Pick of the week: 19 June

Posted on: June 19, 2015 in: Pick of the week

What’s been happening in the arts this week? As part of our latest blog series, Pick of the Week, we’ve picked our favourite stories and most thought-provoking debates we’ve seen and heard in the news this week.


1 – Listen to music you really like and forget Classical Chill-Out, says Ivan Hewett

In latest health news this week, cardiologists at Oxford University announced that certain pieces by Verdi, Beethoven and Puccini (which were also coincidentally very slow) can lower blood pressure, while tracks by Red Hot Chilli Peppers do the opposite. Ivan Hewett is sceptical of the implications these findings might have and asks: ‘Can we look forward to doses of Puccini and Verdi on the NHS, and health warnings printed on CDs of Vivaldi?’

Is it fair that different genres of music have different health benefits, or even, drawbacks? He advises we forget listening to music that lowers our blood pressure (and sends us to sleep) like Classical Chill-Out and instead, take a dose of “YOLO”: give yourself and your heart a good time and listen to music you actually like!

2 – Classical music streaming services… will there ever be an end to our struggles?

Spotify, Google Play, Apple music… Streaming music online has steadily become a day-to-day necessity for many music-lovers, but it seems classical music lovers have drawn the short straw in terms of the services available to them thus far. In a recent article in The Record, Anastasia Tsioulcas argued that the problem lies with metadata (the data that allows you to search for a specific track). There are simply too many options with classical music. Say you want to listen to the second movement of Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto – do you search for the artist? The composer? The movement number?  The orchestra?  There are so many options available to you, it’s difficult to filter them down!

There have been several new options becoming available for classical music streaming services, namely Apple Music which Wild Kat PR thinks might mark for the end of our woes, or Classic FM’s Composed app. What do you think? Can there ever be a solution?


3 – Visual Animation of Music – a way to increase your appreciation or an unnecessary addition?

Our favourite internet find this week has to be this very clever animation by artist Alan Warburton of Bach’s Well Tempered Clavier (Prelude and Fugue in C Major), as commissioned by Sinfini Music. It’s almost like graphical notation, transformed into a gallery space, with thousands of beautiful, flourescent light bulbs.

We certainly think it sheds new light on this well-known piece, but what do you think? Can visual interpretations and animations increase your appreciation of the music itself?


4 – Are family classical music events for the benefit of the kids or for the benefit of parents? Two contrasting views from Royal Opera House and Parentdish UK

We’ve been discussing family music events this week and came across this debate about whether taking your toddlers to the opera is actually for the benefit of your child or just a symptom of middle-class “smug parenting”. This kind of question is always going to come up in relation to anything you introduce your child to, be it religion, sport, train-spotting or opera. But how can you tell who you are benefitting most?

For us, the key thing to think about is whether your kids enjoy whatever it is you are introducing them to. And if you think it’s enriching them and they enjoy it, what’s the problem?


What do you think? We’d love to hear your thoughts! Either leave us a comment on this post or connect with us on Twitter @CityLdnSinfonia or Facebook /cityoflondonsinfonia.