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Playing at Kettle’s Yard in Cambridge

Playing at Kettle’s Yard in Cambridge

I've been in Cambridge, where I played a solo recital on Thursday at Kettle's Yard (see photo), a delightful art gallery/museum I used to love visiting when I was a student. The audience at Kettle's Yard has a particular character - perhaps it's partly my expectation,...

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A view seen through a window

A view seen through a window

We recently visited a lovely cafe situated on a cliff top near the sea in East Lothian. The walk to the cafe took us along the cliffs in splendid weather with seagulls wheeling around us, a brisk wind blowing (as usual) and the sea sparkling. We went inside the cafe...

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Janis Joplin documentary, ‘Little Girl Blue’

This week we watched Amy Berg's 2015 documentary about Janis Joplin, 'Little Girl Blue', which tells Janis's story with the help of letters she wrote to her family while on tour. It's an absorbing watch, full of great footage, excellent interviews with her family,...

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The possibility for musicians of making a local career

I keep coming across articles about the importance of revising our approach to international travel. For the sake of the environment as well as public health, we're told, we should be working towards the possibility of doing everything in the places where we live....

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Burns’ Night

Last night, on Burns' Night, my book group met on Zoom to read Robert Burns' poem 'Tam O'Shanter'. Several members of the group had grown up taking part in annual Burns recitations on January 25, with prizes given for the best or most dramatic performances. They...

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Brahms Horn Trio on Radio 3’s ‘Building a Library’

Over the years, my recordings have often featured on BBC Radio 3's Saturday morning programme, Record Review. They have a long-running feature called 'Building a Library', where each week a reviewer sifts through the available recordings of a classic piece and...

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Learning to play the spoons in lockdown

Learning to play the spoons in lockdown

Last weekend, reading the Guardian Review, I was struck by a comment of Joe Moran's about having learned to play the spoons in lockdown. I was vaguely aware of spoons as musical instruments, but a bit of research put me in the picture: spoons have long been used to...

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Leaving the EU

Leaving the EU

Now that Brexit has happened and the UK is out of the European Union, I have been reflecting on the fact that I have seen the whole arc of our membership of the EU from start to finish. I was a student when we joined what was then the European Economic Community and...

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New Year’s resolution

New Year’s resolution

I was complaining to a fellow musician recently about how hard it is to make myself practise the piano every day, even though there are no concerts to prepare for. Until the recent Tier 4 lockdowns, I had been hoping that concerts for live audiences could resume...

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‘She taught me that every step has meaning’

The other day I was listening to a ballet dancer reminiscing on radio about the time when, as a girl, she took part in a ballet masterclass given by Dame Margot Fonteyn. Dame Margot, it seems, was more terrifying in person than the students had expected. 'She hardly...

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‘Zonal Attachment’ for Musicians

I was half-listening to the radio this morning when they were talking about fishing rights. The concept of 'zonal attachment' was being explained. I learned that this was a new and scientific way of approaching the issue of fishing rights. Fish move around; from year...

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Otters

Otters

One positive aspect of this year's lockdowns has been seeing more wildlife in the city's green spaces. Earlier in the year, when there was very little traffic, animals seemed to pluck up courage to venture on to the quiet golf courses, parks and hillsides. We saw lots...

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Edvard Grieg and Shakespeare’s Macbeth

Edvard Grieg and Shakespeare’s Macbeth

It's been a turbulent week, and I have found some distraction in playing through a volume of Grieg's Lyric Pieces. I've always liked them, though I admit I knew only the more famous pieces, and only recently discovered that there are many more - all worth getting to...

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Musicians fighting for their jobs in an age of recorded music

At last there is more commentary about the challenges facing freelance artists. Yesterday there was a strongly-worded cry for help in The Observer from several leading musicians, warning that if the UK's musicians are not supported, we could lose them for ever. I have...

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