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Posts Tagged ‘Xiaoran Wang’

Contemporary Music

After 13 evenings without live culture I might have enjoyed almost anything, but there’s little doubt that the Carolina Chocolate Drops concert was simply brilliant. They just get better and better and this first time (for me) with the new line-up continued this progression. The musicianship is extraordinary, the enthusiasm infectious and the sound gloriously uplifting. There was fine support from the unfortunately named but original and entertaining David Wax Museum and their blend of American folk with Mexican! Quirky and fun.

John Cale is still cool at 70. Silver haired with matching goatee, pink jacket, blue jeans and expensive leather shoes. His new young band is fearsome, they play the stuff off the new album brilliantly and the sound is great. In fact the first hour was a huge treat. Then it outstays its welcome because at two hours the sound becomes monotonous and relentless; there just isn’t enough light and shade. More is less. I almost always turn up in time for support acts and boy did that pay off on this occasion. Lucy Rose was simply brilliant and I’ve already bought her debut album.

The Unthanks third ‘diversion’ project is the soundtrack to a film of archive footage of shipbuilding (remember that? making ships in the UK?) and they performed it live at the Purcell Room. It was surprisingly contemporary (Alex Glasgow and John Tams rather than traditional folk) and it benefitted from that. The screening was a bit bitty, with gaps and silences, but it was often moving and always beautifully played and sung.

Opera

Finding Butterfly was a ‘re-imagining’ of Puccini’s opera set in a Nagasaki mental hospital in 1948 where Pinkerton junior has come to find out about his past, with the opera itself in flashback. It’s staged in the near derelict but atmospheric Limehouse Town Hall, where the same company The Wedding Collective staged Menotti’s The Consul. It supposes that Butterfly never died but was incarcerated whilst her son was in an orphanage rather than with her from birth to leaving with his father. What makes the evening is some simply stunning singing, particularly from young Chinese soprano Can Xie as Butterfy, Joe Morgan as Pinkerton, Latansa Phoung as Suzuki and Xiaoran Wang as The Bonze. As he did at the Cock Tavern’s Olivier Award winning La Boheme, Andrew Charity plays the entire score heroically on an electric piano. A wonderful evening.

Art

I adored the Pre-Raphaelite exhibition at Tate Britain. It was the most I’ve seen in one place and it proved my theory that Millais and Burne-Jones were the stars. It was good to see tapestries, furniture, books etc. as well as paintings so that the connections with people like William Morris could be explored. I might have to go back. I won’t be going back to the Turner Prize shortlist, only one of whom was worthy of the space – Paul Noble’s technically stunning though somewhat obsessive drawings of imaginary worlds. Yawn.

The Barbican Gallery has put together a fascinating exhibition called everything was moving of 12 photographers from 10 countries who worked in the 60’s and 70’s. Their subjects are diverse and there’s a lot to take in, but it is a veritable feast if you’re interested in photography. One of their better ideas!

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