Friday, 20 September 2013

O Rest in The Lord and audience surprises


Eyes of pleasure

The end of another week ! My teaching weeks are very short by comparison with a few years ago, but my voice seems as tired after three and a half days as it did after six or seven days teaching ! I must be getting old !

I just updated my ipad to the new iOS 7 and the whole thing has changed rather dramatically. All the icons are different and, if I am honest, it looks rather like a child's tablet - they seem to have dumbed it down a little - bright colours, flat colours and cheery pictures - Oh well, my grandchildren will enjoy it!

It has been a very good week, and a number of my students from the tiniest to the oldest are preparing for a short concert at a nursing home in Lochcarron next Tuesday. We have prepared a varied programme, and definitely not one which will patronise the elderly folk who live there. I was talking to my mezzo M about it, although due to work she will not be there. How will I feel if I make it to my parents' age, in my nineties, and some young upstarts come to entertain and think all I want to hear are bland Disney ditties or Roll out the Barrel ? My life has been spent with the greatest serious music the world knows, so I may be a little narked by musical patronisation !

So the concert is a mix of Gershwin, Vaughan Williams, Gilbert and Sullivan, Bononcini, folk song and Mendelssohn plus a few other composers ! Something for every taste and personality. My lovely lady E was pondering over what she should sing and after sifting through her pile of repertoire we plumped for O Rest in The Lord from Mendelssohn's Elijah. It is such a beautiful aria, calm and peaceful, radiating positivity and faith, and she sings it beautifully and with great honesty. I feel sure the audience will appreciate it very much on all levels.

I once took my young singers to sing at a nursing home in Eastbourne many years ago. The same rules applied and no real compromise with the music, just because the audience were all over 70, and some well over 90. That visit confirmed my feelings about never dumbing down ! After the concert finished the youngsters mingled with those folk who were able to converse, and lo and behold one very elderly and charming lady, chatted away to a young soprano, telling her how much she had enjoyed her solo - I cannot now remember what it was however - and proceeded to tell her that she had been the leader of the school orchestra at St Paul's Girls School when the head of music was Gustav Holst ! She then went on to become a professional and had performed with all the greatest conductors and soloists of the 40's 50's and 60's !

Always remember - you never know who is listening !

A young Holst


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