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Summer is always a busy time of year in the music world. With the Proms in full flow and festivals popping up everywhere, the past few weeks have been pretty busy for all of us here at WildKat PR too! We wanted to share with you select highlights of what we’ve been up to in our London and Berlin offices…

Festivals

One of the most exciting events we have been working on this summer is the Tête-à-Tête Opera Festival. With over 100 performances, from Tim Benjamin‘s dark double-bill Life Stories to a flashmob in King’s Cross, it’s no wonder the festival was listed as number one on BBC Music Magazine’s Unmissable Events for August 2015.

Tete-a-Tete blog

Tête-à-Tête pop-up opera

Next came Grimeborn and Constella Ballet & Orchestra‘s Clown of Clowns – a circus-themed operatic and balletic spectacular featuring Schoenberg’s Pierrot Lunaire followed by Leo Geyer‘s jazz-inspired Sideshows. Despite the tube strikes, we battled our way across London to the Arcola and are very glad we did, as this show received glowing reviews from audience members and journalists alike.

Clown of Clowns blog

Clown of Clowns, Arcola Theatre

We were lucky to have two clients performing at this year’s Wilderness Festival, Matthew Sharp and Avi Avital. Matthew’s performance with Opera North was exhilarating, featuring devils and fire dancers and Avi left the audience calling for an encore!

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Wilderness Festival, Cornbury Park

Proms

The Mahler Chamber Orchestra has had a busy season at the BBC Proms this year. We were stunned to see the connection between the musicians and the wonderful Leif Ove Andsnes directing from the piano. It was also a very emotional evening since this was the last time they were performing the Beethoven journey together.

MCO blog

Mahler Chamber Orchestra at BBC Proms. Credit: Paco Varoch

And the promming fun didn’t stop in London… We travelled down to the Bristol Proms to see the Sacconi Quartet in Heartfelt – an extraordinary production which allowed audience members to hold a robotic heart or ‘chestahedron’ and monitor the musicians’ heart rates as they performed.

Heartfelt blog

Sacconi Quartet ‘Heartfelt’ concert

We have also been making the most of £5 promming tickets and particularly enjoyed Prom 35, The Story of Swing – described by Rhian as one of the best concerts she’s ever been to!

Office News

And life inside the office has been almost as busy as our concert schedule!

With both the London and Berlin offices recruiting, it has been a month of advertising vacancies, reading CVs and interviewing. Now that the whole process is over, we are pleased to welcome new account manager Anja in Berlin and look forward to Victoria joining us next month.

We have been darting around, accompanying clients to In Tune, Resonance FM and London Live broadcasts, our new in-house photographer has been taking photos at events and we’ve run industry open sessions at Handel House and Guildhall.

Open sessions blog

WildKat PR Industry Open Session at Handel House

We’ve also been travelling further afield, with Carolin in New York with the Mahler Chamber Orchestra, Sarah in Amsterdam with enoa and Olivia and Carolin off to Switzerland for the Gstaad Menuhin Festival.

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New York. Credit: Carolin Denz

It has been a summer of new beginnings, with new and returning clients David Pearl, Constella Ballet & Orchestra, Marina Baranova, Yijia Zhang, Nina Brazier, Katherine Bryan, JSL, Rachael Young, Ensemble Perpetuo, Damian Marhulets, Raymond Yiu, Anneleen Lenaerts and Hideko Udagawa.

We also celebrated the birth of two beautiful babies – Anna’s little girl Greta and Kat and Alan’s baby boy Charlie!

We have a lot of exciting events coming up in the next few weeks, so as always keep an eye on our blog and Twitter for updates!

All photos in this post (excluding credited images) were taken by in-house photographer Rhian Hughes.

(Written on August 20, 2015 )

According to industry body BPI, sales of classical recordings fell by 5% last year and for many, the classical genre continues to carry a certain stigma, which is difficult to shake. It is no secret that classical music hasn’t always found it easy to move with the times. However, recent years have shown a flourish of exciting new material – from fringe opera to flash mobs.

At the forefront of this revolution is contemporary opera festival Tête-à-Tête, which saw its opening night last night at ‘The Place’. The final performance of the evening was composer Tim Benjamin’s Life Stories, produced by Radius. The double-bill featured R.I.P and Silent Jack – two one-act operas based on gripping, dark short stories by Anton Chekhov and Anthony Peter.

Feedback after the performances of Life Stories earlier this month demonstrated the impact that contemporary productions have. With 18% of audience members first-time opera-goers, and 96% giving positive or strongly positive reviews, the possibility for performances such as this to attract a new public is clear.

A second London performance of Life Stories will take place at 8:55pm at ‘The Place’ tonight. Click here for details of how to buy tickets and support the opera revolution!

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(Written on July 22, 2015 )

April has been an incredibly busy month here at WildKat PR! Just in case you missed anything, here is a round-up of what we’ve been up to:

We were delighted to welcome Tête à Tête: The Opera Festival. It is the world’s largest festival of new opera and will return to King’s Cross from July for three weeks, with over 100 performances and 40 new works.

It seems we will have a very operatic summer as we welcome back composer Tim Benjamin. We worked with him last year on Madame X, an opera which was featured in the 2014 Grimeborn Festival at the Arcola Theatre. Tim is producing another opera this summer called ‘Life Stories’ at the Tête à Tête Festival and from there it will tour in the North of England.

sacconi-quartet

We also started working with the Sacconi Quartet on their project HEARTFELT. They are quickly getting a name for themselves as the ‘digital string quartet’ with lots of interesting technology-focused projects happening on a regular basis. HEARTFELT is being performed at the Spitalfields Festival, the Bristol Proms and Lichfield Festival. But what exactly is so cool about the projects? The Sacconi Quartet is recognised for being a compelling ensemble, consistently communicating with a fresh and imaginative approach and so they know how to create exciting projects. HEARTFELT is an immersive, interactive performance that re-imagines a Beethoven quartet through robotics and audience responsive lighting design.

We are also very pleased to introduce you to Mahler Chamber Orchestra who have recently signed with us. They are due to play three times at the annual BBC Proms with their Artistic Partner and Norwegian pianist Leif Ove Andsnes. Together they will perform all five of Beethoven’s piano concertos, which will represent the end of their wider project ‘The Beethoven Journey’ which has spanned four years.

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We attended a lot of exciting events in April which included Ensemble BPM’s performance of Steve Reich and Beryl Korot’s Three Tales which achieve reviews in the Financial Times, The Times and The Arts Desk. This was the first ever opera performed live in an IMAX Theatre and took place at the Science Museum. The second of the two nights (22 and 24 April) was sold out! The Ensemble want their work to illuminate the sights and sounds of an increasingly complex world: they certainly delighted a big audience.

Turning our attention to New York, a real highlight as was Danielle Schwob‘s world premiere performance of her new work Three Self Portraits in Brooklyn NYC. Danielle Schwob and John Zorn were joined by Vicky Chow, Jennifer Choi, and Michael Nicolas.

Launches were clearly en vogue this month as we attended lot of them in the last few weeks such as the launch event of Musical Orbit. Shortly after, Tom Service at the Guardian wrote an article about it saying that Musical Orbit is a great idea for offering one-on-one tutorials with top professionals.

Of course, WildKat PR also attended an event hosted by the fabulous After Nyne Magazine. The Magazine combines culture, lifestyle, arts, style and music so it was great to meet the editorial team properly and celebrate the first print issue with some drinks in a lovely gallery.

ensemble-perpetuo

On 23 April we celebrated our birthday but there was no time for partying too much as Ensemble Perpetuo gave a concert on 25 April at 47/49 Tanner Street. As an ensemble specialising in multi-art form collaborations, they give a new meaning to performances of both classical and contemporary music. They are known for taking music to unexpected venues and drawing in new audiences to share in their love for music as one experienced at Tanner Street. They played music inspired by cities, and the event included city-themed photography from the London Photo Festival, Art by Caroline Mackenzie and Tom Pearce and choreography by Lucia Sweigert. Read the review by LDN Card.

In times of so many brillant musicians it is not easy to find an individual voice and to get attention from a bigger audience. The virtuoso violinist Eric Silberger is one of these musicians combining both splendid technical skills and musicality which made his London debut with the Philharmonic Orchestra very special. Bachtrack and Classicalsource reported from the concert. Eric also released his video of Paganini’s 24th Caprice last month with all the variations layered on top of each other – it’s had almost 16,000 views on Youtube now!

Encouraging new audiences, especially in terms of classical music is not that easy. Orpheus Sinfonia‘s conductor Thomas Carroll spoke about their Beneath the Score Series on BBC Radio 3 In Tune ahead of their concert The People’s Politics on 28 April. The concert also received a 4 star review from LDN card. Orpheus Sinfonia’s second Networking for Young Professionals event also took place at this concert, continuing to encourage new audiences to engage with classical music. During April, Thomas was also interviewed by the Mayfair Times and it was great to have this support from a publication based in the same area that they are resident in.

haydn-2032-2As well as being busy in London and New York, in Berlin our team attended one of the brilliant Haydn nights with  Radiale Nacht – Il filosofo at Radialsystem V on 8th May. As the project Haydn 2032 is a huge work in progress, these nights offer an opportunity to get to know the project: conductor Giovanni Antonini, Bernhard Lassahn and Christian Moritz-Bauer gave lectures, were interviewed and talked to the audience. On 8th May, Il Giardino armonico under Giovanni Antonini played symphonies by both Joseph Haydn and Wilhelm Friedemann Bach which were received with massive applause.

With all the fantastic new clients who have recently joined us, as well as the BBC Proms, Tête à Tête: The Opera Festival and other annual highlights, it looks like a busy summer for WildKat PR.

Keep updated with news by visiting our blog, following us on Twitter and liking us on Facebook and LinkedIn.

(Written on May 15, 2015 )

WildKat PR is pleased to be welcoming back composer Tim Benjamin, who is returning with his latest project Life Stories: a double bill of new one-act operas, Silent Jack and Rest in Peace, set three centuries apart. With words by Anton Chekhov and Anthony Peter, sung by mezzo-soprano Taylor Wilson and bass James Fisher, and produced by Radius, the operas explore a woman and a man in 1720s England and 2020s Moscow respectively. Both protagonists tell their life stories in their final hours and carry themes of chance, loose words and how small life choices can impact your life overall.

Silent Jack tells the story of a noblewoman, wealth lost by her missing husband to the South Sea bubble, who takes up a new life as a highwayman to make ends meet. In this gripping chamber opera, we come face-to-face with “Silent Jack” and hear of her halcyon past and grim decline, until, sharing her final moments of life, we learn of the terrible discovery she has made.

This opera is presented in a direct, intimate format: the protagonist (played by Taylor Wilson) addresses the audience up-close and personally. With a focus on story-telling, it mixes humour and tragedy, accompanied by atmospheric music that draws on Purcell.

Rest In Peace is a contemporary adaptation of Anton Chekhov’s “Life through questions and exclamations”, a fascinating short story cunningly constructed entirely from snippets of speech from the protagonist’s life, from birth to death. Whereas Chekhov does not specify either the protagonist’s name or present situation, Radius have chosen to set the short story as the final moments of an old homeless man, Ezdeyev, as he reflects upon his life. These reflections gradually reveal to us how this man has arrived here. The drama (in English) is presented in a modern re-invention of Brechtian opera-theatre: both audience and accompanying musicians are vigorously encouraged to join in by the boisterous, comic, and tragic Ezdeyev. Tim’s music – requiring great flexibility from the singer – blends the tuneful influences of Weill and Eisler with sounds reminiscent of Shostakovich and Weinberg.

Life Stories will premiere at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester on 1st July and will thereafter embark on a tour of the North-West of England in Preston, Halifax and Todmorden culminating in a run of performances at Tête à Tête: The Opera Festival.

Tim Benjamin is a highly successful composer known for his works for opera, film and television including the critically acclaimed operas Madame X, which toured nationally in 2014, and Emily. More recently, he composed for the short film, By Example which was entered into the BFI 48 Hour Sci-Fi Challenge. When he’s not composing, he is also a teacher of music theory, an examiner in the same subject for ABRSM and the Artistic Director of Radius. Amongst this busy schedule, he is heavily in demand as a speaker and spoke at a TEDx talk in 2015.

Keep up to date with Tim Benjamin, Life Stories and all his other projects through his website and Twitter.

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(Written on May 13, 2015 )

We recently announced that Tête à Tête: The Opera Festival joined WildKat PR as a client and today we are pleased to reveal that the programme for the 2015 Season has been released and early-bird tickets are now on sale! Spanning three weeks and in multiple venues around King’s Cross such as The Place, Egg, the RADA GBS Studio and Regents Theatre, over 100 performances will take place and 40 new works are scheduled. Each night, there will be up to three performances, allowing audiences to fully enjoy as much of the festival as possible.

Opening the season is Streetwise Opera and Tête à Tête’s co-production of People Watch which is a comic yet dark take on Channel 4’s Gogglebox. Indeed, technology is a loose theme of this year’s festival what with Kevin JonesYour Call…, about our modern relationship with the digital world, focusing on voice technology and synthesised speech. Similarly, Of Zoe and The Woman I Sing explores the idea around voice avatars. 

Another WildKat PR client Tim Benjamin will feature at the festival with his new work Life Stories ,which explores the lives of two people facing their final moments.

There are many new features this year, including two world prèmieres that were written in collaboration with writers who have worked with the Festival in 2014 on the Pop Up Operas. One of these is Chocolat author Joanne Harris. Many traditional operas are also being given a makeover, make sure you go to Rock Tosca and Reimagined Turandot . Another innovation introduced this year are the Tête à Tête Club Nights, evenings beginning with conventional opera and morphing into a nightclubbing experience with a guest DJ from Nonclassical. Truly, they deserve their reputation as the people who are redefining and reclaiming the word ‘opera.’

The successful pop up operas and street performances of previous years, feature again in 2015 in Cubitt Square, Granary Square and throughout King’s Cross.

Check out the full line up and book your tickets, which are on sale now, through the website. Keep up to date with the summer festival on Tête à Tête’s Facebook and Twitter accounts.

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(Written on May 7, 2015 )

Tim Benjamin’s opera Madame X is playing it’s final performance of this year at the Royal Northern College of Music tomorrow evening.

This entertaining and theatrical opera has enjoyed performances in Todmorden, Halifax and London with audiences being able to publish their feedback here with many reviews giving 4 or 5 stars!

Madame X tells the story of Masetto and Zerlina – a young immigrant couple – who are impoverished, cold, and starving. Masetto, a brilliant portrait artist, is being ripped off by his unscrupulous agent, and circling art collectors will not take “no” for an answer. Shivering in a shabby loft, struggling to make ends meet, and exploited by the wealthy and powerful collectors Lady Brannoch and Mr Wilmore, Masetto lives for his art, protected only by his muse and love, Zerlina. Their plight becomes increasingly perilous, desperate, and deadly, until at last: revenge.

Tickets for the final performance on 25th September can be bought here.

For more updates on Madame X visit the websiteTwitter or Facebook. You can follow Masetto and Zerlina on Twitter too.

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(Written on September 24, 2014 )

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 )

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?

 

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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 )

Tim Benjamin’s newest opera, Madame X, is a highly entertaining and theatrical opera. Whilst the face value of Madame X as a dark and shocking work is clear to see, the influences that have informed Benjamin’s opera come from all over the art world.

Screenshot 2014-07-22 15.20.17In terms of visual art alone, ‘Madame X’ is already infamous. When John Singer Sargent hung Madame X in his studio in Paris it caused a scandal despite the fact that many more obviously shocking paintings had already been exhibited. Singer’s Madame X still inspires works of arts today, such as Gioia Diliberto’s novel I Am Madame X. In Tim Benjamin’s Madame X, however, ‘Madame X’ is more difficult to identitfy, and, as Benjamin stated on Resonance FM’s Opera Hour, the question as to “who is Madame X?” is left very open. The opera Madame X instead makes a wider reference to art as an innocent force, fighting against a representation of corruption that is embodied by corrupt art dealers. Money is the devil in this opera, rather than one single figure, and Madame X is primarily concerned with the purity of art more generally. Madame X’s link with Jacobean revenge dramas also adds to the uncanny nature of the work; it is complete with ghostly encounters and other tragedies. Benjamin was also inspired by Mozart’s Don Giovanni, in which a villain meets his comeuppance, although the villains in Madame X again refer to the evil of money overall.

Musically speaking, Handel’s influence is perhaps the most obvious. Benjamin was obsessed with the Handel’s Water Music and the Music For the Royal Fireworks as a youngster, and Madame X is proof that paying homage to Handel’s Italianate operas is anything but outdated. A dependence on beautiful melodies can be seen in places, but so can complex music within the bass. This is particularly prominent in Masetto’s lament bass at the end of Act 2, one of the opera’s most engaging but melancholy moments in which Benjamin creates great empathy with Masetto’s character.  Madame X often makes Handellian and Purcellian references, and the baroque flute and harpsichord can be heard, but Madame X is clearly far more than a pastiche of any one composer or artist. Musically and visually rich, this is also an opera with strong religious undertones, as Masetto’s exclamations of despair often refer to a Christian God, “No! The End of God!” and there is something particularly other-wordly about Madame X from beginning to end.  There is clearly much to take from Madame X, a brilliantly dramatic opera that draws from some of the world’s greatest works of art across time.

The world premiere of Madame X will be performed in Todmorden in West Yorkshire on 21 August, before moving on to Halifax, London and Manchester. Tickets can be purchased from the Madame X website.

Madame X

(Written on July 22, 2014 )

Classical News

 

The Guardian

Arts Council funding decision day: live coverage

Arts Council announces grants for about 900 applicants, ore lottery money but still not enough to go round and pressure to give more to regions

 

The New York Times

The Vienna Philharmonic Recalls World War I in Sarajevo

Remembering World War I in the Conflict’s Flash Point

 

I Care If You Listen

5 questions to Tim Benjamin (composer) about Madame X

Following his 2013 opera Emily, composer Tim Benjamin is back this August with Madame X, an operatic exploration of the darker side of the art world featuring the young lovers Masetto and Zerlina, Masetto’s agent, and wealthy collectors. We asked 5 questions to Benjamin.

Business Standard

Singapore Chinese Orchestra breaks Guinness Records

A Singapore-based professional Chinese orchestra group has broken two Guinness World records of the largest Chinese drum ensembles and largest Chinese orchestra performance.

Delaware Online

Musicians worry about Delaware Symphony’s future

As the Delaware Symphony Orchestra continues to rebound from near-death two years ago, musicians and former symphony leaders have criticized management for the absence of a long-term growth strategy.

Kultur-Port

Schleswig-Holstein Musik Festival – im Gespräch Intendant Christian Kuhnt

Das Schleswig-Holstein Musik Festival öffnet seine Saison am 5. Juli und endet am 31. August 2014.

Der Tagesspiegel

Beine machen

Bei Young Euro Classic sind die besten und fröhlichsten Jugendorchester der Welt zu Gast. Jetzt ist Halbzeit, bevor es in einem Monat im Admiralspalast weitergeht.

Klassik.com

Zubin Mehta verlässt Opernhaus Valencia aus Protest über Sparpolitik

Dirigent will zurückkehren, wenn sich die Situation wieder verbessert.

Twitter

Groupanizer: @groupanizer  Read more about how classical singers are engaging new audiences: http://spr.ly/6018YGv0  #classical

1685music: @‏1685music  Music education’s unexpected benefits, not just for kids, but for parents, too: http://1685music.com/#story|107  #musiced #musicedchat

Classical Music: ‏@ClassicalMusic Big drop of 27.9% for @E_N_O‘s funding for 2015/16 down to £12.38m. Transition funding of up to £7.6m also made available #artsfunding
In Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, people watch a live broadcast of the Vienna Philharmonic across from City Hall.

Image by Elvis Barukcic/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

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(Written on July 1, 2014 )