Christmas concert with The Lovenotes

Posted on: October 24th, 2023 by mlpEditor

The Lovenotes present a selection of seasonal and Christmas songs, sung acapella, and featuring original arrangements.

From new takes on jazz standards to classical choral pieces, this concert promises to bring festive cheer. Some songs have poetry or spoken word elements, while some are irreverent and funny. There will also be Christmas readings from actor and Lit & Phil member, Malcolm Raeburn.

The Lovenotes are a Manchester group of four women: Faith Watson, Katherine Watson, Jules Gibb and Rose Hodgson. They have been performing together for almost twenty years to an enthusiastic local and national following. Their Christmas concert is something of an institution. And at this special performance for the Lit & Phil, they will be joined by acclaimed blues singer Helen Watson.

Their performances demonstrate a wonderfully diverse combination of harmony singing, with truly innovative 3, 4 and 5 part arrangements of songs. These songs range from jazz to traditional to contemporary, as well as original material written by the members of the group. Their heady combination of tight acapella harmonies blend well with Helen’s soulful improvisation.


Good to know: The performance will be followed by refreshments and mince pies. This is included in the ticket price

Plastic Ocean

Posted on: October 16th, 2023 by mlpEditor

Join us for this online talk, to explore a photographic artist’s response to the worrying state of our oceans today.

Oceans are essential to life on earth. They cover more than 70% of the planet’s surface, regulate the climate, and supply the oxygen we need to survive. But every year, more than 8 million metric tons of plastic enters our oceans, affecting marine environments, biodiversity, over 700 different species, and ultimately human health.

For more than 13 years, artist Mandy Barker has created different series of work to try to engage new audiences with the harmful effects of marine plastic pollution. Captions alongside Mandy’s work detail the ‘ingredients’ of the plastic objects photographed, list brands, or provide descriptions about locations and countries and what was recovered there. The aim is to provide the viewer with a realisation of what exists in our oceans. It is hoped that raising awareness of the scale of plastic pollution that is affecting our oceans, through the passing on of these facts combined with scientific research, will ultimately lead the viewer to want to make change and take action.

Mandy writes:

“Art alone cannot change the world. But by bringing attention to marine plastic pollution in this way, it is hoped my work will help inform, and raise awareness about the overconsumption of plastic and the wider issue of climate change, and in doing so encourage a wider audience to want to do something about it.”

Getting Medieval with Stranger Things

Posted on: October 16th, 2023 by mlpEditor

The hugely popular Netflix series Stranger Things is set in 1980s middle America. The creators, the Duffer Brothers, have atmospherically laced their work with 80s cultural references – including music, film, and fashion. From the jangling guitars of The Smiths, the punk anthems of The Clash, and the heavy metal of Metallica. Iconic 80s films are also referenced – Poltergeist perhaps most provocatively. And the actors’ costumes impeccably reference 80s fashion. These cultural references work together to create a heady trip into the decade that saw American pop culture going global. So, why are we getting medieval?

Well, watch closely and you’ll see that the over-arching theme to the narrative is certainly the Middle Ages. How so? Well, the 80s board game, Dungeons and Dragons, a big inspiration for the series, provides the medieval context. And the troubling presence of the Upside Down, in the form of a world ruled by Evil, as opposed to Light, connects the world of Hawkins, Indiana to thirteenth-century Europe.

In this talk, Dr Cynthia Johnston will discuss the connections between the series and the Medieval world. She will share images from medieval manuscripts including the Hart Collection in Blackburn Museum that link these seeming very different worlds without drawing on the powers of Eleven to do so.

We were left teetering seemingly on the apocalypse at the conclusion of the last series (S4). But now the creators are back in action after the settlement of Writers Guild of America. And we can’t wait to see what happens next!

Fruits of the Earth: Food and Art

Posted on: October 2nd, 2023 by mlpEditor

What do food and art have in common? What reflections can representations of different types of edible goods inspire?

This talk, presented by art historian Sara Riccardi, will focus on food in art, from traditional Dutch still lives, such as those painted by Jan Davidsz. de Heem, to contemporary candy floss installations.

The presence of food in the visual arts across the centuries is very common, and its significance highly varied. Some foods have symbolic meanings, linked to religious or mythological traditions. Some function as status symbols, when found in certain areas at specific times in history. Others can make us reflect on the connection between society and nature and, in contrast, on our modern-day consumerist habits. Sara will explore these themes, starting from examples of artworks that present a link to food, in some way or another.

By looking at food from the angle of its artistic representation, this talk will seek to inspire a new insight into our aesthetic experience of it. You will be encouraged to think about the meaning of food in our lives, and its role in different societies at different times. Sara’s presentation will inspire a new appreciation of one of the most fundamental experiences – that of nourishing our body with what the Earth offers us.

The Human Condition in four dimensions: sculpture at Manchester Art Gallery

Posted on: August 31st, 2023 by mlpEditor

What can we learn about ‘the human condition’ through the artworks in Manchester Art Gallery’s ‘Out of the crate’ exhibition?

The gallery holds an early piece by the modern sculptor, Henry Moore, titled Mother and Child (1925), that will greet us at the start of this tour. This remarkable work seems to contain so much energy within such a restricted space. The emotional bond between mother and child is somehow intensified by the sense of mass and gravity.

Henry Moore said that sculpture was just an interest in shape and form and that anything at all (for example a tree, a cloud or a person) might provide the spark for a creative idea. And it is the extension of this notion that has enabled the frontiers of the genre to expand so that the more contemporary and ground-breaking works in our exhibition can challenge and provoke in the way that they do.

Perhaps it is because sculptures seem to occupy a similar space to ourselves that we find them so imposing. But how much do they reveal of the artists behind them and how well do they illuminate the joy and pain of human existence?

Join volunteer tour guide John Ward in an exploration of some of Manchester Art Gallery’s most thought-provoking sculptures.

Good to know: We will meet in the main entrance of the gallery. The tour will start promptly at 2.00pm, so please arrive in good time.

So, you think it’s easy to be an opera singer?

Posted on: August 29th, 2023 by mlpEditor

Opera is an extraordinary, multi-disciplinary art form. It brings together a variety of talented artists and performers. Orchestra musicians, singers, dancers, designers, scenographers, costume designers and makers collaborate to produce spectacular productions.

With its roots in the many forms of musical theatre practiced for centuries all over the world, opera originated in Italy c.1600. The first drama considered to be an opera was composed by Jacopo Peri in 1597. But the first opera of significance was L’Orfeo, composed by Claudio Monteverdi in 1607.

What does it take to become an opera singer? The writing is interpreted by singers of different ranges: soprano, mezzo soprano, contralto, counter-tenor, tenor, baritone, bass-baritone, bass. Within those terms are further and notable nuances of vocal colour, description and flexibility.

Lynne Dawson, Head of the School of Vocal Studies and Opera at the Royal Northern College of Music, will give an insight into the training needed to prepare singers for this demanding profession. She will also talk about her career singing with orchestras and conductors all over the world.

Conversations through time: Historic and Contemporary Art

Posted on: August 21st, 2023 by mlpEditor

How do Historic and Contemporary Art speak to one another at Manchester Art Gallery?

One of the most exciting things about the display of art at Manchester Art Gallery in 2023 is the cutting-edge contemporary pieces living in the immediate presence of dreamy seventeenth century landscapes, Dutch Golden Age portraits and world-famous Pre-Raphaelite masterpieces. How do these vastly different pieces relate to each other?

Take the example in the illustration here: on the left, a detail from George Stubb’s The Cheetah and a Stag with Two Indian Attendants painted about 1764; on the right, a detail of 14/73 by Jeremy Moon (painted in 1973). The one draws upon the deep well of age-old human experience. The other operates on the very frontiers of the unknown. But are these paintings so very different from one another?

Few subjects divide public opinion in the way that contemporary art does. But we are also reminded that a relentless creative impulse has always driven artists to explore alternative worlds in which they can then provoke, challenge and question. This is equally true of these two very different artists, George Stubbs and Jeremy Moon. Their works will begin the tour.

Earlier this year, novelist and critic Sarah Dunant spoke on Radio 4 of how when “the past is speaking to the present, it can be a rich conversation”. Join gallery Guide John Ward as we put this observation to the test, by taking several different journeys back and forth across the centuries.

Good to know: We will meet in the main entrance of the gallery. The tour will start promptly at 2.00pm, so please arrive in good time.

Great Expectations – at the Royal Exchange Theatre

Posted on: August 3rd, 2023 by mlpEditor

Come along to the Theatre Group’s visit to ‘Great Expectations’ at the Royal Exchange Theatre.

From the Royal Exchange’s website:

This adaptation of a classic by Tanika Gupta is just pure genius. You’ll get to see the familiar Dickens framework, but it comes with a twist.

All my life they looked down on me, always cursing and abusing. But you, you will be different!

Bengal, 1903. Rumours that the British Empire plans to partition Bengal spread and uncertainty is never far away. For one Indian boy destiny is found on the banks of the River Padma before the Goddess Lakshmi. Here a promise is made. Born out of terror or kindness the choice Pipli makes that night will shape his life forever.

Pooja Ghai directs Tanika Gupta’s adaptation of Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations. Pipli moves from his home in Rajshahi to the bustling streets of Calcutta. With an open heart he navigates unforgiving darkness and unsettling friendships in his search for a better future. For Pipli, dharma – the right way of living, is never far away.


Lit & Phil members and friends are invited to book their seats directly with the theatre for the 2.30 pm matinee performance on the 20th September.

There will also be a post-theatre meal at Cote Brasserie in Manchester at 5.30 pm. This will be an opportunity to share our views about the play in a relaxed atmosphere.

Please email the organiser, Joanna Lavelle, via the button above if you would like further information or if you would like to join us.


Good to know: There will be an online pre-event discussion led by Dr Manju Bhavnani before the play on Tuesday 12th September at 6.30 pm via BlueJeans and an online post-event discussion on Tuesday 25th September at 6.30pm. Email the organiser via the button above for signing in details.

If you can’t go to the theatre on September 20th, you can still join in the pre-event discussion on September 12th and/or the post event discussion on September 25th.

Visit to International Anthony Burgess Foundation

Posted on: May 22nd, 2023 by mlpEditor

Anthony Burgess (1917-1993) was quite the polymath! He was a novelist, poet, playwright, linguist, translator and critic. And a talented and prolific composer who wrote over 250 musical works during a compositional career that spanned more than 60 years.

Join us for a tour of the International Anthony Burgess Foundation in Manchester to find out more about his exceptional life and works.

The Foundation’s staff will introduce Burgess’ work and members will have the opportunity to see a selection of objects from the archive – which includes books, music and papers.

The visit will last approximately 2 hours. Tea/coffee will be provided.

Good to know: Places are very limited so book soon to avoid disappointment.


About the International Anthony Burgess Foundation

The Foundation encourages and supports public and scholarly interest in all aspects of the life and work of Anthony Burgess. Based in Manchester city centre, on Cambridge Street, they have an extensive library, archive and study centre containing Burgess’s books, music and papers. There is also a performance venue where new work by writers, artists and musicians is presented.

Established in 2003 by Liana Burgess (1929-2007), the Anthony Burgess Foundation is an independent educational charity which welcomes all individuals and institutions interested in Burgess’s work.


No Pay? No Way! – Theatre Group discussion

Posted on: May 10th, 2023 by mlpEditor

Find out more about the Royal Exchange’s production of ‘No Pay? No Way!’

This Lit & Phil member-led discussion last about 45 minutes and will include opportunities for questions and discussion among the participants.

All are welcome, whether or not you can attend the production at the Royal Exchange.

Good to know: the meeting will be online using Blue Jeans, allowing all users to be seen and to join the discussion.

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