Mike Vickers' Blog

June 7, 2019

The Magic Flute – an Opera for Our Time?

Filed under: Brexit, Mozart, Opera, Scotland — derryvickers @ 8:41 pm

If Beethoven is the greatest all round composer; Mozart is THE greatest composer of Opera. Of course, Puccini has his moments, particularly in Tosca and La Bohème but Mozart is at times funny with it even in Don Giovani.

On Thursday we went to see Scottish Opera’s performance of the Magic Flute directed by Thomas Allen. Mozart’s music is enchanting and here was under conductor Tobias Ringborg. Sitting on the front row of the stalls with Ringborg just a metre away I got all his facial expressions singing pointedly to the orchestra and urging them on not only with his baton but more so with his body language. It’s great sitting on the front as I can watch all the music being played. I have learned a lot on the sounds each instrument makes and how the nominally the same instrument varies from one to another – the double base is a good example, and the horn is continually evolving.

OK, the singing was excellent as was the theatricals, singers have long since sung on the spot and are taught to act their parts. And I have no idea how the complicated set is readily ported to six theatre across the UK, 4 being in Scotland. Allen has incorporated his background of the Glasgow shipyards where he was brought up into the set.

The singing is in English, but we still have the sub-titles which I like as they help my deafness.

The libretto is nominally around the Masonic Ritual, but it is in tune with the problems of UK politics emphasising the need to work together and opposes the attempted dominance of the Queen of the Night – the Brexiteers such as Johnson.

For those who wish to get a feel of this performance go to

https://video.search.yahoo.com/yhs/search?fr=yhs-pty-pty_extension&hsimp=yhs-pty_extension&hspart=pty&p=scottis+opera+magic+flute#id=5&vid=cf06998f5380b2bb83ff4729100e2db2&action=view

May 24, 2019

Fit the Best – Fit Everest – Beetles fans queuing in Edinburg

Filed under: In Our Time, Music, Reality, Sustainability — derryvickers @ 9:48 pm

A busy day on Everest

A Busy Day on Everest

I used to stand in queues like this to watch The Big A Movie.

Is it real or just a cinematic invention?

If true then it is NOT sustainable

 

 

 

Compare with the Fans queuing for Beetles Film in Edinburgh 1966

Queuing for Beetles

Queuing for Beetles Film Edinburgh

May 3, 2019

Beethoven’s 5th

Filed under: Brexit, Europe, RSNO — derryvickers @ 10:05 pm

 

Beethoven’s 5th Symphony: The most triumphal music ever written.

Music for the EU. Luckily it will be still available should we leave the EU: But why should we?

A spectacular performance this evening by the RSNO (Royal Scottish National Orchestra) in the Usher Hall Edinburgh.

Conducted by Sharon Roffman, Lead Violin. The orchestra all stood to play (except Cellos and Double Basses) just like the Scottish Ensemble.

A rapturous reception. Just read what the Scotsman hade to say not only about the 5th Symphony but the whole concert including Mozart’s Flute and Harp Concerto with Katherine Bryant on flute and Pippa Tunnell of harp; both regular players in the RSNO.

A nice touch, she led her team off the stage and back again (as a play).Review of Concert

.

April 25, 2019

Hardenberger playing Haydn – A relief from Brexit and Climate Change

Filed under: Hakan Hardenberger, Music, Scottish Chamber Orchestra, World Class — derryvickers @ 10:50 pm

The Scottish Chamber Orchestra gave an excellent concert this evening in the Queen’s Hall Edinburgh.

The main soloist was Hakan Hardenberger, one of the world’s greatest trumpet players, and his playing of Haydn’s Trumpet Concerto in E-flat put Brexit and Climate Chamber right out of my mind for half an hour. Hardenberger and Conductor, John Storgards achieved an amazing balance between trumpet and orchestra and the audience just loved it.

April 10, 2019

The Stupidity of Brexit – Music civilises the World

Filed under: Brexit, Education, Music — derryvickers @ 3:14 pm

Another view of the stupidity of Brexit

Susan Tomes in Weimar

As Brexit approaches, and with it the prospect of these schemes closing a) to British students wanting to study in the EU and b) to European students wishing to study in the UK, I must say I spent a lot of the week contemplating the young chamber groups with a sense of poignancy, almost a feeling of sorrow for something about to be lost, or at any rate made harder.

Some of the best music-making was by groups with diverse nationalities. That cannot be a coincidence. Offering young musicians a taste of life in other countries and of other cultures’ attitudes to music has been hugely beneficial. They make friends and forge working relationships across Europe. It seems to me that without exception they become more open-minded.”

http://www.susantomes.com/musicians-studying-eu-countries-brexit/

 

April 9, 2019

Linlithgow Arts Guild – Final show for this season

Filed under: Linlithgow, Linlithgow Academy, Linlithgow Arts Guild, Travel — derryvickers @ 6:19 pm

Two delightful ladies playing at the last event in the Linlithgow Arts Guild in this year’s season.

  • Lana Trotovsek – violin from Slovenia
  • Maria Canyigueral – piano from Spain

Their CVs are impeccable, and their playing lived up their CVs.

They played music by Bach, Beethoven, Clara Schumann and Prokofiev

The Bach probably should have been for harpsicord therefore somewhat miscast for piano; the Beethoven was great as Beethoven always is, for me; the Schumann sweet and the Prokofiev Sonata No 1 for violin and piano was breath-taking.

Two delightful days of music and talk.

Lana was off at crack of dawn on Sunday to Shanghai while Maria to London to tutor her 4 students, then home to Spain.

World travellers both. But this is the life of the groups who play for the Linlithgow Arts Guild.
Most are a class act.

Maria has now acquired a Steinway.  Excellent news!

March 24, 2019

Music to make you forget Brexit – for just a while

Filed under: Brexit, Music, Personal, War — derryvickers @ 10:20 pm

A Weekend of Music

Friday: RSNO Three pieces.

  • A new commission by Paul Chihara, A Japanese, as a child in a relocation camp in the US during WW2. The piece was called A Matter of Honor. Music and Narration. The last narration finished with “when asked in 1942 if she believed that peace and freedom were possible anywhere in the world: “Yes, with all my heart, because in this faith, in that hope, is my future, and the world’s future”
  • Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini by Rachmaninov. The pianist was Olga Kern and required much stamina to be heard over the full orchestra which she did
  • Symphony No5 by Prokofiev. The ultimate antidote to Brexit.

How Rachmaninov and Prokofiev got by the Russian sensors in 1934 and 1942 is unclear to me as both were certainly not in the classical style of Brahms; much more ‘romantic’.

Saturday Scottish Opera performing Katya Kabanova by Janacek. The music to me is tremendous, the Scenery of based around the Volga with a bridge over was a construction to be marvelled at. All so much as to overawe the singing. Katya throws herself into the Volga at the end, not surprising as the possessive Mother in Law was demonic; not one to welcome home!

And today Sunday, a much more relaxed performance with Dvorak, Bartok and Strauss by the strings of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra. The Strauss was Metamorphosen. One of his last pieces and one to let the music wash over you. It was written for 23 strings but the SCO managed very well with just 7. Strauss wrote it on the back of WW2.  Will see a Musician of his calibre to write similar music on the back of Brexit; we can only hope.

March 10, 2019

Continental Drift with the Scottish Ensemble

Filed under: 'Moot' Local Decision Making, Brexit, Europe, Music, Scottish Ensemble, Uncategorized — derryvickers @ 9:57 pm

An Across Continents Concert this afternoon.

The Scottish Ensemble joined forces with three Europeans playing instruments new to us: a santoor from India, a stringed percussion instrument; a zarb, a kind of drum from Persia; a baglama, a stringed instrument from Turkey; a lyra, a very small cello from Greece and frame drums.

Santoor

Baglama

Zarb

Lyra

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The European music spanned from Hildegard von Bingen in the 12th century through Purcell to Bartok in the 20th but the programme included music from the eastern Mediterranean, Turkey and India. The players playing the frame drums used just their fingers to achieve a remarkable sustained rhythm.

Frame Drum

 

 

 

All the players joined in to all pieces. An exciting sound experience

 

 

 

 

The concert was entitled Continental Drift and we could see why. I can only hope that these European players with their novel instruments will still be allowed into Scotland post Brexit.

March 7, 2019

Red Note at the RCS

Filed under: Brexit, Immigration, Music, Red Note, Royal Scottish Conservatoire — derryvickers @ 11:57 pm

Red Note performs the established classics of contemporary music, commissions new music, develops the work of new and emerging composers and performers from Scotland and around the world and finds new spaces and new ways of performing contemporary music to attract new audiences”. So says the blurb on the programme for tonight’s concert at the Royal Scottish Conservatoire, Glasgow (RCS).

They did all of that tonight, working with MusicLab; “MusicLab is the RCS’s student ensemble dedicated to performing music of the twentieth and twenty first centuries”; also, from the blurb.

Six RCS student pieces: Coachman Chronos, Snapdragon, Daethletics, Nikuda, Turbulences and Die Stucke der Windrose.

The pieces were played by a combination of Red Notes and MusicLab players. We know, Robert Irvine, cello, the principal player of Red Note having met him at Loch Ossian Youth Hostel; he fished while we walked. But this was the first time, from our view point, that Maximiliano Martin, clarinet, from the Scottish Chamber Orchestra joined the group.

The music was great, and I can only hope that the composers will go far, as will the MusicLab players. RCS takes students from across the world and I hope that this is not affected by Brexit. To me, one of the best ways for Scotland to be in the forefront of the world, is by attracting students to Scotland; they will go home knowing one other good country as well as their own.

March 6, 2019

Goethe’s Advice

Filed under: Literature, Music, Strindberg, Writing — derryvickers @ 10:47 pm

Further to my blog earlier today

Every day at least to hear a little song, read a good poem, see a fine picture, and, if possible, speak a few reasonable words” – Goethe

Well this evening it was August Strindberg’s Miss Julie at the Studio Edinburgh (the Studio is a little theatre at the back of the Festival Theater) put on by Perth Theatre.

More than a little song and if possible, a few reasonable words.

Miss Julie is 1.5 hours of hard listening and viewing; very much in the style of Ibsen and Chekhov though much more direct and painful; Miss Julie cuts her throat in the finish. Just three characters; Julie daughter of the big house, Jean, the valet and Christine the kitchen maid, but also the lord of the big house, who is the grey eminence.

You can read more at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miss_Julie.

Or if you have time you can see it at the Studio till Saturday 9 March.

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