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ChrisG

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  1. It seems that when I said some of you would definitely like it and some would definitely not I was wrong. I seem to be in a minority of one! But then my hearing's probably been wrecked by a lifetime of listening to loud music. I remember once seeing Dr John at Manchester University and you could feel the breeze coming from the speakers it was so loud. Having said that though, the loudest experience I ever had was sitting in the choir seats behind the percussion section of the BBC Philharmonic and hearing Rite of Spring. Now THAT is loud!!
  2. Here's the final curtain call. I know what LinMM means, it is very loud, and remains so in the second half! However, though I'll let others better qualified do more detailed reviews, I do have to say I found it stunning. Erina Takahashi, and especially Jeffrey Cirio as the Creature, both give stellar performances that sometimes veer more towards dance theatre than dance but are none the worse for that. Some of the most interesting actual dancing is done by the corps in their role as the 'Army', moving in unison in interesting, subtle, and sometimes quite weird ways as in the two previous Khan ENB pieces (there's one bit that in retrospect has more than a touch of the Ministry of Silly Walks about it!). The tension builds nicely and the story to me was told effectively (though it helps to read the synopsis in the programme which unfortunately isn't on the digital cast sheet). The heartbreaking ending has a definite hint of Manon about it. In summary, some of you will definitely like it, some will definitely not like it! I liked it
  3. We've just received this official memento of our unforgettable few days last week with Carlos and Laura!
  4. Thank you so much - I have to say the last two days been two of the best in my life!
  5. Here’s my report from the front line of this production! I’ve been a fan of ballet and dance since a Road to Damascus moment watching Boston Ballet in late 2010 and for almost the same length of time I’ve been privileged to be a member of the Hallé Choir. When an email came on 22nd June from Jo, our choir administrator, asking us if we’d like to be involved in a project with Carlos Acosta at the Lowry it therefore felt like I’d won the lottery! This would be our first performance in front of a paying audience since we sang Beethoven 9 in Nottingham at the end of February 2020, and I obviously immediately said yes. The invitation obviously came circled with a huge caveat around the risk of further lockdown, so hopes were not totally raised until we were told on 30th June that yes, the project was on. We were told to learn Morten Lauridsen’s sublime modern choral classic O Magnum Lauridsen from memory in preparation. For some reason asking a choir to learn music from memory strikes fear into the hardiest of choristers – we seem to like the security of the dots in front of us a little too much. So it was with a little trepidation that we assembled last Sunday at our rehearsal venue, Hallé St Peter’s, all armed with negative lateral flow test results, for our first (socially distanced) indoor rehearsal since December of last year. Our choral director, Matt Hamilton, is acting as choral director for all of the On Before performances, so had been in Norwich the week before to help get the choir there up to performance standard. He therefore had prior knowledge of what would be required of us and turned out it wasn’t just singing! Anyway, we had a good rehearsal and went home with all the notes (hopefully) lodged in the memory banks. It wasn’t until Tuesday evening, and our technical rehearsal at the Lowry, that our full role in the production became apparent. Producer Stephen and his adept Stage Managers Tom and Emma took us through the various movements that we would have to make during the show, walking backwards and forwards a la Wayne McGregor’s Infra but also creating squares, circles and whirlpools, and at one point looking ominous behind a scrim! Pretty soon the concepts of stage right, stage left, upstage, wings, bays and cue lights became second nature. Carlos and Laura Rodriguez came to the stage to meet us, and Carlos took us through his vision for the piece, how it was intended as a memorial for his late mother and how he wanted us to imagine ourselves as embodying death – no pressure then! Suitably inspired (Carlos is inspiration personified) we continued our rehearsals and hoped that all our movements would enter our brains via osmosis in the way that they do with proper dancers. However, when we arrived on Wednesday afternoon for the dress rehearsal there was much wailing and gnashing of teeth as we tried desperately to remember what we had been taught the previous evening. After a few runs through though we felt a bit more confident, and the dress rehearsal ran without too many hitches. It was obvious as soon as we saw Carlos and Laura dancing in earnest that this was going to be a memorable performance. Carlos was obviously a known quantity, but I was blown away by what a beautiful dancer Laura is. I’d seen her at Carlos’s Classical Farewell a few years earlier but that was from a distance – seen from the wings she was quite stunning. Come the Wednesday evening performance and we attacked our movements with gusto. We were split into groups for most of the movements and occasionally some groups gained and lost members along the way as people forgot where they were supposed to be, but no-one seemed to notice! We were constantly worried about bumping into each other on the darkened stage or even, heaven forbid, bumping into Carlos or Laura, but thankfully there were no disasters. Our main concern was with the climactic moment of the piece, our singing of O Magnum Mysterium. Logistically it was nightmare. We were split into three groups, one behind the upstage scrim and one in each wing. Neither group could hear each other and we were in contact with conductor Matt only via monitors. Also we had to get our opening notes from out of the ether so certain choir members were delegated to go round with a tuning fork passing the notes on. We sang the first half of the piece in those positions but then we had to turn round and slowly walk on stage, whilst still singing, and gradually move to the front. For those of us in the wings this meant a brief conductorless hiatus before we were able to pick up Matt on the TV monitors at the front of the circle. For the last few bars, by which time we were in the musical groove, we turned round and followed Laura upstage and crowded round her as the curtain fell. It went well, but we knew we could do better on the second night. This was after all our first time properly singing together in close proximity for 18 months. And we did do better the second night. We were moving around the stage like seasoned pros (though I do remember standing on somebody’s toes at one point) and our singing went to another level. I was able to properly watch the dancing on the second night, and On Before really is a wonderful piece. And watching performers like Carlos and Laura from the wings is a revelatory experience – it feels like you’re eavesdropping on something deeply personal. My personal favourite moments were probably the calm strength of Carlos’s slow-motion solo, choreographed by Russell Maliphant, that closed the first half, Kim Brandstrup’s Footnote to Ashton, beautifully danced by Laura within a square of lit candles, and the duet Nostroros, specially created for Carlos and Laura for this revival by Acosta Danza dancer and choreographer Raul Reinoso. I’m sure the final duet between Carlos and Laura was also stunning, but we were too busy singing and moving to properly watch! This was the section originally choreographed by Carlos with Zenaida Yanowsky, and even though she was not there dancing it was obvious from the rehearsal pictures in the programme that she was very much involved with putting the revival together. The last night ended with rapturous applause from the audience and a further inspirational speech from Carlos after the curtain fell. He told us how he’s never sure whether if a show like this is going to be his last but that he never feels more alive than after such a show. So after loud mutual congratulations it was off into the muggy Salford night armed with a signed programme and some memories that will last a long time. I know a lot of choir members have been converted to dance over the last few days.
  6. Covid willing, I'll be in the onstage choir for these Lowry performances, singing Morten Lauridsen's glorious O Magnum Mysterium (from memory 🥴). I'll report on the experience!
  7. My sentiments exactly. Hers was always a reassuring presence on the cast list, and I thought her performance today was out of this world. I'm sure she will find an outlet for her obvious intelligence at Stanford, but she will be much missed in London.
  8. Sad news from the Royal Opera House. I wish Beatriz good luck in the groves of academe - I think it'll suit someone of her obvious intellect but I'm sure we'll miss her. FIRST SOLOIST BEATRIZ STIX-BRUNELL TO LEAVE THE ROYAL BALLET ‘I found my home on this stage and will hold its memories tightly as I enter an exciting new chapter in my life. To have danced with this Company, amongst these dancers, for this audience, and in this city has been my greatest honour. I am filled with pride and gratitude.’ - Beatriz Stix-Brunell. First Soloist Beatriz Stix-Brunell is to leave the Company after 11 years. In a move that was deferred due to the global pandemic, she leaves at the end of the Season to begin her academic career at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California. After studying at the School of American Ballet, the Paris Opera Ballet School and with Fabrice Herrault in New York, Beatriz entered Christopher Wheeldon’s company Morphoses at age 14. She joined The Royal Ballet as an Artist in 2010, was promoted to Soloist in 2012 and to First Soloist in 2016.  During that time her performances with The Royal Ballet have spanned the great breadth of the Company’s repertory, from the Sugar Plum Fairy in The Nutcracker to the Young Girl in Frederick Ashton’s The Two Pigeons. Last year she performed the title role in Cathy Marston’s The Cellist. Her last performance will be in the Beauty Mixed Programme. ‘Beatriz has had a wonderful dance career and made an indelible contribution to the life and spirit of The Royal Ballet,’ said Kevin O’Hare, Director of The Royal Ballet. ‘She can be very proud of her part in shaping the Company’s recent history, working with some of the world’s leading choreographic lights including Christopher Wheeldon, Wayne McGregor and Cathy Marston. We congratulate her on her distinguished academic admission and look forward to her final performances on the Royal Opera House stage in our final mixed programme of the Season.’  We’re sure you would like to join us in wishing Beatriz well in her academic endeavours.
  9. Wonderful performances by all concerned (though Vadim needs to brush up on his walking backwards technique!)
  10. As a Disney+ subscriber (mainly for Star Wars/Marvel/Pixar!) I can confirm that it isn't on the service yet. However, it looks like it will be from December 18th https://whatsondisneyplus.com/on-point-coming-soon-to-disney/
  11. I agree! It's wonderful how she seems to have come into her own over the last year or so
  12. And here's the curtain call for Will Tuckett's visually stunning new work, Lazuli Sky, set to John Adams' Shaker Loops, expertly played by members of the Royal Ballet Sinfonia's string section.
  13. Just got back from my first live ballet since March, a wonderfully eclectic mixed bill at the Birmingham Rep theatre with a socially distanced audience of, I'm guessing, around 200. Here's a picture of the curtain call for the first piece, Vicente Nebrada's ultra-romantic Our Waltzes. So great to be back!
  14. I've just had an email from the Royal Albert Hall that December's BRB performances of Nutcracker ARE going ahead, albeit with a socially distanced audience. Ticket holders are being asked if they want to hang on to their tickets, donate the money, or get a voucher or refund. As the tickets were originally sold for a normal audience I guess this is how they will get the audience numbers down to the numbers required for social distancing. Those keeping their tickets will be informed later this month of any required seat changes. Baby steps, but more good news.
  15. I see that whilst the version of 'Essential Royal Ballet' broadcast at Christmas was an hour long, the DVD is 1 hour 45 minutes long, so there must be extra ballet excerpts and/or extra interview footage. Might make it worth a punt!
  16. I don't think anyone's shared this yet - a typically quirky piece of lockdown choreography from Sophie Laplane for Scottish Ballet set to music from The Magic Flute:
  17. This must be the money I'd heard rumours of a week or so ago. If it truly is new money and not existing money relabelled then it is excellent news, and I think we must give huge thanks to Tamara Rojo and her fellow taskforce members for fighting our corner so ably.
  18. I agree - I'm assuming it was the arrangement by Arnold Schoenberg who did chamber versions of a number of Mahler's works. I also agree with the comments about Dame Sarah, who seems to have come through her health problems with her wonderful voice completely intact.
  19. Here are details of the ballet element of the show on June 27th, as just emailed: Saturday 27 June, 7:30pm BST Ballet First Soloists of The Royal Ballet Fumi Kaneko and Reece Clarke will perform the lyrical central pas de deux from Kenneth MacMillan’s Concerto. Created in 1966, Concerto is set to Shostakovich’s Piano Concerto no. 2 in F. Royal Ballet pianist Kate Shipway will accompany the dancers, together with soloists of the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House. Principal Matthew Ball and First Soloist Mayara Magri will perform a pas de deux from Christopher Wheeldon’s Within the Golden Hour. First created for San Francisco Ballet, Within the Golden Hour has been part of The Royal Ballet’s repertory since 2016. Music Director of The Royal Ballet Koen Kessels will be conducting.
  20. Signed. A choir colleague of mine is organising a petition asking for clarity on government policy on getting people back performing and there have been open letters from Sir Mark Elder and Sir Simon Rattle and from the choral directors of the country's major choirs to the same effect. I would say the more we push the better!
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