“Ocean’s Kingdom” is the fifth classical music album released by Paul McCartney. It is the score to a ballet, also called “Ocean’s Kingdom”, which was choreographed by the Danish ballet dancer, Pater Martins. The music is played by the London Classical Orchestra, conducted by John Wilson.
A chance meeting between Peter Martins and Paul McCartney led to the dancer asking Paul McCartney if he would ever consider writing something for ballet. Because he’s Paul McCartney and he’s always looking to push the boundaries, he agreed. He had some music that he had started for another project, that didn’t work out, so he tailored it for what he thought would make a good ballet. He had no idea what the rules were for ballet so he wrote some music, with dance in mind, that he thought might work. He suggested a story line to Peter Martins, and they developed the choreography together.
The ballet tells a story based in two worlds – the ocean kingdom (good), and the Earth kingdom (bad). The way of life of the underwater people is threatened by people on Earth but two people find love when the two worlds collide.
Paul McCartney said “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 costumes for the ballet were designed by Stella McCartney who said “There’s two sides to it. One side is I’m working with my dad for the first time on a really important project, so you have that emotion – feeling very proud. Then there’s the other side where you think to yourself, ‘I’m working with Paul McCartney’. It’s a funny thing.”
Peter Martins was aware that everybody that attended the ballet would not be there for the ballet, but because Paul McCartney had written the music. In 2018, Peter Martins retired from The New York Ballet, having denied allegations of sexual assault by dancers within the company. No legal action was taken against him.
Predictably, the ballet world was not impressed with an outsider muscling in on their territory. The “California Literary Review” wrote “As Ocean’s Kingdom joins a growing pile of choreographic train wrecks, it seems NYCB is more concerned with ticket sales than artistic integrity. There are certainly many composers and choreographers, young and established, who are doing exciting work, and looking for work. Why not give them, and the audience, a chance?“
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