Sunday, May 17, 2009

Quires & Places

Driving along a motorway as your team clinch their eighteenth championship, listening to every kick of the ball on the radio, needing a point but the score is at nil-nil and the opposition is pressing - let me tell you, this is not good for the heart. I felt in need of medical attention. But victory is its own cordial, and so three in a row titles for United at last brought the tension to an end, and I punched the air with delight.

I was driving to Oxford, to a concert for friends of the new Choral Foundation at Merton, my undergraduate college. Pretty soon now I will have lived longer here in Ponty than I lived in Oxford. It's hard to say exactly when such a turning point happens, but we'll perhaps make it on my ordination anniversary. Going back is always lovely, but it is no longer 'home' in any real sense, much as I like to visit.

Still, seeing friends anywhere is a joy. Miles came to the concert with me. And also at the concert were Steve and Jackie Gunn, who were always in Oxford. Steve is now head of history at Merton & subwarden. (That means more there than here!) And Jackie used to play flute in a little orchestra I ran way back when. My old head of history was there- but disappeared before I caught up with him.

The choir? At times excellent, at times a work in progress, I felt. Sometimes I wanted more extremes and less reserve - the louds to be genuinely spine tingling, the softs to be imperceptible; mostly, I was left wanting. A new piece, receiving its first performance on John 1 was very good, as was a Taverner item (really - that was the best). The second half faded; and the Tippett 5 Negro Spirituals are not ideal fodder for an Oxbridge choir.

All of it was far, far better than the radio on the way back. Eurovision is a TV feast. When all you have is the music, it is really dull. Though the only vaguely interesting song won. Perhaps most of Europe was also tuned into their wireless...

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