Wednesday, 25 June 2008

A Bathfull of Culture
There is always something going on in Bath but each June the International Music Festival squeezes more concerts into two weeks than most venues in the UK manage in a year. Every space is used either by the official programme or the increasingly popular Fringe.
By chance we were in Bath for the last May bank holiday and so caught the first few days of this the 40th anniversary festival. On the Friday night we watched the fireworks from the third floor of Elton House (Landmark Trust) after wandering around the city where there appeared to be as many street performers as visitors.
After a hectic Saturday and Sunday of which some of you are already aware, we relaxed on Monday by visiting some Landmark Friends who were staying in another Landmark - Beckford's Tower. Joe and John, you may remember, had come to our rescue in May last year when we miscalculated the journey from Froghall to Alton Station. This year, however, we needed their help in eating some chocolate cake. As the rain and wind were punishing us for booking so much sun on the Saturday we decided to do some culture and booked three concerts for that afternoon and evening.
We started at lunchtime with Peter and Kathryn Tickell performing folk-based songs on Northumbrian pipes, violins and guitar. I was a little wary of bagpipes beforehand but I was enthralled by their performance. It was lively and moving and even humorous in parts, I hardly noticed the rain when we emerged from the Assembly Rooms. After a late lunch we went to the Forum to hear a jazz quartet. The music was not memorable as each musician seemed more interested in his individual performance than in the ensemble effect. The City Church which occupies this ex-cinema on Sundays has restored the Art Deco features immaculately and I was happy for the music to accompany the greater pleasure of taking in the d├ęcor. At 22.30h we ventured forth again to another church hall but on a different scale. Whilst the Forum could probably seat 800, the Intervention Studio did not seat one tenth that number. This more intimate setting was more appropriate for the solo concert by Wu Man who plays the Chinese Pipa. Her repertoire on this stringed instrument similar to the lute included the traditional lyrical and martial works but also more modern interpretation of the instrument's scope. As we walked the 50 yards back to Elton House at midnight the evening was now dry and mild. A fitting preparation for bed.

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