Online music recommendations – Chamber Music Scotland, City of London Sinfonia & Sandy Burnett’s Listening Club

The online options for music lovers continue to grow – but here at Arcana we wanted to highlight three in particular.

First is a rolling recommendation, for the City of London Sinfonia and their Comfortable Classical at Home series (pictured above). This has been a really excellent series of discovery, catering for all levels of knowledge including beginners, the musically curious and those looking for fresh insight into familiar pieces.

Members of the orchestra are clearly at home in front of the camera, and the next instalments – from principal clarinet Katherine ‘Waffy’ Spencer (Thursday 21 May) and cellist Becky Knight (Tuesday 2 June) are set to be every bit as enjoyable as the series so far – which can be seen on the orchestra’s Facebook channel. It is well worth considering a donation to the orchestra through that page too, recognising the problems musicians are having finding work in lockdown.

Also well worth exploring is Chamber Music Scotland, who are offering a weekly series of streamed concerts and lectures. Future appearances are scheduled from guitarist Sasha Savaloni and a trio of flautist Georgia Browne, violinist Tuomo Suni and harpsichordist Tom Foster.

The next online event from Chamber Music of Scotland is tonight, Wednesday 20 May. It will be presented by cellist David Watkin, who will be looking for meaning from the solo cello works of J.S. Bach in quarantine. Bach’s music is proving particularly popular in lockdown, presumably due to its suitability for one performer, who can take on the rich part writing to sound like several people at once. You can watch this on the organisation’s YouTube channel, where you can also catch up on previous episodes:

Finally a nod in the direction of Sandy Burnett, who is running a summer-long online Listening Club. Every Tuesday at 11am Sandy, a highly respected broadcaster and musician, will offer his own insights into a chosen classical work in his typically engaging and informative style. The next, on Tuesday 26 May, will focus on Bach and his Sonata for Solo Violin in G minor – while future instalments will include works by Weill, Mozart, Monteverdi, Messiaen and Beethoven. You can join the Listening Club here

Listen at home – City of London Sinfonia: Comfortable Classical continues…

The City of London Sinfonia are continuing their half-hour sessions of Comfortable Classical at Home for all ages to enjoy while we are all stuck in isolation. The sessions offer a half-hour of musical freedom, as musicians from the orchestra educate and offer different ways of looking at the music they make. The environment is a relaxed one, with everyone welcome to get involved.

Past episodes include cellists Joely Koos and Becky Knight, clarinetist Katherine Spencer, orchestra leader Alexandra Wood, violinist Matthew Maguire and principal oboe Daniel Bates. Tomorrow – Thursday 23 April – Koos will return for a second session.

You can watch on the orchestra’s Facebook page from 11.30am – on every Tuesday and Thursday. You can also catch up on past episodes from the orchestra’s blog here.

Listen at home – City of London Sinfonia: Comfortable Classical

Matthew Maguire, violinist with the City of London Sinfonia
Photo by Kaupo Kikkas, 2017

The response to the coronavirus pandemic from choirs and orchestras has been nothing short of heartening over the last month. While many groups are making archive concerts available online for the first time, some are enlisting individual players to engage with their audience as performers, teachers or both.

The City of London Sinfonia is offering half-hour sessions of Comfortable Classical at Home for all ages to enjoy. From first hand experience these sessions are extremely effective, gently educating and musically stimulating. The chosen instrumentalists have been natural teachers, and the passion for what they do is evident – but they are affable and relaxed, too, offering behind the scenes insights into their own lives and homes.

Past episodes include cellists Joely Koos and Becky Knight (who played Bach in her bathroom and demonstrated a talent for a poignant haiku), clarinetist Katherine Spencer (who played Stravinsky in her back garden!), orchestra leader Alexandra Wood and principal oboe Daniel Bates. Tomorrow – Thursday 16 April – violinist Matthew Maguire will bring Bach, Blues and improvisation to his session from home.

You can watch on the orchestra’s Facebook page from 11.30am – on every Tuesday and Thursday. You can also catch up on past episodes from the orchestra’s blog here.