Autumn 2004


Commodore’s Bit
AGM & Prize Giving
Annual Dinner
Athens Olympics
Back-tracking History
Bewl Visit
Bodgett Bodges On
Dinghy Show
For Sale
Italian Evening
Maritime Greenwich
Mid Thames Trophy
Sailing Sec’s Report
Simple Things
Social Calendar
Summer Serenade
Working Party

"Last Of The Summer Serenade” - Laurie Bridges

On Sunday evening, 19th September, an audience of some forty or so members and friends enjoyed a concert evening entitled "Last Of The Summer Serenade”.

The concert was given by the Quartet Pro Musica, leader Pat Halling (Violin and Laser), 2nd violin Howard Ball, viola David Ogden and Cello Robin Firman together with guest artist, international virtuoso James Hughes, harmonica.

The theme for the concert was, what a surprise, boating!

The concert started with the Skye Boat Song, whose dying strains led into a delightful recitation by Ann Halling from Kenneth Grahame's "Wind In The Willows", in which Mole was rendered ecstatic by his first experience of "messing about in boats".

The quartet then played Handel's "Arrival of the Queen Of Sheba" (I'm sure I heard Pat mutter that she probably arrived in a SigneT!!).

There followed four (of 8) movements of a Divertimento by Gordon Jacob for harmonica & strings. Next was two movements from a string quartet by Borodin. The first half concluded with two movements of "Somerset Garland" by Paul Lewis for harmonica & quartet. The suite is based on folk songs from Somerset villages such as Huish Episcopi and Langport.

The interval gave us the opportunity to recharge our glasses with Rodger's Tequila Sunrise.

The audience returned to their seats (Pat claimed that he had locked the doors but I know that's not true because I nipped out for a crafty fag!) for the second half. This consisted of "Rondo Rococo" in the style of Joseph Haydn by James Moody, then "Sunny gets Blue" by nobody could remember!

James Hughes then gave a talk and demonstration of a how a puff, a blow and two slide positions gave 4 separate notes from each hole of a "real" harmonica, quite mind-boggling to imagine how anyone can get a simple tune out of one, let alone the incredibly fast and furious pieces which James played with apparent ease!

With equal aplomb James demonstrated what must be the smallest harmonica around - less than 2 inches long, which would not be out of place on a key ring!

The ensemble then gave an evocative rendition of "Bess you is my woman" by George Gershwin.

Next was a first performance. Ronnie Hazelhurst had been persuaded to compose a suite for harmonica & string quartet entitled "A Yorkshire Tale". This was a medley based on the theme tune from "The Last of the Summer Wine" (James records a new soundtrack for each episode for the BBC) and includes snatches from well-known Yorkshire ballads.

James really made the harmonica sing in a solo rendering of "When I'm Sailing" accompanied by the humming of the audiance in the final stanza. This was followed by a breath-taking performance by Pat of the (Last Night of the Proms) "Sailors Hornpipe".

Thus ended the programmed performance but the players were not allowed to relax just yet. Not one but two encores were demanded. The first was entitled "German Woodpecker" and the second, James' "party piece" entitled "Doina Voda" which I believe is a Romanian gipsy dance. Both elicited rapturous applause.

As a mere amateur (I've been trying to play the piano for about 60 years!), I hesitate to comment on the performances we heard but I must say that in all of the many concerts and recitals I have attended I have not heard better. Judging by the enthusiastic applause by the audience it was thoroughly enjoyed and appreciated by all present.

Credit must go to all who made this memorable evening possible. The programme was devised over a “few” glasses of red wine. By Pat, Anne, Eric and Rodger. Rodger was the "chief architect" who conceived it and performed a myriad of tasks before, during and after the event. He was ably assisted by Linda, Janet and Diane who, inter alia, provided and served the food. Peter "The barman" and Mike Rogers, "chief ferryman" must also come in for an honourable mention plus all the others who assisted in various ways to ensure the smooth running of the evening.