When in Rome…

I live in the city of Canterbury, in the south east of England. It attracts many visitors, principally for its magnificent cathedral and plentiful other reminders of mediaeval life, from its city walls and towers to 14th-century pubs and Dane John, a strategic defence mound cited in the Bayeux tapestry. Step inside the 15th-century Three Read More …

A star is born

The beginning of a new calendar year also marks the Christian Feast of the Epiphany as embodied in the journey of the Three Wise Men seeking the new-born Jesus, led by a star. Star attractions aren’t confined to this context, however; they have provided inspiration for composers on a number of levels, appearing in numerous Read More …

Counter-tenorism.

The human voice, Nature’s ‘instrument’, is a flexible piece of equipment. Men singing in the female sex’s natural register or ‘modal voice’ is usually referred to as a counter-tenor, sometimes a male soprano. They take advantage of the fact that the male voice can slip a gear into a female-like falsetto tone. And not just Read More …

December’s in the ayre.

Although city centres and shopping complexes have for some weeks been ringing with the sound of musical Christmas jollies, this blog presents the reverse side of the coin, with a small selection of works that reflect a less traditional side of the month of December. I’m going to start with what is undoubtedly one of Read More …

A Frame of Gnomes

The nearest I’ve ever got to a gnome is by eyeing its dictionary definition: In folklore, one of a species of diminutive beings, usually described as shriveled little old men, that inhabit the interior of the earth and act as guardians of its treasures; troll. The plastic garden gnome subspecies doesn’t get a mention, not Read More …

Earworms for bookworms.

I recently registered with my local library and duly received a plastic card that gives me borrowing rights. Covering the front of the card is a quotation: “The only thing that you absolutely have to know is the location of a library.” Albert Einstein I wondered how many ‘books/livres/Bücher’ I could locate in my own Read More …

Gershwin whingers.

I’ve always found it intriguing how a quality composition is seemingly indestructible when it’s pressed into new clothes by skilled arrangers. (Whingers, by the way, is simply an anagram of Gershwin to reflect that notion). My first taste of the industry as a youngster was on hearing the Swingle Singers elevate J. S. Bach’s instrumental Read More …

Day in, day out.

If there’s a man for all seasons, is there a music for all days? The answer seems to be ‘yes’, so off we go. Our wake-up call comes from one of Naxos’ major artists, conductor Marin Alsop, who puts us In a Monday Mood with my first item. It’s by George Bogatko, who describes the Read More …