• Blog Opinion: La Scala’s new 5 minute grace period

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  • Blog WildKat PR welcome back Silent Opera with their production ‘Giovanni’

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  • Blog WildKat PR welcomes the environmental artist Stuart Williams with his project “Breath of Life/Dresden”

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It was reported by the Guardian yesterday (17th December 2014) that the famous Milan opera house, La Scala, has introduced a 5 minute grace period to allow latecomers to take their seats, not because it disrupts the performance, but because they are becoming increasingly angry at the ushers. In practice, this will mean that the performance will start 5 minutes later than the scheduled time. La Scala is well known for being strict about latecomers, with some audience members having to wait for up to 85 minutes for an appropriate break to slip in. Indeed, the Guardian notes that the only known exception was in 1972 when Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton were 10 minutes late for the opening night of Verdi’s Un Ballo in Maschera. Paolo Grassi, the head of opera at the time, commented about the incident that ‘late arrivals at La Scala are not allowed.’

La Scala

Photograph: REUTERS/Brescia/Amisano

Sure, if someone has bought a ticket to one of the most prestigious opera venues in the world, one can understand why they would want to ensure they had the full experience: the lights dimming, the anticipation in the air, the first notes of the overture and the curtain finally rising. But, VIP or not, is this really an excuse for aggression towards employees? I’m not sure ‘excuse’ and ‘aggression’ should ever be in the same sentence. The Royal Opera House advises those attending to arrive 30 minutes before the performance begins and, as in most venues, provides 10 minute, 5 minute and 2 minute warnings until the start.  With all this information, it is not the ushers’ fault that someone is late. Equally, if you had secured a highly in demand La Scala ticket, one would assume you would ensure you arrived on time? With circumstances beyond our control such as the weather or traffic, it may not even be the latecomer’s fault, but that is still no reason for rudeness.

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Photograph: EPA

Furthermore, if opera goers are aware of this grace period, it runs the risk of not eliminating the problem but merely delays the problem five minutes later than before. On the other hand, as one commenter (ID2665677) on the article points out, the first 5 minutes are often taken up by the entrance of the orchestra and tuning up anyway so, in this case, where is the harm in allowing admissions during this time?

If the new measures do stop ushers from being made to feel uncomfortable then it has my blessing, it’s just sad that it is necessary.

What do you think? Tweet us your opinions @WildKatPR

 

(Written on December 18, 2014 )

WildKat PR is thrilled to be working on our third production with Silent Opera – their production of Giovanni.

Silent Opera are a young, innovative opera company creating immersive, original and technologically challenging work in the UK. Their work reaches out to the new generation of theatre and operagoers, uniquely developing the operatic art form for the future.

Their aim is to recreate and remaster opera’s classic repertoire for a new generation, preserving its artistic quality whilst developing it for new spaces and new audiences.

A digital remastering of Mozart’s classic opera, Giovanni invites you to join him for the evening to witness his climactic, demonic and appalling downfall. An operatic orgy of drinking, lascivious tricks and tense confrontation, the audience are drawn into his most intimate circle to judge him, drink with him and condemn him in his final moments.

Hurtling opera into a modern vernacular, Silent Opera use spoken word, pre-recorded thoughts, projection and live sound manipulation to mould, blend and transform the aural sound space.

Silent Opera are also developing a unique smartphone app that will feature in Giovanni and all future productions as an interactive, creative and theatrical key into their shows.

Anyone will be available to download the ‘home’ app for free and it will feature past show material, information about Silent Opera, biographies and information about future shows. Ticket holders will also be able to download all show appropriate material to their phone, including unique pre-show content, uploads by the characters, ‘play-along’ information and reminders.

During Giovanni audience members will be able to comment, experience and play along with the story as it unfolds as well as having live sound content and video downloaded straight to their phones. They will receive off-stage character updates, motivations and locations as well as being asked the final, damning question – should Giovanni live or die?

Cast

Giovanni – Benedict Nelson

Leporello – Frederick Long

Creatives

Director/Design – Daisy Evans

Technical Design – Ziggy Jacobs-Wyburn

Music Director – Stephen Higgins

Production Manager – Joseph Sheppard

Producer – David Adkin

Giovanni is being performed as part of The Vault Festival at The Vaults, Waterloo 25 February – 8 March 2015.

For more information and to book tickets please visit Silent Opera’s website or have a look at their Twitter and Facebook pages.

Giovanni_FB3

(Written on December 18, 2014 )

Since the 1980s, Williams’ monumental site-specific artworks have rolled over sweeping expanses of ranch land in California, and have floated on the moats of picturesque chateaux in France. From the Alps to Central Park, and from Los Angeles to Seattle, his head-turning, mesmerising works have captivated thousands.

Stuart Williams in Central Park, New York City. Photo © Steven Haas

Stuart Williams in Central Park, New York City.
Photo © Steven Haas

Williams, who lives and works in New York City, holds a degree in architecture from the University of Michigan. Soon after graduation, his interests gravitated decidedly to fine art, and more definitively to site-specific, environmental art. His education, with its blend of architecture, art, engineering and urban planning, provided him with an intimate understanding of historical context, scale, and three dimensional space. It also gave him a firm grasp on the importance of relating to the unique aspects of a specific site and locale. All of these factors helped to propel him into the realm of large-scale environmental art, with a focus on both urban and rural locations. Williams has been an invited lecturer at numerous venues including the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the San Francisco Art Institute, and the University of California, Davis.

"Breath of Life/Dresden" as seen from the Marienbrücke on the River Elbe. Artist’s sketch © Stuart Williams 2012

“Breath of Life/Dresden” as seen from the Marienbrücke on the River Elbe.
Artist’s sketch © Stuart Williams 2012

A new project, sponsored by the New York Foundation for the Arts, is now in planning for the City of Dresden, Germany. 2015 will mark the 70th anniversary of the firebombing of Dresden. In homage to Dresden’s survival and renewal, and to honour this important anniversary of an iconic moment in world history, Williams will install “Lebensatem/Dresden” (“Breath of Life/Dresden”) at the historic Dresden Cathedral in 2015. The artist will transform the facade with light… making the Cathedral appear to “breathe.” Waves of light, rising and falling at the pace of human breath, will create the visual impression of respiration. The Dresden Cathedral (Kathedrale Ss. Trinitatis) was completed in 1738, and is one of Dresden’s foremost historic landmarks. Along with the historic center of Dresden, it was destroyed in WWII, and meticulously rebuilt — stone by stone — in the 1980s. With its prominent setting on the River Elbe, it is a key component of Dresden’s historic “silhouette”, and with its soaring Baroque tower reflecting in the river, a light installation here becomes an artwork on the scale of the cityscape.

"The Kindness", one out of 16 stone figurines on top of the Dresden townhall, looking down on the destroyed city after the bombing in February 1945

“The Kindness”, one out of 16 stone figurines on top of the Dresden townhall, looking down on the destroyed city after the bombing in February 1945

“Given Dresden’s nearly total destruction in February 1945, I think the vision of one of its greatest historic landmarks appearing to breathe will be extremely moving. As an artist, I see the project as a way of honouring the survival and renewal of one of Europe’s most beautiful cities. In the end, it becomes an affirmation of life itself.” — Stuart Williams

"Breath of Life/Dresden" as seen from the Carolabrücke on the Elbe. Photo simulation © Stuart Williams 2012

“Breath of Life/Dresden” as seen from the Carolabrücke on the Elbe.
Photo simulation © Stuart Williams 2012

A documentary film is being made of “Breath of Life/Dresden.” Stuart Williams is working with New York filmmaker, Christopher Burke and French cinematographer, Martial Barrault. The film will become the enduring record of this public art event.

Visit Williams’ website for more information and follow him on Twitter and Facebook for news and updates about the project.

THE NEW YORK FOUNDATION FOR THE ARTS (NYFA) is the fiscal sponsor of the “Breath of LIfe / Dresden”, which allows all contributions to be tax deductible to the full extent of the law, donate now.

(Written on December 17, 2014 )

WildKat PR welcomes revolutionary cellist and composer Jo Quail to its client roster ahead of her concert in association with Chaos Theory in February 2015.

Jo draws upon classical, rock and metal influences, creating music that connects with and unites a very diverse audience of classical and rock and metal fans. She also incorporates looping technology into her music, providing her with a further means of experimenting and testing the boundaries of her music and instrument.

Jo began her musical training at a very young age and completed her BA in performance at the University of Leeds. Jo has since worked with various musicians and groups and studies with renowned cellist and composer Gwyn Pritchard. She began embarking upon her solo career in 2010, and has since released albums From The Sea (2011) and Caldera (2014) with great success. As well as performing in the UK, Jo has performed in Denmark, Sweden, Holland, Belgium, France, Germany, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Japan.

The concert will take place on 7 February at St John on Bethnal Green, and will feature music from Jo’s hugely popular albums Caldera and From The Sea. This will also feature the premiere of Jo’s new work ‘This Path With Grace’.

Jo has specially arranged several well-known works for the concert, including selected pieces by Schein and Bartok, for four cellos. The cello quartet will also be joined by violinist Daniel Merrill (Dead Rat Orchestra), percussionist Al Richardson and poet Mohan Rana. Tickets are available here.

For more information on Jo Quail, check out her Facebook, Twitter and Website.

Photo Jo by Karolina Urbaniak 3

Photo: Karolina Urbaniak

(Written on December 15, 2014 )

WildKat PR is excited to be working with the Swiss mother and daughter ensemble Duo Praxedis in the coming months.

Praxedis Hug-Rütti (harp) and her daughter Praxedis Geneviève Hug (piano) are set to revive the rather unusual chamber ensemble formation of piano and harp duo – an instrument combination which was frequently used in the early classical era but has since fallen into obscurity.

Praxedis and Praxedis first performed on stage together in 1996 when they were asked to play Bach’s Double Concerto, arranged for harp and piano, with orchestra. Since 2009, the duo have performed regularly in Switzerland and also internationally with their diverse repertoire, including early classical works for their instruments as well as their own arrangements of later masterpieces and contemporary compositions. They commissioned the renowned Swiss composer Oliver Waespi to write a Double Concerto for Harp, Piano and Wind Orchestra, which had its world premiere at the Tonhalle in Zürich in 2014.

Duo Praxedis fascinates audiences with their sensitive and intimate interpretations as well as their extraordinary concert dresses, which are their own designs, carefully tailored by the long-established embroidery company St. Galler Stickerei-Manufaktur Forster-Rohner and Jakob Schläpfer. The duo have performed at prestigious festivals such as the Gstaad Menuhin Festival & Academy AG, festival.Esterházy and the Engadin Festival. Their CDs were released with the labels Guildmusic, Preiser and Paladino.

Visit Duo Praxedis’ Youtube channel to get an impression of their unique music-making and follow them on Facebook for news and updates.

Duo Praxedis

(Written on December 12, 2014 )

The Berkeley Ensemble and the panel of judges for the New Cobbett Prize for Composition are delighted to announce Samuel Wesley Lewis’s Sequenza as the winner of the 2014 award, while Barnaby Martin‘s Lazarus and Laurence Osborn‘s Living Floors are awarded runner-up. The prize’s final was held at The Forge, Camden in a public concert at which all five finalist’s compositions were performed.

The New Cobbett Prize is inspired by the life and pioneering work of philanthropist and founder of the original Cobbett Competition, Walter Willson Cobbett who commissioned many of the early works of Benjamin Britten and Ralph Vaughan Williams, amongst others. Through this, Cobbett helped to establish a British school of chamber composition.

The winning and runner-up compositions will be recorded by the ensemble for release on Resonus Classics in 2015, part of their ongoing work to offer long term exposure to new and emerging composers.

Founded in 2008 by members of London’s Southbank Sinfonia who discovered a shared love for modern British composition, the Berkeley Ensemble has rapidly become one of the UK’s leading chamber groups. Their versatility and inquisitive spirit has resulted in collaborations with Tom Poster, Nicholas Daniel, Sir Thomas Allen, Richard Sisson and Gabriel Prokofiev.

Alongside the competition, the Berkeley Ensemble have performed in a concert series inspired by Cobbett’s legacy as well as supporting a series of composition masterclasses lead by Michael Berkeley and other leading British composers.

Louise Mather

(Written on December 11, 2014 )

We had a good giggle in the WildKat PR office yesterday trying to guess the top 10 most discussed UK topics, global topics and check ins on Facebook as reported by The Telegraph. However, the jovial mood was somewhat quenched when we noticed that not a single classical music venue, event or artist was mentioned. Well you know what they say, if you want something done, do it yourself. So, we have complied our own top 10 classical music lists.

Top UK Facebook Classical Music Venue Check Ins (of all time):

Royal Albert Hall

Royal Festival Hall

Royal Opera House

Barbican

Sadler’s Wells

Bridgewater Hall

The Symphony Hall Birmingham

St Martin in the Fields

Queen Elizabeth Hall

Wigmore Hall 

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The Wigmore Hall. Photo found at: The Independent 

Top 10 most popular news stories on WildKat PR of 2014 (calculated by the number of people reached)

Auction of Elizabeth Watts’ Vivine Westwood Gown which she wore to the Last Night of the BBC Proms

David Finckel and Wu Han at the Berlin Philharmonic

Vote for Bamberger Symphoniker – Bayerische Staatsphilharmonie’s New Logo

Berkeley Ensemble’s Competition Inspired by Walter Willson Cobbett

Avi Avital and Mahan Esfahani’s Concert at the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse

Cantate World Choir Games Blog

Our Top 6 Tips for Classical Music Artist Photography

Bringing Classical Music to the General Public: How WildKat PR Got it Right

Nicola Benedetti: ‘Sex isn’t what sells Classical Music.’

Trinity Buoy Wharf in Londonist

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Elizabeth Watts in Vivienne Westwood. Photo found at: elizabethwattssoprano.com by Asa Westerlund

Classical Music Album Charts (iTunes)

Nicola Benedetti- A Scottish Fantasy

Martha Argerich, Orchestra Mozart- Piano Concerto no.25 in C Major, K.503 & Piano Concerto No.20 in D minor, K.466 (Live from KKL, Lucerne/2013)

Milos Karadaglic-Aranjuez

Voces8-Eventide (Deluxe Version)

Maki Namekawa-Philip Glass:The Complete Piano Etudes

The Piano Guys-Wonders (Deluxe Edition)

Andre de Ridder and Africa Express-Africa Express Presents…Terry Riley’s In C Mali

Angela Hewitt-Bach: The Art of Fugue

Ludovic Morlot and Seattle Symphony Orchestra-John Luther Adams: Become Ocean

Joyce DiDonato-Stella di Napoli

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Nicola Benedetti. Photo found at: nicolabenedetti.co.uk

Why is this the case?

Classical music, in recent years, has become increasingly seen as boring, inaccessible and irrelevant despite it playing an integral part of film and video games (although not all agree on the latter. Classic FM had a debate about whether video game music should be classed as classical music). The question of why is an interesting one and I think there are a few reasons. Certainly, the rise of popular culture, jazz and technology has resulted in many  (especially) young people deeming classical music as old fashioned. Indeed, with the Baroque period being between 1600-1750, it is understandable why people may think it has no relevance to life today; we cannot interact with composers such as Bach and Mozart (not baroque!) on Twitter or hear them speak in interviews in the same way as we can with One Direction or Beyoncé. In this way, the genre is confined to history in many instances.  Moreover, many operas are in different languages, which adds another barrier to their wider enjoyment.  The concert-going experience may also be to blame. The perceived formalities of having to ‘dress up’ or the tradition of an orchestra rising to greet a conductor I think contributes to the public seeing classical music as ‘posh.’ However, I think there is hope. Those of us who love this type of music know that the themes composers were writing about are very similar to the ones relevant today: love, death, war, tragedy, big life questions, comedy, politics…the list goes on. Seeing WildKat PR’s blog in the top 10 of our most popular Facebook posts about bringing classical music to the general public shows there are some out there wanting to reverse the trend of classical music being seen as so obscure.

(Written on December 10, 2014 )

Composer and digital projects producer Richard Birkin is excited to announce that his upcoming release Songs for Spoken Words and its accompanying app are available to pre-order today!

Songs for Spoken Words is a soundtrack composed to accompany a collection of poetry by Michael Frearson. It comes in several forms and allows a host of opportunities for performance; it can be listened to as you would usually experience music, it can be listened to live with a speaker who will recite the poetry with the music, or you can experience both the music and poetry at any time, in any place through an app which Richard has created.

The app builds on the  technology from Richard’s last project, Night Sun, offering the listener a more personal experience with the depth and character that they would receive from a live performance.

Songs for Spoken Words will be launched on 3rd February at St. John on Bethnal Green with the Iskra Quartet, but for now you can pre-order the EP from iTunes and Bandcamp, as well as previewing the app here.

Keep up to date with the launch of Songs for Spoken Words by joining Richard’s events page here.

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(Written on December 8, 2014 )

Last night, the 7th December 2014, the WildKat PR team had the pleasure of attending our client, mandolin player Avi Avital‘s concert with harpsichordist Mahan Esfahani. The Sam Wanamaker Playhouse with its wooden structure and beautiful gold patterned backdrop perfectly complimented the mainly baroque programme whilst the candlelight atmosphere added to the sound of the mandolin and harpsichord and transported us back to the world of stately court dances and Shakespeare. All that was missing was the fashion of the day.

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The Sam Wanamaker Playhouse. Photocredit: Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre

There was a clear camaraderie and friendship between Avi and Mahan with plenty of knowing looks during the pieces, hugs during applause and banter inbetween pieces. One exchange was particularly amusing with Mahan, whilst Avi was re-tuning, commenting: ‘you only have six strings, you should try a hundred!’ Indeed, both mandolin and harpsichord performed centre stage solos but were equal partners when playing together. It was clear why Avi has been described by The New York Times as having ‘stunning agility;’ I was sure he was going to break a string during the first Allegro of Scarlatti’s Sonata for Mandolin and Basso Continuo in D minor (K90). Similarly, according to Mahan’s twitter page (@MahanEsfahani)  he has been described by the BBC as a ‘harpsichord ninja.’ I’m sure the whole audience can affirm that; he made the instrument sound elegant and sophisticated whilst driving the tempo.

A particular highlight for me was Beethoven’s Andante Con Variazioni, D-Dur WoO 44/2 for mandolin and harpsichord. When I first saw this on the programme I was intrigued as I was unaware that Beethoven wrote for such instruments. Avi and Mahan told us that Beethoven had indeed composed four Sonatinas for mandolin and harpsichord and a recently discovered letter, penned by the composer himself, had revealed that they were intended as a love poem to his nineteen-year-old crush. Beethoven and the lucky lady would have played the music together as an act of intimacy in a society with rigid restrictions on the interactions between men and women. Knowing the story behind the work, we were able to hear the ‘flirtations’ between the instruments as both showed off in an attempt to impress the other.

Another noteworthy moment was Avi’s own and (he admits) only composition Kedma. Meaning, ‘Eastwards’ or ‘towards the orient’ in Hebrew, Kedma certainly conjured up exotic scenes through the sound of the mandolin itself, pentatonic influences and dissonant chords. This was all to the thrill of the audience, one of whom shouted: ‘when is the premier of opus 2?’

All in all, we had a very musical and informative afternoon with two of the best musicians in the world. WildKat PR looks forward to more.

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Avi Avital and Mahan Esfahani at the Bristol Proms 2014. Photo: SWNS found at Universal.de

 

 

(Written on December 8, 2014 )

The US capital is in for a treat next week when baritone John Brancy and pianist Peter Dugan will be premiering their World War I Centenary Tribute recital at the Kennedy Center. The performance is the second annual Gerald Perman Emerging Artists Fund recital, promoted by Vocal Arts DC. Michael Kaiser, former president of the Kennedy Center, said about the programme: “Gerald Perman has produced one of the great vocal series of the world”.

John and Peter devised a recital programme which includes songs by composers who were directly affected by the Great War. There will be songs by European and American composers, many of whom fought in the war on different sides of the frontier. John Brancy will lead through the recital and annotate with historical and musical facts.

Both John and Peter are recent Juilliard graduates. John has already performed at the most prestigious opera houses in Europe such as the Dresden Semperoper and Alte Oper Frankfurt and was in concert with Boston and San Francisco Symphony Orchestras. Pianist Peter Dugan opened the season with Michael Tilson Thomas’ New World Symphony this summer.

John and Peter will be taking the World War I Centenary Tribute recital to Chicago in April 2015 and Montreal in May 2015.

Please visit the Vocal Arts DC website to see the full recital programme:

Watch a sneak preview of the recital on John’s YouTube channel.

John Brancy and Peter Dugan, photo credit Gerard Collett

(Written on December 5, 2014 )