Archive for August, 2010

Review: The Ševčík Players in Ely Cathedral

August 28, 2010

 It is common to find Japanese instrumentalists involving themselves in Western traditions and history of music. Violinists imitate the great performers and composers and make impressive in-roads into this field. However, a most unusual affiliation was demonstrated in the south transept of Ely Cathedral recently by a fine select group of Japanese performers from Hiroshima, Japan. Under the directorship of Minoria Nakaune, this ensemble studies the methods, techniques and works of Otakar Ševčík (1852-1934). Ševčík was an eminent Czech violinist and teacher. He wrote a number of teaching books including an elementary violin tutor called The Little Ševčík that teaches the semitone system. His books cover different techniques of violin addressing them one at a time. Students practise a particular technique until it is mastered and progress to the next. Different positions of the fingers on the violin, and double-stopping (holding down and playing 2 strings as a time) are some of the techniques included. These and many other techniques were in evident in the pieces performed in the concert. The programme presented a variety of pieces including a number of exhilarating solos accompanied by accomplished pianist Seiko Kitabayashi, accompanied and unaccompanied ensembles and an amazing performance by all of the violinists playing ‘Moto Perpetuo’ Op. 11 by Paganini. This piece is challenging enough for a soloist but these 6 players managed to perform it simultaneously without a blemish. Their fingers flew over their instruments, not a beat missing and including refined expression that pinpointed prominent notes exquisitely. These performers played with meticulous technique. However, the dramatic mood changes, eerie harmonics, melodious emotional themes and sonorous and strongly sustained episodes were all expressed with human emotional involvement. There were no technical automatons here. Some of the highlights amongst the pieces included the haunting sounds of Sakura Sakura, the excitement of Yagi Melody that featured a rhythmically prominent drum, and the final surprise – an arrangement of the popular English song ‘Greensleeves’. The concert was introduced by Professor Malcolm Benson and the ensemble included instrumentalists from the Hiroshima University, Hiroshima Bunka Gakuen University, Shimane Universtiy, the Yamaha Music School in Hiroshima, Mushashino Academia Musicae and the London Royal Academy of Music. After their performance in Ely Cathedral this group will perform in the Kaetsu Educational and Cultural Centre, Cambridge, and then in Prague and Písek in the Czech Republic. Contacts: Malcolm Benson: benson488@btinternel.com Ely Cathedral: http://www.elycathedral.org Rosemary Westwell

Review Little Shop of Horrors Soham Blueshed Productions

August 10, 2010

Review Little Shop of Horrors Soham
It is always difficult to set the right tone when black comedy is the order of the day, but Blueshed and KD Theatre Productions managed more than this.
The tale of the man-eating plant unravelled delightfully as songs reminiscent of the golden 60s added a schmaltzy nostalgic touch. The young lovers, the abusive brute, the mean shop owner and the crooning girls all brought the plot alive and gory details became tolerable as the over-the-top situations entertained a packed and appreciative audience.
Daniel Bell was a highly credible gangly shop assistant brought to fame by the growth of this unqiue blood thirsty plant. Ruth Masterton, Lucy Bell and co-producer Katherine Hickmott gelled in perfect 3-part harmony, far better than many of our modern girl-power groups. Oliver Ellerton gave maturity to the role of Mushnick, the mean shopkeeper. He was also the unforgettable voice of the ghastly plant: Audrey 11. The words “Feed me” still send shivers up the spine. Liam Walls made the plant more believable with his manipulations of its blood red jaws.
Audrey, played by Harriet Duthie, was every bit the young, victimized beauty with Marilyn Munroe-like innocence and the dastardly villain of the show, Orin, the drill-waving brute of a dentist, was made uglier by the aggressive narcissism portrayed by Sean Abbs.
The music rocked with the vibrant sounds of Skid Row Musicians: Keyboards: Melody Bell and Patricia Skinner, guitar: Chris Bradbury, percussion: Nick Thompson and saxophone: Mark Bell.
Fitting choreography, costumes, scenery and technical support all helped to make this production great. It will no doubt be a highly successful addition to the Edinburgh Fringe when the company participates there later in August.
Their next production will be well worth attending: “Mother Goose” 2nd, 4th December 2010
Contacts:
danielbell@kdtheatreproductions.co.uk
info@blueshedstudios.co.uk

Review “Much Ado Ron Ron!” performed by Newmarket Millennium Youth Theatre at the King’s Theatre Newmarket on Saturday 7th August 2010

August 10, 2010

Mucking about with Shakespeare is a dangerous occupation. When I saw the title, I was intrigued. It would not work. How could you possibly relate the antiquated language, characters and plots of Shakespeare to the whims and idiosyncratic desires of a gang of over-energized teenagers of today?
After seeing “Much Ado Ron Ron” presented by Newmarket Millennium Youth Theatre there is no doubt that the spirit of the Bard’s plays can indeed be wonderfully revived. This large group of highly talented performers, many of them as young as 13, immediately drew the audience into a world that reflected the exuberance and abandonment of the 60s while at the same time reflecting the wit, humour and vigour of Shakespeare’s play.
The performers crooned and bopped in unison as the familiar Shakespeare plot unravelled. The members of the audience could easily indentify with the trials and tribulations of the young lovers and they could readily empathize with the tensions created by the conflicting personalities. Shakespeare’s cast was well covered and included the carping couple Beatrice and (Captain) Benedict, the beautiful Hero and her beloved (Captain) Claudio, Leonata (hero’s much troubled mother), Hero’s friends Margaret and Ursula, Sir Peter, Colonel John, the dastardly brother of Sir Peter, handbag swinging Aunt Antonia, officers to Colonel John: Conrad and Boris, the hilarious organizer of the watch Dogberry, his assistant Verges and members of the watch, buck-toothed Padre, worldly Sisters Mary Michael and Mary Therese and the authoritative Court Recorder. Ronni and the beautiful Ronnettes, Dancing girls, members of Leonata’s Household and Soldiers of the Garrison enhanced the ambiance of the show magnificently.
Superb singing, with varied, moving and unique solos and beautifully gelled harmonies filled the intimate theatre. The stage was packed with vibrant dancers, working together with amazing precision that never tarnished the vivacity of their creative tableaux.
It seems incredible that this performance took only seven days to create.
Due credit must go to the highly talented company of 47 students, director Wallace Wareham and assistant Gail Baker, Musical Directors Craig Sayers and Simon Pearce, choreographers Jessica Clifford and Andy Thorpe and their large and amazing team.
This was one of the best shows I have seen in years!

Review: Peter Litman organ recital: Ely Cathedral Summer Organ Recital Series 8th August 2010 5.15 p.m.

August 10, 2010

Peter Litman’s contribution Ely Cathedral Summer Organ Recital Series was positively charming. He presented a delightful programme of organ pieces that were much appreciated by the sizeable audience. When Assistant Organist to Ely Cathedral, Jonathan Lilley, introduced this fine performer there was no doubt that the recital was going to be a good one.
Bach’s ‘Toccata in F’ BWV540 set the tone. This performer was well in command of the instrument and every line was clearly delivered. The pace was unhurried, engendering a general aura of calm and assurance that pervaded the whole recital. This performer knew what he was doing. Astute selection of organ stops and an intuitive awareness of musical structure wove Bach’s breathless phrases into a magical fabric.
A Cathedral organ the size of Ely Cathedral’s specimen is likely to be exploited for its tremendous power but Peter demonstrated that musical quality can come from the most fragile of expressions. He demonstrated the organ’s capacity to illuminate the most delicate and sensitive of phrases in Samuel Sebastian Wesley’s ‘Larghetto in F sharp minor’ that followed. His accuracy, precision and exquisite timing were especially evident in this piece.
The dramatic, complex and involved texture of Max Reger’s ‘Te Deum’ op 59 no12 provided a strong contrast.
The final Messe Basse op.30 by Vierne also exhibited Peter’s appreciation of the softest sounds and the audience was spellbound as the organ almost whispered in the opening movements. Vierne’s attractive tundeful themes were always to the fore while contrasts of mood and volume were fully and effectively explored. When the rousing, triumphant exclamations of the final movement resounded in the Cathedral vaults, the audience burst into applause. This had indeed been a fine concert.
The remaining organ recitals for this series (at 5.15 in Ely Cathedral) will feature:
15th August Paul Trepte
22nd August Oliver Hancock
29th August Parker Ramsay

Contacts:
http://www.peterlitman.co.uk
enquiry@peterlitman.co.uk
http://www.elycathedral.org
http://www.localsecrets.com

Review: Peter Litman organ recital: Ely Cathedral Summer Organ Recital Series 8th August 2010 5.15 p.m.

August 10, 2010

Peter Litman’s contribution Ely Cathedral Summer Organ Recital Series was positively charming. He presented a delightful programme of organ pieces that were much appreciated by the sizeable audience. When Assistant Organist to Ely Cathedral, Jonathan Lilley, introduced this fine performer there was no doubt that the recital was going to be a good one.
Bach’s ‘Toccata in F’ BWV540 set the tone. This performer was well in command of the instrument and every line was clearly delivered. The pace was unhurried, engendering a general aura of calm and assurance that pervaded the whole recital. This performer knew what he was doing. Astute selection of organ stops and an intuitive awareness of musical structure wove Bach’s breathless phrases into a magical fabric.
A Cathedral organ the size of Ely Cathedral’s specimen is likely to be exploited for its tremendous power but Peter demonstrated that musical quality can come from the most fragile of expressions. He demonstrated the organ’s capacity to illuminate the most delicate and sensitive of phrases in Samuel Sebastian Wesley’s ‘Larghetto in F sharp minor’ that followed. His accuracy, precision and exquisite timing were especially evident in this piece.
The dramatic, complex and involved texture of Max Reger’s ‘Te Deum’ op 59 no12 provided a strong contrast.
The final Messe Basse op.30 by Vierne also exhibited Peter’s appreciation of the softest sounds and the audience was spellbound as the organ almost whispered in the opening movements. Vierne’s attractive tundeful themes were always to the fore while contrasts of mood and volume were fully and effectively explored. When the rousing, triumphant exclamations of the final movement resounded in the Cathedral vaults, the audience burst into applause. This had indeed been a fine concert.
The remaining organ recitals for this series (at 5.15 in Ely Cathedral) will feature:
15th August Paul Trepte
22nd August Oliver Hancock
29th August Parker Ramsay

Contacts:
http://www.peterlitman.co.uk
enquiry@peterlitman.co.uk
http://www.elycathedral.org
http://www.localsecrets.com