Friday, 18 March 2011

Love's Minstrels and a bit of shut eye

The long shingle beach of Hastings

All done at Hastings ! The festival is huge, 3 weeks of every kind of competition from a professional Piano Concerto class with a prize of £2500, to pop and rock vocals which had its prizes awarded by Roger Daltry, and the dance classes where the major awards were given by Dame Beryl Gray, the famous ballerina of the 50's and 60's. Their big concert which takes place tomorrow evening will have as its new president, Petula Clarke - so I felt in elevated company. I asked who would be the 'important' person to present the Gold and Silver Awards for the classical singing, expecting Lesley Garratt would be zooming down to the coast from her last gig, but the chairlady said - Oh that's you ! What a disappointment for the singers I replied!

It took place in a delightful Art Deco theatre right on the beach, and opposite the Victorian Pier which sadly burnt to the4 ground last year, but there is a move to rebuild! The whole theatre was redolent of Scott Fitzgerald and Agatha Christie. It was a wonderful place in which to sing, and I was pleased that the festival took the formal elements of performing very seriously. The competitors dressed beautifully, from young to old, and all announced and then bowed with immaculate presentation.

The White Rock Theatre - Agatha Christie could have watched Noel Coward here !

I heard some very interesting music, and a few songs I previously did not know. There was a great English Song class with some of the lesser known Vaughan Williams and a 'new to me' Howells song which I now must find a copy of !

The Gold Medal had only 2 entries - due to the hefty qualifying rules you understand - and the winner was a remarkable mezzo soprano whose programme was perfect, presented perfectly and she looked like a million dollars. She achieved the remarkable mark of 91. The set song was Love's Minstrels by Vaughan Williams, and I was totally transported by her hypnotic performance. It gave me goose bumps up and down my arms.

I was finished by 9pm last night but stayed at my B&B as I was just too weary to drive here I am now back in Petworth and about to leave to pick up the children and head on down to the cinema for a birthday evening for my grandaughter, who is 8 tomorrow, and a post film Chinese Buffet.

It is a children's film called Rango - but I am hoping for a few moments of blessed shut eye when the lights go down!


  1. It must have been a wonderful festival. I was at school in Sussex and know Hastings and Petworth (the venue for many a school trip!) well. I have just been up to Sutherland and thought of you as I sped through the hills on Scotrail (well perhaps dawdled would be more accurate!)

  2. I hope your trip was wonderful and not too snowy ! I drive home tomorrow, and can't wait to get back to my slow life!

  3. The Cairngorms were beautifully snowy, but fortunately Sutherland was relatively snow free. I have to say I love snow when I don't have to drive in it!