Sunday 23 August 2009

Where's Runnicles on TV (probably for all of about fifteen seconds)

It never ceases to surprise me who stumbles across this blog (and indeed how many - for those who actually want to know, we normally get somewhere between 500 and 1,000 unique visitors a month, sometimes more, depending on how much I have time to go and see and review).

Over the last year, we've had a little more notice from press offices and the like; still, it was a surprise back in June to get an e-mail from someone at the BBC making a documentary about Donald Runnicles who'd stumbled across the site and wondering if she would be able to phone for a chat? I gave a brief interview over the phone and thought little more of it.

As perhaps is the way these days, the person who called me wasn't a specialist in classical music, so I had an interesting time trying to describe what it things can make for a compelling partnership between conductor and orchestra and what doesn't (though, as Charles Mackerras said in a talk he gave, it's something of a dark art as so many contradictory approaches work for different people and ensembles).

However, I was very surprised yesterday when I got an e-mail from John MacLaverty, the director of the film in question, wondering if I'd be able to come over to Glasgow today and be interviewed. Now, as regular readers will be aware, I'm a little busy just now with Venue 40 where I'm a venue manager (indeed, while I'm on holiday to do it next week, this last week it's been combined with my day job). On Sundays our new volunteers arrive for training so it's not ideal. On the other hand, it's not every day you get the chance to be interviewed on camera for a TV documentary.

So, I made found and made my way to City Halls (via, oddly, trains that are only once an hour between Edinburgh and Glasgow during festival time on Sundays - not sure what's going on with the planners at Scotrail) at around midday, entering via the stage door (an altogether snazzier and more prominent affair than some of the dingy ones I've seen or been through, so much so that there's a sign reminded public that the real doors are round the other side).

I met John, who unfortunately wasn't able to get me in to watch a little bit of the rehearsal he was there to film. However, after a brief wait, we made our way to the front of the halls, camera and fury boom mic thing in hand, for the interview. Needless to say, this was the cue for the city's clampers to start lifting cars.

He asked me the questions you might expect, starting with how we came to have our title (see here, I hope I gave sufficient impression that we do a lot more than just rave about Runnicles, and indeed he accounts for only around 10% of our posts) and why we're such fans of Runnicles. As I've said so many times before, it was that Mahler third symphony, with the posthorn so tantalisingly placed that kicked things off.

I talked about his general genius for the placement of instruments, especially those offstage, that I've mentioned so many times before and, of course, my mad dash down for the Gotterdammerung prom.

It seems though, that they'll probably only use a small fraction of it. The programme itself is to go out in October to accompany the BBC2 Scotland broadcast of Runnicles' first concert as chief conductor which will feature both Mahler's first symphony and Beethoven's first. I suspect that it may be something of a celebratory piece, and if they use my stuff, I have a fair idea which bits it will be. In particular, to do with whether the appointment was a real coup for the BBC (which I think it is) and why people should listen to the concert, as apparently people in Scotland aren't terribly interested in classical music.

That said, given they've been filming rehearsals and will also be travelling down to the Proms to film around their performance there on Wednesday, there is potential for lots of interesting footage and insight (and apparently an interview with Runnicles in the back of a taxi).

Still, it was a new and exciting experience and I've very glad to have had it. I don't suppose it will happen again any time soon. Not being entirely free of ego, I'll flag it up again when it's broadcast (those outside Scotland will probably have to fall back on the iPlayer).

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