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Music Matters


The stories that matter, the people that matter, the music that matters

The stories that matter, the people that matter, the music that matters


London, United Kingdom




The stories that matter, the people that matter, the music that matters




Minimalism, Laurence Crane at 60 & Nina Simone's Gum

In 1999 the musician Warren Ellis clambered onstage at the Royal Festival Hall to retrieve a piece of chewing gum. The gum was deposited there by Nina Simone, who had chewed it throughout her concert that night. Fast forward twenty-two years and Ellis has written a book inspired by the piece of gum, now enshrined in its own glass case, on a specially built gum plinth. Kate Molleson caught up with him to find out more about a story which goes to the heart of artistic belief, generosity and...


José Serebrier

Tom Service is joined by the Grammy® award-winning Uruguayan conductor and composer, José Serebrier, who shares stories from his life in music ahead of the launch of a new biography by the author Michael Faure. With more than three hundred recordings already under his belt, he discusses, too, the creative impetus behind a new compendium of recordings which feature world premières of his own compositional work. We hear from the music director, conductor, and academic Sean Mayes, and the...


Steve Reich at 85

Tom Service talks to American composer Steve Reich as he celebrates his 85th birthday, and hears about his upcoming premiere of new work Traveler's Prayer. As the Royal Ballet celebrates its 90th anniversary, Tom talks to some of the creative team behind its upcoming new work: The Dante Project. Composer Thomas Ades, designer Tacita Dean and dancer Edward Watson reveal what's in store. Tom meets up with author Michael Church at Cecil Sharp House in London to talk about Michael's new book,...


Contains Strong Language

Kate Molleson presents a live edition of Music Matters from the BBC's Contains Strong Language Festival in Coventry, featuring live music and a panel of guests discussing the parallel rhythms and sounds of music and language from the ancient oral tradition of folk music to right through to the contemporary sounds of today. Kate's guests include Netia Jones, Liz Berry, Martin Carthy and Andy Ingamells.


Music and Activism

Pianist Igor Levit talks to Tom Service about his latest epic recording project – three and a half hours of music by Dmitri Shostakovich and the Scottish composer Ronald Stevenson. No stranger to large-scale works he live-streamed Erik Satie’s Vexations during lockdown playing 840 repetitions over 16 hours as part of his online House Concerts. He discusses the huge challenges on every page of Stevenson’s Passacaglia and the contradictions of his life as a pianist and his political beliefs....


Music Under Restriction

As Music Matters returns to the airwaves for the Autumn, and classical music emerges from Covid along with the rest of the world, Tom Service assesses the current state of play with musicians and industry leaders, and asks them how much has really changed in the last eighteen months and what the future holds. Gillian Moore, Director of Music at the Southbank Centre in London, and Roger Wright, Chief Executive of the newly-merged Britten Pears Arts in Suffolk, explain how they navigated the...


Musical Connection

Kate Molleson looks back on a year of musical connection and reflection as she revisits some of the guests we have featured on Music Matters. Kate talks to American composer, vocalist, dancer and film artist, Meredith Monk and she shares her thoughts on nature, art and resilience through the age of pandemic. Tom Service and South African soprano, Golda Schultz look back on Golda’s memorable appearance at the 2020 Last Night of the Proms. Earlier this month, the celebrated opera director Sir...


Writers on Music

Kate Molleson talks to some of today's greatest writers about how music shapes their work and explores the ineffable intersection between words and music. Featuring Colm Tóibín, Elif Shafak, Ishmael Reed, Simon Armitage and Lavinia Greenlaw. Best-selling Irish author Colm Tóibín’s writing is infused with sound and music. His latest book is a fictional account of the life of Thomas Mann and is steeped in Mahler and Schoenberg. He discusses the powerful role music plays in his fiction and...


Lars Vogt, King Lear, Louis Andriessen

The pianist Lars Vogt talks candidly to the presenter Kate Molleson about music making after his cancer diagnosis in February and his ongoing treatment to fight the disease. He tells Kate about his latest projects, including a recording of music by Janacek. We eavesdrop on rehearsals for a new production of Shakespeare's King Lear at The Grange Festival, set to music by the composer Nigel Osborne and directed by Keith Warner, which features singers in speaking roles – among them John...


Politics, possibilities and epiphanies

Image credit: The Japan Art Association As the celebrated violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter prepares for the premiere of John Williams’s new violin concerto, she talks to Tom Service about making music in and out of the pandemic. She reflects on how her relationship to music has changed over the past 18 months and the need for urgent change when it comes to supporting music and culture in German and beyond. A New Topography of Love Part II is an animated video-game opera experience currently...


Sensory deprivation, musical revelation

Image credit: Dayna Szyndrowski As the American composer Caroline Shaw releases Let the Soil Play Its Simple Part - her first solo vocal album, with Sō Percussion - she talks to presenter Tom Service about her approach to music. With its roots in childhood, playing violin to her father's medical patients nearing the end of their lives, to the music of the past she loves, Shaw's generous attitude as a composer and collaborator results in music which is to be shared, and which resonates with...


Musical Strength

Linton Stephens is joined by the soprano Nadine Benjamin ahead of a performance of her autobiographical opera BEAM, part of the Summer at Snape season. She reflects on how music has the power to heal and why she finds strength in her voice. The music psychologist Natasha Hendry talks to Linton about her research into race and racism in music education and the music industry. As Radio 3 celebrates the London Festival of Architecture, Music Matters visits Bold Tendencies at its unique home in...


Coventry UK City of Culture 2021

Kate Molleson celebrates Coventry as UK City of Culture 2021, exploring the musical life there, its rich musical history, and talking about what the future holds for Coventrians. She begins at the heart of Coventry in the ruins of the old cathedral, which was destroyed the November night in 1940 when the German Luftwaffe flattened the city centre. It is poignantly connected to the new cathedral by Basil Spence. With its consecration began a distinctive new choral tradition, particularly...


Music in the Moment

Tom Service is joined by the pianist Stephen Hough, and over a cup of coffee they discuss living in the moment during music during performance and how Stephen has spent much of the past year working as a composer. Double-bassist and artist Kirsty Matheson talks about the challenge she set herself to create 100 paintings about 100 pieces of music in 100 days. Responding to works by Arnold Schoenberg and Steve Reich, she describes how their works shaped the images she created as well as...


Breaking rules, making new forms...

Image credit: Helge Hansen / Sony Music Entertainment Tom Service talks to pianist Leif Ove Andsnes about a new four-year-long performing and recording project with the Mahler Chamber Orchestra, the 'Mozart Momentum 1785/1786', which explores two of the most crucial years in the composer's life. We visit the Royal Opera House to witness their latest project, 'Current, Rising' - a hyper reality opera, inspired by Shakespeare’s 'The Tempest’, which combines virtual reality with a multi-sensory...


Dennis Brain, Anthony Payne, and music’s healing nature.

Tom Service takes a look at the influence of horn player Dennis Brain in his centenary year - We hear from two of today's leading horn players Ben Goldscheider, who is releasing an album centred around Brain's legacy, and Sarah Willis who talks us through some iconic Dennis Brain recordings. Plus we speak to retired horn player Andrew McGavin, who played second horn to Dennis in the Philharmonia in the 1950s, for some first hand memories of the legend that was Dennis Brain. As live music...


Musical Ecosystems

Kate Molleson is joined by the violinist Patricia Kopatchinskaja as she releases two new albums of works by Schoenberg and Francisco Coll. She explains why the music education system should encourage young minds, and tells us why vulnerability is vital on the concert stage. As the trustees of Mills College announce their decision to close admissions to the college’s courses, Kate learns about the school’s legacy of training musically free thinkers with the flautist, composer, and a former...


The Conductors' Edition

Tom Service talks to two world-class conductors of today, Sir Antonio Pappano and Sir Simon Rattle, as they swap roles at the London Symphony Orchestra, and looks back at one of music history's first great conductors, Richard Wagner. Four weeks ago, Sir Antonio Pappano was announced as the new Chief Conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra - he will leave his current role of Music Director at the Royal Opera at Covent Garden in 2024. Pappano also has a continuing role at the Orchestra...


Stravinsky 50 - Reinventing Stravinsky!

As we commemorate 50 years of the death of Igor Stravinsky, Tom Service explores how his music continues to resonate in today's world, how his legacy has been in effect reinvented, from contemporary composition to film scores, from digital sampling in pop to the language of jazz, and also in the world of dance. With contributions from the composers George Benjamin, Anders Hillborg, Shiva Feshareki and Helen Grime, explaining how Stravinsky's music has shaped their work and their lives; from...


A life in music

Kate Molleson is joined Claire Booth, Juliet Fraser and Loré Lixenberg, three major contemporary music voices, as they pay tribute to the soprano Jane Manning who died this month. They discuss Jane's thirst for contemporary repertoire, her collaborative instinct which saw her premiere more than 350 new works by leading composers and her legendary fearless performances. We hear from the writer and Managing Director of the Barbican Centre in London, Nicholas Kenyon. His new book The Life of...