Entertainment review: March 8th

Liam Mackay and Olivia Hill round up this week’s entertainment news. Topics include the new Game of Thrones season 8 trailer and the latest releases.

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.

EN4 News Movie and TV Round-up

Liam Mackay and Olivia Hill round up this week’s entertainment news. Topics include the Oscars and the latest movie releases.

For more discussion on the Oscars, check out our Oscars reflection podcast here.

You can also check out Michaella Wheatley’s review of Fighting with my Family, or Olivia Hill’s review of Netflix’s Paddleton.

Young photographers launch renewable energy exhibition

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The photographers: Magnus Kermack, Michaela McStay, Rachel Gilliver and Anna Batey (Credit: Bia Collective)

A group of young photographers, known as Bia collective, are launching a four-part exhibition focusing on the subject of renewable energy.

The four students, based in Edinburgh, have funded the exhibition themselves in order to display their work.

The topic of the exhibition is as current as ever, with recent figures showing that renewable power reached record highs in the UK last year, with renewable power supplying over a quarter of the UK’s electricity.

This week, Scottish Power announced that it will invest £2 billion in green energy. The company have closed or sold all of its coal and gas power pants, instead choosing to focus on renewable energy.

Each photographer has focused on a different area relating to renewable energy to showcase different ways that it is used in today’s society.

The week-long exhibition will be held at UNIONgallery in Edinburgh from March 13 and is free to visitors.

Here are the photographers:

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A piece of Gilliver’s work at Inverary Watchtower (Credit: Rachel Gilliver)

 RACHEL GILLIVER – 20 – COATBRIDGE

“My work focuses on wind power and will contain images from a wind farm, highlighting everything present at one of these parks.

“I chose this because I wanted to analyse the stigma around these large turbines and look into the controversial opinions surrounding them as many people are against wind turbines because they feel they ruin the natural beauty of the countryside, without taking into consideration the positive impact they have on the environment.

“I took my photos at Blacklaw II wind farm in South Lanarkshire, where there are 54 turbines with a capacity of 124 megawatts, making it one of the biggest wind farms in the UK.

“I think the main reason I chose my particular theme about the concerns for the natural beauty of the countryside, was to try and convey that if we completely turn our backs on renewable energy altogether, eventually there might not be a countryside for turbines to ruin.”

 

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A piece of McStay’s work from a documentary project with Narcissus Flowers (Credit: Michaela McStay)

MICHAELA MCSTAY – 21 – BRIDGE OF WEIR

“My project will be looking into the aesthetics of solar panels.

“It is commonly known that Solar panels and wind turbines are considered more of an eye sore than a benefit to the environment.

“With my project I would like to challenge this, by showing the comparison of solar panels and existing aesthetically similar structures in the urban environment.”

 

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Batey took this image for a previous project entitled Females in Agriculture (Credit: Anna Batey)

ANNA BATEY – 20 – CARLISLE

“I am creating a series of images exploring the positive impacts that the installation of anaerobic digester plants has had on several farms in Cumbria, and the benefits this has for the environment and surrounding community.

“I chose this topic as I felt it was quite an unusual form of renewable energy and not something that the majority of people will be familiar with.

“I have spent several weeks travelling to different farms, viewing and photographing a range of different sized anaerobic digester plants, with the hopes of being able to capture a broad spectrum of what they are really about and why so many farmers across the UK have taken the leap to install one.

“I think it is an important topic to cover as it highlights an unusual way of generating renewable energy, specifically in an industry that gets a bad press for their contribution towards a more sustainable future.”

 

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Kermack’s image from exploring different coastal towns in Scotland (Credit: Magnus Kermack)

MAGNUS KERMACK – 22 – ABERDEEN

“Fair Isle, located between Shetland and Orkney, is home to 55 people, but it was only in September that they got access to round the clock power.

“I travelled to Britain’s most remote inhabited island to try to find out the impact this new source of clean energy has had.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kendrick Lamar, Drake and Lady Gaga lead 2019 Grammy nominations

 

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Kendrick Lamar received eight nominations. (Credit: Batiste Safont)

Some of the biggest names in music will be gathering in Los Angeles on Sunday, February 10th for the 61st Grammy Awards.

The annual ceremony will see the last year’s chart toppers come together over 80 different categories including record of the year, album of the year, best new artist and best rock album.

Hip-hop artist Kendrick Lamar has had a big year and leads the pack with eight nominations, including the coveted album of the year award.

He is closely followed by Drake who had a successful year with his album, Scorpions, and received seven nominations.

Lady Gaga is also expected to win big for the song Shallow from last year’s movie hit A Star is Born.

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This year’s show will be hosted by singer Alicia Keys and will feature performances from previous Grammy winners Lady Gaga and Mark Ronson, as well as nominees Travis Scott, Due Lipa and Shawn Mendes.

Former Lifetime Achievement award winner Diana Ross will also be taking to the stage to perform some of her greatest hits.

The lineup has been announced following news that nominees Drake, Kendrick Lamar and Childish Gambino all turned down the invitation to perform at the awards.

The awards will take place at the Staples Centre in Los Angeles on Sunday, February 10th. The show will not be televised in the UK but British music enthusiasts will be able to watch the ceremony on Monday, February 11th at 1am on CBS.

Rare pieces displayed at Mary Queen of Scot’s exhibition

 

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The exhibition has a copy of the 2019 movie script. (Credit: Daisy Smith)

Rare treasures are being displayed for two days only at a Mary Queen of Scot’s exhibition in Edinburgh.

The exhibition showcases pieces from throughout the ages from childhood letters, to copies of movie scripts, including that of the 2019 release starring Saoirse Ronan.

The film has catapulted Mary Queen of Scot’s back into popularity since its release into cinemas.

Visitors will be able to cast their eyes on Mary’s Great Seal, a childhood book and engravings of her execution.

The display will run today and tomorrow at the National Library marking the anniversary of her execution on February 8, 1587.

Dr Annette Hagen, curator at the National Museum, said of the exhibition:

“One of the highlights is the sequence of engravings we have of her execution because today is the actual anniversary of the execution.

“The big thing about today is that we are showing them in one place and people can come and get some interpretation from them. The rarest pieces are obviously the unique items and that is the letters.

“We have a letter she wrote at the age of 11 to her mother Mary of Guise and we are showing the very last letter she wrote six hours before her beheading her brother in northern France.”

An array of historic sites from across the country with links to Mary Queen of Scots will be showcased in a tourism campaign following the popularity of the 2019 film.

An interactive map has been created featuring 19 different locations which were either visited by Mary, or by the moviemakers. This includes her birthplace of Linlithgow and Holyrood House, where she lived in the 1560s.

The exhibition is free to the public and is open today and Saturday, February 9th at the National Museum of Scotland from 10 am until 4 pm.

The BRIT Awards: A brief history and a look at 2019’s nominees

The 2019 BRIT Awards are set to take place on Wednesday 20th February. The BRIT Awards, run by the British Phonographic Industry, have taken place every February since the second awards ceremony in 1982.

The first BRIT Awards Ceremony took place in 1977 to mark Queen Elizabeth II’s Silver Jubilee and covered the previous 25 years of music.

In the run-up to the biggest annual pop music awards in the UK, here’s a look at the most notable BRIT Awards moments over the years:

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This year’s events kick off next week as some of the nominees are set to perform in small venues as part of BRITs week in partnership with War Child.

Since 2014, The BRITs have become a bigger event, consisting of a number of concerts in the run-up to the awards ceremony.

BRITs Week 2019 starts on Monday. The week-long event will give fans the opportunity to see some of the biggest names in music in intimate venues across London in order to raise money for War Child. Last year, the BRITs Week shows raised around £650,000 for children whose lives have been torn apart by war.

The year’s BRITs Week bill includes chart-toppers The 1975, Bristol rock band IDLES, Critic’s Choice 2018 nominee Mabel.

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This years BRITs Week Line Up (Credit: www.brits.co.uk)

BRIT AWARDS (4)This year’s prestigious Critic’s Choice Award goes to indie-rocker Sam Fender. The Geordie singer-songwriter has charmed the nation with his powerful social justice anthems this year. Sam is the first nominee to receive this year’s BRIT Award, designed by Sir David Adjaye OBE.

 

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I'm truly humbled to win the BRITS critics choice award, being nominated was already crazy enough never mind winning. I want to say a few thank yous, firstly to everyone that voted for me, I'm gobsmacked. To my manager and brother Owain for taking a punt on an 18 year old kid who screwed school up and had no direction. How the hell you saw this in me back then still baffles me. To my band for your relentless work ethic, we've played literally hundreds of shows this year, we've worked bloody hard and we're gonna work even harder next year. Lastly, and most importantly, to my fans, I've met a lot of you over the course of this mental year, and I have to say it has truly been an honour to get up and play night after night to such a wonderful collective of people. Here's to next year! ❤️

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BRIT Award nominees are selected and voted for by music industry professionals, but the public have a say on who walks away with the British Artist Video award and British Breakthrough Act.

Voting is open for another week for both British Artist Video of the Year and British Breakthrough Act here.

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A look at this years BRIT Award nominees. (Credit: Tumblr)

Another Country exhibition: a topical subject meets remarkable artwork

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The installation by Toby Peterson at Another Country. (Credit: Rachel Lee)

 

“You come in and it’s quite confrontational. It blocks off a large part of the gallery and on a very literal physical level acts as a barrier,” says artist and curator Euan Gray. “But it’s permeable, he left spaces – as if no borders or barrier is impossible to get through.”

Euan is describing the luminescent orange, capacious fence that is powerfully situated as the exhibition’s centrepiece. The towering instalment is startling yet not distressing. The artist behind it, Toby Paterson, has purposely used ‘safety’ orange. This particular shade of orange stimulates images of life jackets and rescue boats – much like those an immigrant may encounter on their journey.

Contemporary immigration to Scotland, integration and identity are the topics that this exhibition, Another Country, explores through the work of 11 artists. Euan has collaboratively curated the exhibition alongside Alberta Whittle, which is currently displayed at Edinburgh’s City Art Centre.

Each piece in the exhibition is thought-provoking and visually arresting without having to resort to shockingly pervasive imagery. The artists – all of who are either living in Scotland or were born here – address a period of cultural movement or geographical and political unrest through various mediums.

“We’re trying to look at migration from as many different angles as possible,” says Euan. And this is undoubtedly apparent.

Julie Roberts offers a historical reflection of migration with her stained glass like oil painting series on the migration of 10,000 Jewish children in 1938, known as the Kindertransport. Euan refers to it as a ‘positive forced migration’ as the operation rescued the children from the clutches of the Nazis and allowed them to start a new life. Julie perfectly captures the sense of tentative excitement and a new beginning.

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Julie Robert’s oil paintings. (Credit: Rachel Lee)

More up to date, The Brexit Beast is a reaction piece by Andrew Gilbert especially made for this exhibition. The Scottish artist’s grotesquely caricatured Loch Ness monster-like creature sits on the banks overlooking a sea of boats overturned and flailing people drowning. At the enormous monster’s claws, there is a swarm of soldiers, a burning Grenfell Tower and traffic lights. A spiked, menacing medieval morning star weapon and a defiant, waving Union Jack makes up the Brexit beast’s two-pronged tail. Observing the sketch provokes a wry smile before a sense of foreboding reality sets in.

“I’m not wanting to change anybody’s views,” says Euan. “If they just think about migration, then we’ve achieved something. I think it’s important that people just consider both sides of the argument.”

“I just think it’s a very, very important topic that’s only going to get more significant and more heated in the future because of all the tensions that are in the world at the moment.”

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Inside the Another Country exhibition. (Credit: Rachel Lee)

The exhibition took three years of planning after the idea was sparked from Euan visiting Canada and the USA. While there, realised that over 25 million people claim Scottish heritage yet the Scots cultural identity remains prominent. Another Country has previously toured a university in Minnesota and galleries in England.

During these years Euan worked on his own magnum opus for the exhibition. His standout piece is the most interactive of the exhibition, which boasts an extensive variety of art forms including sculpture, photography and film.

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Artist Euan Gray beside his work. (Photo Credit: Rachel Lee)

Although his roots are in painting, he challenged himself to design a functioning pinball machine called ‘The Immigration Game’. The picture etched on the retro machine’s backboard is of a life-jacketed immigrant clutching a young boy in his arms, reminiscent of the images commonly splashed across the front pages of newspapers. The nod to the media is deliberate.

“The game is made to be played for three minutes, which is the average time people spend reading the news.” Euan explained, “I saw the parallel between the entertainment side of playing the game and the media’s involvement with migration from the side of trying to get ratings.”

Inspired by the UKIP poster used in the run-up to Brexit, the motherboard of the machine is a sea filled with the boats full of immigrants.

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The pinball machine’s promotional poster, a painting by Euan. (Credit: Rachel Lee)

“So it was called the Immigration Game as it’s obviously a very ironic title because it’s not a game for the people trying to cross Europe in boats. We’ll play this game, we walk off and forget about it.”

A visitor is unlikely to forget this exhibition, however. Euan says the aim of the exhibition was to open a political dialogue with the audience by being playfully interactive and inclusive, which it certainly has achieved.

You can visit the free exhibition at the City Art Centre before it comes to a close on Sunday the March 17th, a mere 11 days before the UK is scheduled to leave the European Union.

There is a workshop Saturday the February 9th, titled The Legacy of Colonialism that is led by the Another Country team. The workshop will run 10 am – 4 pm at the gallery.

Find out more about the gallery, exhibition and workshop here.

Queer Artists’ Exhibition

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The Queer Arts Collective Exhibition launched this Tuesday. Queer artists have contributed through several different mediums to celebrate the Queerness of art and lives.

In light of LGBT History month, the newly founded Queer Arts Collective and the LGBT+ Liberation Officer at the student association of the University of Edinburgh have come together for this month-long celebration of queer culture.

Natasha Ion, the LGBT+ Liberation Officer, and Fiona Grey, Co-founder of the Queer Arts Collective, put together an opening night party for their exhibition, that aims not only to promote queer art but also to establish a queer arts collective, as they are looking for further engagement in Queer arts exhibitions and performances.

“This exhibition is really to establish ourselves as a collective, so it’s about promoting queer art and artists,” Natasha says.

“We feel like the event fit well into LGBT History Month. What I think is really nice about this is that it’s a really positive exhibition, and really all about celebrating queer life and queer arts, focusing on that side of the LGBT+ community.”

Almost 20 artists contributed pieces to the exhibition and all the artists that contributed were or were assumed to be queer.

“We didn’t make it explicit saying that you absolutely had to be queer to exhibit to us, but it’s done with the assumption that queer artists submit pieces.”

Fiona Grey explains how the exhibition was without any overhead budget, and that it was a group effort of people coming together more than anything.

“It’s more like a thing where I brought some nails and some blue-tack, and I already had a hammer, and the ECA provided us with a white wall to hang things up on,” Fiona explains.

All the white wall pieces will be up for viewing in ECA until February 15th.

On opening night, the show included spoken word, music, performance art and animation. The organisers are ‘chuffed’ with the results and number of contributions to the exhibition.

“We’ve had a whole bunch of artists contribute and we’re really happy to have the event tonight because we only have a certain amount of wall space,” Natasha continues.

“Having the event means we can also include music, spoken word, performance art and animation, whereas all the other contributions have to be flat.”

UncoverED: Exhibition showcases global alumni in Edinburgh

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Some of the student researchers who helped with the project. (Photo credit: Daisy Smith)

Students from the University of Edinburgh are shining a light on former graduates whose stories have been untold… until now.

For over 150 years students from Africa, Asia, the Caribbean and the Americas have come to Scotland’s capital to study, however many have done so unrecognised for their work and achievements.

From William Fergusson, the first known black student at the University of Edinburgh to Kadambini Ganguly, one of the earliest female physicians from South Asia, the university has played a part in educating many world-leading figures.

The exhibition also features an array of doctors, writers, scientists, artists and more.

A group of student researchers, led by PhD candidates Henry Mitchell and Tom Cunningham, started the project last September and have spent hours reading through old student newspapers, reading biographies and talking to families of the alumni to create a database of successful former students.

Henry Mitchell who led the project said:

“Edinburgh has got this really long and diverse history which hasn’t really been looked at and it has got world thinkers who came to Edinburgh who haven’t been recognised.

“These are people who are famous and are recognised elsewhere, and a lot are in history books but haven’t been recognised in Edinburgh’s history.

“We  went through the archives of the Student which is this really old newspaper. So that starts in 1886 and goes up to the 1980’s. So we read 100 years of the student newspaper in a week.  It’s been really good collaborative research.”

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The exhibition will run from February 1, until June at the University of Edinburgh. (Photo credit: Daisy Smith)

There are two phases of the exhibition. The first, and current, features students from the 1940’s to the 1980’s, and will run until mid-April. The second phase will showcase students from the period between 1800 and 1940, which will run from mid-April until June.

During the research, the team found out more than just the careers of these people but also the lives they lived while in Edinburgh and the experiences they had. They found out what nights out were like, where they lived, what student fees they paid and more.

During the project, the team also found that many of the students did not complete their full degree due to a variety of factors.

Hannah McGurk, a second year German and English student, was part of the research team. She said:

“We found people who are really, really famous in their home countries  that the university just doesn’t really recognise.

“For me, Edinburgh is not a very diverse place and the university does not have a very diverse curriculum. I study English and we were doing all white male writers so for me this is really a way for me to connect with some of those histories.

“It’s an important exhibition because so many students and staff at the university are just unaware of the history, as well as people who just live in the city.

“People of colour have always been a part of the story of Edinburgh, and they still are. This is a really important way to uncover those histories and talk about it and have those conversations.”

Sir Geoffrey Palmer, Scotland’s first black professor, is featured in the exhibition. Born in Jamaica in 1940, he moved to London with his mother at the age of 14 as part of the Windrush generation. He did his PhD in Grain Science and Technology in Edinburgh in 1964.

Natasha Ruwona, an Intermedia student, was part of the team of researchers and wrote the biography of Sir Palmer. She said:

“I was so excited to be part of the project because it was branded as an imperial and colonial project and I am quite interested in the relationship between Scotland and black people.

“I think they are important to be told, because for people of colour like myself, it’s important to see people went to this university so long ago and compare their experience to ours now and how things have changed.”

The project aims to encourage the University of Edinburgh’s community to reflect on its imperial past and how it played a part in the university’s global status.

The free exhibition opens today, and will run until June at the Chrystal Macmillan Building at the University of Edinburgh.

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