scribbles tagged ‘concert’

Artistic temperaments

Saturday, April 18th, 2015 | tags: , , , , ,  |

The Minnesota Orchestra went on strike for 15 months, the nation’s longest-running contract dispute for a concert orchestra. Orchestra’s across the country are suffering similar challenges.  They’ve resolved the dispute with the orchestra taking another pay cut. They’re talented, dedicate professionals and their music should be accessible, but they’ve got to earn a wage that reflects their skill and societal value. If the orchestra is making a loss they need something to help raise awareness of their value. I’m now donating, but money isn’t always the answer,  I wonder what the management are doing to change the way they engage with potential audiences?  I’ll be popping along to see performance on May day. Hooray!

They’re based in a fantastic venue within walking distance of my home. I’m loving the advantages of city living, which I couldn’t really afford in southern, central, England.

Artistic temperaments
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Beethoven in the baroque basilica

Monday, April 13th, 2015 | tags: , , , , ,  |
St. Mary's Basilica

St Mary’s Basilica

St. Mary's BasilicaSt. Mary’s Basilica  (1914)  is less than a mile from my home, I can see it’s imposing dome from my windows. It was the first ‘Basilica’ in the USA. Designed by a French architect, Emmanuel Louis Masqueray, trained in Paris, the Minneapolis-opedia says:

The pro-cathedral’s architecture reflected Masqueray’s training at the prestigious Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris. The pro-cathedral was designed in the style of late Renaissance and Baroque churches in France and Italy. Masqueray wanted the pro-cathedral to create a serene impression through perfect proportions, good lighting, and sincere composition. The focus of his design was the wide nave, or main worship space. At the time, it was said to be the widest nave in the world.

The lower windows are colourfully decorated with characters from the old testament. It’s not a church style I’m familiar with. I did recognise the fluer de l’isle built into the decoration, recognise the French connection.

I lit a candle for Dad

St. Mary's Basilica

Detail of glass window

I wandered in at 2.05pm on a Saturday afternoon to find a fantastic concert in progress. Minnesota Sinfonia performing Beethoven’s piano concerto #4 in g major, opus 58. Beautiful music filling this vast place. The audience were all shapes, sizes and colours. Some people looked homeless, shabby and sleeping in the pews. Other’s looked wealthy, dressed-up for a special event. Children in smart outfits, families that looked like tourists

The event was free

Because it was free, it gifted a spontaneous happiness, I donated more than I would have paid for a ticket. Free, quality, live music produced by experts in a building built by experts, built for the people, this is the sort of ‘humanity’ that inspires


Beethoven in the baroque basilica
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hold on tight!

Thursday, January 3rd, 2013 | tags: , , , , ,  |

Nicholas Ransley & Catrin AurThere was a charmingly shambolic tone to John Pryce-Jones conducting of the tasty Welsh National Opera orchestra for their Christmas Proms at Bristol’s Colston hall.

Rating: :-)  :-)  :-)

Ratings explained

Just John?

It wasn’t an Omnishambles by any stretch of the imagination. A completely retrievable set of miner shamblings by John that in no way seemed to undermined the orchestra’s ability to put on an awesome show. A very polished performance by the orchestra.

Christmas spirit?

The shamblings started when John introduced the 3rd piece in the set – and got it wrong. The Orchestra subtly let him know. John tried again, wrong again. By his fourth attempt he had worked-out what piece he was introducing. The audience giggled affectionately. Even the orchestra seemed amused by his unawareness of the running order. As the evening progressed and John threw in some sexist stereotypes under the guise of witty retorts to introduce each piece – he seemed drunk. His keenness to hold onto the rail around the conductors stand didn’t help make him look sober.

A blacker pot

The most entertaining part of John’s performance was when he shifted from conducting the orchestra to conducting the audience. We definitely needed his help, we didn’t know the tempo, the pitch, and couldn’t even remember the words to ‘Rule, Britannia’. We surely were a bit pathetic. Even our flag waving was decidedly below-par, no wonder are no longer an empire. We were a bit damp squibb-ish.

What was the set list?

My favourite was Grieg’s ‘In the hall of the mountain king’. The ‘Dam Busters March’ seemed like a bit of an outsider It certainly kept me happy and toe-tapping. I found ‘Those Magnificent men in their flying machines’ a tad more befuddling, a bit of befuddlement can be a good thing.

Musical Menu

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One Plucking Thing After Another

Monday, April 4th, 2011 | tags: , , , , ,  |

The People’s Republic of South Yorkshire brings us 8 players of- Bass, Barritone, Tenor, Soprano and Fridge Magnet Ukeleles. Fresh from New York’s Carniegie Hall with only hand luggage, the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain played the New Theatre Oxford to the delight of a mature audience and their teenage offspring. Witty banter inbetween singing, whistling, dancing all accompanied by Ukulele playing.  Playing songs from one musical genre in another style, for example, Kate Bush’s Wuthering Heights re-interpretted in the genre of Swing bands

Recommended for anyone with a sense of humour, love of diverse musical genres or 80’s music, and Yorkshire people.

4 smiles: Ratings explained

The set included:

  • Hawkwind’s Silver Machine as an ode to commuters
  • David Bowie’s Life on Mars delivered with duet lyrics from other songs. One person singing I did it my way and so on while the lead vocalist sang the main lyric. It was fascinating, creative and worked extremely well.
  • Ian Dury and the Blockheads Sex and Drugs and Rock and Roll as a polite tea party
  • Kate Bush’s Wuthering Heights as a Swing band
  • Wheatus’s Teenage Dirtbag” as a polite love song
  • Sex Pistols Anarchy in the UK as a group campire singalong
  • Recognisable classical stuff that I am sadly ill-equipped to name
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Squeeze and the Lightening Seeds

Monday, November 22nd, 2010 | tags: , , , , ,  |

Lightening SeedsYour average height, 5″5 ¾, English gal standing in the stalls at a gig (Pop concert) has to decide whether to crane her neck for a view or

DANCE her socks off

Given the bands were Squeeze and the Lightening Seeds the decsion was easy – I opted for sock abondonment. Whenever I glanced up and between the gently rocking plumpified bodies of the middle-aged couples afront I could see fabulous back-drops and light displays. Displays clearly designed to entertaining the heightedly-average person such as myself. Good show. It was.

During the interval I joined the logistic challenge of ordering beers by acting as part of the chain to pass them from the bar through the 10-person deep seemingly random crowd that was actually multiple orderly queues. I’d forgotten the subtle skills and social coordination necessary to purchase a round of drinks at a sell-out concert in a large venue. It was fun, I got to meet and talk to other people in the Queue about their journey’s to the gig, their past experiences of seeing the bands. It’s a friendly psuedo-muddle.

SqueezeBy lifting my arm into the air I gained a snapshot into what the world looks like for taller people and those average heighties who are prepared to wear ankle-threatening high  heals. With only 6 inches difference in height the world would look so different.

4 smiles: Ratings explained

The Lightening Seeds sang the life of Riley

Squeeze sang up the junction

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David Byrne | Songs of David Byrne and Brian Eno

Saturday, April 11th, 2009 | tags: , , , , , ,  |

Air can hurt you tooOutstanding. Highly recommended.

My 4 day holiday weekend kick-started with  a magical evening of slick, creative, quality performances in  glowing cricketish whites over a glass of wine in the circle of the Oxford New Theatre.

Choreography  variously  included  synchronised office-chair twirling and dancers leap-frogging David while he played.  A packed audience of  silver-haired and teenage people  bounced in the good natured holdiay-ready atmosphere.

David’s vocal control and pitch has matured beautifully adding more depth to classic tracks, those played  included: Air, I Zimbra, Once in a lifetime, Take me to the river.

David was his usual unassuming, audience focused, personable-self.   When he noticed venue staff asked audience members to sit-down he stopped the band mid song and gave people explicit permission to stand-up and dance,  then  picked-up the song again where they had left-off.

Alien t-setA David-designed  alien themed  t-set was a featured part of the mechandising.

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future composition

Sunday, October 8th, 2006 | tags: ,  |




novice  adults,   as one,   separate,   stretch their legs during the interlude  

are beautiful,   unique,   uniformed,    wearing the  dress and hair styles of trend

chatting away,  are now,  our future,  I wonder if they like my new hat?

These notes added in later edits (21st Oct 2006).   The poem can be read as vertical sections indicated by commas,   for example “novice adults, are beautiful, chatting away” and “as one, unique, are now” aswell as in the normal line structure.   The other deliberate inclusion is a play on the phonoloigcal similarity of ‘are’ and ‘our’ in the last line.   With a theme on the time-based value of style,   my hat, thier clothes.

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Saturday night’s alright for Gershwin…

Sunday, October 1st, 2006 | tags: , , , ,  |

A thoroughly enjoyable evening. The musical evening was only marred by my  feeling short changed on by the unexplained program  change that effectively downgraded the promised experience   🙂 🙂

Ratings explained

Starting with Desert

Plum, apricot  and ginger pie in Earth and Ocean.   The first 3 desert wines we requested from the menu were not in stock.   After these 3 attempts at ordering  via the waitress the wine waiter came over.    I suggested that he take the trouble to inform the waitresses which of the menu items were unavailable.   Spot the spikiness.   I tried to smile while making this suggestion.   The wine waiter spontaneously offered several reasons for not having the listed wines in stock.   I wasn’t really interested in disruptions to his business processes,   he should tell the waitresses what is not available.   Sensing the depth of passion behind the Wendy Paddington Bear stare the wine waiter recovered ground  by suggesting that he pick on our behalf and charge us the price of our original choice (the cheapest on the list).  

  • Good deal.  
  • We gladly accepted.  
  • Excellent food.  
  • Friendly staff.  
  • Decently small portions.

Seattle symphony selection of Gershwin compositions

The conductor, Rudi Schlegel,  provided a semi-formal  verbal introduction for each piece to compensate for the lack of performance program notes.     He announced that  “I got rythm” had been replaced in the program and the audience simultaneously  groaned.   We were never told why they pulled this obvious audience pleaser.    

We started with a plucky rumba, the Cuban overture, inspired by Gershwin’s stay in Havanna.   Good stuff.   The ‘Porgy and Bess’ symphonic picture appeared to be a patchwork of  sections from different tunes within the Opera of that name.   I prefer being guided gently through a single composition than listening to compilation of musical highlights.   Not my taste.    

The highlight of the evening was undoubtedly Stewart Goodyear’s interpretation of a Rhapsody in Blue.  Vibrant,   then gentle,   fast then slow,   Stewart’s face and whole body flowing with the music.   Captivating.   I didn’t want it to end.   After 3  applause-prompted  curtain calls  Stewart played an encore.    Twinkling notes of a  soft Embracable you.   After the interval,   the replacement for  “I got rythm’ was a short,   sweet ‘promenade’ performed without Stewart Goodyear.   Urgh.   More like a weak apology than a replacement.

Benaroya Hall

The actual Orchestra on stage are not steeply tiered.   This makes it virtually impossible for the people in the first 8 rows of seating in the stalls to see the brass sections,   percussion,   reeds and Banjo.   Actually we could see the Banjo by twisting our necks to look underneath the Piano. The stalls seats after about row f are steeply staggered,   this enables attendees to see more of the orchestra.   For this reason I’d recommend seats towards the back of the stalls or in the gods.   This photograph is taken from row ‘f’ looking back towards the gods:

Benaroya Hall Circle from Orchestra

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Saturday night’s alright for Elton

Saturday, September 30th, 2006 | tags: ,  |

Top notch   🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

Ratings explained

Elton John  played his little heart out for nearly 2 and a half hours in the Key Arena (Basket Ball stadium) on last Friday night.   Wow.   The little man produced  a range of well introduced songs from classics  (Your Song) through to those on his new album (Postcards from Richard Nixon) and all sorts inbetween (I guess that’s why they call it the Blues).  Very professional.   Not as lively physically as David Bowie or as interesting a stage show as Peter Gabriel.  Nonetheless,


Mumzie wriggled to the rythm  in the seat next to me,   singing along,   she seemed very happy.   The audience were more excited by “Bitch” than “Saturday night’s alright for fighting“.  This is America, need  I say more?

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Saturday, July 29th, 2006 | tags: , , ,  |

On a warm weekday evening Chris Issak played a wonderful outdoors concert at Chateau St Michelle.   The shere volume of people attending the concert marred an otherwise exceptional evening.  

My companions arrived over an hour later than anticipated merely because of traffic congestion.   The Chateau provided sufficient parking and a shuttle bus service to carry customers to and from their cars.    

I have difficulty controlling my panic in crowds.  Fear of Crowds.  FOC   an appropriate acronym.    “FOC! lots of people,   let me out of here!”

It was difficult to relax during the concert because of the powerful urge to skedaddle.   Normally I can  ignore crowds by focussing on a conversation nearby,  the main event, or some specific activity (e.g. watching a film). When this fails the Cinderalla Effect comes into play.   I leave.   Quickly.   Despite the excellent music,   good  companions and cheerful nature of the crowd I left at 9.15pm before Chris Isaak had finished his main set.  

Mid-escape a girl stopped me “I love your outfit!” she beamed,    “I love your…. (pause while Wendy finds something to compliment) …facial piercings” I choked over my shoulder  while dashing directly  to the shuttle bus service.

Fabulous hat that tooped my lovelly outfit,  with a flower on it which is bigger than my nose,  and that's BIG  

Wendy FOC’d-off

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Joe Bonamassa @ Jazz Alley

Wednesday, December 7th, 2005 | tags: ,  |

Jazz Alley is a ‘Dinner and Jazz club’. That seems to mean a big room in a posh hotel. A bit more ‘classy’ than I’m normally used to. A treat.

Joe Bonamassa was not an artist I was familiar with before the evening. He played with a bass guitarist and a drummer. He had 15 guitars next to the stage. He used 8 of them during the performance.  

The music was wonderful; his hands were captivating. Like watching a fire as they danced over the strings. Many of the songs were instrumental. When he did sing Joe had a rasping voice. Sounded like the Blues to a novice like me.

There was no ‘back-stage’ when Joe and colleagues left the stage they loitered to the left with the guitars. Very informal.

Another excellent evening.

W spoilt

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