Emily Hopper, Harpist
Blog post #1 - April 2016
The six months since I won the bursary competition have been incredibly busy but exhilarating.
I recently made a scary move to St Edmunds for sixth form; whilst still trying to find my feet in a new school I completely threw myself into the extra curricular music activates they had to offer which kept me very busy to say the least. This primarily resulted in me playing in the end of term concerts – the Michaelmas concert, the gala concert and in the carol service – two of which were performed in the cathedral. The carol service was one of the most eerily beautiful things I have experienced, a pitch black cathedral bathed in candlelight and in complete silence whilst a solo chorister sung the first verse of ‘Once in Royal’. Then the whole choir – including me - continued to process around the cathedral for the rest of the hymn. The other concerts were equally successful with diverse repertoire for choir and orchestra.
Other than the concerts I have been involved in many activities in school ranging from classroom activities to small lunch time recitals to performances in chapel. One of my favourite activities was playing for pre-prep (aged around 4 years) who were absolutely adorable! I played with a good friend, and talented trumpet player, Emily Kirsch-Mills as we helped re-enact the story of Billy the fish with fingers through music (I, of course, was Billy the fish with fingers).
Outside of school I have been busy with Kent County Youth Orchestra courses which never fail to come up with thrilling but demanding repertoire. I was lucky enough to play at an International Women’s day event at the Turner Contemporary and in the Spiegeltent during the Canterbury Festival. I have also enjoyed playing with 2014 bursary winner, Sabrina Curwen at a Rotary event and for several wedding ceremonies. The next challenge is planning my silver arts award as part of my role as ambassador which I am really looking forward to seeing come together!
Other than music, aside from school work and AS level performances, I performed in my village’s annual pantomime Ali Din (a twist on Aladdin) in December which was unique as usual – Hoath pantomimes are quite an experience. In March I was also dragged into doing lighting for the junior school production at St Edmunds a week before the performances which was a completely new experience and so extremely daunting but I was blown away by the incredible talent and hard work from all the children and of all the work back stage which was all done by students from the senior school.
Emily Hopper @Turner Contemporary
BLOG POST #2 - 1 July 2016
Emily is working towards a Silver Arts Award. In order to attain this she must attend and review two shows and share her experience. This is the first of her reviews:
Review of Guys and Dolls @ Marlowe Theatre
Guys and Dolls is a charismatic and comical musical with a gripping storyline about a desperate gambler named Nathan Detroit (played by Maxwell Caulfield) who is in need of money for an illegal dice game. To get the money he makes a bet with Sky Masterson (played by Richard Fleeshman) which involves Sky having to court Sarah Brown (played by Anna O’Byrne) who is a mission doll and therefore theoretically immune to falling in love with a man who doesn’t fit her perfect image of a lover. In return for taking her out to dinner he agrees to provide Sarah with 6 ‘sinners’ to save the missionary. Nathan’s 14-year engagement to Miss Adelaide (played by Louise Dearman) makes the plot all the more complicated, as Nathan had promised to her that he had stopped gambling.
The performance, directed by Gordon Greenberg, is dazzling - he has captured every aspect of this musical flawlessly, being a roller coaster of emotions throughout including romance, suspense, heartbreak and humour. Each actor is well suited to their role, effortlessly portraying every element and quirk.
The choreography (by Carlos Acosta and Andrew Write) is sensational with complex, energetic and mesmerising routines brought to life by the dynamic and talented dancers. There is never a dull moment, in fact there is so much going on at one time that you hardly know where to look. The vibrant colours of the costumes and set in the Havana scene provides an electric atmosphere and gives you the feeling of being transported to an entirely new place.
The set design in each and every scene, including the hot box and the mission building, are imaginative and eye catching. They use the whole space to their advantage, using arched tabs to frame the stage creating extra interest, different parts of the tabs are accentuated in different scenes to lend contrasts. The sewer scene provides an exquisite example as to the ingenuity of the set designs, offering superb lighting and a minimal, but effective, set offering a more threatening ambiance.
The production contains well known songs such as ‘sit down you’re rocking the boat’ and ‘luck be a lady’. The vocals throughout the whole performance are exceptional. The famous ‘sit down you’re rocking the boat’ wraps a serious message in a very upbeat and comic performance, it is sung brilliantly with a captivating presentation.
However, it is the cast the makes the whole production. Louise Dearman creates a delightfully enthusiastic and yet foolish character who dotes upon Nathan. Maxwell Caulfield is perfect for the part of Nathan as a desperate gambler and yet eager lover. The chemistry between the whole cast is evident throughout the whole production - they work together as a whole to produce an captivating performance.