Wow, someone’s had a busy week. Came to a lovely end with the above concert in Hastings. I was really looking forward to this: I love the intimacy of Baroque music (an orchestra of around a dozen players) and it’s been ages since I actually played the bass. Unfortunately, what I didn’t realise is that it takes about 2.5 hours to get from my door to Hastings by train. Annoying on the way there, but exhausting on the way back: I had arranged for Ben to pick me up from Clapham Junction at 11:40pm, but unfortunately I fell asleep and had to phone him sheepishly from Victoria. But worry not: I got home, had a cup of tea and then slept in until 10am.
But back to the concert. I have played for Hastings Philharmonic Choir once before (in the White Rock theatre), so I knew that they were of a high standard, and that their conductor (the delightful and talented Hilary Davan Wetton) takes no prisoners. What I didn’t know was that St. Mary in the Castle is such an unusual and suitable venue to play in.
The entrance to the place is set on the roadside there at the bottom, between a chip shop and a gift shop. When we arrived, I wasn’t even sure it was the right place. But you go in, towards the back (and into the cliff face, I suspect) and up a spiral staircase (tricky with a double bass) and suddenly you are in a generously sized concert auditorium.
We played quite a short concert (starting at 7:30 and finishing just after 9, with a 20 minute interval) but it was beautifully put together, finishing with a clean performance of Vivaldi’s “Gloria”. With the choir, we also did a few Handel anthems and some Pergolesi. The orchestra got their chance to shine on their own as well, starting the concert with a beautiful Purcell piece and later, Bach’s famous “Air on a G String”.
As always, there were a few familiar faces (wherever I play in Sussex, I always seem to bump into a few people I know) and it was a pleasure to play with such talented musicians. Whilst it’s a long way to go, it’s always very much worth it. Plus, it keeps my musical mind working hard – the bass continuos of Baroque music are perfect for technical practice!
Image credits: Concert flyer from HPC, exterior of St Mary in the Castle from Wikipedia, the rest are mine