Colin & Helen Ablitt, Jenny Arthur & Friends, Tony & Marian Bateman, David & Hazel Cliffe, Paddy & Wendy Martin, David Mayes OBE, Nigel O’Mara, Pauline Round, Nick & Celia Sedgwick, Jane Steeley
2016 Festival Supporters
Roald Dahl's Little Red Riding Hood and The Three Little Pigs by Balletcymru was a unique show for all ages. Act 1 started as your typical Little Red Riding Hood but it suddenly changed into a unusual show, this was very effective. It started with the Forest Sprites (The Dancers of the Company) they had excellent facial expressions which drew in the audiences' attention. The Narrator (Mark Griffins) was portrayed as an evil and weird character however he's voice changed for different main characters, this is known as multi-rolling. At the beginning of the performance Little Red Riding Hood (Lydia Arnoux) was a nice, sweet, innocent character. All of this changed after she shot the stupid wolf (Andrea Battaggia). In Act 2, we met The Three Little Pigs, however there was another twist in the story. The mean wolf (Allegra Vianello) and the 3rd pig (Miguel Fernandes) were shot by Little Red Riding Hood.The choreography was absolutely brilliant and precise, the choreographers' Darius James and Amy Doughty did an exquisite job. Another brilliant factor of this performance were the costumes and set, which were made by Steve Denton, the costumes suited each and every character well also the set may have been easy and simple but it was so effective. Overall, Little Red Riding Hood and The Three Little Pigs had brilliant body language, great posture and fluency, good miming from all main characters. good pot twists also magnificent facial expressions from all. it was such a brilliant show, Well Done to everyone involved.Robyn EnnisYoung Critic
Flute, Viola, HarpOn the 9th of July and a very wet Saturday morning, I went to see Flute, Viola, Harp at St. Michael’s Greenhill Church. St. Michael’s was the perfect setting for the chamber music which marked the Easter Rising. The church was beautiful with its colourful stained glass windows and English Gothic architecture. The music was played in a peaceful and tranquil setting which was in contrasted to the events surrounding the Rising and the emotions they were trying to represent. The event started off with a magical harp solo by Lucy Wakeford. The piece set the scene and I was enchanted watching her fingers dance across the strings. Debussy’s magical Trio Sonata which involved all three instruments created a stunning piece which moved the audience. It was a breathtaking performance which allowed the audience to reflect on the Easter Rising by listening to the Irish chamber music. Delicious cakes, cups of tea and coffee were served during the interval to the delight of the audience. Everyone seemed to enjoy the event as the church was filled with clapping after every piece and there was a brilliant atmosphere. Alan Mills the composer was in the church as he has recently written a poetic new work for the occasion “Autumnal Variation”. This was the first time this piece had been performed; it is based on an old Irish harp melody but worked with the viola and the flute as well. They also brought traditional Irish tunes such as the much loved ‘Danny Boy’ and ‘Down by the Sally Gardens’ to life. Sarah-Jane Bradley and Kathryn Thomas were very talented and their music reflected the emotions of the people who would have been involved in the Easter Rising. A lot of the pieces were calm and jolly whilst others were dramatic. The last piece of chamber music played, had a great impression on me as the flute, viola and harp worked in harmony to give the impression that the instruments were marching as if going into battle. The outstanding music was quite dark and meant the event had a sensational end. I really enjoyed the performance and it was a fitting tribute to the 100 year anniversary of the Easter Rising. Clodagh Delahunty-Forrest
John Roberts - Oboe.Review by Emily Robson (aged 12)The recital at Wade Street church was given by John Roberts, a young oboist who has achieved a great deal in his career so far. The small venue was perfect because the audience had a good view of the musicians and could hear each smooth and delicate ripple and wave of the oboe's unique sound. He was accompanied by a very talented pianist.One piece that I particularly enjoyed was the Epitaph by W. Lutoslawski which sounded more modern and contemporary in comparison to the first two pieces. This music stopped and started in odd places and began to run and sprint, discordant and fast paced; it reminded me of a sinister horror movie!However, the Sonata in G Major composed by CPE Bach was orderly, clean and precise conveying a pretty and delicate atmosphere, lightening up the hall. There was also a discreet question and answer series hidden amongst the ornate spirals of the piece.The final piece was by R. Schumann the Adagio and the Allegro. The first of which consisted of incredibly long notes and had a sweeping feel whilst the latter was fast paced and sounded like it was rushing manically around. This's probably reflected his state of mind; he had bi-polar and died in a mental institution! I did find the information about the pieces useful but I would have preferred even more detail behind the music.As an oboist myself, I found the concert thrilling and I am sure the audience was equally as enthralled by the skill and dedication of this performer, John Roberts. It was an enjoyable and memorable hour and I would highly recommend others to attend music recitals such as this one.
EMILY ROBSON. (Aged 12) Those Magnificent Men. Garrick Studio.In the atmospheric studio of the Garrick, the first transatlantic flight achieved by Alcock and Brown was told by just two skilful actors, music and an intriguing array of props. The fact that there were a mere two actors meant that they had to convey not only the parts of Alcock and Brown but many others such as a Turkish captor of world war one and a Danish sailor.These other characters were shown by the use of props such as a cane or costume like a hat. Mastering a range of accents such as Irish or American, also helped the audience to easily recognise changes of character. The performance was delivered in an unusual way as if Alcock and Brown had lived their lives and were viewing them again. Their contrasting personalities helped the audience to relate to their characters. Realistic and practical, Alcock persisted to tell Brown how the story was exciting enough as it is; unlike Brown who attempted to elaborate and dramatise their adventure despite the fact that they travelled for 16 hours in an open-cockpit aeroplane which they had constructed themselves just so they could win £10,000! Such differences meant you could easily laugh at their small arguments as well as feel sympathy for them in ways in which you might for a friend or family member.Walking in slow motion towards the plane, trumpets blared in the background and their lopsided pilot hats were halfway down their faces, causing the audience to laugh. Also in slow motion, they double checked that they had packed everything that they needed, as well as bottles of beer! Posing for four pictures, they then shook hands with audience member as if announcing a goodbye. As soon as they got into their plane they bumped up and down to the sound of the engine bobbing along the runway; their hats slipping down their faces, amusing the audience. They then switched to the watching bystanders, stating their points of view as the plane struggled into the sky. The second half focused on the struggles of the journey from fixing the wing seven times in the snow and hail to getting lost in a thick fog and even having their transmitter blown off, losing all communication! It made me think how scary their situation was.I loved this performance and really enjoyed learning a lot of information about the two pilots, Alcock and Brown, as well as historical knowledge about that era.
Dahl in a dayDahl in a day was an excellent performance. There were four primary schools each acting scenes from a different Roald Dahl story. First was Christchurch school who performed The Witches. The acting was excellent especially the girl who played the Grand High Witch.The Cathedral School chose The Minpins, even though not many people had heard of it they acted the story really well, their puppetry was amazing.Next was St Joseph’s Catholic primary school who performed The Twits. I particularly enjoyed the part when they acted as monkeys and Aoibhinn Jones did incredible gymnastics.Last was the turn of Chadsmead school who acted from Danny the Champion of the World. The cast was brilliant and the actor who played Danny was especially good.On the whole this was a fun evening and every child was a credit to their school.Alice Thackaberry - Young Critic
Yenting WangI had a lovely afternoon listening to the pianist Yenting Wang. She was amazing, her first piece, composed by Haydn was really happy and joyful. I don’t know how Yenting managed to play it from memory.Her second piece was dark and doomy but ended on a happier note. She started playing the piano at 8! I had the honour to meet her at the end of the concert and she was really friendly. I would recommend you go and see her next time she comes to Lichfield.Alice Thackaberry
The I fagiolini Amuse bouche concert was truly a spectacle! Right from the start the ensemble created a magical and mystic atmosphere which was carried through the theme of French culture, exploring everything from musical tastes to traditional cuisine. Throughout the evening, the audience were treated to a variety of performances from entrancing piano solos to the wonderful, if slightly bizarre, rendition of Jean Francaix's Ode a la Gastronomie. The evening started with Poulenc's Hotel which was a piece entirely based around the idea of a young girl wanting to smoke rather than work! It made for an interesting, if a little initially bemusing start to the concert. The theme of underlying comical moments continued throughout the night with many of the lyrics to the pieces being seemingly absurd or simply funny, in addition to them being written entirely in French. However, this new and almost unorthodox approach was not a reflection of the singing itself which was of an outstanding standard, especially since many of the pieces were unaccompanied, adding to the serene and almost chilling atmosphere. A personal highlight had to be the highly anticipated "ode a la gastronomie", the final piece of the night. The director, Robert Hollingworth, explained before the piece began that it was one rarely performed in the UK and that I Fagiolini were the only group to have produced a recording of it. The piece showed a contrast between the two ideas of comedy and religious context exemplified perfectly by the first verse which posed the question that if Eve betrayed all of humanity for an apple, what would she have done for a turkey? This more relaxed approach was reflected by the singers as their performance was injected with a real sense of energy and passion and the sense of unity between them was evident throughout. This final performance was greeted deservedly by rapturous applause and a standing ovation from many members of the audience which once again proves the success of the fun-filled yet highly professional and evidently experienced performance. In summary, the concert was truly a great event and opened my, and many of my fellow audience member’s eyes to a new side of classical music that is fun and contemporary rather than stereotypically long and often arduous. I particularly admired the variety of pieces that were performed and the sheer quality of the eight singers. It was a truly unforgettable evening that I am sure I will remember for a long time. Clara Harrison - Young Critic
Monday 4 JulyAmuse-Bouche - I FagioliniKnown for its innovative, often staged and sometimes filmed performances of Renaissance and twentieth-century music, it's perhaps no surprise that I Fagiolini present a concert full of character, wit and warmth in Lichfield's spectacular cathedral. In Amuse-Bouche, the choir bring together well-loved pieces with lesser-known gems from early- to mid-twentieth-century France, with an emphasis on the Surrealist movement.Selections range widely from the haunting to the hunger-inducing, the exotic and sensual to the very silly: we begin with Francis Poulenc's take on Apollinaire's indolent “Hôtel” (Je ne veux pas travailler – je veux fumer), travel via settings of elegiac Éluard poems and René Chalupt's saucy L'Éventail, and finally arrive at Jean Françaix's sharp satire of Brillat-Savarin's La Physiologie du Goût, a sort of bible of food and fine dining.Poulenc features heavily on the programme, though primarily in a more sombre mood. Among the highlights is Un soir de neige, which sets four pieces by Éluard, evoking a desperate chase through a wintery wood. In its bleakness and meditation on mortality, the set has been likened to TS Eliot's Four Quartets. “Belle et Resemblante” has a similarly brooding quality – there's a gorgeous wistfulness to the music that perfectly matches the poet's dense imagery. Where Un soir de neige is dark and wintery, however, “Belle et Resemblante” is perhaps more autumnal in feel, concerned with the gradual disappearance of beautiful things yet perceived in the fading light.This musing on things almost forgotten features both in Poulenc's “Marie” an Apollinaire setting combining a yearning melody with the tripping steps of a half-remembered dancer, and in Darius Milhaud's Deux Poems (setting St. John Perse and Chalupt), which speak of distant, sun-soaked shores – “Éloge V” lamenting a lost childhood in the West Indies, “Le Brick” a rather racier account of les nuits lascives des tropiques.Director Robert Hollingworth gets the mix of melancholy, magic and mischief spot on. There's a aptly French-seeming archness to the choir's expression, particularly in Françaix's hilarious Ode à la Gastronomie, which simply begs to be acted out. Written by the composer, the lyrics begin by pondering what Eve, who betrayed us all for the sake of an apple, might have done with a cooked turkey, and proceeds to compare cooking and eating to science, philosophy and religion. A delicious concoction of character studies and tongue-in-cheek prayers, of kitchen noises, dinner table chatter and clever musical parody, liberally sprinkled with in-jokes, the piece had been performed just once since 1950 before being added to the I Fagiolini repertoire. The choir have also produced a rather brilliant short film of it which you can watch on YouTube.Sung pieces are punctuated by two of Erik Satie's mystical and mysterious Gnossienes, their intricacy beautifully captured by Anna Markland on piano. A new arrangement of Ravel's “Adagio Assai” (from Piano Concerto in G Major) by Roderick Williams is also impressively handled.A thoroughly entertaining and well-rounded evening with emotional resonance and a healthy sense of humour from a choir at the top of their game.What’s On, Staffordshire
Poppies - Schools Remembrance ConcertThe "poppies WWI schools' centenary" followed the true story of a Staffordshire born soldier Jack from his signing up to the army, through training and ultimately up to the front line. The story was narrated though the medium of poems and short scenes which were illustrated intermittently by traditional war songs performed by local primary school choirs. Being staged in the iconic Lichfield Cathedral added a real sense of sombreness and serenity to an already moving performance. The beautiful architecture and sentimental feel of the place created a majestic stage for the performers and created an awesome atmosphere for the audience. Having stood on the same site for over 1000 years, it seemed a particularly special place to hold the centenary as the cathedral would have been the same one that could have been seen 100 years ago during the first world war and thus the place that many people would have come to pray for loved ones such as Jack. The narration itself was composed of short diary extracts and letters between Jack and his family. These were read sympathetically and reminded the audience of the true horrors of WWI as well as demonstrating a contrast between the soldiers' struggles and triumphs in the trenches by recounting a variety of situations from injury to uniting with the enemy in a game of football on Christmas Day. The choirs lifted the performance by contributing a more light-hearted feel to the commemoration with their performance of songs traditionally sung by the soldiers which included "it's a long way to Tipperary', 'your king and your country want you' and 'silent night'. One moment which was particularly striking was the solo rendition of Silent Night by a member of the Bishop Vesey choir. The performance was representative of the sound that the English troops heard on Christmas morning of the Germans singing silent night as a kind of peace offering. It was a shocking reminder to the audience that real lives were lost at war rather than a simple statistic. Furthermore, the Last Post was played at the end of the performance as both a mark of respect and to demonstrate once again the sounds heard by the soldiers in the trenches. It created a dramatic and poignant end to a stunning performance. Overall, the performance was truly remarkable and it was presented in a respectful yet entertaining manner. The fact that it was performed by such a young group of people gave an added emphasis as they represented the generation that so many soldiers in WWI gave their lives to save. The whole audience left the cathedral feeling humbled by the shocking truths that they were reminded of but also with an overriding feeling of satisfaction thanks to the thoroughly entertaining and informative commemoration that we had witnessed. Clara - Young Critic
HamletThe MalachitesOn the 3rd July at the Guild Hall in Lichfield I went to see Hamlet, a breathtaking performance which depicted the drama in one of Shakespeare’s most famous plays. Hamlet was a stunning theatre production which was full of love, murder and hatred. This timeless classic is a revenge plot like no other, we see the young Prince of Denmark become engulfed with rage and torment at the loss of his father. Hamlet is by far one of the greatest plays of our time; the tortured young Prince continues to capture the imaginations of modern audiences. After watching the play, I think Hamlet might be the most complex character in all of Shakespeare’s literature; he is driven crazy by revenge and betrayal. The Guild hall was a fantastic setting and the intimate seating known as in the round allowed the audience to interact with the characters and made us all feel part of the production. Even thou the play was very dark and intense it was also very humorous and funny at times, the audience couldn’t stop laughing at the sarcasm of Hamlet and the jokes made by the scholars. You are taken on a journey through a world of dishonesty, drama and tension. The characters are complex and full of emotion that grabbed the audience’s attention. The plot was complicated as the characters’ were so deeply entwined. The costumes were a collectic array of modern dress and quirky .The atmosphere was charged and there was a real buzz in the audience, limited props were used but to great effect. The intensity of the scenes was enhanced by the dark eerie music. The small cast were very talented as they could act, sing and played the instruments. The final scenes were so moving and breathtaking that you could have heard a pin drop in the hall. The audience were mesmerised and hanging on to every word. It was a really captivating and powerful production. Overall I really enjoyed Hamlet and it is a must see performance.By Clodagh Delahunty-Forrest
Manchester CamerataLichfield CathedralIf a music festival starts on the centenary of the Battle of the Somme, do you turn your back and bring out the bunting, or face the topic head on? Sonia Stevenson, Lichfield Festival’s director, wisely took the second course, shaping this thoughtful if imperfect concert as a journey from darkness to light.The Somme entered our thoughts via two commissioned pieces from Deborah Pritchard, the composer in residence. Impressively kept afloat by the unaccompanied Lichfield Cathedral Chorus and their director Ben Lamb, the six-minute We Remember Them glided along with conservative harmonies through a tender Jewish prayer. Burnished by the building’s acoustic, the result sounded too melifluous for its own good. I felt Pritchard wasn’t so much meditating on the dead as stroking some beautiful object.Seven Halts On The Somme, for trumpet, harp and strings, made a far sharper impression. The trumpet is a difficult instrument to turn into a resonant haze and Tine Thing Helseth’s anguished cries, pitted against string flurries and brooding pedal points, cut cleanly through the cathedral. Pritchard, too, packed a great deal into 12 minutes, using as her title and framework the visceral oil paintings of Hughie O’Donoghue (currently on view at Leighton House Museum in London). Manchester Camerata, conducted by Ben Gernon played very well, though they were better still in a really heartfelt performance of Barber’s Adagio.The mood lifted with the consoling glow of Brahm’s German Requiem, dispatched with becoming dignity, with solos by Stephen Gadd and Ailish Tynan. However, the arrangement for reduced orchestra knocked out some weight and drama. And Lichfield Cathedral Chorus needs more tenors!Geoff Brown