Leontyne Price and memory lane

Stunning. Price was one of the great operatic sopranos of the 20th century, but listen to how halfway through she displays some rich, completely assured notes that any alto would be proud of. Even if you think opera isn’t your thing, this is worth 2 minutes of anyone’s time. Finally, if this puts you in the mood for more great singers, see if you can find Sean Rafferty’s interviews with Janet Baker and John Tomlinson on the bbc i-player from over Christmas.

Paris opera

Not sure what to feel about this. On the one hand, wonderful dancing that exposes the ultimately martial purpose of the ballets central to the French Court from Louis XIV on, and choreography that makes Rameau’s music feel fresh. On the other, his is music described as the air for the savages and the opera’s decidedly uncomfortable racial imagery – unsurprising for the 1730s – is replicated here in modern-day France’s uneasiness with its colonial history.

Collect impressions

“Collect impressions. Don’t be in a hurry to write them down. Because that’s something music can do better than painting; it can centralise variations of colour and light within a single picture – a truth generally ignored, obvious as it is.”

Debussy in a letter to a pupil, 1906



A friend told me about The Nest Collective and their fireside music clubs. Intriguing as a night singing with the Nightingales sounds, or a campfire (assuming there are cushions with the logs) sounds, I’m most taken by their world music gigs of post-Soviet rap (hmm, well in theory) and West-African/Carribean tunes.


Old folk, new folk, no folk.



Looking forward to hearing these:

at King’s Place soon. I was there last night to hear these amazing women hold the room in their hand with tales of Miss Lalla (“she was just a precious person…she never went anywhere without her violin and her rifle.”), Jeanette and Jeanie, lullabies and dips in the archive.

Most heart-tearing of all was the 70 year writing to the Library of Congress in 1940, begging them to preserve the songs and stories of her now-vanished family in Maine. After a string of letters, and pair of white Christmas mittens, knitted each stitch with affection and a song, her wish was granted and we remember this:

It was 1883, and I was 12 the night before we left Nova Scotia for Maine. Everyone was singing and playing, pretending it was merry as usual and Mother was asked to sing this (Farewell, sweet Erin). In the middle of the song her voice broke and she left the room. I never heard her sing it again.