...And not forgetting Il Sogno...

Pretty self-explanatory
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...And not forgetting Il Sogno...

Postby johnfoyle » Sat Aug 21, 2004 4:13 am

http://www.shorefire.com/artists/ecoste ... 18_04.html

August 18, 2004
Il Sogno

London Symphony Orchestra

Michael Tilson Thomas

Elvis Costello's First Full-Scale Orchestral Work To Be Released September 21, 2004

"If any rocker could pull off such an improbable feat, it's Elvis Costello, whose musical curiosity has always been boundless."
-- Washington Post

NEW YORK, NY - Elvis Costello delivered a trio of thrilling shows at the Lincoln Center Festival at Avery Fisher Hall this summer, showcasing the breadth and scope of his diverse musical talents. The first show featured rearrangements of his songs for jazz orchestra while the latter two concerts previewed his twin September 21 releases: The Delivery Man (Lost Highway Records) with his band the Imposters and his first classical orchestral composition called Il Sogno for Deutsche Grammophon. This world-premiere recording of Il Sogno is performed by the London Symphony Orchestra and their principal guest conductor Michael Tilson Thomas.

Il Sogno, a ballet inspired by Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream, was written by Elvis Costello in ten weeks across 200-pages in pencil, without computers or musical collaborators. The concluding 170 pages were written directly into full score without the creation of sketches. In Il Sogno, Costello truly "crosses over" by successfully blending various styles and influences such as impressionistic classical à la Debussy and big band jazz. The music displays many different moods, from tender to spiky and very rhythmic and irreverent with an orchestral sound that is compelling in the vein of Bernstein's West Side Story.

This ballet was commissioned by the Festival di Danza 2000 at Teatro Communale di Bologna for the Aterbaletto dance company of Reggio Emilia. Following its premiere, the ballet was staged throughout Italy, Germany, France, and Russia. However, for the sole U.S. performance in 2001 at the Orange County Performing Arts Center, the ballet was danced to a taped score.

In addition to leading the London Symphony Orchestra in the recording of this work, Michael Tilson Thomas also worked as a musical advisor on this project. Further important contributors to the album, coming from different musical worlds, are the famous jazz drummer Peter Erskine and composer/saxophonist John Harle, whose part was both notated and improvised.

For rock-and-roller Elvis Costello, who has a great passion for classical music, this is not the first boundary-breaking musical adventure: Following the acclaimed release of The Juliet Letters in 1992 and subsequent tours with the Brodsky Quartet, Elvis has developed his classical style by arranging and composing for chamber groups and small orchestra, including a set of songs entitled Three Distracted Women for Anne Sofie von Otter and the Brodsky Quartet.

Critical acclaim for Elvis Costello's "Il Sogno"
(Lincoln Center Festival, July 17, 2004 Brooklyn Philharmonic, Brad Lubman Conductor)

"Mr. Costello is ceaselessly curious about music. He is inquisitive enough not just to listen widely, but to learn the makings of every idiom that moves him, from lieder to New Orleans rhythm and blues...he is a howler, a swinger, a brooder, an orchestral composer and a guitar twanger...a rhapsodic work, following the plot's juxtapositions of characters by switching among courtly pomp, folkish lilt, sweeping romantic lines and jazzy swing, along with eerie sustained interludes. As tuneful themes recurred and intertwined, it was easy to imagine "Il Sogno" as the latter-day descendant of ballet scores: a film soundtrack. "
- New York Times

"No doubt Costello knows what he's doing...Costello has channeled his thematic material into simple, formal structures that he uses in the disciplined manner of a bona fide classical composer...Am I surprised? Totally. But if any rocker could pull off such an improbable feat, it's Elvis Costello, whose musical curiosity has always been boundless."
- Washington Post

"The piece brims with color and charm of a kind wholly distinct from Costello's pop music..."Il Sogno" was also unflaggingly melodious, rhythmically vital and -- most impressive -- orchestrated with kaleidoscopic vividness. Reading music is one thing; orchestration is quite another (with most rockers who compose orchestral works ceding that all-important job to trained experts). Costello seems to have taken to this new art with as much panache as he did Americana, torch songs or other genre offshoots from his initial vein of combustible, if highly literate, rock'n'roll."
- Star Ledger

"Costello knows his way around an orchestra. The writing is full of color and variety and solo instruments get their fair share of the spotlight - a beguiling trumpet song in the second movement still lingers. There are all sorts of style references - luxuriantly romantic passages, outbursts of Ivesian exuberance, sudden turns into Latin rhythms, sturdy marches, a couple of hints of Elizabethan ballad. The work goes all over the place, but it's a fun trip."
- New York Post

"At once remarkably dense and wittily playful...Costello has virtually no trouble converting the mastery of character development he's shown in his pop lyrics into orchestration...a surprisingly profound concert experience."
- Daily Variety

"Even without the visual aid of dancers and scenery, the music creates a remarkable sense of fluidity that smoothly leads from one plain to the other, especially in the meticulously prepared performance by the Brooklyn Philharmonic under Brad Lubman. The wide-ranging eclecticism that characterizes Costello's songwriting style-punk, rhythm and blues, soul, jazz, folk, funk, bluegrass-can be detected in his classical persona as well, and it would be tedious to list all the composers who come to mind while listening to Il Sogno. I'm not sure that identifying them would be especially helpful either, since Costello has a way of absorbing his influences, rethinking them, and challenging the listener on his own terms. That partly comes from his quirky melodic shapes that always keep the ear guessing, as well as an innate feeling for tangy instrumental combinations that you can't learn from orchestration manuals. Il Sogno may be no deathless masterpiece, but it definitely adds up to a most engaging romp through Shakespeare."
- New York Magazine

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Postby laughingcrow » Sat Aug 21, 2004 5:21 am

What does 'without the creation of sketches' mean, in the 2nd paragraph?

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Postby TheComedian » Sat Aug 21, 2004 1:36 pm

A sketch is usually a score written on two staves - looking like piano music - rather than an individual line for each instrument in the score. Sometimes more staves are added to clarify the lines. When you're writing a sketch, you're just getting the ideas onto the page, and aren't worried about proper score formatting.
I don't care if I'm right or wrong,
Or if my typewriter can spell.

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Postby laughingcrow » Sat Aug 21, 2004 5:55 pm

Aah thanks...so how accomplished might one be if one doesn't need to create sketches? I take it that it's not something easily learned/practiced. Well done Elvis!

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Postby johnfoyle » Tue Aug 31, 2004 6:43 am

http://www.towerrecords.com/promo.asp?p ... ssical%201

To receive your free Elvis Costello CD Sampler from Deutsche Grammophon:

Buy any Elvis Costello CD or any classical CD from Decca, Deutsche Grammophon, ECM New Series, Philips or Universal Classics and the Il Sogno CD Sampler will automatically be added to your bag.

Sampler Track Listing:
1. "Puck One"
2. "Oberon & Titania"
3. "The Wedding"
The three tracks featured on the CD sampler are a preview of Elvis Costello's upcoming full-length orchestral debut Il Sogno.

CD Sampler Offer Rules: Purchase any Elvis Costello or any classical CD from Decca, Deutsche Grammophon, ECM New Series, Philips or Universal Classics and you will receive a free Elvis Costello : Il Sogno CD Sampler. You will receive one CD sampler per order. The CD sampler will be shipped to arrive with your CD order. Offer good while supplies last.

Offer ONLY applies to addresses within the U.S. and Canada. No exceptions.

Il Sogno - Arrives September 21
An original ballet composition based on A Midsummer Night's Dream, with acclaimed conductor Michael Tilson Thomas and the London Symphony Orchestra. The recording also features guest performances by percussionist Peter Erskine and saxophonist John Harle. Pre-order your copy of Il Sogno today!
Il Sogno
Arrives 09.21.04

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Postby lapinsjolis » Tue Aug 31, 2004 2:36 pm

Thank you John Foyle for this and all the lyric postings. For some reason I find myself looking more forward to this record than 'Deliveryman'.
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Postby noiseradio » Tue Aug 31, 2004 2:39 pm

I plan to get this on release day. My family digs classical music a lot, especially my parents and inlaws. They're not big EC fans, so I'm excited about the possibility that I could convert them with this. Plus, it's just something really new for him, and that's always exciting.
"There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy."
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Postby Mr. Average » Fri Jan 07, 2005 3:26 am

Unfortunately, it seems the Elvis fan base has rejected, or better, failed to embrace this wonderful work. It takes effort to get into, but what an ROI.

You will hear homage paid to many of the great writers of our time. Gershwin, Bernstein, Cole Porter. Am I overthinking it? Maybe, maybe not. I genuinely believe that Elvis craves this as his legacy. It is his "dream" to be counted among these icons of music.

I asked for an recieved (and would have marched right out an bought it if I hadn't) the famous recording by Miles Davis and Gil Evans "Porgy and Bess"

I swear that Elvis slips in a reference or two to this seminal masterpiece in his writing and orchestration of Il Sogno.

And note that not one of these greatest musicians of all time ever played a theramin, just for clarity
"The smarter mysteries are hidden in the light" - Jean Giono (1895-1970)

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Postby johnfoyle » Sat Jan 08, 2005 4:24 pm

http://www.palmbeachpost.com/arts/conte ... _0109.html

A&E/The Blog Squad
The classical crossover

Is Elvis Costello the future of new classical music?
By Greg Stepanich

Palm Beach Post staff writer

Sunday, January 09, 2005

I've heard plenty of new classical music over the past 20 years and written about a good deal of it, and I have to say that most of it was pretty mediocre — when it wasn't downright bad.

One of the few pieces I can recall to have lived up partly to its hype was the First Symphony of John Corigliano, a difficult, uncompromising but compelling piece that I first heard in its great Chicago Symphony recording, and then live in a blazing performance by the Florida Philharmonic under James Judd.

Although it had an au courant hook in its dedication to AIDS victims, as well as a touch of the cinema in its use of a disembodied, ghostly echo of the Albeniz Tango in D, the symphony didn't need any gimmicks: It was, and is, a fine piece of American classical composition.

But it's not just classical composers who dream of adding something of significance to the repertory. Since George Gershwin, writers of commercial popular music have tried to stretch their creative wings and essay a different aspect of their art.

In Gershwin's day, as American popular music began its rise to global domination, classical composers such as Kurt Weill and Vernon Duke were turning their backs on symphonies and string quartets and writing only for film and Broadway.

Pop composers tried to go the other way, with Richard Rodgers taking on Victory at Sea and a young Cole Porter writing a ballet score in 1923 called Within the Quota that a writer noted as one of the first treatments in the literature of "symphonic jazz."

In more recent times, Paul McCartney has cranked out, with much help, a few classical pieces including Standing Stone, a large oratorio; Billy Joel has issued an attractive album (Fantasies and Delusions) of 19th century-style classical piano pieces (the CD's graphic design borrowed the look of the yellow G. Schirmer volumes with which all American piano students are familiar); and Elvis Costello has been working on several classical projects for some time, including a song cycle with string quartet called Three Distracted Women.

Costello's latest venture is a work for ballet called Il Sogno (The Dream), based on Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream and commissioned by an Italian dance company called Aterballetto. The work has gotten mixed reviews, and here at The Post, we ran a fairly negative brief about it when the CD of Costello's score was released back in September.

I picked up the disc a couple of weeks ago (it features the London Symphony under part-time Miamian Michael Tilson Thomas) and I've been studying it with some interest. Looked at one way, it's an incoherent hodgepodge of non-related styles that does not illustrate the action of Shakespeare's play so much as it does the wide range of Costello's listening habits.

But considered from a different angle, Il Sogno points the way toward a successful path for contemporary classical music, unlike the work of the other two rockers. I found McCartney's Standing Stone unpersuasive except for the closing choral song; and while much of Joel's solo piano music is quite beautiful, it's also deeply derivative, and of Chopin in particular. That doesn't make the music meritless; it only means it's music of the past, no matter how lovely it is.

At this point, someone is likely to say, 'Ah, but all classical music is music of the past.' Not so. What classical music has been waiting for is a composer with a sufficiently original voice who can bring together the various influences of his or her day and construct a vital message for today's audience. I don't see how any composer can build a voice that will sound relevant without taking into account the language of popular music, and I think the composer who can do that truly will be someone to be reckoned with.

Costello isn't quite there, but he's got potential.

It's critical to note that he wrote the score himself, orchestrations and all, without any assistance. Whereas McCartney refuses to learn notation on the superstitious grounds that it would make his talent evaporate, Costello simply buckled down and learned how to read and write music about 10 years ago. It's stalled his creativity not one bit; it has instead given him new avenues to explore.

Still, Il Sogno is a deeply frustrating score to listen to. There are passages in which Costello's music sounds congruent with that of 20th-century British classical composition, such as the material describing the fairy realm (Oberon and Titania) that opens Act II of the ballet.

But no sooner does a gentle oboe tune ripen in the hands of the clarinet and the violins then Costello steps back, in an ostensible bid to describe the two fairy monarchs arguing, and writes an egregiously bad section of lame-o jazz riffs over what sounds like a Music for Young Orchestras arrangement of On Broadway.

He does the same thing earlier in the section titled The State of Affairs. He writes a fanfare-like passage that has an intriguing flavor of rock, then a Shostakovich-like pattern separated by a snare drum, and then, sadly, a few seconds of retro-'50s cool jazz, complete with vibes and trap set.

Much better are pieces like Oberon Humbled, a reflective piece of winding, soft melody interrupted in the middle by an echo of a heavy dance beat, but this comes across as logical, not as a piece of inserted incongruity designed to comfort the fears of worried pop fans who might otherwise think their boy Elvis has gone over to the tuxedoed dark side.

The point of all this analysis is simply this: Elvis Costello is probably quite capable of coming up with a much better orchestral work than Il Sogno. He's got a good ear for color, and he's able to write decent themes that sound orchestral rather than like pop tunes wearing fancy clothes.

On the downside, he's too short-winded a melodist to construct a powerful piece of symphonic argument at this point, and much of his ballet score suffers from a lack of energy that leaves listeners waiting for the next tune to turn up.

But Costello is closer to the future of classical composition than many of his peers. If he's able to take his gifts and find his classical voice with them, and yet remain recognizably our Declan, then he will be one of the very few composers other than Gershwin or Leonard Bernstein to comfortably, convincingly, sit on both sides of the aisle.

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Postby johnfoyle » Mon Jan 10, 2005 2:44 pm

Elvis' Cd booklet notes for Il Sogno are here -

http://www.deutschegrammophon.com/speci ... lo-ilsogno

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Postby johnfoyle » Sun Feb 13, 2005 2:23 pm

The Orchestra that recorded Il Sogno have their story told in this book -

http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/ASI ... 97-9063661

Richard Morrison

Paperback (January 2005)
Publisher: Faber and Faber Ltd
ISBN: 057121584X

Leading columnist Richard Morrison looks at both the dazzling public face of the LSO and the personal stories - heroic, hilarious and touching - and explores what makes this great orchestra tick. He looks at the bad times as well as the good, including the disastrous early years at the Barbican, the notorious playboy era of the 1970s and the remarkable transformation over the past twenty years into one of the most successful and ambitious arts organisations that Britain has ever produced.

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Postby scielle » Mon Feb 14, 2005 5:33 pm

Just found this. I don't believe it's been posted before, so here it goes.

La Scena Musicale
W.S. Habington
Elvis Costello: Il Sogno
Peter Erskine, percussion, John Harle, Saxophone, Chris Laurence, double bass, London Symphony Orchestra, Michael Tilson Thomas, conductor
DG B0003284-02 (61 min 56 s)

The portrait of Elvis Costello, which appears on the cover, displays a perceptive, penetrating gaze with just a hint of concern. Yet, it seems there really was no cause to worry. It is a rare thing for an emerging composer of serious art music to achieve an outright success with a first major orchestral score and Costello has done just that. Il Sogno was commissioned by the Italian dance company Aterballetto as an adaptation of Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream. It was first performed at the Teatro Comunale in Bologna in October 2000. For the present recording, the composer and conductor collaborated to cut passages of the work applicable only to the choreography. The resulting twenty-four numbers adhere to the sequence of stage presentation and can be followed in the handy booklet synopsis. But this is a performance that can also stand up on its own. And what is the music like? Some have detected influences as varied as Sibelius and Bernstein, but in fact the score is not at all derivative and affinities are much closer to home. In character, the music is comparable to the exquisite poise of Michael Tippett, the impish wit of Malcolm Arnold and the eclecticism of them both. Costello transposes the play into a musical score with the utmost sensitivity and an expansive imagination. Courtiers get the formal orchestral treatment while commoners are brought on with folk tunes and marches. The supernatural element is conveyed by vibrant jazz led by the distinguished soloists. The styles become entwined as the plot advances and the whole works together superbly. The LSO and Tilson Thomas give the sort of enthusiastic performance which puts all doubts to rest.

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Postby johnfoyle » Sat Mar 05, 2005 4:59 pm

http://www.azcentral.com/arizonarepubli ... 6cd06.html

Rocker Costello scores ballet

Kenneth LaFave

The Arizona Republic

Mar. 6, 2005 12:00 AM

Crossover, your name is Elvis Costello. The Brit-rock singer-songwriter has edged his way over from the popular world into those of jazz and classical, even collaborating with Swedish mezzo-soprano Anne Sofie von Otter some years ago.

And now, ballet. Costello composed the music for Il Sogno, Italian for The Dream and based on Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream, on commission from an Italian ballet troupe. The result is a colorful, tuneful score that, as recorded by the London Symphony Orchestra with conductor Michael Tilson Thomas, is also our Arizona Republic-KBAQ Classical CD of the Week.

As so often happens when pop people move into the realm of the so-called serious, Costello's score is much more conservative than it might have been had a classical composer received the commission. This is music that would fit aptly into any of the older film versions of Shakespeare's comedy. Mystery, amour and comedy from broad to refined are underlined in fairly expected musical terms (Bottom's music, for instance, virtually brays), though always with taste and skill. Such modernities as there are stem from orchestration effects: the use of a quasi-jazzy saxophone, the inclusion of the cimbalom (a Hungarian hammered dulcimer identified almost solely with Kodaly's Hary Janos Suite), and the distinctive use of string harmonics to depict the otherworldliness of Oberon and Titania.

Why then, is this a CD of the Week? Because if a former punk rocker can expand sufficiently to embrace a language originally foreign to him, he ought to be encouraged. Because if an artist can do this, then perhaps some fans will take him up on the implied dare, give a listen to Elvis-does-the-ballet, then move on to Ravel or Prokofiev. As my 13-year-old son said when I asked him why he played this music along with Green Day and Muse, "Because it's Elvis Costello, and that's cool." Hey, any way that works.

We also picked it because this is a charming and listenable score. Colors are its strongest suit, but here also are disarmingly innocent melodies, transparent and ingratiating harmonies and an overarching sense of musical picturemaking.

Costello takes his new métier seriously. Instead of letting someone else do the hard work of orchestrating this piece, he plunged into the study of orchestration and came out a savvy writer who knows how to combine winds, string and brass to pleasant effect. (It's harder than you think.)

I expect to hear Costello's opera by 2010.

Reach the reporter at (602) 444-8927.

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Postby johnfoyle » Tue Apr 19, 2005 5:03 pm

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainmen ... 461601.stm

( extract )

Terfel leads Classical Brits nods

Welsh bass baritone Bryn Terfel leads the nominations for the sixth annual Classical Brit Awards.

The contemporary music award will see Elvis Costello pitted against John Adams and Sir Peter Maxwell Davies.

see also


'The show will be held on Wednesday 25th May 2005 at the Royal Albert Hall to be televised at a later date on ITV1 in the UK. '

.....the same night Elvis is playing Norwich with The Imposters.

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Postby johnfoyle » Wed Apr 20, 2005 1:00 am

A bit more detail -


Contemporary Music Award

Elvis Costello – Il Sogno

John Adams – On The Transmigration of Soul & Road Movies
( sounds like a great alternate title for TDM! - J.F.)

Sir Peter Maxwell Davies – Naxos Quartets Nos 1 & 2

The competiton -

http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/ASI ... 96-0538241


On the Transmigration of Souls

Composer: John Adams
Conductor: Lorin Maazel
Performer: Philip Smith, Brooklyn Youth Chorus
Orchestra: New York Philharmonic Orchestra, New York Choral Artists
Label: Nonesuch
Catalogue Number: 7559798162
Released: September 6, 2004
Audio CD DDD
Number of Discs:1

http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/ASI ... 02-1446028


Road Movies

Composer: John Adams
Performer: Nicolas Hodges, Rolf Hind, et al.
Label: Nonesuch

Catalogue Number: 7559796992
Released: June 14, 2004
Audio CD
Number of Discs:1
ASIN: B0001XAO66

http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/ASI ... 02-1446028

Maxwell Davies - Naxos Quartets Nos 1 and 2

Composer: Peter Maxwell Davies
Orchestra: Maggini Quartet
Label: Naxos
Catalogue Number: 8557396
Released: October 4, 2004
Audio CD DDD
Number of Discs:1
ASIN: B0002TB5R6
Last edited by johnfoyle on Wed Apr 20, 2005 1:39 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Postby scielle » Wed Apr 20, 2005 8:37 am

Wow, that's so exciting! They like him! They really like him! Perhaps those British critic elbows are not as sharp as EC claims they are.
I sooo love Il Sogno; really, really love it. I'm probably the only one 'round here with Il Sogno at the top of their EC list - it's what really turned me on to his music. The Juliet Letters is up there too. (Which is unusual, I suppose, given that I don't care much for the Bacharach work, or the ASVO record, or North, for that matter). Still, how cool is it that he can pick up new fans with all his so-called side projects and introduce them to so many other musical forms along the way. Thanks EC 8)

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Postby johnfoyle » Wed May 25, 2005 4:55 pm

No luck for Elvis at the Classical Brits .
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainmen ... 579643.stm

Welsh singers win Classical Brits

Singer Katherine Jenkins won the album of the year award at the Classical Brit Awards in central London.
Her album Second Nature took the prize at the Royal Albert Hall ceremony.

Fellow Welsh performer Bryn Terfel won the prize for male artist of the year, while US conductor Marin Alsop won the female award.

Belfast-born flautist Sir James Galway was given a prize for his outstanding contribution to music, 30 years after his solo career began.

Jenkins, 24, had two nominations in the album of the year category - Second Nature and her debut, Premiere.

Bryn Terfel won the best male artist award
She rose to fame in 2004 after signing a £1m deal with Universal Classics. She performs before Welsh rugby home games and recently appeared at the VE Day commemoration concert in London, singing We'll Meet Again, the song made famous by Dame Vera Lynn.

Bryn Terfel had three nominations, two of them for the baritone's album Silent Noon, with Malcolm Martineau.

In March he was due to star in a live TV broadcast of Wagner's The Valkyrie, but the show had to be postponed after he fell ill.

John Williams took the soundtrack composer award for his work on both Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban and The Terminal, while John Adams won the contemporary music award for his album On The Transmigration of Soul & Road Movies.

Natalie Clein won the young British classical composer award, while Harry Christopher and The Sixteens took the ensemble/orchestral album of the year prize.

The critics' award went to pianist Stephen Hough, the Dallas Symphony Orchestra and conductor Andrew Litton for their Rachmaninov piano concertos.

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Re: ...And not forgetting Il Sogno...

Postby johnfoyle » Wed Nov 01, 2017 3:17 am

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