07
Jun

Music’s power to heal

After the abhorrent terrorist atrocities of the last few weeks, I wanted to write a little about the One Love Concert held at Old Trafford and the We Stand Together concert held at Bridgewater Hall.  The latter organised by the Hallé, BBC Philharmonic and the Manchester Camerata and featured 100 musicians on stage plus special guests included fine mezzo soprano Alice Coote, Elbow frontman and Radio 6 DJ Guy Garvey and myself performing to a full and appreciative Manchester crowd packed with music lovers of every sort.

The programme was wildly eclectic and hugely emotional.  Conductors Sir Mark Elder, Stephen Bell and relative newcomer to the Hallé family, assistant conductor Jonathan Heyward guided us through the selections where Elgar, Holst, Ravel, Mahler and Stravinsky mingled with Leonard Bernstein, Jerome Kern, Rodgers and Hart, Hal David and Burt Bacharach.  Fellow BBC broadcaster Petroc Trelawny presented the evening brilliantly.

I usually fail when I attempt to put into words how live music makes me feel and why I believe it is such an important part of our psyche, enabling us to celebrate various cultures and histories a massive key to unlock emotion and memory.

I was trawling the internet when I came across an article written by Juliet Kuehnle entitled The Power of Live Music.  It starts with a quote from Plato “Music is a moral law. It gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and charm and gaiety to life and to everything.” If that’s not enough to make you start reading!?

Juliet writes so eloquently about how music stirs your soul, that its emotional expression affects our brains in a similar way to speech.  She talks about, the value in allowing ourselves to be activated to feel and to express and react to those feelings.

I’m not saying for a second that music makes up for any of the terrible things that have happened just that it is a fantastic tool to bring communities together in an uplifting and way

On Sunday night I had the delicate task of picking up live transmission on Radio 2 from the Manchester One Love concert.  What an incredible show it was, full of empathy and love, never once patronising or fake. I think all the artists were terrific and if we could only bottle Ariana Grande’s heartfelt positive energy, wouldn’t the world be a much better place?

26
May

#WeStandTogether

All of Manchester’s communities stand together in strength, resilience and love.

In this most musical of cities, Manchester’s orchestral musicians from the Hallé, the BBC Philharmonic and the Manchester Camerata will come together with The Bridgewater Hall for a concert in support of the families and friends of the victims of last Monday’s atrocity.

The event details are:

  • Thursday 1 June at 8pm
  • The Bridgewater Hall, Manchester
  • Sir Mark Elder and Stephen Bell will conduct members of the Hallé, Manchester Camerata and BBC Philharmonic orchestras
  • Performances by Clare Teal, Alice Coote and Guy Garvey

The evening will include inspiring and uplifting classical music, a performance by Alice Coote – one of the world’s finest mezzo sopranos – as well as songs from international jazz star Clare Teal and award-winning singer-songwriter Guy Garvey.

Everyone involved with the event are giving their services free. Tickets for the concert are free, but you MUST have a ticket to gain entry.

We are asking people, if they are able, to make a donation to the WeStandTogetherManchester Justgiving page at

www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/westandtogethermanchester.

You can get the latest information, details on admission and book tickets by visiting www.halle.co.uk/westandtogether. You can also contact the box office on 0161 907 9000. The Bridgewater Hall has waived its usual ticket charge. You will need your tickets to gain entry to the building.

Please check the Hallé link above for updated information as it is confirmed.

26
Apr

We’ve all seen many changes since April 2007 …

Muddy recently asked how long I’d been writing for The Yorkshire Post. My first column appeared exactly 10 years ago.  At the time I was signed to Sony and as part of a six-week album campaign, they asked the good people at the YP if I could write a few pieces and you’ve been stuck with me ever since, all 173,200 words of me to be precise!

We’ve all seen many changes since April 2007, and from a purely arts related point of view I’m gutted at the thought of schools cutting arts and in particular music from their curriculum due to lack of funding.  It’s going to have a devastating effect on the musical landscape, something must be done before it’s too late.

On Friday I had the pleasure of co-presenting Radio 2’s Young Brass Award with Frank Renton at the Royal Northern College of Music, or Royal College of Northern Music as I’ve heard it affectionately called.

The competition is open to brass players between 16 and 21. From those initial entries eight are selected for the semi finals, four of whom go on to perform at the final.

The standard of playing was jaw-droppingly good, and what a fantastic opportunity for any musician to be accompanied by the world famous Foden’s Band, under the baton of Michael Fowles.  Foden’s have been entertaining audiences for over a hundred years and a nicer bunch you’d struggle to find.

First up was Ellena Newton on trombone who will be taking up a place at RNCM in September. I’d have been quaking in my boots but she took to the stage with aplomb and delivered her 2 pieces brilliantly, as did all the finalists. Next on the block James Nash delighted us with a stunning Philip Nash work Moon Song Sun Dance on flugel horn.  Third to the stand was traditional brass band instrumentalist Siobhan Bates doing marvellous things with tenor horn and finally Isobel Daws took on a fantastic and difficult composition written by Gordon Langford for the great Don Lusher – Rhapsody for Trombone.  This unassuming young woman treated us to her phenomenal rendition with effortless skill, technique and beauty.  After much deliberation from the judges Isobel scooped the coveted Radio 2 Young Brass Award.  I felt as I drove home that the future of music was safe in the hands of these talented youngsters but for how long?

22
Mar

The Making of ‘Twelve O’Clock Tales’ – Clare’s upcoming album

To whet your appetite, here’s a little taster of what’s to come … enjoy!

Accompanied by the renowned Hallé, conducted by Stephen Bell and arranged by British composer and trumpet maestro Guy Barker and celebrated jazz pianists Grant Windsor and Jason Rebello, Twelve O’Clock Tales’ rich jazz infused repertoire includes songs from Cole Porter, Billy Strayhorn, Van Morrison, Tim Rice, made famous by the likes of Ella Fitzgerald, Nina Simone, Nancy Wilson and Peggy Lee, the songs include ‘Sans Souci’, ‘Secret Love’, ‘Feeling Good’, ‘Lush Life’, ‘It Might As Well Be Spring’, ‘Wild Is The Wind’, ‘Into The Mystic’ and ‘Paradisi Carousel

Twelve O’Clock Tales launches at The Bridgewater Hall concert April 30th 2016

Pre orders are available now from Bandcamp