Thursday, 30 June 2011

Penguin Cafe

Last night we went to the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama (RWCMD), for the Penguin Cafe. A few days ago, the RWCMD opened its impressive new extension, which includes the Richard Burton Theatre and the Dora Stoutzker Hall. These are very welcome additional facilities for the students at the college, and for Cardiff’s concert-goers.

The building features a terrace looking out over Bute Park, and a Café Bar that does a range of good-value sandwiches, coffee and teas, and a limited number of special meals on concert nights. Last night they listed three meals on the board, including Swansea mussels, and a goat cheese flan; although we had already eaten. The café is not mentioned on the initial information literature, but from what we saw it looked a good place for a pre-concert meal; though a queue was evident and it was getting a bit crowded (so get there early to check it out).

Penguin Cafe were the first non-orchestral concert to be held in the hall. Arthur Jeffes and his eight fellow musicians are carrying on very much in the spirit of the original Penguin Cafe Orchestra, founded by Arthur’s late father Simon Jeffes. It’s sort of café-jazz classical-chamber folk music with a (post-) modern twist. You’d know it, even if you don’t think you do. Penguin Cafe have made a new album (a matter of life…) and played four tracks from that, seamlessly interspersed with old favourites. Several track titles reference beans. Here’s one of them, played by the original Penguin Cafe Orchestra in 1989:

Tomorrow, Buffalo Bar (that’s a real café in Cardiff)!

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