Archive Summer 2012

Well, it happened. The London Philharmonic Orchestra and I entertained the Queen, to the extent that she jiggled in time to the Hornpipe. It was exactly as it should have been: pouring with rain, just like at the Coronation in 1953. We were in the very last barge, played for nearly two hours and had amazing world-wide television coverage. My jacket and I are world-famous now… It was actually a delightful occasion, apart from the fate of the poor singers in our marvellous little chorus on the roof, who were soaked. They survived …just. And they were amazingly good-humoured about it.

The whole spring has been fantastic. The two big concerts in May were both very successful. At the Newbury Festvial Vaughan Williams’s wonderful and rarely-performed oratorio, Dona nobis pacem, was truly inspiring to do, with the excellent Festival Chorus and the English Chamber Orchestra both in great form, and Marcus Farnsworth and April Frederick both singing beautifully. The piece is constructed in a way like a mini War Requiem, the soprano identifying with the chorus and the baritone intimate with the audience. I placed April in the pulpit above the orchestra and near the chorus and she enacted the whole drama of the piece, subtly but with great concentration. I think it made the performance. The orchestra and I performed Elgar’s Enigma Variations too, pretty thrillingly, by all accounts.

At the Norfolk and Norwich Festival, where I am Artistic Associate, with my very own Festival Chorus, a great programme. Debussy’s Nocturnes, with the ladies of the chorus valiantly strutting the stuff as sirens, Elgar’s Sea Pictures fabulously performed by Anna Stéphany in the very hall where Clara Butt gave the world premiere under Elgar in 1899, and Poulenc Gloria with Fflur Wyn the most controlled and radiant soprano soloist. The London Philharmonic again, such a wonderful and human orchestra. A hugely exciting concert. It was strangely moving to perform Sea Pictures with the ghost of Elgar hovering there in St Andrew’s Hall in Norwich. Apparently Clara Butt gave her rendition dressed as a mermaid. Anna baulked at that, though she did wear a fetching sea-turquoise number…

And we have had the pre-dress rehearsal of La Périchole at Garsington, with a great cast, production and Jeremy Sams’s extremely amusing English version. And my own English version of Mozart’s The Impresario which intriguingly ties in with Pagliacci tp make a wonderfully apposite double-bill, is in the last stages of rehearsal too, conducted by my lovely partner in crime John Andrews. Exciting times!