitive world of classical music will be there for some of these young talented people.
Nothing at all to do with the performances, many live performances now are carefully managed media events, and talent is only part of the package. It is here, in the packaging and presentation, that a lot of things need to be sharpened up and become tighter. There was a very distinct feel to this show of people walking into a large drawing room and doing their “party piece” rather than being in a performance space like The Queen’s Hall, and an unannounced interval break just sort of left everyone wondering when part two would begin.
I do not have the professional musical background to be over-critical of performances, but print is my professional background, and sorry folks, but the programme for this event was not a good one. To be effective, any programme must impart the information quickly and be very clear to read, and putting black text on a dark background like purple simply does not work, and I saw many people in the audience giving up with the legibility issues of the programme tonight, especially the very small text on the biographies. Also, this programme desperately needed a proof reader as there are far too many simple typo mistakes in it, even misspelling “classical” as “classical” on the back page. This might sound a petty issue, but the programme is part of the overall events package.
As we were dealing with songs in many languages, some use of screens with translations would have added so much to my understanding of the works and also have given another opportunity to get the names of the performers to the audience (particularly as the programme did not do this well at all).
Still, on the talent showcase side of things, the show did work well.
Review by Tom King