Saturday 30 March 2013

See the Music, Hear the Dance!

On the evening of Wednesday 13th March 2013 I attended the Richard Alston Dance Company performance at Norwich Theatre Royal. The meeting of movement and music remains Richard Alston's unswerving inspiration. See the music, hear the dance.

The programme consisted of Buzzing Round the Hunisuccle, Shimmer and The Devil in the Detail with pianist Jason Ridgway. The Richard Alston Dance Company has grown into the UK's most avidly followed contemporary dance company.

Inspired by the music of Jo Kondo, Buzzing Round the Hunnisuccle puts your mind into the stillness of a Japanese minimal garden with the hunnisuccle being a cool oasis of calm. An Elder's Hocket is full of brass sonorities hovering around the quietest of piano chords.

Shimmer was danced to Maurice Ravel's Sonatine and music from Miroirs. The dancers were wearing jewel-encrusted cobweb costumes giving a wonderful sense of theatre. The music of Ravel moves from beautiful to strange giving an contrasting atmosphere to the piece.

The final piece was The Devil in the Detail which was inspired by the music of Scott Joplin, the King of Ragtime. Music like the Maple Leaf Rag and The Entertainer are always uplifting and a pleasure to listen too. The dances were full of stylish swagger with pianist Jason Ridgway playing live onstage.

The was an inspiring night at Norwich Theatre as we were treated to some amazing dancing complimented with great music. The Company gave it's unique combination of the innovative and the entertaining from it's Artistic Director, Richard Alston.

Sunday 24 March 2013

Baltic Nights at Norwich Theatre Royal

On Sunday 3rd March 2013 I attended the Britten Sinfonia Baltic Nights concert at Norwich Theatre Royal which featured Alina Ibragimova - violin/director, Britten Sinfonia Voices and Eamonn Dougan - Conductor and Voices Director. Acclaimed violinist Alina Ibragimova directed Britten Sinfonia in a programme demonstrating her skill with both contemporary and early repertoire with works from Bach and Peteris Vasks.

The programme consisted of Viderunt omnes (extract) - Perotin, Violin Concerto No.1 in A minor - Bach, AQUA - Esenvalds, Motet - Komm, Jesu, komm - Bach and Violin Concerto - Distant Light - Vasks. This was a concert that took us on a musical journey from the 12th Century composer Perotin through to Peteris Vasks' Distant Light, written in 1977.

The concert opened with Britten Sinfonia Voices performing Perotin's Viderunt omnes from Norwich Theatre Royal's Circle. All the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God. Rejoice in the Lord, all lands. Known as Perotin the Master, meaning he was licensed to teach.

Johann Sebastian Bach's Violin Concerto in A minor is similar in style to Vivaldi.  It is unknown exactly when the work was composed, but copies dated 1730 suggest it may have been composed later than the other two concertos for violin, perhaps during Bach's time as director of the Collegium Musicum in Leipzig.

Eriks Esenvalds' AQUA is a new commission which brought together the Britten Sinfonia Voices with the orchestra's string section in a work that the composer says is inspired by nature and time. Latvian Eriks Esenvalds is known for his distinctive vocal techniques, often asking singers to create unusual atmospheric effects by whistling or breathing in a particular way.

Komm, Jesu, komm is a motet by Johann Sebastian Bach, with a text by Paul Thymich. It was composed in Leipzig before 1735, possibly between 1723 and 1734, and had already received its first performance by 1731–1732. The motet was written for a funeral and is a solemn work that focuses on a personal, heartfelt plea to Jesus at the point of salvation. I am the way, the truth and the life. No man cometh unto the Father but by me.

Peteris Vasks trained as a violinist and double bassist at the Latvian Academy of Music and played with a number of orchestras before returning to the Academy to study composition. His Violin Concerto Distant Lights from 1977 is a work of extreme musical complexity. Vasks says that the concerto represents the possibility of a more ideal world.

From Perotin to Bach unto the Latvian music from Esenvalds and Vasks this was a night of musical delights from Britten Sinfonia at Norwich Theatre Royal. The diverse programme made for an interesting and enjoyable evening. Alina Ibragimova was brilliant throughout the concert while the Britten Sinfonia Voices were in fine voice. The highlight of the night was Peteris Vasks' Violin Concerto Distant Light which is a remarkable and inspiring piece of music.

Friday 22 March 2013

The Academy of St. Thomas at St. Andrew's Hall

I was back in Norwich City Centre on the evening of Saturday 2nd March 2013 to attend the Academy of St. Thomas concert at St. Andrew's Hall. This performance featured violinist Lorraine McAslan who is currently a member of the London Soloist Ensemble, she also teaches at London's Junior Royal Academy of Music. The orchestra were conducted by Christopher Adey

The programme consisted of Karelia Overture - Sibelius, Violin Concerto - Britten and Symphony No.7 in A major - Beethoven. Part of the orchestra's philosophy is to offer diverse programming as well as more familiar repertoire.

In the Summer of 1892 Jean Sibelius visited the Karelia region of Eastern Finland. The region won his heart and the following year the Viborg Students Society at Helsinki University asked him to compose incidental music for a gala to help raise awareness of the culture of the Karelian people. Sibelius composed an overture and nine numbers, three of these formed the Karelia Suite Op.11.

Benjamin Britten's Violin Concerto was completed in 1939 and was given its premiere in New York on 29th March 1940, by the Spanish violinist Antonio Brosa with the New York Philharmonic conducted by John Barbirolli.  A revised version of the concerto appeared in the 1950s, including alterations of the solo violin part prepared with the assistance of Manoug Parikian.

In 1811 Beethoven worked on his Symphony No.7 while staying in the Bohemian spa town of Teplice in the hope of improving his health. It was completed in 1812, and was dedicated to Count Moritz von Fries. It was first performed on 8th December 1813 at a concert for wounded soldiers in Vienna arranged by Maelzel, the inventor of the metronome.

This was another wonderful evening to be in attendance at St. Andrew's Hall as the Academy of St. Thomas treated us to a splendid programme of Classical Music. Lorraine McAslan and the orchestra played a brilliant Britten Violin Concerto while after the interval Beethoven's 7th Symphony was an uplifting piece to finish the concert.

Tuesday 19 March 2013

God of Carnage at The Maddermarket Theatre

On Saturday 2nd March 2013 I made my way to The Maddermarket Theatre in Norwich with great anticipation to attend the matinee performance from The Norwich Players of God of Carnage by Yasmina Reza. God of Carnage had its London Premiere in 2008 where it scooped an Olivier for best new play.

The Norwich Players cast for this play was Veronica - Jenny Dewsbury, Michael - Neil Bain, Annette - Angela Rowe and Alan - Steve Dunn. This production was directed by Rob Morris and was set in the apartment of Veronica and Michael somewhere in USA. Roman Polanski has directed a film version called Carnage starring Kate Winslet, Christoph Waltz, John C Reilly and Jodie Foster.

Benjamin and Henry get involved in an argument because Henry refuses to let Benjamin join his gang resulting in Benjamin knocking out two of Henry’s teeth with a stick. The dispute in the park brings two sets of parents together to discuss the incident in a reasonable way. The evening starts in a civilised manner but soon degenerates into irrational and childish arguments.
The play ran for approximately eighty five minutes in one act and we were warned that several swear words would be used in the dialogue. This was not surprising as the conversations soon turned into heated arguments. This was a fast paced and funny play which made for a very enjoyable afternoon spent at The Maddermarket Theatre.

Monday 18 March 2013

Rhinoceros at the UEA Drama Studio

On the evening of Friday 1st March 2013 I attended the Minotaur Theatre Company's performance of Eugene Ionesco's Rhinoceros translated by Martin Crimp at the UEA Drama Studio in Norwich. This translation of Rhinoceros was first produced by the English Stage Company at the Royal Court Theatre in 2007.

The play belongs to the school of drama known as the Theatre of the Absurd. Over the course of three acts, the inhabitants of a small, provincial French town turn into rhinoceroses; ultimately the only human who does not succumb to this mass metamorphosis is the central character, BĂ©renger, a flustered everyman figure who is often criticised throughout the play for his drinking and tardiness.

The play questions issues of morality, philosophy, love and what it means to be a human being. This was a though provoking play which I very much enjoyed. Rhinoceros is comical in parts and there were lots of moments to make you laugh. Listen out for the sound of Ahhh Ahhh Brrrrr! I'm a Rhinoceros!

Saturday 16 March 2013

9 to 5 what a way to make a living!

On the evening of Thursday 28th February 2013 I attended 9 to 5 The Musical at Norwich Theatre Royal. This is the hilarious new musical comedy based on the hit movie, that centres on three office workers who turn the tables on their sexist boss, and features original numbers from Dolly Parton’s Oscar, Tony® and Grammy Award nominated score including Backwoods Barbie, Shine Like the Sun and, of course, the hit song 9 to 5.

This was a fun night at Norwich Theatre Royal as we were taken back to 1979 when attitudes and office work were different from the present day. This was the days before the internet and an office where the old boy's network came to the fore. On stage Mark Moraghan, Jackie Clune, Natalie Casey, Amy Lennox and Bonnie Langford performed brilliantly and we also had Dolly Parton on a video screen reminding us that working 9 to 5 was all taking and no giving. They just use your mind and they never give you credit. Its enough to drive you crazy if you let it.

9 to 5 what a way to make a living. 9 to 5 what a way to spend an evening at Norwich Theatre Royal. It was a night bringing back memories of the 1980 film version of 9 to 5 starring Dolly Parton, Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin. 9 to 5, for service and devotion. You would think that I would deserve a fair promotion.

Friday 8 March 2013

Norwich Music Group at St. Peter Mancroft Church

On the evening of Saturday 23rd February 2013 I attended the Norwich Music Group concert at St. Peter Mancroft Church, Norwich in support of The Lymphoma Association. The Norwich Music Group is the brainchild of Julian Musgrave, Philip Aldred and Frances Banham and was formed with the express purpose of performing the great choral works in Norwich's fine Churches using the best Singers and Instrumentalists.

Philip Aldred conduced the Norwich Music Group with a programme that consisted of Messa Di Gloria - Puccini, Gaelic Blessing - Rutter, The Lord Bless You And Keep You - Rutter, Cantique de Jean Racine - Faure and Requiem - Faure. This was a wonderful selection of music to fill St. Peter Mancroft Church and make this a night to remember.

Daniel Bartlette - Tenor and Fearghus Cooper - Bass featured on Puccini's Messa Di Gloria while June Harrison - Soprano and Fearghus Cooper performed Faure's Requiem. This was a concert of wonderful choral music composed by Giacomo Puccini, John Rutter and Gabriel Faure.  Puccini's Messa Di Gloria composed in 1880 which is distinguished by the beauty of its vocal writing and by a heart warming lyricism underscored by extremely inventive instrumentation opened the evening's music.

Gabriel Fauré composed his Requiem in D minor, Op. 48, between 1887 and 1890. The choral-orchestral setting of the Roman Catholic Mass for the Dead is the best known of his large works. This was a splendid piece of music to finish the evening. The concert was a great success with brilliant performances from the Orchestra and the Choir while at the same time supporting the Lymphoma Association.

Monday 4 March 2013

Mendelssohn and Britten at St. Andrew's Hall

On the evening of Thursday 21st February 2013 I attended the UEA Symphony Orchestra and Choir concert at St. Andrew's Hall, Norwich which featured Sharon Andrea Choa - Conductor, Simon Ireson - Piano, Lisa Cassidy - Soprano, Diana Moore - Alto and Andrew O'Brien - Tenor. The programme consisted of Piano Concerto No.1 in G minor - Mendelssohn and Spring Symphony - Britten. The Broadland Youth Choir performed on Britten's Spring Symphony.

The first of Mendelssohn's two numbered piano concertos was composed at the beginning of October 1831. Mendelssohn himself was the soloist at the first performance and his admission that it had been written in haste seem to be borne out by the fact that the piano part is left blank in the autograph full score.

Britten's Spring Symphony was composed between 1948 and 1949. It was commissioned by the Kusevitsky Foundation and dedicated to Serge Kusevitsky and the Boston Symphony Orchestra. This was Britten's most ambitious choral work to date which he described its subject as the progress of Winter to Spring and the re-awakening of the earth and life which that means.

This was a wonderful evening of Classical Music at St. Andrew's Hall with Simon Ireson beginning the night in style as the soloist on Mendelssohn's Piano Concerto No.1. Everyone put a lot of work and effort into Britten's Spring Symphony and we were rewarded with a wonderful and uplifting performance from the Orchestra and Choirs including the Broadland Youth Choir.