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.