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First Tuesday current affairs discussion - Tuesday 6 February 7:00pm start

Tuesday 6th March: First Tuesday Current Affairs discussion

We'll discuss a couple of topical issues in the news

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Manchester reviewed
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Manchester music reviews

Once Upon a Time by Halle Youth EnsemblesBridgewater Hall

Reviewed by Matthew Dougall March 2016

 

I journeyed yesterday afternoon to the rather functional and un-predisposing building called The Bridgewater Hall in Manchester, home of the world famous Halle Orchestra. Once inside the building however, the atmosphere was one of warmth and friendliness. All the staff I spoke to were lovely and happy to help, and, what was wonderful to see too was the number of younger audience members, even children. Despite the concert being given by all the youth branches of The Halle, it was a lovely sign to say that there is a future for classical music!

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Manchester music reviews

MADAME X by Tim Benjamin

Tim Benjamin's MADAME X by RNCM

Reviewed by Denis Joe October 2014

The lights go up on the stage and we see Masetto (a painter) and Zerlina (his lover and muse and the model for his paintings). Surrounding them are paintings done by Masetto, who reels off the titles (Woman With Flowered Hat!). They are interrupted by Botney, who is Masetto’s agent, he announces himself (The lovers! There’s no place like home). Two couples enter with Mr Wilmore (a wealthy capitalist) who catches sight of Zerlina (What lovely creature is this?).

 

There then follows a very funny sketch as the two couples harass the painter about the styles he works with. The painter is angered by the intrusions and has to be pacified so as not to upset the couples who are potential customers (Kill not the goose that lays the golden egg! Botney tells him).

 

Lady Brannoch (a wealth aristocrat) enters and introduces herself (...I am the Lady Brannoch, Dowager Countess of Brannoch...). Botney takes it upon himself to introduce Lady Brannoch to the Masetto (...the foremost artist of his generation...) and goes on to show Lady Brannoch Masetto’s works. Whilst the others are viewing the paintings Wilmore corners Zerlina. He disparages her life with Masetto (. . . such delicate perfections, all thrown away upon a senseless rustic . . .). She tells him that she is to marry Masetto but he persists. He tells her that if he cannot have her then he will have her likeness and announces that he will buy all the paintings and leaves.

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Manchester music reviews

Des Grieux by Gwyn Hughes Jones. Photo by Johan Persson.

Giacomo Puccini's Manon Lescaut by WNO

Reviewed by Denis Joe March 2014

 

For the spring season this year, Welsh National Opera have brought together two productions of the Manon Lescaut story: Puccini's Manon Lescaut and Hans Werner Henze's Boulevard Solitude. Though both operas relate the same story, based on the novella L'Histoire du chevalier des Grieux et de Manon Lescaut by the 18th century author Antoine François Prévost, they could not be more different.

 

The lights go up on a busy railway waiting room, Des Grieux (Gwyn Hughes Jones) is curled upon a row of seats whilst the waiting room fills up. Edmondo (played as a cleaner) teases Des Grieux by stating what a beautiful night it is (Ave, sera gentile, che cliscendi. . .). Des Grieux bemoans his loneliness and his failure to find love (L'amor I Questa tragedia,ovver commedia). A woman steps into the crowd and Des Grieux is captivated. As she sits at the bar in the waiting area he approaches her tentatively.

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Manchester music reviews

Bob Geldof: Boomtown Rats

Boomtown Rats at Manchester Academy

Reviewed by Catherine Smyth November 2013

 

Ok, I will admit that there was more grey and Grecian than in the band posters that adorned my wall when I was a teen. I was a ‘rebel’ who longed to see her favourite band; I even still have the single with the freebie ticket inside the clear vinyl but I never managed to get to the Bradford concert…

 

Now, nearly 30 years later, I finally got my golden ticket and it was worth the wait.

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Manchester music reviews

Wagner Dream, Welsh National Opera

Wagner Dream by Jonathan Harvey

Libretto by Jean-Claude Carrière, WNO

Reviewed by Denis Joe June 2013

 

Sadly, Jonathan Harvey passed away last December and so did not look like we would get to see the staged premiere of Wagner Dream. After discussion with the composer WNO chose to present the opera in German and the ancient Pali, belonging to the Prakrit language group. It is widely studied because it is the language of many of the earliest extant Buddhist scriptures.

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Manchester music reviews

Lohengrin, Welsh National Opera

Lohengrin by WNO

Reviewed by Denis Joe June 2013

 

Antony McDonald updates the action to Bismarck’s Germany. I don’t think I have ever heard the prelude to Act 1 played so beautifully. Lothar Koenings took command of the orchestra from the start, making this as triumphant as last year’s Tristan and Isolde.

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Manchester music reviews

Manchester Camerata: CIty Life, RNCM

City Life at the RNCM

Part of the RNCM's 'Black on White' Festival

Reviewed by Denis Joe March 2013

 

Emily Howard                  Carillion (World Premiere)
Heiner Goebbels               Sampler Suite from Surrogate Cities
Heiner Goebbels               Black on White (Film)

Clarke Rundell                  Conductor (Manchester Camerata)

 

Before the evening programme began we were treated to a work composed and performed by youngsters as part of Manchester Camerata’s outreach work in the community.

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Manchester music reviews

Madam Butterfly, Welsh National Opera

Madam Butterfly by Welsh National Opera

Reviewed by Denis Joe Feruary 2013



Of all the great opera composers Puccini ranks as the highest in the hearts of many people; not just opera audiences but those who have heard his arias on adverts or Classic FM, or as soundtracks to films. Italian football fans may draw on the inspiration of Verdi to suggest the physical might of footballing competition, but it was the BBC’s use of Luciano Pavarotti's 1972 recording of Nessun dorma (None shall sleep, from Puccini’s opera Turandot) that, as the theme song for the coverage of the 1990 FIFA World Cup, captured the passion of the game and the hearts of millions.

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Manchester music reviews

Lulu, Welsh National Opera

Lulu by Welsh National Opera

Reviewed by Denis Joe Feruary 2013

“She was created to incite to sin, to lure, seduce, poison—yea, murder, in a manner no man knows.”   (Frank Wedekind)

Lulu is seen by many as one of the greatest operas of the 20th Century (if not the greatest). Left unfinished by the untimely death of Alban Berg, the opera was performed incomplete by the Zurich Opera in 1937. It wasn’t until 1979 that the world premiere of the three act Lulu, completed by the renowned composer and musicologist, Friedrich Cerha, was performed at the at the Opera Garnier, conducted by Pierre Boulezi.

 

For this production WNO have used a third version of Lulu, by the German born musicologist Eberhard Kloke allowing performers a freer hand in shaping scenes and dramatic developments. But Kloke does not deviate very far from Cerha’s approach. This was the UK premier of Kloke’s version.

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Manchester music reviews

Delia Derbyshire

Delia Derbyshire Day 2013

Band on the Wall Manchester and FACT, Liverpool

Reviewed by Denis Joe January 2013

 

An event celebrating the work of Delia Derbyshire held a lot of promise. The day began with a showing of ‘The Delian Mode’, the award winning documentary by the Canadian film maker Kara Blake. Blake’s film is a great exploration of the work of a genius who would go on to influence both pop and serious music.

 

Taking her most famous creation, the realisation of the theme music for the TV series Dr. Who, we can see how much impact this would have on later music, in particular the movement that became known as Krautrock, in the late 1960s - before the availability of commercial synthesisers. The score was composed by Ron Grainer, though realised by Derbyshire who was working as a sound engineer at the BBC Radiophonic Workshop. Each note was created by various sounds recorded onto analogue tape, which were then manipulated by varying the speed of the recording, and then splicing the tape together for the overall theme.

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