Proms Extra: Episode 3 BBC Proms

Proms Extra: Episode 3

The weekly Proms magazine show. Tenor Stuart Skelton, soprano Ailish Tynan and gospel conductor and composer Ken Burton discuss Beethoven's Ninth Symphony.

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Tonight, it's all about the harmonies as Beethoven shares


centre stage with Ella Fitzgerald and Dizzy Gillespie


And across the week the Proms was buzzing.


And that's all in South Kensington, London.


Here in our studio with me tonight, I have three guests who I expect


I have soprano Ailish Tynan, the choral director Ken Burton,


and the opera tenor and Proms 2017 star Stuart Skelton.


I know a lot of you make a lot of effort to get here. More of that in


a minute. Ailish, we last met a year ago and much has changed.


Congratulations on little Daisy. I actually was pregnant on the last


show but I wasn't telling anybody yet! And here she is. What a


sweetie. She got her first tooth, with only realised downstairs. So


we'll forget this day. Congratulations. Ken, you took part


in the gospel Prom last year. Never happier than when you are here. You


also took a special session before the singers in the Ella and Dizzy


event. We did, and members of the public, those who consider


themselves singers and those who don't, they came and had the


opportunity of learning a number of Ella Fitzgerald pieces, and a bit of


technique, so I produced a few Ellas and Eltons. It looked huge fun.


Stuart, we saw a lot about your life, your progression and your


singing of Fidelio last week. Your last shot was your taking Proms


Extra off into the night, and what happened next? Lee I don't recall.


It all goes hazy! You have flown into this. It's a pleasure to be


here. And I be singing later. Is there anything you can't do? Yet! I


hope you'll enjoy the next half hour or so and be yourselves, have fun.


Well, have some fun and be yourselves, as we start


with Beethoven's best known choral work, the 9th Symphony.


Now, Ailish, you performed this at the Proms back in 2013.


A good while ago. What about that makes it speak and resonate? It's


the energy, you're just in your chair, waiting to jump up and join


in, because the solos are so little to do and you have to wait until the


end, and it's an energy, the whole thing. If I could put it into words,


I'd be as clever as Beethoven and I'd probably be sitting in a jet,


flying over, I'd be so rich and famous! It's the energy of it, I


feel. That's what gets me. Here's an excerpt from


Beethoven's 9th Symphony, MUSIC: Symphony No.9, "Choral"


by Ludwig van Beethoven Last week's sofa guest


Xian Zhang conducting the BBC National Orchestra and Chorus


of Wales and CBSO Chorus in Beethoven's last complete


symphony, his 9th. So wonderful scene that, Stuart. At


choral element. But that was towards the end. It comes at the end of an


extraordinary symphony. It really is. One thing that sets the 9th


Symphony apart is that choral element that you don't have been any


symphony preceding it. But it is, and as Ailish was saying, there is


this incredible fitting energy to it. When these wonderful thematic


developments happen in the fourth movement, with the constant


repetition and slight variations of that wonderful theme, you can't help


but want to jump up and join in. It really is remarkable. My heart did


saw a bit when I saw the cast, out on stage. Absolutely. I thought, we


are in for a treat. It's an incredible piece, it. What is it


that makes this piece by Beethoven, almost what's been described as a


hymn, the end particularly, what makes it so powerful? It's quite


definitive, like an autobiography. Beethoven is pouring himself into


this symphony, like he does into so much of his works. This idea, which


I think was brewing over a period of 12 years, which you put together to


produce this, and I think the palpable thing about this is, of


course, it's him right at the end, which is this ode to freedom, an ode


to Joy. A lot of the music which I do, I do right across the board,


sacred music, a lot of it is gospel music, and in gospel we want to come


to the heart of the music, the meaning, and a lot of gospel themes


are about freedom and joy and expressing yourself. It takes you


through a roller-coaster of emotions. You don't know what's


coming next in the twists and turns. All of a sudden, something different


happens, and you are taken on a massive, energetic ride, especially


towards the end. I listen and I get caught up spiritually when I hear


this music. I know that Beethoven is a favourite of yours. There is a


story about when you are a small boy... Yes, I went on holiday with a


friend and my parents gave me some spending money and, rather than


bringing back souvenirs or rock, I went to a second-hand shop and I saw


a Beethoven piano Concerto record, vinyl, telling my age, and went home


and resident -- listened to that and nearly wore it out. Probably seven


or eight at the time. That's a great story. You were one classy kid!


Let's go back to that ode to Joy, so well-known, we all know it and you


can sing along, and that's almost part of the point. It's quite a


simple tune. It is, but you can't think, why is it so famous, and you


couldn't put it into words. It's the that is Beethoven. You know,


especially, when Simon Tansley came out, I thought, we are in for a


treat. I wouldn't like to see Yewtree on a night out! We predate


social media. -- I wouldn't like to see you two. My husband has bought


Simon O'Neill a tube because he used to play the tuba. He bought it on


Christmas Day for him on a website. You bid for things on it. He was


lucky because he proposed the night before and there would have been big


trouble if he was buying tubers! Simon, get that out of my cell! I


want rid of it! You paint this picture of your life which is more


and more fabulous. Shall we see a bit more of... Well, if you want to


revisit it, you can go to the iPlayer and sing along to your


hearts content. But we're not done with Beethoven's


9th Symphony just yet as our resident musicologist,


David Owen Norris, explains why Beethoven is playing a waiting game


in tonight's Chord of the Week. The Chord of the Week is D major.


Play a perfect cadence, the base does this, and we have all three


notes. But, in his 9th Symphony, Beethoven has a special jump for


that cadence, so he avoids using it until well into the fourth movement.


There are plenty of places where they might have been a perfect


cadence in Lee, but instead -- in D, but instead the bass just trickles


down, or the bass is all right but there are only two notes in the.


There is even one place where the third is permitted. At last, we hear


the famous ode to Joy theme in D major. Perfect cadence is here. What


about this baseline? No, how perverse. Or this one. No.


This has to be deliberate. It isn't until 166 bars into the last


movement that we get our first proper, perfect cadence in D major.


So, what's special about bar 166? Well, it's here that Beethoven makes


his tune fit the words, just in time for the singers. So far, we've had


long notes. But, to fit the words, that you need a different rhythm,


two syllables. Not... At two syllables. And it's this first full


perfect cadence that shakes the tune into the repeated note rhythm that


Beethoven needs to let the words in. David Owen Norris returns next week


with more chordial activity and a bit of gingham,


we hope, as he explores Oklahoma! Now I'm with my guests,


Ailish Tynan, Ken Burton, We've had Beethoven's greatest hymn


to humanity and now we're having an extra slice of Beethoven


with his only opera, Fidelio, which featured


a certain Stuart Skelton. You can tell us all about it. It's a


rescue opera. Fidelio is the character assumed by Leonora, and


she plays a boy, it's a travesty role. Her husband has been


wrongfully imprisoned by the governor of the prison. And she has


started work or assumed a job at the prison as the assistant to the


jailer as a young chap Fidelio in the hope she might find that this is


the prison where a husband, Florestine, is imprisoned. It turns


out, because there is only joined a half hours of opera, it is the exact


prison where he happens to be in the dungeon, and it ends well and she


resumed -- she reveals herself to be Florestine's wife, and it's all a


big happy ending. In opera, that doesn't often happen, so we are


thankful for that! Shown last Sunday on BBC Four,


here's Stuart in action. The BBC Philharmonic conducted


by Juanjo Mena and we saw Who would have thought an opera set


in a Spanish prison back in the 18th Ken, it was Beethoven's only opera,


is it a tragic loss it was the only one he wrote? I don't believe it's a


tragic loss, he poured his heart and soul into this. In fact, in a letter


he wrote apparently he said, I will gain my martyr's Crown having


written this opera. And in a sense it wasn't the only opera he wrote,


because he actually wrote four overtures to this. But I think


sometimes when it's the only one you have written, this is like a sort of


Martin Luther King moment. There is a value sometimes when it's the only


one. I think he puts so much into it, it was premiered I believe


around about 1804, about the final version, which he was satisfied


with, like a decade later, and that's the verse we have now. So I


think really the fact that it's his powerful statement, I believe, the


fact that it's the only one it gives it more value. Can't improve on


perfection I guess. Let's talk about something that I


often wonder about at the Proms and we hear a concert performance like


that, how is it as a singer preferable in some ways? It's


interesting, I read reviews on this particular opera and I was surprised


that it hadn't done better in the reviews. There was rave reviews for


the singing which was - I listened to it myself, I thought, this is


before I knew I was coming on the programme, I thought this is


wonderful singing. Everyone has it MEP riced. I thought why --


memorised. I thought why has it got a lukewarm response? The singers,


there were rave reviews as it should be. I thought maybe it's because,


for example, in your first entry, that got maybe we are used to seeing


it coming from this dark pit of a stage. Maybe something like Fidelio


needs to be staged for it really to enter our imaginations and grip our


souls. I don't know, I couldn't... Because I thought the orchestral


playing was fantastically tight. The very first line he sings is, God how


dark it is here, if that voice, whoever is singing it, if that comes


out of a completely dark stage and we only hear the voice first, and


then the stage gradually gets light, I think... Mind you, if you are


going to hear it in daylight you would want it sung by you, that's


for sure! I listened to it with headphones and seeing the words and


I like to go into the engine room, what I call the engine room of music


and like to hear what's going on within the orchestrations, how that


ties in with the words and ties in with the sentiment, which Beethoven


is trying to put across. For me it was actually a two-hour spiritual


experience for me watching it. That setting, rather than opera, it was a


conductor who said after a performance I think in Berlin, that


this piece falls into the sphere of the sacred, rather than theatrical


and there's so much in it that draws from the soul and there is a lot of


that, for me, I saw a lot of parallels. It's a story of going


into the deep pit and lifting somebody out of that and rescuing


and saving them. So much of it is a prayer and so much devotion in this,


so it's very powerful. To sing in that setting was very different from


how I remember it 20 years ago when I came across the piece, it's a


different dynamic. The other thing is that all these people, when you


rehearse an opera, you are in a room for weeks and build relationships


with the people and with the orchestra and the conductor and


everything else, it's a long process. Whereas when the Prom is


put together you are in a luxury if you get six rehearsals, let alone


six weeks. I thought of one that actually Bryn and Lisa did with the


Royal Opera House and it blazed, I thought they were going to rip each


other's clothes off at the end of it. That was a concert performance?


It had a concert performance that had come from an opera rehearsal,


that had just done that at Covent Garden and all those months of


rehearsals and maybe that makes a difference. It's interesting picking


up on what you were saying earlier about reviews. Stuart, I would love


to know how you feel as a performer, not asking you int specific reviews


for this performance, but it's so subjective. Yet, there are critics


out there who write and are read by tens of thousands of people and how


do you feel about that? Well, you know, the difficult thing with all


critics, or criticism in general for singers, is that we remember every


word of the bad ones. And not one word of the good ones. If you


believe the good ones, you have to believe the bad ones. But I avoid


the worst of it by not reading any reviews until the entire run of a


series of performances is done. That's sensible. It can mess with


your brain. If you read them during the run of something you might just


be tempted to try and satisfy something they picked out and then,


I don't know, I think it's a dangerous thing. I leave them all at


the end and read them all, good, bad and the ugly. Look, you know, they


serve a wonderful purpose and particularly critics who write


beautifully. That's something that London has, that not everywhere else


does, the well-known, they write beautifully as well, that's an


important thing they do. You can't possibly expect that everyone will


like every performance you ever do. Then you read something ridiculous,


like the woman who sang there, a superb singer, one reviewer said, it


was a pity she didn't wear a trouser suit. You think, what? In the world


of social media and when you have been in the hall that night with


6,000 people, the public loved it. That's what I was listening out for,


the applause. If you like a bit of injustice,


deception and unrequited love in your operas,


then head to the BBC iPlayer where you will find Beethoven's Fidelio


and judge for yourself. Talking of voices, Stuart Skelton


will be singing at the end of tonight's show and,


as we're all about the sounds on Proms Extra, last night


on BBC Four the Proms paid a special tribute to two icons


of jazz and bebop history, Ella Fitzgerald and Dizzie


Gillespie. That was a taste of the Proms


centenary tribute to Ella Fitzgerald Accompanied by the BBC


Concert Orchestra, conducted by John Mauceri, you heard the voice


of Dianne Reeves with the spirit of Dizzy as channelled


by the trumpeter, James Morrison. Look at them, that was 1947 when the


two of them played a famous concert together. I mean, there was so much


joy in the Royal Albert Hall during that Prom. Ken, what was it about


Ella Fitzgerald's voice that captivated the world? It was a clear


voice, clear intonation. Clear elocution, clear tone. These were


the days, remember, there was no help from production. Nowadays we


have all sorts of things, dynamics processing, compression, things that


can make your voice sound clear, you have famous autotune. But Ella was


singing on point and you could hear every word. She also had the ability


to really tell the story. And her voice was flexible as well, she had


a three objecting taf range and had that captivating voice -- octave.


She suffered racism in her time, but the voice was appreciated by anybody


and it's the standard by which many singers judge their music and it's a


standard by which they want to aspire to sing like that or have


that same impact even if they don't have the same voice. Ailish, we


heard Ella's famous song sung by a wonderful jazz diva, Dianne Reeves.


One hesitates to compare the voices. Ella, everybody knows her name, she


was unique. That was what made her so special. Nobody can ever emulate


that. It's exactly what you were saying, Ken, all the things Ken


said, they're what made her sublime. Dianne voice was different, heavier


on the bottom, but in that last clip, I felt she came into her own


in the second half, the fascinating rhythm that you played. She's being


herself and is a phenomenal singer. She popped out a top G there, here


she is standing beside James Morrison, and she was like, oh, you


are not going to get the better of me. I think he would have got the


better of me, that's for sure. She sang a top G there. Popped that out.


And it was clearly loving it. Somebody described that performance


as a skat smackdown. I want to ask you singers, skat, the jazz


vocalising impro- is there a classical equivalent? Gosh... I


don't think so. Singing with bad diction. I guess the closest you


would go is in a lot of the Handle repertoire, you are expected to


embellish and come up with your own ornamentation for it, but that's


planned ahead. I don't think there is anything we really get that sort


of opportunity to do what both Gillespie and Ella, one of the


things I thought they both brought to their artistry, they were


spectacularly good in improvising and Gillespie particularly was one


of the great things, the way he could improvise and just go for


minutes and minutes and minutes. And never run out of invention. Dizzy


himself said James Morrison was one of the best, as well. An amazing


tribute. James was fabulous. You performed with him, Stuart. I did, a


long time ago, Theatre Awards in Australia, I think they were named


after an Australian early pioneer of Australian theatre, Mo. There was an


arrangement for a large band with a tenor soloist and James Morrison


trumpet. I was on stage with James Morrison. I was like a kid. He is my


absolute hero. I have been listening to he and his brother and some of


the work they've been doing for as long as I can remember Did you


manage to squeeze in a top G? I did not. Next time! The only thing about


this sort of tribute Prom is when you have characters like Ella and


Dizzy, what do you put in and leave out? You can't satisfy anyone, do


you think they got it right? It's difficult. I mean, when Ella was


under Verve Records, set up for her to record The Great American


Songbook, and a Prom is not long enough to fit a fraction of that.


Everybody has their favourites. You are always going to have somebody


say you didn't sing that and the neck person will say you didn't sing


that. -- next person. I thought it went on, probably in the film you


would have heard a minute-and-a-half, I thought oh. We


did have absolute gems. We did. For the complete Proms concert


tribute honouring Ella and Dizzy, you know where I'm


going to direct you. Yes, that's right, the BBC iPlayer,


and you can watch the talent displayed by Dianne Reeves


and James Morrison's cheeky trumpet, Well, in addition to the packed-out


concert last night there was an event that took place earlier


in the day which was for those wanting to sing


like Ella, led by Ken. Proms Extra went to meet one


of the amateur choirs taking part. I have a jukebox in my head, I don't


know where that's from. It sort of reminds me of who I am a lot. As an


artist I enjoy painting but I get more of a buzz through singing. It's


been a great social benefit to my life. And it helps structure my


week. Even if I am having a bad day I think I have choir to look forward


to in the evening. People that come to the choir, we have all sorts,


people diagnosed with mental illnesses, people who have been


caring for people with mental illnesses, friends and family, it's


all about coming together, building relationships, being able to lose


that stigma, lose the isolation and gain some confidence. And just have


some fun doing it. Perfection is not on the menu.


When my marriage broke up I basically was completely lost. I


would go from thinking I am either lazy or mentally ill and the truth


is none of that applies. I am just someone that struggles.


When I joined the choir, it was mainly because there were so many


good cakes! I was at a very low ebb. I was so


sort of... I couldn't express myself at all. I was very introverted. And


it was as if I needed to cry, but I couldn't cry, and the lady next to


me, Carol, she put her arm around me. I'd never met her in my life,


and I don't even know why she did that. I wasn't speaking. I was just


there. She must have sensed something. But it was like an


amazing release. We are more than just a quiet. We are on our way to


the optical to see the Ella Fitzgerald Centenary Prom and,


before that, there's a public sing along with Ken Burton, the


conductor, we're going to sing some fantastic Ella Fitzgerald songs. --


we are on our way to the Albert Hall. It's a great chance to let in.


OK, we're going to cheat. We're going to change it. I'm going to try


and say, speak, saying, speak the # I can hardly speak!


OK, together... # I can hardly speak...


The guy that was taking it was really getting people in the spirit


and I found I was really getting to move with the music and it was quite


exciting. We are amongst equals. There is no discrimination or


distinction, there is no noticing whether somebody has been in a choir


for 150 years or they have just sung today for the first time. Everybody


is singing their hearts out. I loved it. I just feel thrilled to be here.


# Embrace me # You irreplaceable you ...


Spectacular. It was a wonderful experience. One word, the inspiring.


An amazing day. -- one word, pretty inspiring.


The transformative power of music in display there.


The sofa has been reduced to just two guests, because Stuart Skelton


is getting ready to perform for us at the end of the show.


Ken, pretty heart-warming, lump in the throat stuff, seen the effect


your work had on the members of the group you are teaching yesterday.


Yes, there is something about singing which is like no other


activity. I think it's because, when we are born, we are born singing.


She has two singers in the house, doing a full-time opera. A baby will


cry for voice, and then it will do the same thing tomorrow and not


complain about a sore throat. Evening! I should be so lucky! I'll


have to tell her that immediately. If you think about the most extreme


ways in which we express ourselves, it's the connection of the diaphragm


to the abdominal muscles with the vocal chords and, when we want to


express ourselves as something funny, I can just say ha-ha or


whatever. Just sounds, elongated sounds, and that connects with the


voice and this. It gives so much expression. When we are singing, we


are doing the same thing, so it's an outpouring of the soul, because you


are doing the same thing when you cry. When you're young and you are


going, I'm hungry, it's the same the same muscles. I often think that,


somebody like you, you have the best job in the world and you get to see


the faces and the joy you are bringing to people in the audience.


Are used to think, I should have done some useful, being a brain


surgeon, but the more I see it in the faces of people, the man on the


clip who was mesmerised, I just think, that's the power of music.


You couldn't have put it better. Do go ahead to the iPlayer where,


you will find Beethoven's Fidelio, his Choral Symphony,


plus the tribute to Ella and Dizzy Besides the iPlayer,


you can get further Proms takeout from the Proms website,


every concert is broadcast live All that remains now is for me


to thank Ailish Tynan Join me next week, where gingham


and the elixir of youth is the order of the night,


as we're talking about Oklahoma and the National Youth


Orchestra of Great Britain. NYO is on tomorrow evening


and Oklahoma is next But right now, l'll leave


you with You Are My Heart's Delight, from the operetta The Land Of Smiles


by Franz Lehar. Accompanied by Kate Golla,


here is Proms Extra # That dreams of mine


may at last come true # And I shall hear you


whisper, "I love you" # And 'neath a magic spell


hath bound me # A wondrous air


is your beautiful hair # Bright as a summer sky


is the night in your eyes # Soft as a sparkling star


is the warmth of my love # That dreams of mine


may at last come true # And I shall hear you whisper,


"I love you". #


Katie Derham presents the companion guide to the Proms. Tonight's show has the tenor Stuart Skelton, soprano Ailish Tynan and gospel conductor and composer Ken Burton discussing Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, and a Proms centenary tribute to Ella Fitzgerald and Dizzy Gillespie.

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