Nicola benedetti

Community music-making is the jewel in the British crown

Music is a universal language. The style that has enraptured me since childhood, classical music, has always had an international dimension, and has taken me around the world in the decades since. But even in those early boyhood encounters I became aware of music and musicians from many different lands and eras. Apart from the beauty and excitement of the music itself, the art form became an early gateway for me to languages, history, geography, philosophy, theology and much more. There were clearly a lot of Germans to grapple with (Bach, Beethoven, Brahms) — and some French (Debussy, Ravel) —as well as Italians (Vivaldi, Verdi) and lots of Russians too

Why orchestras are sounding better than ever under social-distancing

Our college choirmaster had a trick that he liked to deploy when he sensed that we were phoning it in. He ordered us out of the choirstalls and positioned us at random all over the chapel. It was sadistic but effective. With nowhere to hide, there could be no quiet fudging of that awkward leap in ‘O Thou the Central Orb’, and no waiting until after a more confident neighbour had begun their note before scooping hastily (and hopefully unnoticeably) upwards to match their pitch. Every singer became a reluctant soloist. The result was usually either mutiny, or an immediate and dramatic improvement in tone, tuning and ensemble. Apply that