Saturday, October 10, 2015

recorder and harpsichord, Evensong

Colyer-Fergusson Hall, University of Kent at Canterbury and Canterbury Cathedral
7th October 2015

The music department at UKC is running free lunchtime concerts in their acoustically fantastic new hall. This one featured Naomi Okuda (recorder) and Tom Foster (harpischord). The harpischord had recently been built for the department, this its maiden voyage, with the maker present in the audience. Sitting near me was Director of Music Susan Wanless, who I remember as conductor of the UKC Orchestra when I was playing French horn in it '88-'89 (happy memories of playing Handel's Messiah in Rutherford dining hall...). The concert was billed as "18th century virtuoso music" and featured works by Handel, Bach, Telemann and the more obscure (but apparently a big influence on Bach) Johann Fischer.

Later that day, I decided to go and partake of Evensong in the Cathedral quire. Somehow, I'd never managed to have done this. I can't remember what was sung, but it involved celestial voices spiraling up into the extraordinary architecture. Wonderful. But there were scriptural readings too, I'd sort of forgotten about that. The one from the New Testament was a puzzlingly detailed travelogue from The Book of Acts (Paul and friends sailing around Crete, interesting enough, but I couldn't quite see the point). The Old Testament reading was horrendous, though (from 2 Kings Chapter 9), here's part of it:

Jehu got up and went into the house. Then the prophet poured the oil on Jehu’s head and declared, “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘I anoint you king over the Lord’s people Israel. You are to destroy the house of Ahab your master, and I will avenge the blood of my servants the prophets and the blood of all the Lord’s servants shed by Jezebel. The whole house of Ahab will perish. I will cut off from Ahab every last male in Israel—slave or free. I will make the house of Ahab like the house of Jeroboam son of Nebat and like the house of Baasha son of Ahijah. As for Jezebel, dogs will devour her on the plot of ground at Jezreel, and no one will bury her.’” Then he opened the door and ran.

This was read without irony, or even an explanatory preamble, by a pompous cleric in anachronistic garb. What is the point of this? I really wanted to ask him afterwards, but he and his similarly-attired associates left through a separate door to the "audience". Oh well. Nice singing, though, so I'll probably return.


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