November…

The November issue of Standpoint is in the shops now. My column this month takes a look at the concept of ‘No Music Day’ (21 November, since you ask…) – a phenomenon embraced by Scottish radio but, as far as I can tell, not much else – which isn’t quite as crackpot a way of celebrating St Cecilia as it might sound.It’s partly about how we listen, and the psychological factors, ranging from the everyday to the distant and discomfiting, that may influence this. And Madonna fans will like the picture.

The composer James MacMillan has contributed a must-read article: a large, detailed, fabulously written piece about music and modernity. It is supremely thoughtful and rather tactful and somehow has managed to tackle the subject of quasi-political control of styles in new music without touching upon the antics of BBC Radio 3 in the Glock era, though that probably requires a book to itself. The work, politics and influence of Pierre Boulez comes in for serious scrutiny and the UK emerges as quite a beacon of tolerance, diversity and open-mindedness compared to our continental colleagues. I was surprised by this, but suspect he’s right; outlooks have changed a lot in the past decade, though perhaps news of this has taken a while to filter through to some of those still in charge of mainstream programming.

An autumn note

“For many, the end of this uneasy year cannot come quickly enough”

An ordinary killing

Ian Cobain’s book uses the killing of Millar McAllister to paint a meticulous portrait of the Troubles

Greater—not wiser

John Mullan elucidates the genius of Charles Dickens
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