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Classical music | The Guardian
Latest classical music news, reviews, comment and analysis from the Guardian
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St John’s Kirk, Perth
John Butt led a choir of just 12 in a vivid performance that was at turns sensual, unflinching and menacing Continue reading...
9 hours ago | |
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Were you paying attention in 2014? See how many of these comings and goings, firsts and lasts, and highs and lows you remember Continue reading...
14 hours ago | |
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In the final in our series, a cappella group the King’s Singers create a special festive playlist for us - from Bach to Bublé, from carols to Crosby.

It’s no secret that Christmas is our favourite time of the year, not just because we get to spend time at home with our friends and families, but also because there’s so much music that we love to perform and to hear. This playlist is a just a snapshot of some of the music that really says Christmas to us. Though we can’t perform all of it ourselves - it’s not all totally suitable for an a cappella sextet - it’s music we’ve all grown up with - whether performing it in chapels and cathedrals or hearing it on the radio. The playlist follows the structure of a typical King’s Singers concert, starting with more classical repertoire and moving forward in time to popular music from the present day. It includes music by many of our favourite artists - some of which we’ve been privileged to sing with in our own pasts - ranging from traditional choral ensembles to current a cappella group and even to full-blown pop stars. We hope you enjoy this playlist as much as we do, and would like to wish you all a very merry Christmas.

David, Tim, Julian, Chris B, Chris G, Johnny – The King’s Singers

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15 hours ago | |
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Get through the festive season with Anne Ferran’s Shadow Land, Australia’s largest short film festival and the cellists who made it big on YouTube

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19 hours ago | |
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Royal Opera House, London
In Katharina Thoma’s production, the acting is rudimentary and there’s nothing subtle in the musical performance, despite the pedigree of the cast

The fashion parade of European directors that seems to pass as artistic policy for Caspar Holten’s regime at Covent Garden reaches a new nadir with the latest production there. Katharina Thoma, who, as Glyndebourne regulars will remember to their cost, was responsible for Strauss’s Ariadne auf Naxos last year, has been recruited to direct the Royal Opera’s new Ballo in Maschera.

That’s using direct in the loosest possible meaning of the word, for very little that can be seen on stage during this depressing evening suggests that the singers have been given the direction they badly need. The acting is rudimentary, sometimes risible, the blocking of the chorus clumsy. Having set her Glyndebourne Ariadne during the second world war, Thoma locates this Ballo somewhere in Europe (the Balkans?) in the period leading up to the outbreak of the first world war, and then opts for the Boston version of the score, which Verdi was forced to sanction when his original, centred on the assassination of Gustav III in Sweden, fell foul of the censors.

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1 day ago | |
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Wigmore Hall, London
The last performance by the much admired early-music vocal group was always going to be an emotional occasion Continue reading...
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Royal Opera House; St Leonard’s church, London
Star names Joseph Calleja and Dmitri Hvorostovsky light up an otherwise underwhelming Un ballo in maschera

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From gloriously messy pop to avant-garde techno and a symphony for eight hands, the Observer’s critics pick some of the releases that didn’t get the acclaim they deserved in 2014

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The director of the choir of King’s College, Cambridge on the annual ritual of their live Christmas Eve broadcast, that last-minute soloist - and a call for new recruits

The sound of a solo treble singing Once in Royal David’s City, opening the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols live from King’s College, Cambridge marks the start of Christmas for millions around the world. The organist and conductor Stephen Cleobury has directed the choir of King’s since 1982.

What happens on Christmas Eve leading up to the live broadcast? It must be a major military operation?

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