70th anniversary concert at Royal Festival Hall

An incredible end to a pretty busy Sunday of fun with friends, art, history, culture and now music.

We raced up to Waterloo and managed to squeeze my car into what must have been, judging by the looks we were getting, the last car parking space on the Southbank.

I had been looking forward to this concert for what seemed like a long time.  Partly because I knew it’d be wonderful but also because I wanted to see what my Proms friends thought of the Royal Festival Hall as a concert venue.  Sadly due to work commitments they had to cancel at the last minute.  However it was fortuitous for the mother and daughter who were making a beeline for the box office and to whom I donated the now spare tickets.  They were thrilled and clearly mother, visiting from overseas, was utterly delighted.

Tonight’s concert, conducted by Christoph von Dohnányi, was part of the 70th Anniversary Concert series at the Royal Festival Hall.

Piano Concerto in A minor – Robert Schumann
Symphony No. 9 in D minor – Ludwig van Beethoven

Clearly the pianist truly felt his way through the Schumann Piano Concerto and by that I don’t mean for the first time but more a feeling that with every note there was an emotion.  The speed at which his fingers crossed the keys and drifted from reflective quiet to decisive vigour.  Quite a performance and it certainly found us holding our breath and leaning forward to hear every note.

After the intermission we were treated to an amazing performance of Beethoven’s Symphony No 9.  Entranced as we listened and watched whilst the orchestra bought the performance forward and were then joined by soloists and an outstanding performance by the choir.  Incredible and deserved my ‘Wow, just Wow’ comment later!

RFH Programme Notes

The evening’s performance was conducted by Christoph von Dohnányi without any notes or music.  It’s no wonder that he holds the position of Philharmonia Orchestra’s Honorary Conductor for Life.

Telegraph Review – here
FT Review – here

 

Battersea Power Station Exhibition at BAC

Battersea Arts Centre this week was playing host to a wonderful exhibition of art work about the Battersea Power Station.   Those of you who know me well or have read my posts for a while now will know I did an Abseil in 2012 and also the reasons why.  I still laugh that they told me (and showed me) the ambulance at the foot of the Station as a reassurance… it was a mere spec from up there!

Anyway I was delighted to hear about this exhibition of works of art compiled in one place of the Power Station.  Hundreds of different works and different interpretations in different mediums.  There were professional artists, accomplished amateurs and children who’d entered work.  They varied from small drawings, photographs, pencils, pastels, acrylics, cardboard, patchwork, woodwork, glass and even Lego.

I loved that each artist had interpreted it slightly differently or caught a different light or angle.  Most of the work was for sale and I was pleased to see lots of red dots throughout the exhibition.

I spotted one piece painted by a lady, Laura, who’d been inspired to paint it following her abseil in October 2012!

It’s encouraging to think that there’s such passion for an industrial building that has, for decades been in danger or eroding and collapsing but now with overseas investment, is to have new life breathed back into it.  But no matter what the designers create in and around the Power Station, to me there will be no image stronger than the skyline at night with the towers reaching far in to the sky.

IMG_0294 IMG_0295 BAC WallLego pictureMade from Lego

Lego sculptureSchool Legoand the glass piece

Glass power stationGlass explanation Power Station

 

Saturday Images on Glass – results with decals

A little update following the firing from Images on Glass Saturday course.   Below are the pieces as they came out of the kiln…. now what to do with them?

Mum and Dad firedMum and Dad Fired 2

I cut up some strips of black glass and carefully fitted them around the pictures of Mum and Dad.  There were some very small gaps where the glass didn’t have perfect edges.

Mum and Dad together

I then carefully placed them into the kiln with a piece of 3mm clear glass over the top and fired it once more.

There’s the result.  There’s bubbles in it but this was to be expected with small gaps and a sheet of glass on the top (I quite like them!) but disappointingly the decals have slightly shrunk with the top sheet too giving them Mum and Dad a few more wrinkles than they’d like to have.

IMG_0284I’m quite pleased with it just the way it is however as I have 4 more printed images I’m going to try it again, perhaps this time with the sheet of glass below the images.  I’ll keep you posted.

Here it is on my fireplace.  The images are much stronger at night interestingly as if Mum and Dad are ready for a large G&T and a hand or two of Canasta!

Mum&DadFirePlace

Handmade Fair 2015

I managed to get some early bird tickets to the Handmade Fair for the second year.  Last year’s Fair inspired me to do more crafting and not to be afraid to try new things. It does help that my friend Miranda has been with me for both years too.

There were a heap of people who’ve benefited from things that I’ve made since last year or gift wrapped or received cards.  So I was hoping that this year’s Fair would introduce me to some more crafts and reinspire me further.

Collages12A little origami lesson.

20150919-094456And now I’m hoping to create the swan below… reckon I’ll do it?

Collages11And a class learning redwork embroidery… I’ve still to finish the pincushion.

20151011-171359A fun day out.  Great weather and lots to see, buy and do.  However all the workshops and demonstrations are definitely geared to crafting beginners.  Although it was lovely to learn redwork emboidery the workshop was called ‘Quilting’ which isn’t close.

I do hope that next year they run some more intermediate/advance workshops or perhaps extend the time (currently 45mins) so that people can get their teeth into some crafting and come away with something finished.

Richmond Hill 101

Number 62 on Greig’s list of 101 Things to Do When you Survive is “Enjoy a hot chocolate whilst watching the sun go down on Richmond Hill in 2015”.

I’m quite sure when Greig created the Facebook event on 5 August inviting some friends to meet him at Richmond Hill on 6th September for hot chocolate, he expected maybe 50 or so people would be able to make it.  Hmmm I’m not sure that Greig truly understands the impact of his 101 Journey on all those who’ve read his blog or followed his social media posts on Twitter and Facebook.  If you’ve not read why then click here.  What’s different about Greig’s journey was that not only was it about him and for him, he chose to do something around the world for others and managed to include and inspire us all along the way.

Yes it was inevitable that there’d be a heap of people on Richmond Hill having hot choccie.  They’d traveled from everywhere and even from the other side of the world to be there.  Many people were sporting 101 t-shirts/sweatshirts (another project that Greig had organised to raise funds for Cure Brain Cancer Foundation and raising no less than £1,668.

Even the hot chocolate day at Richmond Hill was raising funds for another charity North of England Children’s Cancer Research and with donations and an auction raised £1,100 on the day.

AND we had an amazing day.  The sunshine was out, great friends (old and new), virtual and real.

Typical Greig… tick off something from his List but achieve so much financially for charity but also for others to be part of this exciting day and visit a place that means so much to him… and now to all of us.

11059710_831675516931100_1402973801470713459_n 12118708_831675463597772_117158383957624384_n 12042999_831675606931091_6862644271470986015_nGreig, hope you now know that you were never alone on our journey… we all came along for the ride too!

Prom 51: Boston Symphony Orchestra and Andris Nelsons

My fourth and final Proms of this season.  My what a treat.

IMG_0053IMG_0052

Firstly, it was obvious from the moment the Boston Symphony Orchestra took to the stage at the Albert Hall that they were truly excited to be performing at the Proms.  Throughout the performance there were many smiles, glances and looks of sheer enjoyment on the musicians faces that it was clearly a joy to be here and performing such amazing pieces.

Secondly, I can’t express how much energy and excitement that the conductor bought to the performance.  His sheer exuberance was infectious and he appeared to have every instrument and musician captured in his hands.  I truly loved him and the performance – if only we could bottle his enthusiasm together with the impeccable sound of the orchestra and play it out in every tube and train station on a Monday morning… I guarantee everyone would be buzzing and smiling for the rest of the week.

Great picture taken by the Art Desk of Andris Nelsons conducting:

Prom 51 (98)Some of his facial expressions and the way he moved around the podium, almost bouncing and Tigger-like, made me think that this would be Rowan Atkinson as Mr Bean, if he ever took over the Proms!

Apparently Andris Nelsons, the conductor, had created the program for tonight to showcase the excellence of the Boston Symphony Orchestra.  Ooh and he did that in spades.  A-mazing.

Programme
Haydn – Symphony No 90 in C Major
Barber – Essay No 2

Interval (no doubt the conductor and musicians required a short lie-down)

Shostakovich Symphony No 10 in E minor
And a truly incredible piece as an encore ‘Shostakovich’s Galop’.  Wowza!

You have 30 days to listen to the performance on the BBC iPlayer and quite frankly, if you don’t, you will have missed out on something quite incredible.

Part I – here
Part 2 – here

Two reviews of the concert and also of the conductor:
The Arts Desk review
Telegraph review

Rewind 80s Festival 2015

REWIND-2015-LOGOline-up

I once again ventured in the land of the 80s at Henley’s Rewind Festival.  This year however I’d chosen only a day pass for the Saturday.  Mostly, I have to confess, so that I could hear Black Box and be transported momentarily to the hours spent on the motorway heading north for a weekend of clubbing in Manchester.  I have an abiding memory of being stuck somewhere near Birmingham, our car full of four exciting revellers, with ‘Ride on Time’ blasting from the car stereo!  Ooh to be young and carefree again!

Honestly though Rewind Festival is quite obviously the place where everyone forgets their troubles and becomes carefree… it’s clear from the various outrageous, fabulous and fun costumes; the ability for anyone to chat, dance or sing-a-long with any other festival goer; and that everyone (of all ages) knows every lyric and joins in!

Fortunately on Saturday we were also blessed with awesome weather.  Lovely hot sunshine and only a spit of refreshing rain to cool the sunburn in the early evening.  Perfect.

I think Heart FM have some of the best pictures of a selection of the costumes… and believe me there were sooo many more to see too.  Click here.

And a whole heap of photos here.

Some photos of the artists too.

Great fun.  Great friends, old and new.  Beautiful weather and setting.  Reminiscing and reliving my 80s… not a bad thing and truly it doesn’t seem that long ago!  Wonderful day.

As I set off from Henley on my drive home, I turned the volume up on Radio 2 and couldn’t help giggling to myself when the show was ‘Sounds of the 80s’!

PROM 30: The John Wilson Orchestra perform Sinatra

Tonight was my first foray into the late night Proms.  A very special Prom to celebrate the 100th year of Frank’s birth year.

Frank 100yrs

The John Wilson Orchestra with the help of some very talented singers (crooners), Jamie Parker, Claire Martin and (the creator of Family Guy), Seth MacFarlane, performing Frank Sinatra.

I love a bit of Frank. He’s been part of my life, my whole life.  In my 20s I became a little obsessed with that whole era, Sammy Davis Jnr, Frank Sinatra, Marilyn Monroe to name but a few.  One of my only regrets is that I didn’t borrow the money for a ticket to see Frank Sinatra live on his final tour at the Albert Hall in 1992.  I recall the tickets were virtually a month’s salary!

So last night I was hoping the performance would capture ‘Essence de Frank’ and transport us back to an era of swing and swoon.

It’s fair to say we all had a swell time but it wasn’t Frank.  I’m not sure if it was the Albert Hall acoustics, or the annoying man further down our row of seats who insisted on “singing” along a few keys out (I guess he may have had ‘a few’ before the late night Prom).  From where we were sitting, I didn’t feel the passion or energy in the performance from the singers.  The orchestra was great but the singers quiet and distant.

However that said, I just may have been grinning for most of it – you can’t help but smile when listening to a bit of Frank.

Proms 30 John Wilson

You can watch the performance on the iPlayer for the next 30 days here (a closer performance that we got from our seats, sadly)

PROM 17: Halle – Debussy, Vaughan Williams & Elgar

Prom17

I chose this concert as my Proms No 2 of this season, as I was excited to hear both the Debussy piece and hear Elgar performed in the Albert Hall.

I wasn’t disappointed by the performance one bit.  Well maybe a little but that’s my personal taste as I don’t particularly enjoy Vaughan Williams’ work…

During Debussy, it was evident that the entire audience was hanging on every note.  The flute was played beautifully (I should so pick up my flute and play again).  A true aural treat.  Taken away by the music to places peaceful, graceful and delightfully soft and gentle.

OK so I don’t enjoy Vaughan WIlliams’ work… but hell I can appreciate an incredible performance.  They utilised the entire Albert Hall.  We had the Youth and Boys Choirs together the tenor solo performing from the gallery.  The sound encapsulated the audience with the orchestra and main choir from the stage.  Incredible performance from all.

And finally, but certainly not least, was Elgar’s Symphony No 2.  A piece that carried you along with every note.  Elgar’s wife apparently described this work as ‘vast in design and supremely beautiful’ – I think it sums it up very well.

You can see the entire concert on the BBC for 30 days here

BachTrack Review
Telegraph Review

Sylvie Guillem: Life in Progress

For those of you not familiar with dance and ballet, Sylvie Guillem is extraordinary.  She has had a long career for more than 30 years and has taken the brave decision to retire at the age of 50.   Her career has been scrutinised within the world of dance and nobody expected her career to last… she had shape, she wasn’t conventional, she used her body in a way that other dancers didn’t, she interpreted the music and created dance, she was probably a nightmare for those trying to recreate a piece… and reviewers and other dancers and choreographers didn’t hold back in criticizing her.  But probably in spite of the comments, she’s bought dance to a different place.  Introduced a new dimension and allowed others to travel that road with her.  She challenged and because of this dance has changed, challenged and stereotypes shattered.

I think the strength of love and respect for Sylvie Guillem was clearly demonstrated in that extra dates have had to be added to her final tour because the tickets sell out instantly.  I missed out on seeing her at Sadlers Wells and as soon as I heard about the extra performance at the Colliseum in London, I messaged an ex-colleague to tell him and ask if he’d like to join me… if I can get tickets. His instant reply “I’m on holiday then.  B***.  But I’ve just come back from Sadlers Wells. Amazing! But we’re so sad. I LOVE her. But – wow – she is awesome. Take a hanky”

Sylvie-GuillemA few pictures borrowed from the internet of the performance and which I hope capture the emotion of the stories being delivered through dance.Sylvie-Guillem-and-Russel-012Her final piece was truly emotional.  It was danced, as she always dances, from the heart.  But the quiet dance resonated around the auditorium as the piece ended with her walking through a doorway and looking back at us, one last time.  There were people visibly moved by the performance and I, for one, had a lump in my throat and perhaps something in my eye.

Sylvie Door

I have no doubt at all that Sylvie will be missed within the world of dance.  However I am absolutely sure that her resolute strength and determination will have opened doors for dancers in years to come.

Screen Shot 2015-08-08 at 19.08.42Good luck Sylvie with the rest of your ‘Life in Progress’.

Guardian review
Independent review
DanceTabs review