30 August 2013

Bank holiday

It was a lovely day and everyone was talking of the Bank holiday. It’s a English reference with an interesting history. It’s in the height of summer, and this summer feels hot (for London). I was out to vote for the Federal election (the longest queue I’ve experienced to vote) at Australia House, then work my way to St Martin in the Fields for one concert. I ended up seeing three.

First was the Abraxas Ensemble, which I stumbled on playing a half hour set in Covent Garden. There’s a busking band here 364 days every year (not Christmas Day). I happened on Abraxas playing Mozart, Ravel, Dvorak and the like. All popular classics played with humour and audience interaction. Very well played. Phillip Kelynack (cello) was from Melbourne, Christian Halstead (viola), Teodora (violin) was sitting in and Mandy (Amanda) Drummond (violin). BTW, they are available in all manner of formats for weddings, parties and anything (we all are, but Abraxas are in London).

The main game was a lunchtime flute concert at St Martin in the Fields. Abigail Burrows (flute) was accompanied by Anne Marshall (piano). Abigail’s new husband of 15 days, Gareth McLearnon (flute), sat in for the Carmen fantasy. He’d arranged this and another tune. They played Debussy, Gaubert, Reinecke Sonata in E minor ‘Udine’ and Bizet. Anne played Mozart Twelve variations on “Ah, vous dirai-je Madam” which is thee theme of Twinkle twinkle little star, Baa baa black sheep and more. Interesting and surprisingly modern. I found the playing excellent, fluent piano and nicely toned flute. Most impressed. I have found great musicians around the world, but there must be something special in places of congregation. Certainly, Abraxas and the Burrows / Marshall concerts impressed me immensely. It’s lucky to have this quality on your doorstep.

I stumbled on another performance making my way back to the Tube. This is an amateur concert band and not as impressive as the professionals I’d just seen, but a pleasant family outing. This was the KEMS (King Edward Musical Society) Concert Band from Macclesfield. This was the fourth and last concert of their Belgian tour. My favourite was a suite of songs from South Pacific, although other favourites included James Bond, Pirates of the Caribbean and the March of the Belgian Paratroopers.

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