March Music Stories

March 31st
March comes to an end. I haven’t loved March as much as I usually do – have felt a bit flat overall, but we did go a-shopping and came back with some mini creme eggs, so all will be well come April, I’m sure. I watched Shrek Forever After on the telly this afternoon in between naps and I do find these Shrek films very entertaining. I love the Jethro Tull-like fluting on this:


March 30th
Preparing for Monday’s rehearsal brings me to this wonderful madrigal performed by the excellent Voces8


March 29th
I drove home from Worksop in the sunshine. The same things irritated me about my drive as on Tuesday, and add to that the woman who overtook me while I pulled into a gap in the parking to let a car come past from the other direction. She caused the oncoming driver to reverse (and probably swear). This happened near Retford Station where I’d just dropped Jamie off for his journey to Leeds for meetings. You can see him lurking on Platform 2. I had this cheery but beautiful piece in my head most of the day – another for The Bridge Singers’ November recital, I’m thinking.

March 28th
Worksop. I did a big shop for Mum and Dad with the car. I like wandering round a supermarket with no restriction on price and with the intention of making sure they have plenty of treats as well as the things on the list. I wandered into Worksop again in the afternoon. It didn’t see so sad today as there was a market and it was a bit ore bustly. Later I drove to Newark to pick up Jamie from his train. This one bearing the slogan “It’s Never Dull In Hull” came in to gather people up and drop others off. I was taken with the white phone box, of course and the shows being cast by the passengers and the station decorations.

March 27th
I drove to Worksop. Things that irritate me on these drives mostly centre around trucks overtaking at 1 mile per hour faster than the one they’re overtaking, and cars screaming fastly up behind you when you can’t really do anything about the overtaking trucks. I also become slightly irked when a car overtakes me then pulls in in front of me and proceeds to then travel at a speed that is slower than the speed I was going, so I then have to re-overtake. Anyway, I got there without incident, and lovely it was too to see Mum and Dad. I went into town to purchase milk and Worksop looks sadder than ever. Even Burger King has decided that there’s not enough business in Worksop to entice it to stay open. Later I was listening to this on the radio. Splendid combination of Jazz and one of my faves, Debussy.
March 26th
Here’s a lovely thing which I have never heard before – one of all our favourite arias by composer hero Henry Purcell, performed by Alison Moyet and some string players. Mmm.

March 25th
The squirrel people like my squirrel song. (Have a look under “General Info” )

Jamie and Cheryl go to a concert. Such a splendid floor ….. and splendid music too.

March 24th
After a morning of looking at flooring and sundry out-and-about jobs, and an afternoon of neighbourly chatting, Jamie and I went off to Ushaw Hall near Durham for a recital by The Durham Singers. We nearly went there last year, but it snowed and we didn’t fancy the drive back late at night in what might have been treacherous conditions. This time we made it with time to spare so were able to gawp in great admiration at the splendour that is St. Cuthbert’s Chapel there. The ceiling of red and blue is of a particularly flamboyant nature and the golden lettering around the edge at the height just below the windows, elicited a good deal of fascinating scrutiny and deciphering during the performance.

Interval gazing.

It was Scarlatti’s Stabat Mater that enticed us there in the first place. We sang it in Brisbane with Concentus and remembered lots of it. This is a very fine choir and both the joyous and reflective sections were equally excellent. There are lots of solos in this piece, and all the singers drawn from the choir made for a pleasing variety of tone and texture. The concert opened with Lotti’s Crucifixus, which for the first time ever, I heard with organ accompaniment. I loved it as ever.

Suum. During the Parry, I spent a good deal of thought working out the differences between the subtly different lettering.

It really does send shivers down your arms and the organ was a grand idea. In the interval we roamed about a bit and feasted on more decorative architectural details and planned to take photos as we left. The second half opened with Purcell – one of my favourites – and concluded with Parry – not one of my favourites. It’s not Parry’s fault, or the choir’s fault, it’s just my taste for more spark, I guess.

The combination of half moon, stained glass and “please mind the steps” lighting was almost too much for my little camera to bear, even with the hand-held-night-shot button activated, but also too much of a delight to be ignored.

I knew some of his Songs of Farewell and not others. I know his music is popular though, so I shall try harder. The fifth has some startling elements and I like that the best. During the Parry my mind worked hard on the lettering and the music provided a stimulating accompaniment!

Leaving via arresting corridors, hearts brimming with glorious Scarlatti and Lotti


It was a thoroughly thrilling evening, and the warmth of tone and excellent blending in this choir is something for me to aspire to with The Bridge Singers.



March 23rd
Mid-dig, I espied the setting sun sporting with my current favourite crocus and its friends – the other crocuses and the clutch of first daffodils.





March 22nd
A day spent in the company of this song, which Lionheart will be singing later in the year.

Also gardening. I’ve pruned the helianthemums so severely that they look like giant hedgehogs lurking up there on the precipice ready to leap down into the yard. I dug too, and found a meal’s-worth of potatoes unsullied by our resident outdoor creatures. Lionheart Harmony in the evening, then gathering Jamie up from the train while listening to this.

March 21st
Because Jamie and I were exhausted from our dayful of deep thought and telephonic jousting with bureaucrats from the one and furious garden forking and pruning from the other, and because we’re a highly sophisticated pair of gourmets, we opted for an evening snack of cheese and pineapple chunks piled artfully on a plate and ate them with cake forks.

March 20th
Happy St. Cuthbert’s Day! And look how beautiful his places in Northumberland and Durham are!

Another performance, this time by Rock Festival Choir. In the video are some snippets from the original performance by Janet’s class at Grangetown Primary School, back in the day.

March 19th
Wedding singing preparation at The Bridge Singers tonight: 59th Street Bridge Song; I Can’t Help Falling In Love With You; Ego Flos Campi by Guerrero; Thinking out Loud by Ed Sheeran; The Power Of Love by Huey Lewis – we’re nothing if not versatile. Here we are in a circle on 59th Street Bridge Song. The levels are a bit wrong – I should have turned the input levels down a bit, but still. I think we’re sounding pretty good with more than a month to go. The wedding is at Brinkburn Priory, which is an exceedingly reverberant building. The Guerrero with its 8 parts in two antiphonal choirs sound splendid. In fact we had a bit of an Ego-off tonight. Lovely. The scene is from our drive back from Wooler yesterday.

March 17th-18th
Weekend. More snow with wind. Committee meeting and chat. The Artist on the telly – clever film. The selective hearing dream sequence was particularly clever, I thought. Skyping with Australians. Choosing bathroom accessories. Singing with Lionheart Harmony in Wooler including No-Umbrella Blues (such a beautiful blend of voices on that opening phrase!). Making Monday’s lunch while listening to football. Finding and watching a Miss Marple we’ve never seen before.

March 16th
Today’s song is like a puppy – not just for Christmas. Although it is at it’s absolute bounce-around best then, it’s really delightful at any time of year. Give it a listen! This version is by Rock Festival Choir, but it’s been “done” loads and loads of times, for example by Southern Consort of Voices in Dunedin, and Concentus at The University of Queensland – UQ, Toronto Children’s Chorus and Norwich Cathedral Girls’ Choir. Why not sing it for yourselves and add your choir to the prestigious list?! in fact since I first posted this earlier another has told me of its past performance of this song. Such happy stories for a composer! Tonight there was merry recordering with Fingers Adrift at which my new treble had its first public outing. I think it enjoyed itself.

March 15th

I’m being arty with David Bomberg and Sean Scully. I love it here – Laing Art Gallery.

Sean again – I’m not allowed to take pictures of David. Off to find some glass now.

Morning: the list of chores that you don’t want to do, but it’s about time you cracked on with it. Afternoon: Newcastle for research, art and groceries in the rain and wind, then gathered up by Jamie who’d been delivering a workshop in the city and delivered straight to…Evening: Lionheart Harmony preparing for a gig in Wooler on Sunday.

Glass through glass. The decorative stuff is from 18th century Newcastle and maybe was made with Thirston clay. I wrote a song about that, you know.

My lovely friend Nick gave me a cabasa which will get its debut on Sunday.

A glimpse of the Millennium Bridge from the book gallery at Newcastle City Library.

March 14th
One day, when I was teaching music to Year 6s, one class lined up to leave my class and another lined up to enter. Somewhere in the changeover a stink bomb was set off in the music room. No-one in either class admitted the prank. In the absence of actual evidence, the first class was despatched to their next lesson, I opened the windows and we carried on in the cold. The matter was reported to the headteacher and he decided that it was most likely to be someone in the 2nd class, because of their previous track record of antisocial behaviour. They were kept in at break and lunch times until someone admitted it. Someone in the first class boasted to her friends that she had hidden herself in the room until the 2nd class entered, then let the stink bomb off so that the 2nd class would get the blame. Word eventually filtered back to some staff member and punishment for the 2nd class was ceased, and the culprit was confronted with the evidence which she then had to admit was conclusive. Waiting for conclusive evidence to present itself seemed to me then to be prudent and it does today too.
Meanwhile, Robinson Crusoe is feeling sorry for himself, but he does have a sea view so needs to start looking on the bright side…and he does.

March 13th
A spot of gardening amongst the bird song makes for a pleasant, if ache-inducing afternoon. In amongst the weeds, the trusty first daffodil is making headway.

March 12th
Some messages today: Interesting people born March 12 include….fabulous composer Cheryl Camm. Happy birthday Cheryl! Have a great musical day !!xxxxxx Happy birthday, Cheryl! I hope joy’s music will be playing for you, all day, every day. Happy birthday Cheryl. Hope life is treating you well 😊🎂🎁🎉 Happy birthday Cheryl. I hope you have a great day! Happy birthday! It’s already your birthday in New Zealand – so, have a very happy day! Happy birthday Cheryl. Hope you don’t have to spend it shoveling snow! Have a lovely day. Cheryl, warmest birthday wishes. 🤗 A very happy happy birthday to you Cheryl. Whew the year has rushed past. Enjoy your day!! Happy, happy birthday dearest Cheryl. Parabens! Happy Birthday! Zorionak Zuri! Happy birthday, Cheryl. I hope it is a special day for you. xxx Wishing you a very happy birthday from China! The happiest of birthdays to my dear friend Cheryl! Thinking of you today and hope you have a special day with lots of merriment, music and munchies! xx I hope you have a lovely day even though you’re not able to do anything special— that is, until choir tonight Lots & lots of love XXXXXX Happy Happy birthday Cheryl, hope your day is fantastic xo Happy Birthday! Enjoy your special day! Lots of love xx Happy birthday Cheryl, I hope it is filled with laughter and song! Happy birthday Cheryl.🎉🎁💐 Wishing you a fabulous birthday. Wishing you a joyous day. Wishing you a lovely day and a fantastic year ahead xxx I hope this day is full of excitement and energy. All the best CC have a great birthday. Wishing you a very special day. Happy birthday, Cheryl xxx Happy birthday. Hope you have a good day & lovely cake. Xxx Happy birthday, Cheryl! Have a great day: as a special treat, we’ll try to behave at G45 this evening! Happy birthday Cheryl!! I hope you have a wonderful day particularly full of cake xx Happy birthday Cheryl, hope you have a really rather lovely day 🎂 Happy Birthday to ya – Happy Birthday to ya – Happy Birthday [Stevie Wonder] – slow down for them Red Squirrels and Party On All Week !! That’s a coincidence – you and Shirley – Happy Birthday! Happy Birthday to my most musical friend! X Lovely to see you yesterday- you didn’t look like it was going to be your birthday! So happy birthday! Happy birthday Cheryl! “O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!” Have a great birthday! Well …. with Bridge Singers tonight that will be a doddle! Happy Birthday Lovely Cheryl. May your day be all that you wish it. XXX Happy Birthday 🍰 Cheryl! See you later! Xx Happy Birthday, Cheryl. Hope you have had a grand day so far. Will try not to ruin it tonight! xx Happy birthday Mrs Camm. May your day be melodious and harmonious. Happy birthday to you dear Cheryl. Hope you have a lovely day. Sorry we’ll be missing tonight’s rehearsal but we do have our music with us! Thoroughly enjoyed it. Great atmosphere and a smashing sing. Time just flew by. Happy birthday!

March 11th
Yesterday we drove to Worksop for some Camm time and it was lovely. Today we laughed a lot then drove home. Tonight I went to see Alnwick and District Choral Society sing Haydn’s Creation. It was a splendid evening – musically and socially. I seem to know a lot of people in a typical ADCS audience – and indeed in the choir. Here’s a bit of it by a different choir. I sang along (in my head) with this one!

March 10th
Seapieparcel passed another 1000 views today on YouTube. A few notable statistics to mention:
These 100 views took from 29th January to 10th March.
Three most viewed video in that period: All The Nations Like Bananas (119); The Bridge Singers’ Burns Night Celebration (101); and Henry Hotspur Percy (82).
Three most supportive countries in that period (number of views): UK (561); USA (171); New Zealand (105)
Number of videos watched: 108
Number of countries from which these videos were viewed: 47
Rarest creature: One view of Who Killed Cock Robin in Bhutan.

March 9th
For no other reason than it is one of my absolute favourites pieces of music and someone mentioned it to me today, on a day that was generally devoid of noteworthy events.

March 8th
I received this in the post today. Margaret Mahy – a brilliant New Zealand author. I’ve taken her with me in all my places of work and life. When I lived in New Zealand I used one of her stories to compose an opera (The Two Sisters) which was commissioned by Pocket Opera, and then performed several times in Wellington, I used another to create a musical dance/drama (Chibbawokki Rain) and this one I used in Australia to make a film with some Year 4 children. I’m bringing these last two out again for my Library Week Magical Workshops in Kirklees later in the year. Same stories, different activities – I don’t want you thinking I’m repeating myself!

March 7th
Shredding – such a satisfying activity. I used the results thereof to mix with my prunings on the compost heap. I was reminded of this day a couple of years ago when I went off to Yorkshire to do workshops about Fairtrade. It’s been FairTrade Fortnight over the last couple of weeks, so it seems like an appropriate one to share again. Such a splendid day.

March 6th
A man came to talk to us about kitchens in general and ours in particular. This man is a colleague of the man who came last week to talk to us about bathrooms and ours in particular. This kitchen/bathroom replacement saga has been brewing for over a year when we pulled up the bathroom carpet to see what was lurking. We discussed taps and were briefed on undermount sinks. Seeing that the snow was melting fast and that my path to the back garden steps no longer required more clearing, I ventured up there with the potato peelings and some paper shreddings for the compost heaps, and liked it so much that I stayed out for an hour and pruned. I spotted this nestling amongst the snowy remnants. Listening to Dowland, then going a-hunting for more, I found this. What a big recorder on the end there!

March 5th
More thawing outside, more thinking inside. It was choir tonight – much vibrant powerofloving, some more caravanning with the basses relished their camel role with gusto, a start on the serene silverswanning, and lots of chatting. It reminded one of our retired teachers of the wind syndrome, whereby blustery conditions outside cause much fidgety agitation inside amongst a class of infants. On this occasion it was the snow causing similar disruption, she conjectured. I love this massive version of The Silver Swan – not authentic, perhaps, but that rich sound is to be aimed for this term, I think.

March 4th
Listening and thinking, and outside is thawing. I was reminded of this today – one of my favourites, and my favourite bit of all is the 3rd movement (starts at 11 minutes on this recording), which is melodic and rhythmic and flexible with those rhythms, and these are characteristics of music that I find inspiring.

March 3rd
I spent the morning up at the village hall singing Joseph (of the coloured coat and by Rice and Lloyd Webber) with much merriment and laughter and village camaraderie and chatter and snow-anecdotes. Alison Rushby, the impresario and creative force responsible for this event, is a complete treasure of course. Gathered up from that by Jamie who had un-snowed the car while I sang, we ventured through the drifts to the supermarket so we are now in the possession of replenished supplies of important edible things. Post curry, I was catching up with Dowland on Composer Of The Week from a couple of weeks ago and was introduced to the group La Nef with Michael Slattery singing. Wonderful arrangements of some of my favourite Dowland. Have a listen to His Golden Locks on here (about 40 minutes in)! Delicious.

March 2nd

Peter Jacqui and Nell, the phone box, the bridge, the snow.

Musical Digestive System anyone? The third of my Music and Science mini-units. I’ve also spent about five hours of today clearing snow and ice from the huge footpath right outside our house. As a result of this, yes the path is clear and there is considerable aching. In the meantime… Musical Digestive System.

March 1st
Today is my mother’s birthday and I should have been going there for the day, to spend a merry time with all the Camms. Instead we’re snowed in. Jamie is here when he should be in London – this is the upside of the snow, of course. In the absence of all the partying and travel, I was awake and up too long (since 2.30am) so did embark on a morning nap, but wouldn’t allow myself to do so until I finished updating “Lungs And Breathing”, the ending of which was the initial spark of inspiration. It was in a Book Week in Brisbane with Ms Pledger and Ms Stubbings. Such a creative time in my life! Photo credits in this one to Michael, Miki, Julie, Eileen and Denise.
Have a look here and share with your teachery friends.

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