Matthew Barley/Cellist

Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and that which cannot remain silent.

Victor Hugo

Classical Star

We’ve now had the first episode of Classical Star. It’s been predictably controversial, with a slew of wonderful emails from colleagues and fans, and also a predictably horrible review from Norman Lebrecht (see post below for my reply – you can find Norman’s article by googling Lebrecht and Classical Star.)

For me what came over most strongly was the fantastic passion and dedication of the students.

What did you think of it?


  • Simon says:

    I actually really liked it. There is an enthusiasm and love for music for music’s sake that comes through each scene, which I find very infectious.

    Also glad there’s no Mr. Nasty judge, a welcome relief from the usual dross.

    One tip for Victoria: don’t worry so much, you’re far better than you think you are!

  • Tom says:

    I loved the idea initially but when I actually saw the show, I cringed. It seemed pretty awful. Dumbing down reality show TV. It all looks and seems so superficial and silly. Sorry.

  • Diane says:

    I think your show is great. Its such a refreshing change to have a reality competition that focuses on classical music. I love your technique for training and coaching the contestants and as you pointed out in your reply to Norman (who is this guy anyway?!) its so good to see you teaching the contestants rather than just judging them. I play the piano as a hobby and your attitude and passion is a real inspiration. The workshops are fantastic to watch and you can see how the contestants are getting so much from it. I also know a lot of people who didn’t particularly have an interest in classical but after watching your show are quickly having a change of heart. Keep up the great work and I hope we will see more of your shows in the future.

  • Joanne says:

    I absolutely love your show. The inspiration and energy you have given to the students and the audiences are amazing. A friend of mine who is not a musical instrument player but she found the show is great too! Myself plays cello but is having a break, after watching the show, I couldn’t wait to start playing my cello again! Wish I could have you as my teacher, do you come to Cambridge at all? I wish you have workshops in Cambridge!

    When the show ends, I will be sad! Hope more to come from you!

  • Rob says:

    Thank you so much for “Classical Star.” I found the skill, dedication and humanity of the young musicians to be incredibly moving.
    If there is a criticism it is that the programmes were too short; as an example BBC has 4 channels – surely it could have found room in its schedules to give us the full final concert.
    I’ve always enjoyed Hummel and Rodrigo so it says much for Sophie’s playing that I enjoyed Shostakovich for the first time!
    Can you persuade BBC to at least issue a CD/DVD of the final concert?

  • David Dreebin says:

    I also think that “Classical Star” has been a great show, and there is also the very good teaching element and putting the musicians in situations where they might not expect, e,g, the busking and the playing in front of a ‘non-classical-music’ audience.
    Agree that at least some of the programmes were too short, and I would have also liked to have heard the final concert of the 3 finalists. I think all of the last seven musicians really had something to give.
    Congratulations to pianist Sophie for winning the competition (although the competitive side is almost secondary to the whole great experience), and I think it was out of Sophie and bassoonist Karen as to who would win.
    Very inspirational, Matthew, and well done!

  • susan ashley says:

    Just saw this show on Ovation tv, in the states. As an
    older musician, I remember all too well how I, as a young
    pianist, received from my mentors (i.e. learning jazz piano from my orchestra teacher, working in collaboration with other instrumentalists, in music theory). Now, when I see such a decrease in classical music appreciation….it was wonderful to see a program designed to teach young musicians how to communicate with an audience, and use music in that vein.
    I was horrified to read the comparisons to “Big Brother’, etc. when it actually, for me, gave an accurate picture of what a young musician faces….Do you isolate yourself and become a robotic technician playing old composers? Or reach out to the audience, who’s declining in numbers….and bridge that gap, by giving the music your interpretation?
    Classical music has isolated people; when it ought to be accessible to everyone.
    I loved the Shostakovich…..and of course, the Gershwin, and all of the contestents. Young musicians face much more scrutiny that is shown on television…and this series was too short….and gave great insight.
    I grew up with Leonard Bernstein as my inspiration; his television shows for young people.
    Loved this show; loved the last 3 contestants….and bravo to all.

  • Maggie Ju says:

    I love this show, but school is starting and Classical Star only shows at 7-9am. I’m devastated because I don’t get to watch it!

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