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Review of 2013: Arts

20 December 2013

MUSICAL anniversaries in 2013 included those of Verdi and Wagner, but it was the Suffolk composer Benjamin Britten who, with his gift for writing music with communities and children in mind, was the most widely celebrated in England on his centenary.

Events and broadcasts were too many to number. His opera Peter Grimes was successfully performed on the beach at Aldeburgh; Billy Budd was featured at Glyndebourne (Proms); there were outings for less-well-known works such as A Boy Was Born (Ex Cathedra, Birmingham, and Proms) and Hymn to St Peter (Three Choirs, Gloucester); and Noyes Fludde (in St Luke's, Battersea, and Britten's home town, Lowestoft).

Other musical revivals noted included Sibelius's Luonnotar and Samuel Coleridge-Taylor's The Song of Hiawatha (Three Choirs); Rubbra's Ode to the Queen and George Lloyd's Requiem (Proms); Rachmaninov's All-Night Vigil (Edinburgh International Festival); Stockhausen's Stimmung (Trinity Laban, South Bank); and Wagner's Parsifal (Royal Opera House). The Tallis Scholars went on their 40th-birthday tour.

There was a 70th-birthday tribute to Philip Moore at the London Festival of Contemporary Church Music. John Tavener's 70th birthday would have been celebrated in January. Before his death this year, his If Ye Love Me and The Death of Ivan Ilyich were both among the works featured in the Manchester International Festival.

Other musical premières included The Little Match Girl Passion by David Lang (I Fagiolini, Shoreditch); Omega and Alpha by Martin Emslie (Wells); Columba Canticles by Laurence Roman (Derry); Passion by Martin Le Poidevin (Clifton RC Cathedral, Bristol); Paul Leddington Wright's Te Deum (Coventry Cathedral); The Rider on the White Horse by Sofia Gubaidulina and Totentanz by Thomas Adès (Proms); Blitz Requiem by David Goode (St Paul's Cathedral); and Voice from the Pulpit by David Owen Norris (York Minster).

Staged musical works included Good Intentions by Julian Philips; The Gospel According to the Other Mary by John Adams (Barbican); and Gregory Rose's Danse Macabre; The Book of Mormon (Parker, Stone, and Lopez); and The Prodigals: A man had two sons (Belgrade Theatre, Coventry).

Other theatre included In the Beginning Was the End (Somerset House); Entertaining Angels by Brendan Murray (tour); Rêve D'Herbert (Compagnie des Quidams, Norwich Cathedral); Pilgrims by Sarah Page; All Saints by Nicola Baldwin (King's Head, Islington); and Way Back (Edinburgh Fringe).

Samuel Beckett's Eh Joe was revived at the Edinburgh International Festival. Spring Awakening by Frank Wedekind was revived by Icarus Theatre Collective; and James Baldwin's The Amen Corner was seen at the National Theatre.

Films reviewed during the year included Hors Satan (Outside Satan); Les Misérables; The Sessions; Mea Maxima Culpa; Do Elephants Pray?; Beyond the Hills; White Elephant; Promised Land; The Reluctant Fundamentalist; The East; Wadjda; My Father and the Man in Black; Pietà ; In the Name Of; Hannah Arendt; The Broken Circle Breakdown; Philomena; The Nun; Waleşa: Man of Hope; The Christmas Candle; Carrie; Black Nativity; and The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.

Among contemporary artists who exhibited this year were Jake Lever (Birmingham Cathedral), Nicola Green (Walker, Liverpool), Macjiej Hoffman (SPACE, Southgate), Edward Armitage Robinson (St Margaret's, Westminster), shortly before his death; Annalies Clarke (St John's, Brighton); Gerry Judah (Wolverhampton); Helaine Blumenfeld (Salisbury Cathedral); Nic Fiddian Green (Sladmore, London); and Peter Eugene Ball (Winchester).

Other notable contemporary exhibitions were "Stewards of the Earth" (Sarum College); "The Last Supper" (Discoed); "Risen!" (Piano Nobile; Monnow Valley Arts); "Odyssey" (Bath Abbey); and "Inspire" (St Peter's, Notting Hill). New commissions in churches included Maz Jackson's The Harling Christ, in Norfolk, and two new windows for Westminster Abbey by Hugh O'Donoghue and Helen Whittaker.

Other exhibitions included "Jordaens and the Antique" (Royal Museum, Brussels); "Akbar: The Great Emperor of India" (Museo Palazzo Sciarra, Rome); Barbara Hepworth's hospital drawings (Wakefield); Murillo (Dulwich); Barocci (National Gallery); Mesrop of Xizan (Sam Fogg); Picasso (Courtauld); "Springtime of the Renaissance" (Palazzo Strozzi, Florence, and Louvre); "The Queen's Coronation" (Buckingham Palace); Chagall (Tate Liverpool); Walpole's collection, temporarily reinstated at Houghton Hall, Norfolk; "Art Under Attack" (iconoclasm) (Tate Britain); Norman Adams (University of Surrey); "The Young Dürer" (Courtauld); Emilio Greco (Estorick Collection); and Patrick Heron's T. S. Eliot studies, and "Elizabeth I and Her People" (National Portrait Gallery, which also mounted a little exhibition of bishops' photos to illustrate the spread of the Anglican Communion).

Constable's Salisbury Cathedral from the Meadows, 1831, was secured for the British public at a price of £323.1 million with tax concessions (Tate Britain).

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