A day of music and sunshine

Ibrahim Keivo of an Armenian family from a village in northern Syria singing and play the oud

The Purbeck International Chamber Music Festival 2018 is well underway and two events have taken place in the churches of the Swanage and Studland Team today. This morning, in St Nicholas’ Studland, there was a most interesting concert, described as “A musical dialogue with Sergeant William Lawrence (1791-1869) Dorset Soldier”. Robert Rinder told the story of Sergeant Lawrence’s life (he is buried in Studland churchyard) interspersed with music played by Yuri Zhislin (violin), Natalie Clein (cello), Gareth Lubbe (viola) and Ibrahim Kelvo (oud, voice and Bazuq). The hour from 11.00 a.m. to 12.00 noon was by degrees uplifting, exciting, touching, but all of it was entirely compelling and fully alive.

I didn’t know what all of the music was, but I think I recognised most of the Bach. Then there was a superb duet between the violin and viola, during which the two instruments changed registers, the violin playing below the viola for long passages. I believe it may have been by the Latvian composer Pēteris Vasks. It was amazing anyway, and worth going simply to hear it alone. However, the addition of Ibrahim Kelvo’s oud (a kind of Syrian lute) was extra special. He appeared from the sanctuary area of the church, walking down and playing, towards the other musicians. He sang of departure, and of love and of celebration - at least I think that is what he was singing about!

The afternoon was in St Mary’s Church when three brave young violinists were taught in a masterclass by the Russian-born violinist Natalia Lomeiko. Lewis Lee played the first movement from Mozart’s third violin concerto, Sally Aiko Dando performed Wieniawski’s Legende, and Amelia Seamen was examined on the third movement of Brahms’ second violin sonata.

The three violinists were given about forty minutes each - and the rest of us were somewhat in awe. I learnt how little I know about how to really play the violin, but all three young people were fantastic, managing to tackle the technical refinements that were being suggested to them; taking on board the reasons for moving the position of the left hand to correct a tendency to upset intonation, slowing the bow to accommodate a shift of position, utilising all the fingers on the bow to increase control, managing the downward motion of the wrist as accurately as that in an upward direction etc.

The rest of the day has been just lovely too, with warm late-summer sunshine, swallows en route south are passing over regularly, butterflies, bees and birds are busy in the garden, with the ripening tomatoes, runner beans hiding amongst the foliage, the apples calling to us for picking. Today we read of Aidan, bishop and missionary who died on this day in 651, and we lunched in the garden on bread and cheese and a delicious fruit cake. St Mark’s school had been my first port of call after morning prayer today to look at RE for the term ahead, whilst choir practice began again tonight in St Mary’s with a good turn out of singers for a fresh start. The month turns into September with so much to look forward to, whilst thoughts of blackberry and apple crumble sit there happily in my mind, as Helen picks over the freshly gathered berries …..

John Mann