“Why are you wearing that? I mean, you absolutely can, but…”
“Well yes. Because I can. That and all my summer clothes that fit me are too casual and I have to be reasonably well dressed today, and I’m going straight on from there to that concert. Also because sometimes it’s good to shake things up a bit. Show people a side they’re not expecting.”
So off I went in my pistachio coloured silk/cotton kurta, the one with the intricate hand-embroidered leaf pattern and the coordinating dark rose silk churidar, both from my favourite Indian garment retailer, Fabindia.
I always wear these Indian clothes in India, both because they’re so comfortable in a hot and humid climate but also so that I blend in and don’t draw attention to myself. It feels appropriate to dress my age and cover up. But these clothes are very much for swanning about and asking people to do things for you, not driving your own smart car or shopping for your own groceries. It felt odd.
Much later I was privileged to be in the audience in the fabulous acoustic of All Saints’ Church in West Dulwich. as my singing teacher, International Soprano Sarah Leonard, resplendent in a royal blue kaftan adorned with silver embroidery, gave a recital of American songs What a beautiful Romaneque building it was, like a mini St. Peter’s basilica but, this being Dulwich, modernised tastefully with a lot of glass and beautiful timber floors. A great concert venue, I think.
The programme included Charles Ives and Aaron Copeland, Samuel Barber and Milton Babbit, all of whom I enjoyed to greater or lesser degrees. And then Gershwin’s Summertime, the top notes floating up amid the tall roman arches. Enchanting.
Gershwin was followed by Sondheim and his intricate tracery of wordplay and then this extraordinary offering by Jeanine Tesori. The version here is a bit of a compromise but imagine it being sung by an opera diva who also teaches musical theatre. Sarah climbed up three octaves for the final three notes. I’ve never heard anything like it. It’s going to be a very long time before I can sing like this, The Girl in 14G: