On Thursday 19 March, 108 days ago, Robin and I sat down to a game of Scrabble and decided we would do a ‘lockdown challenge’. Since then we’ve played each evening and thus consumed a lot of wine and too many accompanying crisps and ‘snacks’. Robin pulled quickly ahead, which I think is as it should be – her being a bit of a wordsmith an’ all. But soon we evened up and it’s been neck and neck since. So it seemed appropriate to call a halt yesterday, Saturday 4th July ‘Independence from lockdown Day’ with Robin winning the final game making it 54/54. That’sRead More →

Firstly, the dahlias have started blooming.   This was taken yesterday by Robin (I can’t do classy photos with out-of-focus-backgrounds like this on my phone). And today the rain looks well set in, but I’ve been out and many more blooms will be out shortly. I really haven’t put a great deal of effort into keeping the slugs and snails away, so I feel very fortunate that there has been minimal damage so far – touch wood. Good news seems to be on the horizon. Boris says we can re-start church services, but I’m still waiting to hear whether anyone at the Church of EnglandRead More →

This week I decided to take some action on the future for my choirs. As my name is not Boris Johnson I was limited in my scope. I sent out a One-question survey to the East Sussex Community Choir (100 members); Lewes Chamber Choir (31 members) and Brighton Singers (32 members). Assuming it is within Government guidelines for Choirs to meet again in September, and assuming we meet as we normally do in Lewes, please say how likely you are to return to (named) Choir in September 2020. On a scale of 1-4, 1 being least likely, 4 being most likely, how do you stand?Read More →

Richard Morrison wrote an excellent article in The Times on 4 June which draws attention very well to the situation facing 2 million choristers in British Choirs. This is the first and only article I’ve come across – so far, but I know that many choirs have linked to this article on their web and facebook pages and it’s prompted a lot of positive discussion about the future for choirs. Last week, friend and local singer Judy Mackerras, drew my attention to some work being done by Jackie Cassell (singer, epidemiologist and Deputy Director of the Brighton & Sussex Medical School) who is researching how andRead More →

Hi everyone. Today I was due to be conducting the Community Choir in a joint concert with the Paddock Singers (with Ruth Kerr), at St John sub castro, celebrating the centenary of the Pells area being donated to Lewes council by Baxters – the old printing company based down one of the twittens off the High Street. Our choir were going to sing a short programme which we would then have taken to Lisieux in Normandy later in the month. And yesterday, I should have been directing New Sussex Opera’s production of Handel: Acis and Galatea at the All Saint’s Centre in Lewes. Instead, NSORead More →

Today is Bank Holiday Monday 25 May, and has anyone noticed – it’s SUNNY. We’ve had a lot of Bank Holidays recently, 10 & 13 April, then a delayed one on Friday 8 May and now quite an early one a week before the end of May. Today I finished reading Tolstoy’s War and Peace – 1000 pages of closely typed writing. To be truthful, I didn’t quite finish it – I gave up 4 chapters into the Second Epilogue. It took a long time to get into it, as I remember when reading Jane Austen and Dickens, but I got into a rhythm after 200Read More →

  Hi everyone. I thought I would share with you my personal enjoyment of the service of Evensong. By no means all of you will be Christian, indeed I’m careful to keep my own beliefs to myself. As a chorister at Coventry Cathedral 50 years ago, we were drilled to perform as professionals, and that’s been my approach ever since. We sang evensong on Saturday and Sunday evenings, and I’ve always enjoyed the music and the almost spiritual peace and quiet of this service. This is a photo of us, probably around 1968, seated in front of the Chapter House of the cathedral. I loveRead More →

Hi everyone. I realise that it’s over a week since my last post – apologies for that – so here I am ready to keep you up to date with what I’m doing and what’s on my mind. It’s 7 weeks now since Robin and I have been in lockdown. All rehearsals and concerts were cancelled that week – w/b 16 March. We had a friend round to lunch on Tuesday 17th, and since then communication has been by phone, email and blog alone, although we do see neighbours to chat to sometimes. We have a delicatessen Hudsons just down the road which was taken overRead More →

As most of you know, I spend lots of my time working with choirs and immersing myself in choral music. I’ve usually got a rehearsal to prepare or a concert to plan. But today, I’d love to share with you two of my favourite orchestral pieces. Actually I’ve got many favourites, so this is just two of them. Sibelius: Symphony No.2 When I was studying A level music, my main set work was Shostakovich: Symphony No.5 (1937), and I absolutely love that. I remember one of my lecturers was a viola player, Stephen Williams, and he introduced us to a number of other symphonies writtenRead More →

Yesterday, we had breakfast out on the patio – you’ll be impressed (I hope). For once, there were no strimmers strimming,  no builders noisily building, but the birds were singing, particularly (I think), a blackbird. So I rushed inside and got my recorder and recorded about 5 minutes of birdsong. I hope you enjoy it – just press Play! And it brought to mind a piece of music I’d like to share with you. Olivier Messiaen: Quartet for the end of time. It sounds a very pretentious title but don’t let that put you off. Messiaen (1908-1992) is best known to us organists but he wroteRead More →