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Monday, July 27, 2009

England Study Tour 1975 - 8

Saturday, June 22
To Aldeburgh, the festival founded by Benjamin Britten and Peter Pears:
To Aldeburgh--a performance of Hail, Bright Cecilia and Coleridge-Taylor's Hiawatha's Wedding Feast -- it could have been me today, but I thought the Purcell was dull (a dull piece, that is) -- the choir I thought performaed very well, the soloists unevenly: Charles Brett (Countertenor)and Christopher Keyte (baritone) performed very well, the others I was sort of indifferent to (except Pears) -- Anthony Rolfe Johnson and John Shirley-Quirk were among the other soloists [don't know why they didn't impress--they're among my favorite singers] and Peter Ashton conducted -- Pears really seems to be aging [he was 65 at the time], but it's quite an experience to see and hear him live -- can't wait to hear him in Death in Venice! -- Hiawatha was much more interesting than I thought it would be -- the piece is repetitive, but has nice tunes, etc. -- the chorus and orchestra (English Chamber Orchestra) sang and played very well -- really impressed with the orchestra: marvelous sound, beautiful ensemble, particularly strings and brass -- I could listen to the orchestra all day

We saw Britten!! [we were in our coach ready to go and a convertible Rolls Royce went by with Imogen Holst driving and Britten and Pears in the back] -- he looks much better than I (at least) expected -- he apparently is allowed to work for an hour or so a day and has written two new works since the illness -- I hope he has many more pieces to come [unfortunately he died of heart failure in December, 1976]

To the ruins of Framlingham Castle for a band concert in the evening (Military Band School) out of doors -- the band wasn't actually very good -- the most interesting thing on the program (except for the Beethoven) was Holst's Eb Band Suite, conducted by Imogen Holst -- that lady has a lot of spirit! It was actually, I thought, the best they played all evening -- to top the evening off (and did it top it off!) we had Beethoven's Battle Symphony--Wellington's Victory, which turned out to be an awful piece (that of it that we listened to) but which came complete with bands marching in from different directions, trumpeters on the castle walls, and some of the most exciting fireworks I've every seen: I as watching extremely closely because it looked as if they would come our way any minute! An absolutely marvelous day and evening -- I only regret we couldn't spend more time In Aldeburgh -- another experience, however, impossible ever to duplicate


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