blending an assortment of thoughts and experiences for my friends, relations and kindred spirit

blending an assortment of thoughts and experiences for my friends, relations and kindred spirit
By Alison Hobbs, blending a mixture of thoughts and experiences for friends, relations and kindred spirits.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

An inspiring day

I cycled along the canal path to a concert at lunchtime which was all JS Bach. The performer was Roland Graham, director of the music at Southminster Church, where these Doors Open For Music (DOMS) concerts happen, and director of DOMS besides. He was enthusiastically introduced by the ecclesiastic in charge, Trisha Elliott (who incidentally describes herself as an Intentional Interim and Transitional minister, kind of a “specialist” in helping congregations navigate change). Under the influence of Glenn Gould recordings, Mr Graham plays the piano, as well as conducting, composing or teaching at other times, and he specialises in Bach. This was a performance on the grand piano of Bach's 3-part Sinfonias, fifteen of them played without a break, followed by the far better known Italian Concerto (BWV 971).

What a feat of concentration, especially as he played them all from memory. Imitating the way Angela Hewitt performs Bach, he did not touch the foot pedal once. I was watching, soaked in music of the highest quality –– occasionally I closed my eyes. It seems to me that since Bach's time, every musical thought in western music was anticipated by this composer; is that notion too far-fetched? I try to be analytical about his music, but I always fail, especially when it comes to the compositions in minor keys. They are so beautiful, and I love his mood-changing tierces de Picardie at the end of the minor sequences, although he went one better in the final Sinfonia in F minor, which had a major chord before the end, then returned to the minor harmonies, before reaching the actual conclusion.

(Ignore the picture! Listen with eyes closed.)

In the Italian Concerto, the slow, middle movement is a deeply felt composition, in the minor key, with one of Bach's exquisite melody lines:

Is it also too far-fetched or fanciful to point out the universality of Bach's music? I'm convinced it does not appeal, and was not meant to appeal, to only one type or breed of people, but that it is for all of us. Intellectual snobs might think otherwise; inverted snobs might think otherwise too. I maintain that if a listener is unbiassed and open enough, it doesn't matter who (s)he is. There was a girl with Down Syndrome sitting in front of me. She was quietly loving this music, smiling throughout the concert.

I cycled back the way I'd come, but on the other side of the canal, the colourful side with the flower beds, then went swimming in the Chateau Laurier basement pool which I had all to myself.

The TOGETHER exhibition trailer
Later in the afternoon I went to the Delegation of the Ismaili Imamat on Sussex Drive where their touring exhibition (in a very large truck) was parked outside the building. It was a thrilling exhibition with sophisticated interactive displays, called TOGETHER, the theme of which was the certainty that if, as citizens of the world, we work together, we not only address, but eventually overcome, global poverty. The Aga Khan Foundation Canada is setting an example all over the world to show people instances of how, in spite of all the challenges, it can be done. ("Together, we have the tools and knowledge to make a real difference.") Rather than being overwhelmed by difficulties, the Aga Khan Foundation focuses on the necessary and possible solutions.

Inside the Delegation building

Then I heard that the Canadian government ratified the Paris Climate Change accord today. A good day indeed.

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