Riding on her coat tails

Guardian Review

It wasn’t all doom and gloom in the Weekend Guardian today. After I’d recovered from the gay rights forum report, I skirted over various other pages until my eyes landed on a review of the BBC National Orchestra’s performance of Guto Puw’s commission “( … unless I open the door … )”.

I wrote a “review” * of that, I thought. I rather enjoyed it, in fact. After a tough day it was a real treat to revisit the Royal Albert Hall from the comfort of my leather sofa and listen to a piece of newly composed music which didn’t come with the same kind of demands as the supposed “classics” of orchestral music like Beethoven or Mozart.

I read the review in the Guardian and marvelled at how the writer had managed to describe Puw’s work so much more successfully than I did. All I do is say how much I enjoyed it and why, rarely giving out the technical information which so many quite rightly consider is appropriate to well-rounded journalism.

Not only was it fabulous writing, the reviewer seemed to largely enjoy the concert too. Yes, there may not have been as much to say about the Viola concerto but whoever this person was, he or she still enjoyed it.

I sat back in my chair in the garden, looked at the blue sky and smiled. Someone else felt the same way I did.

I looked back at the newspaper and looked for the name of the person who wrote. I was stunned. This was someone who was in the year below me at school. She sat in the viola section of the Suffolk Youth Orchestra when I played clarinet and percussion. We got drunk together on youth orchestra courses. We both sang in the choir at school. I helped her use Macromedia Dreamweaver.

Not only that, we’d both had the same music lessons from the same music teacher who introduced the music of John Cage to Suffolk schoolchildren twenty-odd years ago. We’d both listened to the same event and in our totally separate ways both commented on it too.

On a Saturday morning, sitting in the warming glow of the midday sun, here was another Proms-related moment which tapped into my past and made one concert this week all the more memorable.

Very special indeed.

* I use the term in it’s loosest sense, obviously.

Prom 36: Made things better

I didn’t get to hear all of Prom 36. Sorry, I mean I know I’m a Proms fan supposedly, but the thing is that we were interrupted during the live relay on Radio 3. *

I had also dropped in five minutes after the beginning of the broadcast which meant of the 15 minutes of newly composed music by Guto Puw, I only really heard 10 minutes of it.

Mind you, one of my school music teachers did spring to mind as I listened to Puw’s Proms commission “(…unless I open the door..)”.

It was no easy feat teaching class music lessons at the school I went to. Noone seemed particularly interested. It must have been a tough job to do.

One music teacher was unusual. He had an unusual surname. He also doubled up as a games teacher, specialising it seemed in rugby, something I wasn’t particularly keen on. Still, everybody around me seemed rather impressed as his relative grooviness.

When his friendship blossomed with the big, burly, proper full-time sports teacher, our class music teacher’s status suddenly rocketed. This man was deeply cool, even though I didn’t quite understand what deeply cool was or felt like.

It was the same music teacher who introduced a bit of a challenge on what I thought music was. Up until then I was a connosseur of such musical theatre classics as The Sound of Music and Half a Sixpence. I also could be found listening to the music of Glen Miller as played by the Syd Lawrence Orchestra. All of it very good. Things were about to change when our music teacher introduced John Cage’s 4’33” silence.

He even got the class to perform it. We all sat for 4’33” in complete silence. A music lesson of which 4’33” was in total silence.

Afterwards he asked us what we had heard during that time. Then, as he explained some more about John Cage he persuaded us into thinking about what it was that defined the word “music”. Could it be possible that “msuic” could be sounds as unusual on the ear and even more unusual to create? What if “music” could be nothing more than sounds you hear when there’s silence. 4’33” silence.

There was a time when i was scared of new music, petrified when I saw the word “commission” in the Proms brochure.

Now, listening to Guto Puw’s fascinating and gratifying work I’m remembering the way my music teacher opened my mind all those years back and how I want to hear what more amazing effects composers can cajole musicians into creating.

Just to be clear, a Proms commission quite unexpectedly transformed my day and I have Guto Puw and the BBC National Orchestra of Wales to thank for that.

* That’s what they’re called. Live Relays. Sexy sounding, aren’t they?

Going against the grain

Something happened this evening which caused me to be a little on edge.

At the beginning of my shift I was informed about something which was going to happen tomorrow which might possibly call on me to do something I hadn’t done for a good long time.

I was really rather worried about what was involved. Would I remember? Would I deliver? Would I get stressed about it?

I did a spot of research, my heart beating really quite fast as I did so. I found a solution in readiness for some kind of hideous crisis in the morning. This along with my additional emergency backup plan led me to conclude the following self-absorbed assessment.

I’m really proud of the work I do. I really do think I “deliver”.

Is it me or …

… are Sony Ericsson K800i phones prone to a spot of temperamental behaviour when trying to such seemingly straightforward things as connect up to a PC?

My current situation with my supposedly marvellous phone is, frankly, getting my goat.

Consequently normal service on the Thoroughly Good Blog will only resume when I’ve got this basic functionality restored.

Prom 33: Surprising and interesting

A busy night doing some work, fielding a couple of phone calls and launching Bob Martin’s Flea Bomb in an effort to rid the office (finally) of those pesky fleas who insist on biting into my ankles whenever I’m near the PC.

We ended up watching tonight’s Prom on BBC Four. Really quite enjoyed it.

I’m a big fan of Britten as I think I might have mentioned before although I’ll admit I probably haven’t listened to as much of his stuff as perhaps I should have done.

The Sinfonia da Requiem was poignant in it’s message, the BBC Philharmonic were impressive and the conductor Gianandrea Noseda  clearly very hot.