Some reviews

Great Art: Childrens' Opera "Five and IT!"


by Armin Kaumanns; Rheinische Post Nr. 232 - Düsseldorf, 07.10.2013; 

Young soloists inspire at the performance in tanzhaus.
by Armin Kaumanns

...Edith Nesbits 100 year-old fairy-tale is attractive and intelligent, and David Paul Graham has composed a wunderful childrens' opera based on an updated libretto from Jo Willems: for the youth-choir of  his Clara-Schumann Music-School, Theater Kontra-Punkt, a few youthful and adult soloists and a small orchestra with plenty of percussion... 

...For a good hour "Five and IT!" enthralls old and young.
...Fantastc to see how the 30-strong choir can become wall, chair, cupboard, train, wave or dune, even, with torches, a cathedral. Wonderfully comic the five soloist-kids, how they fly with the help of video, stuff themselves to vomit-point with chocolate, or despair after trying to be God. The adults are crazy too: wierd, fanatical, ultra-intellectual scientists.

The music is simply superb, so sparing with its material, that living music-theater is created. Here chirps a simple tin can, there a super-ball squeaks over a drum-skin, now the choir is an underground chord, later they get tied up in strict counterpoint, yes, Graham can be sacred and serious if the situation requires it!


Graham's music-theatre is great art. You only had to see Justine Wanat conducting, to feel the creative energies. Jubilation.


Cadences for Beethoven's piano concerto Nr 3

New directions and Drum Roll. Generalanzeiger Bonn, 27th June 2014, Fritz Herzog


Excitingly frictional but never distracting cadences for all three movements were contributed by the Bonn composer David Graham.


The Girls from Theresienstadt [Fritz Herzog in: neue musikzeitung April/2010, p. 39]:


[...] the British composer David Paul Graham, now living in Bonn, formerly pupil and assistent of Hans Werner Henze, found his way into the material [...] in a musically highly sensitive way and in spite of his moral misgivings.


An „opera about opera" (Neuhoff), which as an interactive youth-opera (the core-team being complemented each time by players from an accompanying school project) becomes an unpretentious „Lehrstück" about human dignity, authoritarianism, solidarity, and about resistance to the misuse of power, quite incidentally demanding a creative discussion about „Art".


David Graham deliberately chooses a moderately modern but still ambitious tone-language, with consideration for the capabilities of thoroughly trained young amateur singers, nonetheless risks besides semitone-dissonances wide intervals and complex rhythmic subtleties, which those giving the first performance mastered with bravura.


The accompaniment, set for an ensemble of piano, cello, accordion and percussion which never forces ist way into the foreground, is characteristically floating, almost uninflected, like a lamento which very carefully supports the sung lines rather than commenting upon their words. Sharp accents appear only occasionally and because of that seem more intense. The powerful effect of this new piece of music-theatre could clearly be read in the faces of both performers and audience.


Opera review (17/8/2009): St Kilda: Island of the Birdmen at the Edinburgh International Festival is opera in a very modern and creative sense. Besides music that fuses the haunting freshness of Gaelic song (stunningly sung by an amplified Alyth McCormack) with an atmospheric contemporary classical underlay, and a fluid staging that tosses the drama into the side boxes and orchestra pit, the interaction of archive and modern film (projected on two giant screens) and swooping acrobats, it is – as the story gradually gathers impact – a beautifully indulgent assault on all the senses.

More reviews in the German section.

Reviews about educational projects

Who will fly to the moon with me? An unusual music-workshop in Alsfeld.

...Now musical amateurs of Alsfeld took paper and pencil themselves, turned detective for fourteen months to find sounds and ways to hold these fast and make them repeatable. They were again assisted in this by two Henze-pupils: David Graham and Stefan Hakenberg took them into the world of composing. Graham adding his experience as "animatore" at the Montepulciano "Cantiere"... ...And the sounds that came out of that had something of all these: lyricism, raw bulk, naivety, neo-classicism, depth. In all the songs it was clear that text and music had been carefully crafted, all showed individual personality, this last brought out well in the dedicated performance with the WNC-Ensemble and Karl Markus. (Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Feuilleton, 7.6.1989)

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