Review – Prom 40: Britten Sinfonia and Thomas Adès at the Royal Albert Hall on 15th August 2016

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Photo BBC/Chris Christodoulou

Prom 40 brought together acclaimed conductor and composer Thomas Adès with the highly respected Britten Sinfonia. Adès known for his innovative modern operas, Powder Her Face, The Tempest and The Exterminating Angel brought his conducting skills to lead Britten Sinfonia for an intriguing evening that combined together the old and new with pieces from Prokofiev, Beethoven, Francisco Coll and Lieux retrouvés by the conductor.

The Britten Sinfonia are unusual because they do not have a principal conductor or director but rather choose to collaborate with some of the finest international guest artists. This has led to the orchestra to being celebrated for its musicianship and versatility.

The evening began with Prokofiev’s Symphony No. 1 in D major, ‘Classical’ , Sergei Prokofiev wrote this Symphony in 1916- 17 in an imitation of Haydn, it was the blend of the 18th century and 20th century that has made the piece one of the most popular symphonies in the repertoire. The conductor and orchestra successfully managed to combine the pomp and vigour that is the main theme of the piece.

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Photo BBC/Chris Christodoulou

Francisco Coll is a Spanish composer who was at one time a private pupil of Thomas Adès, since then the pair have worked together on a number of occasions. This was the London premiere of Four Iberian Miniatures for violin and orchestra and represents a homage to Spain and to flamenco. The soloist was the Augustin Hadelich who is the Italian Grammy-winning classical violinist who is equally at home with the standard violin concerto repertoire and contemporary works. The inventive use of string and percussion entertained whilst questioning the listener.

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Photo BBC/Chris Christodoulou

Thomas Adès’s Lieux retrouvés was inspired by the cello’s ‘haunting’ theme and acclaimed British  cellist Steven Isserlis performs it in its new cello-and-orchestra guise. Lieux retrouvés tests the considerable skills of the cellist by combining multiple influences to produce a unique piece that moves from calmness and stillness to the frenzy of the finale. Ades created numerous pictures in a kaleidoscope of colours which Isserlis used to captivate the audience with his considerable skill and finesse.

The last piece of the evening was Beethoven’s Eighth Symphony which was composed in 1812 is one of his more generally light-hearted pieces which is a favourite with musicians and the audience. It often divided critics who found the humour not always to their taste. It provided the perfect end to an eclectic evening of entertainment.The audience enjoyed the Prom for its mixture of old and new and gave the performers enthusiastic applause at the end of the concert.

The Proms are considered one of the greatest music festivals. Some of the best musicians and orchestras in the world with an incredible diversity of music provide wonderful entertainment with tickets at very reasonable levels.

Even though the seats for many of the Proms have sold out, it is still possible to attend if you don’t mind standing in the arena or the gallery. With a large number of tickets available for every Prom at the price of £6, it is one of the bargains of the summer.

Visiting London Guide Rating – Highly Recommended

For more information and book tickets, visit the Royal Albert Hall website here

London Visitors is the official blog for the Visiting London Guide .com website. The website was developed to bring practical advice and latest up to date news and reviews of events in London.
Since our launch in January 2014, we have attracted thousands of readers each month, the site is constantly updated.
We have sections on Museums and Art Galleries, Transport, Food and Drink, Places to Stay, Security, Music, Sport, Books and many more.
There are also hundreds of links to interesting articles on our blog.
To find out more visit the website here

Closing Soon : Exhibitionism – The Rolling Stones at The Saatchi Gallery until 4th September 2016

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The next few weeks will be the last chance for visitors to attend the critically acclaimed Exhibitionism – The Rolling Stones exhibition at The Saatchi Gallery.

The exhibition features over 500 rare and unseen artefacts from the personal archives of Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Charlie Watts and Ronnie Wood. Highlights include clothing items from the sixties, seventies and beyond, Andy Warhol paintings, a recreation of The Rolling Stone first ever flat from 1969 in Edith Grove, and an innovative 3D experience where you can watch The Rolling Stones live.

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Photo – Philip Townsend

The Rolling Stones were the Beatles main rivals for the top band in the sixties, however after the fab four broke up it the Stones that would dominate rock music over the following decades. The exhibition covers their incredible story over 9 thematic gallery spaces with 500 items from original stage costumes, rare instruments and lyric books, backstage and touring paraphernalia, album art, photography, stage designs, personal diaries, and never before released audio and behind-the-scenes footage.

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As well as music, the exhibition celebrates the Stones’ artistic collaborations in music, art and design, fashion and film with original works on display from artists as diverse as Andy Warhol, Alexander McQueen, Prada, Dior, Ossie Clark, L’Wren Scott, David Bailey, Michael Cooper, Jeff Koons, Walton Ford, Shepard Fairey and Martin Scorsese.

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Photo – Philip Townsend

When exhibition closes at London’s Saatchi Gallery. It will move to New York City, in November, at the Industria Superstudio (775 Washington Street).

If you would like further information or book tickets , visit the Exhibitionism website here

London Visitors is the official blog for the Visiting London Guide .com website. The website was developed to bring practical advice and the latest up to date news and reviews of events in London.
Since our launch in 2014, we have attracted thousands of readers each month, the site is constantly updated.
We have sections on Museums and Art Galleries, Transport, Food and Drink, Places to Stay, Security, Music, Sport, Books and many more.
There are also hundreds of links to interesting articles on our blog.
To find out more visit the website here

 

Review : The Great British Beer Festival 2016 at Olympia – 9th to 13th August 2016

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In the bright sunshine, thousands of real ale fans made their way to the Olympia Exhibition Centre for the return of the ever popular Great British Beer Festival. The Festival is organised by the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) and is the most prestigious Beer Festival held in the UK.

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Over the next few days, over 50,000 people will  attend the event, and this year they will be spoilt for choice with over 900 real ales, ciders, perries and foreign beers available to taste. Despite the decline of pubs in certain areas, Beer is enjoying something of a renaissance in recent times and a walk around the festival provides plenty of evidence of the incredible choices available.

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The Beer Festival takes place across two halls; the Olympia Grand and the Olympia National. Each hall has a number of bars serving real ale from hundreds of breweries of all shapes and sizes across the UK, there are a number of brewery bars where you can try both well-known brews and limited edition beers from some of the UK’s biggest and best real ale brewers including  Brains, Charles Wells, Fuller’s, Harveys, SIBA, St Austell, Tiny Rebel and Titanic.

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The rise of the Tiny Rebel brewery is evidence that small breweries can compete with the major breweries. Tiny Rebel was only launched in 2012 but managed to produce Cwtch that was declared CAMRA Champion Beer of Britain 2015.

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The festival may support British brewing, however it attracts a wide range  of international draught and bottled beers from the likes of Belgium, Germany, the Czech Republic, France, Italy, Holland and Malta. The United States is considered the home of the Craft Beer and the festival features the American Cask Bar which offers a wide range of beers from all over America. One of the great changes in beer production in recent years is the proliferation of microbreweries from all across the world who have created a whole new range of products bringing together the old and the new.

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The Great British Beer Festival is easily the UK’s biggest beer festival , but it is not only quantity but quality that appeal to many of the drinkers who will find some old favourites and new beers to tempt them. Visitors to the festival come from all over the UK and the rest of the world, for many it is an annual pilgrimage to enjoy the beer and the friendly atmosphere.

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Although the beer is the main focus, the event has a carnival atmosphere with  plenty of entertainment including live music, food, seating areas, and traditional pub games to enjoy. The Festival also keeps beer drinkers up to date on the latest campaigns by CAMRA, for all of the resurgence of beer drinking, pubs all over the country are closing at an alarming rate.

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Although the Beer Festival attracts its hardcore real ale connoisseurs, there are many who just take the opportunity to try the different range of beers and enjoy the atmosphere. With its reasonable entrance fee, it represents very good value for money to anyone who wants to find out more about beer from around the world.

Visiting London Guide Rating – Highly Recommended

If you would like further information or book tickets , visit the GBBF website here

London Visitors is the official blog for the Visiting London Guide .com website. The website was developed to bring practical advice and the latest up to date news and reviews of events in London.
Since our launch in 2014, we have attracted thousands of readers each month, the site is constantly updated.
We have sections on Museums and Art Galleries, Transport, Food and Drink, Places to Stay, Security, Music, Sport, Books and many more.
There are also hundreds of links to interesting articles on our blog.
To find out more visit the website here

Review : London Zoo

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London Zoo was officially open in 1828 as the world’s first scientific zoo, it was not opened to the public until 1847. Located near to Regent’s Park, the grounds of London Zoo were designed by Decimus Burton and included a number of features including the Clock Tower, the Giraffe House and the East Tunnel that links the north and south parts of the zoo together. Later other architectural features were built including the mountain landscape of the Mappin Terraces in 1914, the Round House in 1933, The Penguin Pool in 1934 and the Snowdon Aviary in 1964.

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In recent years, the Zoological Society of London which runs the Zoo have decided to concentrate more on conservation and breeding programmes and to have fewer animals and begin to build environments that was more suitable for the animals that live in them.

Highlights of the zoo include :

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Land of the Lions is the latest new enclosure for London Zoo’s Asiatic lions, which opened in Spring 2016. The enclosure is designed to resemble the Gir Forest National Park in India.

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Tiger Territory recreates an Indonesian habitat for its Sumatran tigers which are under threat in the wild, the successful European breeding programme has led to the birth of tiger cubs at the zoo in the last couple of years.

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Gorilla Kingdom features a colony of western lowland gorillas in a purpose-built environment.

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Penguin Beach recreates a South American beach landscape with a colony of Humboldt penguins (and one special rockhopper).The new exhibit features a large pool with underwater viewing areas.

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Butterfly Paradise allows visitors to walk inside a giant caterpillar and be immersed into a world of butterflies and moths from around the globe. A large variety of species flutter around you, seeking out plants on which to feed and rest.

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Into Africa offers the opportunity to look at some of Africa’s animals including Giraffes, zebras, okapi, warthogs and African hunting dogs.

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In with the Lemurs is a walk-through exhibit where visitors can get closer than ever before to ring-tail lemurs.

Animal Adventure is the children’s zoo, B.U.G.S! is designed to explain about biodiversity, in the Reptile House you can find London Zoo’s collection of reptiles and amphibians, including snakes, lizards, frogs and crocodiles. ZSL London Zoo has had an Aquarium since 1853, and is home to different types of fish, the Aquarium is involved in many different conservation projects and breeding programmes.

The Zoo arranges a series of daily events, feeds and demonstrations and has a number of food and drink options. There are number of child activities throughout the day and plenty of shopping for those cuddly toys and other animal related merchandise.

London Zoo has changed considerable over the last 25 years as the public’s awareness of animal welfare has changed, gradually the zoo has become an important contributor of conservation and breeding programmes and pioneered education programmes to keep customers informed of global initiatives to save endangered species. Larger animals are generally kept at ZSL Whipsnade and new enclosures are being built to provide a better quality of environment for the animals. As the number of large animals has diminished in the zoo, the number of immersive attractions has grown providing a more interactive experience.

Visiting London Guide Rating – Highly Recommended

For more information or book tickets, visit the London Zoo website here

London Visitors is the official blog for the Visiting London Guide .com website. The website was developed to bring practical advice and latest up to date news and reviews of events in London.
Since our launch in January 2014, we have attracted thousands of readers each month, the site is constantly updated.
We have sections on Museums and Art Galleries, Transport, Food and Drink, Places to Stay, Security, Music, Sport, Books and many more.
There are also hundreds of links to interesting articles on our blog.
To find out more visit the website
here

Review : Prom 21, Aurora Orchestra – Wolfgang Rihm, Strauss and Mozart at the Royal Albert Hall on 31 July 2016

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Photo BBC/Chris Christodoulou

Prom 21 marked the return of the popular Aurora Orchestra on the stage at the  Royal Albert Hall. Since its creation in 2005, the  orchestra has rapidly established itself as one of the most respected chamber orchestras in Europe.  Under the artistic direction of the charismatic Principal Conductor Nicholas Collon, the Aurora Orchestra has gained a considerable reputation for its live performances  and their creative and innovative approach to programming and presentation.

To provide some narrative and insight in the programme, journalist, BBC 3 presenter and author Tom Service provided some of the links between the pieces.

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Photo BBC/Chris Christodoulou

The Prom began with a performance of Wolfgang Rihm’s Gejagte Form (revised version, 2002), Rihm is a prolific German composer who made his name in the 1970s for his expressive music. He regularly returns to compositions and revises them and Gejagte Form was originally completed in 1996 to be revised in 2002. Gejagte Form means ‘hunted form’ and the pieces starts with two violins that begin a driving energy that gradually incorporates other instruments. The different patterns race along in search of some sort of structure when all of a sudden the pace slows and a more confident pattern emerges which brings the instruments together for a grand finale.

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Photo BBC/Chris Christodoulou

Before the next piece, Tom Service welcomed the soloist François Leleux on stage to discuss Strauss’s Oboe Concerto. At the end of the Second World War, Strauss lived in the South of Germany which was part of the American occupation zone. A chance meeting between the Strauss and an American soldier, John de Lancie who in civilian life had been principal oboist in the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra led to the ageing composer to create his Oboe Concerto. François Leleux is considered one of the great oboists of his generation and his performance in front of a captivated Proms audience provided evidence of his remarkable talent. Leleux flourishes his oboe like a wand as he conjures up the various shades of colour in the concerto. The piece has little darkness although at the time Strauss was lamenting the fall of German culture. In many ways it looks to happier times with nostalgic references to the past. Leleux harnesses the lyrical and flowing melodies to interweave with the orchestra to pay homage to a wistful and inventive piece that ends with a joyful expression of hope.

After the interval was a short introduction into the final piece, Mozart’s Symphony No. 41 in C major K551 ‘Jupiter’ by Tom Service, Nicholas Collon and some of the members of the Aurora Orchestra.

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Photo BBC/Chris Christodoulou

Whilst explaining some of the intricacies of the celebrated final movement of the symphony, Nicholas Collon used the audience to demonstrate the way that Mozart used different themes at the same time to create a complex web of music.

One of the trademarks of the Aurora Orchestra is that they will often play long pieces of music from memory and they used this approach with Mozart’s Symphony No. 41 in C major. With few seats and no sheet music on the stage in evidence, a large number of the ensemble stood up around the conductor throughout the performance. It is surprising how these type of changes alter the dynamic of watching an orchestra, the movement of the various sections seemed to add to the energy of the piece and in some ways makes the conductor’s role more important to contain and control that energy.

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Photo BBC/Chris Christodoulou

This was made all the more difficult by the way that Mozart’s music combines like few others to create different patterns and themes, however Nicholas Collon managed to forge a passage thorough the various movements to unveil the complexities of the piece to an appreciative audience. The last movement in particular is when Mozart goes into overdrive and themes and ideas explode like fireworks. The energy of the music was matched by the energy of the orchestra as they successfully completed their own test of memory with assistance of the assured conductor. The enthusiastic response of the Proms audience was an indication that the Aurora Orchestra’s ability to mix the old and the new is a winning combination that greatly enhances their considerable reputation.

The Proms are considered one of the greatest music festivals. Some of the best musicians and orchestras in the world with an incredible diversity of music provide wonderful entertainment with tickets at very reasonable levels.

Even though the seats for many of the Proms have sold out, it is still possible to attend if you don’t mind standing in the arena or the gallery. With a large number of tickets available for every Prom at the price of £6, it is one of the bargains of the summer.

Visiting London Guide Rating – Highly Recommended

For more information and book tickets, visit the Royal Albert Hall website here

London Visitors is the official blog for the Visiting London Guide .com website. The website was developed to bring practical advice and latest up to date news and reviews of events in London.
Since our launch in January 2014, we have attracted thousands of readers each month, the site is constantly updated.
We have sections on Museums and Art Galleries, Transport, Food and Drink, Places to Stay, Security, Music, Sport, Books and many more.
There are also hundreds of links to interesting articles on our blog.
To find out more visit the website here

Review: Land of the Lions at ZSL London Zoo – July 2016

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Land of the Lions is ZSL London Zoo’s biggest and most ambitious new attraction which was unveiled to the public at Easter and quickly has become a firm favourite.

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The £5.7m attraction Land of the Lions transports visitors to the Lions wild home in the Gir Forest region, in the Indian state of Gujarat. Rickshaws, bicycles, sacks of spices, maps, rangers’ huts, and even a life-size truck – researched, sourced and shipped from India – are dotted around Land of the Lions, both inside and out of the lions’ domain, which will highlighting the uniquely close relationship in which Asiatic lions live with people in their native Indian habitat.

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Visitors to the attraction enter through a stone archway, before picking up their ‘park pass’ at the Gir Tourist Information centre. They’ll then explore Sasan Gir Train Station or embark on a journey on the overhead walkway, to discover the troop of lively Hanuman langur monkeys, and watch the lions in their forest home.

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Visitors have an almost ‘windowless-view’ of the big cat’s enclosure, as visitors enter the crumbling ruin of an amphitheatre-style Lion Temple.

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Part of the attraction feature interactive adventures that replicate what some of the issues that rangers in the wild have to deal with.  Wild Asiatic lions are found only in the Gir Forest region and are protected by law, however they are under threat due to disease outbreaks and conflict with human developments.

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The Land of the Lions is part of London Zoo’s drive to bring a more authentic understanding of an animal’s habitat and how the relationship between animal and humans is often quite complex. The recreation of the Lions wild home in the Gir Forest region and how local guides, rangers and people react to sharing their home with lions gives some insights into how people can often threaten nature but also provide sanctuary. This particular attraction is part of the London Zoo experience and is included in the main ticket, however for a very different experience,  Gir Lion Lodge in the Land of the Lions development allows some visitors to stay overnight  as part of a package deal.

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Land of the Lions will support and promote ZSL’s international conservation efforts to protect Asiatic lions.

Visiting London Guide Rating – Highly Recommended

For more information or book tickets, visit the London Zoo website here

London Visitors is the official blog for the Visiting London Guide .com website. The website was developed to bring practical advice and latest up to date news and reviews of events in London.
Since our launch in January 2014, we have attracted thousands of readers each month, the site is constantly updated.
We have sections on Museums and Art Galleries, Transport, Food and Drink, Places to Stay, Security, Music, Sport, Books and many more.
There are also hundreds of links to interesting articles on our blog.
To find out more visit the website
here

Prom 59: Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra – Beethoven at the Royal Albert Hall on 29th August 2016

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Tonight’s all-Beethoven Prom culminates in the composer’s most fascinating and bold symphony, a piece shaped by irresistible rhythmic drive, whether in the inevitable tread of its slow march or the propulsive energy of its outer movements. One of the world’s oldest orchestras, along with one of its closest collaborators, lights the fuse on Beethoven’s Seventh and his excitable Leonore Overture No. 2, while ‘pianist’s pianist’ Sir András Schiff performs the composer’s most commanding piano concerto.

Programme

Beethoven Overture ‘Leonore’ No. 2 14’

Piano Concerto No. 5 in E flat major, ‘Emperor’ 38’

interval

Symphony No. 7 in A major 38’

Performers

Sir András Schiff piano

Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra

Herbert Blomstedt conductor

For more information and book tickets, visit the Royal Albert Hall website here

London Visitors is the official blog for the Visiting London Guide .com website. The website was developed to bring practical advice and latest up to date news and reviews of events in London.
Since our launch in January 2014, we have attracted thousands of readers each month, the site is constantly updated.
We have sections on Museums and Art Galleries, Transport, Food and Drink, Places to Stay, Security, Music, Sport, Books and many more.
There are also hundreds of links to interesting articles on our blog.
To find out more visit the website here

 

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