Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Music al fresco

A whole Sibelius symphony was not something that I expected from the Southampton University Student Orchestra – but it was what we got, sitting in the evening sunshine and surrounded by skaters, cyclists and casual passers-by.  We also got Valse Triste, Masquarade, Nimrod, some odd Russians and finishing with a typical Catalan Sardana – which got the loudest and most enthusiastic response of the evening.

I thoroughly enjoyed the evening and it was a real treat to hear such music in the open air and virtually at the bottom of our street!

Evaluation of the performances must take into account that the performers were students, it was in the open air and there were many distractions ranging from explosions to one small irritating girl bounding a ball not quite in the same rhythm as the orchestra!

The strings were the weakest part of the ensemble with the first violins sounding less than convincing in some of the more exposed passages.  Though the rendition of Valse Triste was given a commanding performance where the quiet parts of the piece enforced attention in spite of the many distractions. The brass was unconfined and a little rangy in their approach while the woodwind were, in my view the most successful part of the orchestra.

Talking to the conductor at the end of the concert during which I managed to get the number of the Sibelius symphony wrong (unforgivable in a confirmed Sibelian like myself) he seemed genuinely grateful that a Briton had listened and taken time to express thanks.  Their appearance seemed to be almost whimsical as the orchestra travels abroad every year and decides sometimes on a vote where they will go.  The programme is then arranged with performances being fitted in where they could be.  It seems it was just luck that they figured in our local celebrations.  Lucky us.

Today, as if to complement the cultural feast last night, my tickets for the operas in the Liceu for next season have arrived.  I think.  I am still not convinced that I have bought anything as the Catalan for the experience ha been impenetrable.  Somewhere else I will have to phone up and discover what, if anything, I have got confirmed for next season.

Having gone out to get replacements cartridges for my printer I came back with a new one which seemed to offer exactly what I wanted in a printer.

Perhaps inevitably I think I am disappointed.  One of the essential features for me was the ability of the machine to do double sided printing automatically.  This is doesn’t seem to do in spite of the assistant in the shop having hunted through the Internet to find out if it could.  The only double-sided printing that I can find is double sided copying from two originals which is not what I had in mind when I bought it.  Tomorrow I will go back to the shop with the instructions booklet and ask him to show me where double-sided printing of documents can be done.  Then I will take the whole machine back.  Sigh!

Today has been a blazingly hot day with only the brisk wind making it bearable.  I can live with that.

This evening I met Irene and we discussed the future and have given each other a series of research projects to get started on.  Our plans, as always, are far-reaching and enthusiastic – how realistic they are we will have to wait for our conclusions to be drawn from what we find out.  I remain optimistic.  As ever.

I retire to my bed eager for the contents of my Retirement Lucky Bag to start arriving!
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