Lindsey Stirling…

Lindsey Stirling is one of the musicians I regularly listen to – she has been briefly featured on Cantabits before. Like The Piano Guys, she makes entertaining YouTube videos of herself performing – indeed, she recently did a video with them. While she is good with a violin and the arrangements she plays are nice, one of her more unusual talents seems to be combining violin playing with substantial dancing and movement – something that requires good balance. Below are two videos featuring her, starting with the one with herself and The Piano Guys. Go to YouTube to see, hear and download more.

Mission Impossible (Piano/Cello/Violin) ft. Lindsey Stirling – ThePianoGuys

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Matilda the Musical…

Recently, I was fortunate enough to see Matilda the Musical, a recently launched West End musical which has received glowing reviews and broken records while winning awards. Tim Minchin, credited with the music and lyrics, has been both featured and mentioned on this blog before and only performed in Cambridge back in November 2010. Naturally, I was expecting Matilda the Musical to be good, but I was still surprised and impressed by it, and think it has the potential to become a long-running classic.

Below, I leave you with a single but representative example. I strongly recommend that you go and see the real thing if you have a chance! Naturally, the soundtrack is available for purchase if you enjoy the songs.

When I Grow Up (Reprise) – Tim Minchin – Matilda the Musical

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey…

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is currently showing at cinemas, and I would recommend it – even if only to see what HFR is like. Personally, I think it’s a significant improvement in the viewing experience – perhaps even more so than 3D. In HFR, the Hobbit looks more like it is really happening in front of you, with people and objects looking more like they do in real life. The downside of this is that, if you’re looking for it, you can see the artificialness of the sets and props much more easily – I didn’t find this a distraction, however, as I spent the majority of the film just watching and enjoying it rather than in a critic’s frame of mind. Overall, the film obviously has significant similarities with The Lord of the Rings trilogy, though sufficient differences to perhaps make it more interesting to those who are reluctant to watch it. For example, as the main characters in the film generally stay together, more can actually happen in the film as many different groups don’t have to be followed at once. Also, being one book spread out over three films, there’s more time for comedy. Martin Freeman and Richard Armitage both handle their leading roles in the film well – the latter previously starred in things such as the BBC’s recent Robin Hood TV series, some of the soundtrack of which was previously featured on this blog. Predictably, the soundtrack of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is good too. It was written, like the soundtrack for The Lord of the Rings, by Howard Shore. Below I leave you with some of my favourite parts.

The Adventure Begins – Howard Shore – The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

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Scooby Doo and The Ninth Gate…

Continuing my highlighting of interesting music that you may not have heard of, there are a couple of individual pieces of music that I felt like highlighting (rather than an entire composer, performer or soundtrack). The first is a nice arrangement of the Scooby Doo theme by MxPx, and the second is the almost inappropriately amusing theme for the character Dean Corso from The Ninth Gate (which itself is a strange but captivating film).

Scooby-Doo, Where Are You? – Composers: David Mook and Ben Raleigh, Arranged and performed by MxPx

Corso – The Ninth Gate – Wojciech Kilar

Website of the month, January 2013…

The website of the month for January 2013 is Emigration Isle, a website that documents and illustrates periods of Irish emigration over the past two centuries. As well as being a well-put-together website, there is much enlightening information such breakdowns of numbers of emigrants per province for different waves of emigration. The website also places a heavy emphasis on case studies, allowing visitors to get a better understanding of the reasons behind the emigration.

I leave you with a related song, written from the perspective of someone who now resides in California but is thinking about their home in Spancil Hill, Co. Clare.

Spancil Hill – Composer: Michael Considine, Arranged and performed by The Dubliners