Tim is a primary school teacher and Bristol UWE drama graduate with wide and varied musical tastes.
Bristol Proms – Day 5
Sofas, balloons, YouTube videos, bizarre images, a live twitter feed on the big screen (oh look there’s my tweet), audience members on stage, a somewhat questionable inflatable object being carried down a high street, Tom Morris desperately trying to make some order in a hectic, exciting and later than planned show…it’s a ‘party in Valentina’s front room’. If you were not at the performance last night, you’d be forgiven for looking at the pictures from Valentina Lisitsa’s set and wondering, what on Earth was going on?
Now typical of the evening performances at the Bristol Proms, Valentina breaks the stereotypes of performance for classical music. We’ve had Daniel Hope and his band entering through the audience as they play their instruments, the Erebus Ensemble utilising all levels of the theatre for their vocal performances, and now, not to be outdone – Valentina is having a party, and we’re all invited. She seems like she has two different personalities. On the one hand we have this electric party girl with a disregard for the rules of the standard classical music concert, and on the other we have a woman who is so animated during her performance that her face alone could be playing the music. Again, I am blown away by a pianist’s incredible ability to play extensive piece after piece of complex music without seemingly following any notes on paper. Pieces of exciting, rapidly changing tempo and complexity demonstrate her undoubtedly outstanding musical talents. She is a riot of fun.
The other performances today certainly deserve mention too. I’ve been sat in Jonathan James’ talk When East Meets West for about 30 seconds before he has the whole audience clicking their fingers and slapping their thighs in a rhythm that is apparently evident in a multitude of songs across continents and ages. Again, another thoroughly interesting talk, a musical education as well as an entertaining show.
The second show of the day brought a delightful combination of harpsichord and mandolin together, played by two talented musicians who only met today for the first time. You wouldn’t know it. A wonderful and charismatic pairing, both Avi Avital and Mahan Esfahani are intense and compelling to watch. “There is a great difference between a performer and a composer, and now I am going to play a piece that I have composed.” Avi Avital’s declaration that he was going to play a piece of music that he had written himself was met with an interested and slightly surprised murmur of discussion in the audience. I wonder why more classical musicians aren’t playing their own music. Certainly in the modern musical era, any band worth their sort would not only be playing cover songs. Why so different in the classical section? It was an amazing performance, and credit to Avi, it sounded like a wonderfully accomplished piece. A delightful combination of individual pieces and beautiful duets, Avi and Mahan kept the audience entranced throughout. Returning for a well deserved encore and running quite over their allotted time, another show where the audience left feeling like we’d bagged an absolute winner.
Although all the performances at this year’s Bristol Proms have been exceptional, it has to be said that the late night shows have certainly proved to be the most thrilling, and certainly my favourites. After the intensity and unusual staging brought to us by Valentina, Dido and Aeneas has a lot to live up to. I can’t wait.