Well, didn’t get much ticked off the list, but I was out most of the afternoon and all of the evening. The organ playing went fine, thank you. At the end of the service I looked round just in time to see the newly widowed husband in tears, wiping his eyes. I turned away to concentrate on not having to wipe mine. As it wasn’t in our village, I hadn’t known the name of the lady who had died; it turned out that the couple had been a member of the same classic car club as the Sage and he knew them. She had been ill for some years and in the local wonderful cottage hospital for several months; her husband had sat with her for several hours every single day, even though by then she hardly remembered him. The Sage had visited several times too, as much for his sake as hers.
Anyway, the Rector and her husband had given me a lift and on the way home took me out for a cream tea. Scones, darlings, of course. I manfully, and with enjoyment, ate mine and by way of compensation did not have an ice cream during the interval tonight, drinking black coffee instead. I’d been obliged to park in a very awkward spot and moved during the interval, my half-drunk cup of coffee in the car’s cupholder, to a better place.
The concert tonight was a gypsy orchestra from Budapest. It was arranged in the traditional style, with first and second violins (the second violin also and it seems simultaneously plays a third violin part) a viola, called a bratch, a double bass, cello, clarinet and cimbalon. To start with, it seemed to me that the backing had nothing to do with the melody played by the violin – I couldn’t discern a pattern in it. I started to listen more carefully to each instrument and I could hear that each was indeed accompanying the violin but when I switched my hearing back to the ensemble, I couldn’t get it any more. I was starting to, by the interval and felt that my brain might have made sense of it all by the time I returned.
The second violinist had had a friendly arm round the shoulder of the band leader as they came on in the first place, and it seemed a little odd that he did again in the second half. They all had Hungarian names (well, the little that I know about such things) but he told us that he was, in fact, from Belgium and had travelled to learn the music of his gypsy ancestors, as he loved it and wanted to help keep the tradition alive. His English was perfect and unaccented, although slightly stilted and so were his movements. He had a few mannerisms, including frequently touching the microphone, but it wasn’t until several minutes into the second half that it occurred to me that he might be blind and as I observed, I became sure of it. I can see why this is irrelevant to his music and that he might choose not to refer to it; acknowledging it might make it a bigger deal than he would think it worth and detract from his musicality and that of the band but, nevertheless, it does make it a bigger deal that he is the front man and does all the speaking and that the others are quite matter-of-factly protective of him. As the concert went on, the applause became louder and longer; I wasn’t the only one to open my ears to its style.
They haven’t got a CD out yet as the group is quite newly formed, but he invited us to put down our emails at the music stall if we wanted to be kept informed; there was a steady line of people by the time I’d written mine. Like much music that is not easy at first listen, the more you listen the more you hear, appreciate and enjoy it. It’s not really a genre I’d take as my favourite but I’d like to listen to it more as I think it’s worth the learning. And yes, I admire them and yes, he would not like (a reasonably small) part of the reason to be his attitude to his blindness, which is the reason I’m not putting up their name.