OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

My singing teacher pushed me very strongly to join the Bromley Musicmakers, a group of enthusiastic solo musicians who put together a concert every month at Ripley, a beautiful old mansion in Bromley.

I’ve managed to gain some solo singing experience by going to the monthly, very draughty, Songs in Church group but both Sarah, my teacher, and I both felt that I need to push myself up a level to gain performance experience before I put together my Diploma recital for the autumn.

You might remember I went along to last month’s concert and was taken with the variety of music on offer from Bach to Shostakovich. These concerts are a great means of broadening one’s musical horizons. There’s no aural test in the Diploma but in the later Grade exams one is asked to describe and analyse a short piece. I’m fairly good at doing this because I have been listening to classical music on and off for decades but MsDD has only been around 15 years and cannot possibly have the same breadth of experience in spite of her thorough musical education. It’s partly for this reason that she came along tonight; also to find new ideas for her compositions, I expect.

I now find myself switching to Radio 3 in the car when I can no longer bear the adversarial debate and speculation on Radio 4’s news and factual programmes. I switch channels and we play Guess the Composer. She is getting much better at this game.

Tonight’s concert was a little Schubert/Schumann heavy but there were other interesting little nuggets on offer including parts of a Venetian dialect song cycle by Reynaldo Hahn (what a glorious name!); a Rodrigo Fandango (that would be a great name too, don’t you think?) and a Romance by Frau Schumann (née Wieck), which I thought rather inappropriately jolly considering she wrote it just six months after her husband’s death. Perhaps she’d moved on by then. Who knows?

In the car on the way home I confessed that I sometimes find chamber music concerts a little impenetrable. If the programme includes lots of trios or quartets each with four or five movements, unless the performance is mesmerising I find myself tallying off the movements. It was the remark of a real Philistine but I was relieved when I was assured that everyone else does this too. I think I’ll still keep fairly quiet about that confession though.

I was offered a Musicmakers performance slot next month but I probably won’t have anything ready to perform by then, which is a pity, and besides it’s the group’s 70th season so the concert is 70-themed. I can’t think of anything with a 70 in it so I’ll have to pass up that opportunity.

I do actually like solo singing but it simultaneously fills me with horror. I suppose I compare myself to professional singers and of course I’m never going to be able to match their capabilities so I’m always going to disappoint myself. The point about the Musicmakers is that it’s a warm and supportive audience for people whose main talents might lie in other fields. I must try and see it in that spirit.