Saturday, 30 May 2009

Flight to Accra

The flight to Ghana went well. Sammie and I managed to get the seats next to the emergency exit. Roine was a few rows in front. The cabin crew were in good spirits, and as one team served food and drink from the back, the other worked from the front, and they tended to meet just where we were sitting. So we got offered most things twice, especially the wine. Every time they gave us a red wine, they offered an extra one. We were consuming them rapidly, but after an hour or so, we have accumulated at least half a dozen unopened ones. Sam went to get Roine, and he was able to sit facing us on the cabin staff seat. What a great way to pass a flight. The three of us chatted away and drank red wine for the rest of the journey, taking it in turns to go to different ends of the cabin to get more supplies. The cabin staff referred to us as having a party, and everyone else on the plane looked glum and alone, but we had a great time. We landed about 8:20 p.m. and were met by Sam's brother, Ebenezer, or Eben, in his car. We were also met by someone from the hotel, as Sam wanted to make sure that there was a backup plan. So we all made our way to the hotel around the corner. The immense heat, mid-thirties, made us glad of the air-con in the car. We checked in, and a short while later met up to go to a mall where there was a reasonable restaurant. It was a bit bland, but it was great to finally be in Africa!

First we tried Star beer. It was not particularly good, so we moved on to Club beer, which was much better. Then we tried Gulder, which seemed better again, but only because we had drunk so much. In the end, we decided that Club was the better of the beers on offer in Ghana. Beer seems to be the drink of choice here. By the time we got back to the hotel, I was well and truly knackered. What a Saturday.

Thursday, 28 May 2009

Trumpet duets

Because I was originally supposed to be in Mali by now, Cathy took the kids to the in-laws in Yorkshire, and they won't be back until after I leave for Ghana on Saturday. So I was delighted when Simon texted me this morning to see what I was doing this evening. How about trumpet duets says he? Absolutely says I. You bring the beer, and I'll supply the food. What a great noisy, self-indulgent evening. Both of us have improved a lot since we last attempted duets, which was quite a while ago now. Most satisfying.

Sunday, 24 May 2009

Langtree Sinfonia

Recently I started rehearsing with another orchestra, the Langtree Sinfonia, at the invitation of a friend of mine who had helped out with his trumpet at one of my Crowthorne Orchestra performances last year. Langtree Sinfonia takes its name from the School where it rehearses, having been set up there a few decades ago as an adult education class that developed into a permanent ensemble. It is interesting just how many of the community orchestras and bands started this way.

This evening we had a concert in the beautiful Dorchester Abbey which is about 19 miles North of my house. The programme was fairly standard, an overture, a concerto and a symphony:

  • Rossini - The Barber of Seville overture
  • Beethoven - Violin concerto - Soloist: Todor Nikolaev
  • Sibelius - 1st symphony
After assembling with our instruments for a formal orchestra photo, we started the concert at 7 pm. The overture was nothing special, just a warm up to get everyone going, really. The Violin Concerto had been somewhat dull in the rehearsals. Naturally we did not have the soloist with us, so it was lacking in that key aspect. Even in the play-through in the afternoon, the soloist did not play the cadenzas, which have no orchestra backing, so I was not prepared for anything special from him. However, his main cadenza was quite long, but incredibly musical and very dexterous. It was a real pleasure to be a part of that. But for me the real highlight was the Sibelius 1st Symphony. This is a marvellous piece of music, and this was the first time we had played it with timps, trombones and tuba. I have got to know the symphony very well over the last few months in rehearsals, so it was a tremendous experience playing through the whole of it. Naturally, one or two of us got lost, particular one climactic section where all we could hear from where I sat was the timps bashing away so loud that we lost our place. But it all came together at the end in a huge climax, with the sounds resounding around the old abbey. What a great evening.

Next time I might bring some people along to listen, if they can make it to such an out of the way place in the Oxfordshire countryside.

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Reading, Berkshire, United Kingdom

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