Churchill Music

Promoting musical excellence in Somerset since 2007

Music for Lockdown 20

It’s out with the crystal balls to try to predict the immediate future, so living in the present, I am drawn to that great Lebanese philosopher, Khalil Gibran for this month’s ‘food for thought’.  “The appearance of things changes according to the emotions; and thus we see magic and beauty in them, while the magic and beauty are really in ourselves.” How lovely is that!

To get the day off to that flying start, how about a taster from the Live From London Series of the Finale from George Frederic Handel’s Overture to Solomon.  It is sure to send the dust flying or the keyboard clicking. Composed in 1748, it is an English Oratorio and obviously based on the biblical stories of King Solomon.  It is interesting to note that between 1717 and 1719 Handel was Composer in Residence to the Duke of Chandos where he wrote two stage works, Acis and Galatea and Esther.  In 1931 Handel revised Esther and planned a staged performance at the theatre which is thought to be where the Royal Opera House is situated now.  However, the Bishop of London would not permit a drama based on a biblical story to be acted out on stage, so Handel presented Esther in concert form, thus giving birth to the English oratorio and of course Solomon!

Time for the coffee concertissimo with Peter Hewitt.  This time he performs an absolutely fascinating second movement of Beethoven’s Piano sonata Op.31 No. 1 in G, Adagio Grazioso.  I had never heard this particular movement which Peter describes as “a parody of the Italian style of operatic aria – simple but full of embellishment and certainly not something that you would ever associate with Beethoven”.  Well worth clicking the link and of course, the kettle!

The Harp is one of the oldest known instruments and has had a very interesting evolution.  Who better to take us on a journey to discover the ancient and fascinating story of the harp, than Catrin Finch Royal Harpist to HRH The Prince of Wales from 2000 to 2004 in a BBC documentary.  One story I heard was that King Henry VIII wanted to ban harpers [folk harpists] who slung their harps on their backs and travelled around the country entertaining people in hostelries and inns whilst at the same time passing on news – gossip!  ‘Fake News’? There is another story that is said to originate in Munster where there was an edict passed that all vagabonds, (and this specifically included harpers), were to be hung and their instruments destroyed unless they could prove that they were someone’s servant – they were thought to be a cause of unrest and disaffection!  

Whilst writing, I am hugely enjoying Bach’s violin concerto performed as part of the Live From London festival by the Academy of Ancient Music.  It really is superb and great to experience the musicians’ enthusiasm again.

Another concert featured the Swingles – well worth catching up with them – they are as vibrant as ever.  Tomorrow is the turn of Gesualdo 6.  Hurray! The Festival has now sold enough tickets to fill the Royal Albert Hall FIVE times – clearly very popular.

For something completely different we go over to Kent’s Romney Marsh for their ‘JAM on the Marsh’ festival (John Armitage Memorial Trust).  This festival has grown into a significant, broad, multi-arts organisation working with leading lights in the fields of theatre, visual art, photography, poetry and education, with music very much at its core.  This year they brought together some of our favourite musicians – Ruth Rogers with two members of the London Mozart Players, with Owain Park’s enhanced Gesualdo 6 singers to perform a socially distanced concert of music and readings for all affected by Covid 19. This version of The Faure Requiem with readings and poetry by Grahame Davies is very interesting.  Khalil Gibran’s quotation is particularly poignant here.

Now for a bit of fun, a very clever adaptation of Gilbert and Sullivan’s I am the very model of a modern Major-General’ from their Pirate’s of Penzance performed by the Western Australia Symphony Orchestra sung by Guy Noble.  The theme is COVID 19 – very amusing!