‘A picture speaks a thousand words, but music speaks a thousand pictures.’ Hosted by the Australian conductor and alumnus Scott Wilson, the A Thousand Pictures podcast is an introduction to classical music: some of the most thrilling music ever imagined. Scott talks to us about the inspiration behind his venture.
Scott (MMus Advanced Musical Studies 2009) who has held the positions of Zander Fellow with the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra, Artist in Residence at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, and Conducting Fellow at the Guildhall School, is passionate about audience development for classical music and has previously written a book on this subject. During the past year, during the Covid-19 pandemic, he has had time to develop his ideas further, resulting in his new podcast which is aimed at opening the doors to this art form to new listeners.
“My belief is that there are many people who might like to develop an interest in classical music, but they feel that the door is closed to them,” he explains. “The A Thousand Pictures podcast aims to open this door for them in an inspiring way: no prior knowledge is needed!”
The past year has been catastrophic for the arts industry so Scott hopes that his podcast will help to develop new classical music enthusiasts.
“Once we emerge out of the pandemic, the central crisis facing classical music once again is the industry's limited ability to attract new audiences. My view is that conductors - so often being the public face of classical music - have a responsibility to go out there and tell people why this music is so great. Fortunately, we have a lot going for this music. It has been around for several hundred years, with musicians and academics refining it to a repertoire of the very best of classical music. Also, nearly everyone loves music - and most of them like film music. Film music is so often played by orchestras. Capturing this positive energy for music and then opening the door to classical music is certainly possible. Hence, my podcast! I believe there is an audience out there, hungry to discover classical music.”
The A Thousand Pictures podcast is structured so that the listener is taken on a journey from episode to episode. "I've chosen pieces of music which help to illuminate the topics I discuss in each episode. There's a coherent narrative: the listener's knowledge will continually deepen with each new episode." Scott explains. The first five episodes have featured: Respighi 'Pines of Rome', Debussy 'La Mer', Shostakovich 'Symphony no. 10', Ravel 'Piano Concerto in G', and the most recent episode featured Beethoven's 'Symphony no. 7' - which is the music from the climactic scene in the film, The King's Speech. In the first few episodes, Scott also begins to answer questions such as, 'What is Music?' and 'How does music work?'
The podcast episodes are around 18 minutes and Scott ensures they are never elitist or that they have an atmosphere of assumed knowledge: you don't need to know anything about classical music to enjoy this podcast.
“It has been developed with every possible audience member in mind,” he says. “So far, I'm delighted to know that I have everyone from people who've never listened to classical music before, right through to professional musicians, listening to the podcast!
“In the future I hope my podcast, as well as my other work developing new audiences for classical music, makes an impact and generates many new audience members for this art form.”