Edinburgh News: music
This is a revival of Scottish Ballet’s sparkling production, (premiered in 2005) which spruces up the nursery story with a flamboyant, fashionable makeover by artistic director Ashley Page and designer Antony McDonald.
As a lifelong Edinburgh resident, I have experienced the Capital’s Christmas and New Year Festival celebrations over many years, (dating back to the days when over 300,000 unticketed spectators crammed onto Princes Street on 31 December). I often think I should become jaded by the annual display of sparkling trees, ice rink, music, song and dance, with fireworks at midnight.
It was a delight to hear and indeed to watch an up-and-coming operatic soprano, Sarah Tynan, sing four songs in German (we had the translations) as part of the New Year Viennese Gala.
With freezing temperatures and bone-chilling winds you could be tempted to stay indoors curled up on the sofa.
What could be better in these cold days of coalition than a warm evening of real collaboration between artists at a theatre whose name means ‘something that crosses another’ and whose event title is a terrific pun on this ‘new way to experience poetry’, TraVerses?
A large audience was in the George Square Theatre for the fifth anniversary and Festive Concert of Loud and Proud. There were just over thirty singers, two thirds women, with an excitingly varied programme sung a cappella (with no accompanying music).
Paul Rissmann, the presenter, had produced some really good graphics for the screen above the orchestra to illustrate his lecture. Indeed they had a warmth of colour about them that was enticing and thoroughly comfortable to watch whilst we listened to the music.
John Whitener, the Royal Scottish National Orchestra’s Principal Tuba player, is an American and was well placed to give us a real sense of twentieth century American classical music in his pre-concert talk.
Handel's Messiah, written in 1741, in only three and half weeks, is one of the most popular choral works ever to be performed.
The Scottish Chamber Orchestra concert at the Queen's Hall spanned two centuries - from 1813 to 2010. Conducted by the guest Finnish conductor John Storgards, the first piece on the programme was Symphony No 5 (Symphony for Strings) in three movements by the American composer William Schuman.
In front of St Cuthbert’s altar there were nine tiers of red seats for the Edinburgh Royal Choral Union with the ladies at the back and men in front, and in front and to their side the Edinburgh Youth Choir. On the other side were the timpanist’s drums. On came their conductor, Michael Bawtree, in a fetching red waistcoat, to start a fascinating programme.
Although written by the French composer Maurice Ravel during the First World War and with each movement dedicated to somebody who had died, Le Tombeau de Couperin proved nonetheless to be a thoughtful, tuneful and delightful start to the evening’s concert. It was not surprising that the conductor, Stéphane Denève, had the Principal Oboe player, Emmanuel Laville, on his feet at the end for special applause.
Susan Boyle, the spinster from Blackburn in West Lothian, has been catapulted into the record books again as her new album The Gift goes to number one on the album charts on both sides of the Atlantic.
Next Summer's Edinburgh International Festival will focus on the cultures of Asia and the influence of Eastern cultures on artists in the West. Announcing the Festival 2011 theme ‘To the Far West’ in Beijing today, Festival Director Jonathan Mills promised "a heady three weeks of exquisite artistic exploration which I hope will intoxicate audiences."
We are used to Stéphane Denève wishing us a good evening and then telling us a thing or two about the evening’s programme. Last year a red carpeted podium was presented to the Orchestra but it does not often appear at the Usher Hall. But there it was - with Stéphane Denève on it. Why then was there a second microphone?
Now that Edinburgh's Christmas programme is out of the bag, it's time to look at what festive shows city theatres have planned for us.
The Victorian tradition of pantomime is still very much alive and well with several theatres returning with new shows that have the classic panto ingredients of cross-dressing, singing, and audience participation, wrapped in a modern adaptation of a classic fairy tale.