To Weave a Pattern That is Seamless

I’ve had a few health issues over the past couple of years – I won’t bore you withal the details, but I ended up saying to my GP;

“My right hand doesn’t let me play the piano or the organ, my left shoulder won’t let me play the cello or double bass and I’ve lost my voice so I can’t sing. I’m a musician – what am I supposed to do?”

“Compose something for ME to sing!” was her reply!

Emma sings with “Tarantara”, a superb choir based in Stratford on Avon which sings in a wide range of styles and genres, and whose members are obviously having a whale of a time when they perform. It is conducted by Jonathan Hill, who was a colleague of mine 30 odd years ago when he was Head of Music in one of the 13 schools where I taught cello.

So I did just that. I thought about it for a while, searching for some suitable lyrics, and then asked her if she had anything in mind. She suggested a poem which she and husband, Garry, had chosen to have as a reading at their wedding.

“What is a Soul Mate?”

If you have found a smile that is the sweetest one you’ve known,

If you have heard, within a voice, the echoes of your own,

If you have felt a touch that stirs the longings of your heart,

And still can feel that closeness in the moments you’re apart,

If you have filled with wonder at the way two lives can blend

To weave a perfect pattern that is seamless, end to end,

If you believe some things in life are simply meant to be,

Then you have found your soul mate, your heart’s own destiny.

Emily Matthews

I could hear Emma singing it in my head almost immediately and set to work. In October last year it was done and ready and I took her a copy straight away along with a recording of my daughter, Marianne, who has a similar voice, singing it for her. Emma loved it and Garry was very moved.

Emma and Sheila

Emma and Sheila

Last night, 19th October 2013, Emma performed it for the first time at a Tarantara concert in Stratford Methodist Church and I was privileged to be asked to accompany her.

I would love to make this song available from my website but my dilemma is that I cannot find out who Emily Matthews is to know whether the words are in copyright. The poem is available all over the internet in various websites, always giving credit to the writer but never with a copyright sign. Can anybody tell me whether I can publish my setting of her words legally?

Published in: on October 20, 2013 at 8:52 am  Leave a Comment  

New Arrival

I have one free day per week. I say free – no, it’s not! I do whatever admin needs doing, record MP3s for pupils, especially blind ones, do the washing, visit my parents, clean the house….you know what it’s like.

I also go and play the organ at St Martin’s Church in London Road, where they have been very good to me and enabled me to regain and then keep the skill I almost lost through not playing for 6 years after leaving Pershore Abbey. But by the time I have driven there, got the key, opened up, taken the key back, climbed the spiral staircase, got my breath back, played for 45 minutes until my hands have given up, packed up, spoken to the secretary to see if next week is ok, and driven home – two hours have passed.

In the winter, it can be barely above freezing in churches and my hands don’t like that. It’s a wonderful organ, with 3 manuals and it’s the one I learned and took my Grade 8 on, beautifully maintained by Trevor Tipple. I’m very fond of it and very grateful that Trevor encouraged me to start going and practising there regularly a couple of years ago.

Recently, Stephen started looking at organs on Ebay. We even put in an offer for one. Then one came up which looked very promising but we were kept waiting for months being told it would be here within the next fortnight, it was just being refurbished, it just needed some new parts, it was just in Holland waiting for a man to come out of retirement and make one good one out of three old ones….

So we looked at the Allen site. Allen’s have been making organs since 1935 and digital ones since 1970. I knew about them because of hearing the American organist, Carlo Curley, playing years ago and then spending time with him in Sweden in 2004. Although he sadly died last year, his Allen touring organ was in Pershore Abbey last Christmas and I had the opportunity to play it. (See this previous post!)

Well, you can guess what’s coming – I bought an Allen!! “He’s” not quite up to Carlo’s specifications, but having him in my home will allow me to play more frequently in the warm for less time, “You go and cook the dinner, dear, while I just play some Bach!” – sounds good to me!

He is in wonderful condition for a 23 year old instrument, has two manuals, enough voices for me, and enough noise to annoy the neighbours, though having tried it on full volume, and with the doors and windows shut, it’s hardly audible outside. This organ used to be in the South Norwood United Reformed Church but I’m told the building has been condemned and the congregation has moved elsewhere. If any of you should read this – rest assured he will have a good and loving home!

So here he is! As he was delivered on the 4th of July, and I only knew about Allen’s through the wonderful Mr Curley,  I think he has to be named Carlo.


Published in: on July 5, 2013 at 12:15 pm  Leave a Comment  

Gilbert and Sullivan Abridged – a review

Having been a Gilbert and Sullivan fan since I was about 12, a chance to hear ALL their works in the space of 90 minutes sounded good – a really enjoyable evening’s entertainment. Having seen The Reduced Shakespeare Company’s hilarious, witty, slick production of that great man’s works a few years ago and an equally entertaining version of the bible, I was expecting a good night out.

Not so!

Maybe paying £2 for a “programme” – a piece of card with a Union Jack on one side and biographies of the cast on the other – should have alerted us to the cheap-skate production we were in for. Even the programme sellers were apologising as they sold them.

Gilbert and Sullivan Abridged was performed by only 3 people, Jane Webster, a lady with a voice, though rather too much vibrato, David Osmond, a young tenor, quite pleasant to listen to on his own but who had difficulty holding his own line against the wobble, and Eric Carte, who did the patter songs but didn’t know the words and couldn’t sing.

The premise of the so called story was that these people belonged to a rather debilitated G&S Society from a village called Scratchy Bottom and at first I thought they were acting – pretending that they couldn’t sing. Believe me, these three would not pass an audition for the chorus of ANY self-respecting G&S society.

It was toe-curlingly embarrassing, especially as most of the 600 people in the audience were G&S aficionados, many of whom could have got up on stage and performed a great deal better than what was on offer.

The pianist was presumably too embarrassed to appear. There was no piano – only a recording of what sounded like a fairly run-of-the-mill electronic keyboard which, of course, didn’t follow the soloists or allow any time for the ad libs which are so much a part of the patter songs. The fact that the performer didn’t know the words and came in a bar late at times, was not helped by the accompaniment galloping on regardless. With only 3 players, one sound man and maybe a roadie, they could have afforded a really good live accompanist, which might just have salvaged at least some of the numbers.

Poor Wand’ring One was sung in Eflat when it should have been in Aflat – do they think we don’t know these things? She could have got up there if she had tried – though playing the part of the policeman doing the tarantaras in bass register can’t have helped her voice any! A chorus of pirates and policeman represented by two men and a woman should never have been attempted. It sounded like one man and his dog!

It would be rude to call this performance amateur – there are so many amateur (i.e. unpaid) societies who could have done a far better job than this. This performance was under-rehearsed, badly cast, badly written and not entertaining in any way, shape or form. The full house at Malvern Forum Theatre was cheated.

We were not the only ones to leave at the interval. There was no hope of it improving in the second half. There are many performances scheduled around the country in the next few weeks. Take my advice – if you’ve already bought a ticket, stay at home, paint a wall and watch it dry. It will be a better use of your time.

Many comments have come in on the above post – please click on “comments” below to view these.


Published in: on February 9, 2013 at 11:31 am  Comments (29)