Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Limelight/The 100 Club

London boasts a growing number of endeavours that present classical music in places far removed from the traditional concert hall. Now into its second year, Limelight is one such venture that has been lucky enough to bag The 100 Club on Oxford Street for its monthly outing.

I couldn't tell you whether hosting at this venue, famed for its Northern Soul nights, has tempted new audiences through the door but it certainly offers the listener a very rewarding intimacy unmatched by more conventional confines including the Wigmore Hall.

And so it was the Norwegian Chamber Orchestra performed a multi-coloured interpretation of Vivaldi's Four Seasons complete with barking fiddle players, a castanet touting percussionist and other accompanying sound effects. They were followed by Norway's other great cultural export, Leif Ove Andsnes who performed Chopin to a rapt audience. Even the queue for the bar seemed to evaporate once he began playing.

I'd be surprised if more people didn't climb on the band-wagon that Limelight and others have started. Once experienced, you wonder why you haven't had your classical music served up like this before. It's an experiment the good people at the Proms would do well to consider.

Monday, 23 August 2010

Prom 49/RAH

A Celebration of Rodgers and Hammerstein. Cracking good - to see an orchestra this size play the R+H scores the way they would have been recorded for the big screen is a rare treat. Conductor John Wilson's attention to detail was staggering, even down to the rate of the first trumpet's vibrato. He and his fine hand-picked orchestra will be back next year, I'm absolutely sure of that. Is it sacrilege to suggest a Prom (other than the Last Night) that positively encourages audience participation? I've never seen so many Prommers straining at the leash to sing along but not having the gumption to do so..

Sunday, 22 August 2010

Endorset, Tete a Tete/Riverside Studios

Took a day out from the summer holiday to play at the Endorset Festival in Dorset (geddit?) which, conveniently, was up the road from where we were staying. Endorset's no Glastonbury, and all the better for it, a low-key affair that's entirely at ease with itself as a show case for Cow Punk (well, that's how it was described to me) very much in keeping with its unassuming rural location.

My guest appearance with Johnny and the Bees was pleasingly early in the day and despite a few syncronisation issues among the band, it passed off without incident, or applause. Good fun tho..

Described as an opera laboratory, the Tete a Tete Opera Festival features new and innovative drama and storytelling driven by music and the voice. It's all a bit random which makes this festival so intriguing. I could have done without the shapeless mortuary gloom of Robert Hugill's When a Man Knows (when an opera begins with the words 'You Fucking Bastard', you know you're in for a long evening).

Things vastly improved with Gutter Press, a witty satire on the paparazzo and starlets with an interesting twist in the tale. The show's writer, James Richards has described it as an operusical, an interesting concept but ultimately too ambiguous an idea. Far better would be for Richards' composing partner, Fergal O'Mahony to work-up some hits from his lively score to give Gutter Press any real chance of commercial success.