My 2015 musical highlights

I didn’t do nearly as much singing as I would have liked in 2015 thanks to a rather large work project (see number 2 below), but there were still some wonderful highlights for me. Here are my personal top 5 musical moments of the year (rather different from the Guardian’s list, which the CBSO topped with their Parsifal). What are yours?

5. Our most recent concerts, the Festive Favourites are my choice for number five. Not, I have to say, because of the music, which this year was a bit of a struggle to get wildly enthusiastic about. No, my entire reasoning behind this choice is because my Christmas was made once Simon Halsey put on a reindeer hat to conduct We Wish you a Merry Christmas. Something he has assured us will never happen again. Sadly I do not have a photograph. Plus of course the percussion section of the CBSO never fails to raise a smile as they play through Sleigh Ride dressed in costumes they can almost certainly not see out of, and the fact that the tuned percussion is played correctly is a true testament to their skill. This starts off the festive season for me with a bang (or in this case a gong as Alan Titchmarsh joined in the percussion hijinks).

4. Star Wars! This makes the cut because I really am a geek at heart. I love taking part in the Friday Night Classics concerts and the Star Wars concert in September was no exception. Only participating in two pieces was no hardship, I was very happy to sit and watch the second half for free (along with some equally geeky tenors). It was also a pleasure to see Birmingham’s Symphony Hall absolutely full, something that we now see all too rarely and just goes to show the draw of film music. I hope some of those that were first time visitors to see the orchestra will come back for more.

3. Beethoven 9 at the Proms. A last chance to work with maestro Andris Nelsons this year as he took his leave for Boston. I grew up loving the Proms and it is always exciting to perform at this wonderful festival. I also blogged the experience for the CBSO.

2. The reason I missed out on 6 months of choir, The Global Orchestra. The organisation I work for decided that we should take students from all of our schools (31 at the time), create a music summer school and have them perform together. No mean feat in less than 6 months. My musical highlight was standing in the DiMenna Center for Classical Music in New York in June, listening to 80 students from all around the world play together for the first time. After all the hard work to put it together (with much thank to fellow chorus member Julian at One Stage for his assistance) it was an incredible moment, and made it all worth it.

1.Mahler 2 with Simon Rattle and the Berlin Philharmonic, Kate Royal and Magdalena Kozena, performed at the Royal Festival Hall. Only the second time I have performed with Rattle conducting, the first being my all time personal music highlight (Bach’s St Matthew Passion). I am not on the whole a huge Mahler fan, but you cannot fail to be moved by the emotional weight of the end of the symphony.

I’m now very much looking forward to what 2016 will bring. The CBSO Chorus begins the year with Henry V, a Shakespeare-inspired concert conducted by Edward Gardner and featuring actor Samuel West on Thursday 7 January. Listen out for us on BBC Radio 3.


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