Saturday 5 April 2014

St. Luke Passion at St. Peter Mancroft Church

On Friday 4th April 2014 I attended the Oriole Singers lunchtime Concert Performance of the St Luke Passion (attributed to J S Bach) at St. Peter Mancroft Church, Norwich. The Oriole Singers were conducted by Martin Wyatt. The concert also featured pianist Heather Wyatt, flautist Meryl Dempsey and cellist Frank Pond.

This was a fine performance of the St. Luke Passion which included wonderful contributions from Paul Appleby, Pamela Quantrill and Evelyn Crow. This was a fantastic opportunity to hear this rarely performed piece which I greatly enjoyed along with the rest of the enthusiastic audience.

Friday 4 April 2014

Norwich in the Blitz

On Thursday 3rd April 2014 I attended the Norwich in the Blitz talk by Steve Snelling at The Curve at The Forum, Norwich. This event presented by the author of Norwich A Shattered City was a well informed and interesting talk.

During two nights of intense bombing in April 1942 Norwich suffered its worst ordeal of the war as Hitler targeted the cathedral city for destruction as part of his vengeance campaign designed to lay waste Britain's cultural centres. Known as the Baedeker raids, the German bombers tore the heart out of the city, turning the commercial centre to a near wasteland, and leaving entire streets in ruins.

Yet, ironically, though there was heavy loss of life, with over 200 deaths caused by these raids alone, the majority of the city's most historic buildings, including its Norman castle and cathedral, escaped the bombs and the fires that ravaged so many shops, factories and homes. The author has made much use of records in the National Archives together with Mass-Observation diaries held at the University of Sussex to tell the full story of a ruthless bombing campaign that continued into the summer of 1942. His research, combined with vivid eyewitness accounts, offers a fresh perspective on the raids as well as setting them in their proper historical context.

Monday 31 March 2014

Un Chapeau de Paille d'Italie at the UEA Drama Studio

On the evening of Friday 28th March 2014 I attended the Sacre Theatre performance of Eugene Labiche's Un Chapeau de Paille d'Italie at the Norwich UEA Drama Studio. Sacre Theatre is the UK’s longest-running permanent French language theatre company.

Written in 1851, Eugene Labiche's vaudeville, Un Chapeau de Paille d'Italie, was immediately successful and has been revived many times, often adapted to a more modern era. Largely intended as entertainment, it also depicts the petite bourgeoisie of its day, and much of this (concerns over money and moral hypocrisy, for example) remains relevant. However, the plot consists of a string of misunderstandings and breathless chases verging on the absurd.

This is Fadinard's wedding day. He is to marry Helene, the pretty daughter of Nonancourt, a country nurseryman (pepinieriste), a class somewhat below his own. Early that morning, as Fadinard was riding through a wood, his horse ate a straw hat belonging to Anais (married to Beauperthuis) who was secretly meeting her lover, Emile. The consequences of the horse's greed are about to unfold.

I had a fantastic time at the Norwich UEA Drama Studio as the Sacre Theatre told us the story about the horse that ate an Italian straw hat with all the hilarious consequences. The Sacre Theatre perform every year at the Norwich UEA Drama Studio, often at the end of the spring semester.

Sunday 30 March 2014

As You Like It at the Maddermarket Theatre

On the evening of Thursday 27th March 2014 I attended the Norwich Players performance of William Shakespeare's As You Like It at the Maddermarket Theatre. To celebrate the 450th anniversary of Shakespeare's birth this production is set in another year of cultural awakening: 1967, the summer of love.

Take a trip from the stifling court into the depths of the forest, where conventions and costumes are cast off and the trees cloak reality. As You Like It has all the elements of Shakespeare's great comedies: cross-dressing, unrequited love, an evil Duke taking the place of a banished one, brothers locked in combat, and, of course, a philosophical Fool. The cast's antics were infused with music and song, rousing the Sixties' spirit.

This was a fantastic evening at the Maddermarket Theatre with Rosalind and Orlando uniting to live beneath the sun in pursuit of the simple life. The Maddermarket Theatre opened in 1921 with a performance of As You Like It and tonight was an evening of celebrations and great acting. This production was directed by Chris Bealey.

Saturday 29 March 2014

BBC Symphony Orchestra at the Barbican

On the evening of Wednesday 26th March 2014 I attended the BBC Symphony Orchestra concert at the Barbican in the City of London. This performance featured Conductor Sakari Oramo and Violinist Leila Josefowicz. The programme consisted of Pohjola's Daughter - Sibelius, Violin Concerto - Esa-Pekka Salonen and Symphony No. 5 - Shostakovich.

Esa-Pekka Salonen’s 2009 award-winning Violin Concerto ‘Out of Nowhere’ is a portrait of the phenomenal soloist Leila Josefowicz, who gave this UK premiere. Praised at its LA Philharmonic premiere for its ‘pure, euphoric poetry’, it’s a work which lends itself to Josefowicz’s visceral intensity. This was a fantastic performance from Leila Josefowicz.

In its pulsing central movements, we may find echoes of Sibelius’s driving repetitions in his dark re-telling of Pojhola’s Daughter, in which the daughter of the north, astride a rainbow, mocks the love-lorn Väinämöinen. This concert ended with one of Shostakovich’s most popular symphonies, No 5: its heroic classicism may have affected the composer’s political rehabilitation, but its essential defiance came blazing through. I had another amazing night at the Barbican full of amazing Classical Music.

Friday 28 March 2014

Van Gogh's The Sunflowers at The National Gallery

On the afternoon of Wednesday 26th March 2014 I visited The Sunflowers Exhibition at The National Gallery in London. Visitors were given the chance to compare and contrast these much-loved masterpieces side by side, while also exploring new research about the artist’s working practices.

The paintings, one owned by the National Gallery, the other by the Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam (Vincent van Gogh Foundation) are two of the five versions of 'Sunflowers' that are now spread around the world (the others currently residing in Tokyo, Munich and Philadelphia). The series dates from 1888, when Van Gogh left Paris to paint in the brilliant sunshine of the South of France, inviting Paul Gauguin to join him. Waiting for Gauguin to arrive, Van Gogh painted a series of pictures of sunflowers to decorate his friend's bedroom. They were meant as a sign of friendship and welcome, but also of Vincent's allegiance to Gauguin as his artistic leader. The pair worked together throughout autumn 1888 – but it ended very badly at the close of the year when Van Gogh seemed to have a nervous breakdown, famously cut off part of his ear and entered an asylum.

The display will also included the results of recent scientific research into the two paintings carried out by both institutions. These investigations have revealed new insights into how Van Gogh painted his 'Sunflowers' and what materials he used – giving us a deeper understanding of the making and meaning of these works of art, and of their relationship to each other. It's always a wonderful experience to visit The National Gallery and seeing The Sunflowers side by side made this a special visit.

Thursday 27 March 2014

Starred Up at Norwich Vue Cinema

On Tuesday 25th March 2014 I attended the screening of Starred Up at Norwich Vue Cinema. This British prison crime drama film was directed by David Mackenzie and scripted by Jonathan Asser. The film stars Jack O'Connell, Ben Mendelsohn, and Rupert Friend. This drama is based on Asser's experiences working as a voluntary therapist at HM Prison Wandsworth, with some of the country’s most violent criminals. The title is a term used to describe the early transfer of a criminal from a Young Offender Institution to an adult prison.

19 year-old Eric Love is a violent and troubled teenager making the difficult transition from a young offenders' institute to an adult prison. He seems to be destined for a life behind bars, but the prison's unconventional therapist is determined to help Eric find a way through, assisted by of one of the prison's longest serving inmates, Neville who just happens to be Eric's father. Starred Up is a very gritty movie and will instantly become a cult classic.

Monday 24 March 2014

Under The Skin at Norwich Cinema City

On Sunday 23rd March 2014 I attended the screening of Under The Skin at Norwich Cinema City. Under The Skin is a science fiction art film directed by Jonathan Glazer. The movie was produced by James Wilson and Nick Wechsler and was written by Glazer and Walter Campbell as a loose adaptation of Michel Faber's 2000 novel of the same name. The film stars Scarlett Johansson as an alien seductress who preys on men in Scotland.

A voluptuous woman of unknown origin combs the highway in search of isolated or forsaken men, luring a succession of lost souls into an otherworldly lair. They are seduced, stripped of their humanity, and never heard from again. Based on the novel by Michael Faber, this film examines human experience from the perspective of an unforgettable heroine who grows too comfortable in her borrowed skin, until she is abducted into humanity with devastating results.

Under The Skin is one of my favourite movies of the year with some great scenes shot in Glasgow. Scarlett Johansson is fantastic in this Indie dark masterpiece. This movie is disturbing in parts as well as moving, Under The Skin always keeps you guessing to what will happen next.

Friday 21 March 2014

Ashley Grote Organ Recital at Norwich Cathedral

On Thursday 20th March 2014 I attended the Ashley Grote Lunchtime Organ Recital at Norwich Cathedral. This free event given by the Master of Music at Norwich Cathedral featured a wonderful programme of music.

The programme consisted of Variations on Weinen, klagen, sorgen, sagen - Liszt, Passacaglia and Fugue in C minor BWV 582 - Bach and Prelude et Fugue sur le nom d'Alain Op 7 - Durufle.

Ashley Grote joined Norwich Cathedral as Master of Music in September 2012 having previously held posts as Assistant Director of Music at Gloucester Cathedral, Assistant Organist of Westminster Abbey and Organ Scholar of King's College, Cambridge. As Master of Music, he directs the Cathedral boys' and girls' choirs as well as Norwich Cathedral Consort.

This was another wonderful Organ Recital at Norwich Cathedral full of amazing music which was greatly appreciated by the audience in attendance. My favourite piece was Durufle's Prelude et Fugue sur le nom d'Alain.

Wednesday 19 March 2014

The Grand Budapest Hotel at Norwich Vue Cinema

On Tuesday 18th March 2014 I watched the screening of The Grand Budapest Hotel at Norwich Vue Cinema. This was definitely a Super Tuesday with this showing of Wes Anderson's comedy starring Ralph Fiennes.

The Grand Budapest Hotel recounts the adventures of Gustave H, a legendary concierge at a famous European hotel between the wars, and Zero Moustafa, the lobby boy who becomes his most trusted friend. The story involves the theft and recovery of a priceless Renaissance painting and the battle for an enormous family fortune, all against the back-drop of a suddenly and dramatically changing Continent.

I really enjoyed The Grand Budapest Hotel and I'm sure it will be one of my movies of the year. Wes Anderson has created a wonderful world for us to explore with lots of laughs and a great plot. The Grand Budapest Hotel is a great place to visit and I'm glad I was able to pop into this magnificent building at Norwich Vue Cinema.

Saturday 15 March 2014

Professor Peter Aston Memorial Concert

On the evening of Friday 14th March 2014 I attended the UEA Symphony Orchestra and Choir's Professor Peter Aston Memorial Concert at St. Andrew's Hall, Norwich. This concert was dedicated in memory of Professor Peter Aston and also marked Sharon Andrea Choa's last concert as UEA Director of Music and UEA Symphony Orchestra Conductor.

The programme consisted of Nimrod - Elgar, O Sing unto the Lord a New Song, If ye Love Me, O be Joyful in the Lord, The True Glory - Peter Aston and Symphony No.9 - Beethoven. The Orchestra was conducted by Sharon Andrea Choa and the Choir was conducted by Tom Primrose. Soloists on the evening were Lisa Cassidy, Eleanor White, Iain Milne and Andrew Weeks.

This was an emotional night at St. Andrew's Hall which included sacred choral music by Peter Aston. Elgar's Nimrod and Beethoven's Symphony No.9 were both performed brilliantly with Sharon Andrea Choa conducting the UEA Symphony Orchestra for the last time before taking up her appointment at the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts.

Saturday 8 March 2014

Dallas Buyers Club at Norwich Cinema City

Norwich Cinema City was full for the viewing of Dallas Buyers Club on the evening of Thursday 6th March 2014. I was able to purchase the last seat available for the screening. A few days earlier Dallas Buyers Club was awarded three Oscars at the Academy Awards. Matthew McConaughey for Best Actor, Jared Leto for Best Supporting Actor and the movie won the Oscar for Best Makeup and Hairstyling.

Matthew McConaughey stars in Dallas Buyers Club as real-life Texas cowboy Ron Woodroof, whose free-wheeling life was overturned in 1985 when he was diagnosed as HIV-positive and given 30 days to live. These were the early days of the AIDS epidemic, and the U.S. was divided over how to combat the virus. Ron, now shunned and ostracized by many of his old friends, and bereft of government-approved effective medicines, decided to take matters in his own hands, tracking down alternative treatments from all over the world by means both legal and illegal.

Bypassing the establishment, the entrepreneurial Woodroof joined forces with an unlikely band of renegades and outcasts - who he once would have shunned - and established a hugely successful "buyers' club." Their shared struggle for dignity and acceptance is a uniquely American story of the transformative power of resilience.

Dallas Buyers Club is a brilliant and moving movie with lots of fantastic performances especially from Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto. This has to be one of the best movies of the year and a packed Norwich Cinema City was a great place to see it.

Friday 7 March 2014

Poetry Unbound at the Norfolk and Norwich Millennium Library

On the evening of Thursday 6th March 2014 I attended the Poetry Unbound - Three distinct voices in contemporary poetry event at the Norfolk and Norwich Millennium Library which featured Sarah Law, Andrea Porter and Andrea Holland. Poetry Unbound is about opening up the world of poetry to a new audience, and providing local poets with a platform to showcase work in a vibrant community space.

Sarah Law studied literature at Cambridge and London universities. She currently teaches literature and creative writing at UEA, Norwich. She has two poetry collections published by Stride (Bliss Tangle, 1999, The Lady Chapel, 2003). She lives in Norwich and is interested in the links between spirituality, art and writing.

Andrea Porter is a member of the Joy of Six Poetry Ensemble that has performed in the UK and the USA. She has been published in variety of poetry magazines in the UK, Canada and the USA. She received an Escalator Award in 2005 and an Arts Council grant in 2006. She is also a fiction writer and has had short stories published and has just completed her first novel. Her pamphlet Bubble was adapted for BBC Radio 4 by the playwright Fraser Grace. She writes a blog, We Liked It but not Quite Enough.

Andrea Holland is an accomplished poet, author and creative writing tutor, winner of the 2012 Café Writers Norfolk Commission and runner-up in the 2010 Mslexia Women's Poetry Competition. She also won the 2006 Poetry Business Book and Pamphlet Competition, leading to the subsequent publication of a collection of her poems, "Borrowed", in 2007. Andrea's latest collection, "Broadcasting" was published by Gatehouse Press in 2013.

This was a wonderful evening of poetry at the Norfolk and Norwich Millennium Library. Sarah Law, Andrea Porter and Andrea Holland were all brilliant at this event which is helping to open up poetry to a new audience.

Wednesday 5 March 2014

Patricia Kopatchinskaja directs Britten Sinfonia

On the evening of Tuesday 4th March 2014 I attended the Patricia Kopatchinskaja directs Britten Sinfonia concert at Norwich Theatre Royal. The Moldovan violinist was making her debut directing Britten Sinfonia with a distinctly Eastern European folk-flavoured programme.

The programme consisted of Chorale Preludes, Op. 122 - Brahms arr. Paul Angerer, Concerto for Violin and String Orchestra No. 2, Four Serious Songs - Tigran Mansurian, Romanian Folk Dances - Bartok, String Quartet No. 1, Kreutzer Sonata - Janacek arr. Tognetti and Concerto in D minor for Violin and Strings - Mendelssohn.

Violinist Patricia Kopatchinskaja's repertoire ranges from baroque and classical to a number of new commissions or re-interpretations of modern masterworks. The winner of numerous prizes over the course of her career to date, Patricia Kopatchinskaja was announced as the recipient of the 2012 Praetorius Musikpreis Niedersachsen Award is the category of innovation.

This was a wonderful evening at Norwich Theatre Royal with a fantastic programme of Classical Music by Brahms, Mansurian, Bartok, Janacek and Mendelssohn. Patricia Kopatchinskaja and Britten Sinfonia performed brilliantly with my favourite piece being Tigran Mansurian's Four Serious Songs.

Friday 28 February 2014

Hitchcock Blonde at the Maddermarket Theatre

On the evening of Thursday 27th February 2014 I attended The Norwich Players performance of Hitchcock Blonde by Terry Johnson at Norwich Maddermarket Theatre. This production directed by John Holden starred Edward Wallis, Libby Waite, John Mangan, Gemma Johnston, Dave Myers and Mandy Jean Jordan.

Media lecturer Alex tries to seduce a young blonde student with a trip to his Greek villa to investigate a collection of old film canisters. Will the heat of a Mediterranean summer and the temptation of discovering a lost Hitchcock film break down her resistance?

Cue to Hollywood in 1959 - Hitchcock is auditioning a blonde for the Psycho shower scene. But she has designs on being Hitch's next leading lady and is prepared to do whatever it takes... or is she? These two stories spooled out and intertwined as the two men pursued their image of the perfect blonde.

Hitchcock Blonde was about sex, obsession and yearning for the unobtainable. There were some fantastic performances from The Norwich Players as the audience were taken to the Mediterranean and to Hollywood in a play that drew parallels between the fantasy world of film and the real world of vulnerable young women and the men who exert power and influence over them.

Wednesday 26 February 2014

12 Years A Slave at Hollywood Cinema

On Tuesday 25th February 2014 I saw 12 Years A Slave at Hollywood Cinema, Anglia Square, Norwich. This very powerful and brilliant movie was directed by Steve McQueen and starred Chiwetel Ejiofor as Solomon Northup. 12 Years A Slave also featured Benedict Cumberbatch, Brad Pitt, Michael Fassbender, Paul Dano and Lupita Nyong'o.

In the pre-Civil War United States, Solomon Northup, a free black man from upstate New York, is abducted and sold into slavery. Facing cruelty at the hands of a malevolent slave owner, as well as unexpected kindnesses, Solomon struggles not only to stay alive, but to retain his dignity. In the twelfth year of his unforgettable odyssey, Solomon's chance meeting with a Canadian abolitionist will forever alter his life.

12 Years A Slave is a must see movie which I would recommend everyone watches. The movie has an important message and is full of powerful performances especially from Chiwetel Ejiofor as Solomon Northup. This is a masterpiece from Steve McQueen and a piece of cinema history.

Sunday 23 February 2014

Richard Alston Dance Company at Norwich Theatre Royal

On the evening of Saturday 22nd February 2014 I attended the Richard Alston Dance Company's performance of Contemporary Dance at Norwich Theatre Royal. For Richard Alston every dance is a love affair with his chosen music and this was a night full of wonderful dancing and music.

The programme at Norwich Theatre Royal matched the beauty of Mozart with the exhilaration of Benjamin Britten and the lightning energy of Bang on a Can All-Stars. Commissioned to celebrate the centenary of Britten, the brand new Rejoice in the Lamb was danced to Britten's superb setting of Christopher Smart, whose poetry is fuelled by both religious fervour and such eccentric details as the poet's cat Jeffrey!

The programme also featured the duet from Unfinished Business, to the adagio of Mozart's Sonata K533. Lachrymae, set to Britten's compassionate and tender music for viola and piano played live, spun emotional variations on a gentle song by John Dowland. The evening ended with Martin Lawrence's Madcap which was fast-paced, thrilling and set to the driven music of ultra-cool New York band, Bang on a Can All-Stars. This was a fantastic night of Contemporary Dance at Norwich Theatre Royal from the Richard Alston Dance Company which was greatly enjoyed by the enthusiastic audience. My favourite piece was Madcap.

Saturday 22 February 2014

Hannah Parry-Ridout Organ Recital at Norwich Cathedral

On Thursday 20th February 2014 I attended the Hannah Parry-Ridout Lunchtime Organ Recital at Norwich Cathedral. Hannah is Assistant Musical Director of the Fulham Camerata, Assistant Organist at St. Mary's Putney and a regular accompanist to choirs and instrumentalists. She started her musical career as a chorister in the Norwich Cathedral Girls' Choir and started playing the organ with the aid of a Norwich Diocesan Scholarship.

The programme consisted of Toccata and Fugue in D minor BWV 565 - Bach, Master Tallis's Testament - Howells, Intermezzo from Sonata No.4 - Rheinberger, Scherzo from Symphony No.4 - Widor and St. Patrick's Breastplate Movement III from Sonata Celtica - Stanford.

This was another fantastic Lunchtime Organ Recital at Norwich Cathedral with featured works by Bach, Howells and Stanford. Hannah Parry-Ridout who graduated from the Royal College of Music in 2010 performed a wonderful programme of music which was greatly appreciated by the enthusiastic audience at Norwich Cathedral.

Thursday 20 February 2014

The Dragon's Spell at The Assembly House

On the evening of Tuesday 18th February 2013 I attended The Dragon's Spell - a reading by George Szirtes and Friends at The Assembly House, Norwich as part of the Norwich Dragon Festival 2014. The powerful and fascinating symbol of the dragon is an ideal way to explore and promote Norwich's rich cultural heritage.

George Szirtes, winner of the T S Eliot Prize for Reel and shortlisted again in 2013 for Bad Machine, launched The Dragon's Spell with a reading from his work. This event organised by Writers' Centre Norwich in the elegant surroundings of The Assembly House was full of wonderful poetry and music.

The Dragon's Spell was curated by the singer-songwriter Robyn-Astrid and featured readings on the theme of dragons and monsters by Meghan Purvis and Keiron Pim. This was a night at The Assembly House when the mythical symbol of the dragon captured our imaginations.

Wednesday 19 February 2014

Sleeping Beauty at Norwich Theatre Royal

On the evening of Monday 17th February 2014 I attended The Russian State Ballet and Orchestra of Siberia's performance of Sleeping Beauty at Norwich Theatre Royal. This is the classic story of love and innocence, mystery and magic set to Tchaikovsky's sublime score.

A wicked fairy places a fatal curse on the baby Princess Aurora, which the good Lilac Fairy softens to a sleep of one hundred years. Only a prince’s kiss can break the spell. This is every child's favourite fairy tale which The Russian State Ballet of Siberia brought magically to life on the stage at Norwich Theatre Royal.

This was a night full of stunning choreography, sumptuous costumes and wonderful sets that formed the fantasy world in which the Lilac Fairy struggles against the evil Carabosse. The sell out audience had a brilliant evening full of fairy tale magic and the sounds of Tchaikovsky. It was fantastic to see such an amazing Ballet in my home city of Norwich.

Friday 14 February 2014

Wooden Arms and Heart of a Dog at Norwich Arts Centre

On the evening of Thursday 13th February 2014 I attended the Wooden Arms and Heart of a Dog double headline gig at Norwich Arts Centre with support from Cove Hithe. This was a gig full of local bands at a great venue.

Wooden Arms are a Norwich-based contemporary band featuring Jess Diggins on Violin, Fynn Titford-Mock on Cello, Alex Carson on Piano, Jeff Smith on Guitar and Milly Hirst and Lydia Walker on Vocals. With 6-part vocal harmonies and a distinctive yet delicate blend of classical instrumentation meets modern melody, Wooden Arms have released their debut, self-titled EP with independent record label Bare Feet Records in the summer of 2013. They are currently working on a new single Tide.

Heart of a Dog were born in the West Midlands then exiled to East Anglia. A lapsed duo of Leonard Samuel and Jonathan Allen , now joined by a interchangeable line-up of guest musicians and silent partners. They create an often tangible soundscape, characterised by a potent fusion of percussive, compelling rhythms that nurture tender melodies. Thoughtfully unaffected lyrics and rich harmonies yield a sound that manages to be both soulful and distinctively authentic.

Local band Cove Hithe is a trio of Jason Ducker on guitar/piano, Matilda Pendered on violin and Astrid Calloman on percussions. They gave us a set full of classical and folk which was a great opening before the headline acts took to the stage. Heart of a Dog with their rocky folk and the more classical sounds of Wooden Arms played fantastic sets full of amazing music which made for a great night out at Norwich Arts Centre.

Thursday 6 February 2014

Here Be Dragons from the Undercroft

On the evening of Wednesday 5th February 2014 I attended the Here Be Dragons Storytelling gathering at the Jurnet's Bar in the Undercroft at Wensum Lodge in Norwich. Tales from the Undercroft is a monthly gathering of storytellers and those who like listening to stories.

The first meet at the Undercroft in 2014 was dominated by dragons. As part of the bi-annual Norwich Dragon Festival we were entertained with stories of serpents, worms and all manner of winged monsters from Dave Tonge and Liam Carroll. Gareth Calway also shared with us his story of Cromwell's talking head.

This was a fantastic evening of entertaining storytelling at the Jurnet's Bar. It's always great to listen to stories about Dragons especially in such a fantastic and historic venue.

Wednesday 29 January 2014

Independent Venue Week at Norwich Arts Centre

On the evening of Tuesday 28th January 2014 I attended a special edition of Spectro at Norwich Arts Centre featuring The Soft, Mammal Hands, Boy with Two Heads and Unix. Bringing together some of the most relevant, important and historic venues around the country, Independent Venue Week supported by PRS for Music was a six day long series of gigs running from 28th January to 2nd February 2014. This Spectro gig was part of Independent Venue Week.

Independent venues sit at the heart of their local community, providing a vital lifeline to upcoming artists early in their careers whilst bringing together those fans who are passionate about live music. With more and more small to medium sized venues continuing to close around the country, Independent Venue Week supports those venues that play such a significant role to musicians and fans alike. There was no better way to mark Independent Venue Week than to combine the history of this beautiful medieval building with the most contemporary and interesting new electronic music from this part of the country.

Along with Venues and artists across the country Norwich Arts Centre marked Independent Venue Week with an explosive line up celebrating the venues autonomous, progressive programme and dedication to talent development with this exciting showcase. This was a fantastic night of Electronica at Norwich Arts Centre with headliners The Soft filling the venue with brilliant electronic music which had us dancing throughout their performance.

Sunday 26 January 2014

Last of the Red Hot Lovers at the Maddermarket Theatre

On the evening of Saturday 25th January 2014 I was back at the Maddermarket Theatre, Norwich to attend the Norwich Players performance of Neil Simon's Last of the Red Hot Lovers. This play was written by the author of the wonderful comedy The Odd Couple, with the Norwich Players being directed by Rob Morris.

Forty nine year old Barney Cashman who has been partnered with his wife for what seems most of those years decides to have an affair. With each attempt he fails completely to understand the fact that there is another needy person involved, who is looking for something rather different. Needless to say he gets a lot more than he bargained for, just about everything but an affair.

This was a very enjoyable and funny night at the Maddermarket Theatre with wonderful performances from Trevor Burton as Barney Cashman, Lily Cramer as Elaine Navazio, Camilla Webster as Bobbi Michele and Clare Howard as Jeanette Fisher. The play takes place in the New York apartment belonging to Barney's mother. Having an affair isn't quite what Barney bargained for!

Friday 24 January 2014

Alexander Pott Organ Recital at Norwich Cathedral

On Thursday 23rd January 2014 I attended the Alexander Pott Lunchtime Organ Recital at Norwich Cathedral. This free recital performed by the Organ Scholar at Christ Church, Oxford featured work by Bach, Vierne and Franck.

The programme consisted of Toccata in F BWV 540 - Bach, Etoile du Soir, Op. 54 No.3 - Vierne, Trio Sonata I (Allegro - Adagio - Allegro) BWV 525 - Bach and Choral III - Franck.

Alexander Pott has performed at Coventry Cathedral, Chelmsford Cathedral, and this year has been invited to give a recital at the London Handel Festival in April. He is currently studying for a degree in music at Oxford University, where he studies the organ with Thomas Trotter and is Organ Scholar at Christ Church Cathedral.

This was another wonderful lunchtime Organ Recital at Norwich Cathedral with an amazing programme of music. My favourite piece was Franck's Choral III. It is always a great experience to hear the Norwich Cathedral Organ.

Wednesday 22 January 2014

Poetry at Olive's Cafe

On the evening of Tuesday 21st January 2014 I attended the Poetry Evening at Olive's Café on Elm Hill, Norwich with readings by Barrie de Lara and Sarah Walker. Poetry at Olive's is a monthly community poetry event to provide a forum to encourage local writers to read their work in public. There is an Open Mic for all comers to read one poem or very short piece of prose per event.

This was a fun and interesting night at Olive's Café which included Barrie de Lara reading his prize winning Dinner at Benutti's. Both Barrie and Sarah Walker gave us lots of laughs along with a fantastic Open Mic. I was lucky enough to win a poetry book in the Olive's Poetry Raffle.

Saturday 11 January 2014

Sam Green and the Midnight Heist at Norwich Arts Centre

On the evening of Friday 10th January 2014 I attended the Sam Green and the Midnight Heist gig at Norwich Arts Centre with support from Feral Mouth and Serious Sam Barrett. This sold out gig was a great night for me to make my first visit to Norwich Arts Centre in 2014.

Sam Green and the Midnight Heist hail from the south of Devon. Their sound resonates with the delta blues of the old Mississippi bluesmen and Britain’s folk tradition old and new. The four piece, led by Sam Green, have spent the last six months relentlessly touring the south of England developing their sound and the songs on their new EP Miles Away.

Feral Mouth are an alternate Norfolk country string band. They formed officially in early 2010 following other related projects. The band take a large bit of their influence from old time country and bluegrass music as well as more contemporary styles too.

Serious Sam Barrett is a Country Folk singer from Leeds. He mixes songs about Yorkshire with Southern Folk with great results. His song writing contains echoes of the great blues masters such as Bukka White and Blind Willie McTell but also of American folk and country artists such as the Carter Family.

There was a great atmosphere at Norwich Arts Centre as Sam Green and the Midnight Heist, Feral Mouth and Serious Sam Barrett performed a great gig full of brilliant country sounds. All the artists seemed to be having as much fun as the audience members on a night full of fun for all.

Friday 3 January 2014

Julian Haggett Organ Recital at St. Peter Mancroft Church

After my morning at Norwich Cathedral on Wednesday 1st January 2014 I made my way to the St. Peter Mancroft Church next to Norwich Marketplace for the Julian Haggett New Year's Day Organ Recital 2014 at 12 noon. As Organist at St. Peter Mancroft Julian Haggett provides voluntaries sensitive to the liturgical focus of services, ranging from 17th Century French and North European organ music of Tunder and Buxtehude to French 20th Century organ music by Alain and Messiaen.

The programme for this New Year's Day Organ Recital consisted of Piece d'Orgue BWV 572 - Bach, Noel avec variations - Langlais, Chorale Prelude In dulci jubilo Bux WV 197 - Buxtehude, Suisse Noel - Daquin, Chorale Prelude In dir ist Freude BWV 615 - Bach, Paean - Leighton and Toccata from Symphony V - Widor.

Two brilliant Organ Recitals on New Year's Day was a splendid start to the year. The highlight of the Recital at St. Peter Mancroft was the Widor Toccata from Symphony V which filled the church with the sound of beautiful music.

Thursday 2 January 2014

Kris Thomsett Organ Recital at Norwich Cathedral

I began 2014 with a trip to Norwich Cathedral for the Kris Thomsett New Year's Day Organ Recital on Wednesday 1st January 2014. Kris Thomsett is currently Organ Scholar of Norwich Cathedral, a post he will hold for the next two years whilst completing a degree in music at the University of East Anglia.

The programme consisted of Carillon de Westminster - Vierne, Sleigh Ride arr. T.Trotter - Anderson, Fugue in D BWV532 - Bach, Nun Komm, Der Heiden Heiland BWV659 - Bach, Les Enfants De Dieu from La Nativite - Messiaen, Noel Etranger - Daquin, Noel Suisse - Daquin, Final from Triptyque - Langlais and Festmusikk - Takle.

This was a wonderful Organ Recital at Norwich Cathedral and a fantastic way to start the new year. The programme consisted of many various pieces but you can't get much better then listening to the music of Johann Sebastian Bach being performed on the Norwich Cathedral Organ.