Music

 Ralph McTell at the Royal Albert Hall, May 2016

“Streets of London” was one of the background songs to my time at university in Nottingham, the first track on Ralph McTell’s album “Spiral Staircase” (1969). The song’s a mainstay of London buskers even now - I heard it played and sung very creditably by a busker at Leicester Square tube station just yesterday. Not a hit until a rework in 1974, the song has a timelessness with its poignant words and simple tune.

Read more: Ralph McTell - Royal Albert Hall

Brighton’s own Philharmonic started an adventurous New Year’s Eve Viennese Gala with a brisk and colourful rendition of the Overture to Die Fledermaus. Warm strings, confident brass with supportive conducting from Barry Wordsworth. The Brighton Philharmonic clearly enjoy playing together and (having many seasoned players in their ranks) have respect but little fear for technical difficulty. A fullish house, I heard a figure mentioned of more than 1320. So the second item, Bahn Frei (“Line clear”) was doubly ironic as Brighton has been marooned from London by Rail Engineering Works since Christmas Eve.

Franz Lehar’s Waltz Gold and Silver, with its lusciously beautiful melody, was the first of no fewer than four full-scale waltzes in the programme; each given sensitive and intelligent performances, no small feat of preparation and commitment. And shining through the Brighton Philharmonic’s performances is a sense of enjoyment in the same way as happens with the best performances of chamber music amongst friends.

Read more: New Year’s Eve 2015 Viennese Gala

French orchestral music at Brighton Dome from the early twentieth century, the first night of the London Philharmonic Orchestra’s 2015/6 residency at Brighton Dome. Claude Debussy worked on La Mer whilst at Eastbourne, nearby to Brighton along the coast of the English Channel. The London Philharmonic Orchestra and Robin Ticciati gave us a spirited and stormy account consistent with today’s weather: evocative of sharp showers and low visibility on the Channel rather than the grandeur, majesty and depths of the oceans.

Read more: Fauré, Ravel, Debussy: London Philharmonic at the Brighton Dome

Hand balancing acrobatics at La Soiree in the Spiegeltent on London's South Bank

Lots of fun on the South Bank for La Soirée in the Speigeltent, part of the winter festival next to Hungerford bridge. Just to list acrobats, burlesque, magic, melodrama, pole acrobatics, clowning and bubble blowing doesn't do this show justice. Nor does a single photo. The company quickly won over even the knowing London audience (the cabaret atmosphere with the bar open during the show clearly helped).

Read more: La Soirée

Patterdale “The local organist entertains”

Patterdale “The local organist entertains” concerts have been running for a few summers now, featuring the William Hill organ, reinstalled and rebuilt in 1906 by Wilkinson and recently enlarged and rebuilt by Andrew Carter of Wakefield.

Mike Town presented a programme with a summer feel for the first day of June. The brisk wind and driving rain outside was easily forgotten by the committed audience as the first chord of the 2015 series – starting an unchurchy circus style march by Dando – sounded on the stroke of the church clock.

Read more: Patterdale “The local organist entertains”