Spring Activities (2020)

2020 – The Year Thus Far

The diary was looking good in January, even better in February, with so much to look forward to:

• Opera to play in included Flying Dutchman and La Boheme;
• a Gala Concert at the Festival Hall, and many other concerts and events.

January’s highlight was playing with an exceptional group of musicians led by Violinist George Mattar. The programme was two Haydn Symphonies: No’s 12 and 49, and Bach’s Oboe and Violin Concerto. Seriously good fun!

Mid-February meant a concert with the London Phoenix Orchestra at St John’s Smith Square and the start of rehearsals for “Flying Dutchman”. Very challenging but clearly going to be fun.

Suddenly, as if from nowhere, Covid-19 arrived and the world suddenly closed down.  March had begun so well but ended with “lockdown”.

Rome and Florence

A long-planned visit to Rome and Florence in April was not to be.  Tickets were bought for the largest exhibition of paintings ever at the Scuderie del Quirinale devoted to Raphael, Great Master of the Renaissance.  Would have been nice.

Portrait of Baldassarre Castiglione 1513, Raphael

Ghent and the Van Eyck Exhibition

Before the planned Rome & Florence trip, I had hoped to visit Ghent. The city was due to celebrate the restoration of Van Eyck’s magnificent altarpiece “The Adoration of the Mystic Lamb” with an exhibition at MSK, Ghent’s Fine art Museum.  In previous visits I had seen some of the restoration work taking place.  Another visit that was not to be.

A Dramatic Transformation

Photos below taken in November 2017 MSK

Years of patient and highly skilled work by restoration experts has revealed so much.

London too had some very fine offerings with an exhibition of all six of Titian’s masterpieces painted for Philip II of Spain.  Again: cancelled but apparently to be extended and open very soon!!

The lockdown led to my commencing instrumental teaching using various online platforms, but for my full-time playing colleagues in orchestras, this has been a complete disaster.

Some Thoughts on On-line Teaching

• It can work, but internet quality varies and this makes for difficulties.
• May yet change the way some of my teaching
is done.
• Zoom, Skype, FaceTime, Teams etc all work
well for speech.
• Some children may make excellent progress,
but others struggle.
• Pupils need Orchestras and Chamber Music in addition to individual tuition.
• It’s not the same as working one to in the
same room.
• Sooner we can get back into schools and
restart, it will be so much better.

Some Conclusions

Writing this at the end of May, halfway through the Summer term that wasn’t, I am hopeful that September will bring a return to some sort of normalcy for teachers and schools. When my full-time playing colleagues can restart work is possibly another question.

For now, we have to live with this Covid-19, hope for a Vaccine and better times.

Another Fantastic Ride

I enjoyed a very good ride today: Out to Horsham with an enjoyable stop off at the new Gin Distillery, just south of Dorking, on the return leg.

Our cycling route in detail …

Spring Activities (2019)

New Year’s Day

This for me was an opportunity to listen to the Vienna Philharmonic performing in the the Musikverein.  A wonderful start to 2019.

New Year 2019

This year’s interval broadcast proved to be particularly interesting as it included a a performance of Mozart’s ‘Marriage of Figaro’ Overture arranged for 4 cellos – brilliant arrangement and superbly played!!  The arrangement is by an American cellist, Douglas B Moore.  Just had to buy a copy.  New Year’s resolution – practice the parts!

Printed Score 01

Winter Activities (2018)

Christmas et al

Two concerts prior to Christmas proved to be great fun.

Monday 4th December

Christmas 2018

The London Phoenix Orchestra performed in the newly restored Wren City Church of St Andrew’s Holborn with a mix of Carols and Christmas Music including Malcolm Arnold’s ‘The Holly and the Ivy’, Glazunov’s ‘The Seasons: Winter’ and that wonderful piece by Leroy-Anderson ‘Christmas Festival’.   The latter was frequently played by the Boston Pops Orchestra and includes ‘Sleigh Ride’.  Great fun, and it all ended rather too quickly.  The restoration of the church is impressive – I just hope they have got the heating working properly now!!

Coming up soon is the London Phoenix Orchestra’s Early Spring Concert on 27th February at St John’s Smith Square.  Full programme details can be found at:  http://www.phoenixorchestra.org/concerts

Monday  10th December

Rowan Preparatory School held it’s  ‘Carols by Candlelight’ service in Holy Trinity Church, Claygate.  I had been invited to perform with the Rowan Singers in the Swedish Carol, ‘Sankta Lucia’.  My friend and colleague, Angus Cunningham, wrote a cello obbligato to the Brownsey/Lanz arrangement for 2 part Choir and Piano.  The church was beautifully lit and decorated, the girls sang beautifully and it made for a very enjoyable day’s work.

Autumn Activities (2018)

Saturday, 6th October

Concert at St Johns URC, New Barnet raising money for repairs to the organ.

Organ Concert Flyer

Tuesday, 30th October

London Phoenix Orchestra at St John’s, Smith Square.

Elgar’s Cockaigne Overture
de Falle  Nights in the Gardens of Spain
Rimsky-Korsakov Scheherezade

Saturday, 10th November

This is looking very exciting with an invitation to play in
The Armed Man’ by Karl Jenkins, subtitled ‘A Mass for Peace’.
It is described as a powerful and compelling account of the descent into, and the terrible consequences of, war.
It was commissioned for the millennium by Britain’s Royal Armouries and dedicated to the victims of the Kosovo crisis. The Benedictus has a solo cello part, high up in the instrument’s register and will give me plenty to work on before the performances on Saturday 10th November!

It’s a very appropriate time to perform this piece as there have been many events throughout 2018 to mark 100 years since the end of World War 1.  Last year, I visited the Passchendaele Museum at Zonneke and was deeply moved.

Remembrance Hand 01

More info at: https://www.passchendaele.be/

Summer Activities (2018)

August 4th to 11th

Escaped the heat of London to greener and cooler climes.

A week in Edinburgh, two rehearsals a day at George Heriot School, bang in the centre of the city and during the International Festival.  Free in the evenings to explore Fringe and other events.  What could be better!!

View of Edinborough Castle from George Heriot School

Some of the really great music played:

Dance Suite
Till Eulenspiegel
Firebird Suite (1945)
Suite of English Folk Dances
Fantasia on Welsh Nursery Tunes
Leonore Overture no 3
Academic Festival Overture
Pelléas et Mélisande symphonie
Symphony no 8
Symphony no 1
Symphony no 3
Symphony no 1

Foster & Partners ‘Quartermile’ development in the south of the city.

Monday, 27th August

Played for a Wedding at Farnham Castle

Helen and Martyn after the ceremony.

Music – Bob Chilcott’s ‘Like A Singing Bird’ for 3 part choir
and keyboard with the cello part specially arranged by
Angus Cunningham.