How to get a Russian Visa

IMG_6477Getting a Visa can be confusing and complicated. When I booked my recent trip to Russia, I hadn’t really thought about it until after I’d booked the flights and accommodation. Luckily I am an early booker and so I had looooooooooooads of time to get this sorted, but I was a little overwhelmed by how convoluted the process seemed to be. However it definitely wasn’t as confusing as I’d anticipated. Here’s the steps I went through… Continue reading

Musical mooch in Moscow

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I’ve just got back from Russia and had the absolute best time. I can’t recommend the place enough – both St Petersburg and Moscow are drenched in music and history, and you can hardly walk down a street without seeing a plaque with a famous name on it (particularly Lenin’s).

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Lenin woz here

There are numerous individual musical locations I’m going to talk about later, but I thought I’d start off with a musical mooch I took, taking in a few locations within a 30 minute walk in the centre of Moscow. Continue reading

Versailles

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In the Hall of Mirrors

Somehow I always manage to go to places at just the wrong time for musical experiences – you’d think as a musical traveller I’d know better. Whether it’s off-season in Vienna or Versailles, I always manage to go when the music stops. It’s like I’m really bad at international musical chairs. Continue reading

Opera Bolognese

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Bologna has three nicknames – la dotta, la rossa, la grassa: the Learned (due to its 11th century university, the 2nd oldest in the world) , the Red (for the architecture) and the Fat – needless to say, I was most interested in the latter. The city is a lovely place, not somewhere I would’ve thought to visit to be honest, but I was lucky enough to have a friend who lived there so I popped over for a visit to catch up, soak up some sun and culture, and eat a lot of gelato.

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Consecrating Coventry Cathedral

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Coventry Cathedral – photo from Association of British Cathedrals

The first time I heard Britten’s War Requiem in concert (at Symphony Hall in Birmingham), I went home and was violently ill. Ok, it may have been food poisoning, but I prefer to think I was so struck by the power of the music that I had a strong physical reaction to the emotions it drew out of me. That’s the angle I’d go for in my biography anyway. Continue reading

Mozart Marionettes

img_72511.jpgThe problem with having a summer birthday means birthday-trips come at a time when lots of concert halls and opera houses are closed for the summer (except the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden, where top classes performances carry on through the summer. And let’s not forget the BBC Proms). We had this problem last year with a double-birthday trip to Vienna – early July seems to offer only naff Mozartian-costumed orchestras and morning organ recitals. Nein, danke. Continue reading

Elgar’s University days

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As a music student at the University of Birmingham, it was often mentioned that Edward Elgar was our very first Professor of Music. What is usually left out is that there weren’t actually any music students at the time, and Elgar’s only required duties were to give 6 public lectures a year for a salary of £400.  Continue reading