Essentially English

A friend won two tickets to see a concert put on by the Barrier Reef Orchestra here in Townsville. It was called Essentially English and featured the works of ten English (or almost, hence Essentially English) composers. Since my friends boyfriend “would rather die than listen to that crap,” I went along. It was an afternoon of decadence, where we had champagne on arrival (and at the interval, and after the show) and pretended we knew all about the music, touted as “a sparkling afternoon of musical gems from England’s finest composers, that will remind you of an English summer.” I have to say that Greensleeves sounds so much better performed by an orchestra than it does when played by the Mr Whippy (ice cream) van that prowls the suburban streets in summer luring kids out of their homes to demand overpriced pig fat ice creams (but yes, I did love them once). The orchestra’s version was even better than the way it’s played during the credits of Lassie. We were allowed (or forced) to participate during one piece – some story about the English and Scottish hating each other so they decide to build a big stone wall and as soon as they’re finished the Vikings come along so the English and the Scottish throw all the stones that they had just built the wall with at the Vikings, driving them away, but then they have no stones left so decide it would be easier just to live in peace than rebuild the wall. I think it was called The Stone Wall. Anyway, it was all pretty good. Except one fairly new piece that everyone was raving about and I thought it was awful – it just sounded like every instrument was out of tune and they spent half an hour just warming up. I’d say the name of it, but I can’t remember it … unfortunately. There was also a newborn that didn’t much like the atmosphere. And a seven year old thumb-slurper (I have never heard/seen someone suck their thumb so loudly/revoltingly) who kept complaining to her mother that “the songs are taking too long.” Those three annoyances aside, it was a great evening. Now I am ready, and almost eager (I did say almost) to start the week.

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6 thoughts on “Essentially English

  1. From the day you came home from work and said that Carolyn had played a tape of Nigel Kennedy’s “Four Seasons” to you, I KNEW there was a lover of good music lurking under that nonchalant demeanour.

    It’s interesting about the ‘modern’ composition – I wonder how many people REALLY liked it, or were they just trying to be trendy? I must admit that I’ve not heard too many modern pieces that I like, but then, I admit to being old fashioned.

    Anyway, I’m really glad you enjoyed your afternoon, petty annoyances notwithstanding.

    Is your work situation suitable for listening to music during the day? You could listen to Classic FM from London on the computer (if you have speakers). Actually, there’s lots of classical music stations available on the internet.

  2. Mum:
    Oh, my God, I think listening to Classic FM all day would send me around the bend. And I wouldn’t listen to music at work anyway – I don’t like the impression it sends to other people at work. While I enjoyed the classical music for an afternoon, it could never replace the music I listen to regularly (Xavier Rudd, Jack Johnson, Pete Murray, and lately, Lily Allen – she’s brilliant, just wish she’d release an album!! Go to http://www.myspace.com/lilymusic for a sample).

    Sandy:
    I did enjoy it a lot, but… read above.

  3. I’m sure you’re right – listening to music, be it on radio, records or internet, is a vastly different experience to being in its presence when it is being played. I don’t like jazz, but I might enjoy a jazz concert.

    What impression does listening to music at work send to other workers? It is difficult because you have to take into account that not everyone likes the same type of music, obviously. I still like your Eagles CD. I must check out Lily Allen.

  4. The reasons music is bad at work – a note for my mum – but written to Amanda, who I work with (and will never read this).

    Because the office is open plan, music on the radio is annoying for a lot of people, so that’s out. So you can only really listen to music if you have earphones in. Then you can’t hear me when I need to speak to you about something. SO I END UP HAVING TO RAISE MY VOICE THREE TIMES JUST TO GET YOUR ATTENTION. Sometimes you won’t hear your phone ring. Or my phone, if I am away from my desk. We have a protocol where all phones need to be answered within five rings (hey, it’s government). So when I’m away from my desk and you’re sitting three metres away and don’t answer my phone, I get in trouble (ok, I haven’t been in trouble yet, but it hasn’t been the Premier on the phone yet, either). When a client walks in, and they need to talk to you, they can’t get your attention. That’s a BAD impression to leave them with. And it gives the impression that you’re not willing to communicate/discuss/share issues with your colleagues, and you’re therefore unapproachable. And lastly, we have a directive that says, “no earphones in the workplace.” For all of the above reasons.

  5. That all sounds very reasonable to me, and as it should be (no earphones, that is).

    Amanda must play her music very loud because when I’m listening to my iPod I can still hear everything else that’s going on at normal volume. I can hear footsteps behind me, have a conversation with someone, DEFINITELY hear the phone, and even watch/listen to TV. But then, I guess I probably listen to a different type of music to Amanda.

    Perhaps a little word in your Supervisor’s ear wouldn’t go astray, or is he/she wearing earphones too?

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