Tag Archives: Music

Terry Wogan

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I am one of the millions brought up with Terry Wogan’s morning programme, Wake Up to Wogan, on BBC Radio 2 while eating breakfast preparing for school. I didn’t particularly enjoy school as it was a place of conforming, which I’ve never done (or wished to do) very well.  Neither did Terry Wogan.  I realise now what I liked about him was that he was his own man – not a rebel – but someone comfortable in his own skin and who valued the company and friendship of others.  I went to school feeling a little stronger in myself after I listened to him.

Thinking of him now and his dearly missed presence, he taught us how to laugh at ourselves – to value what needed valuing – those who love us and whom we love. His taste in music reflects this too.  He introduced me to the likes of Eva Cassidy, Katie Melua, Beth Nielsen Chapman and Bonnie Raitt, as well as appreciating the established greats like Frank Sinatra and Irish band The Fureys.  All of these sing about the important things in life.

In the many tributes following his death he’s been described as everybody’s friend – in a world where warmth and the longevity of friendship and understanding is hard to find, he was a constant, even though he didn’t know you personally. He has also been described as kind to all – another quality which seems in short supply in the world today.

His sense of humour was unbeatable, combined with wisdom. The fact is he was a one-off, from his many conversations on chat-shows on the TV and interaction of pure silliness with the likes of actress Caroline Quentin on his Sunday morning show, Weekend Wogan, on radio 2 (when he stopped doing his daily one in the week). His banter on the Eurovision Song Contest, Proms in the Park, Children in Need and his brilliant narration of the hilarious cartoon Stoppit and Tidyup will all be remembered.  He wasn’t just another presenter – he was able to be and ‘present’ himself and you got the feeling that the charm and care he radiated to viewers and listeners, was the same that he radiated to everyone whoever they were.

He is missed.

TW

The Arts as vehicles for Identity and Truth

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In his statement to his film Mr Turner, Mike Leigh says:

“Back at the turn of the century, when ‘Topsy-Turvy’ was released, I wrote that it was “a film about all of us who suffer and strain to make other people laugh.”

Now I have again turned the camera round on ourselves, we who try to be artists, with all the struggles our calling demands. But making people laugh, hard as it is, is one thing; moving them to experience the profound, the sublime, the spiritual, the epic beauty and the terrifying drama of what it means to be alive on our planet – well, that’s altogether something else, and few of us ever achieve it, much as we may try.

Yet Turner the man was eccentric, anarchic, vulnerable, imperfect, erratic and sometimes uncouth. He could be selfish and disingenuous, mean yet generous, and he was capable of great passion and poetry.

Mr Turner is about the tensions and contrasts between this very mortal man and his timeless work, between his fragility and his strength.”

I enjoy films which are about complex people and I read this after seeing the film. Too often it feels as though society puts people into boxes and has no time to consider those who are outside the box. The business of the arts is to explore characters and the world they lived/live in.

Timothy Spall as Turner

Timothy Spall as Turner

Turner seemed not to engage with the reality of his own responsibilities yet his paintings engage realistically with the world of nature. I look at the paintings and their wildness strikes a chord with me – the emotions I can’t always engage with are almost acknowledged by the art and artist instead – on my behalf.

The same could be said of Beethoven the composer.  The classical pianist James Rhodes says ‘his music is the very definition of “interiority” – music became about feelings, about looking within and expressing things hitherto unsayable…Study Shakespeare and he will show us who we are.  Listen to Beethoven, a man tormented and isolated, who wrote simply to justify his artistic and intellectual existence, and he will show us who we could be.’

Beethoven

Another who was labelled as odd was Alan Turing – the code breaker in World War Two.  At the time, he didn’t behave or talk like ‘the group’ he was working with, but they learnt to respect and work with him – all portrayed brilliantly in the film The Imitation Game. We should be careful of the word ‘odd’ – life is complex, and we sometimes need complex people to illuminate our own lives, whether we see our lives as black and white, or grey.  As Oscar Wilde says ‘the true mystery of the world is the visible, not the invisible.’  And let us remember we are all human – so complexity generally comes with that.

The superb Benedict Cumberbatch as the persecuted Alan Turing

The superb Benedict Cumberbatch as the persecuted Alan Turing

Everything Is Connected

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I have an interest in physical theatre – both participating and watching it.  It earths you.  The workshop I recently attended focussed on movement and meditation.  It involved various simple movement exercises such as standing in a circle and throwing a ball to other people in the circle.  We were simply asked to pass and catch.  We realised very soon though that is was not so simple – that we were sorry, embarrassed or annoyed when we dropped a ball.  Some of us found it funny; some of us were cross and felt we had failed; some of us felt responsible when the person we threw it to did not catch.

We then discussed how we feel when we drop bigger balls in life – the ball of relationships, the ball of responsibility at work, the ball of ‘keeping it all together’.  We discussed how so often we worry too much over actions which actually do not matter – yet do not worry over actions that do matter.  We are told by society that certain actions are important when actually they are not – it is so terribly important that we run as fast we we can in life to achieve as much as we can and never mind the implications on others.  Whether in the world of business, investment, trade or academia there are too many of us intent on getting to the top at the expense of others.  Treat people badly but no matter as you will achieve what you want.  Just get to your destination and ignore the journey (which is probably more enjoyable and enlightening anyway but you’re running so fast you don’t notice or don’t care).

Consider VAT.  The tax we all pay on most items and services in the UK.  It stands for ‘value added tax’ but in life, our actions or non action could be called ‘value added tension’.  When we pass something on to someone – e.g. a piece of work we’ve worked on, we pass it on feeling some responsibility I guess, hoping we’ve done our best and that it will be appreciated.  But, there is nothing more we can do so like the ball in the game, we should just pass it on and not worry perhaps.  However, when we pass on the world to the next generation we have much less concern on what we pass on.  It is strange I find.  We care less for something that actually matters more.

cloud atlas

In the film ‘Cloud Atlas’, we see the major message of the film is that everything is connected.  Actor Tom Hanks who stars in it says ‘It’s above my pay grade to say what’s going on beyond this life but I embrace the mystery of it all.  And as a layman who studies history, I am firm in my belief that the human condition throughout the history of the world has never evolved until someone did the right thing, which is a version of saying “it’s important the karma you put out right now because it’s going to affect eternity.”

It is a great thing that film and theatre can remind us of the priorities in life – I don’t think many people listen to their message but at least it is being said.  The film ‘A Late Quartet’, focussing on music, rightly suggests that music is not separate from life.  It is not just something experienced in the concert hall and then forgotten.  Like great fiction, it is a drama that draws from and is inspired by the choatic nature of our lives.

A Late Quartet

We ignore what we think is unimportant and sooner or later it will come back to bite us.  Modern business and academia does not invite us to live ethical lives that care about other living beings.  Ego is the name of game.  Well one day, the ball we throw out that should have been thrown with more care and value will come right back and hit us much harder.

Sondheim is super

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The more musicals by Stephen Sondheim that I watch, the more my belief (that theatre shows us real life, more than real life itself), is reinforced.

Merrily We Roll Along has been playing at the Menier Chocolate Factory in London since November 2012 and I’ve just seen it.  It tells the story of a composer (Frank) who turns to commercial producing, putting his own unique creativity at stake, along with his friendship and in the end his own grasp of life.  The musical opens at his house in California in 1975 and then by the end of the musical, it is 1957 and he is on a rooftop with two friends on 110th Street, NYC.

Frank and Charlie on the roof

Frank and Charlie on the roof

It ends, therefore, at the beginning, when he, and his friends Mary and Charlie, are idealistic and full of hope. They have dreams that music and writing can change the world.  By 1975, they are older – some of the dreams are shattered and some of the dreams have been reached but in ways that have distanced them and turned them from who they were – affecting their relationship with each other and with other people.

The three leads are played beautifully by Mark Umbers (Frank), Jenna Russell (Mary) and Damian Humbley (Charlie). Humbley remarks that essentially the musical is about compromise.  We all compromise a little as we go down the road of life but it is like dominoes – one little one falls into another little one and it’s something that can become habit.  It is not bad to compromise but it can also take its toll as the further you go down the road, the harder it is not to keep doing it and you realise what you stood for has been left behind.

Frank, Charlie and Mary

Frank, Charlie and Mary

I found the musical heartbreakingly honest since not only does Frank leave some of his dreams behind, he also leaves some of the special people in his life behind; people he genuinely loved and who loved him.  And, what he ends up with, is not what he set out to achieve.  Songs such as ‘Old Friends’, ‘Growing Up’, ‘Not a Day Goes By’ and ‘Our Time’ nail prefectly those moments in life that we all share, cherish, lose and sometimes regain.

If I had to recommend a show to see, to anyone, I would say this one.  It reminds you of being alive (the name of another song by Sondheim from ‘Company’ – another great musical) and that, even with our best efforts, we will not always make the right choices – but is is always worth trying to make them, and trying to hold good friendships.

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With many thanks

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My heartfelt thanks to Leanne at http://mindfulness4now.wordpress.com for nominating me for the Lovely Blog Award and Reader Appreciation Award.  Leanne’s blog is wonderful.

I am new to blogging and have learnt a lot and enjoyed reading many other blogs; I’m grateful for the support from other bloggers and to know that there are others interested in the things that interest me.

Here goes for 7 facts about me:

1) I love music (all styles) and play violin in an orchestra, and piano and oboe privately.

2) I really enjoy singing in a choir.

3) I love animals.

4) I love the theatre – plays and musicals alike.

5) I love the British countryside, I do like the north of England and Scotland particularly.

6) I have enjoyed exploring the USA over recent years; I love Oregon.

7) I spent some time in Poland and Ghana in 2003 and 2004; it was an emotional journey which I find hard to put down on paper.

There are so many super blogs out there – here are some of the ones that I think are excellent – http://

1) mindfulacting.org

2) mindfulness4now.wordpress.com

3) wellcallmecrazy.wordpress.com

4) thoughtsontheatre.wordpress.com

5) prefessionsforpeace.com

6) thewhyaboutthis.com

7) lanternpost2012.wordpress.com

8) belindaclaushuis.wordpress.com

9) mountainmae.com

10) momentswithmillie.wordpress.com

11) revelationsinwriting.wordpress.com

12) oakworld.wordpress.com

13) candidprescence.wordpress.com

14) mybeautifulthings.wordpress.com

15) frivolousmonstors.wordpress.com

16) poetrycurator.wordpress.com

17) onethousandsingledays.com

18) realwomanshealth.wordpress.com

19) morningstaranddilbert.wordpress.com

20) utesmile.wordpress.com

21) amayaellman.wordpress.com

22) lesleycarter.wordpress.com

23) manipolphotoblog.wordpress.com

24) cristianmihai.net/category/blog

I finish the post with a picture of Bamburgh Castle in Northumberland – one of my favourite places.  I recommend swimming in the sea here – though it is cold it makes you feel alive…