Soundtracks in, symphonies out?

Wizards, witches and even muggles are invited to watch as the Royal Scottish National Orchestra (RSNO) bring the music from Harry Potter to life.

The Music of Harry Potter, which will include the scores from all eight movies, will be bringing magic to Edinburgh’s Usher Hall on March 15th.

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The Music of Harry Potter will take place in the Usher Hall on March 15th (Credit: Kevin Rae)

Richard Kaufman, a Grammy award winning Hollywood conductor, will lead the orchestra in exploring John William’s music from the iconic franchise, including Hedwig’s Theme, Hogwarts Forever, and Nimbus 2000.

The audience will be left to imagine Hogwarts, though, as no movie footage will be screened. To encourage a more magical feel to the concert, people attending are encouraged to dress in their House robes or as their favourite character with prizes for the best dressed.

For more information on this event and to purchase tickets, click here.

However, this type of event – an orchestra playing scores of successful movies – is not new, and it’s a trend that doesn’t seem to be disappearing any time soon.

The Usher Hall will also be the setting for the RSNO’s The Music of John Williams and Back to the Future in Concert.

Recently, it was announced that the BBC’s Blue Planet 2 would be brought to the stage, following the success of the BAFTA award winning television series.

The 13 date tour will be accompanied by film sequences from the TV series, which began raising the public’s awareness of the fragility of the planet when the programme was first broadcast in 2001.

On the tour’s page, it states:

“The live concert adaptation is an extension of that striking visual and environmental narrative.”

But why has the orchestra, which was typically entertainment for the upper classes, started to play the soundtracks of much-loved movies?

In a sense, the ensemble might be adapting – or maybe evolving is a better word – to how music is created, listened to, and loved by the public today.

Over the past few years, movie soundtracks have become more of an indicator for how worthwhile the film will be. This might have been similar in the past, but iTunes and Spotify have made listening to scores simple. A quick download, and the soundtrack for Guardian of the Galaxy is on your mobile. A press of a button and Shazam has found your favourite song from The Breakfast ClubThe Greatest Showman soundtrack was so popular that it was released again, with chart-topping artists performing the songs. 

There is no denying it – soundtracks are strong right now, and that seems to have created an opening for the orchestra. But lifestyle-related issues could have also effected this change.

Songs most people listen to now are short – four or five minutes at the most. In comparisons to classical music, this is a minuscule length of time, especially as Beethoven’s Symphony No.9 goes on for over an hour. People do not have the time or patience now to listen to something that length, even if it is one of the most celebrated pieces in music history.

The cost of making the music, as well as how people relate to the music, might even factor into why soundtracks are in and symphonies are out – it appears to be yet another change society has gone through.

To see upcoming events at the Usher Hall, click here.

Review: Derry Girls

The girls from Derry are back, and they might be even better than the first time around.

This week, over a year from when it first appeared on our screens, saw Lisa McGee‘s Derry Girls return to Channel 4.

Set in 1995, the Troubles serve as a grim background to the girls’ – and James’ – antics as they navigate their teenage years. Reintroducing Erin (Saoirse-Monica Jackson), our narrator, as she lies in the bathtub revives the comedic value these characters created in the previous season. Orla (Louisa Harland) walking in, and interrupting Erin’s imaginary interview with Terry Wogan, mirrors the first glimpse we had of Derry Girls – Orla reading Erin’s diary.

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The girls and James set off on an outward-bound weekend with the Londonderry Boys Academy (Credit: Channel 4)

The rest of the group – Clare (Nicola Coughlan), Michelle (Jamie-Lee O’Donnell), and their wee English fella, James (Dylan Llewellyn) – turn up before they all head out on their trip to “make friends across the barricade” with the Londonderry Boys Academy. Despite claims that the weekend away is all about “doing it for peace”, they all have their own motivations for bonding with the Protestant boys. Erin and Michelle want to experience the “moves” of boys who aren’t James – and James just wants friends who aren’t girls.

The outward-bound weekend gets off to a rocky start with the return of Father Peter (and his beautiful hair) who’s all too keen to lead a few workshops. He asks the group, “What do Protestants and Catholics have in common?” Obviously, he isn’t expecting differences – and only differences – to be shouted by the teens.

“Protestants keep toasters in cupboards.” “Protestants are taller.” “Catholics have more freckles.” And of course, Orla’s contribution into the chaos: “Protestants hate Abba.”

It’s not long before the Differences board is crammed full with many more of these quirky accusations. This scene is a hilarious. It’s absurd and witty, but there’s a few true issues hiding in there. McGee does something amazing with the humour of Derry Girls – she shows the Troubles through the lighter, and almost naive, perspective of teenagers.

Of course, it is only when darkness falls that the true motivation behind the girls’ decision to “make friends across the barricade” comes out in full force. They, and James, ambush the dormitory of a Londonderry group with music, drinks and that keen teenager’s belief that an epic party is about to take place.

It’s predictable that things do not go to plan. Orla and James end up overly latching on to their buddy, Clare tries to one-up goody-goody Jenny Joyce by going from workshop buddy to fully fledged Catholic-Protestant friends, Michelle finds out what her Londonderry boy’s bracelet means, and Erin…

Well, Erin fails at flirting with Dee, her Londonderry buddy – so much so that he thinks she was having a breakdown. It’s clear Erin still has a lot to learn.

The morning after the night before sees Clare dangling off a cliff edge, screaming that her buddy is “a fenian-hating madman”. As it turns out, the boy is deaf in one ear – and it isn’t Catholics he hates, it’s athletes. This causes a full-on fist fight between the boys and the girls, with Our Lady’s Sister Michael and Londonderry Academy’s Ms Taylor watching on as Father Peter tries to break the fight up. Only when the parents are called does Erin finally realise what they all have in common, and adds it to the Similarities board – they all have interfering parents.

And this is only the comeback from our favourite girls (and James – is it wrong if I just group him in with the girls?). Season two, if episode one is anything to go by, will be the craic.

Episode two will be aired on Channel 4 Tuesday at 21:15, and you can catch up on season one and the first episode of season two here.

Film Review: Fighting with my Family

 

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Saraya Knight (Florence Pugh) fights to become a wrestler in Fighting with my Family (Credit: IMDb)

It’s not surprising that this underdog story is a bit wobbly on the ropes, but the cast of Fighting with my Family pack a mean punch.

Straight off the bat, or should it be “straight after the bell”, wrestling is centre stage. The pros – The Rock, Hulk Hogan and John Cena – are seen in action on a TV screen. A young boy replicates their moves until the channel is suddenly changed by his younger sister.

In retaliation, the boy attempts to get his sister in a headlock. His actions are fumbled, but he is quickly corrected when his dad enters the living room. The girl is then challenged to get out of her brother’s hold when their mum follows through the door.

This is the Knight family.

Saraya Knight, played by Outlaw King’s Florence Pugh, is the only daughter of a wrestling-obsessed family from Norwich, England. The movie follows Saraya through her fight to become a wrestler for the WWE, where she becomes ‘Paige’ in the ring (spoiler: she’s a massive fan of the programme Charmed).

The film passes as a sports movie, but the quirky theatrics that come with professional wrestling – otherwise referred to as “soap opera in spandex” – puts a new spin on the somewhat overplayed underdog plot.

Throughout the film, the audience constantly question whether Saraya truly does want to become a wrestler, or if she is just following the dreams of her parents (played by Nick Frost and Lena Headey) and brother (Jack Lowden). Her training is definitely tough – 4,000 miles from home in America, with no friends and no family around – but the Knight’s close-knit bond puts up a fight to see Saraya through.

The heartwarming family-feel to the film is even more apparent in the closing credits featuring home videos of the Knight family. It becomes clear that Stephen Merchant, who wrote and directed the movie, did not create this energetic ensemble in his mind and that it is reflective of a true story.

Fighting with my Family is in cinemas now – find a showing near you here.

 

Get those pancake flippin’ skills ready for Tuesday!

With Pancake Day coming up next week, EN4News has an easy recipe that’ll ensure you celebrate the right way.

One of the best days of the year is just around the corner, but are you prepared?

While Shrove Tuesday, otherwise known as Pancake Day, celebrates the last day of feasting before Lent, it has become better known as the day when it is acceptable to eat as many pancakes as your stomach can manage.

Instead of reading what the day stands for, why not put on your baking apron and preheat the oven to 180 degrees – it’s time to get baking.

Today’s international news

Trump ally arrested in Florida

The former campaign adviser to the US President Roger Stone has been charged with seven counts in Robert Mueller’s investigation, which looks at alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.

The indictment includes one count of obstruction, one count of witness tampering and five counts of false statements.

US commerce secretary “out of touch”

Wilbur Ross has been mocked online after he suggested workers affected by the government shutdown should take out bank loans.

Federal workers will miss another payday today, following reports that some have had to use food banks.

After the Senate rejected two bills which would have ended the deadlock, this is now the longest US government shutdown in history. The President has defended the culture secretary.

Venezuelan opposition leader considers amnesty for Maduro

Juan Guaidó has said that if President Nicolás Maduro cedes power, he could potentially be given amnesty.

Since declaring himself acting president earlier in the week, Guaidó has said he is reaching out to all sectors to end the crisis, even the military. However, the military’s support remains in favour of Maduro.

Kurdish politician freed after 79-day hunger strike

The Diyarbakir court in Turkey has released Kurdish MP Leyla Guven, 55 after she endured a 79-day hunger strike.

Guven’s release date details have not been released, but the court said they would continue to monitor her after.

The MP is part of the pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party. The Kurdish and Turkish conflict risen from various Kurdish groups fighting for independence from Turkey.

Guven was imprisoned after she criticised Turkish military’s involvement in Afrin, Syria, which the majority identifies as a Kurdish town.

She had been in jail for a year before beginning her strike in November last year. She claims she started the strike in protest of Turkey’s treatment of Kurdish military leader, Abdullah Ocalan who was imprisoned back in 1999.

Her daughter, via Twitter, announced the MP’s release.

In someone else’s clothes… literally

With a clothes swap sale set to take place on Saturday 26th, EN4News gives an insight into why this type of event is the latest fashion trend.

When opening your wardrobe, what do you see?

Clothes, of course, are most likely to fill that space — but where did you get them? Maybe you’ve got a few designer labels hanging in the closet — Calvin Klein, Ted Baker — or some high street buys that you just couldn’t resist when payday came around — New Look, Topshop, Primark.

It might even be the case that you have the odd charity shop item, but do you have any from a clothes swap?

Events like clothes swaps and vintage sales have bloomed in Edinburgh as of late, with people flocking to get the best deals for very little if any money. It seems to be a student’s dream, in the sense of being the newest way to find unique stylish clothing items for pennies.

In fact, on Saturday 26, between the hours of 1pm and 4pm, people will be swapping clothes in Edinburgh. The Sustainable Clothes Swap will take place at the Ocean Terminal shopping centre. The event, which is being hosted by Fashion Revolution Scotland and The Leith Collective, aims to help people clear out clothes they no longer wear without just throwing them away.

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Fashion Revolution wants to change the way clothes are sourced, produced and consumed. (Picture credit: Fashion Revolution)

Fashion Revolution was created to protest the unsafe working conditions cheap fashion is made in. The turning point for this was the collapse of the Rana Plaza in Bangladesh in April 2013. More than 1,100 people died, making it one of the deadliest textile factory incidents. This gave the fashion organisation a clear vision:

“We believe in a fashion industry that values people, the environment, creativity and profit in equal measure.”

It has been stated that “clothes and textiles make up around 6% of household waste in the UK”. This should not be the case as they can be recycled or reused, and now donated into clothes swaps.

As to why Saturday’s clothes swap is happening, it follows a new campaign. The Leith Collective has partnered up with Ocean Terminal to deliver the Sustainability Campaign throughout January. With a variety of workshops being offered, it is hoped that shoppers will learn more about recycling, reusing and upcycling.

Attending the clothes swap could see you walk away with a complete not-so-new new outfit, but there are a few things you should do before you turn up:

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Infographic by Michaella Wheatley for EN4News

 

University of Edinburgh joins £20m ocean preservation project

One of The University of Edinburgh’s schools is involved in the five-year programme that will focus on changing the ways that the world responds to threats to the oceans.

The School of GeoSciences’ researchers will be involved in the new ‘One Ocean Hub’ programme, which has been set up by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF).

The Hub aims to combat pressures such as climate change, plastics and pollution, and overusing the ocean’s resources, which have affected the ocean’s ecosystem.

It is hoped that the £20 million ‘One Ocean Hub‘ project could help developing countries, who depend on the oceans for supplies and food, evolve and understand how to care for it.

The UKRI GCRF wishes to “empower local communities, women and youth to co-develop research and solutions.”

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Developing countries depend on the oceans to provide fish. (Photo credit: Christina Mittermeier)

More than 50 organisations around the world are included in the project.

The University of Strathclyde is leading the programme, with Glasgow School of Art and Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh also taking part.

The universities in the UK will partner with institutions from Fiji, Ghana, Namibia, Solomon Islands and South Africa.

East, West and Southern Africa, Oceania and the Caribbean will be the geographic focuses of the programme.

This is understood to be an impressive opportunity for Edinburgh’s School of GeoSciences.

Dr Sebastian Hennige, who is from the School of GeoSciences, stated that the chance “to link the science of how marine habitats will change in a future ocean, to law and policy for the benefit for stakeholders” is one of the most exciting parts of the One Ocean Hub.

The School of GeoSciences has previously researched into certain aspect of the ocean, and members of staff believe the new project will uncover more influential information.

Professor Murray Roberts, who is also from the School of GeoSciences, said:

“The One Ocean Hub is a wonderful project and a fantastic opportunity for us to build on our 20 years of research into how cold-water corals function and the biodiversity they support.”

There has been more attention given to the preservation of the oceans.

The affects people’s lives have on the oceans were brought into focus by the BBC’s Blue Planet 2, which showed the impact plastic had on the marine life in it’s final episode.

Viewers were shocked when they were shown albatross chicks being fed plastic by their oblivious parents.

It has caused people to revise their use of plastics.

In recent weeks, the changes seen in the oceans have been widely discussed due to the latest social media trend.

There have been several posts on social media focusing on the transformations of the oceans, due to the Ten Year Challenge.

From icebergs melting to coral reefs diminishing, the images displayed the changes the ocean had experienced in the past decade.

Twitter and Instagram were the platforms used most often for these posts.

This was also mentioned by Professor Roberts, who said:

“Deep corals are among the most sensitive marine ecosystems to ocean acidification.”

There is hope that the One Ocean Hub project will stop, or at least lessen, the impact global warming and the effects of humanity have had on the oceans.

Mary Queen of Scots comes home

From today, January 18, Mary Queen of Scots is gracing our cinema screens…

Well, kind of.

Mary Stuart’s persona is strong and fierce, and this is embraced by 24-year-old Saoirse Ronan, who is well known for her roles as Susie Salmon in The Lovely Bones and Christine McPherson in Lady Bird.

At the beginning of the film, Mary returns to Scotland from France in 1561 without a husband, but with claims to both the Scottish and English thrones, much to the dismay of Queen Elizabeth the First (played by Margot Robbie) and the countries she wishes to rule. This is only beginning of a political battle between the 16th-century queens.

The portrayal of two assertive women in a masculine world is a theme that appears to be quite relevant today, centuries later. They both must find a balance between marriage and independence, love and power.

The references to Scotland are understandably heavy, some inaccurately so (Mary’s accent and the on-screen meeting between the queens), but it seemed only fitting to have a Scottish premiere in Edinburgh.

Some of the movie’s stars, including Ronan and her Scottish co-stars Jack Lowden and James McArdle, attended the event on January 14 at Edinburgh Castle. First Minister Nicola Sturgeon was also a guest.

The stars then attended the first Scottish screening of the Mary Queen of Scots film, which took place in Edinburgh’s Cameo Picturehouse. Several fans were lucky enough to meet the actors and actresses, such as Ronan, as shown by the short video below.

To find out more about movies that were set in Scotland, EN4News reporter Liam Mackay counts down his top ten.

 

Robots are infiltrating Edinburgh

With a new exhibit looking at robots opening at the National Museum of Scotland today, EN4News shares what visitors can expect from the machines that are becoming more and more like humans.

Over 100 robots are the stars of a new major exhibition which has taken over the National Museum of Scotland.

“Robots” explores the quest to reimagine humans as machines, exhibiting androids of a variety of ages, from the earliest to the ones used in modern research labs.

The exhibit opened in Edinburgh today – January 18.

Five time periods are shown in “Robots”, explaining the role of robots in religious belief, the Industrial Revolution, popular culture, and society’s hopes for the future. Displays include an examination into why robots are being built to resemble people in appearance and interactive behaviour.

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RoboThespian performs vocal exercises and gives a theatrical performance for visitors. Photo credit to National Museum of Scotland

Dr. Tacye Phillipson, who is the Senior Curator of Modern Science at National Museums Scotland, said;

“The exhibition highlights some of the capabilities of these mechanical marvels, but also examines how technically challenging it is for scientific fact to catch up with the imagination of science fiction.”

As Dr. Phillipson said, there is difficulty when comparing the truth of science with the fantasy that is science fiction. This will be discussed through an analysis of what a realistic future humans share with robots could potentially look like.

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More than 100 robots are on display at the National Museum of Scotland from January 18. Photo credit to National Museum of Scotland

Various robots will show the latest advances in their technological designs, including Bipedal Walker walking like a person, Inkha answering questions and offering fashion advice, Zeno R25 replicating facial expressions, and ROSA moving its ‘eye’ to watch as visitors move.

With robots being at the very centre of popular culture since 1920, when the word ‘robot’ was first used, film buffs have a chance to see a T800 Terminator which was used in the film Terminator Salvation.

A new section to the exhibition, which was first developed in London’s Science Museum, has been added just for its time in Edinburgh. This is due to the city’s ground-breaking robotics work.

The display, by the Edinburgh Centre for Robotics’ Robotarium, analyses the creation of Valkyrie, a bot built by NASA and currently being programmed by the Robotarium with the hope of sending it to Mars on a mission.

Dr. Phillipson also said that the city is “a major centre for robotics research and we are delighted to have created a special section for the exhibition’s Edinburgh run which looks at some of this work.”

The funding for this unusual exhibition was provided by players of the People’s Postcode Lottery.

Senior Programmes Manager at People’s Postcode Lottery Hazel Johnstone said:

“Taking an in-depth look at the wonderful world of humanoid robots, visitors will be able to come face to face with a range of iconic examples; from some of those seen on the silver screen to robot workers.”

Visitors to the museum have until May 5 to see the “Robots” exhibit, with tickets costing up to £10 for adults. Purchase them here.

This is the last chance to see the exhibition in the UK before it begins to tour internationally.

 

Podcast: New Year’s resolutions

The day to ditch your New Year’s resolutions has now passed — January 17 — but have you managed to keep your grip on your goal for 2019? If you have, then you are one of the few.

Join Michaella Wheatley and Olivia Hill as they chat about the most common resolutions made at the New Year and how to ensure you do not fail before January ends.

If you would like to share your own resolutions for the New Year, please use the comment section below or get in touch on social media.

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