Moving forward in a crisis

I’ve been really slow writing Blogs recently. We are all supposed to have lots of free time when locked down during the COVID19 crisis, but – typically – I’ve found myself busier than ever. Hardly any paid work, of course, like all freelance musicians around the entire world, but in typical style I’ve been creating my own work in the form of an on-line series of mini-programmes. This has prompted me to do something that we all aspire to do with old photographs, videos, letters etc. but never usually get round to doing! My explorations of a sound recording archive that dates back to the mid-1970s has been quite an experience, and I have found a few little gems which have become (or are about to be) ingredients in my 2-month musical recipe – yes, a total of 61 daily programmes between 1st April and 31st May! You can hear all the programmes so far at – they are added daily, and will all remain there until mid-June. They are free to listen to – there are no restrictions or log-in, just relax and listen!

The aim of these programmes is to help lift the spirits during a really difficult time, and to raise awareness and appreciation of the bassoon and its music. This is definitely not a series specifically for bassoon geeks – it really is for anyone, and is deliberately produced and presented in that way. Geeks are more than welcome, but this geek wants to get the word out much further than a tiny specialist corner of the musical world.

Happily, the response has been really good so far – as I write, the series is halfway through. There have been many excellent individual responses from people of all walks of life and many different locations, and in particular the BBC have responded magnificently via their Radio 3 classical radio channel. You can hear (until 3rd May) the programme on which I was interviewed, when they also played a ‘Home Session’ recording which they commissioned and I made with 48 hours notice! The programme is here – my interview and recording is 25 minutes into the programme.

I’m also working on more plans beyond 31st May, on the basis that this crisis is not going to go away quickly and restrictions will remain in place for quite some while. It is in situations like this that one really appreciates the true value of music and the arts, a valuing which has been sadly lacking in many corners of society recently, notably in the area of education in schools. My hope, backed up with a few initiatives, is that an appreciation and proper valuing of all the arts will emerge as one of the good outcomes of this tragic situation.

The ‘home studio’, talking to Katie Derham on BBC Radio 3 live (via Skype) on 31st March

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