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Review of the Year 2023: Arts

22 December 2023

© Marc Bratcher

Untitled, one of the works by Marc Bratcher in his exhibition “Disability and the Divine”, in Peterborough Cathedral from May to July

Untitled, one of the works by Marc Bratcher in his exhibition “Disability and the Divine”, in Peterborough Cathedral from May to July

THE Coronation was, among other things, an important musical event, generating a cataract of new commissions: Judith Weir’s Brighter Visions Shine Afar; Sir Karl Jenkins’s Tros y Garreg; Sarah Class’s Sacred Fire; Nigel Hess’s, Roderick Williams’s, and Shirley J. Thompson’s Be Thou my Vision — Triptych for Orchestra; Iain Farrington’s Voices of the World; Patrick Doyle’s King Charles III Coronation March; Paul Mealor’s Coronation Kyrie; Debbie Wiseman’s setting of Psalm 47; Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Make a Joyful Noise (Coronation Anthem); Roxanna Panufnik’s Sanctus; and Tarik O’Regan’s Agnus Dei.

Other new music heard during the year in­cluded Jonathan Rath­bone’s A Better World is Possible (St Mary’s, Walthamstow); part of Howard Skempton’s 50 Preludes and Fugues (Passiontide Festival, Merton College, Oxford); and Ronald Corp’s Hail and Farewell (Three Choirs, Gloucester).

Pieces by Byrd and Weelkes were sung at the Coronation, and the 400th anniversaries of their deaths were widely marked. Handel’s oratorio Jephtha was staged at Covent Garden. Other music noted during the year included Cavalli and Rossi (Musica Antiqua Rotherhithe); “Handel the Philanthropist” (Barbican Hall, London); Sebastiani’s Passion (Wigmore Hall); the Grand Mass in E flat by Amy Beach (Central Hall, Coventry) and her Canticle of the Sun (Royal Festival Hall); Vaughan Williams’s The Pilgrim’s Progress (Three Choirs); Heilig ist Gott by C. P. E. Bach, and Dialogues des Carmélites by Francis Poulenc, the Requiem by György Ligeti, and Handel’s Samson (BBC Proms); Karol Szymanowksi’s Stabat Mater and Wagner’s Tannhauser (Edinburgh International Fest­ival); Heinrich Schütz (St Mary’s, Hadleigh, Suffolk Villages Festival); Missa Pater Noster and other works by Ludwig Daser (Tallis Scholars, Cadogan Hall); and Polish sacred music at St Martin-in-the-Fields. Liszt was featured by Thomas Trotter in his anniversary recital in Birmingham as City Organ­ist, and the composer’s Missa Choralis was given in St Paul’s, Hockley. Llandaff Cathedral had a marathon celebra­­tion of a decade of its Nicholson organ.

Among recordings were Parchman Prison Prayer (Glitterbeat Records) and Patrick Hawes’s The Nativity (Signum Classics). The new Lambeth Palace Library displayed musical treasures in its exhibition “Cantate Domino”.

Other exhibitions included “Cezanne” (Tate Modern); “M. K. Čiurlionis”, “Berthe Morisot”, and “Rubens and Women” (Dulwich Picture Gallery); “Sussex Landscapes” and “Gwen John” (Pallant House, Chichester); “Theodoor Rombouts” (Museum of Fine Arts, Ghent); “Spain and the Hispanic World” (RA); “Illustrating the World: Woodcuts in the Age of Dürer” (Holburne Museum, Bath); “Cecco del Caravaggio” (Accademia Carrara, Bergamo, Italy); “Vermeer” (Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam); “Saint Francis of Assisi”, “After Impressionism”, “Frans Hals”, and “Mantegna: The Triumphs of Caesar” (National Gallery); “Those Who Pray” (Sam Fogg); “Constable: The Dark Side” (The Arc, Winchester); “Lavinia Fontana” (National Gallery of Ireland); “Death is Not the End” (Rubin Museum of Art, New York); “The Rossettis” (Tate Britain); “Storytelling: A Life of Christ on Paper” (Barber Institute, Birmingham); “Soutine/Kossoff” (Hast­ings Contemporary); “Mun­nings” (Dedham); “Double Weave” (Ditchling); “Turning Heads: Bruegel, Rubens and Rembrandt” (KMSKA, Ant­werp); and “Andy Warhol” (Hugh Lane, Dublin). The Faith Museum opened in Auckland Castle.

Art in the salerooms included The Trial of Jesus by Ángel Zárraga and Pentecost by the Master of the Baroncelli Portraits (Sotheby’s), and The Passage of the Holy Grail to Sarras by E. R. Frampton and The Last Judgement by Jan Brueghel the Elder (Christie’s).

Among the art occasioned by the Corona­tion, the central place went to Aidan Hart’s anointing screen, worked by the Royal School of Needlework. Other contemporary art seen during the year included Matt Kayem’s Beacon of Hope (Southwark Cathedral); “Made in 2022” (Peterborough Cathedral); works by Zadie Xa (Whitechapel Gallery); “Ikons on Ammunition Boxes” (St John’s, Notting Hill); “Big Women” (Firstsite, Colchester); work by Sonia Boyce (Turner Contemporary, Margate), Steve Jones (St Edmundsbury Cathedral), and Silvy Weatherall (Ely Cathedral); “Rites of Passage” (Gagosian); “Eleven Twenty Three” (St Bartholomew the Great, West Smithfield); “The Art of Faith” (City of London); “Spirit of Fire” (St Michael and All Angels, Kingsland); “Souls Grown Deep Like Rivers” (RA); works by Richard Kenton Webb (Benjamin Rhodes Arts); “Reverend Joyce McDonald” (Maureen Paley); “Celebrating Women in the Bible”, icons by Silvia Dimitrova, which accom­­panied new music by Tristan Latchford for poems by Graham Kings (St Stephen Walbrook); and “Resilience in Clay” (Chichester Cathedral)

There were also “When the Apple Ripens: Peter Howsen at 65” (City Art Centre, Edinburgh); Luke Jerram’s Mars: War & Peace (St John the Baptist’s, Holland Park Road); Identity — We Are All Together by Peter Walker (Liverpool Cathedral); works by Julian Stair (Sainsbury Centre, UEA); The Story Chair by Nick James (Newcastle Cathedral); “Brian Clarke” (Newport Street Gallery); Joana Vasconcelos’s Wedding Cake (Waddesdon Manor); works by Raul Speek (St Davids Cathedral); and “Love is the Meaning” (St Julian’s and other churches in Norwich).

There was new stained glass by Benjamin Finn (Whittlesfield Parish Church), David Griffiths (St Mary’s, Downe), and John Reyntiens (Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford).

Theatre included Medea by Euripides, adapted by Robinson Jeffers (Soho Place); Phaedra by Simon Stone, after Euripides, Seneca, and Racine (National Theatre); The Nottingham Passion by James Pacey (St Mary’s, Nottingham); It is Well with My Soul, a musical by Gareth Hides (Kerygma 180); When Winston went to War with the Wireless by Jack Thorne (Donmar Ware­house); The Crucible by Arthur Miller (Gielgud Theatre); Sit or Kneel by Mimi Nation-Dixon and The Life and Times of Michael K (Edinburgh Fringe); Birthright by T. C. Murray (Finbor­ough Theatre); I, Lord by Nell Hardy (Blooms­bury Theatre); Treason, a musical by Ricky Allen et al. (London Palladium); The Merchant of Venice 1936 (HOME, Manchester), King Lear (Wynd­ham’s), and Taming Who? (Intermission, Arcola Theatre), Shake­spearean productions; and Hamnet, adapted from Maggie O’Farrell by Lolita Chakrabarti (Garrick Theatre).

“Preach!”, a drag-queen gala, was held in St James’s, Piccadilly; and Greenbelt held its 50th-anniversary festival.

Films included The Book of Vision; Holy Spider; Bank of Dave; Women Talking; Broker; Allelujah; Godland; Pray for Our Sinners; Pamfir; The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry; Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret; Master Gardener; Jesus Revolution; Oppenheimer; My Name is Alfred Hitchcock; The Miracle Club; The Exorcist: Believer; Beyond Utopia; Cuthbert: A mystical short film for now; The Mission; Journey to Bethlehem; and a re-release of Buck and the Master.

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