Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Voices And Strings (music)

You might have noticed that I rarely blog about classical music. This is mainly because I know very little about the subject and tend to be more drawn towards jazz, americana and folk. However, when local Sussex composer Clive Whitburn got in touch to talk about his Eastbourne Festival event, Voices And Strings, I thought it might be time to learn a little more.

The concert will include several favourite classic works, one of which - Handel's Zadoc the Priest - I have actually sung myself as one of many in a schools' concert at the Albert Hall. This was over 20 years ago when I was still a soprano(!) but I still remember the fabulous atmosphere created by hundreds of us singing out together.

Voices And Strings will also have performances of Handel's Hallelujah Chorus, Ave Verum Corpus and Eine Kleine Nachtmusik (1st Movement) by Mozart, Schubert's String Quartet no. 14 in D minor Death and the Maiden (1st Movement) and Dvorak's String Quartet Opus 96 no 12 The American (Finale). The musicians and vocalists are The New Network Singers, Sue Clough (Soprano), Tim Peters (Tenor), The Ashdown String Quartet and Ric Graebner (Piano).

There will also be three of Clive Whitburn's own works. The duet “Dream of Peace” for Soprano, Tenor, string quartet and piano will receive its first public performance at the concert. I have embedded a previous orchestral incarnation of the work at the end of the post to give you a preview. Clive first came up with the melody several years ago when he was Headteacher at Langney Primary School for a song for a school play. Somehow the melody remained with him. Unusually, for Clive, he has written both the words and music for “Dream of Peace”. This gentle and poignant duet asks that we learn from history and bring an end to war. It reaches a stirring climax with the plea to “ bring an end to all this madness, there has to be a way... learn and find a better way” It will be performed by Sue Clough, soprano, and Tim Peters, Tenor.

The other works by Clive being premiered in the concert are: “No Man is an Island - a gentle and melodic choral setting of John Donne’s famous poem. and “The Furies - Soft Rains” for chorus, quartet and piano. Here Clive has taken a powerful and energetic early 17th century text by Du Bartas /Joshua Sylvester and melted it into a wistful and evocative setting of Sara Teasdale’s early 20th Century poem “There Will Come Soft Rains”.

And if you're interested, the striking artwork on the Voices And Strings posters is by Poppy Foyle.

Under Ground Theatre, Sun 4th May, 18.30.
Tickets £8.50 in advance and concessions, £10 on the door. Advance tickets can be purchased online through this link via +TicketSource

Sunday, 27 April 2014

Why has Central Asia always attracted British Adventurers? (talk)

I'm already going to +Cineworld Cinemas on the 1st of May for the +National Theatre Live screening of King Lear, but if Shakespeare isn't your thing, there's also a potentially fascinating talk at the +Redoubt Fortress on the same evening. Sir John Ure will discuss why Central Asia has always attracted British Adventurers. The talk is to raise funds for +Pestalozzi UK, a charity offering life-changing opportunities to young people from disadvantaged communities around the world.

Sir John Ure’s talk will give us a unique insight into the motives and adventures of those early explorers, soldiers, merchants and missionaries who risked their lives among the emirs and khans of Central Asia, and who made the first two-way contact with people whose rich cultures and traditions were so different to their own. 

Sir John Ure’s diplomatic career included postings at embassies in Moscow, Leopoldville, Santiago and Lisbon. He is former British Ambassador to Cuba, Brazil and Sweden and Commissioner-General for Expo ’92 in Spain. Now an historian and travel writer, Sir John has served on the council of the Royal Geographical Society and was for 10 years Chairman of the judges of the Travel book of the Year award.

After the talk, drinks will be served in the Redoubt CafĂ© where there will be an opportunity to meet some of Pestalozzi’s inspirational students and find out about their extraordinary lives.

Redoubt Fortress, Thu 1st May, 18:00.
Tickets £15, purchasing details on the Pestalozzi website.

Pestalozzi students

Saturday, 26 April 2014

Yves Saint Laurent (film)

Hailsham Pavilion has two screenings of a new French biography film of the wonderful fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent in May. The 15 certificate film stars Pierre Niney, Guillaume Gallienne and Charlotte Le Bon and is in French with English subtitles. Apparently two biopics of the designer are due to hit our screens in 2014 - this is the first.

The biopic begins in French Algeria in 1957 from where a young Yves Saint Laurent (Pierre Niney) moves to Paris to begin working for the couturier Christian Dior. He meets model Victoire Doutreleau (Charlotte le Bon) and designer Karl Lagerfeld (Nikolai Kinski) before stumbling across the man who was to become both his business partner and the love of his life, Pierre Berge (Guillaume Gallienne).

Having read several reviews, it appears that the portrayal of the relationship between Yves and Pierre is the best part of the film whereas the scenes concentrating on the clothes and the fashion world at the time might have more of a niche appeal. This review on the BBC News website talks about the actors' preparation for the film.

Hailsham Pavilion, Mon 12th and Tue 13th May, 19:45.
Tickets £7, concessions £5.50, available online, by calling 01323 841414, or in person at the Box Office.

Friday, 25 April 2014

Photo At The Tea Shop (art)

Formerly the Bumper Bookshop on Grove Road, The Tea Shop has now changed its emphasis from a bookshop serving refreshments to a cafe that also sells books. They are currently getting involved with the Eastbourne Festival by hosting the Photo At The Tea Shop photography exhibition.

I found myself with an unexpected day off on Wednesday so, having been tipped off by Josie Tipler of Lend Me A Tenor 'fame', I walked into Eastbourne to take a closer look. The Tea Shop has a great retro vibe with red and white polka dot tablecloths and Enid Blyton hardbacks scattered on the tables. As I got there, 'The Biggest Aspidistra In The World' was playing - not sure if it was the Gracie Fields version but this gives you an idea of the cosy ambience.

The two photographers are showing very different work and I liked the contrast between them. Much of Mark Sander's work is black and white, portraits and landscapes, with curious compositions that made me pause and consider. Elizabeth Doak on the other hand uses vintage dolls as her subjects, brightly coloured and initially fun but with an increasing element of sadness and poignancy to them the longer I looked. My favourite was of a Sindy doll, very like one I used to own, gazing into the camera.

The photography exhibition was opened with a performance by Brighton songwriter Lorraine Bowen. Described for me at the Tea Shop as a great cabaret with hints of Victoria Wood who plays her piano with an ironing board as the stand! If you haven't been lucky enough to catch her act, already, Lorraine will be at The Lamb in Old Town tomorrow evening (26th April, tickets on the door)

The Tea Shop, Mon to Fri, 19th Apr to 11th May, 10:00 - 17:00.
Free admission but do try the ginger cake - it's delicious!

Thursday, 24 April 2014

Nicholas Nickleby / Great Expectations (theatre)

The great great grandson of Charles Dickens, Gerald Dickens, is returning to Eastbourne's Under Ground Theatre in May with a double bill of plays based on his ancestor's novels. We last saw him at the Under Ground last August for An Audience With Charles Dickens. Now he will present Nicholas Nickleby and Great Expectations, performing both on the same day and playing all the characters himself.

Gerald will perform Nicholas Nickleby at 2.30pm - the timeless story of a young man who must support his mother and sister after his father dies. Through Gerald’s gifted story-telling you will meet the characters that created this comic masterpiece: Smike, Wackford Squeers, Vincent Crummles, Newman Noggs and many others.

Gerald’s portrayal of Great Expectations will keep you on the edge of your seats at 7.30pm as he retells this beloved coming of age story about the young orphan, Pip. Gerald will tell the story as some of the colourful characters in the plot; Miss Havisham, beautiful Estella, escaped convict – Abel Magwitch and more.

Under Ground Theatre, Sat 24th May.
Nicholas Nickleby - 14.30.
Great Expectations - 19.30.
Tickets £11 for each show, students and UGT members £9 for each show, available online, by calling 0845 680 1926, or in person from the Under Ground Theatre and Eastbourne Tourist Information Centre.

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Renee White Community Garden appeal

Start of the Renee White Community Garden 
Never let it be said that I get all my news from Twitter(!), but every once in a while I learn about something going on that is pretty cool. One such is an +Indiegogo appeal to build a Community Garden in central Eastbourne.

Renee White was a resident of Winchcombe Road in Eastbourne for many years, who continually championed getting something done about the waste area behind her house. Now the area - former unused ground between Dursley Road and Winchcombe Road - is being turned into the Renee White Community Garden in her memory. Work has already begun with raised beds and borders installed, trees and fruit bushes planted. However, in order to really make the Garden a place for the whole community, the volunteers are raising funds for simple level walkways and a proper permanent seating/meeting area.

If you are able to contribute financially, the fundraising page is at https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/renee-white-community-garden-eastbourne It was already nearly at 10% of the total when I typed this post and had only been active for a few days. To encourage you, one of the 'rewards' for pledging is homemade Strawberry and Lavender Jam! Other ways you could help would be by donating stuff such as plants and plant pots or even yourself - more labour is always welcome! There are contact details on both the Appeal Page and via the Facebook Group.

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Mildred Pierce (film)

Back to the Under Ground Theatre again for today's post where Joan Crawford will put in an Oscar-winning performance in the 1945 drama Mildred Pierce. The film has been chosen as the Sunday afternoon classic matinee and will be screened on the 11th of May. It will be introduced with a short illustrated presentation on its importance by Dr Niall Richardson, lecturer at the School of Media, Film and Music at Sussex University.

Mildred Pierce is a film noir work which opens with the murder of Mildred's second husband, Beragon (Zachary Scott). Police on the scene believe that Beragon has been shot by her first husband, Bert Pierce (Bruce Bennett). When Bert confesses to the crime, the audience is shown Mildred's life in a series of flashbacks which she narrates herself. Struggling to create a good life for herself and her daughters, Mildred has raised herself from lowly waitress to the owner of a chain of restaurants. However her social climber daughter, Veda (Ann Blyth), is ashamed of her roots. Mildred remarries to the apparently wealthy Beragon but finds herself supporting his playboy lifestyle as well as trying to fund her daughter's materialistic ambitions. The film is based on a novel by James M Cain.

Under Ground Theatre, Sun 11th May, 14:30.
Tickets, £6.50 to include tea/coffee and cake after the film, available online, by calling 0845 680 1926, or in person at the Under Ground Theatre and Eastbourne Tourist Information Centre.