Tuesday, 5 January 2016

The hills (and concert halls) are alive with the sound of music and theatre

Dateline: June - August 2015
Place: London and beyond
Time: Throughout the day
Temperature: Variable
Song of the evening: The hills are alive (Julie Andrews)

I had the most wonderful time listening to music is all kinds of spaces, from Van Morrison and Gregory Porter at the Great Court of Blenheim Palace (mentioned in an earlier post) to Kate Rusby at the annual Sidmouth Folk Festival.

I was as thrilled by all the ukeleles I found along the way as I was by the artistry of the musicians I heard ...  plus I took in some really good theatre including The Importance of Being Earnest (with David Suchet as Lady Bracknell), High Society and The Play that Goes Wrong in London and The Shadow of a Gunman in Dublin (appropriate in the wake of a city walking tour that started with the post office and the "troubles" of 1916). 

This on top of The Merchant of Venice in Stratford and Measure for Measure at the Globe Theatre, mentioned in earlier posts.
Ukeleles are making a come back, they say ... I think they're here to stay! In Oxford (left),
London (top right), Edinburgh (middle right) and Sidmouth (bottom right). Maybe it's time I got a colourful uke?

I took in one concert at the 2015 Edinburgh Jazz Festival--I was was lucky enough to be in town when the festival opened. I chose the venue more than the group as the Tron Kirk intrigued me--a decommissioned 17th century church. But the Oriental Jazz Band from Amsterdam more than delivered on it's promise of Dixieland music and the one-hour gig was lots of fun.

Take a listen ....

On my bucket list is to attend concerts in some of the world's great halls or venues ... I managed the Royal Albert Hall and St.-Martin's-in-the-Fields this time. On the program at St. Martin's was the Feinstein Ensemble, which played Bach and at the Royal Albert was the English Festival Orchestra playing Tchaikovsky and Holst while the Really Big Chorus sang The Armed Man: A Mass for Peace. Over 2,000 voices colour-coded by voice (soprano, alto, tenor, bass)--superb!

My ticket to the Royal Albert concert led to my one truly "star" encountered: my box adjoined that of Julia MacKenzie, who was very charming and friendly as she explained the tradition of the concert to me (it happens annually) ... 

although I think she was a bit bemused that I didn't recognize her (I had to ask for her name and then Google her afterwards).
Needless to say, I have now watched a few of this Miss Marple series.

So the real ukelele treat was seeing the Great Britain Ukelele Orchestra live (my first post refers to my anticipation of this "great" musical event). They did not disappoint and so they shouldn't after "30 plucking years" performing together!

And the theatre ... I could have cheerfully gone bankrupt attending all the fabulous shows in the U.K. last summer but restrained myself. However, I am still marvel at the fact that programs don't come free with the price of a ticket ... they can add as much as an extra $10 to the cost of an evening out (per person!).

The Shadow of a Gunman was written by Irish playwright Sean O'Casey in 1923, seven years after the takover of the central post office in downtown Dublin--a disturbing slice of Irish history and the lead character, Donal Davoren, was played by Mark O'Hallaron.

The Play that Goes Wrong
is simply (and antidotely) a farce that felt like Monty Python on steroids: deemed delightful by the Telegraph review and I concur ... I laughed and laughed and laughed!

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