Scott Ellaway, formerly organ scholar at Keble College, and James Bowman, previously a choral scholar at New, are just two of Oxford’s alumni making their way in the classical music world. Last Friday, at the Oxford Playhouse, counter-tenor Bowman performed alongside conductor Ellaway and his newly formed ensemble, Orchestra Europa. Europa has been set up to allow young ambitious musicians throughout Europe the opportunity to launch their careers. The idea is based upon New World Symphony, a project in Miami established in 1987 by Michael Tilson Thomas, which selects promising young classical musicians from across the U.S.A. and trains them for three years as orchestral performers. ‘Europa will take musicians recommended by conservatoires and, having given them training, help them to gain positions in the best orchestras in the world,’ Ellaway told me. ‘We will be holding auditions in April to select members of the orchestra, which will in the end be of symphonic size’.Despite having only rehearsed together for a week at the time of Europa’s first launch concert last Friday, the orchestra played with amazing cohesion, with Ellaway’s own enthusiasm as conductor displayed in the playing. Symphonies by Haydn and Schubert were separated by two short songs, sung by sixty-six year old Bowman. The first song, by Hasse, was extremely playful, and was juxtaposed perfectly by the beautiful Mozart song that followed. Both songs were short, however, and it was disappointing to see Bowman’s performance come to an end so quickly.Orchestra Europa will give a series of concerts in 2008 throughout Europe with world-famous soloists such as Yan Pascal Tortelier, Sir Thomas Allen, Peter Donohoe and Nicola Benedetti. The second of their launch concerts will be in Oxford on 25th April at the Sheldonian theatre, where the orchestra will be performing music by Beethoven, Haydn, and Dr. Robert Saxton, a fellow in music at Worcester College. – Robin Thompson
Pakistan skipper Misbah-ul-haq, who along with Younis Khan, will retire from international cricket after the Dominica Test against West Indies, has asserted that both the veterans will try their best to keep their emotions under control and focus on their jobs in their pursuit of a maiden Test series win in the Caribbean.With the series tied 1-1, both Misbah and Younis will make their last international appearance in the third Test at Roseau. (Misbah, Younis shouldn’t leave Pakistan at same time, says Abdul Qadir)Going into the last match of his career, the outgoing Pakistan skipper aims to remain focused on the demands of his role as a senior batsman amid the emotions that come with the occasion.”That has given us (Younis and Misbah) additional motivation and I hope that is the case with the team also,” ESPNcricinfo quoted Misbah as saying.”Looking forward to it as a normal game and focusing on our jobs. As batsmen, contributions from Younis and me would be very important. Sometimes emotions can come into these sort of occasions but we will try our best to focus on our jobs,” he added.The Misbah-ul-Haq-led side began the three-Test series well, beating the hosts by seven wickets in the first Test in Jamaica but had to face a crushing defeat in the Barbados Test following their second-innings collapse as they were bowled out for 81 in a chase of 188The Test skipper, who will turn 43 on May 28, had earlier asked the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) for time to decide on his future following whitewash defeats in his last two series against Australia and New Zealand, respectively.advertisementMisbah has been at the receiving end towards the late end of his career. However, leaving the 0-2 thrashing against the Black Caps, followed by 0-3 whitewash against Australia, he has been the shining star for the side.The captain also inspired Pakistan to the top of the ICC Test team rankings for the first time in history although their stint at the top was short-lived as India replaced them.Misbah has played 73 Test matches so far, scoring 5161 runs and is currently seventh on the list of Pakistan’s highest Test run-getters.He had already retired from ODIs and T20Is after the 2015 World Cup.