Ralph Vaughan Williams Conducts His Symphony No. 5, 1952

Ralph Vaughan Williams

This recording was made off-air by a sound engineer using state-of-the-art recording equipment for the time that used rare and expensive long-playing acetate disks. The symphony was first performed in June 1943 (at the height of the blitz) but this recording captures a later performance in September 1952. There are four movements: Preludio 0:00 Scherzo 11:40 Romanza 16:40 Passacaglia 26:42.

My beloved John is slated to conduct this symphony with the Royal Northern Sinfonia also at The Sage in his home town of Gateshead in March 2019.


Serenade for Strings by Lennox Berkeley, Performed by the LSO and Conducted by the Composer

The most intriguing piece in the programs of John’s upcoming concerts is this one, Serenade for Strings op.12, which he’s conducting at The Sage in Gateshead, his home town, in March 2019.

While sojourning in Europe Berkeley studied under Maurice Ravel and fell in love with Benjamin Britten, which actually would make your typical 45-minute afternoon drama on BBC Radio 4…

Lennox Berkeley.jpg

Nope. That’s it. I’m dry.

Joan Sutherland Sings a Song by Composer William Shield, Local Swalwell Lad Made Good

Dame Joan was the one who got me interested in classical singing, if not doing it myself then listening to and appreciating it. This really tasty ditty comes from the pen of William Shield of Swalwell, Gateshead, who rose to be the king’s Master of the Musicians and was buried in Westminster. From his comic opera Rosina (1782).

Wiliam Shield.jpg

The Captives’ Hymn, Written by Margaret Dryburgh

Margaret Dryburgh (1890–1945) was born in Sunderland, raised in Swalwell and trained as a teacher in Newcastle. She later became a missionary in Singapore, where she was captured in the Second World War. As an inmate in a Japanese prisoner of war camp she wrote and conducted a performance of “The Captives’ Hymn“.

Margaret Dryburgh

Father in captivity,
We would lift our prayers to Thee,
Keep us ever in Thy Love,
Grant that daily we may prove
Those who place their trust in Thee
More than conquerors may be.

Give us patience to endure.
Keep our hearts serene and pure,
Grant us courage, charity,
Greater faith, humility,
Readiness to own Thy will,
Be we free or captives still.

For our country we would pray,
In this hour be Thou her stay,
Pride and sinfulness forgive,
Teach her by Thy laws to live,
By Thy grace may all men see
That true greatness comes from Thee.

For our loved ones we would pray,
Be their guardian night and day,
From all danger keep them free,
Banish all anxiety,
May they trust us to Thy care,
Know that Thou our pains dost share.

May the day of freedom dawn,
Peace and justice be reborn,
Grant that nations loving Thee
O’er the world may brothers be,
Cleansed by suffering, know rebirth,
See Thy kingdom come on earth.

The Sage, Quayside, Gateshead

The Sage houses two performance spaces—Hall Two seating 600, Hall One seating 1,700—with impeccable acoustics. This impressive concert venue serves a city with a smaller population than, oh, Eugene, Oregon—you know, the corrupt and insane berg where well-known, well-respected Oxford-trained conductor Matthew Halls was so cavalierly fired. (See the Telegraph‘s 9 September 2017 article: “British Conductor Sacked by US Music Festival After ‘Innocent’ Joke with His African-American Friend was Labelled Racist“; then Norman Lebrecht’s Slipped Disc post from 17 September 2017: “Oregon’s Stupid University is Seriously Damaged“; Drew McManus’s post from Adaptistration: “Are Things About to Go Sideways for the Oregon Bach Festival?“; and Bob Hicks’s post from Oregon Arts Watch: “BachFest: The $90,000 Solution“.)

Sage Gateshead

Why am I going on about bad music mojo in the middle of Oregon when this post is entitled “The Sage, Gateshead”? Because I came across this pic while the Halls story was breaking and it filled me with such a longing to be in a civilized place with a fine concert hall and honest beer. And I’ll tell you something, The Sage is going to be around long after the Oregon Bach Festival crumbles into dust. I’m clocking it.

Update: See my posting from 23 August 2018.

20 Years of The Angel of the North

Installed in February 1998, designed by Catholic-raised sculptor Antony Gormley (who used his own body as a model), constructed in nearby Hartlepool using weather-resistant steel, this 66-foot statue stands on a low hill between two roadways through the town of Gateshead, in the county of Tyne and Wear, way waaay up there in the northeast of England, and is said to signify the transition from an industrial to an information age. When you come up by train on the East Coast Main Line it’ll loom up on your right; if you’re coming up by motorcar on the A167, on your left.

Angel of the North