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.

Saturday 3 August 2013

Sistema in Norwich at Epic Studios

On the evening of Friday 5th July 2013 I attended the Sistema in Norwich concert at Epic Studios, Norwich which was part of the Young Norfolk Arts Festival. The Sistema in Norwich Martineau Orchestra were accompanied by a Royal Philharmonic Orchestra Quartet with guest appearances from In Harmony Liverpool and Lambeth.

The programme consisted of Sistema Norwich Choir - Singing songs from Britten's Friday Afternoons and other Sistema favourites, Live webstream performance with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic In Harmony Children's Ensemble - Kingston Shuffle, Tudor Dance and Ode to Joy, The Martineau Children's Orchestra - Lightly Row, Playful Pizz, Skye Boat Song, Sugar Plum Fairy and Pachelbel's Canon, Performance by Royal Philharmonic Orchestra Quartet, Combined ensemble Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Norwich and Lambeth Quartets - Yoska, Allegro and Andantino and Martineau Children's Orchestra - Slavonic Dance, Chariots of Fire, Romeo and Juliet, Turn the World Around and Star Wars.

Sistema in Norwich is a new and independent programme based on the Venezuelan El Sistema music education and social change programme, made famous by the world renowned Simon Bolivar Symphony Orchestra. El Sistema has inspired children all over the world and helped them to improve their life chances. Sistema in Norwich are currently working in Larkman and Catton Grove Primary Schools.

This was an inspiring and fantastic night at Epic Studios which included a world first, with two Sistema orchestras performing simultaneously over a live weblink. There was some wonderful music played by the children from Norwich, Liverpool and Lambeth which was greatly enjoyed by the enthusiastic audience.

Thursday 1 August 2013

Oriole Singers concert at St. Peter Mancroft Church

On the afternoon of Friday 5th July 2013 I attended The Oriole Singers Concert Party Celebrating Marriage at St. Peter Mancroft Church, Norwich. The Oriole Singers were conducted by Martin Wyatt with accompanist Heather Wyatt.

The programme consisted of Opening Hymn: For the Beauty of the Earth, Sunrise, Sunset from Fiddler on the Roof - Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick, Cello Solo To Marriage - Frank Pond, Reading from The Prophet - Kahlil Gibran, Married from Cabaret - Kander and Ebb, Pipe Solo: An Irish Wedding Jig, Ashokan Farewell - Jay Ungar and Hiawatha's Wedding Feast - Samuel Coleridge Taylor.

The highlight of the concert was Samuel Coleridge Taylor's Hiawatha's Wedding Feast. Based on a poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, The Song of Hiawatha is a trilogy of cantatas composed between 1898 and 1900. The first part, Hiawatha's Wedding Feast, was an immediate sensation, making the composer's name throughout the world. The chorus describes in great detail the wedding guests, their dress and food. Hiawatha was a Native American who was Chief of the Iroquois in the Sixteenth Century.

This was a wonderful concert at St. Peter Mancroft Church which was greatly enjoyed by the audience in attendance. The performance began with us joining in with the singing of For the Beauty of the Earth and included a fantastic playing of Jay Ungar's Ashokan Farewell by Meryl Dempsey.