Tuesday 9 August 2022

Great Acts of Kindness

A random subject to write about and do believe me everything is honest and true and not elaborated for effect. The first act of kindness which lives in my memory is the occasion when I was driving back from Southampton.The last week of the tour and as I live in the home counties not an impossible commute. I was driving my Citroen Dyan (an unusual sort of car with many little quirks about it). I had planned to drive to the South of France to the Tortelier classes to which he had invited me, which was pending and I was SO looking forward to it with nervous trepidation.It was mid week and I was happily setting off for home from the theatre where we had been performing the opera for the week and we had just a few more days to go. It was raining stair rods and I pulled into a garage outside Southampton to get petrol. Those indeed were the days as someone scuttled out and came to my car I asked for petrol and an oil top up. Fine, I did not need to get out of the car I was comfortable and dry and I had my Hill cello with me.Note, not left at the theatre. Off I drove,.... the plan was to take the A303 and I was beetling along until the most horrendous grinding noise came from under the bonnet of my car the dark the lonliness of the road nothing to see in either direction. Every Womans' dread......I opened the bonnet and there was oil absolutely everywhere. like everywhere. The quirky Dyan has an oil filling tube which has a clip that must be pressed down and locked.The 'helpful' garage man did not do this probably because he was being soaked through.Of course it was not an easy situation. These are the days when I belonged to the AA and I knew that I needed to find a phone. (The car I own now has its own rescue service) Anyway back to the story..... After getting really upset I thought and looked again at where I was, fortuneatly the rain storm was a summer rain storm and I was not wearing a coat and the rain had stopped. What to do, what to do,? Ah, thank goodness I see a house further up the road with some lights on, It was a tidy step but I could do it.I left lights on inside my car and outside of my car and locked it with my cello inside and strode toward the house in the distance.The car looked like a little bubble of light. As if by magic a little black mini pulled up travelling in the same direction I was walking. They leaned across to speak to me. 'What happened?' I said 'I wasn't sure but I needed the AA and the car was not going to move as it was' They said 'Hop in, we can take you to a garage' I said that they didn't need to do that but they insisted that I got into their car. They drove me some little way and the garage was open but just about to close and they were not enthusiastic to come out to my car but said'You can phone the AA from here'.. I did just that and I waited and waited and felt lonely and worried.Eventually a little grey Morris Minor with a gantry arrived and I was relieved. I explained what had happened and we drove back to my car. I was met with a horror because one side of my car was missing.So I had a crippled engine and half a car and believe it or not my cello was still in the car untouched happily in the case.The significance is that the drivers side was missing and we know that the AA ask you as routine to go and sit in your car.I know that the little black mini unbeknown to them saved my life. Had I gone to the house I saw up ahead to phone, I wouldn't be here now.We called the police( from somewhere?) to report everything and they came and said that the A 303 is one of the most dangerous roads in the UK and someone had been killed on the very spot where we were standing a week before. The name Sutton Scotney still gives me the shudders years later. You may wonder what did I do after crying to the AA designated garage man that had come to help, I was driven to a Citroen garage eight or nine miles from where I live it was the nearest one and then I was then driven home.I arranged accomodation for the rest of the week in Southampton and booked a ticket to the South of France and my ticket was charged at a heavily discounted student rate so a partial win.Cat taken to the cattery in a rush. if only the car had been totaled but it wasn't it needed to be fixed bit by bit..... Groan and it was. The chassis of the Citroen is two long iron/metal bars from front to back and the wheel hubs and doors are bolted on therefore the side was easily ripped off by a passing lorry it was suggested to me. I enjoyed my train journey and life changing sojourn to the South of France and had a day in Paris killing time on the way there until I was to catch my train at 8pm to the South. That day was SO eventful but that is another blog. ............................................................................................................................................. The second act of kindness is strange because there were multiple kindnesses on that particular day. A friend was going on a trip to her family in New York and asked me to collect her from Heathrow on her return.For some reason as the day to collect her approached it became clear that my car would not get me to Heathrow possibly due to some fault or legal requirement with which my car temporaily did not comply. It could have been fixed but there wasn't time and quicky I should add, it was not the same car, not a Dyan.A very kind and efficient man who used to repair my car I phoned and asked him what I should do. Without a second thought he said (let's call him Fred) Fred will drop you off to Heathrow . No! I exclaimed 'really that is amazing are you sure? That would be fantastic I'll pay for the petrol'. He said 'No need don't worry Fred doesn't mind'. So that is what happened I checked on the arrival time for the plane and we were there waiting and the surprised look on my friend's face when she saw a completely different car to mine waiting for her.We arrived back at her home and she had been away quite a while and we were drinking coffee and it became apparent that there was something wrong with her fire.I am not sure whether it was a wood burning stove or just an ordinary fire place but to get to the point . This angelic transport 'angel' asked if my friend had chimney sweeping brushes and she said yes and the transport angel immediately set about cleaning/sweeping the chimney. We were highly amused at the bizarrenss of the situation so many good deeds done by one very kind gentleman who did not think it was such a big deal by the way, but we were astounded, and delighted and grateful.'No charge my dear,happy to help' was his attitude and philosophy for life.

Saturday 30 July 2022

Admin plus

Originally written before the pandemic and left as a draft and now it is time for this brain child to be born.I have decided to write again and let you in to another little part of my life. I have been in a period of ordering the past and registering arrangements I had made for cello and classical guitar duo. I spent some considerable time going through the processes. The most interesting was the recordings finalising track lists on which I played in the 70s and how the process of logging who played where and when has now become much more ordered.It was originally in the hands of the Musicians Union to locate people sometimes ten years or more after the recording in order to pay them their royalties it has happened to me on two occasions.However the extraordinary fluke was that I had studied at universities, I had packed up my home in boxes it had been stored in an acquaintance's home in a spare room and locked and then after that put into 'professional ' storage. Just a few weeks ago there was a question about my playing on an iconic recording (I didn't know that it would be iconic at the time) however the writer of the music was a person who had written more that 3.000 adverts for television which you would have been bound to have seen. I certainly played on the Martini advert in any case and maybe one or two others. See my blog on recording...you go there, you play the music, you leave.There was some question about whether I had in fact played on that recording. I had all sorts of ideas as to how I could prove it. My diary for that year was one that started in mid year and went through the following year complete, conveniently leaving the first half of the year missing.I don't know whether such diaries are made now. It is lovely and has a red leather bound cover. Anyhow the important point I am making is that I went to a box opened a file and on top was the remittance for the very recording I was needing for proof. Everyone, even the Musicians Union were astounded and so was I quite frankly.... so fortuneate!. Why would I have kept the remittance for something that I did in the 70's I do not know but it was WONDERFUL to behold!! Regarding my cello and classical guitar arrangements each one needs to be traced so that if they are out of copyright the coast is clear to make arrangements of compositions. I have spent literally yonks in the British Library doing my homework looking at the original editions of works by composers that are out of copywrite seeing best how I can arrange them. Some works have been arranged many times by others already and that is something to be very careful about.

Friday 6 February 2015

After thoughts on my blog 'thoughts on colour'

I feel obliged to add an apology for my rather glossy over view of race in my 'some thoughts on colour and other things' blog. I have learnt since writing that blog that on the internet there are some examples of black and mixed race people who have 'suffered' prejudice and inspite of being overly qualified and suitable for what ever post were not accepted.How hurtful and unjust.I feel ashamed that I gave such a philosophical unfeeling explanation for what I genuinely believed at the time.I can be accused of being an ostrich here burying my head in the sand.
     Let's look at it this way, there is a grain of truth in everything that is stated, so I am not entirely wrong in what I wrote, but neither are the people who have written of their difficulties which I trust and sincerely hope have resolved to some extent now.  Since my writing my original essay a few years have passed and there is such a cause for people to be happy for the creation of  the Chineke orchestra along with the work both behind the scenes and in the foreground done by Chi-chi Nwanoku  and the vision that propelled it into existance. It is so right that there should be opportunity and credit given for artistry. Times are changing and long may they continue.

Friday 25 April 2014

Some thoughts on colour and culture

Hi there,
It has been a while since I have written about any thing that has struck me as important enough to ask for your attention. However, since last week I have been trying to get onto my blog site(with some difficulty) I am now 'granted' access through the original e-mail address that I used.
Anyway enough of that, my reason for writing was the full page spread of no doubt heart felt opinions on racism in classical music made by Candace Allen in the Evening Standard edition Wednesday 4th July.
Her beef is that there is snobbery, also there aren't sufficient 'black' people in orchestras/classical music etc etc.Further more she described her discomfort at feeling out of place in the Barbican Centre (a place where I have performed numerous times if only in humble fashion as one of the quite nicely paid, thankyou very much, foyer events.In addition I performed some wonderful pieces which included unaccompanied Bach suites at the Basically Bach at the Barbican Festival.

It was always a joke of the now deceased, Sammy Davis Jnr (cabaret/jazz singer and dancer member of the 'rat pack' of Sinatra and Dean Martin) when on television on stage at the Palladium or wherever, to look into the orchestral/band pit and ask loudly why there weren't any black musicians there.I suppose I am saying that these remarks made by Candace Allen are by no means new and do not only pertain to 'classical music' Yes in Jazz and popular music these days and athletics and football,Formula 1 racing and golf, tennis and dance, fashion design/haute couture, and modelling, the paths are trodden already by black people and now thank goodness in Opera, but that has only been relatively recent, in fact, since the 1950's in the USA.

I am dismayed that the televised amazing performances given by predominantly black/mixed race and white european classical musicians of many creeds/ethnicities myself included was drawn from many parts of the UK,for the nationally recognised Celebration of the Abolition of Slavery at Westminster Abbey, two years or so ago,given before Her Majesty the Queen and Prince Philip and decendants of William Wilberforce and others, does not seem to have registered on her radar.We are about you know. We performed music written by Chavalier St.George a baroque black virtuoso violinist and composer, amongst other music. I am fully aware that one swallow does not make a spring however maybe it is nicer to be dotted about in various quarters of the music profession rather than be part of a militant onslaught.I illucidate my views as to why music recruitment is as it is, further on in this blog.

More to the point.I think that Candace Allen is perhaps looking down the telescope the wrong way. Sparceness of people of colour performing in high culture is only partly to do with race, but it is also mainly to do with 'culture'. Classical music for many children of any race in today's musical climate is very often a no go area.Sometimes, because there is no interest or encouragement at home for them to play violin, clarinet or anything else,This is in spite of relentless start up programmes devised by educational departments of borough councils, and programmes organised by our leading orchestras to have open days and programmes going into schools to reach children,which are intended to sow seeds of interest.With many of the borough councils, the aim is to make playing an instrument accessible for everyone and to a small degree it does but by no means does it go far enough. Strumming guitar and piano,have not suffered to the extent that other instruments have, in their take up numbers by children of any race.Rock and pop have never been short of wannabees and lets face it, how many start up guitar playing boys and girls are sorted out enough in their minds to organise and be in performing bands.

Perhaps the bar has been set too low. Simply giving children an 'instrumental musical experience' and not teaching them the 'real thing' is a huge cheat.This view is echoed by some teachers of sports such as cricket for example.The youngster participants do not get the same 'thrills and spills' with a watered down quick fix one size fits all approach.Therefore the elitism that is levelled at classical music anyway (lets leave colour out of it for the moment) continues because it comes back to there being only insightful/music loving/educated/ financially comfortable parents being in a position to send their children to private 'proper lessons' with a teacher who will do the correct job of teaching them the essential ground work in an easy manner on which everything can be built.

Ideally, the home is the hub of the childs centre of approval/disapproval and taking this one stage further, if there is a total lack of interest or understanding of what the child might be trying to achieve in its weekly shared lesson of twenty minutes or half an hour the seeds are ending up on stoney ground in the home where the lions share of the work is done.There are tales not myths,of state school children of primary school age being ridiculed at home when they are taking their baby steps on instruments where there has never been a tradition of study be it academic or otherwise and/or practise.

With both my performance experience alongside my Masters in Ethnomusicology I feel that I can state that quoting/citing the Sistema programme as an example of musical excellence is worthy. However, this said system I understand is one that has not just appeared over night but has taken twenty five years to build. In other words to transfer this to the UK which people have sought to do, it would be the children of current ones who started and gave up but put their children to music, and then the next generations' children's children would be the vibrant rearing to go members of a Sistema style UK orchestra.The core sentiments of the Sistema system is to embed the orchestral group with a sense of worth, and of life affirmation away from the environments of poverty and lack of hope.The orchestra is a life line albeit a cultural one, and a huge transfusion of positive energy and care for each of the participants.The children are 'hungry' I believe is the correct term for the experience of performance and of all that the music and the life within the music has to offer, which is emotional breadth and beauty and of course the camaraderie and discipline.

Now my final point relating to colour is this, quotas are really awful. No one wants to be a token number in any organisation. We want our credit and worth validated. The focus on colour could be put in perspective by asking 'How many Tasmanian musicians are there in orchestras or in classical music? How many Sami musicians are there in classical music? Do you see my point?.
Not only is colour kind of a limiting gauge, black people or mixed race people are not a block group, that is racist thinking,I refuse to adopt this hegemonic manner of thinking. We are made up of many strands and ethnicities and are not all the same, any more than 'home counties middle class are not the same as upper crust Edinburgh dwellers or folks from Gottenburg or Sydney Australia.

To develop musically aware people, teaching and demonstrating will pay off ultimately, I am convinced. By going into state schools and developing huge drives to bring all young people into contact with the performers and performances of classical music will win in the end but it is thankless to begin with, but will pay off. However, not yet but in the future.Please note I have left out the work of private schools, specialist schools and the Junior Departments of the colleges of music in London and the UK.I can breathe easily here as music is thriving and elementary hurdles I have outlined concerning lack of parental encouragement and non positive environments for learning, are long ago and far away in such vibrant lively places.The assumption of support is a given if the child has got that far.

I was interested to read the comments made by concert violinist Nicola Benedetti which were given front page publicity in The Daily Telegraph yesterday the 10th July 2012.She upholds the view that young people need culture. In the BBC Radio 4 programme 'Front Row' which is an Arts review and events calendar and is broadcast each evening at 7.15pm. The same day 10th July 2012, Wynton Marsalis was featured and interviewed on the 'Front Row' programme, as he currently has a residency at the Barbican Centre London. He also affirmed her words and lamented the limitation of youngsters tastes.
We should seek to BROADEN their tastes and I emphasise the following word, LEARN with an open mind, to enjoy all music not just one tiny prism of sounds and words.
My thoughts on 'culture' are as follows and can be summed up in a few words.Culture is not one thing.It is every aspect of creativity in language in both the spoken and the written word,in art, dance, music. In other words it is everything we uphold in this country and society.
*It might be good at this point to ask you to re- read again my Blog on Values.

Short of a dictatorship (joke), we are not able directly to influence others tastes in what they uphold as long as they are on the 'right' side of the law of the land. Initially we start out with the idealist view, believing that all tastes have equal worth in a democratic society. How provocative is this comment I have made.
I respond to this provocative comment by stating that certain activities are more enriching than others.'Who says?' the dissenter cries.
Marsalis in his interview touched on the point I am about to make.I am stating now that some things in life, improve, enrich, inspire, uplift, encourage, create positive attitudes to life and others, and engender some self-reflection and self respect and create a life affirming sense of wellbeing in some cases.
Whilst people are young and hopefully open to hear wisdom from others (now there is a bone of contention).Our youth culture has created in some cases, not all, a group of people who are catered to as a separate group(teenagers) they are a distinctive culture with their own language clothes, styles etc.
Reverence and appreciation for things of quality is developed over years and is an expensive process. It requires consideration and in my blog Values see what the Pakistani businessman said in general, and in particular, pertaining to me, that I dutifully copied and added my own thoughts to my blog.
I do not think that appreciation of culture can appear over night, not even in one generation.
***Please note In the same 'Front Row' programme we were informed that funding for musical instrument teaching in secondary schools has been cut.Pick yourselves up and carry on reading.
I wonder what has happened to the drive of the previous government to ensure that primary school children have a quota of 'culture' each week/month which involves trips to art galleries etc etc.The platitudes about what would be nice and what is ideal are still in la -la land as they sound good and the process to bring them about must be powerful in order to make youngsters or anyone else step out of their familiar comfort zone to what is an exciting and interesting artistic world. Is it not wonderful that there are scientist music composers who are composing using the scientific components of DNA. Barrier down!
Is it not important to appreciate music, fine art, architecture and language all that has created the European world in which we live and have inherited?.
I find it curious that many young people are not curious and live in closed worlds . Yes culture is a slow and deep and expensive process and is for many unfamiliar and challenging.
It is such a pity that 'classical' music lives in one place on our radios. Many would never go there. I remember as a child between programmes instead of trailers for programmes there would be an excerpt of exquisite music. Orchestral or piano or what ever. By default people were familiar with the sounds they flowed into their consciousness and were as much part of peoples lives as anything else on the radio. Would a revival of this, help?I remember my mother calling me into the house when I was in the garden playing as a very small child, just so that I could hear a particular piece of music.
The market place is another problem. As long as popular music and popular anything is worth squillians of money and that being sometimes the only consideration, but if it is the primary consideration of some individuals, of what has worth and value, the values are skewed from the offset.Culture is a refinement and none of us are not born naturally refined. It must be an acculturation of sorts, yes that is it. It is learning to be appreciative of European culture that has come to us through the generations.Then there can be appreciation of what is current today in a proper context and an understanding. It should then be apparent why the music, painting, literature, dance of previous times is important to keep alive (notice I did not say preserve) Each performance is a re- birth of a work, and each generation looks upon artistic endeavour hopefully in a fresh way. We appreciate context and culture more easily in hindsite.This acculturation process is education of course.

Tuesday 6 August 2013


The subtitle of this blog is 'Unexpected item in the bagging area!'
   Those who know me well are aware, I sometimes have a surreal sense of humour.Joseph Spooner's hilarious blog entry  'answers to usual questions you are asked when you are carrying your cello about',(which can be found on the august London Cello Society Website), has done even more to encourage me!.When  I'm travelling about,  I am often asked 'Do you play THAT? by the general public I'd come into fleeting contact  with on trains or escalators or anywhere in fact.This question, depending on what sort of frame of mind I'm in,offers a lot of scope for fun. When the cello was being  carried on my back I'd pretend I didn't know to what they were referring. If I was not feeling particularly charitable I'd fix them with a mock frown and question the questioner in return 'Do you know what it is?' Mostly they'd think it was a guitar or a double bass,Ooh dear!
      Now I can move on to the main point of this blog. Yes, I was there really, and having a wonderful time. I took part in the regeneration of part of the London Borough of Havering. The whole day was dreamt up by the Arts Officer Mark Etherington who is an extremely live wire full of ideas and this was his brain child Music of many genres was being performed in many different places throughout the area and I was delighted to have been asked to take part and though  the full day and its events gave the appearance of 'busking', in fact it was a commissioned engagement for each of us, for which I for one received payment as for a recital, from the borough council. I thought I ought to clear up that point.

     I was placed in a safe place i.e not in beating sun nor on a quiet street where I, alongside my cello, could have been vulnerable. As it happened the shopping trolleys passed with a vengeance as I sat in the foyer of one of the entrances to the major food store  whose name begins with an S. Comments were made. Many looked shy as they passed, not knowing how to react.I was aware that people are not spacially aware as I needed to keep watch on my bow so the tip did not get knocked by any one passing too closely.

    When I performed the Boccherini Rondo( by way  of a change from unaccompanied Bach and some beautiful Schubert lied such as An die Musik)  I was delighted that one lady.bounced along with the pa pa pa pa pom-pom,pom-pom PA! of the opening phrase of the Boccherini. She also smiled and looked really happy. It was a spontaneous child like reaction which was delightful.

      It was interesting to read German cellist Alban Gerhardt's similar project/ experiment performing in railway stations. I have performed in open urban areas before this occasion. Curious and surprising. for me in Havering, was an interesting experiment of my own which was  to play part of the 6th Bach Suite for example  to a changing environment where in some cases with the listeners I was sure it was not understood.

     After his railway station experiment Gerhardt concluded that he could play Bach anywhere now.It was a test of strength for me as the audience part of the equation was not consistantly  there. They were moving about to and fro in and out of the store and were not still and receptive as they would be in a concert setting.I found this subjectively very interesting and strange!..

    My efforts were ultimately rewarded through the session with increasing strength in compliments.Remarks from people entering the store  grew  from Good to Wonderful in one hour! Quite honestly, I was really getting used to the accoustics and the flow of people passing. You can see from the pictures below I really was taking it seriously. A very dear couple,to whom I am so grateful for taking such nice pictures,  who were  members of the local camera club had their cameras to the ready  and  snapped away merrily as I played.I had explained to them that people when  playing, sometimes, do not look as good or facially relaxed as they might, hint... hint. What do you think of the results? Hopefully you'll catch the atmosphere.The bustling shoppers were passing behind the photographers.A new environment, a new challenge. hope you like these pictures as much as I do!.


The day was deemed a great success.

Wednesday 31 July 2013

Cello and Nightingale duets: a la mode Beatrice Harrison

I shall clarify and explain; I became involved in what resulted in a wonderfully aesthetic experience. It was the most extraordinary situation..My late mother sent to me an article written in a daily paper, which discussed the memorable Beatrice Harrison recordings with Nightingales in her garden in Oxted; the 20's and 30's.The newspaper article displayed twentieth and twenty first century cynicism, for the reason that there were certain persons who had tried to cast doubt on the genuineness of the Nightingale's singing; with Beatrice's cello playing.However, Beatrice's violinist sister May, also an eminent performer, readily dismissed the doubts, describing them as 'tosh!'.
Following on from this and just three years ago, I read an article about Beatrice on the BBC blog. quite by chance and; felt compelled to recount the cynics viewpoint in the paper that my mother had sent to me. Of course, I intended by this to put the record straight.The BBC's first live outside broadcast was of this very phenomenon, Beatrice's cello and the nightingale.One can also read in great detail in the autobiography of Beatrice written by Patricia Cleveland-Peck, documenting just how many performances were given in the family garden.Through her wanting others to share the experience 'The Nightingale Concerts', as they became known, were open to the public with coaches full of children arriving coming from as far away as Stepney and other parts of the East End of London..Many composers attended the concerts to include Sir Arnold Bax, Master of the King's Music,Roger Quilter, Delius,York Bowen and others. Beatrice has been one of my cello heroines and especially; as I was fascinated by her profile photograph as she was seated with her cello with Elgar playing the piano that I saw when I visited Elgars Birthplace in Broadheath Worcs. (before it became a visitor centre).I thought it was a 'good look' and had taken a publicity profile photo of myself as a sort of homage which has remained one of my favourite publicity photographs.. < I have been interviewed twice about the first experience on both internet radio and for the BBC Oxford. Both of these interviews can be found on my website in the audio and video section.; www.claredeniz.com The feature film made about Beatrice in which I took part can be seen on You Tube.I shall provide a link for anyone reading this to see the second programme it is as follows.In my part of the film for The One Show there was a lot of filming done.Having seen the film I realise what an artistic skill is involved in the editing of such a lot of film footage. I did see another film the crew made again with television presenter John Sargeant in the Outer Hebrides and once again it was magnificent.Just the colours of sea, flora, etc and yes the poetry of the narrative, and a concise piece of information which was incisive but laid back, but that is John Sargeant exercising his distinctive and exceptional interviewing ability alongside the production and editing team collaboratively showing the beauty of the surroundings.
For the film that I was involved with which related to Beatrice Harrison and the nightingales, we had hoped to film at Beatrice's house, where the nightingale recordings had been made, indeed, the current owners were very keen to meet me and have me play my cello there. I have an invitation to visit (I shall take my cello, too) The film makers thought that sadly there would not be any nightingales there any longer in Beatrice's beloved wood and garden. You will see in the film that there was an exceptionally blustery wind, and of course we were right on the Thames Estuary there.A very 'old' part of the UK; a region that Dickens used as one of his settings in his great novel Great Expectations. The RSPB reserve is an amazing place,with such perfect trees as nesting sites there for the birds that return year upon year.The specifications for a nightingale are fascinating. Their song is magnificent and yet they are shy birds.They nest in what appear to be extra large bushes and that is why for some of the filming I was right up close to the bush and the bird was singing; very loudly in my left ear. We did not include that part in the film.I don't know whether I was more touched or amused at the power this small creature was putting into making himself heard along with my cello.Probably a combination of both, however I was obliged to keep my chuckles inside in secret so as not to spoil the film. ; This year 2013 the BBC SE Re-creation of the first BBC outside broadcast came as a result of the resourcefulness of the Communications Officer at the Reserve. Mr Rolf Williams. I had no idea that this would be happening as I was simply initially going to be part of The Walking Festival taking place in North Kent, playing my cello to nightingales for the public to witness the phenomenon.However things moved on a pace and this re-creation of the Broadcast took place with presenter Caroline Feraday. The siting for the filming was magical and I sat in the crown of a massive fallen oak tree that was alive and still green and lush and it was a perfect back drop for a 'natural' concert hall. The bird sang too.
It was magical, and I should add that the television appearance has been seen by hundreds of thousands of people and close to my heart it was approved and commended by none other than Norman Lebrecht the foremost arts critic who speaks about Beatrice and mentions me on his blog 'slipped disc' saying this about BBC SE Re-creation of the First Outside Broadcast. 'Watch this.........Just lovely' WOW!!.(that is my response) You can view this too, just Google Clare Deniz cellist.Then scroll down to: BBC SE Nightingales Featuring Cellist Clare Deniz I was delighted when I saw the finished product of the BBC SE broadcast film and by my arriving having travelled some considerable distance by train and then simply unpacking my cello,tuning and playing, that the pitching matched Beatrice's exactly. Of course you would expect this in normal circumstances except that it should be considered that her archive recordings have most probably changed the sound she produced, What pleased me even more was the perfect tempo match between Beatrice's performance and my performance; making it possible for the film editors to simply connect them up.It really appears seamless and I can put my hand on my heart and say I had not listened intently to her playing before this particular broadcast, as I wanted to be me and not be influenced unduly.There are schools of playing which seek to resurrect earlier styles of recorded performance of the thirties and earlier.However,you can hear my playing is very much of today .Even if I say so myself, I am SO proud of how it all worked out.and everyone involved loved my playing and my interview.in the programme.... I should mention St Marys House Bramber in my newsletter but I should add that this dream of a house near Steyning has a wonderful concert series in which I was priviledged to have been asked to perform a Celebrity concert.It was a dream,as I have said, and the accoustics were perfect and not only that but the promoters put on nightingale song in the interval.I included two salon pieces not heard today which Beatrice performed, and spoke about her and my television appearances. Every one was captivated and transported.I could have performed a bigger un accompanied work such as the Bax Rhapsodic Ballad but it would not have worked as well in the programme.I shall keep you informed of any other nightingale duets I am playing. Further update. Apart from a beautifully recorded performance given by myself and my duet partner, a nightingale at Highnam Wood Gloucestershire at 8.30am. I say beautifully recorded because the professional sound engineer Colin Rae of the BBC outside broadcasting department captured both the sound of my cello and the bird song to such a perfect level.The space and the antiphony almost of the cello and the nightingale is captivating. I realise that bird had flown 3,000 mile to find love and was singing to find love and I felt something and that something/warmth and yes love, stayed all day til 6pm. Do look on You Tube Rare Woodland Duet. I am performing Londonderry Air otherwise known as Danny Boy and Farewell to Cucullain which was one of the tunes along with Chant Hindu that Beatrice recorded as a nightingale duet. Let's fast forward a little while to 2022 and I read that it has been 'confessed' in the newspapers in the manner of 'tell all' that the Harrison nightingale recordings in her Oxted garden were fake inspite of the book written by her and photos of BBC staff setting up recording equipment. So the magical fairy tale intended to lift peoples' spirits during and after the war was brought under the microscope of reality, However I state emphatically that maybe the first night that Beatrice Harrison played her cello it is possible that the nightingale was scared away due to there being many people in the Oxted garden and Beatrice had so many visitors and there were coach trips visiting her garden,I would emphatically say that in the two television filmings/recordings I made with the BBC and the separate Highnam Wood recording the nightingale can most definitely be heard singing with my cello.Do Check on You Tube Rare Woodland Duet. I rest my case.

Tuesday 22 February 2011

The 'Music as Food for the Brain' debate

We are now in 2022 and I still standby what I wrote here in goodness me 2011.Deep research done in USA on the benefits of music education on the mind. I feel obliged to put this information before you. I have gleaned it from the internet and I am not claiming authorship in anyway but I believe that it is a worthwhile area to bring to your attention and I wonder what you might think from the research done by an august set of scientists and summarised by Wendy Harris writing under the title of 'Childrens Music Workshop and Music Education Online that I have reproduced here and I hope that I have by quoting the pros and cons or rather the qualifying statements she has written about, given a balanced overview of the scientific accumulated current opinion on the subject as formulated and stated by Ms. Harris. There is an interesting debate still raging and yes as stated in my previous paragraph, it is on the internet too and that is about Music making you smarter' Indeed there is a music shop not nine miles from me that has adopted this wonderful statement as part of its publicity for the sale of instruments and sheet music.I have read a great deal on the subject and although I am inclined to agree that good practise takes on the air of the laboratory and certainly involves problem solving and solution finding.This is especially in the area of objective appraisal of ones work and with the process of finding decent fingerings for passages.However, neuroscientists have found that in performing musicians that the membranes that connect the left and right sides of the brain are thicker and thereby the interaction between those parts of the brain is heightened. Harris shows in her paper that in the primary and secondary educational level the falacy about children missing out to leave classroom lessons to go for instrumental lessons is also spurious as it has been found in research in the USA that children who leave class to go to lessons are in fact getting higher marks in tests and are not lagging behind. Harris has observed that the overall sweeping statement that children are smarter who learn instruments has been agreed by certain psychologists but also it has been noted that schools in the USA that have strong music programmes i.e instrumental lessons and general music singing etc, have better exam results over all. Even more stunning information was made about medical students the highest grades all had some musical abilities. Harris has taken the Music and brain research of Professor Donald A.Hodges Covington Distinguished Professor of Music Education and director of the Music Research Institute at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, and has demonstrated his findings which are 'that music activity takes place in the right hemisphere of the brain, the activity occurs with equal vigour in the left rational hemisphere.Music is both emotional and intellectual activity.' Wendy Harris states that Hodges is also notable for stating that in the superficial sense music does not make a person smarter but continues to state that in 1993 experiments claimed that listening to a Mozart Sonata would make your IQ increase by eight points.She continues outlining that through subsequent work Hodges explained 'proved that such listening would sharpen a subjects spatial-temporal relationships momentarily.After a short while, the subject would go back to being just as smart as before or dumb. A rich environment makes a difference. The slogan was used Use it or Lose it (referring to the brain)The more education you have ,the more the interconnections in the brain. Music changes the brain.' Harris also cites Patricia De Corsay,Co-ordinator of Lawrence University's Early Childrens Music Programme in Appleton, who was aware over a number of years that 'with the introduction of music to children many areas of the brain were benefitting like the mathematical language centres. Music was seen as a super-advantage.The Lawrence classes led by trained professional musicians introduce basic music concepts and give hands on experience for children to play with a variety of folk, instrumental and percussion instruments. She continues stating,Hodges further discusses brain activity in performance and states that during performance there is no activity in the front lobe where conscious thought takes place.'In other words performance is not a thinking activity.All the thinking takes place earlier.Performance can be seen as being similar to the activity of a highly trained athlete. Music is always a physical activity. Musicians are small muscle athletes. This very observation relating to musicians being small muscle athletes I have taken as dictation in William Bruce's class for The London Cello Society the observations are published on the internet. Reference and Bibliography 'Summary' by Wendy Harris Childrens Music Workshop and Music Education Online