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?