The Sixteen/Britten Sinfonia review – MacMillan's mysticism misses its mark
In the Portuguese village of Fátima a century ago, three shepherd children claimed to have been told by the Virgin Mary to expect a miracle; months later, a desperately war-weary crowd duly witnessed the sun moving and changing colour. This is the event commemorated by James MacMillan’s The Sun Danced, commissioned by the organisation behind the Shrine of Fátima to mark its centenary and here receiving its first UK performance, conducted with conviction by Harry Christophers. It was paired with MacMillan’s new Symphony No 5, Le grand Inconnu, a substantial, ruminative meditation on the Holy Spirit that premiered at this summer’s Edinburgh festival.
That’s a lot of Catholic mysticism, and these were less easy for the undevout to buy into than some of MacMillan’s other recent choral works. In The Sun Danced, with texts in Portuguese, Latin and English, Mary Bevan was the gleaming soprano soloist voicing the Virgin, often doubled by a single instrument, which gives them an air of certainty; there is no room for doubting these visions. MacMillan uses a stageful of musicians with brilliant sonic imagination one minute, frustratingly prosaic literalism the next – take the evocative breathing effects that open Le grand Inconnu, flattened out five minutes later when the noise of an actual wind machine is added to the full orchestral mix.
The performers – the Britten Sinfonia and the extended choral forces of the Sixteen – were impeccable, in this and the two openers: Arvo Pärt’s Cantus in Memoriam Benjamin Britten, played with throbbing intensity, and Britten’s own Hymn to St Cecilia, sung with pinpoint agility. But the two big works, illustrating rather than interrogating their texts, felt like a step backwards for MacMillan since his powerful 2016 Stabat Mater.
<p>Three brazen thieves removed a motorist's catalytic converter as he watched, banging on the window to try and scare them off.</p><p>But instead of fleeing one of the masked trio just waved what looks like a baseball bat at him as his pal continue their theft.</p><p>The gang are then seen taking the car piece and their jack away before sauntering into their car and driving off.</p><p>The video shows one man under the car while two men keep watch. Each man is well covered making them hard to identify.</p><p>After seeing the thieves removing the car part from his Toyota Prius, the owner knocks on a window from inside his house, but the group doesn't stop.</p><p>Instead, one swings a baseball bat in the air as a threatening warning to the owner to keep his distance. </p><p>The robbery occurred around 10:30pm on Thursday on a driveway in Dartford. </p><p>The owner of the car, Carle De Vries, was shocked by the blatancy of the crime.</p><p>He said: "I cannot believe how brazen they were. I was banging on the window and that still did not deter them."</p><p>He posted the video to Facebook hoping to warn others.</p><p>Catalytic converter thefts have seen a surge in recent years with thieves often targeting hybrid cars which contain a higher concentration of the precious metal palladium.</p><p>It is a shiny white metal in the same group as platinum. The metal has increased in value in recent years, causing the car part to become more susceptible to thievery.</p><p>Currently palladium is worth around £1500 per ounce. While there is only a small amount of this metal in converters, criminals are still able to sell the part for around £200.</p><p>The car part converts harmful pollutants into water vapour, making cars more eco-friendly.</p><p>They are also easy to access, making it a speedy job for thieves.</p><p>Days prior to this crime, Mr De Vries also recorded two men attempting to steal his motorcycle from his driveway, but they were unsuccessful.</p><p>Mr De Vries is now having an after-market catalytic converter placed on his car which will then be locked behind a catalytic converter protector.</p><p>The RAC advises owners to boost home security, choose where to park carefully and add a lock, guard or alarm to their car. They also suggest adding a serial number to the car part to improve the chances of getting it back.</p><p>The police have been made aware of the crime and have been asked for further information</p>
The chief executive of Barclays has been diagnosed with cancer, the bank has said. Coimbatore Sundararajan Venkatakrishnan, known as Venkat within the bank, is to undergo treatment for non-Hodgkin lymphoma in New York. Mr Venkatakrishnan, 56, said in a letter that his condition was curable and that doctors have said his prognosis is "excellent".
A protest against China’s strict “zero-Covid” policies resurfaced in Shanghai on Sunday afternoon despite police clearing away hundreds of demonstrators with force and pepper spray in the morning. Crowds stood and filmed as officers shoved people who had gathered in the street and shouted “We don’t want PCR tests, we want freedom!”, according to a witness. People have been staging protests across China, where street demonstrations are extremely rare, since Friday, but anger and frustration flared over a number of deaths in a fire in an apartment building in Urumqi that the public believe were due to excessive lockdown measures delaying rescue.
Australia's Great Barrier Reef should be listed as a world heritage site that is "in danger", a UN panel recommended on Tuesday, saying the world's biggest coral reef ecosystem was significantly impacted by climate change and warming of oceans. Frequent bleaching events are threatening the reef, including four over the last seven years and the first during a La Nina phenomenon, which typically brings cooler temperatures, this year.Bleaching happens when the water warms too much, causing corals t