We went to the last of the afternoon Winter Concerts of the Brighton Philharmonic Orchestra two weeks ago. I had some perpetual winter bug that stops short of killing you so that it can make you miserable at leisure, and therefore could not have been described as good-natured (if indeed I ever could.) The orchestra’s usual conductor – a flamboyant showman who can’t seem to confine himself to merely conducting but will persist despite every discouragement from TALKING, had been mercifully on his travels where other audiences had no doubt had the pleasure of the sound of his voice – had returned and was rapturously received by that section of the audience who are his relatives and cronies and politely by everyone else.

The first short piece was by Lord Berner, to whom I ‘took a scunner’ (Translation: was disgusted by ) because he was so ridiculous and silly as to write music with his title instead of simply with his name – in order, he alleged, to prove that he could write music. But since it appeared in fact he couldn’t write music of any account, perhaps he was actually in hiding. In my opinion, this piece (Fantasie Espagnol) was a graceless cacophony.

Then Walton’s Cello Concerto which was OK but rather a ‘those who like this sort of thing will find this the sort of thing they like’ kind of arrangement, and the cellist, Raphael Wallsfisch, seemed to be of indifferent tone and perhaps having an off day.

Some poor soul in the audience of disordered intellect, would from time to time be moved to accompany the orchestra with a mournful and baleful howl. The audience to its credit made that graceful English response of a complete absence of reaction and the sufferer was not required to leave. His mournful cry had a kind of musical lamentation in it and in truth I enjoyed his contribution to the event better than some of the other musician’s!

So we return, not in the best of humours; the kind of audience that sits with its arms folded and says, Go on them, impress me, if you’re supposed to be good. Even the chattering conductor took one look at our dark faces and thought better of whatever inanities he had meant to offer. He turns to the orchestra and they begin Holst’s The Planet Suite.

Now there’s a proper piece of music. The orchestra enters into the piece with humour and gusto. We can see in our mind ‘s eye Mars’ purposeful march by, his call to arms, the relentless energy that whirls around him. Venus is sweeter, but she carries elements of danger – she too is a goddess of war. Mercury sprints past with his speed and lightness. Then the glorious Jupiter (we can have his resolved section for an anthem for the Federation, when we need one,) Saturn brings up the rear, wise and dignified, and finally, almost beyond our hearing and our understanding, fading into the distant heavens, we just catch the fading echoes of the mysterious Neptune.

My friend Carolyn, a wonderful, empathetic and glorious singer, was helping to swell Neptune’s chorus, though they were out of sight and not acknowledged.

I felt the performance of the Neptune was the equivalent of a religious act, and so I despatched a prayer for the welfare of our planet and his guardianship of the purity of our waters, and I remembered how I would walk through the summer fields with that priest of Neptune, my father, and gaze into the clear water of his well, which never ran dry.

The orchestra fades away and there is silence. Then as I began to clap, I feel my gratitude rise up in my throat. The Planet Suite is a moving piece of music. I forgive the conductor all his faults. But he too seems to have been transformed by the music and he remains silent and still. As for the orchestra: to the last man and woman, it can play. It just needed the music.

About adhocannie
I am a good natured woman with a long memory and a swift tongue. I like loooking at things and thinking about them. Also food, clothes, travel, reading, sewing. I try to see the ridiculous in things, but sobriety of reflection keeps edgting in. I have husband, children, grandchildren, friends... I feel rich in things that matter. I am a happy exile. I like writing. I do not like talking about me (though I do.). You willl be much more interesting.

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