Saturday, 10 December 2016

Musical memories

After a late breakfast, Owain went off to see friends before returning to Bristol. Clare and I got ready to go to the Millennium Centre for lunch, before a matinee performance of Cole Porter's classic musical comedy 'Kiss me Kate'. It was raining, and likely keep raining for the rest of the day, so we decided to drive there by car. The car wouldn't start, so we had to abandon the car and wait for a 61 bus. The next one was late arriving and very crowded. We were the only two allowed on at the stop. Sheer luck. We only had to wait a few minutes for the number 6 Bay Car bus in town. 

The city centre was heaving with damp shoppers. When we got there, the Millennium centre was also pretty crowded with damp people. I think there may have been other events on besides 'Kiss me Kate'. We had to queue for ten minutes to get sandwiches for lunch, and it was difficult to find a place to sit and eat them. It was amazingly busy, but despite the minor inconvenience, it's good to realise how well used the place is.

I doubt if any Broadway musical production could have surpassed this one. Fine singing, brilliant solo and ensemble dancing, engaging comedy, and a wonderful stylish relationship between performers and audience, so evocative of fifties vaudeville. I can't remember when I last saw a live performance or a movie, it's so long ago, but several of the big songs I knew well. My mother had a compendium of sheet music songs from the show. She would play the piano accompaniment while my sister June sang, and occasionally it would just be Mum singing. It was a lovely moment of escapist romance in the front room of our three bedroomed miner's terrace dwelling in Ystrad Mynach. It's a fond memory I have of childhood, even though it causes me to feel sadness as well as pleasure when I hear the music again. I don't know why this should be.

I was fortunate enough to be raised in a household that loved to sing and play music together. When our children were young our home was the same. Clare still sings and plays piano, but I've lost the taste for it in recent years, I'm ashamed to say, and don't understand why. After my mother had a stroke, she did make an effort to resume playing, but found it dauntingly difficult, and so the house fell silent, and the sound of live music was replaced by that of the radio. Perhaps I too am daunted by the difficulty of moving from perpetually practising music to performing it, and the feeling I have no audience to work at performing for. I just have to be grateful there's still an audience for my preaching and leadership of worship. I hope our offspring will never give up performing, or wanting to find an audience to perform to. It's a great treasure to relish.

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