Country cousins show how to do it

Private festivals avoid the absurd interpretations of classic operas that shame the subsidised sector. Standpoint magazine, October 2016, p. 71.

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New Parsifal at Bayreuth — a triumph

A vision of Christians, Jews and Muslims living in harmony in the Middle East is the redemptive message of this new production from the opening night of the 2016 festival, Daily Telegraph, 27 July 2016.

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A marvellous lost Hamlet opera, rediscovered

A review of the opening night production of Franco Faccio’s Hamlet at the Bregenz Festival. Daily Telegraph, 21 July 2016.

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The One-Eyed Maths Monster

Leonard Euler became the presiding genius at the Academy of St Petersburg founded by Peter the Great, then in Berlin under Frederick the Great, before returning to St Petersburg under Empress Catherine the Great. Standpoint magazine, July/August 2016, p. 85.

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It wasn’t Pi in the sky after all

This article about young mathematical genius Ramanujan (1887–1920) coincides with the release of  The Man Who Knew Infinity, a new movie about his life. Standpoint magazine, April 2016, p. 70

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Standing the test of spacetime

Einstein’s General Relativity, inspired by a thought experiment, celebrates its centenary this month, Standpoint magazine, November 2015, p. 75.

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Meistersinger, Staatsoper Berlin, review: ‘marvellous’

The new season opened on the twenty-fifth anniversary of Reunification Day with Acts 1 and 2 of Meistersinger, Act 3 following next day. Daily Telegraph, 5 Oct 2015.

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Adriano in Siria, by Pergolesi, Cadogan Hall, review

In this remarkable 1734 opera, soprano Erica Eloff showed marvellous expressiveness and musical embellishments, Daily Telegraph, 17 Sept 2015.

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Glorious Summer

Compares the success of Britain’s privately funded opera festivals, with the ready acceptance of failure at publicly funded Covent Garden, Standpoint magazine, September 2015, p. 6.

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Tristan und Isolde, Bayreuth Festival, review: ‘hugely moving’

Will a Wagnerian triumph keep Bayreuth in the family? Daily Telegraph, 27 July 2015, p. B15

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Fiddler and the proof

A connection between the Yiddish world of Fiddler on the Roof and one of the great quests in modern mathematics. Standpoint Magazine, July/Aug 2015, p. 89.

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The Rise and Fall of Nimrud

The wanton destruction of this once great city in ancient Assyria leaves a hole in history. History Today, June 2015, p. 7.

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Revenge not redemption is message of new Parsifal in Berlin

Wagner’s Parsifal is about redemption and renewal, but this new production by Russian director Dmitri Tcherniakov adds a jarring note — revenge. Telegraph, 29 March 2015.

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The ultimate space explorer

The brilliantly creative Alexander Grothendieck died recently after reshaping mathematics and then withdrawing from society. Standpoint Magazine, Jan/Feb 2015, p. 89

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Music of Resignation

Turbulence, trauma and transformation in the life of composer Richard Strauss. History Today, January 2015, pp. 4, 5.

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The prime numbers have it

New mathematics prizes show the public that the subject is constantly renewing itself with new ideas.  Standpoint Magazine, September 2014, p. 79

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The Fields Medal is the greatest prize in maths

The Fields Medal is awarded every four years, and the 2014 winners are announced today. This is the mathematics equivalent to the Nobel Prize. Daily Telegraph, 13 August 2014, p. 18

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Reconstructing Baroque Opera

This year marks an intriguing step forward in the revival of baroque opera — a realistic performance space in the new candle-lit Sam Wanamaker Theatre. History Today, 1 July 2014

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High pressure

David Haig’s riveting new play Pressure about the weather forecasting for D-Day opened at Chichester and should move to the West End. Standpoint Magazine, July/Aug 2014, p. 14

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Antediluvian Ark

Irving Finkel’s new book The Ark Before Noah:Decoding the Story of the Flood, analyses an ancient cuneiform tablet describing a circular Ark. What was its purpose? Standpoint Magazine, April 2014, p.73

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What is it that makes mathematics beautiful?

A UCL study on brain imaging points to mathematical beauty in the mind of the beholder, and this brief essay gives examples. The Independent, 13 Feb 2014.

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Underrated: Tycho Brahe

Tycho Brahe — the greatest observational astronomer before the advent of the telescope. Standpoint Magazine, Jan/Feb 2014, p. 95.

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Overrated: Claudius Ptolemy

Did the author of Ptolemy’s famous Almagest make his own observations, or make them up? Standpoint Magazine, Jan/Feb 2014, p.94.

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Wagner: A Long-Running Cycle of Triumph and Despair

A brief history of the Bayreuth Festival, and discussion of the new 2013 Ring production for Wagner’s bicentenary, History Today, December 2013, pp.3,4

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Donizetti’s Three Queens at Welsh National Opera

A review of Anna Bolena, Maria Stuarda, and Roberto Devereux in new productions at the WNO, New Statesman, 1–7 November 2013, pp.58,59.

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One Ring to rule them all

Compares four Wagner Rings from this bicentenary year: concert performances at the BBC Proms, and staged performances at Longborough Festival Opera, Staatsoper Berlin, and Bayreuth. New Statesman 4–10 October 2013, pp.52,53.

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Wotan’s trolley

In Berlin to review Wagner’s Ring, my request to pay for a shopping trolley was refused. Can the Eurozone survive even stronger differences, and does the Ring hold a warning for us? Standpoint Magazine, May 2013, p. 12.

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Wagner’s Ring, Staatsoper Berlin, review

After tenor Lance Ryan failed to turn up for Act 1 of Siegfried, the hero of this performance of Wagner’s Ring cycle was conductor Daniel Barenboim, Daily Telegraph, 12 April 2013.

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The genius who beat Einstein to it

An essay on Henri Poincaré, inspired by Jeremy Gray’s new scientific biography, Standpoint Magazine, March 2013, p. 75.

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The Puzzle of Proto-Elamite

Describes new efforts at the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford to decode the world’s oldest undeciphered language, History Today, January 2013, p. 6.

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The Olympian and his Thunderbolt

A review of Ray Monk’s new biography of Robert Oppenheimer, Standpoint Magazine, December 2012, p. 67.

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It’s not elementary, my dear Watson

Compares the ancient belief in four elements to the modern belief in four elementary forces, Standpoint Magazine, October 2012, p. 68.

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Flying Dutchman, Bayreuth Festival, review

In this new production at the 2012 Bayreuth Festival, conductor Christian Thielemann gave the music of the Flying Dutchman huge excitement. Daily Telegraph, 27 July 2012

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Accelerating the debate on motion

Compares Einstein’s depth of thought with the lower level sophistication in modern finance, Standpoint Magazine, July/August 2012, p. 83.

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Eurodämmerung

As the Eurozone countries wrestle with the fate of the single currency, we examine parallels in Wagner’s Ring cycle. History Today, July 2012, p. 5.

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A light shining from Babylon

Compares the search for the Higgs boson to the Babylonian discovery of how to predict eclipses, Standpoint Magazine, May 2012, p 72.

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Perishing Publishers

Describes publication practices in academia, and mathematicians’ recent boycott of Elsevier, Standpoint Magazine, April 2012, p. 11.

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The Mathematician’s Tale

In The New Millennium Tales by Kevin Lavery and Reg Starkey, November 2011.

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Removing The Neutrino Anomaly

Discusses the apparent speed of neutrinos being faster than light, Standpoint Magazine, November 2011, p. 68.

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Euro soap opera

Describes the new Bayreuth production of Tannhäuser in relation to the Euro Crisis, Standpoint Magazine, September 2011, p. 13.

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Tannhäuser, Bayreuth Festival, review

Wagner’s Tannhäuser was greeted by boos on the opening night of this year’s Bayreuth Festival. Daily Telegraph, 27 July 2011.

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The genius of geometry

Places the mystery of Euclid’s life in a modern context, Standpoint Magazine, July/August 2011, p. 83.

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Lighting Design for Ballet

Essay in Focus, The Journal for the Association of Lighting Designers, April/May 2011, p. 28–32.

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University Challenged

On the stifling bureaucracy in universities, Standpoint Magazine, January/February 2011, p. 12.

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Die Walküre, La Scala, Milan, review

This was opera magic where Daniel Barenboim brought out the full depth and passion of Wagner’s music. Daily Telegraph, 21 December 2010

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On Her Majesty’s Secret Service

Describes the move from war-time code breaking at Bletchley to modern methods of encryption and GCHQ, Standpoint Magazine, September 2010, p. 64.

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Never too Old

Applauds the value of learning ancient Greek, Standpoint Magazine, May 2010, p. 13.

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Maths Class

On the sensible way to teach arithmetic and elementary algebra, Standpoint Magazine, April 2010, p. 13.

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Experts and Axioms

Describes how experts have been wrong in mathematics, and could be wrong on the global warming debate, Standpoint Magazine, January/February 2010, p. 13.

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Unsound Science

Criticises the government’s recent misguided proposal to evaluate the social and economic impact of scientific research, Standpoint Magazine, December 2009, p. 10–11.

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Maths Moves in Mysterious Ways

Describes the ability of mathematics to explain nature’s patterns, and outlines its development from the Greek world to the Arabic world, and later to Europe and America, Standpoint Magazine, October 2009, p. 89.

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Facing the Music

A review of Ronald Harwood’s plays Collaboration and Taking Sides, which deal with music and the Nazis, Standpoint Magazine, June 2009, p. 83.

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Taking research for granted

Suggests better ways to fund scientific creativity in universities, Standpoint Magazine, April 2009, p. 82.

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Ditch the new maths for good old Euclid

On the sad loss of Euclidean geometry as a foundation for logical reasoning, Standpoint Magazine, November 2008, p. 54.

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