Aleksander the Great!!!

No, I haven’t mis-spelt the topic. I and the Lady of the House were privileged to be part of a small people attending a concert of Chopin and Brahms, given by the Pole Aleksander Kudajczyk in a small Glasgow Church Hall.

npianist106.jpgThe history of this young man and his appearance on the concert platform, is very interesting, and was very news-worthy for some time,and if you want to know it, type his name into Google.

Suffice to say, that this shy and un-assuming man with his lovely wife/girlfriend (I don’t know enough Polish to ask!) were much appreciated by the 100 strong audience, and taken to their hearts, as only Glaswegians can.

We were treated to a selection of Chopin’s Valses, Preludium, Ballada, Nocturne Op9 No 2, and then the brilliant Intermezzo Op 118 No2 by Brahms. To our delight, he then joined us for tea and cake, when some of us had the chance to discuss almost anything…. including music.

He is looking for work to allow him to stay here and that includes piano tutoring, and performances, so if you want to be part of those who can help this aspiring performer make his way in the musical firmament, please get in touch and we can pass on your enquiries…….

Glad we went, even although it was a miserable wet and windy night.

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Hallelujah!

Went last night to a mammoth performance of an oratorio, by the choir of Paisley Abbey, which was supplemented for the event. This is because of the 2 hours (at least) of tiring singing involved, so it is usually musically-knackering! . Although this piece is usually performed at Christmas time, it is also appropriate for Easter, which is early this year.

There are probably very few people in this country who have not heard of ‘The Messiah’ by Handel. It is one of those pieces rooted in the British psyche. And yet it is a bit surprising. Handel was German, but lived a fair chunk of his life in London.

It was written over a period of 3 weeks and was first performed in Dublin on 13th April 1742. It was first performed in Britain at what was the Royal Opera House Covent Garden almost a year later. George 2nd stood up at the Hallelujah Chorus (why he did so, is open to debate), but since subjects could not sit whilst the Monarch stood, the whole audience had to stand. Since then everyone stands at this piece.

I have sung in it but have never conducted it, and have to admire the strength of the wonderful George McPhee who led it so wonderfully.  Another marvellous musical evening!!

Eighty years young!

Evensong at the Cathedral was special tonight…. the choir numbered 50, of present and past choristers who had gathered together to celebrate. The music was selected by Bernard Porter, a previous organist who was 80 years old this weekend, but certainly does not look it!

He was a pleasure to sing under, with gentle criticism and much praise, a wonderful musical knowledge, but who used and practised his skill and craft with a wonderful under-stating. The youngest and most inexperienced chorister gained from being with him, and even those of who have sung for many years still came away knowing a little more about the works we were singing.

Heavens….this seems terribly like an obituary! No, he is still alive and kicking, with an impish grin. I asked him what he will do for the next 20 years, and he said that it will all seem a bit ‘downhill from now on’. So different from those musicians are so full of themselves, with a puffed-out ego.

So let me add my congratulations…well done Bernard!

Almost tempted…….

The period of Lent is a time when we can take the chance to make some sacrifice, or change in our lifestyles. I know that this is not the main reason, but it gives one a specific timescale which we know will end. This year I decided that the waistline needed a bit of trimming to my previous sylph-like figure (those who know me may jest, but I assure you that, as a child, I would not wear short sleeved shirts because of my thin arms!).

I determined that snacking on biscuits at work, and an excess of puddings (or desserts if you wish) were partly to blame. I am not entirely sure that they are the reason, so I did not feel that I should suffer fully……only during Monday to Friday!…you see…. compromise is a good idea!

So you can imagine how I felt when I met-up with a good church friend in Pitlochry and was offered some biscuits, especially the delightful, chocolate-coated marshmallows. I pointed out that she should not be leading me into temptation, but she countered with a quote from her sermon which implies that ‘it is better to fast with the soul and eat biscuits, than fast by avoiding biscuits and being evil in the soul’……..so I have my perfect excuse……..but I am still being very good during the week.

The Young Lady of the House, and I are going out tonight to our favourite eating place….The Beech Tree Inn, and I think I may well just be having a pudding! 

Other-worldly

At St Mary’s Episcopal Cathedral, in Great Western Road, Glasgow, tonight for Ash Wednesday Service, the beginning of Lent. In itself it is a quiet yet very moving event, and in this instance, included the wonderful ‘Miserere’ by Gregorio Allegri. He was born in Rome in 1582 and lived to the age of 70. Was a priest, a tenor, and composer. ‘Miserere’ was written for four soloists and a five-part choir, and was for the exclusive use of the Sistine Chapel, who would perform it during Holy Week (so we were a little early at the Cathedral!).

I think the story is well-known that it was forbidden to copy the music, on pain of excommunication, but Mozart was in Rome and heard it on the Wednesday, and copied it down from memory. He went back on the Friday to sort out a few possible mistakes! It was later published and became available for performance.

Because of the seriousness of the act, Mozart was summoned to Rome by the Pope, but instaed of being criticesed, he was praised for his musical feat.

Whatever the history it is a most uplifting piece and takes us into other realms of thought. If you have not heard it before, why not take a few minutes from your crowded life, and listen to it. You won’t be disappointed.

Male retail therapy?…surely not!

Son is obviously getting a bit better as he has decided to trade in his old Civic for a BMW. Like me, and my father, (and probably 90% of the male population!) he has always had a passion to have a nice car, and this is his dream. It has been snowing today, so I hope he can enjoy a run in it, without the inherent dangers of this weather.

Safe driving!

P.s. It corresponds in time with an increase in business after a year of worries, so is well deserved.