Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Ding dong bell; put Libby down the well

It really is about time Libby Purves got a researcher assistant. Every single week she manages to upset one of her guests on Midweek (Radio 4, Weds at 9am and repeated at 9.30pm). Today her target fought back. How he restrained himself from bopping her on the head with one of his hand-bells, I’ll never know.

The blurb for this week’s show says:
Philip Earis is a bellringer. He was asked by Cambridge University to compose a special piece to mark the University's 800th anniversary this year. His composition will be rung simultaneously on the five city-centre bell towers of Cambridge this weekend, Saturday 17th January.

… Makes it sound like he’s some dull guy who stands in a drafty bell-tower tugging a rope once a week. In fact he is pretty feisty and fascinated by the mathematics of bell-ringing. His blog is a bit disappointing on that aspect of the art, but he says he’s just “slimmed it down” so maybe he’ll reinstate some of that.

For a 23-year-old to be commissioned by Cambridge University is pretty impressive, I reckon. Typically, Purves took the piss, and had apparently accused him off-air of being a ‘nerd’. Having heard a snippet of his composition (played on hand-bells instead of the biggies) I reckon he should re-brand himself as a “performance artist” and put himself up for the Turner Prize.

Of could, Ms P probably hadn’t bothered to take any notice of what was coming up after her programme (she’s too self-important to bother). If she had paid attention, she’d have heard Julian Rhind-Tutt reading today’s installment of The Rest is Noise by Alex Ross featuring Stockhausen. Maths and experimental music influencing the Beatles – who’d have thought it, eh?

Ross’s book is annoying – only because I didn’t publish it myself 20 years ago. He’s pretty much followed the whole of my undergrad music course. AND I wrote my dissertation on how the 20th century avant-garde influenced the production of Sgt Pepper. Ouch.

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