Just had a guest post for the Shakespeare anniversary published on the music site Corymbus. What made Shakespeare so appealing for the C20th Nordic stage, and how was he interpreted? The article looks at early twentieth century music for Scandinavian Shakespeare productions, including pieces by Jean Sibelius, Ture Rangström, and Gösta Nystroem. The full article can... Continue Reading →
Absolutely delighted to have been shortlisted for the Observer/Anthony Burgess Prize for Arts Journalism 2016! The shortlisting is for an article on Pia Freund and Ismo Eskelinen's performance of Sibelius songs for the 'Alternative Sibelius' series last year. The full shortlist is online here.
Review of ‘Changing of the Guard’, a new play by Shomit Dutta based loosely on the Odyssey.
The Changing of the Guard is a Classical epic turned inside out. A new play by Shomit Dutta, it imagines what might have happened when Odysseus broke into Troy, disguised as a beggar. Originally an episode mentioned only obliquely by Helen in Book IV of the Odyssey, Dutta has expanded it to be a sometimes poignant, and always witty, meditation on fate and human agency. This week saw its premiere at the Keble O’Reilly Theatre, directed by Iqbal Khan. Given that the cast had only a week of rehearsals, the quality of production and performance was remarkable. Unfortunately it did mean that the play was rendered without its final act, but in many ways I felt that this contributed to its overall effect. In the format presented last Wednesday, The Changing of the Guard was a delightful and unexpectedly quirky take on both the Odyssey itself, and…
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Review of ‘Burden of Proof’, a forensic photography exhibition which ran at the Photographers’ Gallery in London.
‘A photograph’, wrote Salman Rushdie, ‘is a moral decision taken in one eighth of a second.’ As soon as you press your finger to the shutter, the story begins — everything that falls outside the frame matters as much as what you include. I’ve never been more acutely aware of this than in the timely ‘Burden of Proof’ photography exhibition, currently running at the Photographers’ Gallery in London. Presenting a history of forensic photography from the early 1900s to the present day, the exhibition throws into sharp relief the vital role of the photographer in the justice process. In one corner, we see an image of a group of young men, talking as they share cigarettes. In the next picture along, the cameraman’s perspective has changed. The group now face away from the viewer; it becomes apparent that they are smoking before a pile of corpses. Are these men friends?…
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Review of Oxford University Philharmonia’s Christmas concert, featuring music by Sibelius, Nielsen, and Arvo Pärt.
2015 has seen the Nordic composers Jean Sibelius and Carl Nielsen dominate concert programmes across the UK. They both celebrated their 150th birthdays this year, along with the Russian composer Alexander Glazunov (who seems to have been largely forgotten). The sounds of their music opened the Proms, whilst the Royal Festival Hall hosted a Sibelius symphony cycle conducted by Simon Rattle, and the Barbican did the same with Nielsen under the baton of Sakari Oramo. Oxford University Philharmonia’s latest concert at the Sheldonian contributed to these anniversary celebrations, offering an ambitious programme of Sibelius’s Fifth and Seventh symphonies, alongside Nielsen’s Saga-drøm and Arvo Pärt’s Cantus in memoriam Benjamin Britten. This was a somewhat predictable combination (where are the more unusual scores like Sibelius’s Scaramouche in the anniversary celebrations?), but the material was for the most part handled admirably by the orchestra and conductor John Warner.
The concert opened…
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