It has been a week of contrasts.
Firstly the weather – one day 33 degrees and sunny; two days later, especially for rehearsal, torrential rain with the most magnificent and scary thunder and lightning.
Then the cricket – both my teams, Australia and England, suffering humiliating defeats, only to recover with magnificent victories to each win their respective series.
For those of us still with a vested interest in what happens in the UK, hopes one day of an orderly process over the next few weeks to Brexit were dashed the following day as a dysfunctional House of Commons seemed unable to agree to anything.
Then the music. It has been a week of listening, rather than singing myself. One day I heard the wonderfully rich sounds of that quintessentially English ensemble, The Sixteen, and on another I listened as a grandparent to a succession of school choirs and instrumental groups.
The Sixteen were, as you might expect, wonderful. The program was English renaissance and contemporary music. The encore, Byrd’s Ave verum corpus, was typical. Each note was meticulously weighed for pitch, tone and intensity; then the notes were imaginatively assembled into phrases of pleasing shape, then the phrases were carefully woven together like an exquisite tapestry. I could have listened to them for ever.
As for the school groups, well, they were quite a contrast to The Sixteen. But two stood out – the senior choir and the string ensemble. Both tackled pieces of some difficulty, and were not phased by them. The choir’s enunciation across tricky rhythms complemented perfect tuning, and the plucky (please pardon the pun, especially as there was not a pizzicato note in sight) string ensemble pulled off a piece with alternating two and three beats to a bar with great panache and much tunefulness.
Maybe not such a contrast after all. And of course the young musicians at school could well be members of MW Choir in say twenty, or forty, or even sixty years time. Now there’s a thought!