This year, a fantastic Spode Music Week, which was held at St Edmund’s School, near Canterbury:


where we enjoyed yummy food, extensive grounds, a nice chapel with proper organ, a well-stocked music block (plenty of stands, Steinway, vibraphone, timpani, tam tam), a cosy bar (temporary license), and the luxury of being able to let the children play together and make new friends without having to supervise them. There were a great many old friends, but we also made some new friends.

Philip Duffy took charge of the daily service music, and we sang an extensive quantity of music by Tomás Luis de Victoria, who died 400 years ago this month. Although we did tackle a Mozart Missa Brevis one day as well, by way of a change.

We used the new translation for the Mass (except of course, that we were singing a great deal in Latin anyway); it is fantastic, and definitely an improvement on the old translation.

Dominic McGonigal led us in singing a Mass by Nicholas Ludford (1485 ish to 1557 ish), of whom I had not heard, for the final Mass. It is very long and indulgent, but also gorgeous.

For a concert, and to honour the late Fr Austin Milner, we sang Michael Haydn’s Requiem, of which I had also not heard, and which is fantastic. It deserves to be as popular as the Mozart; in some parts it is better than the Mozart, although had he lived to complete it, Mozart’s Requiem would have been much better than it now is, of course.

For orchestra, we played a very extremely nice Clarinet Concertino by Carl Maria von Weber, which is very nice, the Dance Bacchanale from Samson and Delilah, the Overture for Hansel and Gretel, and the Hoedown by Aaron Copland.

For strings, we had a look at Elgar’s Introduction and Allegro (not his serenade, I got mixed up), which we made a passable stab at, but in the concert just played an arrangement of the death of Falstaff from Henry V by Walton and the March from that bit by Dag Wiren, which now I can play it, I like much better.

For lectures, we had Mary Remnant and music in the life of St Anselm, and English fiddle music as collected by John Clare and Thomas Hardy, and a few other lectures.

There were three very good recitals: Alison Wells and Susanna Stranders played piano duets, Michael and Agnes Bevan demonstrated their skill at the piano and on the flute, and Jeremy White sang.


We scratched a musical: Kiss me Kate (we ignored the dialogue, but Felix explained the plat as we went along). We had great fun, people dressed up and sang, we attempted the choruses. I’ve not seen Kiss me Kate, but it seems like I should (and I still haven’t seen Porgy and Bess, which we scratched 3 years ago).

There was a folk fiddle workshop which was good fun; I have acquired a book of folk fiddle music, which I am eager to get my teeth into.

The children played in the junior orchestra, Sam seemed to be coping very well with the easy cello part (which Angelica made sure it was easy enough) and I wrote Hannah an open string viola part, and she was very pleased to be playing in the concert. They sang in the junior choir. Octopus Garden and Truly Scrumptious for their concert, Ecce Panis for the mass.

There was a thing where we practised and played new compositions; Evan Crabfin’s The Composing Crab for vast numbers of strings, which, under a conductor, we almost managed, a new song by Michael Bevan, who is definitely going to be one to watch out for, a mass setting by Ian Williams, a Salve Regina by Dominic Mcgonigal. All very nice pieces.

There was a music quiz.

There was plenty of late night music: recorders, singing, jazz.

The last concert was also very good. There were some very witty entries, and some hilarious entries, and some impressive entries.