Friday, July 27, 2007

"Gosh! Man, I've Got A Tune In My Head!"

Here is Edward Elgar, British composer and keen cyclist since the age of 5.
And also proud possessor of a Sunbeam bicycle.
( Well, actually 2 Sunbeam bicycles..)

And those words above: " Gosh! Man, I've got a tune in my head!".... they were written by Elgar in a letter dated January 1901, to his music publisher friend, August Jaeger of Novello and Co.

Elgar was excited.
Those words referred to his desire to write the D major march, part of his " Pomp and Circumstance" Marches.
And that May, still excited, Elgar wrote to another friend:" I've got a tune that will knock'em...knock 'em flat!"

AND it did .
And it still does.
It knocked ME flat when played by The Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra in Chester Cathedral last night.
Even though I've heard it countless times, it Hits The Spot Everytime..

The programme was the closing concert of Chester Summer Music Festival* ( see end of post) featuring the Festival Chorus, with two acclaimed singers, Jane Irwin ( mezzo-soprano) and baritone Marcus Farnsworth.
Also performed was Elgar's " The Music Makers"; this is Arthur O'Shaughnessy's poem set to music. As a child in a misty-moisty primary school classroom, I heard its opening lines:
" We are the music makers.
And we are the dreamer of dreams,
Wandering by lone sea-breakers,
And sitting by desolate streams..."

And although hardly world-shattering poetry ( I think I was expected to copy it out in best Marion Richardson handwriting...anyone remember those exercises?!) ...those opening words thrilled me and together with Elgar's music...Mmm. .

Elgar ( once he said: " The trees are singing my music...or have I sung theirs?" ) was born near Worcester 150 years ago this year. His father , a piano tuner, kept a music shop on Worcester High Street. Elgar hid in the dark gloom of the shop amid musical scores and instruments; his father's violins, flutes, trumpets, all were magical. He yearned to play them all.
And so later, some said, Elgar wrote music to make the heart soar.
And his refrains, his patterns; they call us and echo, they call us and echo.......they remind us of our past, yet they take us to our future, move our thoughts on to other places.... where we never expected to be...


** Chester Summer Music Festival ( ) was born 30 years ago this summer.
A good friend/neighbour and her family were main instigators... so I've seen JUST how hard the organisers work; their planning, their skills, their wonderful choice of artists.
BUT distressingly, a major grant is no longer forthcoming; the Arts Council doesn't see fit to award. This, therefore, puts the Summer Music Festival at risk.
AND this is disappointing; it shows lack of vision, it shows lack of appreciation of a thriving event which gives huge pleasure in a small English city.

Some might call it a tragic decision.
Many certainly would.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

" The Essence of Summeriness?"

In the UK, we feel blue.
We feel like Michael Gove who writes for " The Times".

Michael Gove has, for years, resisted the supping of rose.
And IF you're as old as me, you'll remember Mateus rose bottles twinkling with candles in every student bedroom in every Hall of Residence in the land.
But back to Michael Gove. This weekend, he cracked.
Yes, he cracked.
He cracked because he, like us all, desired something summery.
Poor fellow; he wanted to actually ENJOY this dampgreydismal July.
But lucky fellow, he cracked: Michael Gove gave in to rose and Michael Gove discovered the deliciousness of Rose. ..
In the dullness of last weekend, he discovered its essential Summeriness, something I've always liked, whether in-fashion or out.

And it Made Me Think.
WHAT is Summeriness?
What are our thoughts, our images, our memories, the things we've stored in our minds, the scents, sounds, the sights?
Define Summeriness. What on Earth IS it?

What , to you, is the touch of Summer? What, to you, is the taste of Summer?

But this summer is bleak:
This summer has meant flooding and homelessness and helicopters helping old folk out of care homes. It's meant sandbags and wellingtons and rowing boats floating through towns. Its meant 50,000 homes without power, 150,000 without water.
For me, ( and I'm lucky) its meant days of rain outside and greyness in my bedroom as I wake.

So we hope against hope that the rain stops, the rivers subside and homes are restored.
AND we long for the return of Summeriness.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

"I'm Blogging..."

....again very soon! Looking forward to "seeing" my fellow Bloggers then!

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

"Freedom:the condition of BEING FREE"

Such wonderful news; Alan Johnston is free. I know nothing else, apart from the news that he's safe. How he feels is unimaginable.
His family must be hugging each other with relief and delight; they'll be longing to see him.
A family is whole again. And Alan's life is his own again.

And those other stolen people; may they be free, may they see light . May their families hear news that will bring joy.
And I'm sure we're thinking about Madeleine; pretty Madeleine, and those countless others.

PS: Just watched the Lunchtime News:
Alan's father, when asked if he was proud of his son, said: " Yes, I am. He's a good lad"
(And I can SO imagine my OWN lovely dad using those words...about his son, son-in-law, grandsons, great grandson; easy, ordinary words expressing a lot)

Alan's dad said it all; about his son whose courage is inestimable.