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Caspar David Friedrich: Man and Woman Contemplating the Moon (1830–35), a setting for Eichendorff and Schumann.

Hastings, can you get Brahms?

Hastings has something new to celebrate, maybe we can get Lizst too!  According to a Musical Sophistication Index (Gold-MSI) produced by researchers of Goldsmiths College, London, Hastings is judged to have the highest level of musical sophistication in the UK. HOT’s Chris Cormack investigates an outbreak of Brahms in the Hastings area.

The Gold-MSI  takes into account many different factors ranging from performance on an instrument and listening expertise, to ability to employ music in functional settings or to communicate about music. High levels of musical sophistication are characterised by:

General musical sophistication in South East England.

  • high frequency of practising music;
  •  ease and accuracy of performance; and
  •  a greater and more varied repertoire.

Scale for musical sophistication.

This means that highly musically sophisticated individuals are able to “respond to a greater range of musical situations, are more flexible in their responses, and possess more effective means of achieving their goals when engaging with music”. Sounds like Hastings? Hastings certainly has a great and most varied repertoire of music.

The study acknowledges that many musical skills are not explicitly trained, and implicit learning takes place during “enculturation with Western music” (at a Hastings pub?). The study uses socio-economic data from 90,474 British participants in a BBC Lab UK survey on the BBC website. BBC Lab UK’s
experiment, called How Musical Are You?, was launched in January 2011 and has been taken by more than 150,000 people, making it the largest ever investigation into the musical profile of an entire nation. In addition to a questionnaire, there were melodic memory and beat perception tests for participants.

Want to increase your Gold-MSI quotient? I recommend a large dose of Brahms and Schumann at St Clement’s Church on 12 April. Mezzo-soprano Jenny Miller and accompanist Francis Rayner reproduce the musical equivalent of ‘passion and solitude’ in a concert of piano and song from the the Romantic epoch. Each song encapsulates a mini opera, according to Jenny Miller – here a la Traviata-style lover’s confidence from the deathbed, there a warning from Lorelei. Or a musical poem from Eichendorff on a moonlit night – the writer was privileged with a preview under Sunday’s beautiful full moon! Nothing better for those grey (and red) cells!

On 26 April at St Mary in the Castle, you can give yourself a Brahms booster and savour his violin concerto and the Hastings Philharmonic Choir singing Brahms’ Schicksalslied and Gesang der Parzen, both very fateful and charged momentously with the romantic poetry of Friedrich Hölderlin and Goethe respectively, all the height of musical sophistication.

Yes, the height of musical sophistication is to become a Brahms buff and complete your education with the Battle Choral Society concert at Christ Church on 17 May.  Hastings sophisticates will recognise immediately in Brahms’ Requiem the sorrow and pity of war that is so often used as background music to war documentary film. This concert commemorates the centenary of the outbreak of World War One and includes Elgar’s Spirit of England, based on the 1915 Laurence Binyon collection of war poetry: the Battle Choral Society sing For the Fallen. The concert also includes the orchestral work Banks of Green Willow, probably the best known piece by George Butterworth, who was cut down in his prime in 1916, receiving the MC posthumously.

A non-inclusive list of classical music dates for your diary:

Saturday 12 April 2014, 7.30pm Passion and Solitude, piano music and songs by Brahms and Schumann, at St Clement’s Church, High Street, Old Town TN34 3ES

Saturday 26 April 2014, 7.00pm Brahms’ Violin Concerto in D major, Schicksalslied, Gesang der Parzen, with Cherubini’s Requiem, at St Mary in the Castle, Pelham Crescent TN34 3AE.

Saturday 17 May 2014, 7.30pm Brahms German Requiem, Elgar For the Fallen, Butterworth Banks of Green Willow, at Christ Church, Silchester Road, TN37 6GL.

Saturday 19 July, 2014, 7.30pm – G F Händel Rinaldo (Longborough Festival Opera emerging artists), at St Mary in the Castle, Pelham Crescent TN34 3AE.

Saturday 13 September, 2014 – Bizet Carmen, for eight singers and a gypsy band.


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Posted 17:59 Tuesday, Mar 18, 2014 In: Music & Sound

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