September 3, 2019

Music is a mystery. What is it exactly? Music is sound certainly, but all sound is not music. It seems that the defining characteristic of music is that it organises sound. Speech organises sound to its own end, that of communicating a prescribed meaning. Music organis...

May 9, 2019

In 1934 the American theologian Karl Reinhold Niebuhr, began to end his sermons with a short prayer:

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change

The courage to change the things I can

And the wisdom to know the difference

'The Serenity Prayer' was taken...

March 2, 2019

It was in early 1841 that the 31 year old Robert Schumann composed his first symphony. He had, the previous year, married 21 year old Clara Wieck, the young woman he ardently loved and whose father had created almost insurmountable opposition to the union. Clara attrib...

March 2, 2019

We are strange creatures, we humans. On the one hand we do not do so well on our own. We are bees in a beehive, each of us contributing our skills to the general cause. We want to belong... to another, to a family, society, or nation. And we conform to the zeitgeist, m...

January 16, 2019

The Language of Love is the title we've chosen for two concerts based on arias of Rossini and Handel that Ismena is giving in February. It is also an interesting idea to mull over. Meanwhile, for a concert in March, Darris Golinski and I are working on a words and musi...

December 14, 2018

In preparing readings from Goethe's Faust for November's concerts, I have been thinking a great deal about the Faust myth. Who was Faust and why does this age old tale of a man's pact with the devil in exchange for power and knowledge, hold such sway?

It seems that Faus...

December 14, 2018

Christmas. An odd time of year. For some, primarily children I imagine, a time of wonder and anticipation. For many, a reflective and even bittersweet time of tallying up the losses and gains of the year, of marking the passage of time. And for not so few, a desperatel...

September 16, 2018

In preparing a spoken word and cello reflection entitled 'Hiraeth' (the Welsh word meaning a longing for home), I have been reflecting on the notion of home. Of course, home is more than house, more than bricks and mortar, more than a solid and fixed point. But home ca...

July 13, 2018

Erik Satie (the 'k' was his own invention as he had been christened Éric Alfred Leslie Satie), eccentric, rebel, humourist and self-professed phonometrician (measurer of sound) was born in 1866. He is perhaps best known for the first of his three Gymnopédies, a very ea...

June 26, 2018

In the last episode of his monumental BBC series, Civilisations, Simon Schama, asks, 'What can Art do when horror comes calling?' In attempting to answer that question, he looks at the art made in Theresienstadt, the model village that acted as a front to hide the horr...

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Presence at Christmas (plus a free download)

December 14, 2018

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