Monthly Archives: December 2014

The Very Best of John Williams ~ Symphony Hall, Birmingham

Reviewed by Helen McWilliams

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When you think of a movie theme, which composer springs to mind? For me, it’s always the infamous and incredibly talented John Williams. With credits ranging from the fear-inducing theme tune to ‘Jaws’ to the magical journey that is ‘Hedwig’s Theme’ from ‘Harry Potter’ films, this spectacular evening of instrumental wonder (presented by Raymond Gubbay) was not to be missed.

Conducted by the ever popular Anthony Inglis, who has the ability to build a connection with his audience not too dissimilar to the orchestra he is leading, we were treated to a selection of some of Williams’ well-known work and some lesser thought of, too. The London Concert Orchestra was in fine fettle, stunning vibrato from the strings, a solid brass section and particularly notable woodwind players. Of course not forgetting percussion, drums and the inimitable sound from the harpist, who all contributed to perfection.

Selecting highlights from the evening is an almost impossible task, I am a fan of many of the movies on the play list, I feel I must applaud Shelagh Sutherland (Pianist) for the hairs standing up on the back of my neck when the opening notes of the Harry Potter Suite were played. The leader of the Orchestra and exceedingly capable first violinist, Paul Willey provided another ‘hair raising’ moment when he turned his hand so beautifully to the Schindler’s List theme. As a violinist myself, I have personal experience of that score and I always feel that the muted sound adds an additional haunting dimension to the piece.

With Star Wars, Jurassic Park and E.T. delighting the full house at Birmingham’s Symphony Hall, it was little wonder that an encore was demanded. All I will say of the chosen encore piece is that we quickly discovered that Anthony Inglis is a super hero! I can’t possibly give away his secrets, though…

This particular concert finished in Birmingham after a previous performance at Barbican Centre, London, however you can keep up to date with news of forthcoming concerts by accessing the following website http://www.raymondgubbay.co.uk .

Break A Leg Review Interview: Andrew Ross

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As huge fans of the “Carry On” films, we were delighted to hear of a new authorised biography of the late, great Joan Sims. We caught up with author, Andrew Ross to find out why he had decided to write this interesting, yet sad story.

Thank you for talking to Break A Leg review, Andrew, Our first question is, why Joan? What inspired you to write her story?

Quite simply I’m a great fan of her work and she has been my all-time favourite actress since I was a child when she appeared in the TV series “Simon and the Witch”. From there I became a fan of her work in the “Carry On” series and the rest, as they say, is history.

While researching the book, did you unearth any surprises?

It was interesting to discover just how complex and strong a person she was – on one hand painfully shy and on the other extremely vibrant and outgoing. From an early age her determination to become an actress and stay at the top of her profession was immense. I was also struck by the very strong relationship she had with her mother and surprised to discover just how early Joan’s drink problem and battles with depression began.

Was it an easy story to pursue? Did you find willing contributors?

I wouldn’t have attempted to write the story without the full support of those closest to Joan. The majority of people contacted were very supportive and the greatest compliment was to have the book authorised. One or two of her colleagues felt unable to help because they felt her story to be “too sad” but generally everyone contacted was very willing to take the time to discuss Joan. She was certainly a much-loved lady and I have relied heavily upon the thoughts and memories of her friends and colleagues. Her story itself was not always a happy one, hence not always easy to write about, but Joan’s strength of spirit is evident especially at the end of her life when things became particularly difficult for her.

Have you any other biographies in store for us in the future?

I’ve been asked to write a biography of another actress, but it’s still under wraps at the moment. Watch this space.

If you could have a dinner party with five famous people past or present, who would they be and why?

I can’t narrow myself down to just five people (although I would have loved to have met Joan) so will have to pass on this one. Sorry!

What is your advice to anyone wishing to pursue a career in writing?

Keep writing, keep reading. Look at every avenue, be patient, build up contacts and be tenacious.

We’d like to thank Andrew for giving us his time for the interview, you can find a link to the book together with purchasing information (it’ll make a great Christmas present!) here:

http://www.fantomfilms.co.uk/books/andrewross_joansimms.htm