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Let’s face it, we’re winners

Last week’s guest presenter of the Bank of Scotland Herald Angels, actor Clarke Peters, was one of the performers later that day in a concert that has won its conductor Gunter Schuller the first of this week’s awards.


Peters narrated Copland’s Lincoln Portrait in a concert that teamed the conductor with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra and Scots pianist Steven Osborne and also included Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue in its original scoring for jazz orchestra and Charles Ives’s challenging Fourth Symphony, the performance of which has become a Schuller speciality. Our music critic Michael Tumelty was “completely spellbound, profoundly moved, and deeply affected.”

The International Festival’s substantial dance programme was also recognised with an Angel for Lemi Ponifasio’s MAU company and two programmes of ravishing stage pictures at the Playhouse.

Samoan choreographer Ponifasio and his dancers and associates make unique and distinctive work, blending traditional elements with cutting-edge lighting design and synthesised and vocal music.

These powerful shows from the New Zealand-based company will live in the memory as great experiences of EIF 2010.

On the Fringe, Bear Trap Theatre Company’s Bound, at Zoo Southside, is a multi-disciplinary exploration of life aboard a contemporary fishing trawler that encompasses sea-shanty singing, physical theatre, and inventive staging in a show that appeals directly to the emotions.

In the Forest Fringe programme, Deborah Pearson has revised and updated her personal memoir Like You Were Before, previously seen as a work-in-progress in London and Glasgow.

It has now been staged, after closing time, in the video shop in Marchmont where she worked after moving to Edinburgh from her native Canada in 2005. Appropriately it involves video of her back pages and will make all viewers think about their own lives.

At the Mercure Point Hotel, venue for last year’s intimate theatre piece, Internal, by Belgian company Ontroerend Goed, Dance Base presents Janice Parker’s Private Dancer, another challenging work of one-on-one performances, here with disabled and non-disabled dancers.

A very brief run (until today) of new work by a brave experimental dance-maker wins a Herald Angel for another piece in the Made in Scotland showcase of work.

Variete Velociped are not, like last year’s Angel winners, Zic Zazou, to which they may be distantly related, French. This trio of Swedish eccentrics also play musical instruments of their own devising, but their style is more laconic, relaxed, and hand-knitted. Erik Petersen takes his audience on a journey that stretches credulity, to the accompaniment of a tuned bicycle and wine glasses, beat boxer Svante Drake and the manic vocals of Bengt Johansson. Their show The Butterfly Effect, at Augustines, is Fringe insanity at its best.

A woman who is an ocean of sanity in the choppy seas of Festivals Edinburgh wins this week’s Bank of Scotland Herald Archangel Award. The word “sustained” hardly does justice to her contribution.

She is the doyenne of Fringe press and publicity managers, most closely associated with Assembly, which is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year.

However her sphere of interests extends beyond the Assembly programme to embrace artists like David Leddy, a second-time winner for Sub Rosa last week, and playwrights Henry Adam and DC Jackson.

Loved and respected in equal measure by colleagues and artists alike, and a year-round contributor to the success of the arts in Scotland, Liz Smith has been to many Angels awards with successful clients over the years, and it was their recommendation that she receive her own, overdue, recognition.


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