This week our small Baroque Consort, we call ourselves the “Treblemakers”, played another concert. Not in the town theatre this time; this was our own programme in the Conservatorium for thirty odd friends and family – whoever we can find! The degree of anticipation we feel as our biannual performance approaches is huge, and out of all proportion to either our audience or our talent. It’s every bit as thrilling, and daunting, as the Shakespeare plays we presented in my school years; or the Pirates of Penzance we sawed away at on several successive nights in year 10. (Most definitely sawing, not soaring). Hours, hours and more hours of practice, lessons, rehearsals.

But when we played this week I think we may even have soared, just a little. We’ve been together for several years, and we have a truly gifted director, and sometime during this year we began to play in tune, and in time. Now, that might not sound like much. Indeed you might be wondering why it would take years of practice to play in tune and in time. But the harsh truth is that those two measures are perishingly difficult to achieve, especially the first, and many amateur ensembles do not find it. But, to a degree, we did!


The anticipation, the practice, the nerves, (the dread), finally became the thrill and the joy of accomplishment. It was such a joy, such delight. I played two solo movements from Bach’s third cello suite, and the vast majority of the notes were good ones. To know that we played our ancient and modern repertoire skilfully and beautifully gives me goosebumps! 

But in my signature fashion I frequently worry about this. How can it be at all OK for us to spend our time and money (a European made wooden recorder does not come cheap) in such a frivolous way while Russia continues it’s attempt to murder the Ukrainian nation? Or while famine scythes it’s way through Ethiopia, South Sudan and Afghanistan?

“As many as 828 million people go to bed hungry every night. The number of those facing acute food insecurity has soared – from 135 million to 345 million – since 2019. A total of 49 million people in 49 countries are teetering on the edge of famine”.    (World Food Programme).

It is vital that we do more than worry: we must give, work, pray, write. It is vital also that we do more than that: we must also create and celebrate and, yes, Rejoice. We must play. Play an instrument, or play in any one of play’s hundred-thousand guises. Art, music, theatre, sport (that’s a stretch, I know, but I have met people who claim to enjoy playing sport), the beach, the bush, the mountain, the river.

“Play bespeaks eternity.

Play is a gesture of hope.

It takes us momentarily out of the realm of suffering and lets us glimpse deathless joy.

It is a gesture of hope in the face of ugliness and destruction”.  

(Clark Pinnock, Flame of Love).

Isn’t that a bright and glorious vision of who we might be, of who we are?


4 thoughts on “Play.

  1. Carol Nance

    The Lord loves us to rejoice……as you often greet us. Our hearts rejoiced sublimely when we heard the “Messiah” sung in the Opera House last week to a full orchestra, all with perfect timing and skill. It was like a foretaste of heaven. You’d love to hear our minister preaching, to be found googling Northern Illawarra Uniting Church, then soul food. He’s leading us into the meditation area, which is exciting, especially fun to learn new things when physically and mentally abilities are decreasing! blessings, Carol

  2. Robin Nance

    Thanks Rod. I had trouble identifying which of the three bald heads was yours – my final guess was the one on top of the blue shirt in the middle.

    We were thrilled with a performance of Handel’s “Messiah” last Thursday at the Concert Hall of the Opera House. The conductor brilliantly held the choir of 400 together in time and pitch. I think the choir was composed of four regional choirs, Wollongong being one, who did their basic training before coming together. Our neighbour was one, and a woman in our church another.

    Over half the secular audience stood for the Hallelujah chorus. I’m told that Handel wrote the whole score in less than three weeks; and that when he wrote the Hallelujah chorus, he locked himself in in room, and emerged with tears streaming saying “I have seen into heaven itself”. Then that final, wonderful chorus – “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive honour, and glory, and dominion and power…” I had tears forming.

    I have no doubt that Handel was empowered by the Holy Spirit in writing. It was play, to the glory of God, just as your Baroque fluting was. By the way, you are mentioned in Genesis 4:21

    Enough from me. Except to say that, the older I grow, the less I understand Jesus. Why did He do what He did? Why did He die? Maybe my left brain cannot comprehend “LOVE”. It’s a good thing – I have to trust Him where I can’t understand or control.

    Are you still preaching? I miss it very much. Glad that you are.

    May this Christmas be a blessed season for you both, with family around you no doubt.



  3. I must look that up Carol. Ive been thinking for some time that we teach each other the doctrines of faith with endless enthusiasm, but we spend little time teaching on the practice of Christian faith. It’s too much in the head, too little in the heart. That wasn’t really true in the wonderful Charismatic years, which I think are my richest memories of the faith journey. – R.

  4. I do still preach Rob, which is something I had not expected I would do again. Ive probably told you how it came about during 18 months when we had no permanent pastor and one of the temporary men and I formed a great friendship. I enjoy a great friendship with both our pastors now, and continue to enjoy being asked to speak occasionally. I find it hard work though, the preparation is wonderful because I usually get severally weeks notice, but it’s hard to pull it all together. Karen and I went to Melbourne to hear the Messiah with the MSO several years in a row when Cassie was young and respite was abundant. It was a great joy, it’s fabulous music. Ive always loved Handel, and it’s wonderful to play his music as well. My father sang in the Opera House production several times, and in the Town Hall I believe before they moved it. He had a terrific, strong singing voice. I always liked to be with him at the end of services back at Belmont Rd when the doxology was always sung. He never sung much of the melody, it was natural for him to find a deep harmony and I must have got the knack of that because for years when I played clarinet in church I could always play a harmony line without music. Well, that was a reverie! Thanks for writing Rob, – R. Oh, wrong bald head. I’m the bald head between two bald heads. Bass recorder.

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