Revisiting Tam O’Shanter and Lanercost, March 2019

March 28th Lionheart Harmony will perform No-Umbrella Blues at next weekend’s concert. Result!

There’s been some updating done on how to enter stuff into this website in the last few days and as yet I cannot figure out how to replicate what I’ve been doing for the last several years. I don’t have time to sit and learn it all at the moment, so it’s all rather cursory. Bah!

The Bridge Singers’ damson tree has leaves.

March 27th A spot of gardening in the afternoon and helping my neighbour with her computing.

March 26th Tim and I went to Lanercost and Keswick on a reconnaissance mission for the October concerts. Here’s a summary:

Disagreements: 0

K6 phone boxes sighted: 2 (not including ours)

Sets of temporary traffic lights: 5

The view from the choir at Lanercost.

Churches inspected: 3

Friendly and encouraging vicars chatted with: 2

Tasty crepes-for-lunch: 2 (1 each)

Hosts of golden daffodils: 1000s if not 1000000s

Laughter: almost as much as the daffodils

Notes taken: lots (by one)

Optimism for concerts: high

March 25th Choir night for The Bridge Singers. Very exhausting but very productive.

March 24th Jamie and I went to see two movies today: Benjamin and The White Crow. Both excellent.

March 23rd I’m watching the people marching for a People’s vote and finding the response from the politicians depressing. I don’t really see why we can’t have a say on the final decision. Anyway, I love that all those people (and they argue about how many, but the majority of observers say around 1 million) just marched and were good natured about it. All the aggressive language and threats seem to be on the other side of the argument.

March 22nd
News that people in New Zealand are purchasing my Hodie Christus Natus Est for their girls’ choir. Also we had Fingers Adrift tonight. I do enjoy the recordering. It always makes me think of my Great Uncle Arnold who used to come to our house every weekend when I was a teenager, and made encouraging remarks every now and then about my recorder playing, comparing it favourably to other recorder playing he’d heard!
Here’s the song I mention in the version I mention and coincidentally Great Uncle Arnold is also in this video!

March 21st
I made coleslaw. It was rather delicious, although when I look up coleslaw I see that it is from the Dutch koolsla meaning cabbage salad. I did not use cabbage, but instead grated some cauliflower. A also added grated egg and cheese and carrot and red onion, and also flaked salmon cooked in lime juice and a fluttering of dill, so perhaps it’s not coleslaw after all. However, I now look up cauliflower in Dutch and find that it is bloemkool, so perhaps what I made is flowercoleslaw. Delicious, anyway. Also, grating egg white is a pleasing sensation – very little resistance. I didn’t grate the yolks and just threw them in in chunks. It’s good to keep a bit of heft in the yolk.

March 20th
I was asked my opinions on some composing matters today by someone doing some postgraduate research on composers and how they make a living. Here are a couple of my answers to her queries:

About quotas for female/male composers…..”I don’t like them. I don’t feel as though I have ever been discriminated against because of my gender. I do feel I have been discriminated by “serious” commissioners and concert organisers and programmers, because of the areas I have chosen to work in (educational settings, as a creative practitioner or composer/teacher, with amateur groups), but that is not your question!”

About being labelled a female composer…… “Sometimes it’s useful for performances if there’s a “female” theme, as last year for suffrage commemoration events, but mostly I do not feel that it has any relevance, particularly for contemporary composers. Seeking out the works of female composers from the past whose music was certainly sidelined is, however, a worthwhile pursuit and the distinction there is useful and relevant. I don’t feel uncomfortable if the label is applied to me as it is a true statement of what I am, but the female bit seems irrelevant. I am more concerned about labels to do with working with amateurs and school children and families, as these seem to be labels that directly impact on the value that is placed on all my music even if it has been composed for professional musicians.”

Also today, “This is gorgeous. Would love to sing it.” from a St. Cuthbert scholar and member of a women’s choir in Ireland about this:

March 19th
Tuesday resting.

March 18th
Mum and I went for a walk along the wonderful Ross Sands. We messed about, we saw seals, the sea behaved in a spectacular manner. In the evening it was The Bridge Singers again with Monteverdi and Forever Autumn new on the agenda. They’re going to be great!

March 17th
This evening Rock Festival Choir opened their Spring Concert with my Aves Beati Cuthberti. It was splendid with many people both known and unknown to me voicing their appreciation of this song. Here’s a clip of it (complete with extraneous scrapes and coughs) accompanied by one of the birds in question being spied upon by a friendly (I hope) seal. It’s an Eider in its winter plumage near Lindisfarne, former residence of St. Cuthbert.

March 16th
The Bridge Singers had their concert this evening at Longhirst. This followed a three-hour rehearsal with Rock Festival Choir for tomorrow’s concert. Anyway, The Bridge Singers were splendid. This is my favourite bit from the entire concert with a picture of a tree fern at Kew on Wednesday.

Also, a bit that gave me great pleasure on account of the absence of hissing!

March 15th
Lots of shopping at Kingston Park with Mum – food. Too much food for the poor old freezer to cope with, but it’s hard to resist the lure of the “reduced for quick sale” shelves and the vast array of other bargains to be had. I’m rather thrilled by the massive Iceland – such variety. Lucky us!

March 14th
Back home and cleaning because Mum’s coming tomorrow! Also, preparation for two concerts this coming weekend

March 13th

Post birthday merriment with Jamie at Kew. We found an appropriate sign in the wonderful Temperate House…or was it the Tropical House? I can’t remember – we went in both and loved them equally.

March 12th
To London on the train and London in the rain: National Portrait Gallery and Tate Modern.

Good morning 8.02 on a decorative clock at Darlington Station.

Happy birthday goldfinches, with bananas and Jamie’s right hand.

Good morning Mr. Scotsman-through-the-train-window.

Goodbye as the Australian heads off to his meetings.

Left to roam I came across one of the largest mirror balls I ever did see.

The man went up the long escalator. So did I.

National fluff at the National Portrait Gallery.

Good afternoon Martin Parr and Grayson Perry.

Damp but colourful arty birthday at Tate Modern

Good evening Mrs. Queen at Blackfriars Bridge.

March 11th
New drum. Drumming practice with Carol. Choir practice with drum. I’m very happy with my new drum.

March 10th
I made pumpkin soup as winter has returned. I tussled with the laptop. All the music’s here now, just not always in the right order. It threw up this one this morning as its random pick. One of my absolute favourites, purchased merely because it’s great – never used in any teaching whatsoever!

March 9th
I made cakes. I sang with my friends at Felton Music. I had a rest.

March 8th
I got up at 4am. I drove to Newcastle at 5am without incident. I reversed into a parking space for a quick getaway. I boarded a train at 6am, heading south. I chatted with a doctor heading to Harrogate. I changed trains at Huddersfield without incident. I arrived in Halifax in plenty of time. I set up my composing area and managed to blow up my rice and chickpea balloons without incident. I told my fairtrade stories four times and we composed music with the balloons and other musical paraphernalia. We sang my fairtrade song and I met some other splendid creative women, who were also delivering artsy fairtrade workshops at the FairandFunky Fairtrade Conference in Halifax Minster. I took photos and made recordings without incident.

Decorative Halifax Station

I did my packing up while the local MP was giving out certificates. I caught an earlier train than intended back to York, which was good because I had to get back to Alnwick for a Rock Festival Choir rehearsal. Between Halifax and Leeds I chatted to a friendly 82-year old who had been to see a film which he enjoyed even though it was rather dismal. He told me lots of things about his life. I asked friendly questions. I checked my Network Rail App for connections to Newcastle and found to my delight that there was one five minutes after I arrived. I arrived in York without incident, noticing that I had indeed just missed another connection which had left on time.

Yorkshire Industrial Heritage

My train to Newcastle was cancelled. All trains heading north were either cancelled or severely delayed for the next two hours. No trains left for Newcastle except one which was so full that people’s heads were hanging out of the doors prior to closing like you see on the London Underground. I did not attempt to board that one. There was an incident on the line north of Durham and trains were parked at every station twixt here and there. I finally got a train, and indeed a seat at half past six after arriving in York at 4pm. I was cold, and a bit fed up because now I was missing the rehearsal which started then. But still, I took comfort in the fact that the man I ended up sitting beside was grumpier than me even though he was in fact only delayed by one hour and had been sitting in the warm for that amount of time. He had a cold, which maybe I will now also have, and his tissue was rather sodden. I got out my choir music and practised silently, and observed how people behave at times like this. When I arrived in Newcastle I strode to my car, drove home without incident and arrived there 2 minutes before Jamie who was dropped off after the rehearsal had finished. I mostly had an excellent day. Here’s a little bit of my song and a picture of the glorious scene in Halifax Minster.

Be, be, be an agent for change, change!
Be an agent for change!
Be be be be be an agent for change,
Be an agent for change, change!

Convert your banana into leather sandals! Fair trade – an agent for change!
Ring your bowl and keep the culture singing! Fair trade – an agent for change!

Party with your coloured hat, rescue the forest! Fair trade – an agent for change!
Smell the roses, see the children blooming! Fair trade – an agent for change!

March 7th
Today’s wake-up call was this wonderful song from The Basque region of France. This version is from a Rugby World Cup CD, featuring songs from various pf the participating countries. This is one of my favourite tracks as it happens. There’s a also a wonderful version of Calon Lan on it too!

March 6th
Today’s random “1st selection of the day” from the player: Le Bananier by Gottschalk. I bought this when I was doing my term of banana-related arts activities in St. John Vianney’s Catholic Primary School in Manly, Brisbane. It was part of the banana listening game. The front cover has a very fetching botanical illustration of a banana plant from around the time of Gottschalk. This Youtube video has the score to follow – I don’t think I’ll be playing myself any time soon, with all those shimmering semiquavers!

March 5th
With all the music heading onto my new laptop, what I wondered does it throw up first if you tell Windows Media Player to do a random selection. This is today’s answer:
The album is one of a set of three given to us by our lovely “Irish” family and principally Auntie Barbara. This particular song has added significance as we sing a version of it in Lionheart Harmony and we are all rather fond of it!

March 4th
Getting ready for choir. Taking choir. I’m enjoying the bongo-ing, I must say. We had a percussion sectional this afternoon and have introduced the timbre of the cabasa into the Missa Luba Sanctus. It met with almost universal approval at what was a very vibrant rehearsal for our concert in just over a week’s time. More sales of my arrangement of The Lambton Worm today, so I give you a photo of the crypt at Lanercost Priory from Sunday and a fragment of The Bridge Singers performing this song a couple of years ago.

Always lovely to start your Sunday with a splish-splashy, gurgly waterfall.

March 3rd
We went to Lanercost Priory today to get into the feel of it and seek inspiration. We first walked to Brampton and back along the river, because we like that sort of thing and then we went into both the ruinous bit and the current church bit, purchasing booklets as we went and imagining where The Bridge Singers will stand when we go there as part of our Cumbrian Tour in October. I also took many photos.

The ferns were lush and glowed in the morning sunshine.

The dippers were a-bobbin’ and a-hoppin’ – at least three of them. There were five sightings altogether, three at once on one of these occasions.

It’s all the different arches from different eras in view at the same time and creating a harmonious whole that I’m loving at Lanercost Priory. A treat to see the blue sky against the red stone too.

Underneath an old bridge is a cool place to be too!

March 2nd
In another, hopefully final, bid to dispense with the old laptop from my working life (it is earmarked as the new TV laptop) I am transferring music to it and then across as my new laptop does not have a CD drive. This is proving to be a lengthy task and took all of yesterday and today and tomorrow and no doubt several days henceforth. However, amongst all these CDs that we own are a high proportion of weird ones, and many more that were purchased for one solitary track that helped me with some teaching task or other. It has brought back many cheery memories I can tell you. In my current role as provider of workshops, I do not have the privilege any more of working over a period of time with a group of youngsters on longer projects, which is quite sad if you think about it too much, so I don’t. I also do love the thrill of bursting in and getting something done there and then. Just now, a set of Haydn’s Symphonies came on and the last movement of the “Farewell” was the reason for the purchase. I remember doing a whole term of “goodbye” music with some Year 4’s in Australia. The culmination was an “air orchestra” performance of this, requiring them to listen precisely to what their instrument played and when it stopped so they could faithfully convince everyone that they were really playing.

March 1st
Whilst considering the intended increased intoxication of “Ae Market Night” which I originally composed as a drinking song in my setting of Tam O’Shanter, I have, today had a phone call from a person wanting to use some of my music in a film she’s making, also had a request to do some composing workhsops with youngsters for an arts festival in Yorkshire, and while I was chatting about these things and then sending off links and information to those concerned, copies of two of my scores were sold through this very website. A good start to March, thank you very much.

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