Wednesday, January 01, 2014

what made 2013 special

For a few years I've enjoyed reading Liz's list of firsts. I don't think she did 2013 but from 2010-2012 she wrote lists of things she'd never done and aimed to try as many as possible each year. Seemed like a great way of making the coming year interesting and being challenged to move beyond the familiar.

I've never written such a list - perhaps I should? Or at least maybe I should blog my own "firsts" as I achieve them this year?

But had I written my own, there's one event from 2013 that would definitely have been on it, and remains a definite highlight of last year for me, and for Dan too.

We're both musicians and enjoy playing with orchestras in all sorts of contexts, including the Greenbelt Festival Orchestra. The Festival Orchestra is an occasional orchestra who gather at the festival for annual performances. It's rarely the same orchestra twice, although there are familiar faces. Through this group I've played Mozart's Requiem, Handel's Messiah, a brand new piece composed specifically for us (although I forget its name or the name of the composer, oops!) and even Taverner's Seven Last Words From The Cross in the presence of Taverner himself. And almost all of those in driving rain on a stage in a field. Sounds crazy but I love it.

When we decided to go to Greenbelt in 2013, I contacted Harry who oversees the rabble, to see what this year's concert would be. Harry was really quite apologetic that this year's programme was not classical - he needn't have apologised as the alternative really was far more exciting for us.

So at the end of August 2013, we joined the Greenbelt Festival Orchestra on stage with Duke Special and his band to play at the close of the festival on Monday evening. There are several videos of the event on youtube and facebook. Mostly quite blurry but you can usually make out Dan playing trombone in the back row, wearing a hat. I'm sitting just in front of him playing bassoon but I'm hiding behind the strings!

We've been Duke Special fans since we saw him by accident at a small gig at the Kashmir Klub in London in 2003. Dan was playing there with Meeker, and one of the 4 other bands was a guy with dreadlocks, a piano and a double bassist. We loved the rich harmonies and style of his songs but couldn't remember who he was. Later that year, a friend dragged us into stage 2 at Greenbelt (when it was tiny and dark and mostly held unknown acts) to see someone he knew in his new band. Duke Special. We were hooked and have enjoyed seeing him perform in all sorts of places since - numerous Greenbelt venues, small pubs in Brixton, the Glee Club in Birmingham, supporting Divine Comedy at Warwick Arts Centre, the Bush Hall in London, and with an orchestra in Camden's RoundHouse.

It really was a privilege to be able to play with him, Chip Bailey, Ben Castle and the rest of the band - some songs we knew well and some new repertoire too. Loads of fun rehearsing and such an amazing atmosphere playing to a full GB crowd, coming together at the end of the festival to enjoy one last performance.

1 comment:

  1. That is so cool Rachel! I recognise the name having read it on your blog list of likes or somewhere on your blog! This clip is great! I'm so sorry I didn't get around to contacting you re the meeting up and gingerbread, I really have been a complete stupid hermit when it comes to going to London for reasons other than orchestra! Perhaps we can meet up sometime in the new year. Any way, happy new year to you x



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