At The Queen's Hall this morning, Stephen Hough gave a breathtaking performance of pieces by Schubert, Franck, and Liszt, and a sonata of his own (the only work, interestingly, for which he used a score). The recital - minus the encores which included Mr. Hough's own sparkling arrangement of 'Waltzing Matilda' - was broadcast live on Radio 3, but you can hear it here for the next four weeks or so.
Mr. Hough is quoted here talking about possible changes to the typical concert format in order to attract younger audiences. We remarked yet again today on the high average age of the audience at concerts we've been to in recent years. Admittedly for many, work would have precluded attending this morning's event (11.00 - 1.00 on a weekday), but there was a similar preponderance of snowy-headed concert goers at Saturday evening's Matthew Passion. Where are all their younger counterparts?
At the other end of the scale, we have noticed some children in the audience. If you listen to today's broadcast you'll hear Donald Macleod refer at the end to a little Chinese girl who sat "motionless and totally attentive throughout" (she did indeed), while on Saturday there were some equally well-behaved under 10s at the Bach. Neither programme seems an obvious choice for youngsters, but I hope they all found these concerts memorable, and for the right reasons.
Back to Stephen Hough himself for a moment: world-renowned pianist, composer, writer, artist .... there's a nice interview with him here in which he talks in passing of the musician as a bringer of joy; he played that role to perfection today.