The last in a series of concerts at Royal Birmingham Conservatoire to be broadcast on BBC Radio 3‘s New Generation Artists programme took place today.
The programme, now in its 19th series, aims to identify and support young musicians get ahead in their careers. Members of the prodigious select few are invited to perform in concerts around the UK, record with BBC performing groups and have the possibility of appearing at the BBC Proms. Meanwhile, Radio 3 listeners are promised new exceptional talent to listen to.
This season four of the named New Generation Artists took the stage at the new and beautifully designed Concert Hall in the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire throughout January.
Scheduled to perform today was British operatic baritone, Ashley Riches. Unfortunately, he had to withdraw last minute due to illness. In his place was past BBC New Generation Artist from 2016, Benjamin Appl.
Gramophone Magazine has described Appl as ‘the current front-runner in the new generation of Lieder singers’, and he lived up to that reputation today delivering a diverse selection of Schubert, Brahms and Strauss with skilled delicacy, poignancy and rapture.
A lied can be defined as German art songs from the Romantic period, often highly emotional and expressive with strong lyrical melodies and rich harmonies. They have a strong link to poetry and literature from the Romantic period therefore articulate complex and passionate human emotion.
He was accompanied by renowned pianist Sholto Kynoch, the founder and director of the Oxford Lieder Festival.
Appl’s recital choices today were selected by him personally around the theme of ‘Heimat’, the not-quite-translatable German word for a sense of homeland, rootedness and belonging. After the prologue of the concert, Appl explains that the order of the songs reflects his own personal journey from starting his career in Regensburg, Germany to moving to London in 2010 and losing his sense of connectedness to his home country. He then goes on to ask the audience to reflect on their own sense of belonging and what places are important to them whilst they listen to him sing.
After what-seems-like effortlessly reciting the likes of Henry Bishop‘s ‘Home, sweet home‘ and Grieg‘s ‘Ein Traum‘, he nods modestly at the audience who then erupt into applause that doesn’t cease until he reappears on stage for an encore.
But, before the audience could leave, a BBC Radio 3 producer hops on stage to ask us to ‘bear with’ whilst they re-record the first five seconds of a song that we had apparently tainted with clapping. Good thing I managed to hold in a sneeze throughout!
Benjamin Appl’s performance will air on BBC Radio 3 on February 2nd.
His debut solo album ‘Heimat’ is available to purchase online.