The mediaeval tower of St Mary Magdalene, just in front of St Thomas’s Church.
We never know what to expect of the free promenade recitals of classical music at Saint Thomas’s parish hall Canterbury. ‘All will be revealed!’ said Fr Daniel this morning. Once again Director of Music Ben Saul discovered a pair of talented young musicians in pianist Greta Åstedt and Lucia Veintimilla on the violin.
Mozart settled the audience into listening mode. One of the toddlers in attendance was transfixed at the sight and sound so close to her. Her face increased my enjoyment of the music.
A piece by Japanese composer Takemitsu evoked an invisible and not necessarily friendly, presence in the room, chased away by de Falla, inviting the little ones to dance. Another contrast from Lutoslawski, by no means going gentle into that dark night, while there was one more chance for the dancers to go with the music thanks to Slavonic dances by Smetana.
Two more names to watch for: the players are just starting their professional careers. And if you are in Canterbury on a Saturday, come to Iron Bar Lane for 10.45. And next week? All will be revealed. The preschool children were well behaved and in no way diminished anyone’s enjoyment.
A retiring collection goes to pay the musicians and towards the restoration of the church organ.
Sometimes Mrs T and I need to get out of the city and breathe fresh air, so we took a walk, or rather a wade – across muddy fields – on raised paths built by mediaeval monks – to a pub lunch. We were walking mostly beside reeds like these, behind and amidst which were swans and assorted ducks, blue, great, willow and bearded tits (chickadees), robins, wrens, finches; overhead crows, gulls, cormorants and – believe me – or not – a pair of parrots. They are established about 20 miles away, allegedly escaped from a film set in the 1950s – but rarely seen that close to Canterbury.
I may have enjoyed umbrellas as a child, admiring the exploits of Gene Kelly Singin’ in the Rain, but when I came to man’s estate, with a heigh ho, the wind and the rain, I became wary of them in other people’s hands. The ends of the ribs are often on a level with my eyes, and I feel even less safe when the umbrella-walker is lost in a mobile phone! The trivial trials of city life!
Heigh ho, the rain it raineth every day, or so it seems this last week, so I don my own protection in the form of a canvas sunhat with a wide brim. After turning off the main road, where all I could hear was the prolonged and monotonous schweeeesh of car tyres on wet asphalt, Kirby’s Lane offered a rain recital.
There was an amplified rhythmic bass line in the hammering of drops on my hat. Unlike much music played on headphones, I doubt anyone else could hear – there was no-one else to hear. The amplification came from the rim’s proximity to my ears.
My feet splashed through shallow puddles, of course. If Abel had been there, we’d have sought out the deep ones, and then the gutter at the edge of the carriageway, which was happily – allegro cantabile – chuckling an alto melody until it giggled soprano into the drain. For tenors I had the downpipes on the houses – one side of the Lane is the backs of tall Victorian buildings clustered around the railway station.
A foolish thing is but a joy, for the rain it raineth every day.
Saint Thomas’s parish in Canterbury has begun a series of free promenade recitals of classical music in the parish hall beside the church from 10.45 to 11.30 on Saturday mornings. Refreshments are offered before the music and a retiring collection goes to pay the musicians and towards the restoration of the church organ.
Many players will be young musicians starting their careers, but the audience will not know who is playing, or what music, until the concert is about to start. So far impressario Ben Saul, who as church organist has every reason to attract his audience, has come up trumps. This week soprano Farah Ghadiali and pianist Paolo Rinaldi offered a selection of operatic arias followed by a portion of Polish melancholy from Frédéric Chopin. They made me listen afresh even to familiar pieces, such as Handel’s ‘O sleep, why dost thou leave me?’’ and Chopin’s Funeral March Piano Sonata.
So look out for those names, and if you are in Canterbury on a Saturday, find your way to Iron Bar Lane for 10.45. As for next week – who knows? But whoever comes will be worth listening to.
I hope we see the dancing little girl again. The preschool children who came appeared to be taken with live music before their eyes and ears, as were their elders. If you are in Canterbury on a Saturday morning, do drop in!
As I walked out on the last day of the year, I noticed the hazel bushes. Some were already shaking their tails, but others were still not quite ready to open up, biding their time.
This was plucked from a bush beside a ditch – a running ditch after all the recent rain. The vase came from a ditch as well, one running beside a windmill next to a canal in Belgium where we had a cycling holiday on February. It reminds me of Victorian school ink bottles, but since the top is broken, all we know is that the miller cast it in the ditch, to be treasured many years later by a family of foreigners. It suits a single stem very well.