Thursday, 28 August 2014


Proms 49 welcomed the Finnish husband-and-wife team, Chief conductor Sakari Oramo and Anu Komsi with the BBC Symphony Orchestra for a family event filled with fantasy, imagination and Russian Fairy Tales.

Tonight was the UK’s premier of Jukka Tiensuu’s (a well-known Finnish composer) Voice Verser (2012) which is a humorous piece composed for the power of voice. Two trios were located in the arena with prommers either side of the orchestra consisting of wood wind and brass instruments.

The first of the three movements was called Desparia and it depicted no other but an air of despair, eeriness and dreariness through highly chromatic scales and gibberish notes from Komsi.

Notes of sadness and tensions were created by the shrilling of violins, repetitive glissandos and unsettling sounds of what one could interpret as mischievous rats. In slight confusion, Desparia ending with Komsi emulated loud cries of moaning which left the audience possibly dumbfounded, yet amused at the same time by its riveting versatility.

Come was even stranger where Komsi began scat singing, laughing cheerfully and operatically which is where her coloratura abilities slowly seeped through – she sung a high F and a high ‘A, three octaves above middle C’ as she told the proms at an interview. She also blew kisses at the audience which made them giggle in silence, as part of the piece.

The last movement Riiti (ritual in Finnish) was a massive stamp on the ground and a camaraderie ‘Hei’ from the BBC Symphony Orchestra with pounding cellos, basses, input from a celesta and flutters from flutes and clarinets that took the piece to the unknown heavens through sheer excitement and tensions. 

It concluded with all musicians sighing loudly of relief. Komsi sung with finesse: despite being challenged with high notes, she handled them effortlessly.

The proms also premiered Karol Szymanowski’s (1882-1937) Songs of a Fairy Princess (1933) where Szymanowski was motivated by his travels to North Africa (Algeria) and Tunisia in 1914. Although he composed three songs for the original voice-and-piano set, our evening’s conductor, Oramo had completed the cycle with three refined pieces with Golden Slippers, Song of the Wave and The Feast.

Komsi's vocals swirl throughout the piece yet, the focus was the subtle floating Middle-Eastern music and fairy tale elements. Flickering woodwind, piano arabesques, highly pitched flutes and soothing violin solos were heightened by twinkling percussions to resemble the princess’ slippers. It is a truly mystical piece; one cannot decipher where Szymanowski and Oramo’s composed parts begin nor end.

However, Nikolay Rimsky-Korsakov’s moving Scheherazade Op.35 (1888) won the most applause for the night influenced by Glinka-sized orchestra: chirpy piccolos, brass instruments, a pair of woodwind, timpani, percussion, harp and trilling strings. It is the story of a heroine who saves her life by telling her husband, the Sultan magical stories, mostly The Arabian Nights.

Divided into four pieces including The Sea and Sinbad’s Ship, it conjures the most fascination: feat and victory for our storyteller. The development of bassoon solos, then by oboe soon overtaken by tender strings and violin solos enrich the grandiose and curiosity of this masterpiece.

Admittedly, the first piece to open the evening was by Maurice Ravel, The Mother Goose Suite (1911) which did not fit in with the programme. The child-like serenity, the use of Chinese ‘chopstick’ patterns, soft Javanese percussion instruments and pentatonic scales were enchanting, but less dramatic and at a glacial pace compared to the other movements.

Sunday, 17 August 2014

The Philippine Dream at Leicester Square Theatre Tonight - Sunday 17th August

Eva Noblezada
Leading stars from the ‘smash-hit’ musical Miss Saigon Eva Noblezada, Rachelle Ann Go and Hugh Maynard will be joining a young and creative cast for the one-off Gala show, The Philippine Dream, this Sunday evening (17 August).
Noblezada, only 18-years-old, plays the leading heroine role in Miss Saigon and is famous for her powerful ranging voice. She will be accompanied by Rachelle Ann Go who sings the signature heart wrenching song, ‘"The Movie in My Mind" as GiGi. Hugh Maynard, who acts as John, has a great stage presence in the chorus of “Bui-Doi” (the dust of life) on Miss Saigon will also be making an appearance this Sunday.
Produced by West End performer Katy Osborne and in association with Harry Francis of the Francis Hume Productions, The Philippine Dream will be a cabaret performance with an array of talented performers and chorus songs all raising money for the Filipino charity, Tuloy Foundation. The charity aims to help and support street children and neglected orphans in the capital city of the Philippines, Manila.
Rachelle Ann Go
The BRIT-Award winner, Blake will also make an appearance as he and Rachelle Ann Go have just recorded a duet for their up-and-coming studio album, ‘In Harmony’.
The evening will be hosted by Dean McCullough and have a line-up of performers including Summer Strallen (The Sound of Music, Top Hat), Anton du Beke (Strictly Come Dancing), Dianne Pilkington (Mamma Mia!, Wicked),  Daniel Buckley (The Book of MormonLoserville), Charlotte Riby (Billy ElliotHairspray), Alicia Beck (CatsZurich Ballet), Tyrone Huntley (The Book of MormonMemphis), Harry Francis (A Chorus LineEdward Scissorhands), Lady Imelda (Glam Jam) and vintage trio The Dolly Girls.
Hugh Maynard
Staff and crew from the West End production will be holding charity buckets to collect money for the Tuloy Foundation throughout the evening. Tuloy Foundation’s mission is to build a theatre for children in their care. So far, £12,500 has been raised from their fundraising efforts at other West End shows including Miss SaigonCharlie and the Chocolate FactoryWicked and Mamma Mia!
All ticket sales and proceeds for The Philippine Dream will go to the Tuloy Foundation.


Sunday 17 August 2014, 7.30pm

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