ArtBeat: Music to feed the soul, Rosemary Jenkinson's new page turner and Liam Neeson gets political
Music to feed the soul, Rosemary Jenkinson's new page turner and Liam Neeson gets political. By Jane Hardy
Classical music provides the perfect Easter soundtrack. As somebody who in her teens listened to Bach’s B Minor Mass full volume from the floor, I enjoy religious music. Or Haydn’s uplifting and big The Creation, presented by the Ulster Orchestra on April 7 at the Ulster Hall, conducted by star musical director Daniele Rustoni. This magnum opus makes us hear light emerging from darkness, starts theatrically and like all good music, feeds the soul. No wonder there’s been a furious reaction to the BBC’s mad decision to cut the BBC Singers, its great professional choir, also the English Arts Council’s swingeing cuts to English National Opera among others. No doubt we’ll be discussing this at the first BBC Radio 3 fan club get together I’ve co-organised in Waterloo.
Spring’s the friskiest season of the four. Ace short story writer and playwright Rosemary Jenkinson has a new book out. Great news, as Love in the Time of Chaos (Arlen House) illustrates Jenkinson’s status, in Caroline Magennis’s perceptive words, as “Belfast’s pleasure laureate”. So these are fairly adult tales from the time of lockdown and the title tale explores the heroine’s “skin hunger” or desperate need for intimacy in the Covid isolation. She realises not only will she have to break lockdown rules – no two metre separation here – but “if I didn’t want to be virtuous, I’d have to go virtual”. Which she does, netting a giant of a guy online with lovely brown eyes. They have their fairly brief, satisfying encounter, after which his wife makes an unscheduled appearance. What’s fascinating is the way Jenkinson shows a woman behaving like men are supposed to, rejecting a relationship in favour of s-e-x. There are also intense tales of relationships in contemporary wartime – it’s a total page turner.
Related in mood, The MAC’s new Keith Singleton show via Tinderbox, Something Different, looks at a carnal relationship and the awkward moments. Catch the humour of embarrassment from Tuesday March 21 until Saturday March 25.
Liam Neeson, patron of the Lyric Theatre, has been getting political. Why not, when the political classes seem not to be actually doing their job. He has said that he thinks a united Ireland will emerge in his lifetime but “everyone has to be appeased”. Let’s hope he attends the Lyric’s play Agreement (March 29 to April 22), Owen McCafferty’s take on the build-up to the Good Friday Agreement. Intense, brilliant actor Patrick O’Kane plays David Trimble, in a sense the man who made the most significant journey.
Artist Farhad O’Neill has an intriguing selling show on at An Cultúrlann Bialann until March 31. Titled Automatic Writing, it features beautiful paintings produced while O’Neill listened to music, so rather stream of consciousness and dreamy.