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

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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

Royal Opera House, Covent Garden

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I think it isn’t going too far to say that the Royal Opera House is one of my favourite places in the whole world (on a list that includes the British Museum, my parents’s settee, and my own bed). I have fallen in love here, cried here, discovered new favourites, and generally been emotionally overwhelmed by some of the greatest performances I’ve ever seen. Continue reading

Zenkō-ji in Nagano

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I travelled to Japan a few years ago, and for various reasons it was an incredibly important trip to me. I got to see some amazing sights, meet some wonderful people and tasted some delicious food. There were also lots of new experiences – including, but not limited to, robot restaurants, bullet trains, Harajuku shopping, and naked public bathing (which I WILL NOT be blogging about) – including a fantastic early-morning Buddhist ceremony at Zenkō-ji temple in Nagano. Continue reading