Ed Rex

Making music

Since the birth of the peer-to-peer file-sharing service Napster in the late 1990s, the record industry has been the unwilling poster child for entire businesses being overthrown by the march of technology. The major labels, once all-powerful, now stand Ozymandias-like, looking out over their barren empires; an ailing HMV, long ago diagnosed as terminal, is

Beyond the elite

There are few art forms with more colossal barriers to entry than classical music. Picture yourself finally plucking up the courage to go to your first classical concert. You arrive late, because at that gig last Saturday you had to sit through two ill-judged warm-up acts, an act of charity you’re not inclined to repeat;

Singing siblings

The Unthanks couldn’t have chosen a more fitting venue for the first night of their current tour than St James’s Church, Piccadilly; just as it’s all too easy for passers-by, eyes glued to the bright lights, to overlook this relic of the 17th century, one could be forgiven for missing The Unthanks’ distinctive breed of

Classical affair

Before Stephen Fry walked on to the stage at the Barbican on Monday to take part in a discussion on the place of classical music in today’s society, he asked his Twitter followers to suggest new names for what he sees as an off-putting label, ‘classical’. The replies that flowed in were typically informed and

Imogen Heap

Imogen Heap, the English songwriter whose gloves let her control her music with hand gestures, has perfected the art of delegation. While most musicians leave it to their labels to sort out a press biography, she forged hers from 1,500 contributions from her Twitter followers; where others endlessly pore over potential concert setlists, she lets

Sound – It’s rocket science

With 3D images astounding half the population and leaving the other half feeling distinctly seasick, it was only a matter of time before another of our senses got the same treatment. Sure enough, 3D sound reproduction is finally with us; but while you might expect Professor Edgar Choueiri, its inventor, to be an audio engineer

Taking Time

James MacMillan has a string of large-scale choral and orchestral works to his name, and last month saw the première of his chamber opera Clemency at Covent Garden. One wonders, then, how he makes time to write a new, small-scale choral piece for the re-opening of St Patrick’s Church in Soho Square. James MacMillan has

This charming man

Charlie Siem, the half-British, half-Norwegian violinist, only came to the virtuosic style late in his development (‘probably because I was lazy’, he explains, not convincing me for a moment); but when he did he was hooked. His new, self-titled album (Warner Classics) is, ostensibly, a homage to the virtuosic tradition established in the early-19th century

Read on

I was nervous as I approached the man in Paddington station on Saturday night. We Brits tend to assume that being addressed by a total stranger means one of two things: either they want our money, or they’re mad (and the 48 copies of Ben Macintyre’s Agent Zigzag in my bag might have suggested the

Reinventing the circus

An elderly gentleman prodding me in the face with his inflatable iguana might expect to command my full attention. As I found my seat in the Albert Hall, though, the gentleman in question had to turn away disheartened, as I was too busy taking in the spectacular set of Cirque du Soleil’s Totem to be

Culture notes

Hush: it’s secret When I go to a film, there are certain things I expect: the popcorn only affordable with a small loan; the endless standing up and sitting down as people push past, suddenly sure the film will look better from the row in front; these are a given. What I don’t expect is

World Music

Sitting at my computer, headphones in hand and wearing top-half concert dress, bottom-half pyjamas, this is shaping up to be the most bizarre performance I have ever given. I’m about to join Eric Whitacre’s Virtual Choir, made up of singers from all over the world recording themselves singing his composition Sleep. Sitting at my computer,