Thursday 31 May 2012
In Rian Michael Keegan-Dolan and Liam O'Maonlai embark on a journey to celebrate the tension and harmony between traditional music and contemporary dance. It was an evening at Norwich Theatre to celebrate Irish and World Music along with extraordinary dancing, making for an amazing experience mixing the traditional with influences from faraway places.
The cast of eight dancers and five musicians performed brilliantly as the audience were taken on a journey around the world by Liam O'Maonlai, founding member of Hothouse Flowers who's album Rian formed part of the live score with new material. The Fabulous Beast Dance Theatre Company from County Longford, Ireland shown why they are regarded as one of the most daring and highly original dance theatre companies in the world.
Tuesday 29 May 2012
At the Norfolk and Norwich Festival they performed Beethoven's lyrical Sixth Symphony Pastoral. Beethoven said that this piece was recollections of country life, more the expression of feelings than painting. It was completed in 1808 and starts with the awakening of cheerful feelings, taking us on a journey through the countryside. This was the perfect piece of music for the ensemble to bring their own unique blend of vivacity and virtuosity.
Spira mirabilis played with loads of energy and freedom with lots of spontaneity. It was like being at a chamber music concert as we were all thrilled by their wonderful performance which gave a feeling of immediacy. It was clear that the players were enjoying themselves and this made for an amazing atmosphere at St. Andrew's Hall. Spira mirabilis is named after a geometrical figure with the characteristic of always being superimposable onto itself.
Monday 28 May 2012
The programme for the evening was Bach E Major, Fallen Forest, Bach A Minor 3rd and 4th, Father and Son, Where Paths Meet, Transfiguration or Saturn and Taste of Honey. With an encore including Danny Boy, Nigel Kennedy gave the Norfolk and Norwich Festival a night to remember.
This was a wonderful evening at Norwich Theatre Royal as Nigel Kennedy showed us all why he is regarded as one of the most gifted musicians this country has ever produced. Nigel Kennedy received three standing ovations at the end of the concert as the large audience shown their appreciation for the violinist.
Sunday 27 May 2012
The Artistic Director told us of how they came to perform this opera and the history behind how it was written during a six month strike during 1977. Due to a lack of technical and stage staff Tony Harrison and Harrison Birtwistle had to make the piece incredibly simple to stage, using very sparse resources. There was a freedom in the Opera Group's staging of the piece meaning that every performance will vary with actors bringing their own personalities into play as they switch roles.
At 8.30pm I got on the coach outside Theatre Royal for the journey to the secret woodland location with great excitement as I looked forward to the performance. When we arrived at the site there was a short walk through the woods with flames lighting the way. This was an amazing setting for the Opera Group to perform this classic folk tale. Bow Down is the story of two sisters in love with the same man and torn apart by jealousy. The dark sister drowns the fair sister to take her lover. The murdered sister’s body is discovered and her bones and hair are used to build a harp which is played at her sister’s wedding. The harp denounces the murderess, who is put to death.
It was brilliant how the rhythms in the spoken text worked with the rhythms of the percussion instruments. This along with the beautiful sounds of the flute and oboe made for an amazing experience among the trees late at night. This has to be my personal highlight of this year's Norfolk and Norwich Festival. It was an unique occasion as The Opera Group took us into a mythological world. The opera in the forest was a cool and though provoking night. There were two sisters in a bower, their father was a baron of power.
There was a great atmosphere at Norwich Theatre Royal as we were given a night celebrating Cuban and African music. Lead by Buena Vista Social Cub legend Eliades Ochoa along with a line-up including Toumani Diabate they took us on a magical journey which gave us a fusion of their music on songs like Al Vaivén De Mi Carreta.
Events like this show how great and relevant the Norfolk and Norwich Festival is when musicians as talented as those on stage at Norwich Theatre Royal can put on such a brilliant performance. Everyone in the audience were clearly enjoying themselves on a night that will be long remembered as the music of Cuba and Mali made their mark in the Fine City of Norwich.
Friday 25 May 2012
We were all provided with headphones when we arrived at the site so that we could be taken to the intimate interiors of the cars that we could see approaching from the distance. A car arrives in a hidden wasteland in which a young couple are completely oblivious to anything other then themselves while a dark world turns around them. With the sound of Hells Bells we were taken on a journey to an uneasy place of isolation with the city skyline as a backdrop.
This was a brilliant production from Requardt and Rosenberg and has to be one of my highlights of this year's Norfolk and Norfolk Festival. It was an unique experience to attend an event at somewhere like the St. James Place Development Site. Great dancing and driving from the cast which made for a very interesting and enjoyable night.
At the door to the meeting room we were met by Hannah Jane Walker and Chris Thorpe, and welcomed in with a cup of tea. We settled down around the conference table, which is full of post it notes. Today's sabre tooth tiger's are computer spreadsheets.
Hannah Jane Walker and Chris Thorpe put on an entertaining show and no one was made to do anything they didn't want to do, Some mistakes are marked in pencil but others are in permanent marker pen. Send an email to the wrong person or flick the wrong switch at the nuclear reactor. This was like being at an office meeting complete with a cup of tea. We are all human and mistakes will happen.
Wednesday 23 May 2012
The programme consisted of Quartet No.6, Op.80 in F minor - Mendelssohn, Eclipse - Brett Dean and Quartet No.13 in A minor, Rosamunde - Schubert. The Escher Quartet are Adam Barnett-Hart - violin, Wu Jie - violin, Pierre Lapointe - viola and Dane Johansen - cello. They were founded in 2005, named after the Dutch artist M.C. Escher, drawing inspiration from his method of depicting the interplay between individual components to form a whole.
Wonderful pieces from Mendelssohn and Schubert were both played brilliantly while Brett Dean's Eclipse which was written as a response to the Tampa crisis which unfolded in the Indian Ocean in August 2001 was a complete contrast with it's stark yet richly textured soundscape. This was a splendid night at St. Peter Mancroft Church as the Escher Quartet brought their own unique style to the Norfolk and Norwich Festival.
Sunday 20 May 2012
The programme consisted of Praeter rerum seriem - Josquin, Gloria from Missa et ecce terrae motus - Brumel, O Virgo prudentissima - Josquin, Magnificat secundi toni super Praeter rerum seriem - Lassus, Aurora lucis rutilat - Lassus, Huc me sydereo - Josquin - Timor et tremor - Lassus, Sanctus from Missa et ecce terrae motus - Brumel and Magnificat octavi toni super Aurora lucis rutilat - Lassus.
The Earth Resounds celebrates the music of Brumel, Josquin and Lassus who were three of the towering figures of the Franco-Flemish Renaissance. All tickets for this amazing event were sold as The Sixteen brought us a brilliant performance on a night to remember with a programme centred around movements from Brumel's Missa et ecce terrae motus. The sacred music of 15th and 16th Century Flanders made for an evening of expressive and beautiful music with a performance of the highest quality from The Sixteen and Harry Christophers.
I wasn't scared at first when I saw the dragonfly but when the Australovenator dinosaur appeared my heart started to beat faster and I wondered if I was going to be his next meal. When I didn't put my hands up to protect my head I could have ended up as part of the Ausralovenator's family feast.
This show was brilliant for people of all ages as we were taken to the prehistoric world of Australian dinosaurs when Australia was part of the Antarctica Circle. Lots of fun was had by all and luckily no one was eaten during the performance.
Saturday 19 May 2012
Vusi Mahlasela is known as The Voice in his home country of South Africa who is celebrated for his distinct powerful voice and his poetic optimistic lyrics that connect Apartheid-scarred South Africa with its promise for a better future. He gave a wonderful performance of Say Africa as his African folk brought a warm and uplifting feeling to the Theatre Royal.
Bombino draws on his Saharan nomadic heritage to create music of rare power and eloquence. His electrifying jams capture the spirit of resistance and rebellion which reflect his upbringing during an era of armed struggle and violent suppression. This Tuareg guitarist and songwriter echoes the voices of Tinariwen and Ali Farka Toure. With his band Bombino made a loud noise that filled the venue with music from the Sahara which brought loud cheers and applause from the audience. At the end of each song Bombino said merci as we all appreciated seeing this amazing artist at the Norfolk and Norwich Festival. With loads more people discovering Bombino with the release of his latest album Agadez this year, this was the perfect time to witness his emotional and thought provoking music live.
The programme consisted of From Far Beyond Chrysaanthemums and November Fog - Takemitsu, Sonata for Violin and Piano No.2 in D, Op. 94a - Prokofiev, Piece en forme de Habanera - Ravel, Poeme op. 25 - Chausson and Souvenir de Moscou op. 6 - Wieniawski.
Midori Komachi and Riyad Nicolas put on a brilliant performance with my personal highlight being the Prokofiev Sonata which highlighted the musical talents of these two young musicians. This is a wonderful opportunity for the Royal Academy of Music to showcase some of the stars of the future at such a beautiful venue as Norwich's Assembly House and their series at the Festival is always very popular.
Tuesday 15 May 2012
Henry V is one of the greatest tales in English folklore about a British warrior. It is set in a time when nationalism is at its most dangerous and exciting. As increasing numbers of British servicemen and women are seeing active service, Propeller brings its own unique take on one of Shakespeare’s most famous plays. Thrilling and deeply moving, Henry V marks the beginning of a journey that takes us from the corridors of Westminster to the fields of France in an evening of unforgettable power.
From performances of the Clash's London Calling and Manhattan Transfer’s Chanson d’Amour to the transformation of Henry V into the heroic warrior-king who won the battle of Agincourt Propeller brought us the magic of Shakespeare in a fun and different way. Saturday was a wonderful day as Propeller gave us a brilliant taste of two of Shakespeare's best known plays.
The Winter’s Tale is a tragic fairytale which tells the mysterious and extraordinary story of a man consumed by an inexplicable jealousy that destroys his family, his kingdom and himself. Wracked by guilt, Leontes sets off a chain reaction of events that leads to a miraculous climax and the chance of redemption. This is a re-visiting of Propeller’s highly acclaimed 2005 production.
This performance was full of wonderful acting including Robert Hands as Leontes and Tony Bell as Autolycus. We were given a band called The Bleatles and Beyonce's Single Ladies in a fun filled afternoon with the audience laughing out loud on many occasions. This was a great afternoon spent at Norwich Theatre Royal and I still had Henry V to look forward to in the evening.
Sunday 13 May 2012
The performance moved around Norwich Marketplace past City Hall before culminating in a performance at The Forum. I walked around with the puppeteers until they reached The Forum where a large crowd had gathered. In this brilliant piece of street theatre the audience become part of the performance as we were entertained by a mixture of birds, dinosaurs, drummers, one eyed robots and a witch on stilts.
It was like chaos in Norwich City Centre until a magical song attracts the prehistoric animals and restores calm, leaving the crowds to go with the flow of this unique and amazing event which brought the Norfolk and Norwich Festival to several thousand people. I really enjoyed this event from dutch street theatre company Close-Act and I loved the way how along with everyone else on this memorable night became part of the mystical world they created.
The programme consisted of German Dances - Schubert arr. Webern, Five Movements - Webern, Lieder - Schubert arr. Webern, Ruckert Lieder - Mahler and Symphony No.5 - Schubert. From the full moon shines on mountaintops from Schubert's Romanze aus Rosamunde to his splendid emotional Symphony No.5 on to Mahler's If you love for beauty this was a programme full of classical music treats.
Britten Sinfonia along with baritone Roderick Williams gave us a performance of the highest quality with a programme that showed the versatility of Britten Sinfonia and the brilliant vocal skills of Roderick Williams. Its great to have Britten Sinfonia playing regularly in Norwich at the Assembly House and Theatre Royal while their Festival appearance at St. Andrew's Hall are always special events.
Thursday 10 May 2012
The programme consisted of Overture, Der Freischutz - Weber, Cello Concerto in C major - Haydn, Serenata and Marcia from Cello Suite No1, Op.72 - Britten, Coriolan Overture, Op.62 - Beethoven and Symphony No.1 in C minor, Op.68 - Brahms. This was a great and varied programme with something for everyone. My personal favourite being the Brahms Symphony No.1.
It was the ideal way to start the concert with Weber's Overture to the opera Der Freischutz which transported us to the enchanted depths of the German forests before Julian Lloyd Webber made his entrance to perform the pieces from Haydn and Britten. The cellist is a great virtuoso who gave a magical performance at St. Andrew's Hall on a night to remember.
After the interval the Berlin Symphony Orchestra treated us to Beethoven's Coriolan Overture which many observers have seen as the forerunner of the tone poem with its abrupt changes in dynamics and contrasting themes. Johannes Brahms took many years to compose his first symphony partly due to the composer feeling that Beethoven had expended nearly all the potential of that form. Brahms is one of favourite composers and the Berlin Symphony Orchestra performing his first Symphony made the night for me.
Tuesday 8 May 2012
Edward Gardner was conductor as the Orchestra put on an outstanding performance which complimented the events on stage with Orla Boylan as Senta, Stuart Skelton as Erik, Clive Bayley as Daland and James Creswell as The Dutchman taking us to the world of Richard Wagner.
The Flying Dutchman provides an early outing for Wagner's idea of redemption through death: so called 'love-deaths' occur in several of his operas, and the Dutchman delivers a particularly vivid one in a legendary story which is salt-washed by dramatic sea-storms and fearful apparitions.
The opera begins with Daland's ship riding out a tempest which suddenly disgorges the ghostly ship of the Dutchman, a sea-captain cursed to roam the seas for ever, but allowed to come ashore every seven years – his sin of blasphemy will be wiped clean if he can find a wife who will be true to him. The stranger offers Daland gold for the hand of his unmarried daughter Senta, sight unseen. Senta knows the legend of the Dutchman and is determined to save him. When she meets the stranger, the connection is made, and she swears eternal fidelity. Daland's crew and the villagers try in vain to tempt the stranger's crew ashore: when these ghostly figures finally appear, everyone flees in fear.
Senta's discarded boyfriend Erik recalls their love and wants to rekindle it. Overhearing this, the stranger concludes that he has been betrayed again and once again is doomed. To general consternation, he reveals his identity as the Flying Dutchman and sets sail. Proclaiming herself faithful unto death, Senta throws herself into the sea – redeemed, they are seen ascending to heaven.
As you would expect from the English National Opera we were treated to a dramatic evening with a brilliant staging of Wagner's opera which is set on the Norwegian coast. With dreams, nightmares and ship in a bottle factories set against the raging sea we were taken on a rollercoaster ride with our emotions as the opera was performed without an interval to give us the full effects of this sometimes dark epic.
Monday 7 May 2012
Prince Hilarion has been waiting for this day for twenty years. He is about to meet Princess Ida to whom he was betrothed as a baby. Unfortunately, Ida has decided that she does not want to honour this commitment and instead has started a women's college. In an attempt to woo her, Hilarion, and his two friends are forced to disguise themselves in order to sneak into the college grounds.
Inevitably they are discovered but manage to maintain their secret. However, Princess Ida learns the truth about the intruders and it looks like violence is sure to erupt but in the end Ida concedes defeat and finally admits her love for Hilarion.
This was definitely a fun night at the Maddermarket Theatre as we were entertained by the East Norfolk Operatic Society with a performance full of enthusiasm and splendid singing. We left the theatre with the sound of With Joy Abiding in our heads and a spring in our steps.
Handel’s oratorio Israel in Egypt was written three years before the Messiah in 1738 and, like the Messiah, is somewhat atypical of the composer’s oratorios. Scored for double chorus and an orchestra using trombones, trumpets, timpani, woodwinds and strings with continuo, Israel in Egypt contains relatively little solo material but is dominated by large-scale virtuosic choruses that fully exploit Handel’s lavish and sophisticated word-painting.
This was a wonderful night at St. Andrew's Hall as the Keswick Hall Choir and the Academy of St. Thomas brought us a performance of the highest quality of this splendid piece from Handel. The Lord shall reign for ever and ever. I will sing unto the Lord, for he hath triumphed gloriously, the horse and his rider hath he thrown into the sea.
Sunday 6 May 2012
The plot follows a few days in the life of the successful and self-obsessed light comedy actor Garry Essendine as he prepares to travel for a touring commitment in Africa. Amid a series of events bordering on farce, Garry has to deal with women who want to seduce him, placate both his long-suffering secretary and his estranged wife, cope with a crazed young playwright, and overcome his impending mid-life crisis. The story was described by Coward as "a series of semi-autobiographical pyrotechnics."
This was a splendid performance from the Norwich Players with Christian de l'Argy playing the part of Garry Essendine. The stylish clothing of the period were spot on as we were taken to the world of London in the Spring of 1939 which brought us many funny moments that brought smiles and laughter to the Maddermarket Theatre. I'm so sorry it's a wrong number as Garry would tell Liz. Young ladies forgetting their latch keys and spending the night in the spare room was a regular happening at Garry's flat in Sloane Square.
Garry said in Act One, "You're not in love with me, the real me. You're in love with an illusion." This sums up the play as Garry tries to deal with his situation and passing years. I really enjoyed my afternoon at the Maddermarket Theatre as the Norwich Players put on the style with a performance full of emotions and asking what is love? The title of the play being taken from Feste's song in William Shakespeare's Twelfth Night.
Thursday 3 May 2012
When disco diva Deloris Van Cartier witnesses a murder, she is put in protective custody in the one place the cops are sure she won’t be found – a convent! Disguised as a nun she makes the wrong impression on the convent’s strict Mother Superior. But when she transforms the convent’s choir into the most glorious new musical act in town, Deloris forms a lasting bond with her new found friends and the gang that’s chasing her finds itself up against an unstoppable team of soulful sisters!
This was a wonderful evening at Norwich Theatre Royal full of singing and dancing. It was a night to spread the love around as the cast filled the venue with soul music and put smiles on the faces of the audience. Take me to heaven (heaven)! Take me to ecstasy (ecstasy!) I'll give you all I've got, 'cause nothin's as hot as when you groove with me!
Tuesday 1 May 2012
The programme consisted of Ten Blake Songs - Vaughan Williams, The End - Jonathan Dove - The End and The Curlew - Warlock. This performance was the World Premiere of Jonathan Dove's The End which was commissioned with the Tenner for a Tenor campaign.
This concert highlighted the host of British composers who found inspiration in the poetry and folksongs of the British Isles in the first half of the twentieth century. Also Jonathan Dove's The End was performed in the middle of the concert. This was a concert of the highest quality which began with Vaughan Williams' Ten Blake Songs which were written as settings of Blake's poetry for the film The Vision of William Blake.
Jonathan Dove's commission is music composed for Mark Strand's poem The End. The music suggests the gentle rocking motion of a ship slipping into darkness and the sound of birds suspended in flight. The concert finished with Peter Warlock's The Curlew which is a song cycle of poems by W.B. Yeats. This was a brilliant lunchtime at Norwich Assembly House with Britten Sinfonia once again giving us a performance to remember.