Classic Discovery

As advertised on Channel 4’s Sunday Brunch, my Introduction to Classical Music series in association with the Idler Academy is now available to purchase as an online course. Click here to watch Sandy talking about the Introduction to Classical Music online course on Channel 4’s Sunday Brunch, and click here for full details of the course and how to download.

Sandy’s Introduction to Classical Music book is also now available – read his blog post here.

Sandy runs music appreciation classes for adult learners, coaches student orchestras and choirs as conductor/educator, gives talks at music clubs and festivals, leads lecture tours, and is working on a book introducing people to classical music – all part of his Classic Discovery project. Scroll down for news of what’s coming up over the next twelve months, as well as events in the past …

“Thanks so much for your excellent course. I really enjoyed it and particularly enjoyed your enthusiasm and passion for the music that you played us.”

Event archive:

My Beethoven’s Long Shadow autumn lecture tour began on 21st September in King’s Lynn and continued to Ross on Wye and Stapleford near Cambridge: here’s a diary page link for more information.

In November 2016 my Medieval to Modern lecture series returned on three Wednesday afternoons in November, in association with ACE Cultural Tours. Here’s the link.

Wagner’s Ring Cycle at the South Bank Centre, London – June/July 2016 – with the Feast of Reason supper club

“Join The Feast of Reason and Sandy Burnett of Classic Discovery for an extraordinary week of musical drama and passion. Over 6 days we will see all four operas that make up the Ring Cycle, interspersed with insights from Sandy, to help us gain the most enjoyment and understanding of Wagner’s work, and with Feast of Reason cooking to sustain us.  Email Olivia@thefeastofreason.com or find out more here.”

Classical Music Masterclass at Idler Academy, Tuesday 17th November 2015

I led an introduction to classical music in this one-evening spectacular, covering four key areas – Baroque, Classical, Romantic and twentieth-century – and focussing on a major work from each.   More details here.

Rape of Lucretia at Glyndebourne, August 2015

In partnership with the Feast of Reason supper club, Sandy led a trip to Glyndebourne to see Fiona Shaw’s excellent production of the Rape of Lucretia by Benjamin Britten,  talking about the opera during the interval.

Opera, the Melting Pot of Cultures: Monday 16th March 2015

Sandy returned to Ross Classical Music Society with an overview of opera, from its courtly origins in 17th century Italy, through its unlikely success in Georgian England, and Wagner and Verdi’s Romantic innovations to the cinematic revolutions of our time. Full details here. And to listen to all of the music I featured in the talk, click here to access the Spotify playlist.

Introduction to Classical Music course at the Idler Academy: 17th February-24th March 2015

Blurb as follows: This popular six-week course is back and up and running at the wonderful Idler Academy, 81 Westbourne Park Road, London W2 on six consecutive Tuesday evenings. The Idler Academy is a wonderful place, a great space to drink coffee, buy books, and browse, and I’m delighted to be back there. Why not come and join me? For a full breakdown of what’s going to be happening when, and for booking information, follow this link. And to listen to the six-week Classic Discovery playlist on Spotify, click here.

Mediaeval To Modern – Six Eras Of Classical Music: November 12, 19 & 26, 2014

A three-part Classic Discovery lecture series in partnership with ACE Cultural Tours at Kings College, London. This introduction to classical music covers a thousand years of classical music, taking us from the Mediaeval and Renaissance periods through Baroque, Classical, Romantic and 20th century right up to today. Through illustrated and interactive lectures Sandy explains the nuts and bolts of classical music – notation, form and tonality – and discusses how composers went about the process of shaping their works. This course will give a clear understanding of the essential elements of music in each era, and will provide a new perspective to classical music as a whole. The afternoon courses, each covering two musical eras, take place on three consecutive Wednesdays in November at Kings College London, assembling 1330 and finishing at 1730.

The Classical Era – a Classic Discovery evening at the Reform Club: Friday 23rd May 2014

This was an invitation-only event for members of the Reform Club. Playlist here:

Bach cantatas talk for the Ross on Wye Classical Music Society, Monday 14th April 2014

A raging serpent, a hellish dragon and God’s army of angels… but that’s enough about the audience! I was invited to the Ross on Wye Classical Music Society to give a talk about my experience of conducting a complete cycle of JS Bach’s surviving sacred cantatas.

Introduction to Classical Music course at the Idler Academy: 4th March – 8th April 2014

Blurb as follows: This popular six-week course returns to the wonderful Idler Academy, 81 Westbourne Park Road, London W2 on six consecutive Wednesday evenings. The Idler Academy is a wonderful place, a great space to drink coffee, buy books, and browse, and I’m delighted to be back there. Why not come and join me? For a full breakdown of what’s going to be happening when, and for booking information, follow this link. And to listen to the six-week Classic Discovery playlist on Spotify, click here.

Crash Course in Classical Music course at Hagley Village, 12th March 2014

As part of the Idler Academy series there, I was invited to give my Crash Course in Classical Music talk at Hagley Village in Birmingham. Here are details of the music used in the talk:

JS Bach: Prelude in C major BWV 846 from the Well-Tempered Klavier – Angela Hewitt (piano); Mozart: String Quartet in B flat K458 “the Hunt” – Hagen String Quartet; Mahler: Symphony no 1 – London Symphony Orchestra/Valery Gergiev; Stravinsky: Le sacre du printemps/Rite of Spring – Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra/Mariss Jansons. And you’ll find a glossary of key terms here.

A Short Course on Chamber Music with the Feast of Reason:  30th January and 5th February 2014

In association with the Feast of Reason, I’ve prepared a short Classic Discovery course on chamber music.  It takes place over two evenings, the first in Brixton and the second at Wigmore Hall in Central London. In this short course I will lead you through the sophisticated world of chamber music – a branch of classical music in which each instrument has one dedicated part to play.  A great example of this is the string quartet, renowned in late eighteenth-century Vienna for its sophistication and elegance.  Not for nothing did Goethe compare the sound of a string quartet as “four intelligent people conversing.” The session on Thursday 30th January will look at Haydn’s opus 20 no 5, Beethoven’s opus 59 no 2, and Bartók’s fourth quartet, with the help of recordings as well as excerpts played live in the comfort of Olivia’s living room.  Then on Wednesday 5th of February we go to hear the exciting young Carducci Quartet perform these three works at the temple of chamber music itself, and one of the most famous classical music venues in the world:  the Wigmore Hall in Central London. These are always enjoyable occasions – sociable and informative. Click here for more information, and booking details.

Lives of the Great Composers – Series One – at the Idler Academy: 13th November – 18th December 2013

An exciting new classical music lecture series for the excellent Idler Academy in West London:  Lives of the Great Composers, Series One examines the work of six great composers in turn, in a weekly series of classes on Wednesday evenings between 6:45pm and 8:15pm.  The composers are: Monteverdi, JS Bach, Beethoven, Verdi, Bartok, and (that famous classical composer!) Duke Ellington. Here’s that link again for good measure.   It has full details of the course: where, when, weekly rundowns, and how to book. The Idler Academy is at 81 Westbourne Park Road, London W2 5QH. Do give them a call on 0207 221 5908.

Duke Ellington (1899-1974) playlist:

Béla Bartók (1881-1945) playlist:

Giuseppe Verdi (1813-1901) playlist:

Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827) playlist:

Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) playlist:

Claudio Monteverdi (1567-1643) playlist:

 Brunch with Kurtág: Sunday 1st December 2013

Mr and Mrs Kurtág concert – Sunday 1st December at 11.30am for brunch (Brixton) & 3pm for the concert (South Bank Centre)

A rare opportunity to see György and Márta Kurtág play excerpts from György’s Játékok (Games), and some of his four-hand arrangements of Bach.

György Kurtág (born 1926) is one of the greatest living composers of contemporary classical music, and a living link to some of the core developments in the twentieth century.  He studied and later taught at the world famous Franz Liszt Academy in Budapest, and has worked at some of Europe’s most prestigious ensembles, including a spell as composer in residence with the Berlin Philharmonic. Kurtág has developed a distinctive technique: building musical structures out of tiny fragments, which we’ll hear in action in this concert, for which he’ll be joined by his wife and regular piano duet partner Márta. Expect music that’s quirky, humorous, thought-provoking and beautiful.

Cost – £40 including brunch and concert ticket. Book here:  http://www.thefeastofreason.com/kurtag/

Shostakovitch Symphony no 13 – Classic Discovery Short Course in Brixton and South Bank: 21st & 26th Oct 2013

In association with The Feast of Reason supper club, there’s a talk in Brixton with supper on 21st October, followed by a visit to the South Bank Centre to hear Shostakovich’s Symphony No.13 (Babi Yar) performed by the London Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Yannick Nézet-Séguin, as part of “The Rest is Noise” season at the South Bank.

The Soviet composer Dmitri Shostakovitch’s dilemma was this: how could he write music of lasting artistic value which engaged with the issues of the time, while staying on the right side of the often repressive regime? His Symphony No. 13 (1962) is a case in point: a symphonic depiction of the World War II Babi Yar massacre which represented the composer’s last great brush with the authorities. Thereby hangs a fascinating tale.

Cost – £65 for both evenings, including supper, wine and concert ticket. Email Olivia Lacey at events@finsharky.com to book.

Crash Course in Classical Music course at the Roman River Festival, 30th September 2013

I was delighted to give my Classic Discovery Crash Course in Colchester, as part of the imaginative Roman River festival put together by conductor/cellist/arranger Orlando Jopling.  I’m also delighted that they included the word “neophyte” in the billing, which you can read here.

Here are details of the music used in the talk – click on the artists’ names for recording details: JS Bach: Prelude in C major BWV 846 from the Well-Tempered Klavier – Angela Hewitt (piano); Mozart: String Quartet in B flat K458 “the Hunt” – Hagen String Quartet; Berlioz: Symphonie fantastique – London Symphony Orchestra/Colin Davis; Stravinsky: Le sacre du printemps/Rite of Spring – Berliner Philharmoniker/Rattle. And you’ll find a glossary of key terms here.

Introduction to Classical Music course at the Idler Academy: 25th September – 6th November 2013

This popular six-week course returns to the wonderful Idler Academy, 81 Westbourne Park Road, London W2 on six consecutive Wednesday evenings (but missing out 30th October). The Idler Academy is a wonderful place, a great space to drink coffee, buy books, and browse, and I’m delighted to be back there. Why not come and join me? For a full breakdown of what’s going to be happening when, and for booking information, follow this link. And to listen to the six-week Classic Discovery playlist on Spotify, click here. 

Classic Discovery Baroque evening at the Reform Club, 20th September 2013

This was an invitation-only event for members of the Reform Club. Baroque playlist as follows:

Claudio Monteverdi – Cruda Amarilli, che col nome ancora:  La Venexiana

Claudio Monteverdi – Beatus Vir:  The Sixteen & Harry Christophers

Claudio Monteverdi – Possente Spirto from Orfeo: New London Consort & Philip Pickett

Vivaldi – Concerto Grosso op 3 No. 2 in G minor RV578  II.      Allegro: English Consort & Trevor Pinnock

Handel, George Frideric – Handel: Rodelinda / Act 2 – Tirannia gli diede il regno: Il Complesso Barocco & Alan Curtis

Lully : Psyché : “Chantons les plaisirs charmants” [Chorus]:  Les Arts Florissants & William Christie

Rameau – Nais Suite: VII. Sarabande: Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra & Nicholas McGegan

Johann Sebastian Bach: Das Wohltemperierte Klavier: Book 1, BWV 846-869 – Prelude & Fugue in C major BWV 846:  Angela Hewitt

Johann Sebastian Bach – St. Matthew Passion, BWV 244: St. Matthew Passion, BWV 244, Part I: Kommt, ihr Tochter, helft mir klagen: Collegium Vocale Gent & Philippe Herreweghe

Johann Sebastian Bach – Mass in B Minor, BWV 232: XXII. Sanctus: Bach Collegium Japan & Maasaki Suzuki

Lecture/supper, then Tchaikovsky & Rachmaninov at the BBC Proms, 2nd September 2013

The second of this summer’s lecture supper/Proms pairings. On Monday 2nd September we head to the Royal Albert Hall to hear all three of those works, played by Baiba Skride and the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Vasily Petrenko. We meet by the Albert Memorial at 5.30pm for drinks, a picnic and a talk about the programme. Tickets cost £30 which includes Sandy’s talk and the picnic beforehand; the Prom starts at 7.30pm. If you’d like to come along,  and to find out more information, please book by emailing Olivia on olivia@finsharky.com.

 

Lecture/supper, and Mahler’s 5th Symphony at the BBC Proms, 10th & 15th July 2013

I’m returning to Brixton to teach another short music course. On Wednesday 10th July we meet in Brixton for a talk about our two Prom composers:  Helmut Lachenmann (b.1935), who uses conventional orchestral instruments in the most unconventional ways;  and Gustav Mahler (1860-1911), one of the greatest symphonists of all, who threw his deepest concerns into his music: life, death, faith, and love. And on Monday 15th July we head to the Royal Albert Hall to hear the Symphony no. 5 by Mahler and the UK premiere of Lachenmann’s piece.

Comments after the last Brixton music course: “what a fab, inspiring evening!  It had a really warm, intelligent yet approachable atmosphere …” “Thank you for hosting such a delightful evening on Tuesday – it really was special, delicious music and food! Looking forward to next week.”

A ticket for the short course is £60 – this covers both evenings, including supper and wine in Brixton on 10th July, and a ticket for the Prom on 15th July.  If you can’t make one of the evenings you are very welcome to send someone else in your place. Numbers are limited so please book by emailing Olivia on olivia@finsharky.com.

 

Introduction to Classical Music course at the Idler Academy: 1st May – 5th June 2013

This popular six-week course returns to the wonderful Idler Academy, 81 Westbourne Park Road, London W2 on six consecutive Wednesday evenings. The Idler Academy is a wonderful place, a great space to drink coffee, buy books, and browse, and I’m delighted to be back there. Why not come and join me? For a full breakdown of what’s going to be happening when, and for booking information, follow this link. And to listen to the six-week Classic Discovery playlist on Spotify, click here. 

Classic Discovery with the National Youth Choir of Great Britain: 10th – 13th April 2013

The National Youth Choir of Great Britain are singing the Monteverdi Vespers of 1610 at the Royal Albert Hall on Sunday 14th April, and I filled them in on the background and makeup of the music in three Classic Discovery sessions – one for each of the two NYCGB Training Choirs on Weds 10th April, and one for the NYC itself on Saturday 13th April.

Follow this link to listen to the playlist for this session.

A Short Course on Classical Music in Three Delightful Evenings: 12th – 26th March 2013

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This invitation-only supper-club course took place on Tuesday evenings in a terraced house in Brixton. The first session (12th March) was on Beethoven’s Cello Sonata op 69, and it included a wonderful live performance by Robin Michael (cello) and Daniel Tong (piano). The second session (19th March) covered the Romantic era in general and two works in particular: Schubert’s Unfinished Symphony and the Brahms Violin Concerto. The final session (26th March) took the group to the Barbican Centre for a blistering performance of those two works by the London Symphony Orchestra.

Crash Course in Classical Music: Blenheim Concerts, Sunday 10th March 2013

Here are details of the music used in the talk for Blenheim Concerts, a music club in West London – click on the artists’ names for recording details: JS Bach: Prelude in C major BWV 846 from the Well-Tempered Klavier – Angela Hewitt (piano); Mozart: String Quartet in B flat K458 “the Hunt” – Hagen String Quartet; Mahler: Symphony no 1 – Vienna Philharmonic/Lorin Maazel; Stravinsky: Le sacre du printemps/Rite of Spring – Columbia Symphony Orchestra/Stravinsky. And you’ll find a glossary of key terms here.

Sandy’s Classic Discovery concerts, lectures and open rehearsals deconstruct and analyse some of the greatest works of classical music in a way that is vivid, entertaining and revelatory. They have seen him working …

  • as coach/conductor with the Junior Orchestras of the Royal Academy of Music and Guildhall School of Music and Drama
  • as concert host/lecturer with the period-instrument Eroica Quartet, and
  • as lecturer with The Idler Academy and the Feast of Reason in a series of adult music education classes.
  • as one-on-one teacher on music theory, history and analysis with individual clients.

A blog entry on Sandy’s Mahler project at the Guildhall explains more. And to see one of the ways it works in action, watch this Classic Discovery video with Sandy Burnett and the Eroica Quartet.