THE BBC Philharmonic’s exploration of The American Way – mainly marking the life, work and likes of Leonard Bernstein – takes a lively plunge into 2016 at the Bridgewater Hall with some real fun music (January 16).
Conductor is John Wilson, the cool Geordie lad who’s become a favourite for his reconstructions of vintage movie scores. On the programme are works by Aaron Copland (his suite from Billy The Kid and his Organ Symphony), Erich Korngold (his suite from The Adventures Of Robin Hood), Philip Glass and Charles Ives.
And the soloist is our own organist supreme, Jonathan Scott – often heard at the console of the hall’s big pipe organ in solo recitals and supporting orchestras. Jonathan is one half of the hyper-talented Scott Brothers Duo, with his pianist-animator brother Tom (who’s playing celeste in the same concert), and they’ve just released their latest organ and piano duo CD.
The Scotts come from Failsworth and were trained at Chetham’s and the Royal Northern College of Music. Say’s Jonathan: “Our grandfather came from Oldham – in fact he lived next door to William Walton’s family at one time.
“I always wanted to play something. It was the violin at first – but I failed the clapping test at school so I didn’t get one.
“But I went for piano lessons, when I was 10, with this amazing old lady called Marion Barnett. She must have been in her 80s then. She only charged 50p a lesson.
“Opportunity is a big thing in music. I’m amazed when I think back about how we became musicians. It was really a series of flukes and chances.
“But our mum and dad have always been great, and we often play things to them and ask their opinions. They were always supportive. And the great thing about Chet’s is that anyone can get in there so long as they can really play an instrument.”
Jonathan is in demand widely, but true to his Mancunian roots. “Manchester is a brilliant place to play – people are so supportive,” he says. “There’s a friendly feeling about concerts here.”
Hopefully there’ll be a few chuckles, too, at this BBC Philharmonic concert. It starts with Jonathan as soloist in Charles Ives’s Variations On America. ‘America’ is the stateside name for the tune we call God Save The Queen, and Ives’s variations on it are probably the only laugh-out-loud music ever written for the classical organ.