Friday, May 09, 2003


Paul Kildea, the new artistic director at London's historic Wigmore Hall, has the right attitude. He has no intention of letting the place become a museum, or a platform purely reserved for the jewels of C18th and C19th classical music. A few years ago regular Wiggers were a little horrified that jazz recitals made their first appearance -- though the prodigious talents of Julian Joseph and Jason Rebello could only be deemed risky in the narrowest of circles. Henze and Boulez trip off Kildea's tongue as readily as Beethoven and Schubert. He is ready to build on the tremendous 38+ year reputation of predecessor William Lyne (whose contribution is celebrated in today's gala performance). "Surely only a madman, a Barnum or a Barenboim tinkers with a functioning, successful demand- supply economy, which we have at Wigmore Hall. Yet tinker we must, for the long-term survival of the species."

No shrinking violet, Kildea ventures opinions on numerous facets of his craft in The Guardian today. In particular, he says: "Here in Britain, the problem is that for 10 years or more, the sacred marriage of artist and repertory has been slowly falling apart. Sure, there is a cult of personality, but this is dislocated from the concept of the artist as the gatekeeper of all repertory. Classic FM, Naxos and even some programmes on [BBC] Radio 3 have emphasised repertory over performer, leaving new music without popular, trusted advocates. And whatever their role in introducing art music to a wider audience, once the introduction is completed, fixation on repertory must be exchanged for the true musical experience - what Britten once called the "holy triangle" of composer, performer and audience."

[See the feature in Friday Review]

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