Blog posts by year and month November 2011

Posts (103)

  1. The more exotic looking winter birds are beginning to arrive in Wales now and as usual, our Flickr group members have been first on the scene. Here's a taster of what we've received recently. These shots of an Isabelline wheatear on North Gower have caused quite a stir amongst 'twitchers' as ...

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  2. Manic Street Preachers bassist Nicky Wire was at Cardiff's Waterstones last week to sign copies of Death Of A Polaroid, the band's paean to a passing art form. I asked Jarrad Owens, editor of AmpedWales, armed with his own specially-bought Polaroid, to report on the occasion. You can also read this post at AmpedWales - it is reproduced here by kind permission. Death Of A Polaroid Waterstones, The Hayes, Cardiff. The scene for the launch of the first of two books by Manic Street Preachers bass player and mouthpiece, Nicky Wire. It's strikingly appropriate that an event steeped in as much history as this should be staged in the heart of the Hayes, a district of Cardiff which more than any other shaped the Manics. Spending their formative years performing in the arcades and alleyways surrounding Waterstones before using their hard earned busking money to purchase the latest vinyl delights in Spillers. The queue snakes around the perimeter of the store, a mixture of hardcore Manics devotees decked out in Wire-esque outfits and the more casual 'Radio 2' fans hoping to finally get a glimpse of Nicky up close. The event has attracted a number of elderly onlookers inside the store, and as Nicky makes his grand entrance via a large Victorian staircase one gentleman asks me who he is. He goes on to remark that he saw the Manics on Strictly Come Dancing; proof that in 20 years the band have gone from anti-establishment upstarts to 'National Treasures'. Jarrad Owens with Nicky Wire Death Of A Polaroid', a baby pink hardback heavyweight, is a selection of pictures that intimately documents the history of the Manics, shot of course as the title suggests, on Polaroid format. Each picture comes from the private collection of Nicky Wire, the self confessed archivist of the band, and combines candidly captured portraits along with concept and documentary photography. "I'm not a photographer," says Nicky Wire. "I'm a Polaroid freak who thinks that the colours and the vividness and the memories encapsulated in this art form are spectacular. Nothing moves me more." Nicky Wire As a long-time follower of the band it's nice to get a rare view from the inside; particular highlights include studio bound shots and a myriad of alternative artwork for singles from the This Is My Truth era. This visual journal is a fascinating look at what could be the last great British rock n roll band; the apt marriage of a dying genre and a dying photography format. Feel free to comment! If you want to have your say, on this or any other BBC blog, you will need to sign in to your BBC iD account. If you don't have a BBC iD account, you can register here - it'll allow you to contribute to a range of BBC sites and services using a single login. Need some assistance? Read about BBC iD, or get some help with registering.

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  3. Welsh director Marc Evans will discuss film making in Wales and internationally at the Taliesin Arts Centre at Swansea University next week. Marc Evans. Photo: Chris Jackson/Getty Images Evans has worked on international productions such as Trauma (2004) with Colin Firth and Mena Suvari,...

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  4. A couple of countryside stories have caught my eye this week. The first was a report from conservationists calling for urgent action to restore vast areas of peatland - including the Welsh uplands, in order to control levels of CO2 emissions. The International Union for the Conservation...

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  5. Temperatures have been up and down this week. A chilly 5 Celsius in Tredegar on Wednesday but it's now turned milder again, up to 15 in Llandudno yesterday afternoon. Overall the first half of November has been mild according to the Met Office. Temperatures have generally been well above ...

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  6. Staff at the Dylan Thomas Centre have been told by Swansea City Council that they will be redeployed should planned changes for the venue go ahead. The Dylan Thomas Centre. Image courtesy of Swansea City Council The city council has said it is close to finalising a deal to lease the b...

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  7. Some of you may already been hooked on the BBC 4 series Symphony. I don't think there is enough content like this on our screens and I've found the series so far very interesting and really quite inspiring, in particular the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment playing Beethoven and Schubert under the baton of Sir Mark Elder - amazing playing! Engraving of Ludwig van Beethoven by Blas Hofel, from a crayon drawing by Louis Tehonne, 1814 We are involved in the Radio 3 link up to the series and this week performed a live broadcast from Hoddinott Hall of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony. It was a packed hall and it was nice knowing that my newly-retired father was listening in at home (incidentally, he enjoyed it very much). It was also the first time we had the opportunity to work with conductor Michael Francis - I really enjoyed his no nonsense, efficient, yet very enthusiastic approach. Hope we see him again soon! I was always a very imaginative child. If I was caught up in reading a really good book, a full complement of marching bands would pass the front of the house and I would remain blissfully unaware. As an only child, I would happily spend hours in my own company with my own imaginings, fueled by day trips my parents would take me on to the Ulster Museum and the Armagh Planetarium. As I grew up, music was the medium that increasingly captured my imagination. Beethoven's music in particular has always grabbed me, whether it be the symphonies or the great Razumovsky Quartets. The seventh symphony is my preferred symphony for sheer exuberance, but the fifth truly moves me. There is something about the first movement that makes my heart thump. You can almost taste the composer's desperation. When the oboe has its mini-cadenza in the recapitulation, I could cry for poor, deaf, still raging against the unfairness of it all, Beethoven. Through the beauty of the second movement's variations we reach the electric final movement. As well as making my arm want to fall off, this movement always makes me break into a smile. There is such resilience, such fight, in this symphony. To me, it is a life affirming work, albeit in a much more personal way than the 'Freude!' of the Ninth. Over the years, I must have played this symphony umpteen times. I never tire of it. I find something fresh in it every time I have the opportunity to play it. While there are times when I would genuinely like to pitch my viola out the nearest window, works like this symphony keep me excited about being a musician. It can be difficult to hold on to that excitement sometimes, but how could anyone hear or play this music and not feel something? In a week that will also see us performing Elgar, Britten and Vaughan Williams at the Colston Hall, Bristol, in addition to recording soundtracks, it is Beethoven's Fifth Symphony that has kept me buoyed up this week.

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  8. Newport's TJ's will go under the hammer for the second time next month, following the withdrawal of previous buyers who had planned to turn the historic music venue into a restaurant. TJ's venue in Newport. Photo courtesy of Paul Fosh Auctions Paul Fosh auctions will hold the sale at ...

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  9. On 15 October 2011, a famous face made an appearance in Colwyn Bay. Terry Jones, acclaimed director, writer, documentary maker and Python, was in his hometown to reopen a small theatre, nestled just shy of the north Wales coast, following a refurbishment which has restored the venue to its former glory. Although Jones' appearance was greeted with excitement, in truth showbusiness' most famous faces have been appearing in the small town of Colwyn Bay for over 100 years. It's all thanks to the presence of Theatr Colwyn, recently named the oldest operating cinema in the UK and the oldest operating theatre in Wales. Now a popular and affordable community attraction, in its heyday it boasted an impressive audience, with a seating capacity estimated between 500-800 strong at the time its cinema opened in 1909. Harry Reynolds, a well known face on the West End stage, had taken over The Public Hall - as the venue had been known since the 1880s - revamping the auditorium and installing electric light. It was one of the earliest purpose-built cinemas in the country. Newspaper advert showing Theatr Colwyn's revamped auditorium with cinema and programme information, dated 1909 The first screening was on 25 January 1909: short animated pictures including Hunting Crocodiles On The Nile and The Naughty Little Princess. The Pioneer newspaper, in its review of the cinema's opening night, praised a warm-up performance by singer Revill Hall, and Morris Davies, an "accomplished pianist [who] performed a suitable programme of music" to accompany the films. The sheer number of screenings suggests cinema quickly proved to be a popular past time with Conway residents. "There were several showings every day of the week," says marketing officer Joann Rae, "often more if it was raining!" However, although popular, ticket prices indicate the theatre attracted an affluent visitor, with admission ranging from one shilling to three or six pence. Colwyn Bay and its attractions were a magnet for wealthy residents and visitors, in particular, Joann Rae explains, "industrialists and mill owners from north Wales." The early 20th century cinema-goer's experience differed to a contemporary viewer's in some respects - for example, the film's score was performed live in order to bring the silent pictures to life - though it was more familiar in others, with sweets and chocolates sold before performances and public fascination with the biggest and brightest stars of the period dictating the cinema programme. In the 1920s, the period which saw the flourishing of Hollywood's golden age of silent cinema, audiences flocked to the Theatr Colwyn to see the movie icons of the day. Joann reveals the cinema still holds posters from that era advertising films starring Charlie Chaplin and Harold Lloyd: "massive stars, so we know that they were popular with audiences here in the '20s." As the century wore on, Theatr Colwyn continued to play host to popular stage and film performers. Several notable acts started their careers at the theatre, including Charles Dance and original Coronation Street cast members Jack Howarth and Betty Alberge. Pauline Jamieson was a member of the rep company during the 1930s before becoming a leading light of the West End, with Vivien Leigh serving as maid of honour at her wedding. In 2006, Terry Jones was invited to become the theatre's patron, in large part due to his personal connections with the venue. Not only did his mother perform in amateur productions, in 1936 his grandfather William Newnes conducted an orchestra on the night the theatre reopened following repairs after a fire. Exterior of newly refurbished Theatr Colwyn in 2011. Photographer: Paul Sampson Now owned by Conwy County Borough Council and run as an independent cinema, Theatr Colwyn underwent a £750,000 refurbishment in 2011. It remains an active and vibrant part of the community's cultural landscape while retaining a sense of the venue's historical importance. Phil Batty, theatre manager, explains: "We started up the cinema again in 2000, after receiving grants from our town council and county council which covered the cost of the projector and screen. Our audience likes to come and watch a film in a traditional setting and they also appreciate the fact that our tickets are so affordable." With a century's worth of entertainment history to its name, Theatr Colwyn intends on bringing a small slice of Hollywood to the residents of Colwyn Bay for another hundred years to come.

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  10. After some reports that the Wakestock festival would leave Wales for the south west of England, organisers have announced that the music and wakeboarding festival will be returning to its Abersoch site in 2012. Wakestock 2012. Photo: Louis James Parker A press release for the festival...

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