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 …