Discontent over China’s zero-Covid suppression policy came to a head last weekend in a series of unprecedented protests across the country. The civil disobedience – remarkable just for the fact it was happening at all in a state where such behaviour is rarely tolerated – seemed to have been smothered by police by the start of the week. Even so it revealed to the world signs of a hitherto unseen fracture in China’s totalitarian political system.
From one Cop to another: hot on the heels of the recent climate conference comes this month’s global summit on biodiversity, which is being held in Montreal. To set the scene, biodiversity reporter Phoebe Weston explains how the damage done to the natural world is a tale of decline spanning thousands of years. Can delegates at Cop15 seize their chance to change the narrative?
With five Grammy awards off the back of four albums spanning everything from folk to jazz and pop, the British multi-instrumentalist Jacob Collier is a global phenomenon. But despite being feted by music royalty including Stormzy, Chris Martin and Herbie Hancock, the 28-year-old has kept a relatively low profile. Global music critic Ammar Kalia takes a trip into Collier’s colourful, polyharmonic world of quarter-tones and non-standardised pitch.
Ivor Novello Award winning and Emmy nominated composer, Ben Salisbury, is best known as one of the countries leading film and TV composers, with recent credits including the feature films ‘Ex Machina’, ‘Free Fire’ (both co-composed with Geoff Barrow) and ‘Beyonce: Life is But a Dream’. He is also a member of the bands ‘Drokk’ (with Geoff Barrow) and ‘Dolman’ (with Scott Hendy).
Ben is particularly well known in the field of Natural History, where he has scored over 50 films – including the last 3 of David Attenborough’s ‘Life Of…’ series. He has also formed a critically acclaimed writing partnership with Porstishead’s Geoff Barrow. The pair have so far released the album DROKK: Music Inspired By Mega City One, described by The Quietus as ‘jaw dropping.. one of the heaviest and most intensely atmospheric records of the year’. The soundtrack album to Ex Machina has been described by Louder Than War as ‘sensational’, and there are further plans to continue a collaboration which, according to screenwriter/director/producer Alex Garland ‘sets an incredibly high bar of creative skill and integrity’. Other recent co-written credits from Ben and Geoff include Ben Wheatly’s Free Fire (executively produced by Martin Scorsese) and Charlie Brooker’s Black Mirror: Men Against Fire.
Biking along country side roads, listening to songs every Swede know by heart: Sol, vind och vatten, Visa vid vindens ängar, Sjösalavals, En kväll i juni. It’s about 8 o’clock in the evening, the sun won’t set for another couple of hours. Summer is lovely on evnings like these. The music is next to cliché but so much a part of Swedish summer they where the obvious choice.
The author of more than three thousand folk songs, Woody Guthrie (1912–1967) is one of the most influential songwriters and recording artists in American history. He is an icon of the Depression era and wrote the world’s most famous protest song, “This Land Is Your Land.”
But he was not only a songwriter, and his subject matter extended well beyond labor politics. The full corpus of his creativity—including lyrics, poetry, artwork, and largely unpublished prose writings—encompassed topics such as the environment, love, sex, spirituality, family, and racial justice. Guthrie created a personal philosophy that has impacted generations of Americans and inspired musician-activists from Pete Seeger and Bruce Springsteen to Ani DiFranco and Chuck D. As Bob Dylan noted of Guthrie, “You could listen to his songs and actually learn how to live.”
“Mozart really belonged to the 19th century”, says Icelandic star-pianist Víkingur Ólafsson about Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart “He belonged to a new area, where the artist was a free thinker. Image, if he had lived a little longer and would have had a dialogue with Ludwig van Beethoven.”
Ólafsson has no doubt that Mozart was a so-called Wunderkind. “He did have a divine gift.” But to Ólafsson another aspect of Mozart’s music is even more fascinating. According to Ólafsson Mozart wrote his best works after the age of 25, when his life was in deep crisis and the Vienna aristocracy had turned its back on him.
“The greater the music became, the less popularity he had.” To Ólafsson Mozart’s legacy must be seen in the light of the tragedy. Víkingur Ólafsson grew up in Reykjavík and started playing the piano at an early age under the tutelage of his mother, a piano teacher. He studied at the Juilliard School in New York, earning bachelor’s and master’s degrees under the supervision of Jerome Lowenthal and Robert McDonald. He also took lessons with Ann Schein.
In 2011, Ólafsson was the soloist in the opening concert of Harpa in Reykjavik, playing Edvard Grieg’s piano concerto with the Iceland Symphony Orchestra. Since he has developed into one of the most recognized and award-winning artists within classical and contemporary music.
In 2016, Víkingur signed an exclusive recording contract with the renowned label Deutsche Grammophon releasing four albums featuring the music of Philip Glass, Johann Sebastian Bach, Debussy & Rameau as well as Mozart & Contemporaries. Ólafsson has collaborated with many contemporary artists among them John Adams, Philipp Glass, Daniel Bjarnason and Icelandic singer Bjørk. He has also recorded the soundtrack of Darkest Hour, a film directed by Joe Wright, and released Bach Reworks, featuring six ‘remixed’ works by Johann Sebastian Bach from the likes of Ben Frost, Peter Gregson, Valgeir Sigurdsson as well as Ólafsson himself.
Víkingur Ólafsson was interviewed by Marc-Christoph Wagner at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in November 2021. Camera: Jarl Therkelsen Kaldan Edited by: Jarl Therkelsen Kaldan Produced by Marc-Christoph Wagner Copyright: Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, 2021 Louisiana Channel is supported by Den A.P. Møllerske Støttefond, Ny Carlsbergfondet and C.L. Davids Fond og Samling
An important moment in the relationship between pop music and writing occurred in 2017 when the Nobel prize in literature was awarded to Kazuo Ishiguro. The previous year, it had gone to Bob Dylan.
In Long Players, a collection of short pieces by poets, novelists and journalists about the albums that have most affected them, a recurrent suggestion is that you can learn more about writing from songs than you can from books, especially when you’re young. “In my view, David Bowie was a great writer”, says Deborah Levy about The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars (1972).
Pioneering rock ’n’ roll musician Don Everly of The Everly Brothers has died at 84. The legendary duo is credited for influencing a spectrum of musical acts like the Beatles to Simon & Garfunkel and more recently Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong and Norah Jones.
The organization NYCNext, dedicated to building New York City into a more equitable place for all, is honoring the city with a special performance of Billy Joel’s classic, “New York State of Mind.” The video features performances and cameos by Zeshan B, Sara Bareilles, Victoria Clark, Cautious Clay, Andy Cohen, Stephen Colbert, Chloe Flower, Alexa Ray Joel, Joseph Joubert, Tom Kitt, The Klezmatics, LaChanze, Anaïs Reno, Idina Menzel, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Brian Newman, Kelli O’Hara, Joan Osbourne, Peppermint, Angie Potani, Mark Rivera, David Rosenthal, Bobby Sanabria and Suzanne Vega.