Posts Tagged ‘Wimbledon’

Il Siglo d’Oro

November 21, 2012
Cardinall's Musick at Wimbledon Music Festival

Cardinall’s Musick at Wimbledon Music Festival

Cardinall's Musick at Wimbledon Music Festival

Cardinall’s Musick at Wimbledon Music Festival

Cardinall's Musick at Wimbledon Music Festival

Cardinall’s Musick at Wimbledon Music Festival

Last week Petrushka, this week Il Siglo d’Oro at St Paul’s in Putney, part of the Wimbledon Music Festival.

The plan was Wimbledon, then Putney for a concert, but it was awful day, change of plan, Charing Cross Road, hit the bookshops (the quest for NeverSeconds continues), dinner at Food for Thought, then Putney for Il Siglo d’Oro.

Il Siglo d’Oro the Golden Age – was the name that Spaniards gave to their great flowering of music in the 16th century.

Il Siglo d’Oro – music in honour of the Virgin Mary from sixteenth-century Spain, by Guerrero, Morales, Victoria and Lobo, part of the Wimbledon Music Festival at St Paul’s, Putney, London. Performance by The Cardinall’s Musick.

Prior to the concert and during the interval, the buzz of conversation was not the concert, nor the Wimbledon Music Festival, but the failure of the Church of England yesterday to agree to women bishops. A great deal of anger. The tail wagging the dog. Fundamentalists and bigots who lack knowledge of Scripture, ignorant of early Church History. Jesus had women disciples, Paul had a woman as an important emissary, the Early Church had women bishops. But then this is a church that in the past burnt women and heretics at the stake, supported Slavery, and used Scripture to do so. We do not have White Bishops to deal with racists, why therefore Male Bishops to deal with bigots? The bigots have aligned themselves with Muslim fundamentalists. When the Archbishop of Canterbury says the church lacks credibility, then we know something is very wrong. At a stroke, the Church of England has rendered itself an irrelevance.

In some ways an irony considering the music. The Church of England has always found itself ill at ease with the veneration if not worship of Mary in the Catholic Church. The music for the evening’s concert was a veneration of Mary. The veneration of Mary has arisen because of the lack of a female face of God, and yet for those who wish to check their Scripture, man and woman were created equal, in the image of God.

The opening piece was from the Song of Solomon, as were some later pieces.

The Song of Solomon is an erotic love poem, it is also a worship of Jerusalem as a woman.

Earlier this year BBC Radio 4 had a wonderful dramatization of the Song of Solomon, but the BBC displaying its usual crass stupidity and forgetting it is a public service broadcaster paid out of the Licence Fee, only kept on-line for seven days.

Were we here for a music lecture or a concert? I think the director thought the former, whereas I thought the latter. Interesting as his points were illustrating each piece, they broke up the concert. Though not as bad as Fusiones concierto de Ensamble dos orillas in Puerto de la Cruz in Tenerife this spring where every piece had to be introduced and explained, and it was in German (though I was told later it is what Germans expect). What would have been far better would have been a half hour pre-concert talk with vocal illustrations of the points made.

My gold standard for early Music is The Sixteen. I am criticised for being unfair, possibly true.

It is actually quite difficult to compare. Different number of players, different venues, different music.

In the spring I saw the The Sixteen in Winchester Cathedral at the start of their Choral Pilgrimage, then one week later at Croydon Minster, same music. I was curious what difference the venue made. It made a huge difference, Croydon Minster was an entirely different experience to Winchester Cathedral.

Cardinall’s Musick eight players, at times only four or five. The Sixteen often more than sixteen.

Compared with The Sixteen in Guildford Cathedral performing Victoria (veneration of Mary), Cardinall’s Musick were a disappointment, but then The Sixteen on their Choral Pilgrimage this year were a disappointment compared with The Sixteen performing Victoria in Guildford Cathedral last October.

That is not to say Cardinall’s Musick were not worth seeing, far from it, and they made excellent use of the acoustics of the building, it merely illustrates my point that comparisons are not easy.

Music is dying, the music industry is dying. That is what the media likes us to think. They are wrong, live music is thriving, music at grass roots is thriving, if what I have seen of the Wimbledon Music festival, music festivals are thriving. What is dying, is the big record companies, an aberration that is killing music, and the sooner they die the better, but everyone is suffering as they lash out in their death throes.

One area though that is suffering is classical music. In part, because once you have a good recording of a classical piece, why buy another, unless it is substantially different or better?

Look around the concert tonight. You would have been hard pushed to find anyone under sixty. Petrushka was different, there was a good age range, including a few children, girls in their teens and a few young women in their twenties, probably it was the puppets that pulled them in, but it was still heavily skewed to the 60+ end of the age spectrum.

Not unique to tonight. A common phenomenon. Is that because this is the last generation and they are slowly dying off, or do you have to be this age to appreciate the music? If the latter, do you have to be deaf?

Music has to be a community supported activity. I noticed everyone seemed to know Festival Director Anthony Wilkinson, also he seemed to have a band of willing volunteers flogging programmes, serving drinks, managing the tickets. They also have a schools programme, though not being local, I know not what it is.

This message has yet to get across to performers. The days have long gone when they can remain aloof.

During the interval I noticed no CDs on sale. I was about to raise this with Anthony, when on the front row I noticed a pile of CDs. I went over to pick one up, for a lady to explain they were hers, but I was welcome to have a look. She then told me she had asked, and that was how she got these, but she said only two different albums Byrd and Guerrero. A small box of CDs vanished whilst we were talking.

Somewhere during the second half, mention was made of CDs for sale, but not what, where they would be, or how much.

After the concert, I went over and thanked the lady. She said, if you do not ask, you do not get. I then saw again the same small box, to find people were being told, sorry, all sold, you can find on the net. I asked how much? I was told £10.

This is not good enough. They should have had a stall (I am amazed they did not), they should have been chatting to people, mingling, signing CDs.

I usually do not buy a programme, partly I object to paying extra, but usually they are waste of money.

The programme for the festival was a small book. Flipping through one I could see a lot of work had gone into preparing it. I am sorry to say that when I left, I forgot to pick one up.

The website for the festival could be improved. It lacked links to any of the performers. That is simply bad web design.

A random sample of the artists, none had the means to listen on-line, bar a few minutes lofi samples.

Why, what are they fearful of, or are they simply complying with the diktats of record labels who are stuck in the Stone Age?

Every single one should have been on bandcamp and youtube or vimeo. That way people can listen, share with their friends, download digital music, buy albums.

If you go to a concert and enjoy what you have seen and heard, the first thing you wish to do (apart from listening to the CD you may have been able to purchase), is to share with your friends. Why make that difficult if nigh impossible?

From what I have seen, two events, a festival worth visiting, just a pain to get to if you do not live in Wimbledon.

Many thanks to Festival Director Anthony Wilkinson for the invite.

Wimbledon Music Festival runs 10-25 November 2012.

The Cardinall’s Musick is a UK-based vocal ensemble specialising in music of the 16th and 17th centuries and contemporary music. Founded by the scholar and musicologist David Skinner and the singer-director Andrew Carwood. They take their name from the 16th century English cardinal, Thomas Wolsey.

For next year, a few suggestions (with a sample performance or album):

A more contemporary feel which maybe would pull in a younger audience.

Wimbledon then Putney

November 21, 2012

Last week I found my way to Wimbledon for Petrushka, this week Wimbledon then Putney for Il Siglo d’Oro.

At least that was the plan, but change of plan, it was raining hard and had been all morning.

I called a taxi. Had I walked to the station or caught a bus, I would have been soaked.

Taxi arrived, it had stopped raining, but it meant I caught the fast train to London, and it could have started raining again.

At the station, airport level security, half a dozen police. Not something I have seen at a station before.

Before I got to London, more heavy rain.

Tube to Leicester Square, walk along Charing Cross Road, visit the bookshops, the Quest for Neverseconds continues.

Early dinner at Food for Thought. As I was leaving, it was starting to get busy.

Tube from Covent Garden to Putney with change at Earls Court. Walk to St Paul’s Church for Il Siglo d’Oro.

On my way to the station, I saw a bus, hopped on, but it was only one stop.

Tube to Wimbledon, then train, then change for another train, then bus.

Afternoon in Wimbledon

November 14, 2012
setting sun at Surbiton Station

setting sun at Surbiton Station

A hassle to get to Wimbledon, but not as much a hassle as I expected it to be.

Bus, train, then change train at Surbiton, for train to Wimbledon. Only around ten minutes wait at Surbiton.

At Surbiton, amazing setting sun, aligned with the tracks, turning everything gold.

Coming out of Wimbledon Station grim, even worse than Croydon. Hit with carbon monoxide poisoning, Large Starbucks across the road, and one on the platform.

The Starbucks was packed. What is wrong with people? Overpriced poor quality coffee, and they dodge tax.

In Waterstone’s I asked for NeverSeconds. They had not a clue. No, we do not have, and no it is not on order. They did at least direct me to a secondhand book shop.

The secondhand bookshop when I eventually found it, was a disappointment. £10 for a damaged hardback copy of The Zahir, £3 for a very dog-eared paperback copy of The Winner Stands Alone. There was only myself and one other person in the shop.

Where to eat? I was hungry.

A trek up a hill along a tree-lined road to Wimbledon Village. I was told there were restaurants, but very expensive and not very good.

I found a lovely little coffee shop cum bakery The Lawn Bakery just closing. An interesting restaurant called Butcher and Grill, which was quite literally a butcher and a restaurant.

£11-50 for a burger or more seemed standard, plus a 12.5% service charge.

I eventually settled on a restaurant with lots of wooden tables. It appeared to be a chain with a pretentious name pretending hard not to be a chain.

A bowl of soup £5-50. At the bottom of the menu, in tiny small print needing a magnifying glass to read, discretionary 12.5% service charge.

I called the waitress over. Do I have to pay this? Yes. Do you receive it? You know as well as I do that I do not.

I walked out.

Same in a Thai restaurant.

This is dishonesty bordering on fraud.

I ate in Wagamama. Service was very poor, but the food good. Not cheap, with an orange juice, over £11-50.

I can see why they are profitable. Ingredients very cheap, massive mark-up. But to be fair, they are using fresh ingredients, and everything is freshly cooked.

I would not normally eat in a chain. But I can see why Wagamama popular in Wimbledon when other restaurants blatantly rip people off. If they go out of business, they deserve to. As I left Wagamama, people were queuing to get in.

I then set off for St John’s church, my reason for being in Wimbledon, a puppet performance of Petrushka, part of the Wimbledon Music Festival.

Leaving, a walk to the station, luckily a bus came along, which dropped me off at the station.

I had been told to change at Surbiton, but it meant a long wait. I found I was better off changing at Woking. At Woking only a ten minutes wait. I then expected a long cold walk home, but luckily a bus pulled into the station, I jumped on.

I expected a hassle there and back, but although I had to change trains, it was not too bad.