This is default featured post 1 title

Go to Blogger edit html and find these sentences.Now replace these sentences with your own descriptions.

This is default featured post 2 title

Go to Blogger edit html and find these sentences.Now replace these sentences with your own descriptions.

This is default featured post 3 title

Go to Blogger edit html and find these sentences.Now replace these sentences with your own descriptions.

This is default featured post 4 title

Go to Blogger edit html and find these sentences.Now replace these sentences with your own descriptions.

This is default featured post 5 title

Go to Blogger edit html and find these sentences.Now replace these sentences with your own descriptions.

Monday, October 30, 2006

A day in the life of a concert VI

As promised, here is a selection of photos taken at yesterday's Crouch End Festival Chorus concert. You can find the full set here.

Rehearsal Rehearsal

Backstage monitor

Bouquets ready for presentation Backstage after the performance

Backstage after the performance

Sunday, October 29, 2006

A day in the life of a concert V


All over, and what a fantastic concert! David (our conductor) was over the moon, saying that everything was "under control from start to finish" and that the audience "gave the warmest applause he had ever heard" for a piece which has such a difficult ending. On to A Child of Our Time and Spring Symphony.

But first a well-earned drink...

I'll put the photos up later tonight or tomorrow.

A day in the life of a concert IV


Rehearsal over (3 minutes early so it must have been good!). It's going to be a stunner. A mad rush to the balcony bistro for a bite before the concert (too bad they've run out of bread - seems a bit odd just before a concert). That just leaves enough time to get changed and make the warm-up. We're starting the concert about 10 minutes late as there's no convenient time for late-comers to be admitted, but all should be over bar the accolades by 9 o'clock. I'll try to post a few words before rushing off to the bar.

There are still a few tickets to spare, so if you live near the Barbican it's not too late!

A day in the life of a concert III


20 minute break and all going stunningly well. We've fully rehearsed the Kyrie and Gloria, and have just run the Credo, including the fastest-ever, most-difficult two pages of choral music in the repertoire (experienced choristers will know what I mean)! Liz (our chair) is sitting next to me eating a Twix, and telling me we are getting close to full, so if you really want a treat get down to the Barbican and buy your tickets quickly!

A day in the life of a concert II


Alas, insufficient privileges to post any pictures, so they'll have to wait until tomorrow (I suspect I'll be too knackered/plastered after the post-concert curry in the Indian Ocean in Holloway).

The first half of the rehearsal has gone well - the Kyrie and Gloria - with the choir as usual holding back, but it promises to be a magical evening. The soloists (Lynda Russell, Sue Bickley, Ben Hulett and Tim Mirfin) are top-notch and well-blended with one another, and Nick Turner's London Orchestra da Camera have put out a great team of players.

Our newest audience member, Ryan Perry (aged 5!) managed to stay the whole half hour as well, so we must be doing something right!

More later.

A day in the life of a concert I


Arrived at the Barbican Centre for today's Crouch End Festival Chorus concert of Beethoven's Missa Solemnis, despite getting stuck in traffic around Trafalgar Square where there is a student demonstration against tuition fees. Just about managed to get to the centre in time to deliver the soloists' water to Tara (our magnificent stage manager) before the rehearsal starts at 14.30. This part of the day is tremendously exciting - the first few minutes of a rehearsal are critical to gauging what the performance will be like, although I'm absolutely confident that this will be the best ever Missa Solemnis given by CEFC (a few tickets still available for anyone who wants to come along tonight).

I'll try and blog some photos at the break if I can get the orchestra manager PC to recognize my camera.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Crouch End Festival Chorus Update

Last week the Chorus took part in a performance at the Barbican Hall celebrating the music of Serge Gainsbourg, which received informative and interesting reviews in The Independent and the Evening Standard's thisisLondon entertainment guide. Amongst the stars taking part were Jarvis Cocker (pictured left).

The Chorus will be back at the Barbican again this Sunday for a performance of Beethoven's stunning Missa Solemnis, which for me is one of the greatest symphonic choral pieces in the repertoire. Tickets are selling fast, and can be booked online from the Barbican web site.

Friday, October 13, 2006


I make no editorial statements about this at all...

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Space Shuttle meteorite damage

Space Shuttle missions don't get much press these days, but last month's launch was significant in that it was the first mission following the loss of Columbia to get back to the job of constructing the International Space Station (the two other missions since the disaster were focused on testing shuttle safety systems and the ability to perform repairs to the orbiter's heat shield). There is some extraordinary footage on the NASA website of the crew unfurling a huge solar array which will provide one third of the power for the station when it is completed. Post-mission maintenance discovered a hole in the cargo bay (pictured here) which was probably caused by a meteorite. The impact was not noticed during the mission and caused no danger to the crew nor the safe return of the shuttle to earth.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Exams over

I've just arrived home shattered after completing my Open University exam this afternoon. Now I'm sitting slumped in front of the PC with a glass of wine wondering how I had all that energy when I was 16 to take several exams in one week. Ho hum...

Saturday, October 07, 2006

That sculpture at the V&A

A couple of days ago I posted a photo I had taken of a sculpture in the V&A courtyard. Being the completist I'm known to be, it's been bugging me that I failed to identify it as Diamond (Pink) by Jeff Koons, which was on temporary loan to the museum. It's a highly polished chromium stainless steel construction which entertained me most with its interesting reflections of the surrounding buildings. It was a gloriously sunny day, which also helped show the piece to best effect. I'm not sure I would have liked it anywhere nearly as much had it been placed in a "white cube" gallery space.

Here are a few more shots I took which illustrate its "reflective" aspect, and also one I'm quite proud of which I'll just call "Pink" (it's a sort of postmodern minimalist pastiche).

IMG_1516 IMG_1518IMG_1517 IMG_1510

How to get notified of postings automatically

If you are sufficiently interested in my blog to want to get automatic notification of any updates (which I can't imagine anyone would be!), and you don't use one of the newfangled, trendy web browsers like Firefox, you might want to download and install the latest test version of Microsoft's Internet Explorer*. Alternatively, the final version will be released later this month and available via Microsoft's Automatic Update service.

*entirely at your own risk - this is test software and unsupported by Microsoft or me!

Crouch End Festival Chorus Update

Last night's rehearsal for the Beethoven Missa Solemnis was excellent. It was one of those evenings where everything seems to come together and gel at once - the enthusiasm of our MD, David Temple, the chorus being in excellent voice, and concentration levels at a peak. Chatting to David afterwards in the pub, he said he was looking forward to the opportunity to spend the final couple of rehearsals working on the meaning of the piece (which for me is tied in with Beethoven's disillusionment at the end of the Napoleonic era in Europe - it was written in 1818) and his own interpretation, rather than still being in "learning mode".

The committee and various other members of the choir are starting to work on the planning for a major event that is scheduled to take place in early 2008. I can't say much more about it at the moment, as discussions and negotiations with sponsors, venues and the composer are still at a very early stage, but suffice it to say that it will make a "splash" in the true spirit of CEFC's position at the forefront of the avant-garde in large-scale choral music. You will have to keep reading my blog if you want to learn more as time progresses!

Radio 4 - Frank Zappa

I have just been listening to an excellent programme on Radio 4 about that genius of rock and crossover, Frank Zappa. So far, I have never really gone out of my way to engage with his music, but the programme made me realise what I had been missing.

It was amusing to hear his views on classical orchestral players, and in particular his story about the London Symphony Orchestra and the Barbican Artists' Bar at a concert of his music.

I had never realised how dedicated and phenomenally talented he was as both a performer and composer. He held strong views on creativity in music (firmly believing that it was the composer who created , rather than the performer, who for him always remained a professionally-skilled technician). Amongst his many evangelists was the composer and conductor Pierre Boulez, who has performed and recorded his orchestral music with great sensitivity and understanding.

I would strongly urge anyone who missed the programme to catch it on the Radio 4 website within the next 7 days (after which it will no longer be available).

Friday, October 06, 2006

Back again

IMG_1512It's been a long while since I've posted anything here, which is mainly due to a bloody-minded determination not to post anything until I had got Windows Live Writer up and running with the Flickr plugin, which allows me to include images (like the one here) directly from my, or anyone else's, Flickr account. As you can see that problem is now resolved - I took this picture of an extraordinary sculpture in the central courtyard at the V&A, and it re-inaugurates my blog.

From now on I intend to post on a semi-regular basis, and to cente each of my posts around a single theme which I will tag to make it easier for people to follow topics that interest them.

Farther up and farther in...