Saturday, July 28, 2012

Olympics Opening

Very interesting China Britain Business Day. Had late telecon to US which prevented me from succumbing to temptation of buying last minute ticket to Olympic Opening Ceremony: instead we watched it over the net.  Nothing like the same of course, but not only would it have been eye-wateringly expensive to attend, we wouldn't have got home until after 2am.

An amazing show - though obviously much of the music was not at all to my taste. High points for me were (in order of appearance):
  • The James Bond sequence
  • Seeing Rowan Williams so obviously enjoying himself just behind the Queen.
  • Tim Berners-Lee.
  • Abide with Me.  Great that a very explicitly Christian hymn was sung in its entirety - even if it had to be explained that this was always sung at the FA Cup Final.
  • Seeing Shami Chakrabati as one of the Olympic Flagbearers.  We know her slightly and she is a really good egg!  Also good to have Barenboim there so high art was not entirely lacking - though having only one really major British classical musician (well two if you count Evelyn Glennie) with a gazillion ephemeral pop bands is a pity.
  • The 7 next generation athletes carrying the final torches. A lovely touch.
  • The petals - brilliant!
 Plainly no other country could have put on this show!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Olympic Torch Relay

Office picnic and then popped down the road to see the Olympic Torch relay.  Delighted to discover that the torchbearer on this particular stretch is one Lydia Mantle whose nomination is on the basis that she helps run a youth club at our Church!

The church will be screening Olympic events including the opening ceremony, which members of my running club who have seen it say is amazing.  Do come if you are around.

PS The first printed copies of In Business and Battle arrived yesterday, with the special bilingual covers for the launch.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Rosy Joshua at the Proms

Rosy at end of Judas Maccabaeus Prom
To the Proms last night to see our friend Rosy in Judas Maccabaeus. It was the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment conducted by Laurence Cummings, with John Mark Ainley as Judas , Christine Rice as the Israelitish Man and Christopher Purves as Simon/Eupolemus.

Purvies is interesting in having been in a Rock group (Harvey and the Wallbangers) before coming back into operatic singing.

The work was performed uncut and so finished around 10:30. Rosy was wonderful as always, and some of her items (such as "Ah! wretched, wretched Israel and her concluding duet "O lovely peace") were utterly exquisite. Backstage afterwards but no supper together since I had an early start and they had to catch a very early flight. But very enjoyable mini-party in her dressing room, drinking champagne out of paper triangular cups.

The librettist for Judas Maccabaeus was Rev Thomas Morell FRS, who was sought out by Handel. He evidently didn't take himself too seriously, but he had a nice talent. For example Judas sings:
My arms! Against this Gordias will I go
The Idumean governor shall know
How vain, how ineffective his design
While rage his leader, and Jehovah mine
and the Israelitish Woman
No more in Sion let the virgin throng
Wild with delusion, pay their nightly song
To Ashtoreth, yclep'd the Queen of Heav'n
Hence to Phoeniciea be this goddess driv'n
Or be she, with her priests and pageants, hurl'd
To the remotest corner of the world.
He left a memoir of what it was like collaborating with Handel. He has been criticised as "an irritating person with no real gift" but if this were true it's hard to understand why Handel continued to collaborate with him with 4-6 other oratorios, including Jeptha. However his line at the beginning recommending "Pious Orgies" can hardly fail to bring a smile to the lips.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Porgy and Bess and a Confirmation

On Sat we went to the Cape Town Opera production of Porgy and Bess which is on at the London Collussium. It was terrific. The company approached it with great gusto and the Porgy in particular was excellent. Do catch it if you can.

On Sunday a young friend (whom we have known since her birth) was confirmed by the Bishop of Kensington in our former church - St Andrew's. There were 11 people being confirmed, all from the congregation, and the church was packed. An excellent sermon by the Bishop, pitched just right.  He mentioned that in one of these "audition" shows (Britiain's Got Talent I think) each singer stands under a white cross which goes red when the judge doesn't like the performance. Well God isn't like that. There is a croos that goes red, but it is Jesus' blood on the cross and it cancels out our sins. It's very good to see St Andrew's in such great form - the new Vicar is doing an excellent job.

You will infer from the fact that I'm writing up the weekend at 06:30 on a Thurs that things are massively busy. In addition to secular work, Prospect has accepted our article and I'm meeting Bill Newsome on Sat. Now back to work!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Beijing and HK

Back on Weds from a fascinating and productive trip to Beijing and HK - mostly unbloggable but I have been invited to be a Visiting Professor in Beijing - watch this space.

Went to Communion at St John's Cathedral in HK - where the Archbishop (Paul Kwong) was presiding. Catherdal was pretty well packed for this 9am service, and the 8am Said Eucharist seems to have been pretty full. They then have 4 more services (one in Mandarin and one in Filipino) so pretty busy.  Sermon about "where is home".  There was a note of sadness in that a much loved priest, Winston Ching, had died suddenly at an airport on the way to a conference. May he rest in peace and rise in Glory!

Had an annoying cold at the weekend but we were staying in an excellent hotel (with a very good corporate rate) - here are a few more snaps

This is the exterior of the cathedral, next to a "cathedral of commerce".

Below are night views from the bar at the top of the hotel - quite nice effects with the reflections of the inside of the bar on the window.