Dear Music Lovers everywhere,
‘Mothering Sunday’ or ‘Mothers’ Day is here – terrific excuse for a celebration! “Mother: the most beautiful word on the lips of mankind” Kahlil Gibran. Not to forget grandmothers for which I cannot resist an Italian proverb – “If nothing is going well, call your grandmother”!
Two different celebrations became confused and rolled into one. For Mothering Sunday, the fourth Sunday in Lent, is regarded by most people in Britain today as ‘Mother’s Day’, a celebration which actually started in America and happens there on the second Sunday in May.
The confusion stems from a Philadelphian lady, Anna Jarvis who in 1914, gained official recognition of her wish for a special day to celebrate mothers in 1914. Mother’s Day was the time when red carnations were brought for living mothers and white ones for the dead, and a very popular practice it proved throughout the whole of north America. The confusion started when US servicemen, who were stationed in Britain during the Second World War, mixed up Mother’s Day and Mothering Sunday.
In the UK, the origins and title of Mothering Sunday are something of a mystery. The epistle on this day, which is essentially on of the breaks in Lent, mentions ‘Jerusalem, the mother of us all’. It was also recognised as the Sunday when the devout would visit the Mother church of the parish to proffer gifts and donations. To confuse matters more, it also was once known as Refreshment Day, recalling Christ’s feeding of the five-thousand. Another likely reason for the existence of the British version is that, since the 17th century, this was the day on which apprentices and servants were given leave to visit their mothers, bearing gifts and flowers, usually trinkets or violets and primroses from the hedgerow.
So let’s celebrate with a trumpet concerto to get the day off to a rousing start. Bring on the Austrian composer and virtuoso pianist, Johann Nepomuk Hummel’s Trumpet Concerto in E Major . Hummel composed this lively concerto in 1803 for the Viennese trumpet virtuoso and inventor of the keyed trumpet, Anton Weidinger. This arrangement is the only one available on YouTube, however for those with Spotify, Alison Balsom with Die Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen is hard to beat.
The ’Toy Symphony in G-major’ supposedly written by Leopold Mozart but it seems that there are a number of composers to whom it is attributed starting with Joseph Haydn, Joseph’s younger brother Michael, then another manuscript appeared suggesting it was the work of an Austrian Benedictine monk, Edmund Angerer. Certainly there is a marked ring of Mozart in there. I love it for those fabulous toy noises!
Mothers have done a lot of home-schooling recently, so to celebrate mother and grandmother-hood, I recommend Antonin Dvořák’s ‘Songs my mother taught me’. Renee Fleming with the ‘Radio Filarmonia’ Songs my mother taught me. Truly beautiful.
Songs my mother taught me,
In the days long vanished;
Seldom from her eyelids
Were the teardrops banished.
Now I teach my children,
Each melodious measure.
Oft the tears are flowing,
Oft they flow from my memory’s treasure.
Time to dry the eyes and have some fun with Pablo de Sarasate’s ‘Gypsy Tunes’ 1878 performed by Teo Gertler. Teo is only 11years old. He is quite simply outstanding. There is something very special about this performance – is it that it is brimming with that very special brand of youthful energy and passion? He is mesmerising!
Time for something completely different – a little indulgence to raise the spirits even further! Lang Lang performing Frédéric Chopin’s Grande Polonaise brillante, op 22 with the BBC Symphony Orchestra conducted by Edward Gardneris is an absolute must. Nine minutes of bliss in another world altogether.
Next, a little peace and tranquility best heard by watching one of our fabulous sunsets, Johannes Brahms’ Lullaby, performed by Yo-Yo Ma and Kathryn Stott. This ‘cradle song’ has a rather lovely story behind it. Brahms is said to have dedicated it to his friend Bertha Faber, when her second son was born. However, Brahms had been in love with Bertha in her youth and “constructed the melody on the ‘cradle’ to suggest, as a hidden counter-melody, a song she used to sing to him”. How romantic! It was first performed in December 1869 by Luise Dutmann (soprano) and Clara Schumann, (piano).
CM Concerts – 24th April 2021: Sadly that tentative concert date on April 24th with Michael Collins and a quartet from the London Mozart Players led by Ruth Rogers has had to be cancelled. Nil desperandum! We will hold it, hopefully when we can reopen again in the Autumn. We are watching COVID events very carefully and will be back as soon as we possibly can.
Churchill Music Young Musician of the Year 28th June if COVID safe: Yes. It’s true! We are planning to hold this great competition on 28th June – watch this space!
Our violin projects back on track: We are delighted that the schools are back and that our violin projects are returning.
Our Power of Music project for year 5s: This outstanding project of which we are immensely proud is now booked up until the end of June. We are now taking bookings from September onwards. Our CM team have continued to deliver it online during the lockdown which has been a tremendous feat.
Live Concerts: There are some amazing concerts/operas to watch in the comfort of your sitting room. Take your pick from the Bachtrack website. One concert that is not yet on Bachtrach site is The Orpheus Sinfonia which features Ruth Harrison (flute, formerly from Churchill Academy) featuring Rimsky-Korsakov – Quintet in B-flat for flute, clarinet, horn, bassoon and piano; Balakirev – Octet for flute, oboe, horn, violin, viola, cello, double-bass and piano, Op. 3 Alyabyev – Trio in E-flat for violin, cello and piano.
AND FINALLY – We recommend this incredible performance of J.S. Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D minor performed on a glass harp.
With every possible good wish for a fantastic celebration of Mothering Sunday.