For once I did not drive up to London last week for work but instead let the train take the strain. Or, rather, I let the rain cause me pain as my planned relaxed and easy journey to the capital got off to a bad start when the train was cancelled. Thankfully the staff at the station were clued up and shoved me onto an earlier (but still delayed) option, and I was in place in plenty of time for the Parliament Choir concert on Wednesday evening.
Last year our Christmas concert was distanced and streamed, but this time around things were more or less back to normal, although worries about Omicron did seem to have put a slight dent in ticket sales, as we are usually packed for this event but I could see some empty seats this time around. The enthusiasm was a great as ever, though, and three of my pieces received an outing – The Oxen, We Three Kings and Sweet Was The Song, which had an impromptu rewriting at one point despite being the best known of the lot. The concert was recorded by Classic FM for broadcast in the run up to Christmas.
On Friday I was in Bath with Clyve’s Soul City Foundation for another type of Christmas concert, again with a smaller audience than usual, but equally enjoyable.
What else does one do after an evening playing funk and soul classics to an energetic audience than head off to play for Evensong at Wells Cathedral the following day? It is a different stack of keyboards, I’ll admit, but still part of the wide variety of experiences of a musician’s life. I was playing Stanford, almost exclusively – he was a hard taskmaster by all accounts, so I doubt that he would have approved of my funky double life.
On Sunday I was back in London for the start of the pre-Christmas run of carol concerts, running the music up at Hampstead and then heading back into town to play for two performances of Part I of Messiah. Time was that this would have been a full performance, but with limited audiences it is better to give two shorter performances to a larger number of people than to limit things too harshly. Perhaps by the end of 2022 we will be back to where we were before, or maybe some things will have changed forever, but either way it was a relief to tuck in so much music making when performances were so thin on the ground a year ago.