The Healing Power of Mozart

Just over a year ago Svend McEwan-Brown, Director of the East Neuk Festival, was on a high when, together with Emma Dunton from 14-18 Now he stepped up to receive the RPS Music Award for Audiences and Engagement for the  wonderfully imaginative and far reaching Memorial Ground Project commissioned to celebrate The Centenary of the Battle of the Somme.

Svend-Schubert-Elie-BeachBut in planning his next festival he came up against a challenge far harder than any posed in previous years.  In September 2017 he suffered a major stroke.  On the eve of the 2018 festival he writes so movingly about how the magic of a Mozart String Trio brought him back to the world and determined to finish the planning for his festival with the tools he had to hand – a hospital bed, an iPhone and the use of one hand.

Tois to Svend and everyone in East Neuk for a fabulous festival this year – and please do read and share his beautiful piece on how music can make such an unexpected difference in people’s lives.

You might also want to download K568 – just in case…

Monday 4 September 2017 was a sunny, homey kind of a day; I did a little work, baked teacakes, gardened, watched some telly. Around 4.30, my left arm suddenly fell heavy and stiff. I could not lift my left foot from the ground. I knew enough to suspect that I was suffering a stroke. Weirdly, the symptoms abated enough for Roy, my husband, to drive me to A&E and for me to walk in under my own steam. A couple of hours later, things looked not so bad – perhaps it was just a scare. We were joking and persuading the medics not to keep me in overnight when the really serious stroke struck. “It’s happening now” I slurred, and saw the junior doctor’s face switch from jolly banter to urgent concern. Then he ran for support.

‘Stroke’ is such a tender word. The experience is oddly painless – things just suddenly stop working. I’ve never actually known anyone who suffered a stroke, never thought about them, and knowing so little made things all the scarier. Should I be saying goodbye to Roy as best I could? If I survived, what might I lose? Mobility, speech, or other bodily and brain functions? There was no telling how bad it might get.

Read the complete blog

East Neuk is a coastal area of Fife, Scotland and the Festival runs from 27 June – 1 July

Advertisements

Tribute to Rosemary Johnson – outgoing Executive Director of the Royal Philharmonic Society

Following 20 years of ‘determined and passionate leadership’, Rosemary Johnson will step down as Executive Director of RPS after the summer. BBC Music Magazine and aspiring young composer, Jack Pepper, pay tribute:

Rosemary Johnson has led the commissioning organisation and music charity for 20 years, supporting over 100 young musicians annually through commissions, conducting schemes and bursaries. She has overseen the transformation of the Society from a small London-focused organisation into a nationwide community of music-lovers.

The RPS has become one of the pre-eminent forces for change in the classical world, not least through its annual RPS Music Awards, a ceremony that Rosemary has placed at the forefront of the society’s work. The Awards recognise the greatest achievements in live performance over the previous year, and Rosemary’s determined and passionate leadership has ensured the accolades are among the most respected in the world. . . 

Read the full article on the BBC Music Magazine website here.

Kristīne Balanas – The Challenges of Playing Concerti without a Conductor

Kristīne Balanas, recipient of the RPS Julius Isserlis Scholarship in 2015, shares her experiences of performing violin concerti without a conductor.

In 2015, I had my first experience of a “conductorless” performance, playing the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto with the Orchestre de Chambre de Paris. Not having anyone to rely on to direct, I was worried we might do the musical equivalent of running around like a headless chicken! But of course an orchestra has many fine heads, and once on stage there was not much to worry about. It was in many ways a relief – indeed a liberation – to discover what we were capable of on our own. Continue reading “Kristīne Balanas – The Challenges of Playing Concerti without a Conductor”