Michael White’s classical & jazz news: Derek Jarman; Vienna State Opera; Music Bank

Friday, 20th November 2020

Prospect Cottage by Zoltan Tasi

Derek Jarman’s Prospect Cottage. Photo: Zoltan Tasi

BLEAK and beautiful are concepts that don’t easily sit side by side, but if you’ve ever been to Dungeness you’ll know they can.

And beyond the fact that it’s the largest expanse of shingle beach in Europe, the reason most people go to Dungeness is to see Prospect Cottage – home of the late film-maker Derek Jarman and a place of pilgrimage for those who love his work.

It’s tiny, and you generally can’t go inside. But by the miracle of online streaming you can do just that this Saturday when there’s a 70-minute show of words and music from the cottage, organised by something called Creative Folkestone.

Ben Whishaw. Photo: Tomo Brejc

As dusk falls, the actor Ben Whishaw will walk around the property (it won’t take long) reading from Jarman’s diaries.

And there will be an accompanying concert of music by the New York avant-gardist Michael Zorn and Polish “holy minimalist” Henryk Gorecki – played by various musicians who include the pianist Julius Drake.

How they all fit into the space (with or without social distancing) I can’t imagine; but it has the makings of a magical experience, all the better for the fact that you don’t actually have to be there on a cold November evening.

Free to view for 30 days from Saturday. For more details visit: www.creativefolkestone.org.uk

Somewhere more “gemütlich” (as they say in German) at this time of year is comfortable Vienna – though it’s currently in lockdown, which means nothing at the Vienna State Opera right now.

But meanwhile, the opera is putting its old shows online with free access. And if you like Richard Strauss, whose work is a VSO speciality, cancel all engagements (joke) in the coming days because there are exquisite things about to fall into your lap.

Saturday brings a recent Ariadne auf Naxos, starring the mega-voiced Norwegian of the moment Lise Davidsen. Monday has Elektra conducted by Franz Welser-Most. And this Friday there’s a classic Rosenkavalier from 1994, conducted by the legendary Carlos Kleiber, with a superlative cast of Felicity Lott, Anne Sofie von Otter and Barbara Bonney all in their prime. Performances start at 7pm Austrian time (6pm ours).

Details: www.wiener-staatsoper.at – and you can get them in English if you click the top right corner.

• Finally, a bright idea. The Guildhall School of Music has teamed up with AgeUK Camden for a project called Music Bank: a befriending service through which students will be matched with isolated, elderly people living with dementia to provide personal concerts by Zoom.

Needless to say, it will only reach a small number of people, but that’s better than nothing. And I know from my own experience of taking musicians into a care home (where my mother had dementia) how transformative it was for everyone involved. Joy would be an understatement.

Details of this new scheme aren’t entirely clear yet. But keep an eye on the websites: www.ageuk.org.uk/camden and www.gsmd.ac.uk

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