A Tantalizing Third Season of Bridgerton

By Michelle Medina Villalon

🔔 Spoiler warning: This article reveals major details about Bridgerton Season 3. If you prefer to get the buzz about this season from Whistledown herself, proceed with caution.

Last weekend was a particularly busy one in the ton, or more accurately, for dear fans of the Netflix original series Bridgerton. After a two year long absence, the series has returned with a new season centering the slow-burn romance of Lady Whistledown herself, Penelope Featherington, and Colin Bridgerton. The first four episodes of the appropriately dubbed “Polin season” debuted on May 16th with the release of four more episodes scheduled for June 13th.

This strategic release plan has certainly left viewers eager for what’s still to come. However, the perceived brevity of the first release does not speak for the depth of detail infused into each of the four episodes. From costumes to well-timed glances, and of course, a great deal of classical music, the first half of the season left us plenty of breadcrumbs to savor while we wait for June. So, grab the mille-feuille and pour the tea as we unpack our latest outing into the Mayfair marriage mart.

Though Bridgerton has the air of your typical period drama, the series has become known for its subversion of the genre through blending Regency era conventions with contemporary culture. With each season, audiences delight in vibrant reinventions of Regency silhouettes, string quartet arrangements of familiar pop songs, and diverse casting representation. The world of Bridgerton brings a fresher version of a period drama to this generation, which is arguably most visible in its music.

As with any visual storytelling medium, Bridgerton relies heavily on musical underscoring to not only match the emotional weight of its scenes, but also to create a thematic sense of how fantasy meets history in the series. In this season, audiences heard snippets of Mozart and Beethoven alongside classical music-inspired covers of hits by artists like Taylor Swift and Pitbull as we journeyed through the drama unfolding in the ton. 

Perhaps the most “sparkling” example of classical music’s influence this season comes from Francesca Bridgerton, the shy, musically-inclined Bridgerton daughter who starts the season by making her debut on the marriage mart. Episode 1 opens with Francesca Bridgerton’s rendition of Mozart’s Funeral March, a witty nod to her slight dread of coming out into society. Francesca also plays Scarlatti’s Keyboard Sonata in G major later in the episode after her brother, Colin, brings it home as a gift to her from his travels.

In Episode 2, Francesca references her enjoyment of the Ries Piano Trios and Beethoven’s Appassionata. She plays the latter piece at the end of the episode before being caught by Queen Charlotte, who subsequently names her the season’s “sparkler” for her skills at the pianoforte.

This character has been featured briefly in past seasons, but since being recast, fans are expecting to learn more about her story. Though she is not at the forefront of this season, we can foresee a focus on her to come sooner rather than later.

But Francesca is not the only important source of classical music in the season. Haydn fans may rejoice to hear many of the composer’s string quartets shine throughout each of the episodes, and Episode 4 opens with Peter Gregson’s Sequence (Three) as tensions rise in the Featherington household. Even Bach’s Violin Concerto No. 2 , III. ‘Allegro assai’ makes it into the mix! 

Of course, we’d be remiss to not acknowledge the musical backbone of Bridgerton: its array of classical covers of contemporary pop songs. To create greater buzz around the first release, Netflix and Shondaland announced all the classical covers in Season 3 ahead of May 16th. 

As is standard for the series, the list includes a Taylor Swift cover, “Snow on the Beach,” a collaboration with alt-pop artist Lana del Rey from her Midnights album. Recent Academy Award winner Billie Eilish’s 2021 hit “Happier Than Ever” is also featured on this season’s soundtrack.

However, in this author’s view, the classical cover that stole the show was featured in Episode 4 as Penelope and Colin finally make the crossover from friends to lovers. Pitbull’s “Give Me Everything” was transformed into a stripped down arrangement for strings performed by Archer Marsh. Fans of the show have been pining for this scene since the first season, so this gorgeously intense cover certainly gave us everything we’d been waiting to see.

Though we’re still a little less than a month out for the next installment of Bridgerton, there are already some musical moments to look forward to. The series will debut its first original song in the next four episodes: “All I Want,” arranged by composer Kris Bowers and performed by two-time GRAMMY award winner, Tori Kelly, will show up somewhere in the second half of the season alongside covers of Doja Cat and Meghan Trainor songs. 

It’ll be exciting to see what new classical music morsels Bridgerton gives us come June. Let us hope the unfolding drama will be just as, if not more, delectable.

A Voyage Into Deep Space with the Charlotte Symphony

By Lawrence Toppman

My favorite moments of the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra’s (CSO) last concert of the 2023-24 Classical Series were the final 30 seconds.

The offstage women’s voices in the “Neptune” section of “The Planets” had died away Saturday, but guest conductor William Eddins stood statue-still on the Belk Theater podium. And stood. And stood some more. Nobody in Belk Theater dropped a beer cup or snapped a photo or even spoke. Finally, when he felt we’d digested the cosmic trip we’d just taken, he turned around. Applause rained down.

“The Planets” capped an evening begun by two composers with North Carolina ties, following Jeremy Lamb’s “A Ride on ‘Oumuamua” and Caroline Shaw’s “Observatory.” Holst’s suite was the crowd-pleaser, designed to woo even spectators who had first heard the symphony at last weekend’s MERGE concert and ventured into the mainstream. (I’m told some did.) Lamb’s 12-minute piece was the heart-warmer, Shaw’s 20-minute view of deep space the ear-opener.

You felt, hearing all three, that you’d been somewhere new. Eddins even re-thought tempos for “The Planets.” He let “Mars” build gracefully to its monumental force and gave “Venus” flowing beauty, rather than languid allure. “Jupiter,” which Holst subtitled “The Bringer of Jollity,” started at a ponderous Falstaffian waddle but soon made merry with more vigor.

The sentimental favorite of the evening and a satisfying aural trip came from Lamb, who sits in the cello section of the CSO. ‘Oumuamua, a Hawaiian word roughly meaning “scout,” became the first interstellar object detected passing through our solar system.

Its 2017 visit inspired Lamb to write a piece for string trio, which he expanded for full string orchestra. His thoughtful comments in the online program book – sadly, inevitably too small to read easily on any cellphone – explained how the music’s flow might reflect the sensations of someone riding this object. (Or, perhaps, of the object itself; some people feel an otherworldly entity created it.)  

The strings played attractively in unison, pulsed tremulously – messages from space? – and played contrasting rhythms in the Philip Glass manner, but more gently. Not surprisingly, the middle section held a long-breathed melody for Lamb’s instrument, played tenderly by principal cellist Jonathan Lewis. We stopped in mid-air, so to speak, as ‘Oumuamua bid farewell.

The Greenville-born Shaw’s quasi-whimsical, perhaps intentionally unclear comments in that same guide didn’t help much with “Observatory.” But I didn’t need them. After three titanic chords, she ambled amiably around the sonic universe, from a semi-march episode to solos by piano, viola and clarinet to three- and four-note themes tossed gracefully around the orchestra.

Bits of music from famous composers — a Brandenburg Concerto, Sibelius’ Second Symphony — reminded me that NASA launched the space probe “Voyager” in 1977, bearing music from around the world that extraterrestrials might someday hear (including a different Brandenburg Concerto). It’s now the counterpart to ‘Oumuamua, the human-made object farthest from Earth, so perhaps Shaw’s piece might be a quirky bookend to Lamb’s.

Holst wasn’t thinking of actual planets, or course, but of astrological significance. His Mars was the Bringer of War, his Mercury the Winged Messenger. Eddins freshened our understanding of each one, with an especially poignant Saturn – the Bringer of Old Age – as the weightiest section, almost stopping time in spots.

Eddins’ slightly swift tempos for Neptune (the Mystic) sent the voices of the Charlotte Master Chorale sailing rather than floating into space at the end. Then came the profound, prolonged silence I so often wish for at the end of a satisfying concert but so seldom get.

Charlotte Symphony’s MERGE A New, Energizing Classical Party

By Lawrence Toppman

I’m told certain parts of Mecklenburg County saw the Aurora Borealis last weekend, due to freak solar flares. But you might have found an equally compelling light show indoors at Blackbox Theater, this one accompanied by the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra (CSO).

Or perhaps the light show accompanied the CSO. These elements were so carefully integrated that “MERGE: Symphonic x Electronic” blurred the lines between senses. The people who danced meditatively, perhaps in a trance, in the pit between the screen and the string players had the right idea.

The CSO website billed the concert this way: “Immerse yourself in a multisensory experience at the nexus of symphonic and electronic music at Blackbox Theater. Push/Pull Sound, Tenorless and the Charlotte Symphony take you on an exploration of the edges of musical possibility with live visual artistry. Pieces by Philip Glass and Steve Reich merge with ambient downtempo soundscapes to cutting-edge electronic music freed of physical limitations.”

That translated to resident conductor Christopher James Lees keeping a gentle rein on the reduced CSO, visual designer Tenorless crafting ever-shifting images projected on multiple screens, and Push/Pull laying down beats that sometimes complemented what the symphony played and sometimes changed the mood between pieces. When the classical musicians went home about 10:30, after 80 minutes of music they’re not likely to perform elsewhere, Push/Pull dropped heavier, faster and louder beats for the crowd that stayed behind.

This kind of innovation has roots in the short-lived AltSounds series, contemporary programming at Knight Theater whose highlight was a 2017 concert that intertwined Brahms’ First Symphony and Radiohead’s album “OK Computer.”

Yet the Knight remained a concert hall, whatever sounds bounced off its walls. Blackbox, which people with 40-year memories will recall as the long-defunct Tryon Mall Cinemas, is a nightclub. The ambience made quite a difference Saturday night.

Lees and Push/Pull designed a program that built in intensity and volume over time, starting with John Luther Adams’ murmurous “Dream in White on White” through a movement from Daniel Bernard Roumain’s “Rosa Parks” string quartet – a clap-along opportunity half the patrons seemed willing to take – to Wojciech Kilar’s luminous “Orawa.” You could loosely have classed these works under the banner of minimalism, a term Glass dislikes, but they varied in mood and dynamics.

Blumenthal Performing Arts had lent the venue extra projectors, and you could immerse yourself in the shifting visuals: coruscating pillars of light, Escher-like interlocking figures or geometric patterns, skyscrapers that rose and fell like pistons. A face appeared once in a while, like as not on the trunk of a tree, but most images remained abstract and even kaleidoscopic.

Looking on with pride from the back of the hall were CSO president and CEO David Fisk and new music director Kwamé Ryan. I’d been told to expect Ryan, whose appearance showed unusual commitment to his new orchestra: He’d made his debut with the New York Philharmonic the night before in Manhattan, leading a concert in its cutting-edge “Sound On” series.

They know the CSO has to keep thinking in new ways. At the turn of the millennium, orchestras asked, “How can we get non-classical fans to care about our classical series, our main raison d’etre?” The question for this generation is more pragmatic: “How do we reach the largest number of people, whether they cross over or not?” The orchestra doesn’t expect ticket-buyers for Merge to show up at this weekend’s performance of Holst’s “The Planets,” though it would be lovely if they did.

I didn’t see many familiar faces from the Belk and Knight Theaters Saturday, nor did I see half a dozen folks my age (nearly 70). What I saw were people, mostly in their 20s and 30s, who stood respectfully and took in the subtleties of excerpts from Philip Glass’ string quartets. They wandered quietly around the big room, seldom speaking, and taking advantage of the fact that you could stand so close to the musicians: If you crept up behind the double-basses, you could read their scores over their shoulders.

These MERGErs may not be the future of classical music as we’ve known it. But they are a future of it, and I’m glad the CSO is going after them.

Pictured: MERGE: Symphonic x Electronic concert at Blackbox Theater in Charlotte, NC; by Genesis Photography.

WDAV Announces New Transmitter

By Michelle Medina Villalon

After nearly two years, WDAV is pleased to announce that we are broadcasting on a brand new transmitter! This transmitter replaces a thirty-year-old analog transmitter we used as a back-up after our previous one was damaged by lightning.

We began broadcasting on the new transmitter on April 17th. Listeners may have noticed a few brief pops off the air during this process. We appreciate your patience as this important piece of equipment was installed.

You may have noticed something else that’s returned after a long time missing: the artist and title information displayed on certain types of radios when you tune to WDAV. Fortunately, our new state-of-the-art transmitter has dual digital/analog capabilities and enables us to transmit this information once again.

In addition to that helpful information we are able to broadcast sub-channels such as our HD-2, which features a continuous stream of Concierto episodes. Additionally, the new transmitter provides us with stronger, more robust signals.

We’ve spent the last month ironing out the wrinkles that are bound to happen with a change like this one. We sincerely thank those who reached out to let us know they could see artist/title information and/or noticed a change in our signal.

We are delighted to share this news with you and hope you enjoy listening to the music you love better than ever!

Charlotte Symphony Roadshow Takes Music to the Masses

By Lawrence Toppman

Administrators and conductors like to remind concertgoers to enjoy “your Charlotte Symphony Orchestra (CSO).” But what does “your” really mean?

The mostly white, prosperous, educated people who attend performances at Belk and Knight theaters? (This includes me.) The donors, corporate or individual, whose gifts pay the largest part of the bills? Or does “your” orchestra mean “everybody’s?”

The city’s busiest performing arts group cast a vote for the latter Sunday, when the CSO Roadshow made its debut.

This new mobile stage, bedecked with sprightly paintings by Charlotte artist Rosalia Torres-Weiner, opened in the parking lot behind the Latin American Coalition building.

You’d have expected Latino music lovers, especially when the concert built to a performance by Ultima Nota, a septet whose twin percussionists set bodies shaking. But the music on this sunny afternoon reached the most ethnically diverse classical music audience here in recent memory.

The bilingual presentation gave everyone a chance to learn about the coalition’s building fund drive, the reason that many tots toted macaroni boxes (more about that in a minute) and the wide range of music on the bill. Only symphony CEO and president David Fisk spoke entirely in rapid-fire Spanish, leaving non-speakers wondering what he’d said.

Fisk, who came to this job after 18 years at the same post in Richmond, was repeating a success he’d enjoyed in Virginia. He masterminded the launch of the Richmond Symphony’s “Big Tent,” a $250,000 mobile stage that premiered in 2015. (He has declined to quote the cost of the Charlotte version, except to say it was under $500,000.)

Our orchestra now has a concert platform that can reportedly hold 30 musicians, though roughly half that number appeared Sunday, and can be erected in 90 minutes. It travels with a sound system and, on Sunday, had a screen provided by the coalition that hung alongside the stage, providing closeups of players.

The CSO has long performed in relaxed outdoor settings, notably Summer Pops concerts at Symphony Park. (It will open that series June 9 with “Sonidos Latinos: Latin Sounds.”) But the Roadshow will more likely visit under-invested sections the city calls corridors of opportunity, one of them the Central-Albemarle district. That provided the impetus for “Musica con Amigos” this weekend.

And friends they were, even before a note sounded. They snacked on pupusas, empanadas and burritos from food trucks. They took selfies with enormous multihued cloth butterflies, symbols of the coalition’s fund-raising campaign. Children and a dog or two frolicked around the edges of the parking lot.

In fact, kids were as much the focus of the day as adults. First up were youngsters from Charlotte Bilingual Preschool. They carried paper bows and “violins” made of macaroni boxes, demonstrating what they’d learned in classes: rhythm exercises, proper postures, bowing technique.

Then came a mini-orchestra from Winterfield Elementary School, one of four schools in the CSO’s long-running Project Harmony. That tuition-free after-school program gives instruments and instruction to kids who might not otherwise afford them. The Winterfield contingent, some of whom picked up instruments for the first time last November, slithered happily through “Salamander Samba,” supported by a string trio from the orchestra.

CSO resident conductor Christopher James Lees took over for the more serious part of the program. Not too serious, as the musicians immediately broke into the bolero-mambo “¿Quién será?” by Mexican composers Luis Demetrio and Pablo Beltrán Ruiz. (Anglos know it better as the Dean Martin hit “Sway With Me.”)

Lees skipped music by U.S. composers, such as Aaron Copland’s “Latin American Sketches” and George Gershwin’s “Cuban Overture.” Nor did he program classical composers from Spain, Mexico and South America, such as Manuel de Falla, Carlos Chávez or Alberto Ginastera.

Instead, he gave us Peruvian songs adapted by Gabriela Lena Frank (whom the CSO has played in its main classical season) and a sinuous dance number by Afro-Cuban composer José White. These suited the mood better, prompting me to wonder how programming will change as addresses do: The Roadshow appears next at Mayfield Memorial Missionary Baptist Church on May 5 and Ophelia Garmon-Brown Community Center on June 21.

The CSO will have to find out if the Roadshow can be a money-making venture taken to festivals and even sporting events, as in Richmond. For now, it’s enough to know the orchestra belongs not only to those of us in concert halls but the people who look for music where they play, worship and hang out. For once, “your” Charlotte Symphony was no exaggeration.

Warren-Green Sails Through Deep Waters with Charlotte Symphony

By Lawrence Toppman

The Charlotte Symphony Orchestra’s (CSO) concert Saturday was designed to appeal to Anglophiles, fans of massive choral pieces, people who welcomed the return of former music director Christopher Warren-Green to the podium, advocates for obscure female composers and anyone who grew up within a short drive of an ocean. I fit into all five categories, so I blissed out.

Warren-Green chose never to address the audience for the first time I can remember. He husbanded his energy for the last piece, Ralph Vaughan Williams’ majestic but unrelenting “A Sea Symphony,” which takes an hour and requires two soloists, a full orchestra and a large chorus. (Kenney Potter did his usual first-rate job preparing the Charlotte Master Chorale.)

That propulsive performance capped an all-oceanic evening, following Benjamin Britten’s “Four Sea Interludes” from the opera “Peter Grimes” and Grace Williams’ “Sea Sketches: Five Pieces for String Orchestra.” All three composers on this program wrote film scores – Williams became the first British woman to score a feature in 1949, with “Blue Scar” – and it’s no insult to say that moments of each piece sounded cinematic, summoning images of waters wild or tame.

The conductor laureate went right for maximum drama in Britten, where elements of menace and melancholy seemed portents for the massive storm with which “Sea Interludes” ends. The ferocity of that tempest has almost no parallels in Britten’s orchestral work, and the CSO rocked it like a hurricane.

Williams’ quintet of sketches provided a change of view: She saw the sea from Glamorgan in Wales. As far as I know, she never left the British Isles, and I couldn’t help hearing the wistfulness of someone who longed for distant ports but wouldn’t get there. Even “Sailing Song,” whose title suggested a buoyant ditty, had a gentle restlessness. She reserved the most beautiful melody for the final sketch, “Calm Sea in Summer.” But as any sailor knows, being “becalmed” means you’re going nowhere, and the feeling was not entirely peaceful.

Vaughan Williams, who taught Grace Williams at the Royal College of Music, pulled out all the vocal stops for his first symphony. (He was also one of the examiners who awarded Britten a scholarship to the RCM, though he didn’t teach the lad.) Vaughan Williams became devoted to American poet Walt Whitman in his 30s and matched epic music to Whitman’s equally expansive texts.

The soloists’ roles reverse expectations: The baritone gets the introspective music, while the soprano has soaring phrases that ride out over the orchestra. Andrew Foster-Williams provided the more intense emotions, Georgia Jarman the grand declamations.

Yet the chorus remains the focus. Vaughan Williams begins with a tremendous vocal and orchestral crash – “Behold the sea itself!” — and ends with a whisper, as mighty waters ebb away. The chorus has to rise and fall constantly, singing with fervor at all times, and the Charlotte Master Chorale (which collectively had diction as good as the soloists’) held firm.

Vaughan Williams didn’t write many catchy tunes in “A Sea Symphony;” the one with immediate appeal sounds like an Anglican hymn. (He wrote those, too.) Like Whitman, who broke with conventions about rhyme and meter, he wanted simply to create a mood that rolled over us like a great wave. In the hands of these musicians, it did.

Pictured: Conductor Laureate Christopher Warren-Green; Courtesy Charlotte Symphony.

Finding a Moment of Reflection: Celebrating Earth Day

By Michelle Medina Villalon

Earth Day is an excellent time to slow down our hurried pace of life and reflect on the beauty of the natural world. Often, listeners tell us how tuning into WDAV helps them press pause on their busy schedules and find a moment to simply “be” while enjoying all that classical music has to offer. This Earth Day, why not do both? Here are some ways to celebrate our wonderful planet and the music we love:

Make time for mindfulness

“Mindfulness” has become a buzzword for a relatively simple act of self-care. It’s about being present, even if for a couple minutes, by paying attention to your surroundings. What is a place that brings you peace and joy? Maybe it’s a local park or sitting on your front porch drinking coffee. I personally love the view outside my office window, where I can see squirrels darting about the trees. Today, find a spot where you can sit and watch the ordinary wonder of nature, taking in the sights, smells, and sounds. 

Can’t find time to go outside, or need some lovely music to accompany your mindful moment? Check out this piece!

From the Bohemian Forest: Silent Woods – Antonín Dvořák

Video: From the Bohemian Forest: Silent Woods – Antonín Dvořák

Take a walk

What better way to fully immerse yourself in nature than with a stroll or hike? Walking is an excellent way to exercise, lower your blood pressure, and even get better sleep. Grab your comfiest pair of tennis shoes, maybe a fluffy friend, and head over to your favorite walking trail! WDAV recently created a playlist perfect for strolling, so make sure to take it along.

Indulge your artistic side

Maybe you need a moment of inspiration this Earth Day. Studies show that taking even a few minutes to enjoy nature can help improve focus and spark creativity. Take today to shake off that writer’s block or see ideas in a new light by taking whatever your artistic medium may be outside! Who knows? The sky, trees, or birds might just be the beginning of your next masterpiece.

Need some classical pieces to underscore your creative genius? These will do the trick:

Imagenes – Candelario Huizar

Video: Huizar: Imágenes – Alondra de la Parra, Mi Alma Mexicana

Soirees Musicales – Clara Schumann

Video: JingCi Liu plays Soirées Musicales, Op.6 by Clara Schumann (1819–1896)

In a Landscape – John Cage

Video: John Cage – In A Landscape

Learn about ways to conserve our planet

It is important to maintain a personal and emotional connection to our planet every day, not just Earth Day. If you’d like to learn more about protecting Earth’s natural resources, here are some organizations to be aware of. We’ve also included pieces that illustrate the importance of environmental advocacy through music.

World Wildlife Fund: The WWF collaborates with local communities to conserve nature and reduce the most pressing threats to the diversity of life on Earth.

Mass for the Endangered – Sarah Kirkland Snider

Inspired by a traditional Catholic mass and the urgency behind climate advocacy, Composer Sarah Kirkland Snider teamed up with poet/librettist Nathaniel Bellows to create this piece that “take[s] the Mass’s musical modes of spiritual contemplation and apply them to concern for non-human life.”

Video: Sarah Kirkland Snider – Credo

Clean Air Task Force: Based in the US, the CATF has been working to reduce air pollution from carbon dioxide emissions since its founding in 1996.

The Lost Birds – Christopher Tin

This “extinction elegy” memorializes birds that have already been lost to extinction. Tin uses the words of 19th century poets to pinpoint the dangers that began with the Industrial Revolution. This piece serves as both a celebration of the birds humanity has lost and a warning for future generations.

Video: Christopher Tin, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra – Flocks a Mile Wide (Visualizer)

DEPLOY/US: DEPLOY/US is a nonpartisan convener, funder, and accelerator of climate leadership.

The Rising Sea Symphony – Kieran Brunt

This piece travels the world, taking its listener to experience the effects of climate change from Ghana to Norway. It combines electronic music, field recordings, words and vocals, and orchestral instruments to create a symphony that seeks to call audiences to action.

Listen to “The Rising Sea Symphony” on BBC.

Autism Acceptance Month: A Spotlight on Tim Arnold

April is Autism Acceptance Month, a recognition created by and for people on the autism spectrum. This movement aims to de-stigmatize conversations about autism by promoting a cultural shift towards true inclusion. 

It is important we center autistic voices every month of the year, especially in the arts. Our creative spaces are often sanctuaries for those seeking welcoming, accepting environments. 

People on the spectrum have profoundly influenced all art forms, and classical music is no exception. One of those influential people is Tim Arnold. 

A London-born artist known for his work as musician, composer, and even film director, Arnold has explored the classical music genre extensively as a solo and collaborative artist, though he’s more commonly regarded for his work in the rock genre and advocacy for the LGBTQ+ community. In his career, spanning nearly three decades, he has worked with names such as Iggy Pop and Lindsay Kemp, who mentored David Bowie and Kate Bush. Arnold’s extensive, genre-bending body of work includes three albums with the Britpop band, Jocasta, and over 20 solo albums

Arnold has been vocal about being autistic, having been diagnosed in 2022. He spoke candidly about being diagnosed later in life in a Medium article back in 2023 saying, “Getting a late diagnosis is like someone lifting a veil from all the signposts.”

In the same article, he goes on to say how music has provided him a coping mechanism for the way he processes the world: “My music has not been, as I and others thought, an artistic pursuit. It’s been my way of calming my brain.”

We’ve chosen to spotlight one of three classical albums by Tim Arnold, an incredibly complex and layered project entitled Sonnet 155.

Sonnet 155 began with Arnold’s love of Shakespeare, and his desire to connect “the spiritual advancement of humanity” to the literary giant. To create this album, Arnold wrote more than thirty letters to icons of the Shakespearean stage such as Sir Ian McKellen and Emma Thompson. His hope was that their thoughts on Shakespeare’s works would provide inspiration for the songs on the album.

The result was an eleven song album that “re-interprets Mozart, Rimsky-Korsakov and Michael Nyman.” It explores themes of love and death with truly epic rock/classical fusion songs. Three live shows at the legendary Almeida Theatre followed the album’s release. These multimedia performances included readings and other contributions from veteran actors, including Benedict Cumberbatch and Lisa Dillon.

Video: Tim Arnold – ‘The Old King’s Fool’ from Sonnet 155 ft Benedict Cumberbatch

Sonnet 155 is one of many complex and beautiful works by Tim Arnold. His other classical works include his albums, Sound to Pictures Vol. 1 & 2 and Restrung. Arnold’s most recent album Super Connected, is an art-rock album that explores modern technology and mental health. It is available to stream on Spotify. 
During Autism Acceptance Month, we celebrate and recognize those on the autism spectrum, including Tim Arnold. To learn more about how to support the autism self-advocacy movement, head to the Autistic Self-Advocacy Network website.

Pictured: Tim Arnold, courtesy timarnold.co.uk