A week or two ago, I went to the South Bank Centre to hear Znaider's Korngold – a long time after the June opening I know, but it was good finally to hear the new hall in action.
What's striking about the South Bank Centre is how contemporary and well-integrated it is in every respect. The new refurbishment, the juxtaposition of musical and other arts, the restaurants and retail stores, the sense of atmosphere and community on the riverbank — they all mesh to create an authentic, individual and ever-changing experience. Surely that's the best thing you can ask of an arts centre?
I spent a few minutes picking up all the various orchestral brochures, and had the wonderful sense of learning something from each one, rather than just having a list of concerts and an order form shoved at me. Someone, somewhere, has finally worked out that if the marketing material reflects the content of the musical work, then it contributes to a more meaningful and memorable overall experience.
Artist As Leader
I noticed that there's a series of talks at the SBC by Daniel Barenboim in early 2008, accompanying his Beethoven Sonata cycle, and centering on the theme 'Artist as Leader'.
I have a feeling that it's part of a growing trend to frame musical discussions in the context of their impact on socio-cultural development. And I'm not sure that's an entirely bad thing. But more on that soon, as you shall see.