Some Cambridge culture

I was one of tens of thousan from around the world who went to the cinema last week and linked up with a live performance of Alan Bennett’s “The Habit of Art” at the National Theatre in London.

It was a sensational experience and our enjoyment of the play was enhanced by the fact that we had a great close-up view of the actors and could see all the close detail on stage; it seemed like we were there on the front row viewing it in real life. This would have been the same experience for the thousands around the world who viewed this play from cinemas in cities across the continents, people who would never be able to get to London to see this performed live.

I would like to say a huge thank you to the innovative NT for this great initiative, for taking the theatre out to wider audiences, and I hope to see some of other plays planned for a similar screening.  The play included some wonderful lines and brilliant performances by Richard Griffiths as W.H. Auden, Alex Jennings as Benjamin Britten, Frances de la Tour as stage manager Kay, and Elliot Levey as the play’s sensitive author, who we were told had miraculously arrived only that morning after a dash from Athens in a mini bus with six kids due to the volcanic ash.

Do watch out for more of these amazing performances which make going to the ‘theatre’ so much more affordable and trouble free. Thank you to all at the NT!! And could some more theatres follow suit and do this too.

*Last night I went to a concert by the Cambridge Orchestra performing Walton, Bax, Delius and Elgar. It was all wonderful (the romantic Tingagel by Bax and Delius’ Violin Concerto were my favourite).  The performance by the highly acclaimed violinist Joo Yeon Sir sent shivers through my spine; she played with her eyes firmly shut and put every emotion and her soul into this movingly memorable solo.

She is immensely talented and has been a major prize winner at national and international competitions in the UK and abroad and has performed as recitalist, chamber musician and soloist with orchestras, even playing for Prince Charles. In 2006 at the age of sixteen, Joo Yeon became the Overall Grand Prix Laureate at Nedyalka Simeonova International Violin Competition. Joo Yeon Sir is also a composer and she has won the First Prize and the title of BBC/The Guardian Young Composer of the Year] 2005 at the age of fourteen for her composition “Conflict in Time”, which has been performed at Wigmore Hall, Cadogan Hall by Endymion and has been broadcast on BBC Radio 3.

She looked stunning in her red taffeta gown which was adorned with silver glitter. The audience was appreciative and she took several bows. However, the one thing which disappointed me about the whole evening was at the end when she was presented with a gift bag which presumably contained a bottle of booze. I have no idea whether it was Hardy’s red, champagne, sherry or gin. But why, oh why, was she not presented with a bouquet of flowers? That is the very least I would have expected. When did roses or lilies get replaced with a bottle of rouge (figuratively speaking) for women star performers at classical concerts?

Update: Here is a a very complimentary review of the concert I went to. Many thanks Justin for the invitation.


  1. What a brilliant initiative!

  2. Apparently she’s a regular customer at the Ottolenghi cafe on Ledbury Road.

  3. Hi James, pity you are so far away, there is always so much culture on offer in Cambridge, and it’s been so long for me, which made it all the more enjoyable.

  4. Ah, Ellee, such concert-going is a thing of the past for me, sadly. Twould be lovely.


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