Holst’s Planet Suite

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I’m watching a programme, late at night, with Holst’s planet suite. But it’s also got Professor Brian Cox, a famous astronomer, who is explaining details about the planets. During each section there are beautiful images of each of the planets, now they are showing multi cratered Mercury. If you have never heard the Planet Suite I would recommend it. The music is sublime, lyrical, atmospheric, full of complexity and confident, in turns loud and soft, discord and soaring melodies wrap into and around each other. There are sections covering rising octaves, then dropping down to gentle breezes of notes.

Jupiter is the next planet, and he is explaining the atmosphere and the poles of the planet. Its exactly the sort of programme I love, art, creativity and science mingled together.

If you can find it on the BBC iplayer I would recommend watching it.

Louds

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The choir were there but I decided not to include us in the photo. We have two more meetings of the choir before we break up for August then return in September.

Loud Mouth Women is an a capella choir, who meet at Newcastle Baptist church in Stafford Avenue, Clayton, Newcastle-under-Lyme on a Tuesday evening. It is made up of female singers who don’t audition or have to read music and is open to anyone woman who wants to sing. It improves confidence, allows you to socialise, and gives you the opportunity to learn a new skill of singing in different languages. To do this we learn by repetition, learning songs phonetically.

Tonight we learned an arab song about friendship, sang an old favourite “moonriver” and had the pleasure of being taught by Caroline who was deputising for our normal musical director Kate.

We have also recently had the enormous pleasure of going to a Yoga group run by one of the Louds, which is run an hour and a half before we sing. I was so relaxed tonight I almost fell asleep in the choir.

Argh! Dress rehearsal

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Tonight is the dress rehearsal for “one night only” which we are performing on Friday. It’s come round too quickly. I’m very nervous. It’s a long session, with climbing up and down on wooden blocks, standing in formation and ‘trying’ to sing in four part harmony.

The church needs a lot of work it was built on the church yard in the 1840’s. It was designed by Pugin and the floor tiles are by Minton. The collection will go towards the restoration. It won’t go far towards the cost but it’s worth doing.

I say argh because I am really tired. I was helping cut back our hedge earlier and my arms ache.

I also have a costume change. My top is drying outside on the washing line, I’m hoping it will be dry in time.

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Pop-lexic?

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I don’t even know if it’s a word. But it strikes me as someone who loves choirs and classical music that I’m rubbish at recognising pop music and pop songs.

Take me back to the 1960s and I loved bands like the beatles or Freddie and the Dreamers. Then transport me to the late 70’s and early 80’s and I remember Blondie and Elvis Costello (although I think of him as that bloke that wrote the song Oliver Army. I also liked Ultravox, the Clash and The Jam, although if you asked me to remember one of their songs I would struggle.

It’s not all music, I can recognise a lot if classic music, classic composers.

That’s why I think I’m Pop-lexic. Unable to recognise the Birdie Song, or a song by Gabrielle… If she even exists.

General knowledge is one of my favourite categories in a quiz, but ask me a pop music question and I’m stumped!

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Penkhull Mystery Play

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A minton tile design turned into 3d by Bret Shah

Penkhull Mystery play is on again this year. This is the 15th year that we have held it up at Penkhull Church Yard and I’ve been asked to publicise it.

Penkhull Mystery Play is being held on Saturday 13th July. The play starts about 2pm.
The play is based on a book about the children of the Potteries and how a family’s life changes from working in pot banks, being forced into the workhouse to the building of the first school at Penkhull in the 1840’s. 

There will also be Harpers Titchy Theatre with stories written by locals, stalls, a circus skills workshop, a tug of war competition, a tower of music, a music morning in the church and lots of other activities. This is one if the largest community based art events in Stoke-on-Trent.

It would be great if you can come along.

Pirates of Penzance

sketch-1560973460669Last night we went to see the Pirates of Penzance. The comic opera by Gilbert and Sullivan was a live broadcast from the London Coliseum by the English National Opera shown at cinemas throughout the country.

The story is about Frederic, a pirate whose nurse took him to the sea to learn to be a ships pilot. Unfortunately she mistook the word pirate for pilot so he was indentured to be one until the contract ran out. The story starts when he is leaving the pirates. He tells them his duty will be to stop their piratical reign when he is free of them.

Later he meets a daughter of a Major General who he falls in love with. As the opera continues he is caught in a dilemma, whether to persue the pirates or rejoin them.

Many memorable songs made up a wonderful night out. The song ” I am the very model of a modern major general” and ” A policeman’s lot is not a happy one”.

I won’t give the end away. But it is very enjoyable. The twists and turns of the plot hold your attention. Excellent.

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Music and singing

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I’ve been to a choir workshop on Sunday where we learnt songs and short pieces over a four hour period, then tonight I was learning songs for the penkhull mystery play which is being accompanied by Clay Chorus, a choir I’m part of. I’m a member of the cast of the play, so I might not actually be singing all the songs but it’s good to learn them.

It is quite tiring doing so much singing. It takes concentration and the ability to listen closely to your fellow choir members and the choir leader. We learn a capella so we often don’t have any accompaniment.

I also went to a concert on Saturday night and later today I will be watching a live broadcast of the Pirates of Penzance at our local cinema.

Music can transport your mind, calm stress, but also excite and enthral. Music can be raucous, noisy, loud, rhythmic and ugly. It can also bring tranquility and peace.

I think music should be taught more, to all ages and abilities. It should not be elitist and should not be for the privileged few. Music broadens the mind and the senses.