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Posts Tagged ‘Wolfgang Tilmans’

Contemporary Music

Camille O’Sullivan really is a one-off. I adore the edginess, anarchy, unpredictability and eccentricity, but above all her unique interpretation of songs; she inhabits them. The Union Chapel was the perfect venue for her and I was captivated.

I was a bit nervous that Show of Hands’ could pull off the challenge of having their 25th Anniversary concert in the vast Royal Albert Hall given that the only other time I’ve seen them was at the tiny candlelit Sam Wannamaker Playhouse, but somehow they turned it into an intimate folk club (with raffle and birthday announcements!). The duo expanded to a trio and then an ensemble of up to eleven with a 26-piece choir, but it all worked brilliantly.

The Unthanks latest ‘Diversions’ project involves the songs and poems of Molly Drake, mother of singer-songwriter Nick Drake and actress Gabrielle Drake, whose recorded voice reads the poems. They are nice songs but 90 minutes of them was maybe a bit too much, though there was enough to enjoy to make the evening at Cambridge Corn Exchange worthwhile, with a Nick Drake song as an encore a terrific bonus.

Classical Music

I’m not familiar with Dvorak’s Requiem so it was good to hear it in the Barbican Hall, and the BBC SO & SC made a great job of it, with three excellent well-matched soloists. I’m a bit puzzled why it isn’t done more often as it’s as good as many others that are.

Global Voices at the Royal Festival Hall was a bit of a punt that turned into a major treat. In the first half, the National Youth Choir of Great Britain did a musical world tour with innovative pieces from or influenced by Italian, Indian, Latvian, Chinese, Swedish, Aboriginal and British music. In the second they were joined by seven other guest youth choirs from the US, Hong Kong, Indonesia, South Africa, Latvia and Israel to form a 350-piece choir accompanied by the Southbank Sinfonia and two excellent young British soloists for Jonathan Dove’s superb oratorio There Was a Child, written to celebrate the life of the son of two musicians who died aged 19. I can’t begin to describe how inspirational, captivating and uplifting it all was.

The big classical event of the month was Sounds Unbound 2017 : Barbican Classical Weekender which was so good, it got its own blog https://garethjames.wordpress.com/2017/05/01/sound-unbound-2017-barbican-clasical-weekender

Dance

I enjoyed the New Adventures 30th anniversary mixed bill at Sadler’s Wells, but it came as a bit of a shock after all those large-scale shows. It was a good reminder of where it all started though, and a charming and funny show.

Film

It’s been a lean period, but I did catch Their Finest which I loved. A fascinating true story with a cast of British actors that reads like a Who’s-Who. Gemma Arterton continues to impress on screen as well as stage – even playing Welsh!

Art

I really enjoyed the Vanessa Bell exhibition at Dulwich Picture Gallery. I didn’t really know a lot about her, hadn’t seen much of her work before and I was very impressed. I do love going to Dulwich, where the exhibitions are always the right size, with brunch in the café to follow!

The David Hockney exhibition at Tate Britain blew me away. Spanning sixty years, with everything from paintings to photo collages to iPad drawings, it was a huge exhibition and a huge treat. From there, via the brilliant new Cerith Wyn Evans light installation in the Duveen Gallery, downstairs to Queer British Art, an odd exhibition in that not everything seemed connected to its theme, but there were some great individual works, including more of the Sussex Modernists I’d seen three and five days before in Dulwich and at Two Temple Place.

The American Dream, the British Museum’s review of Pop Art through prints, was very comprehensive and fascinating. It included the usual suspects like Andy Warhol but had a lot more I’d never heard of. The puzzle was, though, what is it doing in the British Museum?

The Eduardo Paolozzi retrospective at the Whitechapel Gallery was just as comprehensive, and much more diverse than I was expecting. I wouldn’t call myself a fan, but it was good to see the entire career of an important British artist like this.

The Barbican Art Gallery’s exhibitions are often surprising and fascinating and The Japanese House was one of those. It examines domestic architecture in Japan since the Second World War and they’ve recreated ten units of an actual house on the ground floor! Downstairs in the Curve Gallery, Richard MossIncoming projects giant images of refugees and their camps taken with long-distance thermographic cameras normally used in warfare to create something oddly voyeuristic but deeply moving.

Tate Modern has a giant Wolfgang Tillmans photography exhibition. As usual, Tillmans mounts his photographs, sometimes with narrative, to create room installations. It’s a bit hit-and-miss in my view, but worth a mooch.

The annual Wildlife Photography Exhibition at the Natural History Museum now seems to start as soon as the last one finishes; we were even wondering if we were going to one we’d already seen! There’s something new each year – a category or theme perhaps – and it’s always hugely impressive.

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CONTEMPORARY MUSIC

It wouldn’t be a Sondheim celebration year without a Maria Friedman concert and her selection at Cadogan Hall was better than ever. She became the Broadway Baby of the song, reprised her terrific turn as Mrs Lovett of pie fame (yet again, I was one seat from being picked on as her victim!) and gave possibly definitive versions of Losing You and Being Alive. Some compensation for missing the Sondheim Prom.

My first Puppini Sisters concert at the same venue a week later proved a little disappointing. They do specialise in 40’s Andrews Sisters-type stuff, but billing it as part of the ‘Hits from the Blitz’ mini-season rather misrepresented the content which included Blondie, Kate Bush and Beyonce! Some of it really worked but some of it left me cold, so it ends up on the ‘OK’ list I’m afraid (the seriously over-excited man in the front row certainly wouldn’t agree with that!).

CLASSICAL MUSIC

My second (and last, this year) Prom was an English selection (no surprise there then) from Elgar, Vaughan Williams and less well known, Foulds. VW’s Serenade to Music is rarely performed as it requires 16 soloists for its 11 minute length. Last time I heard it here 16 years ago it featured a stellar line-up that included three knights and a dame! This time it was given to new singers for whom it was a bit of a challenge to be honest. The other VW, The Lark Ascending, was beautifully played by young Nicola Benedetti; the Foulds piano concerto, played brilliantly by Ashley Wass, was a revelation and Elgar’s 1st Symphony has never sounded better. Great to see a full house for English music too!

ART

Wolfgang Tilmans is a German photographer based in London whose exhibitions are fascinating, partly because he arranges the photos on the gallery walls (most actually attached to the walls) and includes ‘collages’ on tables with news cuttings, product labels etc. His exhibition at the Serpentine is a typically eclectic collection from people to objects to landscapes to abstracts; always interesting, sometimes beautiful. Outside, the summer pavilion is a riot of red with a touch of green and is one of the best in the ten years they’ve been building one. There are tables for chess, draughts, and other games; table tennis tables; chill-out spaces and a café.

The title ‘Sargent and the Sea’ at the Royal Academy rather misrepresents an exhibition which has c.7 seascapes and lots of beaches and harbours. Not being a big Sargent fan, it was a pleasant surprise though if I’d paid £10 for 42 finished paintings, I think I might have felt cheated!

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