Wednesday, 18 February 2015

The Lark Ascending

On Sunday night I was kindly taken to a concert. There was a slightly shaky start, a lovely rendition of Carl Orff's Carmina Burana with some sections that were outstanding (particularly the baritone), and then there was Hannah Roper playing Vaughan Williams, The Lark Ascending: this was stunning. She is still only in her early twenties, if that, and yet plays with such skill and sensitivity, it was actually breathtaking. I almost held my breath throughout for fear of making any noise and spoiling the performance (I was also terrified that my phone that was on silent might somehow override the command), there was a sense of being inwardly stretched as she played. Incredible.
      Sadly, I don't have a recording of it but there is a link of her playing the same piece five/six years ago here when she must have been in her teens. 

Here is another wonderful rendition: Iona Brown playing with St. Martin in the Fields.

Picture from here

Thursday, 12 February 2015

Letter to a Hostage: friendship beyond difference.

Antoine De Saint-Exupery not only wrote the beautiful book, The Little Prince, but many other works including one named Letter to a Hostage, a small gem of a book which ponders existence. Near to the end of the letter he writes the following words which speak of a rare quality of friendship. The words are both timeless and concrete for his situation and the present troubled days. 

'That is undoubtedly why, my friend, I need your friendship so badly. I long for a companion who, above the disputes of reason, will respect in me the pilgrim of that light. I need to feel sometimes, in advance, the promised warmth, and to rely, beyond myself, upon that rendezvous which will be ours. I am so weary of polemics, exclusiveness and fanaticism. I can come to you without having to wear a uniform, without having to recite the Koran, without denying anything of my inmost world. With you I do not have to justify myself, to plead or to prove; I find peace as I did at Tournus. Beyond awkward words, beyond deceiving statements, you only consider the [person] in me. You honour in me the ambassador of special beliefs, customs, and lore. If I am different from you, far from depriving you, I augment you. You question me as one questions a traveller.
    As like anyone else, I need to be appreciated, I feel pure in you and come to you. I need to go where I am pure. Neither my sayings nor my doings have taught you who I am. But because you have accepted me as I am, you are indulgent, when necessary, towards those doings and sayings. I know that you are prepared to accept me as I am. What could I do with a friend who would judge me? When I welcome a friend, if he is lame, I invite him to sit down and do not ask him to dance.
     My friend, I need you as one needs a space where one can breathe... '