IT WAS Shakespeare’s year. He was the focus of exhibitions, conferences, and countless performances in 2016, to mark the 400th anniversary of his death. Rowan Williams’s play about Shakespeare, Shakeshaft, was staged in Swansea.
Other dramatic productions included the York Mystery Plays, returning to York Minster itself; Hand to God (Vaudeville, London); Lucy McCormick’s Triple Threat, Lucy Grace’s Lucy, Lucy and Lucy Barfield, and Rachel Partington’s Still Here (Edinburgh Festival); I Love You Mum and I Promise I Won’t Die (Croydon); Love Me to Death (Intermission, St Saviour’s, Walton Street, London); John Wolfson’s The Inn at Lydda (Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, London); Melvyn Bragg’s King Lear in New York (Norwich Cathedral); and C. S. Lewis’s The Screwtape Letters, adapted for stage by Max McLean (Park Theatre, London).
Opera included the staging of J. S. Bach’s St Matthew Passion in Manchester by Streetwise Opera; and Iain Bell’s In Parenthesis (Royal Opera House, Covent Garden). A massive spectacle, Kynren, was staged at Auckland Castle, whose benefactor, Jonathan Ruffer, also announced the opening of a centre for the study of Spanish Art in Bishop Auckland.
Films reviewed in the Church Times included Finding Saint Francis, In the Heart of the Sea, At Any Price, Spotlight, Dad’s Army, The Propaganda Game, Mavis!, Hitchcock/Truffaut, Orthodox, Among the Believers, Goodnight Mommy, Risen, Iona, The Club, The Brand New Testament, Son of Saul, Saw the Light, Knight of Cups, Truman, Miracles from Heaven, Cemetery of Splendour, Fire at Sea, Notes on Blindness, Ben-Hur, The Childhood of a Leader, A Quiet Passion, Inferno, Queen of Katwe, The Curious World of Hieronymus Bosch, United States of Love, The Innocents, In Pursuit of Silence, and The Wailing.
DVD releases included the rarely seen 1952 film of Murder in the Cathedral, as well as Alan Clarke at the BBC (including The Hallelujah Handshake), A Month in the Country, Peter Hall’s film of Ronald Blythe’s Akenfield, and Cosmos.
Art exhibitions of interest included “Visions of Paradise: Botticini’s Palmieri Altarpiece”, “Painters’ Paintings”, and “Beyond Caravaggio” at the National Gallery; “Open Treasure” (Durham Cathedral); “Armenia” (Bodleian, Oxford); Giacomo Manzù (Estorick, London); the Bruegel Grisailles (Courtauld), “Out There: Post-war Public Art” (Somerset House), John Piper (Pallant House, Chichester), John Craxton (Salisbury Museum), “Botticelli Reimagined” and “Opus Anglicanum” at the V&A; “Sicily”, “Sunken Cities”, and “French Portrait Drawings” at the British Museum; Evelyn Gibbs (Nottingham Castle and St Martin’s, Bilborough), the “Colour” exhibition of illuminated manuscripts (Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge), Winifred Knights (Dulwich), and “Storms, Wars, and Shipwrecks” (Ashmolean, Oxford). Tate Modern building opened its new extension.
Contemporary art was seen in “The Art of Mary” and Peter Eugene Ball at Southwell Cathedral; Lenten exhibitions such as “Stations of the Cross” (London), “A Derbyshire Passion (Derby Cathedral), and the PassionArt Trail (Manchester); “Unexpected” (Ben Uri Gallery, London); the exhibitions by Sophie Taylor and Sophie Ryder, and “Reflection” at Salisbury Cathedral; work by Michael Sandle (Dadiani, London), Bill Viola (Mary, St Paul’s), Ana Maria Pacheco (Chichester Cathedral), Aowen Jin (Birmingham Cathedral), Alan Everett (St Stephen Walbrook), Peter Burke (Southwark), and Stephen J. Bird (Durham). “The Perceptualist Eye” was at the Well House Gallery, Horndon-on-the-Hill), and Light Masonry by Jason Bruges Studios was installed in York Minster.
Permanent work in churches included a new font in Exeter Cathedral, a Mother and Child by Nicholas Thompson at Guildford Cathedral, and a war-memorial window by Nicholas Mynheer at Southwell Minster.
New music included David Pennant’s The Resurrection, John Joubert’s St Mark Passion, The Durham Hymns (Durham Cathedral), War Passion by Philip Lancaster, “Mary’s Lullaby” by Joshua Pacey (Three Choirs), and James MacMillan’s Stabat Mater (Barbican).
Ronald Corp’s 60th-birthday concert was held in the Royal Festival Hall, London. There were also worthwhile performances of music by Gabrieli (Armonico Consort, Warwick and Malvern), Hummel (Maidstone), Bernard Rose (centenary events), Dvorák (Saint Ludmilla, Hallé, Bridgewater Hall, Manchester), Charles Wood (150th-anniversary concert in St James’s, Sussex Gardens, London), Richard Dawre (St Barnabas’s, Dulwich), Vaughan Williams (Dona Nobis Pacem) and Mahler (Eighth Symphony, both at the Three Choirs), Tippett’s A Child of Our Time (BBC Proms), Malcolm Arnold’s The Song of Simeon (Northampton), and Gustav Holst’s The Cloud Messenger (Tonbridge Philharmonic Society).
Printed church music included a new collection, Carols Ancient and Modern.