ArtBeat: The Proms, theatre awards, public art and it takes three Chers to turn back time...

Notes and musings from the arts scene as it continues to emerge from lockdown, by Jane Hardy

FINDING THEIR MOJO: Terence Keeley, pictured left, as Mickybo and Michael Condron as Mojo have been nominated for a 'Best Ensemble' award for their performances in the recent revival of Owen McCafferty's Mojo Mickybo at The MAC
Jane Hardy

ACCESS and outreach are buzz words in the arts sector, often used to attract funding. But as the greatest British music festival – the Proms - hits Belfast on July 18, you maybe see the point.

Henry Wood's baby was intended to introduce the masses - that's you and me - to the delights of classical music. Founded in 1895, broadcast on the BBC since 1927, the Proms have been a success ever since.

Wood, chief conductor from the start, said: "I feel I am at last on the threshold of realising my lifetime ambition of truly democratising the message of music..."

We'll get that message via a concert by Scottish chamber group the Hebrides Ensemble in the Waterfront, who play some Messiaen (20th century French composer, religious, big on birdsong), Ravel's sad and beautiful Pavane, plus material by Iannis Xenakis, who used mathematical models to create "alien sounds... of wild beauty".

As the Proms head here, our symphony orchestra, the Ulster Orchestra, travels to the Royal Albert Hall in a musical exchange. They'll bring colour and energy to a tempting programme on August 9, with a bit of Wagner, Strauss's Four Last Songs and a Schumann symphony. Daniele Rustioni conducts.

Although we're not exactly post-Covid, the arts scene is learning to live with it. The Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival ( has returned live and the stars this weekend include Glen Campbell's daughter Ashley Campbell and Altered Images.

There are deserved nominations around town for The Irish Times theatre awards. Mojo Mickybo gets Best Director shout for Lisa May of Bruiser and also Best Ensemble for the brilliant Michael Condron and Terence Keeley. Shaun Blaney gains a nomination for Best Actor for In the Name of the Son from Green Shoot. They should all win, and have something to put in the smallest room.

Excitingly, the people are fighting back against what they regard as bad public art. First, Co Clare had to offload Aidan Harte's Puca after it was rejected by the folk of Ennistymon as "offensive" and "frightening". Well, the massive horse's head was a bit Mafiosi.

This week, Andrew Gray slammed the "green demonic" figure that appeared near a bench in Hillsborough Forest Park where he and his late wife spent happy times.

Cher is coming to the Grand Opera House on May 24 . Well, not the grande dame herself but a musical based on her life. There are three Chers in this, representing different stages in the singer's career, from the duetting with Sonny years to solo success and sartorial boldness.

Angie Best was Cher's personal trainer, holding back time with her maybe when she appeared in that vid on the destroyer. You remember...

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