phenomenal knowledge, writing skills and generous advice of Anne Ozorio, who would have been 69 today “I’m a large Eurasian, and I’ll wear something bright. You won’t miss me!” Anne’s response when I asked how I might recognise her when we first met, at an evening recital at Wigmore Hall during 2008, was characteristically no-fuss and direct. And, there she was when I arrived – smiling brightly, chatting vigorously, bustling among the other concert-goers in the foyer, many of whom recognised Anne and greeted her warmly.
Our paths crossed when I was asked to join the Opera Today team of music reviewers based in London. Both of our lives had been driven by a passion for music: listening, reflecting, writing about musical performances, recordings and experiences. But, in very different contexts. Whereas my background had been a rather conventional ‘academic’ one and most of my writing undertaken for ‘scholarly’ purposes, Anne later told me of how her listening experiences, from her earliest years, had led her to a career in music journalism and broadcasting. I still know little of Anne’s personal life and career. But, I realised from our conversation that first evening at Wigmore Hall that – vivacious, witty, knowledgeable, her chain of thought quickly making connection across diverse fields – she had a lot to teach me.
Home from home: Anne Ozorio at Wigmore Hall on 23 November 2019. This was Anne's last of hundreds of visits to Wigmore Hall - see this.
(photo: Roger Thomas)
One important thing that I learned was that there was not just one way of listening, evaluating and writing – and that by broadening and developing my own, rather entrenched, habits and style, I could gain new understanding and pleasure. My own writing was, and still is, I fear, rather formal and painstaking. Anne’s pieces – reviews, commentary, interviews – for Opera Today and for her idiosyncratic and eclectic blog, Classical Iconoclast, were dynamic, succinct, funny – sometimes quite satirically or pointedly so. – as well as incredibly well-informed. Whereas I honed in on a detail and got stuck there, chewing over every inference and intimation, Anne skilfully brought together a wealth of such details – her quick ear and mind instantly absorbing and responding – and assimilated them within an almost impossibly diverse cultural and historical embrace. There was never a single superfluous word. The reader was hooked from the first pithy utterance. Anne’s pieces were a kinetic kaleidoscope of knowledge, ideas and personal responses, brought together into a perfectly controlled form. She taught me the importance of developing a personal voice that could present one’s opinions in an open-minded but confident way; of writing both for myself and for others; of seeing and appreciating the significance of the bigger picture.
More blogs soon Remembering Anne Ozorio