BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra on tour in India


The BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra
Photo: John Wood

The BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra opens a three-city tour of India on Saturday, March 29th, accompanied by composer James MacMillan, violinist Nicola Benedetti and students from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.

In the most ambitious programme of cultural exchange ever undertaken by a British orchestra in India, this tour celebrates the lead-up to the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games, and will also take in performances in New Delhi and Mumbai, as well as workshops with the KM Music Conservatory in Chennai.

It was the ‘Celctic Connections’ festival in Glasgow in January which marked the first event of the cultural exchange between Scotland and India.  Musicians from the KM Music Conservatory, accompanied by Bollywood composer, AR Rahman, joined musicians from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and members of the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, in a performance of music by Mr Rahman – best known for his score for the film Slumdog Millionaire.

The performances by the BBCSSO – conducted by James MacMillan – will take place in Chennai (Madras) on March 29th, in New Delhi on April 2nd, and Mumbai on April 6th.  The works to be performed are Mendelssohn’s Overture The Hebrides, Mozart’s Violin Concerto No 5 – the Turkish – with Nicola Benedetti as soloist, and Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No 4.

Ms Benedetti and James MacMillan will also join the Orchestra in each of these cities for schools concerts and workshops which will be presented by music education specialist, Paul Rissmann.


Violinist Nicola Benedetti
Photo: Simon Fowler

Scottish-born, of Italian heritage, Nicola Benedetti is much in demand with major orchestras and conductors around the world.  She has a strong commitment to music education, and the development of young talent, having already formed associations with schools, music colleges and local authorities.  In 2010 she became Sistema Scotland’s official musical ‘Big Sister’ for the Big Noise project – an initiative partnered with Venezuela’s El Sistema program.

Ms Benedetti has also recently developed her own education and outreach initiative, The Benedetti Sessions – held in City Halls, Glasgow, and at London’s Royal Albert Hall – aimed at giving hundreds of aspiring young string players the opportunity to rehearse, attend and observe masterclasses, and to perform with her.

“This will be my very first trip to India,” she says, “and I am so excited. It’s a highlight of my coming year because as well as playing some wonderful concerts, the orchestra and I will be staying in each of the cities for a few days, giving workshops and getting involved with the local communities. This is an element of music making I have dedicated so much time to and I’m thrilled to be joining other organisations equally serious about exposing this music to all parts of a community, not just to the folk who can afford to attend the concerts.”


James MacMillan
Photo: Hans van der Woerd

James MacMillan’s international career was launched with the premiere of his work The Confession of Isobel Gowdie during the 1990 BBC Proms season.  The pre-eminent Scottish composer of his generation, James MacMillan regularly appears on the international conducting circuit, and his music has been featured extensively at international music festivals since 1993.  He has also received commissions from ensembles such as the London Symphony, the Philadelphia, the Royal Concertgebouw, and Boston Symphony orchestras, and composed for a number of artists, including Mstislav Rostropovich, Vadim Repin and Jean-Yves Thibaudet, as well as for conductors such as Sir Colin Davis, Sir Andrew Davis, Osmo Vänska and Marin Alsop. James MacMillan’s Piano Concerto No 2 was first performed at New York City Ballet, with choreography by Christopher Wheeldon, and he was commissioned to compose a work for the inauguration of the new organ at Walt Disney Hall, with soloist Wayne Marshall, and the Los Angeles Philharmonic conducted by Esa-Pekka Salonen.

The tour to India by the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra is supported by the British Council, an organisation with a mission to use education, the arts and English as tools with which to build enduring international relationships and trust between nations.

BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra

Nicola Benedetti

James MacMillan

Royal Conservatoire of Scotland

British Council

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‘Lion Ark’ scoops five film festival awards


A very angry lion – Colo Colo prior to his rescue

Just over three years ago, the charity Animal Defenders International undertook an ambitious and highly dangerous operation to rescue 25 lions from a number of circuses in Bolivia, where they had been subjected to a life of appalling misery and cruelty.  The entire rescue operation was filmed by the charity, and in October last year, Lion Ark was released onto the film festival circuit.  To date it has won five awards, the most recent of which were secured at the Sedona International Film Festival in Arizona and the Omaha Film Festival in Nebraska.

This incredible story involved a diverse group of people – from Bolivia, Peru, Colombia, Britain and America – all of whom were determined that those who were defying a ban on the use of animals in circuses in Bolivia should not be allowed to get away with flouting the law.


A member of the rescue team gets to work on Bam Bam’s cage

The story of Lion Ark began when an undercover investigation by Animal Defenders International (ADI) revealed the horrifying conditions in which these majestic creatures were being kept – filthy, starving and struggling for survival.  It was as a result of this investigation that animal circuses were banned in Bolivia, but the illegal practice continued nevertheless, in defiance of the law.


A lion cage being hoisted onto a truck at one of the circuses

The team behind the investigation returned to Bolivia, with the aim of tracking down each one of these circuses in order to save every animal.  Lion Ark – combining live action, conversations, interviews and reactions, which took place as events actually unfolded – is an account of the harsh reality of the confrontations, the heartache and incredible risks which the team had to face, not knowing whether they’d succeed in their mission to rescue the lions and transport them to safety in the United States.


San Borja waiting to be loaded onto one of the trucks

Having to contend with furious circus owners – and even more furious lions – the ADI team also faced treacherous journeys, as the trucks loaded with lions had to negotiate perilous mountain passes to transport the animals to an initial place of safety.  Field stations had to be built from scratch – to provide facilities for the lions to be nursed back to health before their onward journey to the US – with rescuers desperately trying to hold together the rusting and collapsing cages which were their only protection from the angry creatures which they contained.


Jan Creamer and Tim Phillips tending to the lions during their flight

Lion Ark was written and co-produced by Jan Creamer, President and co-founder of Animal Defenders International.  Director Tim Phillips describes it as “a film about respect for people and animals … you see the worst of humanity, but also humanity at its best … Lion Ark shows how animal protection is a vital part of the fabric of social justice, where human society draws a line as to what is, and is not, acceptable”.  Actress Jorja Fox – an associate producer of the film – also appears in it.


The lions being unloaded at the airport in Denver

Unquestionably enthralling, Lion Ark also represents a remarkable episode in history.  It’s  a story of bravery, compassion, camaraderie and determination, culminating in a huge operation to airlift these 25 lions to a place of sanctuary in the United States.  It’s also the uplifting story about a poor but proud country which stood up to animal cruelty – its people cheering in the street at the sight of an ageing lion heading to a new home after a lifetime of loneliness.  Most importantly, though, this heroic undertaking has been the catalyst for a change in attitudes to animals across an entire continent.

The 25 rescued lions are now living free, in family prides, in massive natural enclosures at The Wild Animal Sanctuary in Colorado, and at ARK 2000 in California. Their care will be funded by ADI for the rest of their lives.


Bam Bam – free at last


Colo Colo in his new home

Since its release, the film has won the Audience Choice Award at the San Diego Film Festival, Best Documentary Award at the Sun & Sand Film and Music Festival, the Audience Choice Award at the Anchorage Film Festival, Best Environmental Film at the Sedona International Film Festival in Arizona, and the jury prize for Best Documentary Film at the Omaha Film Festival in Nebraska.  Lion Ark was also nominated for Outstanding International Motion Picture at the recdent 45th NAACP Image Awards in Pasadena.

It’s also been shown at the Raindance, Mill Valley, Starz Denver and Virginia film festivals, and the Hawaii, Fort Lauderdale, Irvine and Beloit International film festivals, and a further screening is scheduled for the forthcoming Palm Beach International Film Festival.

The hope now is that, once the film festival season has ended, an international distributor or TV network will snap up this remarkable and inspirational piece of film-making, so that it can be screened to cinema or TV audiences around the globe.


More photographs:


A lioness stares anxiously through the bars of her circus cage


A cage of lionesses before removal from the circus


Jan releases Monteagudo into her new cage at the field station


This beautiful lion cub is now safe


The Lion Ark Trailer can be viewed online at:

Animal Defenders International


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Birmingham Royal Ballet celebrates Britten 100


Birmingham Royal Ballet premieres David Bintley’s ‘The Prince of the Pagodas’ in London
Photo: Courtesy Birmingham Royal Ballet

The celebrations marking the centenary of the birth of Benjamin Britten draw to a close at the end of the 2013-14 season, and one of the closing highlights is the London premiere of David Bintley’s The Prince of the Pagodas by the Birmingham Royal Ballet.  The Prince of the Pagodas was the only full-length ballet score composed by Britten, and Birmingham Royal Ballet’s interpretation – with new choreography by Bintley – is the only complete production to be performed during the year-long, world-wide dedications to one of the greatest composers in 20th century British classical music.

John Cranko was the first choreographer to create a three-act ballet to the score, which was commissioned from Britten, and premiered by the Royal Ballet in 1957.  Kenneth MacMillan subsequently undertook a major reworking of the ballet, placing greater emphasis on its narrative qualities, and his interpretation was premiered by The Royal Ballet in 1989 as part of a gala in celebration of his 60th birthday.


Momoko Hirata – as Princess Belle Sakura – with artists of Birmingham Royal Ballet
Photo: Courtesy Birmingham Royal Ballet

It was in 1979, between these two productions, that Dame Ninette de Valois suggested to David Bintley that he should listen to Britten’s score for The Prince of the Pagodas. “Unfortunately,” says Bintley, “a complete recording of the ballet wasn’t available at the time, but I got hold of the extended highlights, conducted by Britten, and found that I loved Britten’s score.”

Nevertheless, it took more than 30 years for Bintley to complete his recreation, and although he had studied under MacMillan during his training at the Royal Ballet, it was Cranko’s version which he revisited when considering his own interpretation.  “In the original,” Bintley says, “there’s a Beauty and the Beast-type premise where a Princess falls in love with a Salamander, but there really isn’t a struggle towards love; there are very few romantic moments in the action … I thought it was far better to make it a different type of love story. Not a man for a woman, but a sister for a brother, and a father for a son – a love for the family.”


A scene from David Bintley’s ‘The Prince of the Pagodas’
Photo: Courtesy Birmingham Royal Ballet

Bintley’s restructured plot was based on a Japanese fairytale, and inspired by the paintings of Japanese artist Utagawa Kuniyoshi, thus drawing together both British and Japanese cultures in his production.  The ballet was premiered by the National Ballet of Japan in October 2011, and the United Kingdom premiere took place in January of this year at The Lowry in Salford.

The Prince of the Pagodas is the latest in the list of full length ballets choreographed by Bintley, the award-winning Director of Birmingham Royal Ballet, and – since 2010 – Artistic Director of the National Ballet of Japan.  Others include Hobson’s Choice, Edward II, Far from the Madding Crowd, Cinderella and Aladdin.


Design and costumes are by Rae Smith
Photo: Courtesy Birmingham Royal Ballet

The highly imaginative set and costumes for Birmingham Royal Ballet’s production of The Prince of the Pagodas are by award-winning British designer, Rae Smith, whose impressive line-up of designs includes  War Horse for the National Theatre – which won her an Olivier Award in 2008, and an Evening Standard Best Design Award in 2007.  This is her first collaboration with David Bintley.

The Birmingham Royal Ballet is accompanied by the Company’s full-time orchestra, the Royal Ballet Sinfonia, directed by Koen Kessels, and performances of The Prince of the Pagodas take place at the London Coliseum from Wednesday 26th to Saturday 29th March.  Tickets may be bought from, by calling 020 7845 9300, or in person at The London Coliseum, St Martin’s Lane, London, WC2N 4ES.

Benjamin Britten

Birmingham Royal Ballet

Creating Pagodas

David Bintley

John Cranko

Kenneth MacMillan

Rae Smith

National Ballet of Japan

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‘The Sleeping Beauty’ opens The Royal Ballet’s Spring Season


Sarah Lamb as Princess Aurora and Artists of The Royal Ballet
© ROH/Johan Persson

The Royal Ballet opens its Spring Season at the Royal Opera House Covent Garden this week, with a glorious production of the enchanting Tchaikovsky ballet, The Sleeping Beauty.

Produced by Monica Mason (former Director of The Royal Ballet) and Christopher Newton, it features additional choreography by Anthony Dowell, Frederick Ashton and Christopher Wheeldon, with original designs by Oliver Messel, and additional designs by Peter Farmer.


Sarah Lamb as Princess Aurora and Bennet Gartside as the English Prince in Act I of ‘The Sleeping Beauty’
© ROH/Johan Persson

The Sleeping Beauty, which Tchaikovsky completed in 1889, was the second of his three ballets – Swan Lake having been the first, in 1876, and The Nutcracker following in 1892.  The original scenario was conceived by Ivan Vsevolozhsky, then Director of the Imperial Theatres in St Petersburg, and based on Charles Perrault’s La Belle au bois dormant.  The original choreography was by Marius Petipa, Balletmaster at the Imperial Mariinsky Theatre, where the ballet had its premiere in 1890.  Although it wasn’t initially a great success, The Sleeping Beauty has, over time, become one of the most famous and most popular ballets in the classical repertoire.

1-ROH-photo-by-Rob-Moore,-courtesy-of-the-Royal-Opera-House copy

The Royal Opera House Covent Garden as it is today
© Rob Moore

The Sleeping Beauty has a special place in the history of The Royal Ballet and the Royal Opera House. The first production was staged at Covent Garden in 1946 by Ninette de Valois – founder of the Vic-Wells Ballet, which became The Royal Ballet after the granting of a Royal Charter in 1956.  This new full-length performance of The Sleeping Beauty heralded the reopening of  Covent Garden as a theatre following its closure during World War II.  It starred Margot Fonteyn as Princess Aurora and Robert Helpmann as Prince Florimund (and Carabosse), and marked The Royal Ballet’s debut at the Royal Opera House, where it has remained the resident ballet company ever since.

The current production runs from 19th March to 9th April, but for ballet enthusiasts unable to attend a mainstage performance in London – or who live in other countries – the opening performance is being screened live in cinemas around the world on 19th March.  Sarah Lamb dances Aurora and Steven McRae is Florimund.  The Orchestra of the Royal Opera House is conducted by Valery Ovsyanikov.


Sarah Lamb as Princess Aurora
© ROH/Tristram Kenton


Steven McRae as Prince Florimund

To find out more about these screenings, follow this link, where you can enter your location to find the nearest showing.

The Royal Opera House has also made available an online Digital Guide – containing specially selected films, articles and exclusives – to tell you everything you need to know about this production.  It can be downloaded via this link.


The Royal Ballet 

The Royal Opera House

Dame Ninette de Valois

Sir Frederick Ashton 

Sir Anthony Dowell

Christopher Wheeldon

Monica Mason 

Christopher Newton 

Sarah Lamb  

Steven McRae


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Monte-Carlo’s ‘Festival Printemps des Arts’ celebrates 30 years


Monte-Carlo’s Auditorium Rainier III (foreground) which will host a number of the festival’s performances
© Monaco Press Centre Photos

One of Monaco’s most exciting cultural events – Le festival Printemps des Arts de Monte-Carlo – celebrates its 30th anniversary this year.  This month-long festival, which has just opened, presents a superb array of cultural events from the world of art, music, theatre and dance – featuring an impressive line-up of international artists, from the Principality as well as from countries around the globe.

Printemps des Arts is the successor of the Festival International des Arts de Monte-Carlo which was created in 1970, under the Presidency of Princess Grace.  It was the wish of Princess Grace, and that of Prince Rainier III, that this international festival should embrace as much diversity as possible.

In December 1982, following the death of Princess Grace, Princess Caroline (now HRH the Princess of Hanover) was named president of the organising committee of the newly-formed Le festival Printemps des Arts de Monte-Carlo, which Her Royal Highness insisted should reflect a continuation of the spirit of diversity established by its predecessor.  Thus, in addition to the range of art forms represented, cultural films were also introduced into the programmes, and invitations extended to the winners of major international youth competitions, providing not only a platform for some of the greatest artists of today, but presenting a showcase for the stars of tomorrow as well.


Orchestre Philharmonique de Monte-Carlo with Music Director, Gianluigi Gelmetti
© OPMC/Alain Hanel

Highlights of this year’s festival include performances by Orchestre Philharmonique de Monte-Carlo, Orchestre Philharmonique Royal de Liège, Orchestra Sinfonica Nazionale – RAI,  Ensemble Intercontemperain, the Zengö Ensemble from Hungary, French pianist Philippe Bianconi (Director of the American Conservatory of Fontainebleau) and Ensemble Kapsberger.

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Pianist Philippe Bianconi
© Phillippe Bianconi

There’s a programme dedicated to Japanese culture, another to the music of Morocco, and an exhibition of photographs of the Royal Ballet of Cambodia.  In addition, there are lectures by musicologists, and masterclasses in which established artists share their knowledge and passion for instruments such as the saxophone (Carmen Lefrançois), the cello (Anne Gastinel), the harpsichord (Nicolau de Figueiredo) and the piano (François-Frédéric Guy).

As with each year, la Nuit suprenante du Printemps des Arts extends an invitation to discover new worlds of sound in a night of surprises – “one evening, three different worlds and three surprises”.  This presentation includes a performance by dancers of the Academie de Danse Princesse Grace, and by 100 saxophonists drawn from the music conservatories of the region – Monaco, Nice, Antibes, Cannes, Grasse, Menton, Roquebrune Cap-Martin and Vence.

Le festival Printemps des Arts de Monte-Carlo runs from March 14th to April 13th.  For full details of the events please visit the festival website


The magnificent Opéra Monte-Carlo, home of the Salle Garnier
© Monaco Press Centre Photos

This article first appeared in the online French lifestyle magazine Riviera Buzz.


Orchestre Philharmonique de Monte-Carlo

Orchestre Philharmonique Royal de Liège

Orchestra Sinfonica Nazionale – RAI

Ensemble Intercontemporain

Philippe Bianconi


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Martha Graham’s New York City Season


Mariya Dashkina Maddux in Martha Graham’s ‘Appalachian Spring’
© Hibbard Nash Photography

The Martha Graham Dance Company opens its 2014 New York City Season on March 19.  The season features two world premieres, and four Graham masterworks, included in which are the anniversaries of two works which are deeply woven into the Graham legend – the 70th anniversary of Appalachian Spring and the 30th anniversary of The Rite of Spring.

The opening night is a gala performance dedicated to Martha Graham’s Greek connections.  There’s a new one-act production of her 1958 creation, Clytemnestra, arranged by the Company’s Artistic Director, Janet Eilber, with former Graham star, Linda Hodes.  This is followed by a presentation of Panorama, Graham’s dramatic “rallying cry for social activism”, created in 1935.  The gala also features the first of the  premieres – Echo – by Greek choreographer, Andonis Foniadakis, a work inspired by the mythological characters Narcissus and Echo, and set to a commissioned score by French composer and visual artist, Julien Tarride.  A preview can be seen here.


Kerville Jack in Martha Graham’s ‘Clytemnestra’
© Costas

Clytemnestra and Echo will have a second performance on March 21, appearing with the last work which Martha Graham created – Maple Leaf Rag – a colorful and light-hearted tribute to composer Scott Joplin, with costumes by Calvin Klein.  Follow this link to watch a video clip.


Blakeley White-McGuire and Maurizio Nardi in Martha Graham’s ‘Maple Leaf Rag’
© Costas

The two anniversary works – Appalachian Spring and The Rite of Spring – appear in performances on March 20 and 22.  Appalachian Spring – Martha Graham’s “testimony to the simple fineness of the human spirit” – was created in 1944, to a commissioned score from Aaron Copland, for which he received the 1945 Pulitzer Prize for Music.  It portrays the spring celebration of a group of 19th century American pioneers in Pennsylvania, on completion of the building of a farmhouse.  See this fascinating multi-era video clip.


Ben Schultz and Xiaochuan Xie in Martha Graham’s ‘Rite of Spring’
© Hibbard Nash Photography

Martha Graham created her powerful interpretation of The Rite of Spring in 1984, her distinctive style of choreography creating a natural setting for the primitive essences of Stravinsky’s revolutionary 1913 score.  Accompanying these celebratory performances is the world premiere of a work by Spanish choreographer, Nacho Duato, set to the music of  Arsanije Jovanovic and John Talabot.

The Martha Graham Dance Company’s 2014 New York City Season takes place from March 19 to 22 at New York City Center.  Tickets can be purchased through CityTix at 212-581-1212 /

Martha Graham Dance Company

Andonis Foniadakis

Scott Joplin

Aaron Copland

Igor Stravinsky


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MTT and San Francisco Symphony on tour in Europe


Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony
© Bill Swerbenski

Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony embark on an 11-concert, eight-city European tour on 14th March.  Taking in London, Paris, Vienna, Prague, Geneva, Luxembourg, Dortmund and Birmingham, the ensemble will be joined by a group of distinguished guest artists – violinist Julia Fischer, mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke and the St Lawrence String Quartet.

The repertoire to be presented by Tilson Thomas and the Symphony includes a selection from their Grammy Award-winning performances featured on SFS Media, the Symphony’s in-house recording label – Mahler’s Symphony No 3, Beethoven’s Symphony No 7, Berlioz’s Symphonie fantastique and The Alcotts movement from A Concord Symphony by Charles Ives, orchestrated by Henry Brant.


Michael Tilson Thomas, Music Director of the San Francisco Symphony
© Art Streiber

Also included is a work entitled Absolute Jest, by San Francisco Bay Area composer, John Adams, who has a long-standing relationship with the Symphony.  Absolute Jest – which will feature the St Lawrence String Quartet – was commissioned and recorded by MTT and the San Francisco Symphony, and is scheduled for release on CD in 2015.

SLSQ Photo: Marco Borggreve

The St Lawrence String Quartet
© Marco Borggreve

Violinist Julia Fischer will play the Prokofiev Violin Concerto in D major, and Sasha Cooke is the soloist in Mahler’s Symphony No 3, in which the chorus will be performed by local ensembles – the St Paul Boys Choir and Women of the London Symphony Orchestra Chorus;  Maîtrise de Paris children’s chorus and Choeur des femmes de l’Orchestre de Paris;  Pueri cantores of the Luxembourg Conservatory and Choeur symphonique de la Grande Région;  and the Vienna Boys Choir and Women of the Wienersingakademie.


Violinist Julia Fischer

In 2015, Music Director Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony celebrate their 20th season together.  Recognized as one of the most inspiring and successful musical partnerships in the US, it’s also the longest active and most productive artistic partnership of any major American orchestra and its American Music Director.  It’s an association which has produced a number of national and international tours, ambitious media initiatives, and the most comprehensive music education program of any orchestra in the US.

This commitment to music education has resulted in the innovative television, radio, multimedia and website project, Keeping Score;  an award-winning children’s website, SFS Kids;  and Adventures in Music – a nationally acclaimed music education program for San Francisco schools.


Mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke
© Dario Acosta

Another of the enterprising initiatives produced by this partnership is SFS Media, the Symphony’s audio and video recording label, which to date has netted eight Grammy Awards. Launched in 2001, SFS Media reflects Michael Tilson Thomas’ commitment to performing not only core classical works, but to promoting the music of maverick composers as well.

Included in the SFS Media CD catalogue is the seven-time Grammy Award-winning Mahler Recording Project – which includes all Mahler’s symphonies and works for voice, chorus and orchestra –  the SFS Beethoven Collection, and American Mavericks – a series of recordings taken at the hugely successful 2012 American Mavericks Festival .

SFS Media’s video catalogue includes the entire Keeping Score series of television programs – viewed by over six million people since its first broadcast in 2006 – as well as  A Celebration of Leonard Bernstein: Opening Night at Carnegie Hall 2008, and San Francisco Symphony at 100.


Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony will appear at:


Birmingham Symphony Hall on March 14

The Southbank Centre, Royal Festival Hall, London, on March 15 and 16

Salle Pleyel, Paris, on March 17 and 18

Victoria Hall, Geneva, on March 20

Konzerthaus, Dortmund, on March 21

Philharmonie, Luxembourg, on March 23

Smetana Hall, Prague, on March 24

Konzerthaus, Vienna, on March 25 and 26


Michael Tilson Thomas

San Francisco Symphony

Julia Fischer

Sasha Cooke

St Lawrence Quartet

SFS Media

John Adams

Keeping Score

SFS Kids

Adventures in Music

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Les Ballets de Monte-Carlo takes ‘LAC’ on tour


Pas de deux from Jean-Christophe Maillot’s ‘LAC’
© Angela Sterling

This month, Les Ballets de Monte-Carlo – under the Presidency of HRH the Princess of Hanover – sets off on an international tour, taking Jean-Christophe Maillot’s LAC to California, New York, London, Lyon and Paris.

One of the great narrative ballets for which Maillot – the Company’s Director-Choreographer – is internationally renowned, LAC was a resounding success during its premiere season in 2011.  It has  since taken its place in the repertoire of Les Ballets de Monte-Carlo among works which have received worldwide acclaim, and on which the Company has built its reputation.  This repertoire includes Maillot’s interpretation of Roméo et Juliette (1996), Cendrillon (Cinderella) in 1999, La Belle (The Sleeping Beauty) in 2001 and Casse-Noisette et Compagnie (The Nutcracker) in 2013.


Les Ballets de Monte-Carlo in J-CH Maillot’s ‘LAC’
© Angela Sterling

LAC represents Jean-Christophe Maillot’s personal interpretation of Swan Lake.  It emerged from a concept which he’d been nurturing for 10 years, before finally setting it to dance – the result of his collaboration with French author, Jean Rouaud, winner of the 1990 Prix Goncourt, for his novel Fields of Glory.

Maillot’s ballets are best described by the choreographer himself.  LAC “revives the torments of a story with a direct connection to our childhood fears and nightmares – buried experiences which are resurrected and combined against a Machiavellian, family backdrop” – which he has used to present a ballet of contrasts.  Maillot has his Prince “faltering between white and black, good and evil, frankness and eroticism”, raising the question as to whether this “unsophisticated insatiability” is what defines us as humans.


Scene from Les Ballets de Monte-Carlo’s production of Maillot’s ‘LAC’
© Angela Sterling

The ballet is set to Tchaikovsky’s enduringly beautiful score, with additional music by contemporary composer, Bertrand Maillot.  Staging is by visual artist Ernest Pignon Ernest – who has worked with Jean-Christophe Maillot for many years – costume design by Philippe Guillotel, and lighting by Maillot himself, with Samuel Thery.

Described as neither classical nor contemporary in his approach to ballet, Jean-Christophe Maillot draws his inspiration from all aspects of the arts – theatre, dance, visual art and literature.  All are instrumental in his creative process.  He is also known for his entrepreneurial spirit and his commitment to including in the Company’s repertoire works by choreographers with varying styles of creativity.


Jean-Christophe Maillot – Choreographer-Director of Les Ballets de Monte-Carlo
© M L Briane

Les Ballets de Monte-Carlo presents LAC at the Segerstrom Center, Costa Mesa, in California, from 7th to 9th March;  at New York City Center, from 14th to 16th March;  at the London Coliseum, from 9th to 13th April;  at Maison de la Danse in Lyon, from 21st to 25th May;  and at Théâtre National de Chaillot in Paris, from 5th to 13th June.


Les Ballets de Monte-Carlo

Jean-Christophe Maillot 

Prix Goncourt

Segerstrom Center for the Arts

New York City Center 

London Coliseum

Maison de la Danse, Lyon

Théâtre National de Chaillot 


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