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Tuesday, November 12, 2019

A celebration of English Music

I am now back in concert going mode.. On Sunday night I was back at Saffron Hall to see the London Philharmonic Orchestra with composer Marin Alsop.

Now it is pretty amazing that a town of just over 15000 people has such a resource as Saffron Hall which can attract a world class orchestra and composer but it can and that is good.

The programme was an interesting one
Butterworth - A Shropshire lad (Orchestral)
Elgar - Enigma Variations
Walton - Belshazaar's feast

a celebration of English music from the first half of the 20th Century.

Now I will admit I bought my tickets on the strength of the orchestra, conductor and the Elgar. This Classical novice didn't know the other pieces.

Firstly it was nice that Marin Alsop addressed the audience and I agree that the choice of John Butterworth who died at the Somme was particularly poignant on remembrance Sunday. The orchestral version of a Shropshire lad was haunting and lyrical. Given how much classic FM push Ralph Vaughan Williams and his popularity with their listeners that this piece would find favour there.

The Elgar is well Elgar, it was beautiful.

The Walton with baritone Roderick Strong and the Saffron Walden Choral Society? It may have been to "big" for the modestly sized Hall. Powerfully performed but I'm not sure it is my thing. Still it was thought provoking and that is good.

I will say again that this a fabulous venue to find in rural Essex.... excuse me I'm off to book tickets for the winter part of the season :)

Monday, November 11, 2019

Cambridge University Botanic Garden

I was out with my friend Stuart at the Cambridge University Botanic Garden. As I was at a concert in the evening I left my camera at home and just used the phone.

The current site was purchased in 1831 and the first tree planted in 1846. It is a lovely spot to escape the city and read and wander.... it was fairly quiet yesterday

The weather for November was glorious.

In Remembrance

Remembrance is not about the glorification of war it is about remembering those who gave their lives so that we could be free to go about ours.

I can't help of think of the world we lost when a generation was slaughtered in 1914-1918. This was brought home to me last night listening to a piece by the composer John Butterworth.

What works might they have wrought? What writers did we lose? What music? How much better might the world be?

I wish I could say there sacrifice created a better world but I fear that we are as divided as ever we were.

But let us remember a generation that at least tried.

Anthem for Doomed Youth - Wilfred Owen

What passing-bells for these who die as cattle?
      — Only the monstrous anger of the guns.
      Only the stuttering rifles' rapid rattle
Can patter out their hasty orisons.
No mockeries now for them; no prayers nor bells;
      Nor any voice of mourning save the choirs,—
The shrill, demented choirs of wailing shells;
      And bugles calling for them from sad shires.

What candles may be held to speed them all?
      Not in the hands of boys, but in their eyes
Shall shine the holy glimmers of goodbyes.
      The pallor of girls' brows shall be their pall;
Their flowers the tenderness of patient minds,
And each slow dusk a drawing-down of blinds.

Saturday, November 09, 2019

Audley End

The forecast for the afternoon wasn't good so I decided to stay relatively local (it is raining as I type)

I ended up at Audley End. It was chilly but the sun was shining which is always nice.

The pond is empty which is odd given we've had rain! There were pheasants in there!

Lots of Canada Geese with a few Greylags

The geese flew to the river.

All the gourds!

A really nice morning!