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Sublime Song and Dance - Kathryn Stott at Skipton Music

She may be a jet-setting, world class musician but Kathryn Stott clearly likes to return to her 'home patch' area of Skipton. The audience like it too - Skipton Music's Tuesday 19th June concert (rescheduled from February) was I believe a sell-out. I have read articles about (and authored by) Kathryn in the pages of Pianist Magazine and similar publications so it was a treat to see and hear her in person.
The concert theme was Song and Dance - a celebration of an upcoming milestone. The programming was excellent - whilst Kathryn is clearly a pianist of considerable talent, she programmed pieces that are within range of keen amateurs, such as Grieg's Lyric Pieces Op. 52. Although I've not tried any of the Op. 52 set, I have learned some of the other Lyric Pieces and Tuesday's performance was an example of how the pieces really are songs without words.
The first half of the recital moved from the smooth Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring and Grieg through a very ener…
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Ólafur Arnalds at the Royal Albert Hall

Continuing the music theme and fresh from GNUF, next stop the Royal Albert Hall! What a way to experience my first RAH event than with Ólafur Arnalds
Just going in to the building, there was an incredible atmosphere. Stopped off at the Berry Bros & Rudd bar en route to our seats. 
A short support set by composer/percussionist Manu Delago, who was very impressive. Initially I thought he was playing some variant of steel drums, but in fact it was an array of Hang, which are great! A really lush, warm sound.
Ólafur's mix of strings, piano with multimedia felt at home in the 'orchestral' setting of the Hall (nearly Proms season!), in particular given that the set was all instrumental pieces. It was interesting to see the sheer variety of people who all have being an Ólafur Arnalds fan in common.  I find that a lot of Ólafur's magic is in the silences and spaces in between notes, and a few times there were audience interruptions - but also, a lot of times when the whole …

Finally made it! Grand Northern Ukulele Festival 2018

One of the things on my bucket list when we moved to Skipton was to attend Huddersfield's very own Grand Northern Ukulele Festival - GNUF. Then my busy diary got in the way... This year, I decided what the heck, I was going to go anyway, busy diary or no. Glad I did!
The full lineup information for GNUF2018 is still on the website. For 2018 there were events Thursday through to Sunday. I made it for Saturday and Sunday daytime. Contrary to my norm, I had not planned on which stage/any workshops etc. 
Saturday started well when I bumped into another ukulele acquaintance on the train at Leeds.  Good start! After collecting my wristband and a programme I chilled over lunchtime, catching the vibe on Mim's stage in the LBT courtyard. Including the presentation of the Queen's Award for Voluntary Service!!
Early afternoon I attended a talk by Rob Collins of Tinguitar about sustainability in ukulele design. Lots of interesting information and examples of different woods along with so…

Snowy spring thoughts

Last year I suffered from stress-related anxiety problems. Since then I've been exploring ways to help myself with the aid of a few stress management/stress reduction courses. So far, so good. One thing I have tried is to go to a concert with no expectations of myself. Somehow, I think I'd fallen into the trap of thinking about what I would write from a concert experience, therefore missing out on being really in the moment. I've tried writing no notes, taking no photos, doing no prior research (sometimes avoiding programme notes), nor listening, leading to some reflections on the recent round of concerts that I've attended.  
Last week, 11th March, I attended a celebratory event 'A Life in Music: Celebrating Dame Fanny Waterman' at University of Leeds. The event comprised an extract from Dame Fanny's personal archives (recently donated to the University), a conversation and a concert. The archive documents looked really interesting and there were lots of cu…

New year bonanza

I emerged from almost 2 months of cold after cold in time for the new year's concert beginnings. Firstly, the still-quite-dark January days were much brightened by Boxwood & Brass' visit to Skipton Music.
As a six-piece group, Boxwood and Brass perform on replica late 18th-century wind instruments (clarinet, horn, bassoon). They use these instruments in performing music of the era, showing how much the colour and texture variety of early instruments was used by composers such as Beethoven, Mozart and Weber. Each instrument was introduced to the audience  - the basics of how they worked compared to the modern instrument, how different keys suited different instruments, and more!
Of the programme, I particularly enjoyed the two arrangements (by bassoonist Robert Percival) of two Mozart pieces - the Serenade in C minor K388/406 and the Symphony No 39 in E flat K.543 - character, colour of sound and texture excellently demonstrated (though that's not to say that I didn'…

Piano delivery!

...For Leeds University School of Music. 
To celebrate the delivery of 27 Steinway pianos,  the School of Music performed a newly commissioned piece  - for 28 pianos! The performance is available to watch again at https://livestream.com/uol/steinway1
Short but snappy - a mix of Reich-style randomness with a Bach style finale. Plus some funky lighting! 
Full press release here and photos on Twitter.

The Golden Thread - Music for Gamelan

Almost the end of November and another term of excellent concerts is almost concluded. The high quality continues  - this Friday, 24th November, featured music for gamelan. I have read with interest about gamelan, notably in the excellent The Other Classical Musics, but have never heard the ensemble live. Leeds music students who had spent this term learning gamelan music, performed a mixture of traditional and modern pieces under the name The Golden Thread. I was NOT disappointed!
I liked all of it! But particular mention to the traditional pieces Lancaran Singanebah and Lancaran Tropong-bang - excellent, immersive stuff - and the new pieces, firstly When East Meets West. This used gamelan timbres to sample Western popular music - I'm sure I heard 'Another One Bites The Dust'!! - complete with sunglasses wearing students. The second, It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas, added a shadow puppet show to the performance, referencing the traditional artform of wayang…