The evening began with a few words from the pianist Ji Liu. He explained to us the intricacies of John Cage’s 4.33. The piece began and immediately there was created an atmosphere of complete calm, as if everyone, the audience and Ji Liu, were performing and creating together. Then, Ji Liu showcased his extraordinary talents in his performance of Bach’s famous Goldberg variations. Liu has the ability to captivate audiences using a diverse number of musical styles, as well as some majestic sparkly shoes. The evening was wonderful and people were eager to hurry so that they could get in a picture and a word with Ji Liu himself and, of course, his sparkly shoes.
The evening at the Bristol Old Vic was kicked off by Jonathan James with an interesting and dynamic presentation detailing the effects of war on the work of composers and the shifting creative plains on which they founded their work. Through a number of short musical clips it was made clear to us that the landscape of music before the war was already evolving to encompass some elements of the disjointed flow of pieces inspired by the First World War. All in the audience were engaged in James’s amiable and charming delivery and we all left the Paintshop greatly anticipating the later performance from John Tams and the Erebus Ensemble who were performing work that had been discussed in Jonathan James’s talk.