smallhobbit: (Cat)
I went to two lunchtime concerts at St Martin-in-the-Fields, although the first wasn't technically a concert.  It's called a service, but basically is just various choral pieces with a religious theme.  This week's Great Sacred Music was based on works by William Blake.  As expected there were versions of The Lamb (Tavener) and The Tyger (Rene Clausen), plus a lovely solo called Dream Valley by Roger Quilter.  The choir, St Martin's Voices, were very good.  In addition there are always two hymns for the congregation to join in with.  The first was fairly unexciting, but, of course, Blake wrote the words to Jerusalem, which Hubert Parry set to music.  The organist let rip, the choir couldn't be heard and we sang along and it was marvellous.

The second concert was by a choir from Gent in Belgium, Vivente Voce.  SM and I went to this together.  He said it quickly became apparent it wasn't going to be my sort of music.  He didn't rate them that highly either, and I can't tell you what they sang, because we gave the sheet to an American lady who sat next to us.  But it was only just over half an hour and the church was relatively cool on a very hot day.

Friday I went to see the Bolshoi Ballet at the Royal Opera House perform Le Corsaire.  My seat was in the Upper Ampitheatre, so a long way up.  Although I had a good view of the stage (I was about in the middle) the dancers were a long way away.  Obviously extremely accomplished, all the dancers were impressive, especially Mikhail Lobukhin (the corsair) and Anna Nikulina (Medora).  I've never been one particularly for soloists, preferring ensemble pieces, which were beautifully executed, especially in the second act.  It was ballet, so not a lot happened over a fairly long time.  There were two long intervals, and the ballet didn't finish until almost eleven, so I decided I'd had my money's worth by the end of Act 2 and left - which probably saved me 15 minutes just getting out of the building at the end.  I met SM and we went for a drink in the Young Vic bar (he had been to see Yerma that evening) and I spent the money I saved by not buying a £12 programme on wine.
smallhobbit: (Butterfly)
In addition to the theatre I went to three very different performances which involved music.

Firstly, High Society at the Old Vic.  Up to a couple of years ago I would never have thought I'd enjoy musicals, but now I really do.  It's definitely a feel good experience.  Plot with a happy ending; singing; dancing - just so much fun.  And songs which everyone recognises.  Jamie Parker as Mike Connor, forgetting one of the lines in "Well, did you evah?"  Joe Stilgoe as Joey Powell, playing the piano at the beginning and incorporating tunes suggested by the audience.  It was the first thing I went to and started my holiday on and excellent footing.

As a complete contrast Thursday lunchtime I went to St Martin in the Fields for Great Sacred Music.  A short performance, lasting little over half an hour, which included a couple of hymns the congregation were invited to join in with.  The theme for that particular week was the modern Scottish composer James MacMillan.  He's not a composer I would go out of my way to hear, but being in Trafalgar Square anyway I was glad to have had the opportunity to learn more about him.

And then in the evening I went to Sadler's Wells to see Matthew Bourne's The Car Man.   My best description would be fanfic set to ballet.  It is an AU of Bizet's opera Carmen.  There is slash: Luca/Angelo and full-frontal nudity.  I prefer my ballet to be slightly more traditional and in that sense enjoyed the second act more than the first.  To me some of the ensemble pieces would have been at home on the set of a musical rather more than a ballet.  Nevertheless I enjoyed the spectacle and have added it to my list of things I am glad to have seen.  Also, I was pleased to identify Bizet's L'Arlessiene as being included in the ballet.
smallhobbit: (Cat)
Yesterday evening SM and I went to Tewkesbury to see Tewkesbury Camerata in concert.  Unlike the classical music the Camerata usually play, this was songs from the shows.  The Camerata, with their leader and co-founder, the lovely [livejournal.com profile] vix_spes, were excellent as usual and the music was fun and light-hearted and had the audience tapping along.

It was a combination of instrumental items with sung pieces, for which the South Wales Gay Men's Chorus provided the singing.  They were brilliant - so obviously enjoying the singing and the performance.  Stand out for me was "Can you feel the love tonight" from the Lion King which was just beautiful.  At the end they relished the opportunity to have the audience join in with singing "Do Re Mi" from The Sound of Music.

The soloist who had been booked fell ill two days before the concert, but they were able to find an excellent stand in.  Leo Roberts was educated at Tewkesbury Comprehensive, and had as a singing teacher Mark Aitchison, the other co-founder and the conductor.  Leo has just completed a twelve month UK tour of Shrek: The Musical playing Shrek.  Yes he was excellent and we were very lucky to hear him, especially as he had to rush back to London later in the evening.

It was an extremely enjoyable evening, with once more the chance to hear performers I wouldn't normally have heard and would certainly go to hear again.

In a couple of days I shall be heading East to spend a few days in London: three plays, one musical, one ballet, two tours, two exhibitions and the annual Sherlock picnic.  Reports will follow on my return.
smallhobbit: (Cat)
Continuing yesterday's theme of answering questions, [livejournal.com profile] moonlightmead said "What brought about your interests in theatre and in music? With you from childhood, or new or re-visited interests as an adult?  (Although I am conscious that hobbits only reach adulthood at 33, so... :))

Although, to be honest, I'm still dubious about whether I've reached adulthood - however, since I no longer need to ask my mother to sign a permission form when I go on Brownie outings I have to assume I have.

Music and particularly classical music has always been around.  I learnt the clarinet at secondary school and played in the school orchestra, although I much preferred playing percussion to the clarinet.  And we went to concerts occasionally, which I continued to do once I had left home.  Both children were encouraged to learn instruments and played in the school orchestras as well as singing in the choirs.  Now they're out of the way SM and I go to more concerts - generally ones he suggests, because he has a greater musical interest than I do.  For me, music is a second interest to ...

The theatre.  We didn't go to the theatre when I was a child, but I remember my Latin class going to see a performance of Julius Caesar and being absolutely captivated - as well as madly in love with Mark Antony.  Once at university I started going to the theatre with friends and then moving to London gave me the opportunity to go to the Young Vic and other theatres.  I stopped going when we had the kids - distance and cost being a problem - although always encouraged my daughter to go on school theatre trips (which she really enjoyed - she has inherited my love of the theatre).  Again, once the children had left home and we moved somewhere with better transport links, I've been able to enjoy a wide variety of plays, which for me is bliss.
smallhobbit: (Cat)
We've just had a particularly musical weekend, mostly to celebrate SM's 60th birthday, but not entirely.

The first concert we went to wasn't part of the celebration, but by happy co-incidence fell at the start of them.  We went to Tewkesbury Camarata's spring concert of strings music, with the lovely [livejournal.com profile] vix_spes as leader of the orchestra.  It was an excellent concert - I knew most of the pieces reasonably well, but it was great to be sitting in front of the orchestra and seeing the contribution made by each of the separate elements.  An excellent start to our long weekend.

Sunday we went to London and SM went to hear some Bach cantatas in the Purcell Room at the Royal Festival Hall, while I went to book us into the Travelodge and finalise birthday arrangements, of which more tomorrow.  SM thoroughly enjoyed the performance by the London Bach Singers and the Feinstein Ensemble.

In the evening we returned to the Royal Festival Hall to hear the Philharmonia conducted by Edward Gardner.  I enjoyed the first piece, which was Mendelssohn's Hebrides Overture, although I wasn't sure how much the conductor was contributing.  And, while the orchestra (male half) were in white tie and tails, he looked like an undertaker in black tie and business suit.  The Mozart piano concerto which followed was probably lovely, but the meal we had eaten beforehand had taken effect and I confess to having dozed.  After the concert I heard the elderly lady sitting next to me admit to her companion that she had done the same - and I'd had to nudge SM at one point.  The concert was being transmitted live on Radio 3 and their audience might not have appreciated any snoring.

The second half was devoted to Mahler's 1st symphony: a grand and loud affair.  I like loud music, but even so I wasn't totally impressed.  This may be partly because I choose to sit at the front for concerts (and plays) and we were up in the balcony - SM's preference is to be able to look down and it was his birthday present.  I even managed to doze at one point in the fourth movement, so it would be fair to say I wasn't swept up in the music - that only happened when the horns stood near the finale.  The rest of the audience enjoyed the performance and SM was very happy, since it's one of his favourite pieces of music, so the concert was a success.

Monday lunchtime we went to St Martin's-in-the-Fields where some of the youngsters from the Purcell School were performing.  They were extremely talented and it was a lovely way to pass an hour.  I was particularly impressed by the piano duet of Rimsky-Korsakov's The Sea and Sinbad's Ship from Scheherazade.

Finally we went to Choral Evensong at Westminster Abbey.  I have strong views on the use of our abbeys and cathedrals, and don't like Choral Evensong anyway, but SM likes the singing and was keen to see what it was like at the Abbey, so we went.  Our preference had been for St Paul's Cathedral but that was said Evening Service.  I usually manage to let my mind wander sufficiently by the time of the Anthem so I have no comment to make on the singing, but SM wasn't that impressed.  The choirboys were obviously of a good standard, but there was nothing that stood out from choristors in other cathedrals around the country.

And so ended our musical weekend.  Next Saturday we are probably going to Tewkesbury Abbey for a local performance of Mahler's 2nd Symphony.
smallhobbit: (penguin)
This trip was our Christmas present from SM’s parents - or at least they gave us some money and we used it to pay for the concert tickets and Travelodge.  It was the opportunity to see Andreas Scholl again and visit the new Sam Wanamaker Playhouse at The Globe.

Sunday night and Monday morning )
smallhobbit: (penguin)
Tonight was SM's Mozart concert.  I went to listen.  I have to admit to not being a great fan of Mozart.  But I was hopeful.  Until it began.  First two words of the Te Deum and I realised I wasn't going to enjoy that piece.  At least it was only about seven minutes long.  It would have helped if I could have made out more of the words.  I know it was in Latin, but I can recognise some Latin, but it was a real struggle to follow, even with the words in front of me.

Then it was time for Emma Johnson playing Mozart's Clarinet Concerto.  The reason why I was sitting in the front row having bought an expensive ticket.  I may not like Mozart in general, but the Clarinet Concerto is one of my ten favourite classical pieces.  And I've liked Emma Johnson's playing for years (any of my UK flist remember the Victorian Kitchen Garden?).  She wore a beautiful silver sequined dress with white wedge sandals.  Her playing was awesome.  The beginning of the second movement of the concerto is one of the most sublime pieces of classical music in my opinion.  And when it came to the third movement she was practically dancing as she played.  Just amazing.

During the interval I wandered down the side aisle (the concert was held in Gloucester cathedral) and met a friend who normally sings in the choir but had missed too many rehearsals.  She was sitting at the back and suggested that I could join her for the second half and we could sit at the back and giggle.  That sounded like a great idea, so I abandoned my seat in the front - a very uncomfortable, cold, wooden and cramped seat and joined her on a marginally less uncomfortable, still cold but at least there was space - seat.  We didn't actually giggle, and I didn't live tweet, despite her suggesting I could, but it was a great improvement.

The second half was the Mozart Mass in C minor.  I was so glad I was sitting at the back.  I got bored part way through, so sat reading the programme and thought about what I would write for this weeks ACD Holmes 60 for 60.  Interestingly, for any Lewis fans reading, one of the soloists was Kitty Whately.

And then we went to the pub and discussed the concert over a glass of wine.

London

Mar. 17th, 2014 10:33 pm
smallhobbit: (penguin)
Not knowing what to buy SM for his birthday, I suggested I take him to London for the weekend, which is where we have just been.  The weather was wonderful - we left in the cold and miserable and decided when we were there that we didn't need all the clothing we'd brought.  There was sunshine, it was warm, my glasses went very dark.

Friday evening we went to a concert at St Martin's in the Fields.  It was the Fauré Requiem, amongst other pieces.  Not really my sort of thing, but it was SM's birthday and he likes choral stuff.  Anyway the Belmont Ensemble of London were very good and the two instrumental pieces (a Mozart symphany and Fauré's Pavane) were the pieces I enjoyed most.  I wasn't particularly grabbed by the London Chamber Choir, so let my mind wander at will.  Various plot points were considered and discarded, although I did allow my mind to dwell on Inspector Stanley Hopkins (as played by Richard Armitage) for a while without plot.

Saturday we took the Thames Clipper to Greenwich and visited the Cutty Sark.  I hadn't appreciated that a lot of the Cutty Sark's trade was the wool trade with Australia, thinking that it was just a tea clipper, whereas SM knew about the wool trade, but had no idea that the ship began her life carrying tea.  What amazed both of us was how few were needed to sail the ship: 31 when sailing to China, less when sailing to Australia.

Saturday evening we saw Urinetown: The Musical, which I raved about in yesterday's post.  And then Sunday morning we went to Sung Matins at the Chapel Royal at the Tower of London.  The singing, which included an anthem by Elgar, was again excellent.

It was an excellent weekend, one that felt like we'd been away for much longer.

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