Ocean's Kingdom • Thursday, September 22, 2011

Classical concertBy Paul McCartney

Some songs from this concert appear on:

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From paulmccartney.com, August 8, 2011:

The new ballet, Ocean’s Kingdom, which will premiere at NYCB’s Fall Gala performance on Thursday, 22nd September 2011, will mark the first time that Paul has written an original orchestral score for dance, and will also feature costumes designed Stella McCartney, who will be designing costumes for the theater for the first time ever.  Ocean’s Kingdom will also feature projections designed by S. Katy Tucker, and lighting designed by Mark Stanley. […]

In making the announcement, Martins said that he and Paul met at the School of American Ballet’s Winter Gala in 2010 and shortly thereafter began discussing the possibility of working together on a ballet.

“Like the rest of my generation, I grew up being a huge fan of the Beatles so I was thrilled to meet him,” said Martins.
“After I got to know him a bit, and knowing of his great love of composing classical music, I asked if he might be interested in doing something for New York City Ballet, and I am ecstatic that he has agreed to write a score for us.”

Paul said: “I am always interested in new directions that I haven’t worked in before. So I became very excited about
the idea. When I got back to England after meeting Peter I started writing music and am now in the very final stages of the orchestral score.” He continued, “What was interesting was writing music that meant something expressively rather than just writing a song. Trying to write something that expressed an emotion – so you have fear, love, anger, sadness to play with and I found that exciting and challenging.”

The 22nd September gala performance will also include a special “See the Music…” presentation featuring NYCB Music Director Fayçal Karoui and the New York City Ballet Orchestra, which will open the evening with a unique exploration of
the Ocean’s Kingdom score.

Following the World Premiere performance, Ocean’s Kingdom will be performed four additional times during the fall (September 24, 25, 27, and 29), and five times during the 2012 winter season (January 19, 21, 24, 27, and 29).

All performances will take place at the David H. Koch Theater, which is located on the Lincoln Center Plaza at Columbus Avenue and 63rd Street. […]

From New York City Ballet:

A hallmark collaboration between Peter Martins and Paul McCartney, Ocean’s Kingdom marked the first time McCartney composed for dance, and Martins’ choreography follows the music’s libretto of a romance between lovers from conflicting kingdoms.

Created for NYCB’s 2011 Fall Gala, the world premiere of Ocean’s Kingdom marked the first time that the legendary musician and songwriter Paul McCartney composed for dance. The costumes were designed by fashion designer Stella McCartney, in her theatrical debut. The ballet also features projections by S. Katy Tucker integrated with lighting designs by Mark Stanley and sets by Perry Silvey.


Ocean’s Kingdom


September 22, 2011, New York City Ballet, David H. Koch Theater

Original Cast

Sara Mearns, Robert Fairchild, Amar Ramasar, Georgina Pazcoguin, Christian Tworzyanski, Daniel Ulbricht, Megan LeCrone, Craig Hall, Savannah Lowery, Emily Kikta, Anthony Huxley, Allen Peiffer, David Prottas


Stella McCartney; Costume Supervision by Marc Happel


Perry Silvey; Video & Projection Design by S. Katy Tucker


Mark Stanley

From For Whom The Bell Tells, November 20, 2011:

It all began at the end of September with the premiere of Paul’s ballet ‘Ocean’s Kingdom’ at the David H. Koch theatre in New York City. I have to confess I’d never actually seen a ballet and always felt it wouldn’t be something that would appeal to me, so I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. I had already heard Paul’s score and was well into it, so I was keen to see what would happen when the curtain went up and the music was matched with the ballet itself.

Once in New York, I arrived with a BBC News Team the day before the show and we headed down to the theatre to see the final preparations. Paul was there along with Peter Martins, sat in the stalls deep in conversation and occasionally pointing at different things on the stage. Then the lights went down and we got to witness a section of the ballet being rehearsed. The stage was empty but first brought to life by some amazing projections before the music started up and the dancing began. I can honestly say I was blown away. Ballet in real life was very different to the experience of watching it on TV. This was quite incredible. It was like watching Olympic athletes. Both I and the journalists with me were transfixed and all sat there with our mouths open when the lights came up just fifteen minutes later!

Afterwards, Paul broke from rehearsals to chat with BBC Arts Editor Will Gompertz about the project. It’s a great interview and you can see it here. The BBC went to town on it and it was broadcast across all their TV news bulletins, Radio 4 Today, online and on BBC’s Newsnight Review show too.

After Paul’s interview, we left him to it as there was still plenty to be done ahead of the big night. Typically, Paul still found some time to lighten the mood amidst all the hard work though. At one point, he ran off in the building’s huge, beautiful foyer and found a piano where he proceeded to entertain all the unsuspecting venue staff who were busy getting the theatre ready for the forthcoming extravaganza. Bet that was a day at work they’ll never forget…

When it came to the end of rehearsals I grabbed Paul for a few words to see how he was feeling ahead of the event. Paul told me, “We’ve done the best we can do, so we can do no more. We’ve put a lot of work into it. I’ll be a bit nervous but that’s a good thing I think.”

When the big day itself arrived, it was a beautiful warm day in the Big Apple and the city seemed to be buzzing with anticipation for the ballet’s premiere. Crowds of media and fans camped outside the theatre waiting for the fun to begin and people had travelled from across the world to be there. As the evening drew in and showtime neared, the excitement was almost tangible. The expansive square in front of the theatre’s entrance was totally packed as the crowds waited to see their hero arrive. To say it was a glamorous evening would be an understatement. One of the on-site PR team told me that even the NYC Ballet Fall Gala doesn’t normally receive quite so much attention! The Lincoln Centre was absolutely the place to be with celebrities including Sarah Jessica Parker, Naomi Watts, Liv Tyler, Steve Buscemi, Anjelica Houston, Alec Baldwin and Jon Bon Jovi joining a packed out crowd for a champagne reception before the show. My favourite memory from this, though, is spotting an immaculately turned out young woman sporting both a beautiful evening dress and a tattoo on her neck of the artwork for Paul’s ‘Ecce Cor Meum’ album. That’s serious dedication!

Of course, as soon as Paul arrived, people from all over the building started making a beeline to the big man. I was with Craig from the Telegraph who had met Paul a couple of weeks previously in his London office and we made our way over to go say hi to Paul and wish him luck for the big moment ahead. Not only was he as laid back as ever, without even a trace of discernible nervousness to him, but he immediately greeted Craig by name without any prompting from me whatsoever. I really don’t know how he does it but he has an incredible gift for names and faces – I think Craig was pretty amazed too. We chatted with Paul for a little while waiting for the crowds to die down so Paul and Nancy could take their seats and the world premiere of Ocean’s Kingdom could begin. It was certainly a performance no one will forget in a hurry.

There was a fantastic atmosphere in the theatre and Paul received a standing ovation after the performance. Everything about the performance was captivating. There was no scenery as such. Everything was done by lighting and projections, it was amazing the effects this created. Stella’s costumes went down brilliantly too. One of the dancers told me later that evening that it was just so cool (and surreal) to be in a ballet written by Paul McCartney whilst wearing Stella McCartney.

Last updated on November 4, 2020

Setlist for the concert




Movement 4 - Moonrise

Written by Paul McCartney

Album Available on Ocean's Kingdom


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