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.

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