Abbott O’Gorman Piano Duo lunchtime piano recital

Bechstein concert grand piano

Bechstein concert grand piano

Abbott O'Gorman Piano Duo

Abbott O’Gorman Piano Duo

A lunchtime piano recital at Guildford United Reformed Church, but what day? Was the concert today or was it Friday, as the date on the leaflets was Friday 18 July 2012.

The recital was hosted by Guildford URC Music Society, their website said Wednesday 18 July, but to be sure, I needed confirmation.

No contact details. I followed the link to the church. Tried calling, no response. I sent an e-mail to the Minister. He was able to tell me how long it would take me to walk to the church, 10 minutes from St Nicolas at the bottom of the High Street, but knew nothing about the concert.

Unbelievable, a church hosts a concert by it own music society, but the Minister does not know anything about it!

I tried Guildford Tourist Information Office who are always very helpful. Yes, it was Wednesday they conformed.

It was not far to walk to the church. From the outside ugly 1960s era architecture. The main chamber more attractive with a very attractive wooden roof.

Outside the church a noticeboard with a large poster for the concert, amended to show the correct day and date.

As a walked in I noticed a few books, their library. I regret I had not taken them a copy of The Alchemist, which I had intended to do.

As I walked in to the main chamber, I was shocked by a large banner for a firm of chartered accountants. Worship of Mammon?

I said I was appalled, but was told they had sponsored the concert.

I was told the seats at the front were reserved for the accountants. I assumed the first row, but no, the first four rows, leaving the back three rows for everryone else. They also got lunch.

It is usual for the players to be introduced at a concert, usually too long-winded but at least they are introduced.

But no. One of the accountants stood up, welcomed his colleagues, welcomed their clients, then almost as an afterthought welcomed the performers, then welcomed the regulars and what he called casuals.

Out loud I shouted the riff-raff. This got filthy looks from the assembled accountants and their clients, but seemed to go down well with everyone else.

I was disgusted, I have never seen such appalling behaviour. They should have sat in the seats as everyone else, not got reserved seats, not got lunch.

Corporate sponsorship is destroying the arts, destroying sport. One only has to look at the obscenity of corporate sponsorship of the London 2012 Olympic Games.

I am not a sports fan, but I feel sorry for fans who rain come shine support a team, then when comes the big match, it is the corporate sponsors and their clients who get the special treatment, the privileged seats.

But you do not expect this in a church.

The programme was a little over an hour, Brahms , Carnival of the Animals (selection) Saint-Saëns, Mother Goose Suite by Ravel, West Side Story (selection) by Bernstein, Rhapsody in Blue by Gershwin.

By the time we got to Carnival of The Animals I came to the conclusion I was not enjoying this concert one bit, I was tempted to leave, but stayed. Ravel started off ok, then got worse. They murdered West Side Story. How could anyone make Maria, or Tonight sound bad, but they did. Rhapsody in Blue was ok in parts, but mostly not.

What was wrong? Was it the pianists? Was it two hands better than four, the pieces having been transcribed for four hands (the Ravel which is normally orchestrated was originally for four hands on the piano). Was it the piano?

The piano was a Bechstein Concert Grand Piano c 1892 which had been refurbished. It had a horrible clanging sound, not the lovely rich sound you would associate with a piano. Not helped by the pianists hammering the keys.

I came to the conclusion it was all these things, but mainly two hands are better than four.

The piano was lovely to look at. I asked after the concert about the piano, when was it refurbished, how much did it cost, but no one knew. Not only that, they seemed annoyed that I was asking.

I had a chat with one of the performers. I said their own website was bad for both listening to their music, and for buying. I said they would far better off being on bandcamp, and they would reach a far wider audience.

On my way in two of their CDs were on sale. I thought on leaving they would have gone, but no, still there. I asked how many they had sold. Three! Four counting the one I had bought (unless that was included in the three).

But big mistake. The CDs were on sale at £10. This is something you never do at a concert. You offer them at a discount, you are then more likely to sell. In this case it could have been two for £15. An amazing missed opportunity.

Rhapsody in Blue can either be jazz or orchestral. The classic jazz Rhapsody in Blue is performed by Earl Wild on piano.

Before the radio, before the gramophone, orchestral works were transcribed for the piano. There was sheet music. Sheet music was destroying concerts. The radio and gramophone were destroying music halls. We see the same today. Internet is destroying music. All are disruptive technologies.

No, internet is not destroying music. Internet is destroying the big record labels who criminalise those who lose music. Internet is providing new opportunities for creative artists.

The Abbott O’Gorman Piano Duo formed in 1992.

Jocelyn Abbott studied at the University of Victoria, B.C. and the Royal Academy of Music in London. She has been performing professionally since 1978 and has given concerts world-wide both as a soloist and chamber pianist

Laura O’Gorman studied at the Royal Academy of Music and the Moscow Conservatory. She has performed in solo & chamber music concerts world-wide and has recorded with The Philharmonia Orchestra and Moscow’s “Ensemble XXI” and broadcast for the BBC and Classic FM.

I came away from the concert very disappointed. Not just with the concert but how it had been hijacked by Mammon.

During the concert I wished I was anywhere but. My mind drifted to what could have been: Steve Lawson and Lobelia (see Improv #1 and Happy – Steve Lawson and Lobelia), Imogen Heap (see Earth Hour 2012), A Ritmo de Tango (see Concierto de A Ritmo de Tango).

Whilst writing a pleasure to listen a very old recording of Rhapsody in Blue, Earl Wild and the Boston Pops.

George Gershwin once wrote that most piano arrangements of songs are simplified arrangements for mass market purchase by people with limited technical skills. Therefore, in the spring of 1932, he published rather complicated arrangements of eighteen of his songs. These transcriptions, composed for more advanced pianists and often performed by him at parties, gave Gershwin the chance to write several variations on themes he had previously composed and, hopefully would prolong the life of the songs. As technically demanding as Gershwin’s own transcriptions are, they ain’t nuttin’ in comparison with Earl Wild’s dazzling transcriptions. [see Earl Wild – Earl Wild Plays His Transcriptions of Gershwin]

After the concert, lunch with Anthony Wilkinson and his wife. Anthony is festival director of the Wimbledon Music Festival. On the world scene, Wimbledon may be noted for the world’s most important tennis tournament, but under the leadership of Anthony Wilkinson, it is rapidly gaining a name for hosting a world class music festival. This year, 10-25 November 2012, the theme will be A Music World Fair, with 23 events bringing to Wimbledon performers from around the world.

Before lunch we dropped off programmes at the Guildford Tourist Information Office. I suggested mid-September drop off more and drop off at the Guildford Institute.

Had there been time, I would have given a guided tour of Guildford. But we were all three starving, having not been invited to lunch at the concert. All the best places to eat in Guildford were closed as they all stop serving at 3pm.

After lunch I looked in on Ben in Ben’s Records. This too would be a good place for programmes as Ben is a keen supporter of live music.

Top Story in Business in Berkshire Daily News (Thursday 19 July 2012).

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One Response to “Abbott O’Gorman Piano Duo lunchtime piano recital”

  1. keithpp Says:

    The following week following a discussion on ordained ministry at St Nicolas Church I asked the Minister of Guildford URC why the Worship of Mammon.

    He denied the large banner poster on entry to the church. He was adamant not true, he would not permit.

    I showed him a photo.

    He then claimed it was the accountants, they had hired the church for a music concert.

    Not true.

    I pointed out it was the Guildford URC Music Society who were holding a concert of which the accountants were sponsors.

    At this point in the conversation he walked away. Though not before accepting two books I gave him for the church library, which hopefully will actually get put in the church library.

    – By the River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept
    – The Shack

    That night I sent the Doubting Thomas a copy of the picture just so he was left in no doubt what took place in his own church.

    He has not had the courtesy to acknowledge or say thank you.

    It is depressing when the Minister of a church has no idea what is going on in his own church.

    Jesus in the Temple kicked over the tables of the money changers and drove them out of the Temple with a whip.

    Mammon had no place in the Temple, but allowed to dominated Guildford URC.

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