Pick of the week: 3 July

Posted on: July 3, 2015 in: Pick of the week

What’s been happening in the arts this week? As part of our latest blog series, Pick of the Week, we’ve picked our favourite stories and most thought-provoking debates we’ve seen and heard in the news this week.


  1. Challenging art or unnecessary controversy? Opposing views on Royal Opera House’s Guillaume Tell

We don’t know about you, but our Twitter feeds this week have been full to the brim of news flashes, articles and opinion pieces on the Royal Opera House’s new production of Guillaume Tell, which caused uproar at its opening night this week. According to the Telegraph, the audience heckled and violently booed a ‘gratuitous and graphic’ sexual assault scene during the Third Act. To say this shocked its audience is an understatement (people are even comparing it to that infamous performance of The Rite of Spring in 1913…) and the opera has even been given a 15 certificate for cinema screening.

Not everyone is in agreement with the opening night’s audience, however… Nigel Farndale thinks that we should actually be applauding the new production because of the way it shocks and surprises its audience. Surely, he says, this is a prime example of good art – something that moves the art form forward and challenges convention.  What do you think? Is the production too shocking and far-removed from the original or great because it looks at the opera in a different way?


  1. Theatre for audiences with profound learning disabilities

We loved reading about the way Frozen Light approaches theatre for audiences with profound and multiple learning disabilities. For them, their main focus is on multi-sensory experiences (smelling, feeling and hearing a set), quality not quantity (small teams of actors who work individually with the audience) and keeping their audience at the centre of their artistic product. What other tips would you have for increasing accessibility to those with disabilities in the arts?


  1. New research shows that playing a musical instrument has a direct impact on the brain

According to recent studies on brain structure of musicians and non-musicians, playing a musical instrument has been shown to improve several brain structures that are involved in coordination, motor ability and visual-spatial awareness, not to mention problem solving, reading memory and inhibition. In other words, there is now direct evidence to show that, if you play an instrument, you are more likely to become Prime Minister than if you don’t. Well, not really…. As one of the key researchers said: ‘music for music’s sake is still important. We wouldn’t want people to study music to make you smarter – do it because you love it’.


What do you think? We’d love to hear your thoughts! Either leave us a comment on this post or connect with us on Twitter @CityLdnSinfonia or Facebook /cityoflondonsinfonia.