This week’s inspirational quotation comes from Albert Einstein, “If I were not a physicist, I would probably be a musician. I often think in music, I live my daydreams in music. I see my life in terms of music”. This certainly fits well with our aim to let music inspire us and bring wonder into our lives to release us from ‘Conscious thought‘.
I am thrilled to have the opportunity to turn this Lockdown into a positive by using it to discover and share with you, new aspects of music that I have either taken for granted or never fully understood. This week, trustee Alice Harper suggested we investigate the Fugue – what is it and how to fully understand it, finishing with a brilliant and priceless demonstration posted on Youtube by Will Vann (link below)! If you would like a more in-depth explanation, this Classic FM article is for you. If you prefer a short answer, “Fugues are interweaving, flowing lines of music based on a common musical theme. A fugue is built from a short phrase, called the ’subject’ which begins in one part and is then taken up by others. Baroque composers like JS Bach did a lot of it, but fugues are found in music from across history from Beethoven quartets to Shostakovich. Now go to Will Vann’s Fugue Masterclass – Lesson 1 which explains it all in 2 mins flat and is hilarious!!
Well known to Churchill Music Champions, violinist Ruth Rogers is the pinnacle of inspiration and just the person to grab our attention from ‘conscious thought’ this week. For those who are new to these emails, Ruth is leader of the Aquinas Piano Trio and one of the leaders of the London Mozart Players (LMP). This week, I have chosen her talk about Vaughan Williams’ The Lark Ascending. It is particularly poignant as we continue our lockdown. Ruth explains how Vaughan Williams was inspired by a poem by George Meredith – but was it really? Find out by clicking on the link. The LMP did record the full work ‘live’ in Portsmouth Cathedral, but the file is too big to include here as it’s not on YouTube. For those who would like to hear the complete work we recommend Tasmin Little with the BBC Symphony Orchestra conducted by Sir Andrew Davis.
This week’s coffee ‘concertissimo’’ from Peter Hewitt focusses on Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata Op 27 No 2 1st Movement Put the kettle on and indulge! I love his fascinating snippets before his performances.
Apparently Bach is enjoying a popularity surge among the under 35 yr-olds – Hurray! There can be little more thought provoking and uplifting work than Bach’s B Minor Mass. This recording performed by the English Baroque Soloists and the Monteverdi Choir, conducted by Sir John Eliot Gardiner is a ‘must listen’ this week. Here are a few lines cribbed from various eloquent musos!! “Bach composed his Mass in B minor around 1748–49, a year before his death in 1750. Despite its sheer scale and grandeur, Bach didn’t even give the work a name, and exists only as a collection of itinerant manuscripts. When the work is heard in its entirety, the listener comes away with the impression that this is a piece of music the composer had been building up to writing for the whole of his life. The work’s magnificence is evident from the opening bars of the Kyrie, which begins with a mighty five-part setting of the words, followed by a weighty fugue, but the work is as diverse as it is long. The beautiful flighty soprano solo in the Laudamus te, coupled with a violin, is an outpouring of musical religious fervour.”
On a lighter note… Take a look at this wonderful little montage of ‘Quarantine through art’. The creativity that is coming through as a result of this dreaded pandemic is astonishing – kindly sent in to share by a Champion.
Another little bit of incredibly clever fun is the Salut Salon performing the Presto from ‘Summer’ of Vivaldi’s Four seasons – really amazing. Well worth 3 minutes of your time – kindly sent in by another Champion.
Reminder: this week’s streaming by National Theatre Live is Treasure Island. It is available until Thursday when they will be uploading another glorious production for us all. You can also access wonderful operas/ballets streamed into your home by the Royal Opera House and Royal Ballet. Simply click on the link to find out more.
AND Finally, I cannot resist finishing with the poem (below) that Pam Ayres has written ‘Time for us Girls’ on lockdown!
Until next week when already I have a host of good things lined up for you, please keep safe, happy, healthy and at home and if you have time/inclination send me your feedback and/or things that you particularly enjoy. These emails are about joining together through all aspects of music – well poetry is a kind of music – surely!!
Pam Ayres – Time for us Girls
I’m normally a social girl
I love to meet my mates
But lately with the virus here
We can’t go out the gates.
You see, we are the ‘oldies’ now
We need to stay inside
If they haven’t seen us for a while
They’ll think we’ve upped and died.
They’ll never know the things we did
Before we got this old
There wasn’t any Facebook
So not everything was told.
We may seem sweet old ladies
Who would never be uncouth
But we grew up in the 60s –
If you only knew the truth!
There was sex and drugs and rock ‘n roll
The pill and miniskirts
We smoked, we drank, we partied
And were quite outrageous flirts.
Then we settled down, got married
And turned into someone’s mum,
Somebody’s wife, then nana,
Who on earth did we become?
We didn’t mind the change of pace
Because our lives were full
But to bury us before we’re dead
Is like a red rag to a bull!
So here you find me stuck inside
For 4 weeks, maybe more
I finally found myself again
Then I had to close the door!
It didnt really bother me
I’d while away the hour
I’d bake for all the family
But I’ve got no flaming flour!
Now Netflix is just wonderful
I like a gutsy thriller
I’m swooning over Idris
Or some random sexy killer.
At least I’ve got a stash of booze
For when I’m being idle
There’s wine and whiskey, even gin
If I’m feeling suicidal!
So let’s all drink to lockdown
To recovery and health
And hope this awful virus
Doesn’t decimate our wealth.
We’ll all get through the crisis
And be back to join our mates
Just hoping I’m not far too wide
To fit through the flaming gates!