Consistently appearing in all the lists of the world’s greatest violinists is 37 year old American Hilary Hahn. The three-time Grammy Award winner is renowned for her virtuosity , expansive interpretations and creative playing who champions contemporary music with several modern composers writing works especially for her, including Edgar Meyer and Jennifer Higdon.
Hilary started playing the violin one month before her 4th birthday and seven years a later made her major orchestral debut with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, beginning an extensive international career. In 2004 she recorded her first film score for M. Night Shyamalan’s THE VILLAGE, which received an Academy Award nomination. She plays a 1864 copy of Paganini’s Cannone violin by Vuillaume, which according to a recent interview, never leaves her sight. I drew this sketch of Hilary when she performed late last year at the Royal Festival Hall in London, but missed getting it signed. When she returned to the city last week for a one night performance at Wigmore Hall it gave me the opportunity to complete my mission.
“We skipped the light fandango, turned cartwheels ‘cross the floor…” The opening lyrics to one of the great anthems A WHITER SHADE OF PALE, the debut single by the British rock band Procol Harum. It was released in May 1967, in the ‘Summer of Love’, reaching number one across the globe, including the UK, where it stayed for six weeks. Written by founding member Gary Brooker, with Keith Reid and Matthew Fisher it is one of fewer than 30 singles to have sold over 10 million copies worldwide. Rolling Stone magazine listed it at number 57 in its top 500 songs of all time and it was inducted into the Grammy Hall of fame in 1998. As part of the 50th Anniversary tour Gary and the band played one night at London’s Royal Festival Hall earlier this month. It completed their set list and received a standing O. Afterwards he and the rest of the band signed my sketch.
The poignancy of posting this today – 16 March – is that my dear friend Bronwyn Blackstock would have celebrated her 60th birthday. She was part of our Light Fandango Company, a small group of friends who shared and enjoyed life. It was coined after this song and she was our treasurer (assets nil). Fandango three (F3). Sadly she lost her brave battle with cancer a year ago. This is in memory of her. Happy Bday B.
Australian mezzo-soprano Emily Edmonds is one of the rising stars of opera and a member of the prestigious Jette Parker Young Artists Programme at London’s Convent Garden. The Royal Opera’s high profile training scheme attracted 370 applicants from 59 countries in 2014, who were put through a gruelling audition process until the final five was selected ….one of whom was Emily!
Her first season included performances in ORPHEUS at the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse in Shakespeare’s Globe, SOUR ANGELICA and WERTHER on the main stage and the world premiere of 4.48 PSYCHOSIS at the Lyric Hammersmith. During the current 2016/17 season she has appeared in MANON LESCAUT, MADAMA BUTTERFLY, DON CARLO and will be seen in Philip Glass’s dance opera LES ENFANTS TERRIBLES at the end of this month.
I left this drawing at the ROH and Emily signed and returned it to me last week.
Known as one of the great singing actresses of our time, American opera star Patricia Racette returned to Covent Garden replacing Martina Serafin in the role of Georgette in Il TABARRO in February 2016. Associated with the world’s leading orchestras in Boston, Chicago, San Francisco, NewYork and London, Patricia has excelled in Puccini and Verdi operas. Her well-known roles include Violetta in LA TRAVIATA, both Mimi and Musetta in LA BOHEME, Cio-Cio San in MADAMA BUTTERFLY and Desdemona in OTELLO. I left this montage sketch of Patricia at the Royal Opera House last February and when it didn’t come back after a month I thought it was a goner…but it returned this week it arrived back almost a year later, signed and dedicated.
One of the world’s leading violinists, Anne-Sophie Mutter returned to London last moth as part of the London Symphony Orchestra’s International Violin Festival at the Royal Festival Hall. Since her debut with the LSO in 1980, the German native Anne-Sophie has performed with the Orchestra on a number of occasions, this time coupling Beethoven’s commanding Violin Concerto with Dvorak’s symphony No 9 in E minor.
Known also for championing contemporary music, she has had several works especially composed for her. Anne-Sophie is one of the few violinists to own her Stradivarius, in fact she has two, the Emilani of 1703 and the Lord Dunn-Raven Stradivarius of 1710. The latter she has played for the past 26 years and it is believed to have belonged to Napoleon Bonaparte. A couple of unique facts about Anne-Sophie’s violin performances are her playing without wearing a shoulder rest and her need for traction with the instrument has led her to wearing the same style of John Galliano dress each time she plays.
I left this drawing at the Hall’s Artist’s Entrance and received it back, signed and dedicated from Germany a couple of weeks later.
American singer songwriter Beth Hart is currently on a European tour to promote the release of her latest album ‘Better Than Home’. Known for her mix of blues, rock, soul and jazz fusion, Beth’s breakthrough year came in 1999 with her second album ‘Screamin’ For My Supper’ and the hit single ‘LA Song (Out of Town).
A collaboration with Joe Bonamassa on Seesaw’ was Grammy nominated in 2014 and she featured as the lead in LOVE, JANIS the off-Broadway production of the musical based on Joplin’s letters home to her mother.
Beth signed my drawing at the Colton Hall in Bristol while on the UK leg of her tour.
Two of America’s young and up-and-coming opera singers, soprano Corinne Winters and mezzo-soprano Angela Brower both made their Covent Garden debut last month as the leads in the new production of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s ‘fiancé-swapping’ Italian ‘buffa’ (comic) opera COSI FAN TUTTE, currently running at the Royal Opera House. It’s full title ‘Cosi fan tutte Ossia La Sculoa deli amanti’ literally means ‘Thus Do They (women) All’, but is usually translated ‘Women Are Like That’ or ‘The School of Lovers’.
The Libretto (that’s the words) was written by Lorenzo Du Ponte and was first performed at Vienna’s Burgtheater in January 1790. Fiancées and sisters Fiordiligi (Corinne) and Dorabella (Angela) discover that their lovers are leaving to “go to war’ and two handsome strangers in disguise arrive on a mission of seduction. My mission was a less lofty aspiration-sigduction, and Corinne and Angela were happy to oblige, signing my sketch
“Hold on to your music, it will be your best friend,” was the last thing young 14 year-old Austrian piano prodigy Lisa Jura’s mother told her as she boarded the ‘Kindertransport’ in 1938 bound for London. She was one of the 10,000 Jewish children bought to England before WW2 as part of the mission to rescue them from the threat of the Nazi regime and it’s anti-Semitic violence. Torn from her family and just about to embark on a concert career in Vienna, Lisa spent the war years, surviving the Blitz in a rambling hostel that housed 30 children on Willesden Lane in North London. She later resumed to her concert career and married French Resistance hero Michel Golabek, moving to Los Angeles in the early 1950’s.
In 2002 their daughter and renowned concert pianist, Grammy-nominated Mona Golabek co-wrote with Lee Cohen, the book ‘The Children of Willesden Lane’ that chronicles her mother’s wartime experiences. She adapted the publication into a one woman play, THE PIANIST OF WILLESDEN LANE, which opened at LA’s Geffen Playhouse in April 2012 and transferred to London’s St Jame’s Theatre in January this year, selling out and receiving a galaxy of stars from all the critics. The Londonist said, “Effortlessly moving, joyful, sobering and spellbinding.” Due to the demand, Mona has returned for an encore season until 22 October. I left this drawing at the theatre and she kindly signed and dedicated it for me, returning it with a thank you note.
Carole King is one of the most influential songwriters of our time. Her second of 25 solo albums,’Tapestry’ is one of the best selling records of all time with over 25 million copies sold worldwide. It won four Grammy Awards in 1972, including Album of the Year. Carole became the first solo female artist to win Song of the Year (‘You’ve Got A Friend’) and Record of the Year (‘It’s Too Late’). It remained on the Billboard Charts for 313 weeks, second only to Pink Floyd’s ‘Dark Side of the Moon”. Carole has been named the most successful songwriter for the period 1955-1999, writing or co-writing 118 Billboard Chart Hits. She has also taken the same honour in the UK with 61 hits between 1952-2005.
I drew this sketch of Carole last year and hoped to get it signed when she attended the opening of BEAUTIFUL – THE CAROLE KING MUSICAL at the Aldwych Theatre in London in February 2015, but didn’t manage to get there. Carole also played Hyde Park this summer, but it’s a difficult venue to get graphs and stalking hotels is not part of my MO. So I did the old fashioned thing and sent it to her at her production studio in California and it came back signed and dedicated in next to no time.
This is the second sketch I drew of Bulgarian opera soprano Sonya Yoncheva. The first one she signed at the Royal Opera House last summer when she performed Violetta in LA TRAVIATA. It was dedicated to me and signed with her shortened ‘Sonya’ sig. This one I mailed to her agent in Switzerland prior to that and it came back last week with a full autograph in silver sharpie no less.
Sonya is returning to Covent Garden this month to replace Anna Netrebko in the title role of Bellini’s masterpiece NORMA. It’s the second time she has replaced the Russian opera star, after stepping into the role of Marguerite in FAUST in 2014. Sonya will also extend her London season playing Antonia in LES CONTES D’HOFFMANN in November.