We’re celebrating Beethoven’s 250th birthday with a performance of his wonderful Pastoral Symphony, paired with Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring for a truly memorable night of music.
We chose to perform the Pastoral in part due to this impassioned letter from a member of the violin section (name withheld)……!
It is 1988; I am eight years old. I am standing in front of the tiny television in the back room of my parents' house, half size violin in hand. On the television is Disney's Fantasia. It is perhaps the six hundredth time I have watched it. We have reached the Beethoven section, with the gallivanting centaurs, and I am playing the hell out of it.
I am a still a big fish in a small pond at this stage in my life. People consider me talented. I consider me talented. Look at me playing along to the Pastoral by ear! (Did I tell you I'm the leader of the South Gloucestershire Area Orchestra?)
I love the Pastoral. It feels epic and olympian; spiralling and beautiful. I play it all the time, with or without our Fantasia VHS, and it makes me feel accomplished and quite brilliant.
It is 2017; I am 37. I am soon to have my first baby, and am convinced I will give birth at home. Watch your favourite films, the home birth group tell me. They will help with early labour. So I set about trying to buy the version of Fantasia I watched as a child in the eighties. I have a practice watch and - (I cannot overemphasise the hugeness of this) I actually get my (full size) violin out and play along. It is a beautiful moment. I even cry, although in fairness I am crying most of the time at the moment.
A few days later, my waters break, so I go off to hospital to get induced. On the way I mourn my home birth, with Fantasia and the cookies I was going to make (also in early labour, apparently). I wonder if my orchestra will ever play the Pastoral but think it unlikely. I feel that the musical elite probably appreciate the 6th much in the same way they'd appreciate a Gregg's pasty: warm and tasty, but plebeian nonetheless.
But now I am nearly 39 and have been a mother for 20 months and I no longer care about anything, so I've decided to come, cap in hand, and ask if we might play it one day.
A Gregg's pasty lover
Come and join us for a night of great music! Saturday 21st March, 7:30pm at Redland Hall, Redmaids’ High School.