Day 130 – February 7th – Cake and the Nash Ensemble

Only a part day of practice today as we headed up to London again in the afternoon to see the Nash Ensemble perform at Wigmore Hall. I’ll write up a proper review tomorrow, but I thoroughly enjoyed the concert – I just wish it had been longer! There were three works that had been commissioned by the ensemble through their 50 year history, one for solo viola, then two chamber works. I could happily have listened to more.

Beforehand, I went for a long walk in Regent Park, which was busy despite the chilly, overcast weather. Then I caught up with my lovely flute friend Brönte for rather decadent slices of cake in a lovely little cafe come food store on Marylebone St.

Back to studies tomorrow…

Day 106 – January 14th – The Theory of Everything

Had a lovely time this evening going to see The Theory of Everything with Sue from Hastingleigh – what a wonderful and though-provoking film! As a bonus, the sun was out in the afternoon, I was able to walk over the Sue and Paul’s, and Paul had made spicy lentil and coconut soup for supper before we headed off. As always, it was lovely to spend time with the Boxalls, especially since things have been so quiet here the last few days.

Tomorrow we’re back into the swing of things with lessons, and I hope that my efforts to prepare a little more over the extra days will be balanced by my having prepared well. I’ve been listening back to some older recordings lately – particularly of my first MMus recital in December 2013 – and can now hear a whole lot of things in my playing that I couldn’t hear before. Things like clipped endings of phrases and slightly incorrect rhythms. Hopefully this means that I’ve corrected the problems in my playing now, or at least am on the way to doing it!

Trevor threw us something of a curved ball today, emailing to let us know that we have a class with Juliet Edwards next Friday. All of a sudden another thing to prepare for, and at rather short notice! I feel like this is part of the plan, and then email also came with repertoire suggestions for each of us. Mine were either the Andante Pastoral et Scherzetto by Taffanel or a movement of the Widor Suite. I really like both pieces, and am rather tempted by the challenge of preparing the Taffanel despite there being relatively more notes. We’ll see what Trevor says about it all tomorrow.

As for my reply email to Trevor, I was feeling a little creative, and since he’s had laryngitis I thought a poetic get well soon message was in order:

Mr Wye had an affliction of the throat,
Which made him sound quite a bit like a goat,
He coughed and he spluttered,
Yet “lovely day” he still uttered,
In the jovial emails he wrote!

Day 100 – January 8th – Slow Train

We’ve only just got back from a concert having taken the slow train up to London and back. Then there was confusion about the train times and we spent a rather chilly half hour on Ashford train station waiting for the connection through to Wye.

On the up side, the concert was lovely, I caught up with a great friend for a drink beforehand, and in class the morning my Schubert received more “good”s than criticisms.

More tomorrow.

Day 74 – December 13th – A day in London

Just got back from a lovely day out in London, where the theme was not masterclasses or concerts but seeing the city and having a day off. I had a wonderful time catching up with friends – one of whom I hadn’t seen in about eight years -, getting a bit of Christmas shopping done, and having some chill time at the National Gallery. While I should perhaps have done a little more on the Christmas shopping front (remember our normal weekly civilisation is Tesco), it was great to just have some time away from the isolation of Elmsted/Hastingleigh and our tiny group here.

We left Hastingleigh bright and early at 8am, and the coach arrived in London at 10. I spent an hour or so wandering round the National Gallery, and finding myself particularly drawn to all the Dutch masters; Rembrant, Rubens etc. I love the detail with which they render landscapes and yet the intimacy with which they focus on the internal as well as the external when it comes to painting portraits. It felt almost strange at first to be going round a gallery – I did it so much during my European trip over the summer but have not been in one since the Musée de Cluny in Paris back in mid-September. By then, I could spend hours drifting from piece to piece, totally oblivious of the time and totally focused on the art. I would try to pick one work to sit and copy, picking out ever-increasing detail and marveling as the work grew richer before my eyes. I do think it’s a state of mind. Today I was drawn to the works, but too fidgety to loose myself totally.

I met Cara in the gallery cafe, and we caught up on years of news over coffee and cakes. Then we went off to do some Christmas shopping, though seemed to spend a little more time enjoying all the little shops in Seven Dials than sorting out gifts! Cara has become a Londoner, and knows the ins and outs of where to go for what. She’s still so bubbly, and I feel like we could have gone on talking for hours!

My one touristy photo or the day! Me, Peter and the afternoon sun on Big Ben.

My one touristy photo or the day! Me, Peter and the afternoon sun on Big Ben.

Then I met Peter, and Aussie composer who’s studying in London. We walked and talked, winding our way through the Christmas market outside the Royal Festival Hall (with a cup of mulled wine of course!), along the river and up to Big Ben and Westminster Abbey. Then back up to Soho for a (very) late lunch at a little Japanese place where the thick, gingery savoury pancakes were cooked on the table in front of us. We talked music, student living and the reality of being torn between home in Australia and the buzz of Europe.

The coach home wound through central London, taking in all the bright Christmas lights of Oxford and Regent streets. I wasn’t really a tourist today – I still haven’t seen St Paul’s or the Tower of London, or even gone inside Westminster Abbey! Friends, conversation and laughter were much more important, and I’m feeling wonderfully refreshed despite the chilly temperatures back here in Elmsted.