Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Anthony Hopkins In Concert

Sir Anthony Hopkins with Michael Seal,
Conductor of the CBSO - Andy Howells
This weeks Wordless Wednesday pics consist of  a collection of pictures I snapped at the special  Sir Anthony Hopkins in Concert  event at St.David's Hall, Cardiff on Sunday evening.
Members of The CBSO with conductor, Michael Seal
- Andy Howells
Apologies for the quality of the pictures as they were taken on my mobile phone,  but I hope you will still enjoy them!
Members of The CBSO with Sir Anthony Hopkins
- Andy Howells
Sir Anthony Hopkins addresses the audience
Andy Howells
Sir Anthony Hopkins is known worldwide for his award-winning roles in films such as Silence of the Lambs, Remains of the Day and Shadowlands. Perhaps a lesser known fact is that he is also an accomplished musician who also writes music.

A special concert highlighting the Oscar winning screen stars compositions as well as some of the scores from his best known films took place in his homeland of Wales at St David’s Hall Cardiff on Sunday July 24th 2011.

The concert was a climax of a week long series of festival performances by the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and chorus conducted by Michael Seal. Presented by producer Tommy Pearson, the event entitled Sir Anthony Hopkins in Concert also featured Sir Anthony himself talking about his musical inspirations and his early life in Wales.

The concert featured a diverse range of moods including music that was fabulous, romantic, calm, rip-roaring eerie and downright scary. It began with a dynamic performance of Hopkins’ own composition Orpheus which was inspired by a play he saw on the BBC in the 1950s about Orpheus and Euridice. This dramatic opener utilised the Orchestra and chorus to its full potential and was only a foretaste of the marvelous evening which lay ahead for the audience.

Following the CBSO’s performance of Orpheus, Sir Anthony Hopkins, looking graceful and enigmatic, despite a recent foot injury, stepped onto the stage and was subsequently greeted by a standing ovation.

Sir Anthony revealed that it was almost 56 years to the day (July 25th 1955) that he had auditioned and was ultimately accepted to study acting at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama.
This was the beginning of a long and illustrious career, however; following one path also meant that he would leave another behind another and so largely forgone his passion for becoming a musician. With a Grundig Tape Recorder purchased for him by his father, young Anthony continued to write and record what he described as “Snatches of Tunes” over the years. The result: a collection of compositions which would be heard in concert for the very first time.

As Sir Anthony’s unmistakable gaze peered out across the audience of St David’s Hall it became apparent that he was clearly moved by the warm reception he received at a musical event he stated "didn't think would ever be possible".

Sir Anthony’s introduction was immediately followed by CBSO’s dramatic presentation of Howard Shore’s music from the film Silence of the Lambs. As the haunting music reached a tremendous crescendo, it felt slightly eerie sitting in the presence of the man who had so expertly brought an Oscar winning performance of the films central character, Hannibal Lecter to the cinema screen.

Further music from Sir Anthony Hopkins films were also showcased including the premiere of a specially prepared suite from Thor by composer Patrick Doyle. There was also a spine-tingling presentation of Alex Heffes music from the film The Rite which was quite a contrast to the later presentations of the gentle tones and intricate violin playing of Richard Robbins music from The Remains of the Day and George Fenton’s composition of ShadowlandsThis was indeed a unique chance to enjoy film music on its own merit.

Sir Anthony's own compositions featured in the concert were a stark contrast to the dramatic film music featured, remaining wonderfully honest and open. The music illustrated wild and free images of young boy growing up in Wales in the middle of the Twentieth Century recalling open fields and fairgrounds, while the aria: Stella was a piece of music dedicated to his wife, who was also present at the concert.

The Waltz Goes On was a composition, according to the concert notes, he “just made up” on the piano in the green room at the Playhouse Theatre, Liverpool in 1965 and was prompted to write down. It was subsequently premiered 42 years later by Andre Rieu’s Johann Strauss Orchestra at the Place Belvedere, Vienna and made its grand Welsh live premiere at this concert.

Shadowlands composer George Fenton’s name was again recalled as helping Sir Anthony compose a tribute to the Welsh town he grew up in entitled MargamAmerika reflected Sir Anthony’s own hopes and dreams as a child of visiting a vast country of rocky mountains and places like New York and Chicago which he had seen in a book.

Following the CBSO presentation of Sir Anthony Hopkins suite 1947 which featured the pieces Circus, Bracken Road and The Plaza, Sir Anthony returned to the stage and recalled to the audience: “My Life has been a dream” encouraged by his parents to do things “for fun and for free”. He concluded: “This has been a tremendous journey to come back to my homeland to be with you”.

As the screen legend left the stage to another standing ovation and rapturous applause it was clear everybody certainly agreed.

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