I feel so guilty – have not posted on here for two weeks – the longest ever gap. But the state of the nation is just unbelievably appalling, the weather has been horrible – what is a Battleaxe to do? Still, last night we went to a good concert at St Mary in the Castle with the Hastings Philharmonic Orchestra and the winner of the 2019 Hastings International Piano Concerto Competition, Fumiya Koido.
Battleaxe readers will know that I have enjoyed these concerts before – I still think the highlight was the Elgar Cello Concerto occasion. This time, for the first time ever, we actually sat a bit further back. I’m sure the overall acoustic is better but for drama and excitement it can’t beat practically sitting on the players knees….
This time we heard Mozart’s Symphony No 35 – The Haffner, in which I felt the orchestra was just warming up… then Mozart’s Piano Concerto No 23, played by Fumiya. That was very good indeed. Going to those concerts is like being in a club – we know so many people there – and have literally got to the stage of speculating about which of Hastings’ very few concert grand pianos is being used. ‘Is that the one that has been in the basement of the White Rock for years, unplayed?’ Well, yes indeed it was… and they had done an excellent job of getting it tuned up and ready.
Fumiya is a fine pianist, and a worthy winner of this year’s competition. Looking at the post I wrote about feels a bit sad. Frank Wibaut, the long-standing Artistic Director and driving force behind the competition, has left. Battleaxe does know some of the back story, but it is not for on here. Even though next year they plan to have a Piano Festival and not a competition, which should next take place in 2021, it is hard to imagine how they could replace Frank. He has worked tirelessly, travelling all over the world to audition hopefuls, and had built the competition to a point where it was ready to take a real place on the international music calendar. But we shall see…
The concert finished with a brisk rendition of Beethoven’s 4th Symphony. Conductor Marcio da Silva was bouncing all over his podium, which tilted alarmingly a couple of times. Fortunately for the Hastings Music scene, his energy, enthusiasm and enterprise seems undimmed – and few can match the range of his skills – he conducts, he directs, he composes, he sings – baritone and apparently, counter-tenor – I have never heard the latter as yet.
So, what else… since coming back from The Isle of Wight Battleaxe has been as ever, busy. I went to the Annual Meeting of the East Sussex WI Federation in my capacity as a Trustee. Spent much time promoting WI News etc and greeting guests but finished the day having an absolute blast on the stage of the Congress with a live band… the Retros. I had been asked earlier to make sure the band were settled in etc – was quite looking forward to fussing over a roomful of young men but of coourse they turned out to be Dads. However, all credit to them, they played like demons. I got a prize for my dancing!
Yesterday was our 33rd Wedding Anniversary. We went out to lunch at the Two Sawyers in Pett, snoozed all afternoon and then went to the concert. Nice.
To finish, here is a rainbow, viewed from our window. Let us hope it is a lucky sign…