March - A Month of Masses, Mayhem & Marmalade

After a brief rehearsal for this evening’s concert in Birmingham, I find myself sitting with a cup of tea and (slightly prematurely...) reflecting on the month that has just flown by us. I’m lucky enough to say it’s been rather jam packed and as you can feel from the title, there has definitely been variety!

Today’s concert feature’s John Rutter’s ‘Mass of the Children’ with pupils of the Blue Coat School. It’s a mass I’d never heard before, and there are some very lovely (and very harpy) moments. However, not quite as harp-heavy as last week’s programme. Last weekend involved making a snowy journey to Penrith where, as part of the British Sinfonietta, I performed Karl Jenkins’ Requiem and Vaughn Williams’ Dona Nobis Pacem with Cumbria Rural Choirs. For those that don’t know the piece, the last movement of Jenkin’s Requiem features a rather large harp solo and the rest of the programme includes several glissandos - very harpy indeed!

So now you know more about what the inclusion of harps in Jenkins’ and Rutter’s masses really entails for us harpists, onto the Mayhem.

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Now, I know we would probably all like to pretend it never existed and but I feel nobody living in the U.K. could complete a truly accurate March update without mentioning our good friend, The Beast from The East. While I was not as largely impacted as others (I was able to make it out my front door...) I do believe it caused havoc on most of us. With only one event postponed due to the weather, I did still find myself having some pretty abominable drives. The worst being the usual 90 minute drive to North Yorkshire taking 4 and a half hours!! Lesson learned - Snacks, blankets and a good soundtrack for when the radio signal disappears are all necessities. On the upside, Sanita and Andy did manage to get married on time at the beautiful Woodhall Linton hotel with a harp being played in the background so success all round. I was a little chilly on the day so didn’t manage a picture but Woodhall Linton looks just as beautiful in the snow.


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Out with Masses and Mayhem, there were some really great musical moments in March. At the RNCM, we celebrated St. David’s day with the annual Harp Ensemble concert which featured an entirely welsh programme. The following week involved a trip to the Manchester Communications academy with Piccadilly Symphony Orchestra and finally, I got to perform the very weird and wonderful ‘Sonata after Syrinx,’ written for flute, viola and harp and composed by Richard Rodney Bennet.

Oh, and of course, ‘She said Marmalade, what was that about?!’ Whilst I wasn’t cheating, it may not be entirely relevant... On the day of the concert in Penrith, Penrith’s own (and the world’s original!) marmalade festival was on. I was looking forward to a wander around, some marmalade sandwiches and feeling slightly like Paddington but sadly, due to the return of The Beast from The East, it wasn’t to be. Maybe next year!