Saturday, 7 May 2011

The Kids Grow Up: Docklands Sinfonia to Perform for the Queen!

They only started out in 2009 and The Greenwich Gazette has been there from day one to see them progress year after year. Now, they crown their hard work with a performance for the Queen at Buckingham Palace. Congrats and here's the press release:

Docklands Sinfonia is honoured to have been invited to perform for Her Majesty The Queen and His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh in the Ballroom at Buckingham Palace this Monday, 9th May 2011.

The symphony orchestra will perform alongside distinguished artists – including world famous soprano Dame Kiri Te Kanawa - and rising stars at a reception to celebrate young talent in the British Performing Arts.

Docklands Sinfonia, which has been rated as one of London’s top 5 non-professional symphony orchestras, will be involved in a specially commissioned theatre performance which has been inspired by Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet.

The performance, which has been produced by the English National Ballet in association with Dramatico Entertainment, will showcase distinguished artists and young people pursuing excellence in drama, dance and music.

It will present a light-hearted exploration of Shakespeare’s story and feature mentor artists such as Dame Kiri, Anne Reid MBE, Bryony Hannah and Amy Robbins, in addition to rising stars such as Tamsin Egerton, Daniel Kaluuya, Rumer and Alleviate.

Around 450 guests representing organisations and indivuals involved in the performing arts will attend the reception. They include representatives from organisations such as English National Ballet, the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and the National Youth Music Theatre.

Docklands Sinfonia’s involvement in the Buckingham Palace reception is the latest major achievement for the orchestra, which was only formed in January 2009 by musical director Spencer Down.

The orchestra has also just been invited to record at the BBC studios in Maida Vale later this month for BBC Radio 3’s ‘Light Fantastic’ celebration of British light orchestral music.

The young and dynamic symphony orchestra has already performed at the Royal Albert Hall with Grammy award-winning singer Imogen Heap, performed on BBC1 and held a number of sell-out concerts with major classical artists.

Docklands Sinfonia’s founder and musical director Spencer Down said: “It is a dream come true for Docklands Sinfonia to have been invited to perform for the Queen at Buckingham Palace.

“We are incredibly honoured to have been included in this fantastic celebration of young people in the British performing arts.”

Docklands Sinfonia is a young and dynamic new symphony orchestra which aims to be a major cultural force in London’s dynamic Docklands. The orchestra is a unique blend of professional musicians, music students and talented amateurs – living and working in East London.

In June 2010, Docklands Sinfonia was rated as one of London’s top five non-professional orchestras by the respected industry magazine ‘Classical Music’. Since its formation in January 2009 by musical director Spencer Down, the orchestra has enjoyed incredible success. Just weeks after its first rehearsal, it was asked to perform on the BBC1 series ‘Clash’ and it has performed a number of sell-out concerts featuring major classical artists.

In November 2010, Docklands Sinfonia performed the world premiere of Grammy award winner Imogen Heap's 'Love The Earth' to a sell-out audience at the Royal Albert Hall.

World class soloists who have performed with the orchestra include cello virtuoso Leonard Elschenbroich, baroque soprano Elin Manahan Thomas, saxophonist Christian Forshaw, the Raven string quartet and LSO principal trumpet Philip Cobb.

The orchestra also has a strong track record of commissioning and showcasing new works by up and coming British composers including Andrew Keenan, Christian Forshaw, Mick Foster, Jeremy Holland-Smith, the Raven string quartet, Peter Meechan and Robert Davies.

Docklands Sinfonia is honoured to have Admiral Lord West as its patron. It rehearses on Wednesday nights from 7pm to 9:30pm at St Anne’s Church, Limehouse.

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Celebrating Burns?

Five years after Robert Burns died, a group of his friends got together to remember him and his poetry. The tradition became established and now, every year on his birthday, 25th January, Scots all round the world celebrate Burns Night with a Burns Supper which follows a format similar to the original dinner (often with much toasting and drinking of whiskey!)

If you and your family would like to join the tradition, this website can help set you on your way: and one for the kids

Sunday, 23 January 2011

No Pay, No Meridian Line!

I have friends coming over to visit good old Greenwich from Canada come this May half-term. About time too. I have been urging them to visit the town since I moved to this area (quite a long time ago) and they have finally agreed. Home to the Meridian Line and the place where all time started. A World Heritage Site and previous home to two Queens. Come come I urged where you can enter a Painted Hall and walk the grounds of where Pirates of the Carribbean was filmed. It's our little piece of Hollywood I bragged. We can walk the Thames, stroll through Greenwich Park and pose by the Meridian Line. All FREE, FREE, FREE. And that's not all I encouraged: As we get up to the Royal Observatory, we can jump over the Meridian Line and look through telescopes and enter a magnificent planetarium. Bar the planetarium shows, we can do all that for free free free. That's how it's done here in Britain. Culture for the masses.

Spurred on by my enthusiasm, they have been on to all relevant Greenwich websites pinpointing what they want to see and do during their two weeks here. Fascinated are they by the fact that the Olympics (dude the Olympics! shouted their sixteen-year-old) will be held here they can't wait to get here fast enough. Plane tickets have been booked, West-End shows have been allocated and "Can we pay by card at the door to the Observatory or do they only take cash?"

"Must be some mistake," I cockily and knowingly chipped in, the Royal Observatory is free for all. "Not on their website it isn't. For someone with an online blog about Greenwich, you're not up-to-date are you? Check their website".

And I did. And I am sad to announce that come March, Flamsteed House and Meridian Line Courtyard will be charging £10 for each adult but children under 16 still get to go in for free. Entry tickets are annual passes (visitors are able to return as many times as they like within 12 months for no additional charge).

When did that happen? How come I never heard of it? And to be honest had my Canadian friends not been so (and I mean this in the kindest way) thorough and a pain-in-the-ass, need-to-book-everything-in-advance sort of people I would never have found out until the next time I attempted a jump over the Meridian Line maybe? Sorry mate, that jump will now cost you £10. I am sure there is more to this story but right now I am too distraught to find out and am already planning the number of jumps I can get in before March. Watch this space.

To check out the Royal Observatory's times and admissions section, click here.

Monday, 17 January 2011

Constructs, Spectacle and Self Exhibition

Kelly Brown

Exhibition dates: 13 January to 13 February 2011
Opening reception: 20 January, 6-8pm
Exhibiting photographers: Kelly Brown, Catlin Harrison and Kerry Clark

The Viewfinder Photography Gallery is pleased to present “Constructs, Spectacle and Self”, a group exhibition of photographic projects by Kerry Clark, Kelly Brown and Catlin Harrison. The work featured in this exhibition explores identity and gender roles, with a gaze on historic and contemporary references to women.

Viewfinder curator Kathleen Brey says, "Kelly Brown, Kerry Clark and Catlin Harrison are photographers working with the most personal of subjects - themselves, and how they see themselves in the world. Emphasising the spectacle of self, Harrison, Clark and Brown place distance between the subject and the viewer. The artists looked at historical sources (ancestors, old masters, 19th century photographic processes) in the hopes of finding themselves in the present. The resulting photographs by each artist have a performative quality. Clark, Harrison and Brown use photography to portray one’s ongoing soul-search, playing with how we construct our own identities.”

Viewfinder Photography Gallery: 52 Brixton Village (formerly Granville Arcade), London SW9 8PS.
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