Posted on 10 July 2005
past few weeks I've been appreciating the wide range of music that the UK
has to offer. First I attended some free lunchtime summer concerts held at
the Barber Institute of
Fine Arts by music students of the University. On Wednesday, 15 June,
I listened to some early music ensembles, followed by a performance by a
chamber choir and chamber orchestra on Friday, 17 June. I particularly
liked Summertime from the musical Porgy and Bess by the
chamber choir, and the orchestra's stirring rendition of George Gershwin's
Rhapsody in Blue. In the evening on Saturday, 2 July, I was at the
Symphony Hall, Birmingham, attending a Midsummer Classical Gala by the
London Concert Orchestra under the baton of
The concert included familiar favourites such as Debussy's Clair de
Lune, the Méditation from Thaïs
by Massanet, and even Frederick Loewe's I Could Have Danced All Night
from My Fair Lady.
especially interesting concert that I went to took place on Wednesday, 22
June: English summer vespers by candlelight performed by the
Ex Cathedra Choir,
one of the UK's finest choirs and the flagship early music ensemble for
Birmingham and the West Midlands. The programme consisted of works by
composers such as Tallis, Byrd and Gibbons. It took place at the beautiful
Oratory, a Roman Catholic church.
is a place of prayer, or a room or building for private worship. It also
refers to a society of priests without vows founded in Rome in 1564
— known in full as The Oratory of St
Philip Neri or the Congregation of the Fathers of the Oratory
whose purpose was to preach in a plain style to uneducated congregations.
Inspired by the original Roman oratory, John Henry Newman (1801–1890)
founded the first English oratory near Birmingham in 1848. During Newman's
lifetime a temporary building was established on the site of the
present-day building on 22 November 1853. It was not long after Newman's
death that it was felt a more fitting, permanent church should be built to
mark and honour him. The foundation stone of the new church was laid on 25
March 1903 and the church, having been in use for some three years, was
solemnly opened on 8 December 1909. Steps are currently being taken to
propose Cardinal Newman for sainthood.
(Right) The Lady Chapel. This beautiful
17th-century altar came with its altar rails from the church of Sant’
Andrea della Valle in Rome. The statue of Mary is a wooden replica
of Notre Dame des Victoires (Our Lady of the Victories) in
Paris. The two columns of rare Siberian onyx were part of a set of
six originally acquired for Westminster Cathedral and were added in
The high altar is based on the famous Certosa at
Pavia, Italy; and the tabernacle, circular and surmounted by a dome
supported by metal gilt columns, is based on that in St Peter’s in
Rome. The Latin motto behind the high altar from Isaiah, 'Domus
mea Domus Orationis vocabitur', means 'My House shall be called a
House of Prayer'.
quite a change of scene on Tuesday, 5 July, when I travelled up to the
Reebok Stadium in Bolton to attend the final night of
UK tour. I'm a little embarrassed to admit that this was the first time
that I'd ever attended a live rock concert.
The members of Coldplay are Jonny Buckman, Chris Martin,
Guy Berryman and Will Champion.
OK, so from
where I was positioned the members of the band looked quite small, and I
caught most of the action off the large video screens mounted on both
sides of the stage. But there was something special about seeing Coldplay
live, and taking in the energetic atmosphere generated by the 30,000
people in the stadium all on their feet, waving their hands in the air,
clapping and singing along to the songs. A reflection of the time
— there were as many people holding up
mobile phones to take photographs and record videos as there were waving
lit cigarette lighters.