As I start writing New Year’s Eve 2014 is fast approaching…..a choice on the main TV channels of Queen, Jools Holland and with a dose of Abba just finished on BBC4 and Ch 5 to take up the slack at midnight with another dose. On Sky I could watch Fireworks and other channels repeats of this or that and old films. So little change there in the past umpteen years then apart from sadly missed Freddie Mercury with his ‘replacement’ Adam Lambert screaming away. Oh for a singer that can sing a note and hold it so you can tell which note it is. No wonder even Elvis Presley’s autopsy was more entertaining than the often ineligible mutterings of many of the modern ‘Top of the Pops’ singer. What did the Christmas Day ‘Top of the Pops’ have to do with Christmas I pondered? Obviously there is a dearth of suitable presenters of the Christmas ‘Feel Good’ presentation…..no wonder Channel 5 dug up every Michael Bublé Christmas Concert they could find.
Excuse my apparent irrelevant lead in to this ‘Review’. Yes….a bit rusty having neglected last year’s review…so two years in one this time.
‘Irrelevant?’…well not quite. We ended the year with a wonderful Christmas Concert at Bristol Cathedral by mezzo-soprano Ayaka Tanimoto and pianist Kumi Matsuo. For the first time anywhere we have organise one I actually felt it was a Christmas Concert, not just a concert organised at Christmas. Thank you Ayaka and Kumi. More from Ayaka and Kumi in the future. And with the wonders of YouTube (we have our own site) and the help of our IT expert support, Steve Rice, I put together 20 videos for an ‘Alternative Top of The Pops’ which seemed less alternative than the real Top of The Pops. Someone wanting to be radical I guess. I even threw in The Wurzels singing ‘Sleigh Ride’. Does their drummer actually say at the end “I told you it was dross?”
During the year we added a video presentation and text explaining the origination of our title and also of Wessex. I had to contend with a number of misguided (London based) comments over the years, thus airing the ignorance of those claiming expert knowledge of Wessex history, (they had been reading too many Thomas Hardy novels) that our presentation means I can now save my breath! “Home Page, centre panel …..near its base”. So, folks, don’t ask me in future. I have a ‘song and dance’ routine lined up to illustrate the point if you dare!!! LEGAL STATUS And, by the way, our legal status just under our logo on the left hand panel…we are an ‘Unincorporated Association’. And don’t say with raised eyebrows “Not a charity”. A charity is something you do out of love and respect and for nothing for that which you believe in…not to save tax on that you are not really that bothered about.
Well…we are in our 19th year now so plenty of memories for me personally…and I hope for others that ‘passed this way’. And what next? Our 20th Year of course. So an eye on that already….not least for our new found relationship with the Mencap Charity for learning difficulties (see Home Page feature right hand panel)
Now and then someone springs to mind that I should have stayed in touch with or even, with the search wonders of the internet, a ‘what did my one time friends do over the past 50 years’. It is not difficult to trace them now. I find most have not moved on…they are pretty much the same as they once were……only older. 20 years on I found an ‘old flame’ had not changed a bit. Bound Over to ‘Keep the Peace., fined £1,000 or so, reminded me why I did not hang around there. I felt like Scrooge visiting ‘Ghosts of Christmas Past’.
But I am supposed to be visiting the last two years. And quite a few ‘Ghosts’ laid to rest there. I note my last review ended thus:-
“But October 31st on the AJSWs 16th Anniversary we embarked on a series of concerts at St Sepulchre, the Musicians Church, Holborn Viaduct and look forward to our concert programme there in 2013. Everything looks promising so far. It is also the largest parish church in London”.
Everything did look promising then up popped a new vicar of the ‘Alpha Course’ kind (plenty on the internet on that!) and the inevitable happened. We ceased to continue there by the end of July 2014….just as the National Federation of Churches published an article praising me for our lunch concerts there and a week after an evening concert by our chamber music ensemble. Apparently the vicar felt he had to protect his staff from me. I was just about to say the same about him!!! What was that the Pope said about ‘Spiritual Amnesia’ amongst his Vatican Administration? Not just within the Vatican signor! Anyway…..I said all I need to say in a review of our time there on the right hand panel of our ‘Events Page’. It proved a blessing in disguise (Well disguised!) enabling me to spend more time on promoting concerts by musicians specially selected for them.
In the last two years we have built up our own groups with wonderful pioneer concerts by ‘4Tune’ (4 hands on 2 piano), ‘Inzpir8tion’(8 hands on 2 pianos), and our AJSW Chamber Music Ensemble. Teething problems here and there and stress in abundance involved…but some very special concerts behind and ahead of us. All displayed (or linked to) on our Home Page. And there is a marked improvement in our web site as Steve Rice and I work out the possibilities. Much praise to Steve for sticking with it
Thank you Steve. Steve is an IT expert already into action helping us with our web site. His own interesting site can be found on:- http://www.stevedrice.net/
In fact why not make this period’s ‘High Spot’ to be for those that gave us a past and a future. There are so many any selection at random would be bound to neglect someone…..but let us try. Jackie Wright’s steadfast support almost from the start (1996). Steve Rice for his patience and understanding and, contrary to what he expected, never a cross word between us (if there was…tell me which word it was Steve and I will apologise for it!). Yukiko Shinohara…plenty of cross words between us but, bless her, she copes and I do my best to ‘do my best’. She has helped bring on the various piano presentations and herself gained plaudits for her role with us…and her first solo concert at St George’s next May 7th (2015) in an original presentation titled ‘Jazz In the Classics’ designed by me to illustrate how classical music composers have used jazz phrasing into their arrangements.
To Kazue Yanagida originating the directing of the AJSW CME for two concerts but now, sadly, returned to Japan…but still part of the AJSW. Ayako Yamazaki has taken over as leader now and much praise to her…and not forgetting violinist Elizabeth McGrath will have played on all 5 concerts so far when the CME play’s again on February 19th at St George’s, Bristol. Our international credentials with musicians from Japan, Korea, Belarus, China, Spain , UK and Lithuania. And thank you to the long held support of Mark Lee (Bristol Cathedral’s MD) and Catherine Freda (concerts organiser at St George’s, Bristol.). For the grateful advice of our Legal Advisor: Lester Kan…another patient man. It has been invaluable in the past two years also that of our Patron Kyoko Gledhill’s generous support. Trying to overcome problems with her health yet giving us time means so much more than…..(I am trying to be careful with my words here)…oh to hell with it: Sebastian Coe running around smug and amok! And to everyone who took part those little moments we shared are all remembered and appreciated and in no way forgotten.
2013 / 2014 Musicians Concert Credits (concert details in our archive: Events Page)
(credits as a soloist…as a member of a group separate)
Pianists: (number of concerts in brackets if more than one)
Yukiko Shinohara (5) An-Ting Chang (5) Yuki Negishi (3) Ryoko Izitsu (3) Manda Dorj (3) Jelena Makarova (2) Nadav Hertzka (2) Waka Hasegawa (2) Asa Mori (2) Sergei Podabedov (2) Emiko Miura (2) Asa Mori (2) Makiko Sada (2) Steve Warzycki (2) Sooyin Kim (2) Nao Maebayashi (3) Hiroko Yamamoto (2) Mayumi IIda (2) Hiromi Okada Steve Holtz Nico De Villiers Carson Becke Albert Lau Javier Vazquez Grela Sunny Li Grace Yeo Manny Vass Kentaro Nagai Wai-Yin Lee Sian Maddock Daniel Roberts Elspeth Wyllie Li-Chi Chiang Asaoka Ogawa Raymond Lewis Guray Basol Nicola Meecham Gisela Meyer Mutian Xu Ada Kan Michiko Shimanuki Emeline Archambault Dha Young Yoon Sabrina Curpanen Kumi Matsuo Arabella Pare Phillip Howard Saki Matsumoto Stephen Raine Sara Costa Ingrid Cusido Harry Penfold So Yeong Kim Ikuko Inoguchi Simon Callaghan Richard Gillies Masachi Nishiyama Sa Lang Ayda Aitkan-Aslantepe Stephen Gutman John Bradley Pippa Harrison Chad Vindin Eamonn Ramsey
Mee Hyun Oh (6) Margaret Dziekonski (3) Ayako Yamazaki (4) Yuka Matsumoto (3) Tim Chen (2) Jung Yoon Cho (4) Hannah Woolmer Haru Ushigusa (2) Sayaka Nakajima Julia Hart (3) Rachel Grimes Maria Oguren Jacob Reina Caro Edward McCullagh (3) Elizabeth McGrath (3) Midori Komachi (2) Kazue Yanagida Lifei Huang Kae Tanimura Tomer Marcus Romana Szczepaniak Minsi Yang Carl Bradford Sophie Mather Gemma Sharples Christian Dahl Molly Cockburn Minn Majoe Elaine Ambridge Javier Garcia Aranda
Kae Tanimura (violin) who came over from Japan especially to play at St Sepulchre and only aged 14.
Violas:- Ekaterina Lazareva (5) Alison D’Souza (3) Xin Xin Liu (2) Andy Gibbs Diana Mathews Natalie Cavey Martin Wray Sue Yeon Lee Lidia Palomo Chris Beckett Benjamin Harrison Eva Nikolova
Cellos:- Aiki Mori (2) Shinko Hanaoka (2) Marta Tobar (4) Lydia Kwon (2) Marta Dourado James Greenfield Lydia Kwon Wei Tsen-Lin Catherine Lee George Hoult Verity Evanson Hannah Masson-Smyth Alisa Linbarsky Tom Oldfield Harriet Walker Gemma Kost
Flute:-Yukari Yamamura Mizuki Shindo Kathy Bachelor Melanie Young
Saxophone: Stephanie Legg (3) Horn: David Horwich
Yukari Yamamura (flute)
Another musician who flew from Japan for a lunch concert then with our July 18th AJSW CME concert.
Thank you Yukari…..I wish it could be for every concert with us.
Guitar:- Stelios Kyriakides Panama Dave Organ: Tak Man Chow
Popular Song Style:- Sira Garcias
Sopranos / Mezzo-sopranos :- Ayaka Tanimoto Rosie Middleton Wiktoria Szyrocka Marie Vassiliou Alice Bishop Susana Gilardoni Deborah Aloba
Baritone:- Juwon Ogungbe (4) Crispin Lewis David Hughes
Duos:- The Azure Duo – (4hands on 1 piano) Nao Maebayashi / Eamonn Ramsay
Gemma Sharples (violin) Verity Evanson (Cello) Pippa Harrison (piano)
Trio Sol:- Christian Dahl (violin) David Horwich (horn) Chad Vindin (piano)
Duport Trio:- Midori Komachi (violin) Diana Mathews (viola) Catherine Lee (Cello)
Perkelt (Folk / medieval):- (2) – not in instrument by instrument listings above.
Stepan Honc (guitar / vocals) Pavina Baslova (violin / vocals) William Connor (percussion)
The Matteo String Quartet:-
Molly Cockburn (violin) Elaine Ambridge (violin) Alison D’Souza (viola) George Hoult (cello)
Dulcinea Quartet:- 1st violin:- Minn Majoe 2nd violin:- Haru Ushigusa viola:- Martin Wray cello:- Hannah Masson-Smyth.
Mizuki Quartet:- Julia Hart (violin) Carl Bradford (violin) Sue Yeon Lee (viola) Tom Oldfield (cello)
Phillidor Quartet:- 1st violin: Javier Garcia Aranda, 2nd violin: Jung Yoon Cho Viola: Lidia Palomo, Cello: Harriet Walker.
Ryedale Quartet:- Edward McCullagh (violin) Sophie Mather (violin) Chris Beckett (viola) Gemma Kost (cello)
The Waska String Quartet:-
Romana Szczepeniak (violin), Kathrine Hals (violin), Ralitsa Naydenova (viola), and Idlir Shyti (cello).
Quintet:- The Wolfe Ensemble.
Edward McCullagh (violin) Minsi Yang (violin) Benjamin Harrison (viola) Alison D’ Souza (viola) Alisa Linbarsky (cello)
AJSW CHAMBER MUSIC ENSEMBLE:-
At St. George’s, Bristol Feb 19th 2015 – see Home Page for details.
November 7th (2013) ‘4Tune’(4hands on 2 pianos):-
Yuki Negishi and Yukiko Shinohara
May 31st St James 2013:-‘Inzpir8tion’ (8hands on 2 pianos)
Yukiko Shinohara, Hiroko Yamamoto, Mayumi Iida, Nao Maebayashi
AJSW Chamber Music Ensemble: May 31st St James (2013):-
Director:- Kazue Yanagida (violin)
Violins:- Elizabeth McGrath, Yuka Matsumoto, Jung Yoon Cho.
Violas:- Xin Xin Liu, Natalie Cavey Cellos:- Wei-Tsen Lin, Marta Tobar
Flute:- Mizuki Shindo.
February 20th St George’s Bristol 2014:-
Director: Jung Yoon Cho (violin)
Violins:- Ayako Yamazaki, Midori Komachi, Elizabeth McGrath, Mee Hyun Oh.
Violas:- Katya Lazareva, Xin Xin Liu Cellos:- Marta Tobar, Lydia Kwon.
July 18th St Sepulchre (2014):-
Leader: Ayako Yamazaki (violin)
Violins:- Elizabeth McGrath, Julia Hart, Mee Hyun Oh, Lifei Huang.
Violas:- Katya Lazareva, Eve Nikolava
Cellos:- Marta Tobar, Lydia Kwon.
Flute:- Yukari Yamamura
An ongoing thank you and respect for our Russian Honorary Patron: Alexander Rosenblatt for his generous support to the society through his music and personal encouragement. Here is his beautiful ‘Waltz Elegy’:-
Our ‘Wooden Spoon’ Award? Two years ago I gave no names. I am not so sure I can this time. Some Honorary Patrons have departed…Shakti also as President (no longer visiting this country as she once did but we are still in touch and possibly more on her in the future). Whilst other Honorary Patrons ‘get involved’ some seemed to have the wrong idea. The society was not set up to promote them as such…they are there because of their relative success. We try to help others to develop their talents and develop the public awareness of them and the AJSW. I was truly shocked of that which came to light, reported to me and which I myself observed. Mindless gossip inevitably influences vulnerable young people especially from foreign countries fearing their return to the land of their birth if they do not do their ‘master’s bidding’. It pollutes the environment we all work in. And I had to cope with young ladies openly expressing and practising racial or ‘national discrimination’….it was a disgrace. I excuse no-one for doing anything bad….but I do not lay it on their relatives and ancestors for atonement. Musicians should be above that. Music certainly is. Music should help ease ‘the pain’ not add to it.
My thoughts are also for those musicians where sexual abuse has come to light in the past two years at so many respected music colleges and an appalling case of financial impropriety (at the RAM). What on earth do they think they are doing. What did those who knew it was going on think they were condoning by their inaction to stop it. Not just men involved but women as well. Let us hope the Police and the authorities continue to delve and delve and bring people to book. It helps none of us if such people are allowed to pollute the environment we try to bring pleasure to. ‘Man’s imperfections’ are one thing that can be compassionately understood….but his striving to indulge them another.
Politics:- Some have observed past comments I have made in previous reviews as not relevant but come to see my point in the light of ‘historical’ events. If influential people are allowed to get away with serious crimes of fraud, corruption, embezzlement, misappropriation of funds, wholesale tax evasion, misleading the electorate, invading privacy, slaughter of innocents in wars designed for economic profit covered up as ‘moral necessity’, then it impacts on the way all of us lead our lives and the openings available to be rewarded and fulfilled for our genuine talents and those with an honesty of purpose. We still await the long overdue conclusion of the Iraq Inquiry, the appalling ‘paedophile allegations’ inquiry (not even started due to the apparent lack of anyone clean enough to chair it), banks causing the ruination of many nations allowed to continue and even those individuals responsible for it leading lucrative, well rewarded lives without any loss of liberty…contrast it with some Tottenham rioters sent to jail for petty stealing of a few objects…the long list across many nations of conduct akin to the worst deeds of the Mafia, Yakuzi and Triads rolled into one than decisions of ‘caring souls’ defending the ‘Rights of Man’ in the name of Democracy. And even The Pope weighed in as 2014 came to a close. He noted many around him had ‘Spiritual Amnesia’ and indulged in ‘Gossip’ in a way that was not conducive to their responsible positions.
Sadly the Japanese Government has also fallen for the notion that you can print useless money, use it for purchases and then live off the profits it brings. No you cannot. In 2015 / 16 we shall see just how much that cannot be done big time.
The Japanese in general? It should be of serious concern that the Japanese indigenous population is falling alarmingly (a quarter of a million in 2013) and their population is ageing. The highest incidence of suicide amongst the leading ‘civilized’ nations, serious mental health problems for far too many, and an electorate voting in the recent General Election of less than 50%. I think right now they need our friendship and support…not for their politicians to make weapons and to posture and argue about past war crimes. They did them; they must look in the mirror once and for all and accept their own guilt for their own good and the good of their youth through their education system. No-one is guiltless in War time…..but some more guilty than others. And before and during World War II Japan’s conduct was appalling especially to the Asian and Pacific Nations. The Japanese establishment will reap a terrible reward for continuing self-denial or the attempts to ‘review’ past apologies, not least amongst their own people.
I was invited to Chatham House several years ago where the female Japanese lecturer (stationed at the London School of Economics) illustrated the media coverage and attitudes relating to Japan’s World War II conduct and its ebbs and flows during the period of the conflict’s end to the present day. “Any Questions” I vaguely heard after she had finished. I was doing my usual Rip Van Winkle impersonation (I find it hard to stay awake in some like environments) but those sat around the long oblong table were so ‘silent and shy’ I thought I should try to contribute. I thought hard what would be the most effective question and decided on:- “Was the apology for Japan’s World War II conduct supported and promoted by substantial elements of the population of Japan or was it merely convenient to the Government at that time?” The lecturer replied it was a good question but declined to answer it at that time. But behind me on the outer ring of chairs inhabited by only one elderly Japanese gentleman, he had risen from his seat and stood bolt upright as a ‘soldier to attention’ and, staring ahead of him said “We have apologised”. I have no idea who he was…I should have asked but I was not expecting such a reaction. He clearly felt not just a responsibility but an obligation to underline that apology as if he was speaking for all of Japan. So…here is my point. I respected that man for doing that. It must have taken some courage. He didn’t have to respond to me…..who else would have known or cared what I thought or said bar those few people there? But I can do a little better for him with this little reminder to the present incumbents of the Diet and Japanese establishment paying such scant regard to what they had previously claimed was sincere “You have apologised”.
Japanese women have now been asked to go out to work and have more children. There is some muddled thinking going on in Japan. Still…I guess that’s one way to ensure a nail that sticks up is knocked back down again! No wonder the birth rate is falling The Japanese people deserve better which is something, at least, the UK can share with them.
However….there is much optimism for the AJSW so forward to 2015! Thank you to all who have supported and spent time with us.
Godfrey King December 31st 2014.
Sadly Mike Forrest passed away in August. The first I knew was when I telephoned expecting to speak to him but Gail’s (his wife) sister answered to explain the sad news. It is difficult to know what to say about such a fine man and his distinguished career as Naval Attaché in Japan and in later years as a much sought after translator. Gail and Mike were also ‘in at the start’ with the AJSW 19 years agso. Thank you Mike and to Gail my sympathy at a time of such sorrow.
Perhaps an ‘encore’! War is not to be glorified…there is nothing glorious about it. ‘Man’s deeds’ during it maybe but even those that lived through it might dispute that. Henry Allingham did (1896 – 2009).
He lived to be 113 having served in World War One. (‘The Great War’..if any war can be called such).The oldest British man ever recorded. He came home and like so many soldiers, did not want to speak about it. In later life questions were asked and gradually his fame grew and he explained the horrors and futility of it all. Considering those leading various countries (including our own) most of which have never been in a uniform (bar a city gents suit) let alone see the horrors of war, are so ready to send others into such horrors, Henry must have felt his message was lost despite all he suffered.
War means loved ones never returning or returning not what they once were and some living a life of forlorn hope as they take to a life of homelessness.
For a few months I was organising concerts in The Actors Church (St Paul’s, Covent Garden) where, adorning the walls’ were great names of the acting and music profession on memorial plaques many of which had their memorial services there. At the back, almost hidden away, a small one for ‘Ivor Novello’. It was in contrast to the glittering annual music awards in his name attended by to-day’s representatives of the music profession. I have been horrified at the low quality and inane lyrics of the modern awards. Talented she may have been but Amy Winehouse’s ‘Rehab’ song aint no classic bless her well intentioned soul. One example of many.
Let me turn to Ivor Novello himself to illustrate what is a ‘classic song’. It was written near the end of WWII in 1945. And Ivor was near the end of his life also…3 more years and he was gone. He wrote a song that encapsulated all the loss that war brings and the hope it also brings that those loved ones will return again to see ‘The Lilacs in the Spring once more’ walking hand in hand with their loved ones. And I know Amy’s Dad Mitch admires Frank Sinatra and styles his singing on him. So Amy, Mitch and those using Ivor to promote their ‘Music Awards’…this is a classic song sung by a classic singer:-
WE’LL GATHER LILACS by Ivor Novello (full verse)
Although you’re far away, and life is sad and grey
I have a scheme; a dream to try
I’m thinking dear, of you and all I mean to do
When we’re together, you and I
We’ll soon forget our care and prayer
And find such lovely things to share again
We’ll gather lilacs in the spring again
And walk together down an English lane
Until our hearts have learned to sing again
When you come home once more
And in the evening by the firelight’s glow
You’ll hold me close and never let me go
Your eyes will tell me all I want to know
When you come home once more
Another Ivor Novello song that sustained people in wartime:-
KEEP THE HOME FIRES BURNING
sung here by a girl that came through many tough times herself:-
THAT’S IT………THANK YOU FOR THOSE WHO CARED……..TO 2015 Godfrey King AJSW