Having been performed in Todmorden, Halifax and London, reviews for Tim Benjamin’s latest opera Madame X have come flooding in. Madame X is a highly entertaining and theatrical opera, inspired by art works and music spanning not only musical history, but also the world. We have put together a selection of audience reviews to give you a taste of the show, ahead of the performance in Manchester on the 25th September.

B Stevenson said that Madame X was ‘Very funny, very dark and very moving’, deserving ‘wide recognition’, while Chris Bennett said that having seen Madame X it ‘will encourage me to see contemporary opera in the future’, which is fantastic news for festivals that promote new works such as Grimeborn. 

S Lester gave 4 stars and said ‘A very entertaining and enjoyable pastiche of 18th century opera with modern overtones’, picking up on Madame X’s stylistic influences. E Hancock suggested that Madame X was ‘witty and bitingly satirical’ and J Finnerty wrote that ‘several days after the performance and I’m still thinking about issues raised and revisiting parts of the opera in my head to enjoy them again’.

And the highest praise yet comes from Ray McArthy who said ‘the harshest critic I know, my mum, thoroughly enjoyed the show. High praise indeed’!

Many of those who have given feedback awarded 4 or 5 stars to Madame X, and you can leave your own feedback here.

The next performance of Madame X will take place on 25th September 2014 at the RNCM Theatre. You can purchase tickets here.

For more updates on Madame X visit the website, Twitter or Facebook.

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(Written on September 1, 2014 )

The brilliant Italian pianist Vanessa Benelli Mosell will be performing in two very special concerts in the UK in the coming weeks. The first performance will be in St Andrew’s Church Lyddington on Saturday 30th August. The church built of golden-brown ironstone in-keeping with the architecture of the village will be a delightful setting for solo piano works by Chopin, Lizst and Stravinsky.

A rising star from a young age, Vanessa graduated from the Royal College of Music in 2012. She has been awarded the Elba Festival Prize by Yuri Bashmet and more recently won the first Award of the Festival Pietrasanta as an outstanding young talent. Not only is she a Young Steinway artist, but has also been associated with Peugeot and Pleyel’s latest collaborative project.

On Thursday 28th August she performed live on BBC Radio 3′s InTune programme, and displayed her beautiful sensitivity with the instrument, yet demonstrated an impressive virtuosity.

Vanessa will also be performing with cellist Matthew Barley at London’s Kings Place on the 13th September. Forming part of Kings Place Festival 2014, the concert programme is headlined “Classical Works; Folk Roots” and the repertoire includes Schumann’s Adagio, Allegro and Five Pieces in Folk Style, Tsintsadze’s Five Pieces on Folk Themes, Janacek’s Pohadka and Bartók’s Rumanian Dances.

For further information on Vanessa Benelli Mosell click here or visit her facebooktwitter and instagram pages.

 

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(Written on August 29, 2014 )

WildKat PR client and composer Richard Birkin released the single and app of Night Sun at the beginning of this week – the perfect treat for a bank holiday Monday!

Originally commissioned by Nottingham City Council for Light Night 2014, Night Sun involves a toy music box mounted on a wooden plinth which, when touched, allowed the story to unfold. After it’s initial success Richard developed the technology behind Night Sun further, using web coding to bring the installation to a laptop or mobile. It puts poetry and photography alongside Richard’s music to demonstrate human connection in times of darkness. Night Sun can be found online here and music from the installation can be downloaded here.

Next year Richard will be releasing his album Songs For Spoken Words which builds on the technology used in Night Sun.

Keep up to date with news from Richard via is FacebookTwitter and website.

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(Written on August 29, 2014 )

WildKat PR are happy to announce the return of The Berkeley Ensemble to the client roster. The Berkeley Ensemble, a collective of Southbank Sinfonia musicians formed in 2008, have partnered with Resonus Classics to provide an excellent opportunity for composers in Britain. Known for their inspiring performances of British chamber music, their latest competition encourages composers to explore the legacy of the early twentieth-century philanthropist, Walter Willson Cobbett. Cobbett supported the British school of chamber composition, paving the way for Bridge and Turnage to name a few.

The prize of a £500 commission will be awarded to a composer who produces a work that is scored for any combination of instruments drawn from 2 violins, viola, cello, double bass, clarinet, horn, bassoon and piano. The composition must be a self-contained movement, that is 8 to 12 minutes in duration. The work must be totally original, having never been performed in public or submitted for another competition.

Up to 16 entrants will be selected to participate in the semi-final masterclass on either 26th October or 9th November. Following this a maximum of 6 works will be performed in front of a panel at the New Cobbett Prize Grand Final at The Forge on Wednesday 10th December 2014. The winners and runners up will have their work recorded for commercial release by the Berkeley Ensemble on the Resonus Classics label in 2015.

As well as the competition, the Berkeley Ensemble will be performing in concerts inspired by Cobbett’s legacy and also supporting a series of composition masterclasses lead by Michael Berkeley and other leading British composers. The details of these concerts are listed below.

Please send entries to Berkeley Ensemble New Cobbett Prize, 36 Durban Road, London SE27 9RP. They must arrive by the 1st September 2014.

To enter the competition you must be 35 or under, a resident in the UK and not currently contracted to a publisher. All entries will be assessed anonymously. For more details and terms of the competition please see the website.

 

Cobbett’s Legacy I: In the shadow of Brahms

16 September 2014- 7:30pm- The Forge.

Tickets £12 (£10)

 

Cobbett’s Legacy II: Towards an English music

26 October 2014- 11:00am2:00pm- The Forge

Tickets £12 (£10) (to include tea/coffee)

 

Composition masterclass: 2pm – 5pm

Free entry to the masterclass with a ticket to the morning concert.

£3 entry for masterclass only

 

Cobbett’s Legacy III: Modern Britain

9 November 2014- 11:00am-2:00pm- The Forge

Tickets £12 (£10) (to include tea/coffee)

 

Composition masterclass: 2pm – 5pm

Free entry to the masterclass with a ticket to the morning concert.

£3 entry for masterclass only

 

New Cobbett Prize Grand Final

10 December 2014- The Forge

 

Louise Mather

Louise Mather

 

 

 

(Written on August 22, 2014 )

WildKat artist and composer Nimrod Borenstein is looking forward to an exciting and diverse concert season 2014/15. Having already had his compositions performed by the likes of Marie Cantagrill and The Philharmonia Orchestra, Nimrod’s reputation as a world class composer continues to flourish.

After commencing the concert season in September with a performance of “Poème” opus 64 for violin solo and string orchestra in France, October 2014 brings the exciting world premiere of “Breeze” opus 65 for wind quintet. The composition is due to be performed on 2 October by the highly accomplished Galliard Ensemble, for whom it has been specially written in celebration of their 20th anniversary.

Nimrod’s second world premiere of the season is due to be performed on 23 October. The exciting and alternative orchestra Camerata Alma Viva have commissioned Symphony for Strings opus 68 to be performed at St John’s Smith Square in London. The ethos of the orchestra differs substantially from the traditional orchestra: “It is a strong belief of the group that music is a very natural thing that anyone, trained or not, should be able to approach and enjoy. The Camerata Alma Viva is constantly working on breaking the barriers of the traditional concert, by playing the pieces in different settings, sometime playing from around, behind or even within the audience, singing or improvising during the concerts, encouraging spontaneous audiences reactions like clapping anytime they feel, creating original compositions to link different pieces together, adding poetry, light effects.” The unconventional manner of both composer and orchestra will make for an exciting and groundbreaking collaboration.

Winter brings more exciting collaborations, starting with English cellist Jonathan Bloxham who will perform the UK premiere of Cello Concerto opus 56b on 20 November 2014. Nimrod’s final concerts of 2014 are three separate performances of The Big Bang and Creation of the Universe opus 52 in Cyprus. Performing the composition is the Cyprus Symphony Orchestra under conductor Sivan Albo Ben-Hur, each on 3, 4 and 5 of December at various well renowned musical venues in Cyprus: the Markideion Theatre in Paphos, the Rialto Theatre in Limassol and the Pallas Theatre in Nicosia.

Finally, in what will be his first collaboration of 2015 Nimrod has composed a piece for the Gandini Juggling Company. The Juggling Company will perform the piece 4×4 which is to be accompanied by a world premiere of Nimrod’s Suspended Opus 69 and will take place in  the Linbury Studio  Theatre of the Royal Opera House as part of London’s International Mime Festival. The London International Mime Festival this year was described by the Londonist as a “true celebration of the unusual, the visual and the sublime” Plays to See described it as “London’s theatrical event of the year”. This festival is therefore an extremely prominent and exciting platform for Nimrod’s work and accommodates a fantastic collaboration between composer and theatrical company. The Trailer for the Gandini Juggling Company’s performance can be viewed here.

For more information about Nimrod’s upcoming event and projects, visit his website, facebook and twitter.

Nimrod Borenstein (Photo by Synced Films)

 

 

 

 

(Written on August 22, 2014 )

WildKat PR are delighted to welcome composer Richard Birkin as our newest client. As well as a composer, Richard is a producer of specialist and experimental digital projects and often creates unique installations to accompany his works. Richard was recently commissioned by Nottingham City Council to create an interactive audio/visual installation for Light Night 2014, funded by Arts Council EnglandNight Sun involves a toy music box mounted on a wooden plinth. When a passer by touches the music box, the windows light up. When a passer by winds the handle, the music begins and the story unfolds…

Following the success of his installation Night Sun, Richard has developed the technology used in the installation to produce a single of the work, using web coding to animate poetry with music and photography on a laptop or mobile. Richard’s upcoming project Songs for Spoken Words, funded by the Arts Council England/National Lottery Grant for the Arts, continues to build on this technology and will be released in February 2015.

Keep up to date with news from Richard via is Facebook, Twitter and website.

View a preview of Night Sun online here.

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(Written on August 22, 2014 )

Tim Benjamin’s latest opera Madame X will make its world premiere tomorrow in Todmorden at the Hippodrome Theatre. Rehearsals for Madame X have gone brilliantly, and Tim Benjamin’s new opera is featured in Sinfini Music’s classical music highlights for this week.

More news from behind the scenes can be found on the Madame X blog, including information about the cast and interviews with Tim Benjamin. The opera follows a young artist, Masetto, and his lover, Zerlina, as their lives and dreams are manipulated by Masetto’s corrupt agent and wealthy, powerful art collectors.

As Tim explains in The Lancashire Telegraph, it is quite possible that Madame X is the second opera ever to have been performed in Todmorden – the first being his opera Emily in 2013, which won great acclaim.

This photo from the technical rehearsal below shows a mysterious covered painting … but what really lies beneath?

 

WhatLiesBeneath

 

Madame X will also be performed in Halifax, in London as part of the Grimeborn Festival, and in Manchester:

Thursday 21st August at Todmorden Hippodrome (World Premiere)

Friday 22nd – Saturday 23rd August at Square Chapel, Halifax

Monday 25th – Wednesday 27th August at Arcola Theatre, London (London Premiere)

Thursday 25th September at RNCM Opera Theatre, Manchester

You can also view the latest Madame X trailer here!

 

Follow Madame X on Facebook and Twitter, protagonists @MasettoPainter and @Zerlina83 have their own accounts, too!

(Written on August 20, 2014 )

The debate surrounding the future of classical music ranges far and wide, having lead to experimentation with classical music clubnights, donor membership specifically targeted at under 40s and classical concerts given in ex-swimming pools and car parks – all in an attempt to engage new audiences and encourage young people to start attending concerts.  The hope is that, as well as increasing engagement, they might still be attending in forty years time – as well as donating part of their increased salary to an organisation which has provided them with so much enjoyment during their lifetime.

Meanwhile, in the UK in particular, cuts are being made to music provision in schools to the point where many children aren’t being given access to the basic musical education which will give them the hunger to see these live classical events.  It is easy to spend the same amount of money on a ticket to a sporting event or a West End show as on some classical or opera events – so why should anyone take the chance on something which they know little about, and can’t guarantee the same enjoyment?

The concept of merging classical music with technology is relatively new, a major example of which can be seen in the live broadcast of opera and theatre in cinemas and on open-air screens.  These screenings, of productions from the Royal Opera House, Metropolitan Opera, National Theatre and even exhibitions in the British Museum, have proved hugely successful, with audiences citing the quality of filming and sound as reasons for their continued enjoyment. The fact that many of these broadcasts can be seen for free has also created a talking point.  The Berlin Philharmonic launched their Digital Concert Hall a little after the live broadcasts started, bringing one of the world’s best orchestras into your living room – so close you could touch it.  When it was launched, in 2009, there was a lot of discussion about the future of classical music – why then, has there been so little technological innovation within the industry since then?

If the industry doesn’t experiment with new technologies, it risks falling short of what a lot of new audiences are looking for.  This isn’t about radicalising a well-established industry which is still very much alive, it is about keeping the hugely loyal audiences which already exist as well as engaging new people and alternative press in what is increasingly becoming a digital world.  The use of Google Glass, seen in isolation, could be seen as little more than a gimmick, true.  However the product’s use within live classical music over the long term could potentially give an insight into a performer’s experience of the incredible world of live classical music – which musicians a conductor engages with and when, what a soloist sees in that crucial moment when they walk on stage, the fundamental eye contact at the end of a cadenza to lead to a down beat.  The nature of the Google Glass technology means that the images and videos generated from the headset can be shared instantly throughout the world – to an audience of existing classical aficionados as well as those who haven’t yet experienced a live concert, and to those interested in new and pioneering technology.

The industry is lucky to have such forward-thinking platforms in which to experiment with this technology, but why should an industry which has already survived so much change be so adverse to new technology?  The use of Google Glass and other forms of technology within classical music will inspire debate and discussion, as have many other advances in music – including the music itself – throughout history.  Whether for or against, these innovations have got the industry talking, and a worldwide audience will be watching to see where they take us.

(Written on August 18, 2014 )

On Wednesday 6 August, 22 members of the National Children’s Orchestras of Great Britain (NCO) had the privilege of joining forces with the European Union Youth Orchestra at the world-famous Royal Albert Hall.

The lucky musicians were from two of the NCO’s five age-banded Orchestras – Under 12 and Under 13. The repertoire included Elgar’s Pomp and Circumstance and Ravel’s Bolero, and after a 90 minute rehearsal, they delivered an amazing performance to family and friends. The children’s infectious enthusiasm and incredible talent wowed the audience.  It was apparent to all listening that for many of these children their musical careers will see them return to perform at the Royal Albert Hall and, indeed, the BBC Proms.

 “It is a musician’s dream to perform at the Royal Albert Hall!” said Nicholas Bacon, violinist with the NCO’s Under 13 Orchestra. “I loved playing alongside brilliant musicians, I learnt so much working in an orchestra of 165 members under a fantastic and inspirational young conductor and to be playing at the Royal Albert Hall – well how can you possibly beat that!”

Elliott Neal, double bassist agreed: “It was a real inspiration to work with young professional players and really showed what we may be able to do in years to come”..

Roger Clarkson, NCO’s Principal Director of Music expressed his gratitude both to Marshall Marcus, CEO of EUYO, for providing this fantastic opportunity, and to the BBC Proms team for their welcome and superb organisation.  “It was heart warming to see a number of familiar faces in EUYO who were Alumni of NCO-GB” he said, “all of whom remember NCO with fondness”.

NCO Chairman, Peter Stark, said: “The influence and impact of this wonderful organisation continues to develop apace. The acclaimed performances of the five national age-banded orchestras astonish, with audience and staff continually remarking on the unbelievable standards achieved. The six regional orchestras and Associate Membership scheme are taking the name of NCO to an ever increasing market place and giving invaluable opportunities to more and more young musicians. No one should be under the misapprehension that this organisation produces performances that sound as though played by children!”

The National Children’s Orchestras provides exceptional orchestral training to musically talented children between the ages of 7 and 14 irrespective of background and financial circumstances.  Its orchestras regularly enthral audiences at some of the finest concert venues in the country, performing repertoire usually confined to adult professional orchestras. NCO’s performances are renowned for their intensity, vivacity and commitment, but above all their professionalism. This summer has seen the NCO’s Under 12 Orchestra perform at Birmingham Town Hall and the Main Orchestra perform at Colston Hall, Bristol; both performances receiving five star reviews in the press. On Saturday 16 August, NCO’s Under 13 Orchestra will take to the stage of Leeds Town Hall to perform a programme that includes Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture and Walton’s Spitfire Prelude and Fugue.

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NCO performing at Leeds Town Hall

(Written on August 15, 2014 )

WildKat Artist, accordionist Paul Chamberlain has returned from his UK Summer tour. The tour, which has been a huge success, included performances in London, Birmingham, Aberdeen, Newcastle, Bristol and Cardiff, before finally culminating at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival with his final performance of the tour on 9 August. Paul’s performances on his tour and his latest album ‘Accordion Sensations’ have been met with wide critical acclaim. Paul has been praised by the Sunday Times for “Conjur[ing] up both piano and orchestral parts with fierce fluency and a fully Weberian brilliance in fast excursions” and also by BroadwayBaby who have described his playing as “An enthralling display of musical mastery- humble, charming and informative.” Edinburgh Guide said of Paul “[His] undoubted enthusiasm was engaging and it went towards giving us a treat of a recital” and his performance at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival was particularly well received by Seen and Heard International: “He brought an astonishing breadth of colours and styles to the instrument’s necessarily limited range, but I was especially impressed not only by his quicksilver fingerwork, but also by the way he made the accordion’s rustic wheeze not only jolly but also, by turns, dramatic, threatening or stormy as need be.”

For more information about Paul’s upcoming concerts and events, visit his website, twitter and facebook.

Listen to Paul’s interview with BBC Radio Scotland last month here.

 

 

(Written on August 15, 2014 )