Great Hastings Philharmonic concert – Battleaxe gets up close and personal…

An absolutely great night last night at St Mary in the Castle with the
Hastings Philharmonic – The Elgar Cello Concerto and Tchaikovsky
Symphony 5.  The Elgar is one of Battleaxe’s favourite pieces ever, and I
had been looking forward to the concert for months. I loved every
second of it.

Richard Lester and Marcio da Silva

The acoustics at that venue are fabulous and you can get
really close to the orchestra if you sit at the front. So we did.  A friend
asked me last night why on earth we wanted to sit so close – the sound
would be unbalanced etc., but I really don’t care. I’ve spent a lifetime
sitting in concert halls where it is like looking at the orchestra
through the wrong end of a telescope, and the music is an elegant, distant blur…  The sheer volume of the music at St Mary’s, the
sharpness of the sound, and the immersive excitement of almost being
embedded with the musicians is exhilarating, and just simply great fun.
Last night we were sitting in the very front row, between the first
violin and Marcio da Silva, the conductor,  and immediately in front of
Richard Lester, the cello soloist – he could easily have touched us with
his bow.

Just about close enough….

     Battleaxe used to play the cello – very badly. I started
as an adult beginner in my late 20s and despite having quite a distinguished teacher –
he was called Alexander Kok (Bobby) former lead cellist of the BBC
Symphony Orchestra, I could never do
it well. Here is the link to his obituary. I see he even had lessons with Casals… It is sad to see that he fell on hard times – must have been just after the first Mr Battleaxe and I moved to Birmingham. Playing the cello is as much about confidence and faith as
about technique – you have to hear the note in your head then swoop down
that long fingerboard to zap exactly the right spot on the string –
while simultaneously doing difficult things with the bow in the other
hand…  My ear was just not good enough. Never mind hitting the notes, I
even struggled to tune the thing up…. I got as far as scraping away
(or pretending to scrape when I couldn’t play the notes) in the back row
of Bobby’s beginners orchestra at his Cheltenham Music School but it was all stress and no
pleasure…. aargh… all that counting…. aargh…. remember the day
when the other two cellists didn’t turn up and it was only me – no
pretend playing possible…. But I still love the cello….     Last
night Richard Lester played the Elgar really well – and I was
anticipating every note, all eyes and ears. I literally felt quite faint
and almost weepy with the emotion of it.  It was wonderful. As Philosopher said, I don’t
suppose I’ll get to experience the like again…. it was like having
your own personal performance.     After the interval, the
Tchaikovsky was great – and fantastic fun as well. That symphony
consists of a series of well-known emotion-stirring tunes played extremely
loudly and with much brio – totally ideal when you are practically
sharing a chair with the first violin…. our ears were ringing….

Sharing a chair with the first violin….

      The orchestra consists of mostly very young, committed,
enthusiastic – and very skilled – players, and the multi-talented Marcio da Silva really
brings out the best in them.       Battleaxe totally recommends
those St Mary’s concerts – even if you don’t habitually go to classical music
gigs, believe me, it is far better than yer average rock band…. Last night was well attended but there was still plenty of space on the upper tiers…..

Marcio da Silva

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