Friday 27 December 2013

The Snow Queen at the Maddermarket Theatre

On Thursday 26th December 2013 I attended the Norwich Players performance of The Snow Queen by Hans Christian Andersen at the Maddermarket Theatre, Norwich. The Snow Queen was a superb family show and is one of Hans Christian Andersen's most widely acclaimed stories. This production of The Snow Queen was adapted by Stuart Paterson and directed by Peter Sowerbutts.

When Kay is snatched from his beautiful home by the beautiful, cruel Snow Queen, his friend Gerda sets out on an epic journey to rescue him. As she searches, she encounters a series of strangers to whom she tells her tale. Charmed by her story and innocence, each of them helps Gerda, so that, at last, she is able to find the Snow Queen's icy palace.

This was the perfect play to see on Boxing Day and a fantastic Christmas treat. There was a wonderful festive atmosphere at the Maddermarket Theatre as this magical Hans Christian Andersen fairytale was brought to life on the stage at this historic theatre.

Monday 23 December 2013

Viva Voce Singers Candlelit Family Christmas Concert

On Saturday 21st December 2013 I attended the Viva Voce Singers Candlelit Family Christmas Concert at St. Peter Mancroft Church, Norwich. This concert was in aid of the Mancroft Advice Project. This performance was directed by Jody Butler and featured Organist Julian Haggett.

The Viva Voce Singers is a small and friendly Norwich based chamber choir of around twenty five singers and winner of the BBC Radio Norfolk Choir of the Year 2011 competition. The choir has a reputation for high quality performances around Norfolk.

The programme consisted of This is the truth sent from above - Trad. English arr. Vaughan Williams, Es ist ein Ros entsprungen - Brahms, A Christmas Carol - Zoltan Kodaly, Torches - John Joubert, I sing of a maiden from Make we joye - Peter Aston, Away in a manger - William Kirkpatrick arr. David Willcocks, The Queens came late - Norma Farber, A Christmas tree at Windsor - Eric Finney, Once in Royal David's City - H.J. Gauntlett arr. David Willcocks, A round of carols - Bryan Kelly, God rest ye merry, Gentlemen - Trad English arr. David Willcocks, A naughty boy tale - Peter Dixon, Messiah (Christmas Portions) - Mark Doty, A Shepherd's Carol - Britten, A boy was born - Peter Willis, The Lamb - John Tavener, Deck the Hall - Peter Aston, O come, all ye faithful - arr, Willcocks and A Merry Christmas - Trad. West Country carol arr. Arthur Warrell.

This concert was a wonderful celebration of Christmas which I greatly enjoyed along with the large audience in attendance. O come, all ye faithful, Joyful and triumphant. The Viva Voce Singers are a fantastic Choir who filled St. Peter Mancroft Church full of Christmas joy.

Sunday 22 December 2013

The Nutcracker at the London Coliseum

On Friday 20th December 2013 I attended the English National Ballet's matinee performance of Tchaikovsky's The Nutcracker at the London Coliseum. We took a journey back in time to a frost-covered, gas-lit London and joined Clara, her Nutcracker doll and the magician Drosselmeyer in this traditional, festive tale.

This production of The Nutcracker was based on a concept by Toer van Schayk and Wayne Eagling. There were fantastic performances from Elena Glurdjidze as Clara and Fabian Reimair as the Nutcracker. Gavin Sutherland conducted The Orchestra of English National Ballet.

On an enchanted Christmas Eve, under the heavy boughs of the candlelit tree Clara battled with the Mouse King and fell in love with a handsome stranger. As the air grew colder and snowflakes began to fall, Clara and her valiant Nutcracker took a hot air balloon ride across the frost-dusted London skyline to the glistening Land of Snow where her adventure really began.

In a world of Edwardian elegance, The Nutcracker brought to life the eternally popular Tchaikovsky score featuring the Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy and the Waltz of the Flowers. This classical production is a magical, memorable and unmissable Christmas treat. This was the third year in a row that I have seen this production at the London Coliseum and it is always a wonderful experience and performance.

Sunday 15 December 2013

Birds of Hell at Clutter City

On Saturday 14th December 2013 I saw Birds of Hell perform at Norwich Arts Centre for the Clutter City Yuletide Weekend. Birds Of Hell is the solo project of Pete Murdoch from Sargasso Trio.

Clutter City Market is a DIY Handmade Fair for creative independent crafters, artists and collectives to sell their work. The focus is on original and unique items including clothes, illustrations, jewellery, badges, sewn items, paper goods, prints, zines and more.

Inspired by the DIY handmade culture, Clutter City aims to bring the best of local talent to your doorstep. The Craft Fair is full of stalls, workshops, live music, DJs and take-out food and drink.

The highlight of the Birds of Hell set was the cover of In The Bleak Midwinter which was warmly received by the Clutter City audience. Norwich Arts Centre is lots of fun for Clutter City and is always well worth a visit.

Friday 13 December 2013

Quasi at Norwich Arts Centre

On Thursday 12th December 2013 I attended the Quasi gig at Norwich Arts Centre with support from Girl in a Thunderbolt. This was the last Twee Off night after four years of amazing gigs and nearly one hundred different acts.

Girl in a Thunderbolt is Norwich singer Maria Uzor who gave us an amazing set of songs to warm us up for the main act. Tracks like War Cry, Dopamine and Runaway were very well received at the St. Benedict's Street venue.

Quasi are Ex-husband and wife Sam Coomes and Janet Weiss who were touring their latest album Mole City. They have an amazing history of being in acts as legendary as Sleater-Kinney, Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks, Elliot Smith, John Doe, Pink Mountains, Wild Flag and Built To Spill. In addition they have played as Quasi for twenty years and released eight albums.

Quasi were brilliant and gave us a night of Visceral Trash Music. See You On Mars, Our Happiness Is Guaranteed and I Never Want to See You Again are all fantastic tracks. Quasi finished the gig with an encore of War Pigs and Let's Get It On covers. This was night when Norwich Arts Centre belonged to Portland, Oregon.

Wednesday 11 December 2013

Poems for the Pollen Path at the Millennium Library

On Tuesday 10th December 2013 I attended Poems for the Pollen Path presented by Poetry Unbound at the Norfolk and Norwich Millennium Library. This event featured the Saturday Writers, which included readings from poets Dot Cobley, Ramona Herdman, Anne Osbourn, Kate Pannett, Anna Reckin, Hilary Stanton and Lynn Wollacott.

Many of the poems read on the night were from the Poems for the Pollen Path collection. The poems in this collection are Bee lines, The Beekeeper, Assembly Instructions for February Field Agent, Workers, Looking for the Victorians, In our universe of bees and Essential volatiles.

This was a wonderful evening of poetry at the Norfolk and Norwich Millennium Library which I found very enjoyable. In our universe of bees the bees are large.

Sunday 8 December 2013

Preparing for Christmas at St. Peter Mancroft Church

On the afternoon of Saturday 7th December 2013 I attended the Mancroft Music Preparing for Christmas Autumn Recital at St. Peter Mancroft Church, Norwich which featured The Girls' Choir and Choral Scholars of St. Peter Mancroft, Julian Haggett and Harry Sullivan - Organ, Camilla Pay - Harp and Jody Butler - Director. The programme was entitled Preparing for Christmas as we were now in the season of Advent, when we prepare for the coming of the Lord at Christmas and ultimately the end of time.

The programme consisted of In dulci jubilo BuxWV 197 - Buxtehude, This is the truth sent from above - Traditional arr. Vaughan Williams, Jesus Christ the apple tree - Somerset folksong arr. Bullard, Let all mortal flesh keep silence - French Carol arr. Cleobury, Impromptu-Caprice - Pierne, Fum, fum, fum - Traditional Catalan arr. Llewellyn, Magnificat in G - Sumsion, Lift up your heads, O ye gates - Mathias, Of the Father's love begotten - Held and A Ceremony of Carols - Britten.

This was a wonderful Autumn Recital at St. Peter Mancroft with the highlight being Benjamin Britten's A Ceremony of Carols which as a tradition at the church, is performed each year to mark the start of Advent. There was a large audience in attendance at the last Mancroft Music Recital in the Autumn 2013 series.

Saturday 7 December 2013

As You Like It at the Norwich UEA Drama Studio

On the evening of Friday 6th December 2013 I was back at the Norwich UEA Drama Studio to attend the performance of William Shakespeare's As You Like It. The Arcadian Project was put together by the UEA's students and academics to uncover a major missing tapestry in theatre history.

Combining a unique adaptation of Sir Philip Sidney's Arcadia with a production of Shakespeare's beloved comedy As You Like It, the project aimed to shed a brand new light on the works of Britain's most renowned playwright. I attended the performance of Arcadia on Tuesday 3rd December 2013.

In As You Like It, having been banished from the oppressive court, Rosalind and Orlando are forced to flee into the wild depths of the Forest of Arden. Within this strange and wild realm, the roles of gender, politics and nature are turned upside down as their love, wrapped in a game of mistaken identity, begins to blossom. One of Shakespeare's most cherished comedies, As You Like It journeys into a world of freedom and explores how beguilingly bewildering life can be.

As You Like It was directed by Tony Frost and was performed brilliantly by the UEA's Third Year Drama Students. And this our life exempt from public haunt finds tongues in trees, books in the running brooks, sermons in stones and good in everything. I had a fantastic time at the UEA Drama Studio and very much enjoyed As You Like It.

Thursday 5 December 2013

Priscilla Queen of the Desert at Norwich Theatre Royal

On the evening of Wednesday 4th December 2013 I attended the performance of Priscilla Queen of the Desert The Musical at Norwich Theatre Royal. Direct from the West End and Broadway this feel good international hit sensation guaranteed a good time for all.

Winner of 4 awards, including Best New Musical, and based on the smash-hit movie, Priscilla is the heart warming, uplifting adventure of three friends who hop aboard a battered old bus searching for love and friendship and end up finding more than they had ever dreamed of. Priscilla was full of a dazzling array of outrageous Olivier and Tony award-winning costumes and a hit parade of dance floor favourites including It’s Raining Men, I Will Survive, Hot Stuff, Finally, Boogie Wonderland, Go West, Girls Just Wanna Have Fun, and I Love The Nightlife.

Jason Donovan as Tick, Richard Grieve as Bernadette and Graham Weaver as Felicia were all brilliant as we were transported to the desert and a trip to Alice Springs. This was a night of great fun Norwich Theatre Royal which I greatly enjoyed.

Wednesday 4 December 2013

Arcadia at the Norwich UEA Drama Studio

On the evening of Tuesday 3rd December 2013 I attended the performance of Sir Philip Sidney's Arcadia at the Norwich UEA Drama Studio. The Arcadian Project was put together by the UEA's students and academics to uncover a major missing tapestry in theatre history.

Combining a unique adaptation of Sir Philip Sidney's Arcadia with a production of Shakespeare's beloved comedy As You Like It, the project aimed to shed a brand new light on the works of Britain's most renowned playwright. I will be attending the performance of As You Like It on Friday 6th December 2013.

Arriving upon the utopian shores of Arcadia two young princes, Pyrocles and Musidorus, disguise themselves as an Amazon and a Shepherd to gain access to the Arcadian Princesses, who have been imprisoned by their father to avoid the dangers foretold by a mysterious Oracle. Together they venture into a world of beauty and deception, where every shepherd is a politician, where the court lies in the country and where comedy cascades into tragedy. Under a tree will I take my rest for, howsoever a man be exalted, the beginning and end of the body is earth.

This performance by the UEA's Third Year Drama Students directed by Anthony Gash took us on a journey through fields and forests in search of the lost golden world. I really enjoyed my evening at the UEA Drama Studio and was able to see how this play influenced Shakespeare's As You Like It. The sword fighting was great as well!

Sunday 1 December 2013

The Seagull at the Maddermarket Theatre

On the afternoon of Saturday 30th November 2013 I attended The Norwich Players performance of The Seagull by Anton Chekhov at the Maddermarket Theatre, Norwich. Christopher Hampton's brilliant and highly actable translation of Chekhov's masterpiece along with the Maddermarket's daringly theatrical interpretation breathed new life into this enchanting, romantic and heartbreakingly beautiful classic about love, loss and art.

Chekhov described his play as a comedy with landscapes (a view over a lake), a great deal of conversation about literature, little action and a ton of love. A rather modest description for a ground-breaking stroke of genius which ultimately laid the foundations for modern drama, and whose profound influence is still felt in theatre and cinema today.

The Seagull is a slice-of-life drama set in the Russian countryside at the end of the 19th century. The cast of characters is dissatisfied with their lives. Some desire love. Some desire success. Some desire artistic genius. No one, however, ever seems to attain happiness. This production by Stephen Picton was brilliantly performed by The Norwich Players which proved to be one of the highlights of this year's productions at the Maddermarket Theatre.

Sunday 24 November 2013

Greg Morris Organ Recital at St. Peter Mancroft Church

On Saturday 23rd November 2013 I attended the Greg Morris Organ Recital at St. Peter Mancroft Church, Norwich in the Mancroft Music Autumn Recitals 2013 Series. Greg Morris is Associate Organist of the Temple Church in London and Musical Director of Collegium Musicum of London.

The programme consisted of Lo, he comes with clouds descending - Kenneth Leighton, Nun Komm der Heiden Heiland BWV 659 - Bach, Praeludium in D major - Buxtehude, Nun Komm der Heiden Heiland BWV 660 - Bach, Veni Emmanuel - Kenneth Leighton, Nun Komm der Heiden Heiland BWV 661 - Bach, Wachet auf - Bach and Fantasia and Fugue in G minor - Bach.

Greg's solo performances have included concerts at Notre Dame de Paris, the Neubradenburg International Organ Festival, Westminster Abbey, St. Paul's Cathedral, King's College, Cambridge and many other cathedrals and major churches. Greg began to study the organ with Andrew Dean at The Manchester Grammar School. He held scholarships at St. George's Chapel, Windsor and Jesus College, Cambridge, studied the organ with Paul Stubbings, John Kitchen and Thomas Trotter and was awarded the top performance prize for the Fellowship of the Royal College of Organists and the Silver Medal of the Worshipful Company of Musicians. He then moved to Blackburn Cathedral as Assistant Director of Music.

This was another wonderful Organ Recital at St. Peter Mancroft Church in the heart of Norwich with brilliant music by Bach, Kenneth Leighton and Buxtehude. Greg Morris put on a fantastic performance which was greatly appreciated by the enthusiastic audience.

Friday 22 November 2013

Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake at Norwich Theatre Royal

On the evening of Thursday 21st November 2013 I attended the performance of Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake at Norwich Theatre Royal. Thrilling, audacious and totally original, Matthew Bourne's legendary production transforms one of ballet's best -loved stories into a stylish, witty, poignant, contemporary tale with extravagant, award-winning designs by Lez Brotherston.

Perhaps best-known for replacing the traditional female corps de ballet with a menacing male ensemble, Matthew Bourne blends dance, style, humour, spectacle, character comedy and mime to create a provocative and powerful Swan Lake for our times. Originally written by Tchaikovsky in the late 19th century, Swan Lake was staged at Moscow’s Bolshoi Theatre in 1877.

There were fantastic performances from Jonathan Ollivier as The Swan, Sam Archer as The Prince and Madelaine Brennan as The Queen on a magical and fun night at Norwich Theatre Royal. This is the Modern Dance version of Swan Lake and is a very powerful and inspired production.

Thursday 21 November 2013

Yuck bring Glow and Behold to Norwich Arts Centre

The Yuck Glow and Behold Tour arrived at Norwich Arts Centre on Wednesday 20th November 2013 with support from Polterghost and Mega Emotion. I made my way to the St. Benedict's Street venue eagerly looking forward to this Twee Off gig headlined by the London based five piece.

Yuck are an indie rock band that originated in London, England. The band features Max Bloom, who formerly played in the band Cajun Dance Party along with former 'Yuck' member Daniel Blumberg. The band's self-titled debut album was released through Fat Possum in February 2011. Critics have likened the band to bands such as Dinosaur Jr, Pavement, My Bloody Valentine and Sonic Youth. Their new album Glow and Behold was released in September 2013.

Yuck made this a night to remember at Norwich Arts Centre along with support from London's Polterghost and Norwich band Mega Emotion with their hit song Brains. The sounds of Alternative Rock filled the venue as Yuck brought us tracks from both their albums including Get Away and Rebirth from their new album Glow and Behold.

Tuesday 19 November 2013

Britten Sinfonia's Serenade for Tenor, Horn and Strings

On the evening of Sunday 17th November 2013 I attended the Britten Sinfonia Serenade for Tenor, Horn and Strings concert at Norwich Theatre Royal. Britten Sinfonia’s recent recording of Britten’s Serenade for Tenor, Horn and Strings with Mark Padmore has been acclaimed worldwide and these artists performed the work in this fascinating concert.

Violinist Pekka Kuusisto directed the orchestra in an illuminating programme of works which also included a new work by Judith Weir, commissioned by the Britten Pears Foundation and Royal Philharmonic Society, to celebrate Britten’s centenary and the Bicentenary of the Royal Philharmonic Society. The programme was jointly devised by Pekka Kuusisto and Britten Sinfonia.

The programme consisted of Three Songs for Tenor and violin (and drone from orchestra) - Nico Muhly, Fourth movement from Quartet no. 4 - Bartok, Now Sleeps the Crimson Petal - Britten, Lighthouse - Tuur, I give you the end of a golden string (world premiere tour) - Judith Weir, Individualisierte Höhemessung der Lagen (from Partita fur Paul) - Arne Nordheim, Material in E flat for violin and drone from orchestra - Nico Muhly, Third movement from Quartet no. 4 - Bartok, Kanon - Berg arr Schnittke, Cantus in Memoriam Benjamin Britten - Arvo Part, God Music from Black Angels - George Crumb, Serenade for Tenor, Horn and Strings - Britten.

Britten Sinfonia were joined by Mark Padmore - tenor, Pekka Kuusisto - violin and Stephen Bell - horn on a wonderful night of classical music at Norwich Theatre Royal. They played twelve works by nine different composers which proved to be a varied and enjoyable concert. The performance took the audience to new and unfamiliar places.

Monday 18 November 2013

Julian Collings Organ Recital at St. Peter Mancroft Church

On Saturday 16th November 2013 I attended the Julian Collings Organ Recital at St. Peter Mancroft Church, Norwich in the Mancroft Music Autumn Recitals 2013 Series. This recital replaced that due to be given by Svyati Duo. Unfortunately Rebecca Hewes sustained a wrist injury and with regret had to withdraw. We were very grateful that Julian was able to put together a solo programme at short notice.

The programme consisted of Fantasia in G BWV 572 - Bach, Nun bitten wir den Heiligen Geist - Buxtehude, Andante with variations in D - Mendelssohn, Annum per annum - Part, Postlude pour l'office de complies - Alain and Pax vobiscum - Karg-Elert.

Julian Collings was educated as an organ scholar at Tonbridge School in Kent, before winning an organ scholarship to Christ's College, Cambridge in 1999. He is currently Director of Music at St. Cyprian's Church, Clarence Gate and regularly deputises as an organist at St. Bride's Church on Fleet Street. As organist with Svyati Duo, he regularly collaborates with cellist, Rebecca Hewes, performing concerts in the UK, Europe, Asia and the United States of America.

This was another wonderful organ recital at St. Peter Mancroft Church which was greatly enjoyed by the audience in attendance. The Mancroft Music Recital Series is always one of the highlights of the Music Calendar in Norwich both in the Autumn and Summer.

Sunday 17 November 2013

UEA Symphony Orchestra's English Connection Concert

On the evening of Friday 15th November 2013 I attended the UEA Symphony Orchestra's The English Connection Concert at St. Andrew's Hall, Norwich. This was a Sir Colin Davis Memorial Concert. The orchestra were conducted by Sharon Andrea Choa and featured soloist Paul Silverthorne (viola).

The programme consisted of Cello Concerto in E minor, Op. 85 (transcribed for viola) - Elgar and Symphony No. 8 in G major, Op. 88 - Dvorak.

Elgar's Cello Concerto is the last of four expressively linked works together with the Violin Sonata, String Quartet and Piano Quintet he wrote in 1918 and 1919. The chamber works have a wistful and eerie enchantment, to which the concerto adds an unmistakably tragic tone. Viola player Lionel Tertis worked tirelessly to establish the viola as a solo instrument in its own right and made a transcription of Elgar's concerto in 1929.

Dvorak wrote the Eighth Symphony in 1889 and was published by the London firm of Novello and Co in 1892. The Eighth is thought of as the sunniest and most relaxed of Dvorak's symphonies, but there is considerable emotional darkness in the slow movement, as well as light and tranquillity.

This was a wonderful evening at St. Andrew's Hall as the UEA Symphony Orchestra performed splendid pieces by Elgar and Dvorak. This was a fitting memorial concert in memory of Sir Colin Davis.

Saturday 16 November 2013

Sequence of Music for Remembrance-tide at Norwich Cathedral

On the evening of Thursday 14th November 2013 I was back at Norwich Cathedral for the Norwich Cathedral Consort's performance of Sequence of Music for Remembrance-tide. The Consort were conducted by Ashley Grote with organist Kris Thomsett.

The programme consisted of Hear my prayer - Purcell, Valiant-for-truth - Vaughan Williams, Agnus Dei - Barber, Rhapsody III in C sharp minor, Op 17 - Howells, Take him earth, for cherishing - Howells, Elegy - Thalben Ball, Bring us, O Lord - Harris, Never weather beaten sail - Parry and For the fallen - Guest.

The Norwich Cathedral Consort performed wonderfully along with Ashley Grote and Kris Thomsett. This was a moving and emotional event at Norwich Cathedral which took place in the Presbytery.

Friday 15 November 2013

John McGreal Organ Recital at Norwich Cathedral

On Thursday 14th November 2013 I attended the John McGreal Lunchtime Organ Recital at Norwich Cathedral which featured work by Bach, Vierne and Daquin. This was another great opportunity for Norwich workers to listen to some fantastic music during their lunch breaks.

The programme consisted of Ciacona in e minor, BuxWV 160 - Buxtehude, Chorale Prelude on: Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland BWV 659 - Come now, Saviour of the Heathen - Bach, Prelude and Wedge Fugue in e minor BWV 548 - Bach, Noel: A l'Etranger - Daquin, From:24 Pieces en Style Libre - Berceuse - Vierne and Toccata in D Major - Lanquetuit.

John McGreal read music while organ scholar at Peterhouse, Cambridge where he studied organ with David Rowland and Peter Hurford. He then continued his studies at the Royal College of Music in organ with Nicholas Danby and harpsichord with Ruth Dyson. From 1999 - 2011 he was Organist at the London Oratory where he maintained and developed the role of the organ in the liturgy. He has been based in Norwich since 2011 and now plays at the Shrine Church of St. Julian of Norwich.

I greatly enjoyed this brilliant Organ Recital from John McGreal at Norwich Cathedral. My particular favourite pieces being the music of J.S. Bach which filled the Cathedral and the audience with lots of joy.

Sunday 10 November 2013

Douglas Hollick Organ Recital at St. Peter Mancroft Church

On Saturday 9th November 2013 I attended the Douglas Hollick Organ Recital at St. Peter Mancroft Church, Norwich. Heinrich Scheidemann: a context celebrated the 350th anniversary of Scheidemann's death. This was the latest recital in Mancroft Music's Autumn Recitals 2013 series.

The programme consisted of Fantasia auf die manier eines Echo - Sweelinck, Erbarm dich mein O Herre Gott - Scheidemann, Herzlich lieb hab ich dich, O Herr - Scheidemann, Jesu, wollst uns weisen - Scheidemann, Toccata in G - Scheidemann, Chorale Fantasia - Buxtehude and Nun freut euch, lieben Christen gmein BuxWV 210 - Buxtehude.

Douglas Hollick is an organist and harpsichordist with an international reputation who teaches in Clare College Cambridge. In 1995 he recorded an organ CD entitled The Young Bach for Supraphon in the Czech Republic which attracted very favourable reviews. He was awarded a year 2000 Churchill Fellowship to visit North Germany and Denmark researching organs and other keyboard instruments of Buxtehude and the young J S Bach.

Heinrich Scheidemann, organist of Hamburg's Katharinenkirche, was one of many North German organists who studied with Sweelinck in Amsterdam. Dutch influence in North Germany was also strong in the sphere of organ building, which very rapidly in the early 17th century began to develop a much larger and more independent pedal department than the organ of Sweelinck and indeed much larger organs. The tonal design still largely followed the Dutch pattern, with great variety of reed and solo colours apart from the main principal chorus and flutes.

This was another wonderful organ recital at St. Peter Mancroft Church which highlighted the teacher/pupil link from Sweelinck all the way to the young Bach. It is always brilliant to hear the organ at St. Peter Mancroft Church being played and Douglas Hollick made this one of the highlights of the Autumn Recitals 2013 series.

Wednesday 6 November 2013

Hansel Und Gretel at Norwich Theatre Royal

On the evening of Tuesday 5th November 2013 I attended the Glyndebourne production of Hansel Und Gretel at Norwich Theatre Royal. This opera by Engelbert Humperdinck has long cast its musical spell over audiences of all ages. The score vividly evoked the magical world of fairy tale, and Laurent Pelly's deliciously witty production injected a modern twist into this enchanting classic.

Sung in German this fairy tale opera in three acts featured wonderful performances from Victoria Yarovaya as Hansel and Andriana Churchman as Gretel. The Glyndebourne Tour Orchestra were conducted by Ilyich Rivas. Hansel Und Gretel was first performed at the Court Theatre, Weimar in 1893.

Hansel and Gretel are doing chores. Both are bored and hungry, and to cheer themselves up they start to dance. Their games are interrupted by their Mother, who is angry to find them playing instead of working. In her anger she knocks over the milk jug, losing what was to have been supper. She sends them into the forest to gather strawberries instead. Wearied by their precarious existence, she sinks into a chair, only to be woken by the return of her husband. She is irritated to find him tipsy, but calms down when he produces a sack full of food. When he enquires after Hansel and Gretel, he is alarmed to hear they are in the forest: he warns of the Witch who lives there, and both parents set out to look for the children.

Hansel and Gretel happily gather and eat strawberries. When night falls they realise they are lost, and are frightened by the mysterious shapes in the mist. But a Sandman appears and settles them. They say their evening prayers, and go to sleep. The mist around them turns to clouds from which angels appear, who guard the children from harm.

At dawn the Dew Fairy comes to wake Hansel and Gretel. They are excited to see a house not far away, but when they begin to nibble at it, the Witch emerges and captures them, casting a spell. She puts Hansel in a cage, telling Gretel that her brother needs fattening. She releases Gretel with a spell, in order that the girl may help her with the oven. But Gretel uses the spell to free Hansel, and as the Witch demonstrates to Gretel how to check the oven, the children push her into it. As the Witch dies, the fence of people is transformed back into motionless children. Hansel invokes the formula for breaking the spell, and the children jump up and thank Hansel and Gretel for saving them. The Mother and Father appear, and the family is reunited.

This was a fantastic and magical evening at Norwich Theatre Royal with Glyndebourne bringing the story of Hansel Und Gretel by the Brothers Grimm to the stage. I greatly enjoyed this fairy tale opera which brought world class opera performance to Norwich with Glyndebourne making their annual visit to Norwich Theatre Royal.

Wednesday 23 October 2013

Twelve Angry Men at Norwich Theatre Royal

On the evening of Tuesday 22nd October 2013 I attended the performance of Twelve Angry Men at Norwich Theatre Royal. This brand new production paid tribute to the 1957 film version, starring and produced by Henry Fonda. This is often lauded as one of the great must see movies of all time.

Twelve jurors have death on their mind and a life in their hands as they have to decide the fate of a young delinquent accused of murdering his father. But what begins as an open and shut case becomes a dilemma for each of the Twelve, as their prejudices and preconceptions about the trial, the accused and each other, turn the tables every which way, until the nail biting climax.

Twelve Angry Men was written by Reginald Rose who was inspired by his own experience serving on a jury. This production was directed by Christopher Haydon with set and costume design by Michael Pavelka. Martin Shaw and Robert Vaughn gave fantastic performances on a night at Norwich Theatre Royal when a life hanged in the balance.

Monday 21 October 2013

Britten Sinfonia's Within Her Arms at Norwich Theatre Royal

On the evening of Sunday 20th October 2013 I attended the Britten Sinfonia Within Her Arms concert at Norwich Theatre Royal. This was Britten Sinfonia's first concert at the venue in their 2013-14 concert season.

The programme consisted of Three pieces for String Quartet - Stravinsky, Within Her Arms - Anna Clyne, Piano Concerto No. 12 in A major, K414 - Mozart, Little Concert - Maw and Symphony No. 60, II Distratto - Haydn. This concert featured Dejan Lazic - piano/director, Jacqueline Shave - violin/director and Nicholas Daniel - oboe.

Stravinsky's Three Pieces for String Quartet was finished in 1914, revised in 1918, and eventually published in 1922. As most of the works by Igor Stravinsky, this three-movement work was arranged from a four-hands on one piano version, from which the final revised version of 1918 derives and differs in some respects. The manuscript contained no movement titles for any of the three pieces. However, with the passing of time, Stravinsky rearranged these three movements for large orchestra, together with his Étude pour pianola, and premiered the whole collection as Quatre etudes in 1928.

Within Her Arms was composed by Anna Clyne in 2008-09. The composer wrote: Within Her Arms is music for my mother, with all my love. London born Anna Clyne is a composer of acoustic and electro-acoustic music, combining resonant soundscapes with propelling textures that weave, morph and collide in dramatic explosions.

Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 12 in A major, K414 is the first of a set of three rather modest concertos for piano that Mozart began writing in 1782 and performed in his Lenten concerts of 1783. Mozart declared that he could be sure that all three would be a happy medium between what is too easy and too difficult.

Nicholas Maw Little Concert For oboe accompanied by strings and two horns is a kind of concert aria for oboe, was completed in 1988. It was written to celebrate the twenty first anniversary of the Orchestra of St. John’s, and as a tribute to the playing of Melinda Maxwell. The musical language employed represents an intermittent preoccupation of mine to write a piece somewhat light in specific gravity and tone, but that does not really fall into the category of light music.

Haydn composed his Symphony No. 60 in 1774 which is sometimes given the nickname Il Distratto or The Distracted. The symphony makes use of music Haydn wrote for a play, Le Distrait, by Jean-François Regnard, given a German revival in 1774 by Karl Wahr under the German title Der Zerstreute. Symphony No. 60 contains the overture, four entr'actes and finale from the music composed for the five-act play.

This was a fantastic night of Classical Music at Norwich Theatre Royal which was greatly enjoyed by the enthusiastic audience. Britten Sinfonia were on top form for their opening concert of the season. My highlight of the evening was Stravinsky's Three pieces for String Quartet.

Friday 18 October 2013

Rambert at Norwich Theatre Royal

On the evening of Thursday 17th October 2013 I saw Rambert at Norwich Theatre Royal. They are the most distinctive and creative contemporary dance company working in Great Britain today.

Rambert, a powerhouse of dance since 1926, presented a spectacular evening of entertainment featuring terrific dancers, wonderful costumes and great live music from the Rambert Orchestra conducted by Paul Hoskins. The programme consisted of SUB, Dutiful Ducks, Sounddance and The Castaways.

Following the critically acclaimed and multi-award nominated A Linha Curva, Israeli choreographer Itzik Galili returned with his high energy work, SUB, a battlefield of relentlessly sparring testosterone. SUB is performed by seven men responding with full force to the rhythmic complexity of Michael Gordon's Weather One.

Using Charles Amirkhanian's tongue-twisting sound-text of the same name as a starting point, Richard Alston's short solo for a male dancer, first created for Michael Clark in 1982, is sharp and witty. Dutiful Ducks premièred as a solo in 1982. It premièred for four dancers by Ballet Rambert at Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury on 10 October 1986.

Made in 1975 by the late master of contemporary dance, Merce Cunningham, this ecstatic opus was inspired by the words of writer James Joyce and the tiny racing life seen under a microscope. Sounddance made its UK revival première at Sadler's Wells, London on Tuesday 16 October 2012. Sounddance was last performed in London July 1980.

American-born Barak Marshall, has presented work across the world but rarely in the UK. Arresting, original and fevered in style, Barak made his Rambert debut this October with The Castaways. Set to a vibrant mix of traditional Yiddish music and American popular tunes from the 1950s, Barak Marshall's The Castaways is a humorous and playful exploration of human nature. Celebrated for his inventive choreography and witty theatricality, Barak has a truly unique style, the way he brings together popular music, inventive dance and enthralling story lines which makes for an unmissable spectacle.

This was a fantastic night of Contemporary Dance at Norwich Theatre Royal with Rambert performing four wonderful works. The Castaways was my favourite piece which followed the journey of twelve souls trapped in a kind of no-man's land.

Friday 11 October 2013

Ghostpoet at Norwich Arts Centre

On the evening of Thursday 10th October 2013 I attended the Ghostpoet gig at Norwich Arts Centre with support from No Ceremony and Sullivan and Gold. This gig was part of Norwich Sound and Vision Festival. I love both of Ghostpoet's albums, Peanut Butter Blues and Melancholy Jam and Some Say I So I Say Light and was greatly looking forward to seeing him live.

Sullivan and Gold is the pen name of Adam Montgomery and Ben Robinson who both hail from Co. Derry, Northern Ireland. Their sound is an evocative mix of Laurel Canyon soul and British alt-indie. Bold, atmospheric and emotive songs. Sullivan and Gold release their new album on Smalltown America, For Foes in the UK and Ireland on 4th November 2013.

No Ceremony are an Electronic three piece from Manchester. The band announced their arrival onto the musical landscape, with their track Hurt Love. 2012 saw the release of further songs which were all included on their summer 2013 debut album No Ceremony.

Ghostpoet is a singer and producer from Coventry. In June 2010, Ghostpoet released his first EP The Sound Of Strangers on Brownswood Recordings. He released his debut album Peanut Butter Blues and Melancholy Jam in February 2011. Ghostpoet's second album Some Say I So I Say Light was released in May 2013. Ghostpoet reminds me of Tricky with his mixture of Hip Hop and Electronica.

Ghostpoet was brilliant on the night but due to the late running of the show he had to cut his set short at Midnight. He told us he wanted to come back to the Norwich Arts Centre next year. No Ceremony and Sullivan and Gold were great as support on a night when Ghostpoet gave us a night to remember with his fantastic music.

Thursday 10 October 2013

Northern Ballet's A Christmas Carol at Norwich Theatre Royal

On the evening of Wednesday 9th October 2013 I attended the Northern Ballet's performance of A Christmas Carol at Norwich Theatre Royal. Christmas arrived early this year as Northern Ballet's heart-warming and hugely popular adaptation of Charles Dickens' classic tale returned to the stage.

Colourful sets and costumes by Olivier Award winning Lez Brotherston (Northern Ballet's Romeo and Juliet, Matthew Bourne's Sleeping Beauty, Swan Lake, Edward Scissorhands) conjured up a traditional Victorian Christmas, while Carl Davis' festive score blended classical music with traditional Christmas Carols, played live by Northern Ballet Sinfonia. A Christmas Carol has been an audience favourite for over 20 years and was a guarantee to get the festive season off to a magical start.

This adaptation of Charles Dickens' classic tale brought the magic of Christmas to Norwich Theatre Royal featuring three terrifying ghosts. There were fantastic performances from Sebastian Loe as Scrooge, Pippa Moore as Ghost of Christmas Past, Isaac Lee-Baker as Ghost of Christmas Present, Joseph Taylor as Ghost of Christmas Future and Jessica Morgan as Mrs Cratchit.

I will live in the Past, the Present and the Future!’ Scrooge repeated, as he scrambled out of bed. He was so fluttered and so glowing with his good intentions … the shadows of the things that would have been, may be dispelled. They will be. I know they will! This was such a magical evening to be in attendance at Norwich Theatre Royal as Northern Ballet put us in a festive mood. God Bless Us, Every One.

Sunday 6 October 2013

Don Quixote at The Royal Opera House

On Saturday 5th October 2013 I attended The Royal Ballet's matinee performance of Don Quixote at The Royal Opera House. I caught a early train from Norwich to London eagerly looking forward to this fantastic event.

Carlos Acosta presented his first work for The Royal Ballet, a dance adaptation of the classic novel by Miguel de Cervantes. Acosta has already established himself as an exciting choreographic talent with Tocororo – A Cuban Tale, a semi-autobiographical work that draws on his childhood in Cuba and broke box office records at Sadler’s Wells Theatre in 2003.

The adventures of the bumbling knight Don Quixote and his ever-faithful squire Sancho Panza have been the inspiration for countless ballets, of which one of the most well-loved is the version by 19th-century Russian choreographer Marius Petipa. Acosta has danced the virtuoso role of Basilio many times, and now brings his unique and vibrant vision to the story, drawing on Petipa and with music by Ludwig Minkus, full of Spanish flair and atmosphere. Don Quixote, with its famously bravura Act III pas de deux and its infectious joie de vivre makes for a wonderfully entertaining experience.

There were fantastic performances from William Tuckett as Don Quixote, Roberta Marquez as Kitri, Alexander Campbell as Basilio and Laura Morera as Mercedes as The Royal Ballet brought this colourful Spanish novel to the stage. Don Quixote was a ballet full of emotions and amazing dancing. The costumes were sensational as this new production of this exuberant tale of friendship, love and loyalty gave us an afternoon to remember.

Wednesday 2 October 2013

Rationale's In My Shoes at Norwich Playhouse

On the evening of Tuesday 1st October 2013 I attended Rationale's performance of In My Shoes at Norwich Playhouse. Through exhilarating and witty choreography, Rationale are set upon bringing hip-hop theatre into the community, inspiring its audiences, and bridging the gap between old and young. Rationale promises to transform the four walls of a theatre into an exciting melting pot full of passion, energy and street dance.

The Rationale mission statement is to produce high quality theatre productions that are accessible to all, both nationally and internationally. To push the boundary of hip hop theatre through innovative, unique and inspiring practices both on a professional and community level. In My Shoes centres on the troublesome relationship between a father and son. In a desperate attempt to confront their problems, they attend an extreme therapy session where they finally begin to understand how it feels to be in another person's shoes.

Rationale put on a performance which combined slick theatre and highly skilled, exhilarating dance. This was a story portraying life's challenges which got the Norwich Playhouse audience hand clapping combined with lots of laughter. This Was a fantastic night's entertainment at Norwich Playhouse.

Tuesday 1 October 2013

Hairspray at Norwich Theatre Royal

On the evening of Wednesday 25th September 2013 I attended the performance of Hairspray at Norwich Theatre Royal. This is the big hit musical with big hair and a big heart. A show to enjoy and be happy.

Hairspray tells the story of Tracy Turnblad, a big girl with big hair and an even bigger heart as she sets out to follow her extraordinary dreams, inspire her mum and win the boy she loves. This ultimate feel good show is packed with uplifting songs, breathtaking choreography, 60's inspired costumes and the most incredible array of wigs you will ever see.

There were fantastic performances from Mark Benton, Lucy Benjamin, Marcus Collins and Freya Sutton who starred as big hearted, big haired teen heroine Tracy Turnblad. Good morning Baltimore. Every day's like an open door, every night is a fantasy, every sound's like a symphony. Good morning Baltimore and some day when I take to the floor the world's gonna wake up and see Baltimore and me.

This was a fantastic night at Norwich Theatre Royal as we were taken to Baltimore in the 60's and given a brilliant feel good show that put lots of smiles on faces at a packed Norwich Theatre Royal. Hairspray is the most happy, funny, sunny show in town.

Monday 30 September 2013

King Henry's Band at Cromer Parish Church

On the evening of Saturday 14th September 2013 I attended the King Henry's Band concert at Cromer Parish Church which featured Robert FitzGerald and his absent friends playing in aid of the Cromer Bell Project. King Henry's Band is a Medieval One Man Band which uses a multi-layered backing ensemble of many early instruments, each played and painstakingly pre-recorded by Mr FitzGerald. He then accompanies, live, on anything up to 15 instruments during a performance.

We were treated to some delicious melodies from Tielman Susato's Danserye of 1551 and then the music of some 16th Century songs in the latest Paris fashion including Je ne scaroys chanter a French song by the Flemish musician Adriaen Willaert. Before the interval there were some medieval pieces, introducing more strange instruments.

Act Two began with some Elizabethan and slightly later period favourites including The Frog Galliarde and Dances from Terpsichore. King Henry's Band returned to Medieval times playing Ductia 14 a catchy 13th Century French piece featuring the rauschpfeife with kortholt and srtring drum. The evening concluded with a cheerful 16th Century pot pourri finishing with The Moor's Dance.

This was a wonderful event at Cromer Parish Church which raised funds for the Cromer Bell Project and was greatly enjoyed by the enthusiastic audience in attendance on the North Norfolk coast. King Henry's Band put on a fantastic performance which was fun and delightful.

Sunday 29 September 2013

Oliver Waterer Organ Recital at Norwich Cathedral

On Thursday 12th September 2013 I attended the Oliver Waterer Big Screen Lunchtime Organ Recital at Norwich Cathedral. Oliver has recently been appointed Organist and Master of the Choristers at St. David's Cathedral, Pembrokeshire, Wales. He is also Artistic Director of the renowned St. David's Festival.

The programme consisted of Hymne d'actions de grace - Langlais, Rhosymedre (or Lovely) - Vaughan Williams, Fuga sopra il Magnificat BWV 733 - Bach, Postlude pour l'office de complies - Alain, Toccata (Douze Pieces No. 3) - Dubois and Elergy (for April 7th 2013) March from the Birds of Aristophanes arr. Walter Alcock - Parry.

Oliver Waterer played a wonderful programme of organ music at Norwich Cathedral to the delight of the lunchtime audience. He has recently moved from Chelmsford Cathedral to Pembrokeshire and therefore we were very pleased that he was still able to keep this performance in his diary. My favourite piece was the March from the Birds of Aristophanes.

Robert Munns Organ Recital at Norwich Cathedral

On Monday 26th August 2013 I attended the Robert Munns Bank Holiday Organ Recital at Norwich Cathedral. The international concert organist performed a varied programme of contemporary organ music.

The programme consisted Suite de Premier Ton - Bedard, Varmeland the Beautiful - Cundick, Variations on a Norwegian Folk Tune - Slogedal, Two Choral Preludes - Bach, Variations on There is a Happy Land - Shearing, Paven and Alman - Jacques, A Pensive Ground - Steele, Dainty Dance - Self, Soliloquy - Hanson and  From Usbekistan, Toccata - Mushel.

Robert Munns is a former scholarship holder at the Royal Academy of Music and has had an extensive career as a concert organist, conductor and church musician. His many overseas tours have included performances, master classes and broadcasts on five continents that have attracted great acclaim. For many years he was organist to the Royal Philharmonic and has appeared as guest soloist with the London Philharmonic and BBC Scottish Orchestras.

This was a wonderful Organ Recital performed by Robert Munns which included lots of brilliant and interesting contemporary organ music. I enjoyed Robert Cundick's Varmeland the Beautiful where the spirit of this Swedish folk song is succinctly captured by the composer. Bjarne Slogedal's Variations on a Norwegian Folk Tune was used as a call signal by the Resistance during World War II.

Pavilion Brass Quintet at Eaton Park

On the afternoon of Sunday 25th August 2013 I attended the Pavilion Brass Quintet Bandstand Concert at Eaton Park, Norwich. This was the last concert in the Summer 2013 Bandstand Concert Series organised by Norwich City Council and Brian Dermott on every Sunday from June to August in various Norwich parks.

The Pavilion Brass Quintet gave us a wonderful afternoon of splendid music in Eaton Park. From Puppet on a String to Eleanor Rigby there was a Sixties sound in the air. Singin' in the Rain and Amazing Grace were performed brilliantly.

This was a great concert to finish this season's Bandstand Concert Series which have given lots of pleasure to many people in Norwich during the Summer. Thanks to Norwich City Council and Brian Dermott for organising these events.

Saturday 28 September 2013

The Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra at the BBC Proms

On the evening of Friday 23rd August 2013 I attended Prom 55 of the BBC Proms at the Royal Albert Hall in London featuring the Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Antoni Wit and pianist Alexander Melnikov. This was the Proms debut of the Warsaw Philharmonic under Antoni Wit in his final concert as the orchestra's Artistic Director.

The programme consisted of Concerto for Orchestra - Lutoslawski, Piano Concerto No. 2 in F major - Shostakovich, Tragic Overture - Panufnik, Lullaby - Panufnik and Symphony No. 6 in B minor - Shostakovich. These are landmark pieces by two of Poland's 20th-century greats along with a pair of works by Shostakovich.

Lutoslawski began the Concerto for Orchestra in 1950 as a request from the conductor Witold Rowicki for a new work for the Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra. The piece combines Polish folk styles with more modern compositional procedures. Rowicki directed the premiere in Warsaw on 26th November 1954.

Shostakovich's Piano Concerto No. 2 was composed in 1956-7 for his teenage son Maxim who premiered the work in Moscow on 10th May 1957. This was immediately before Shostakovich began work on his 11th Symphony and can be seen as a light hearted relaxation before that massive undertaking.

Tragic Overture was composed by Panufnik in 1942 and was a brutal, overtly violent piece which was a non-verbal protest against the occupying forces. Panufnik composed Lullaby in London in 1947 and is a rare combination of beauty and innovation.

Shostakovich's Symphony No. 6 was composed in 1939 and first performed in Leningrad on 21st November 1939 by the Leningrad Philharmonic Orchestra under Yevgeny Mravinsky. Shostakovich said that the musical character of the Sixth Symphony was different from the mood and emotional tone of the Fifth Symphony, in which moments of tragedy and tension were characteristic. In the Sixth Symphony he wanted to convey the moods of spring, joy and youth.

This was a wonderful evening at the Royal Albert Hall as the Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Antoni Wit gave us a brilliant performance of some very emotional pieces of music from Eastern Europe. There were some very dark sounds which set the mood for the performance. This was the perfect way for Antoni Wit to finish his twelve years as the Orchestra's Artistic Director.

Sunday 22 September 2013

Vermeer and Music

On the afternoon of Friday 23rd August 2013 I visited the Vermeer and Music: The Art of Love and Leisure Exhibition at The National Gallery in London which featured the Academy of Ancient Music as Resident Ensemble. This exhibition explored the musical pastimes of the 17th-century Netherlands combining the art of Vermeer and his contemporaries with rare musical instruments, songbooks and live music.

For the first time the National Gallery’s two paintings by Vermeer, A Young Woman standing at a Virginal and A Young Woman seated at a Virginal were brought together with Vermeer’s Guitar Player. There were technical explanations of the paintings along with a recital from the Academy of Ancient Music. It was fantastic to hear the music from the period being played live being surrounded by these amazing paintings. In the 17th-century music was in the moment but with paintings like the Guitar Player the music can live forever.

Monday 16 September 2013

BBCSO and Lisa Batiashvili at the BBC Proms

On the evening of Wednesday 21st August 2013 I attended Prom 52 of the BBC Proms at the Royal Albert Hall in London which featured the BBC Symphony Orchestra conducted by Sakari Oramo and violinist Lisa Batiashvili. The BBC Symphony Orchestra were making their second appearance with its new Chief Conductor Sakari Oramo.

There was a geographically wide ranging programme consisting of Cave of Luminous Mind - Param Vir, Violin Concerto in D minor - Sibelius, Celtic Symphony - Bantock and Enigma Variations - Elgar.

This was the world premiere of the BBC commission Cave of Luminous Mind by Param Vir, who turned to Tibetan Buddhism for inspiration and specifically to the remarkable life of the 11th century sage Milarepa. This was the composer's musical response to Milarepa's meditational journey towards enlightenment. The piece was dedicated to the late Jonathan Harvey.

Sibelius composed his Violin Concerto in 1903 with a revised version being published in 1905. Sibelius began his musical career with high hopes of becoming a concert violinist. When destiny forged another path for him, then he expressed his relationship with his instrument through this, his only concerto, a work that combines intense virtuosity with profound depths of expression.

Bantock's Celtic Symphony is his homage to the Hebrides, an area he greatly loved. This piece was composed in 1940 for string orchestra and harps. The world of Celtic myth and legend was one of the several locales that appealed to Bantock for musical inspiration.

The first performance of Elgar's Enigma Variations took place in 1899. It was Elgar's most ambitious orchestra works to date and helped establish him as a composer of international importance. Elgar turned to his friends for inspiration for his Enigma Variations offering personal yet sharply etched characterisations in the work that made his name.

This was a fantastic evening at the Royal Albert Hall with the BBC Symphony Orchestra conducted by Sakari Oramo providing us with a wonderful and interesting programme of music. The Georgian violinist Lisa Batiashvili performed an outstanding Sibelius Violin Concerto which is a piece that she has made an acclaimed recording with Sakari Oramo. There was a brilliant atmosphere which made this a special night at the BBC Proms.

Wednesday 11 September 2013

Norwich City Concert Band at Chapelfield Gardens

On the afternoon of Sunday 18th August 2013 I attended the Norwich City Concert Band Bandstand Concert at Chapelfield Gardens, Norwich. This was in the series of concerts organised by Norwich City Council and Brian Dermott on every Sunday from June to August in various Norwich parks. The Lord Mayor of Norwich was in attendance to present Brian Dermott who was conducting the Norwich City Concert Band with a certificate to celebrate fifteen years of organising the Norwich Parks Bandstand Concerts.

Norwich City Concert Band (NCCB) was the brain-child of Bill Moore (an ex-military musician) who after discovering that Norwich had its own Municipal Military Band earlier in the twentieth century set about forming a band, together with players of an ensemble called “Enigma”. In March 1997, after many years of playing with friends in “The Enigma Ensemble”, Bill and four members of the ensemble, (Nicola Ingham, Louise Ladiman, Sue Wensley and Ann Wilson), decided to turn Bill’s vision into a reality. Thanks to the financial support from the Norwich City Council and Arts 4 All, auditions were held in August 1997.

The band held it’s first rehearsal in October 1997. This took place at Bignold First and Middle School, on Wessex Street, in Norwich. Peter Smith was appointed as the Director of Music. The band’s first year was successful with a debut concert on the 22nd March 1998 in Blackfriars Hall, Norwich. The band performed an open air concert as part of the Lord Mayor’s Celebrations in June 1998.

The Norwich City Concert Band opened the concert with the Gladiators Entrance and then entertained us with music from Les Miserables. They also performed the Dam Busters March and a medley of The Beatles hits. They finished the concert with Handel's Royal Fireworks Suites 1 and 4. This was a wonderful afternoon in Chapelfield Gardens full of fantastic music and beautiful sunshine.

Wednesday 4 September 2013

Julian Thomas Organ Recital at Norwich Cathedral

On Thursday 15th August 2013 I attended the Julian Thomas Lunchtime Organ Recital at Norwich Cathedral. This was the regular monthly Organ Recital that Norwich Cathedral provide for the people of Norwich and visitors to the Fine City.

The programme consisted of Fantasia and Fugue in G - Parry, Mozart Changes - Gardonyi, Cantilene and Dialoque sur les mixtures from Suite Breve - Langlais, Fugue in G a la Gigue BWV 577 - Bach and Marche Heroique - Brewer.

Julian Thomas began his musical training as a chorister at Salisbury Cathedral and then as a music and academic scholar at Charterhouse, before going to Cambridge as Organ Scholar at Jesus College. He was Second Assistant Organist at Lincoln Cathedral before becoming Assistant Organist and Director of the Girls' Choir at Norwich Cathedral from 2001 to 2007. He moved to Tonbridge School in September 2007 to take up the post of Organist and Choirmaster.

This was a wonderful Organ Recital at Norwich Cathedral which was greatly enjoyed by the enthusiastic audience. There is no better way to spend a lunch break then to listen to a programme of fantastic organ music. Julian Thomas seemed to enjoy his return to Norwich Cathedral where he performed brilliantly on the Cathedral's organ and provided us with some amazing music.

Saturday 31 August 2013

Taverham Band at Eaton Park

On the afternoon of Sunday 11th August 2013 I attended the Taverham Band Bandstand Concert at Eaton Park, Norwich. This was the latest Bandstand Concert in the series organised by Norwich City Council and Brian Dermott on every Sunday from June to August in various Norwich parks.

The Taverham Band was formed in November 1974 by a small group of villagers who were keen to start a brass band. With donations of monies and loans by founder members, the Band was able to purchase a set of instruments, from the folded Stibbard Band, to start its playing history.

This was a fun and entertaining afternoon on Eaton Park as the Taverham Band gave us a wonderful performance of fantastic music. Some of the highlights were Procol Harum's Whiter Shade of Pale, Max Bygraves's Tulips from Amsterdam, The Monkees Daydream Believer and Baggy Trousers by Madness. The conductor had the audience dancing along to Is This the Way to Amarillo while doing a couple of circuits of the bandstand.  

Friday 30 August 2013

New Electric Ballroom at the Maddermarket Theatre

On the afternoon of Saturday 3rd August 2013 I attended the matinee performance of Enda Walsh's New Electric Ballroom at the Maddermarket Theatre, Norwich. The Norwich Players cast for this performance was Ada - Kate Cox, Clara - Dot Binns, Breda - Etta Geras and Patsy - Dean Bramwell. The director of this play which won the Fringe First Award at the Edinburgh Festival was Adina Levay.

The New Electric Ballroom is a tale about three sisters, who live in an isolated Irish fishing village. Clara and Breda never leave the house, Ada, the youngest sister is the only one with any semblance of ties to the outside world. Each day Clara and Breda re-enact a life changing event of a heartbreak from their youth.

The two put on the show complete with costumes, atmospheric lighting and sound effects for the never been kissed Ada partly for entertainment, but also as a cautionary tale. Ada is imprisoned by the spell of words cast by her mad sisters.

Their daily routine is interrupted by Patsy, a lonely fishmonger whose seafood deliveries are as predictable as the tides. Breda invites Patsy in to become part of their bizarre ritual and perhaps to rescue Ada. This is the story of three sisters that have created their own world, who talk to avoid truly living.

This was a moving and entertaining play with brilliant writing from Enda Walsh. New Electric Ballroom is full of amazing characters and lots of situations that brought laughter to the Maddermarket Theatre. I found the play very interesting and enjoyable.

Wednesday 28 August 2013

Dereham Band at Eaton Park

On the afternoon of Sunday 28th July 2013 I attended the Dereham Band Bandstand Concert in Eaton Park, Norwich. This concert was in the series of concerts being organised by Norwich City Council and Brian Dermott on every Sunday from June to August in various Norwich parks.

The Dereham Band was founded in 1931. They are a Norfolk based band playing music for the people of Dereham and the surrounding areas. These days the main musical efforts are centred on their extensive concert engagement diary. Two larger scale concerts are held at Christmas and in the spring for the benefit of band funds.

Those magnificent men in their flying machines, they go up tiddly up up, they go down tiddly down down echoed around Eaton Park on a wonderful sunny Sunday afternoon. We were entertained with Love Conquers Everything and Hey Jude as The Dereham Band had fun on the bandstand.

This was a very enjoyable afternoon in Eaton Park with the Dereham Band sending out their congratulations across the park. There was lots of fantastic music to keep our feet tapping and which greatly entertained the enthusiastic audience.

Tuesday 27 August 2013

Evita at Norwich Theatre Royal

On the afternoon of Saturday 27th July 2013 I attended the matinee performance of Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber's Evita at Norwich Theatre Royal. Bringing to life the dynamic, larger than life persona of Eva Peron, wife of former Argentine dictator Juan Peron, Evita tells the story from her young and ambitious beginnings to the enormous wealth and power she gained and her ultimate rise to sainthood.

This fantastic performance of Evita starred Marti Pellow as Che, Madalena Alberto as Eva and Mark Heenehan as Peron. We were treated to all the musical numbers including Oh What a Circus, Another Suitcase in Another Hall and Don't Cry For Me Argentina. Evita has more than twenty major awards to its credit and was always going to be one of the highlights of the year at Norwich Theatre Royal.

In a cinema in Buenos Aires in 1952, the film is interrupted by a news announcement: Eva Peron, the thirty-three-year-old wife of Argentina’s President Juan Peron, has died. In flashback, we see scenes from Eva’s extraordinary life. Born Eva Duarte, the youngest of five children of a single mother, she escapes her origins in the small town of Junín and heads for the bright lights of Buenos Aires, where she works  her way to a career as a radio actress and film starlet before becoming first the mistress and then the wife of Juan Peron, soon to be president of Argentina.

Adored by the common people, who affectionately call her Evita - Little Eva, she is regarded with suspicion by the military and social elite. Sceptical too is the figure of Che, who acts as a narrator and commentator throughout this remarkable story of a woman who rose to become the spiritual leader of her nation.

This was a brilliant afternoon to be at Norwich Theatre Royal as the story of Evita took us on an emotional journey full of passion and style. The drama and music of Evita are very compelling and intense. This was a show to remember that thrilled a full Norwich Theatre Royal and received loud applause at the end of the performance.

Sunday 25 August 2013

BBC National Orchestra of Wales at the BBC Proms

On the evening of Wednesday 24th July 2013 I attended Prom 16 of the BBC Proms at the Royal Albert Hall in London. This performance from the BBC National Orchestra of Wales conducted by Jac van Steen with cellist Raphael Wallfisch was a programme of music from three British composers and the first in this season's Tchaikovsky symphony cycle.

The programme consisted of Falstaff - Elgar, Sapphic Poem - Bantock, Henry V - Touch her soft lips and part; Death of Falstaff - Walton and Symphony No. 4 in F minor - Tchaikovsky.

Elgar's Falstaff was premiered in 1913 which the composer called a symphonic study because it was a portrait not just of Falstaff, but of Shakespeare and all human life. Falstaff is a character from Henry IV Parts 1 and 2 who was a thoroughly bad, if sometimes lovable influence on the future Henry V, who disowns his ancient friend when he succeeds to the throne.

The Sapphic Poem was composed by Bantock in 1906. The version for cello and orchestra was published in 1909. It is closely associated with Bantock's Sappho, a vocal cycle setting fragments from the 7th century BC poetess of Lesbos, in translations by Bantock's wife Helena. This was the Proms premiere of the Sapphic Poem.

Touch her soft lips and part and The Death of Falstaff are from the 1944 film Henry V, for which William Walton composed the music in close collaboration with the film's director and star Laurence Olivier. Touch her soft lips and part is a romantic piece where Pistol bids farewell to his new wife before setting off for France. The Death of Falstaff is a series of variations founded on the Elizabethan drinking song Watkyn's Ale from the Fitzwilliam Virginal Book.

Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 4 was written between 1877 and 1878 and was considered by the composer as a reflection of his emotional strife. Tchaikovsky referred to the symphony's opening fanfare as fate, the force of destiny. During the composition of the Fourth Symphony Tchaikovsky started to benefit from the regular allowance sent to him by the wealthy, eccentric widow Nadezhda von Meck. The Fourth Symphony is dedicated to her.

The BBC National Orchestra of Wales conducted by Jac van Steen performed a wonderful programme of music with the highlight being Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 4.  Raphael Wallfisch who celebrates his 60th birthday this year gave an intimate performance of Bantock's Sapphic Poem. There was also an encore of Bantock's Hamabdil. This was a fantastic Prom at the Royal Albert Hall which I greatly enjoyed.

Thursday 22 August 2013

Norwich Go Go Gorillas Art Trail

On Monday 22nd July 2013 I completed the Norwich Go Go Gorillas Art Trail seeing 53 amazing gorillas all in one day. For 11 weeks the Gorilla sculptures are proudly showcasing the creativity of Norwich as well as highlighting the plight of one of the world's most endangered species.

Each gorilla has been decorated in a variety of colourful and exciting artwork; produced by professional artists, schools and community groups. At the end of the event the gorillas will be auctioned off to raise funds for Break charity which actively changes young lives across East Anglia and the Born Free Foundation that helps thousands of animals worldwide every year.

The gorillas have been positioned at some of the most wonderful venues and sites in the Fine City of Norwich helping to show its great heritage and history. I started the trail at the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist where I said hello to Horatio while Norvic and Juno are spending the summer in Cathedral Close outside Norwich Cathedral. If you look up at Norwich Castle Museum you can see Yo'man standing guard while Optimus Primate looks down on Castle Meadow.

The Importance of Being Earnest and Batgrill are two of the great characters of the Go Go Gorilla Art Trail and have both been known to party at night when all the citizens of Norwich are asleep. The most difficult gorilla to find was Bling Kong who I eventually found at Gilders Way after searching along the river. Freddie Radio Go Go Gorilla has happily returned to his home on Millennium Plain entertaining us with a number of Queen hits.

The Go Go Gorillas Art Trail has proved to be a great success in Norwich over the summer giving pleasure to thousands of people. It has added lots of colour to the city as well as highlighting local artistic talent. I had a brilliant time finding all the gorillas on my journey around the art trail. Well done to everyone involved in bringing the Go Go Gorillas to Norwich and I'm sure that lots of money will be raised for charity at the end of the event.

Sunday 18 August 2013

Viva Verdi at the BBC Proms

On the evening of Saturday 20th July 2013 I attended the BBC Proms at the Royal Albert Hall in London. Prom 12 featured the Orchestra and Chorus of the Academy of Santa Cecilia, Rome conducted by Sir Antonio Pappano and soprano Maria Agresta. Viva Verdi! was an all Verdi programme in his bicentenary year.

The programme consisted of String Quartet (version for string orchestra) - Verdi arr. C Hermann, Ave Maria (1880) - Verdi, Requiem - Libera me (original version) - Verdi and Four Sacred Pieces - Verdi.

Verdi's String Quartet was written in the spring of 1873 during a production of Aida in Naples. It is the only surviving chamber music work in Verdi's catalogue. The Orchestra performed the Carl Hermann arrangement for a string orchestra.

Ave Maria was composed by Verdi in 1880 for a benefit concert at La Scala, Milan. The Ave Maria for soprano and strings uses the Italian text attributed to Dante, rather than the Latin words of the Catholic liturgy. When Rossini died in 1868, Verdi suggested that a number of Italian composers should collaborate on a Requiem in Rossini's honour, and began the effort by submitting the conclusion, Libera me. The complete Messa per Rossini remained unheard until its performance and recording in Stuttgart in 1988.

Verdi’s Four Sacred Pieces were premiered as three Sacred Pieces in 1898 in Paris. Verdi dropped the Ave Maria from the performance. The Ave Maria was performed as part of the set later that year in Vienna. The Four Sacred Pieces are Verdi looking toward the afterlife through the sacred texts of the Catholic Church.

It was fantastic to be back at the BBC Proms at the Royal Albert Hall. The Orchestra of the Academy of Santa Cecilia and Sir Antonio Pappano performed a wonderful bicentenary celebration of Verdi with whose music they are particularly closely associated. Maria Agresta sang beautiful versions of The Ave Maria and Libera Me. The highlight of the evening was the performance of the Four Sacred Pieces which was full of dramatic music.

Saturday 17 August 2013

Tosca at the Royal Opera House

On Saturday 20th July 2013 I attended the matinee performance of Puccini's Tosca at the Royal Opera House. Jonathan Kent’s production of Tosca performed by The Royal Opera is full of drama, passion and fabulous music. There was a great atmosphere at the Royal Opera House on this beautiful Summer's afternoon in London's Covent Garden.

Tosca is an opera in three acts by Giacomo Puccini to an Italian libretto by Luigi Illica and Giuseppe Giacosa. It premiered at the Teatro Costanzi in Rome on 14 January 1900. The work, based on Victorien Sardou's 1887 French-language dramatic play, La Tosca, is a melodramatic piece set in Rome in June 1800, with the Kingdom of Naples's control of Rome threatened by Napoleon's invasion of Italy. It contains depictions of torture, murder and suicide, yet also includes some of Puccini's best-known lyrical arias, and has inspired memorable performances from many of opera's leading singers.

Tosca tells the story of the love between the famous opera singer Floria Tosca and the painter and political activist Mario Cavaradossi. Cavaradossi sends the political escapee and former Roman Consul-General, Cesare Angelotti, to hide down the well in his garden. The evil Baron Scarpia is determined to have Tosca for himself, and invites her to supper in order to discover the whereabouts of Angelotti. He orders the torture of Cavaradossi in her earshot. Unable to bear his screams of pain, Tosca willingly gives up the information – but not before she has persuaded Scarpia to allow her and her lover to escape from Rome.

He insists that to satisfy the authorities, Cavaradossi must undergo a mock execution, and arranges this with one of his henchmen, Spoletta. He then provides Tosca with a note of safe-conduct for her and her lover. As Scarpia attempts to ravish Tosca, she stabs him. Before his body is discovered, she rushes to the prison in the Castel Sant'Angelo to tell Cavaradossi that he has to face the firing squad, that the muskets will contain blanks, and he will have to act his death. But Scarpia has tricked Tosca - the bullets are real. As Cavaradossi lies dead and Scarpia's henchmen approach, Tosca is left with no alternative and takes her own life.

There were brilliant performances from Martina Serafin as Floria Tosca, Aleksandrs Antonenko as Mario Cavaradossi and Scott Hendricks as Baron Scarpia as well as amazing music from The Orchestra of The Royal Opera House conducted by Daniel Oren. This was an emotional afternoon at the Royal Opera House which was greatly enjoyed by an enthusiastic audience. Tosca is one of the great Operas and the Royal Opera House is the perfect venue to experience Puccini's masterpiece.

Tuesday 13 August 2013

Norwich Accordion Band in Chapelfield Gardens

On Sunday 14th July 2013 I attended the Norwich Accordion Band Bandstand Concert on Norwich Chapelfield Gardens which was part of the series of concerts that were organised by Norwich City Council and Brian Dermott in various Norwich parks on every Sunday from June to August.

The Norwich Accordion Club consists of about 30 members playing in two groups 'The Band' and 'The Troshers'. They all enjoy playing the instrument, entertaining and taking part in festivals. The Club was started in 1970 and celebrated its 40th Anniversary in 2010.

From the theme to Titanic to Mit Harmonika Gruss, the Norwich Accordion Band were given a warm welcome in Chapelfield Gardens and played a wonderful programme of music. This proved to be a enjoyable and relaxing afternoon at the latest Bandstand Concert.

Monday 12 August 2013

Birdsong at Norwich Theatre Royal

On Saturday 13th July 2013 I attended the matinee performance of Sebastian Faulks's Birdsong at Norwich Theatre Royal. This stage version by Rachel Wagstaff brings the bestselling novel to the theatre which tells a mesmerising story of love, courage and sacrifice set both before and during the Great War.

In pre-war France, Stephen Wraysford embarks on a passionate and dangerous affair with the beautiful Isabelle Azaire that turns their world upside down. As the war breaks out, Stephen must lead his men through the carnage of the Battle of the Somme, and through the sprawling tunnels that lie deep underground. Faced with the unprecedented horror of the war, Stephen clings to the memory of Isabelle as his world explodes around him.

There were fantastic performances from Jonathan Smith as Stephen Wraysford and Sarah Jayne Dunn as Isabelle Azaire at Norwich Theatre Royal as we were taken on an emotional journey. This was a moving and imaginative production that shown an insight to the sufferings and sacrifices made during the Great War. This was drama at its best at Norwich Theatre Royal.

Saturday 10 August 2013

Tom Etheridge Organ Recital at Norwich Cathedral

On Thursday 11th July 2013 I attended the Tom Etheridge Big Screen Lunchtime Organ Recital at Norwich Cathedral. There was a wonderful varied programme of organ music at this popular monthly event.

The programme consisted of Carillon from 24 Pieces en Style Libre Op.31 - Vierne, Deuxieme Fantaisie - Alain, Canonic Variations on Vom Himmel hoch BWV 769a - Bach, Hornpipe Humouresque - Rawsthorne, Chorale Prelude and Fugue on O Traurigkeit, O Herzeleid - Brahms and Dankpsalm Op.145 No.2 - Reger.

Tom Etheridge is the current Organ Scholar at Gloucester Cathedral where he accompanies and conducts the Cathedral and Youth Choirs. Tom began learning the organ at King's College School, Cambridge, where he was a Chorister in the College Choir, before going on to Eton College as a music and academic scholar.

This was a fantastic lunchtime at Norwich Cathedral with Tom Etheridge performed a wonderful Organ Recital which featured work by Vierne, Brahms, Alain and Bach. Noel Rawsthorne's Hornpipe Humouresque put smiles on all our faces.

Wednesday 7 August 2013

A Midsummer Night's Dream at The Whiffler Theatre

On the afternoon of Sunday 7th July 2013 I attended the Chapterhouse Theatre Company's performance of William Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream at the Whiffler Theatre at Norwich Castle Gardens. This event was part of the Lord Mayor's Celebration which was taking place in Norwich throughout the weekend.

Chapterhouse Theatre Company is a professional touring theatre company, bringing its wide range of experience to venues across Britain. The company prides itself on fully accessible, traditional, but innovative productions. They are in their twelfth season of productions, with a selection of ever-popular Shakespearean plays, adaptations of fine, classic English novels and their beloved children's show, featuring Milky-White the cow touring country houses and gardens throughout the UK and Ireland.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream, William Shakespeare's most popular comedy, was written around 1595. It portrays the adventures of four young lovers and a group of amateur actors, their interactions with woodland fairies and a duke and duchess. Taking place in a mythical Athens and an enchanted forest, there is a handsome fairy king, a misguided parent, star-crossed lovers, a weaver who's transformed into a half-donkey, wood sprites and elves. This work is widely performed around the world, and no wonder - it's about the world's most popular pastime, falling in love. But as Puck knows, falling in love can make fools of us all.

There was a large audience on a sunny afternoon in Norwich Castle Gardens to see the Chapterhouse Theatre Company perform a wonderful and fun A Midsummer Night's Dream. This was a free event as part of the Lord Mayor's Celebration and proved to be a very enjoyable comedy, with the Chapterhouse Theatre Company putting on a brilliant performance at the Whiffler Theatre.