Sunday 18 May 2008

Imogen Cooper wins RPS Award

We were delighted that Imogen Cooper was the Instrumentalist Award winner at the RPS Music Awards, presented last Thursday evening at the Dorchester. The citation sums up why we enjoy working with her so much: 'Imogen Cooper's distinction as one of the most formidable musicians of her time is widely recognised. But the intellect, musicality and programming skills that she has demonstrated in her music-making in 2007 have, we feel, taken her to new levels. This award celebrates her achievements as a deeply thoughtful soloist, an inspirational keyboard director and a fastidiously accomplished chamber musician.' Britten Sinfonia next performs with her in February 2009 when we continue our Beethoven concerto cycle with no. 3. The concerts are in London, Cambridge and Norwich. Stephen Moss' article in the Guardian last week about Imogen makes fascinating reading. You might also enjoy Mark Padmore's discussion of Schubert's song cycles in the same paper: more of our next project with Mark later.

Wednesday 7 May 2008

Of cricket and mandalas

We first met the Tibetan monks from the Tashi Lhunpo Monastery during the 2006 Aldeburgh Festival. A cricket challenge between the admin staff of Britten Sinfonia and the Festival had been set up, the day before the monks were to give a concert there. I don’t recall how we found out, but it transpired they were also cricket mad, so we invited them to take part: we had a great match.

They have come back to the East of England this week for the Heart of the World Festival in Cambridge, so the idea of a return match was irresistible. I won’t give details of the score yesterday (we were hammered), but it was good to meet up with our friends again. The Tashi Lhunpo Monastery in South India was re-establshed in 1972 and is now home to some 300 monks in exile. The touring group not only gives concerts (you can hear them tonight at the Cambridge Corn Exchange) but also creates sand mandalas, the intricate construction of the image of a Buddha’s palace, incorporating within it the entire cosmos, with millions of grains of coloured sand. Since Sunday they have been creating a mandala in King’s College Chapel, a setting juxtaposing both two of the world’s great religions, and exquisite art and architecture.

The finished mandala in King's

The destruction ceremony

The sand is carried from the Chapel to the Cam: the blessed grains of sand are poured into running water to spread their benefit as far as possible.