About this blog

This is a window into the weird world of Anglicanism, as experienced on a Cathedral Close. Has anything much happened since Trollope's Barchester Chronicles? You will still see the 'canon in residence' hurrying across to choral Evensong, robes flapping, as the late bell chimes. But look carefully and you will notice he is checking the football score on his iPhone as he runs. This is also a writer's blog. It charts the agony and ecstasy of the novelist's life. And it's a fighter's blog. It charts the agony and ecstasy of the judo mat. Well, the agony, anyway.

Sunday 19 May 2013


This week I spent quite a lot of time in what felt like a displacement activity: trying to decide what Freddie would sing as his solo piece for his audition for Barchester.  I lingered over various English art songs that might showcase a tenor voice (Quilter's 'Now Sleeps the Crimson Petal', Vaughan Williams' 'Silent Noon'), then moved on to more churchy things.  

Finally, because time was getting short, I plumped for 'Angels, waft her through the skies', a tenor aria from Handel's Jephtha.  It wasn't until I started writing this section that I realised how well it worked with Ascension Day.  Sometimes the subconscious is ahead of the game: 'Glorious there like you to rise, there like you forever reign'.  

You can listen to it here, sung by Mark Padmore: 

Freddie maintains to the bishop's PA that he's planning to sing the 'Queen of the Night' aria from Mozart's Magic Flute.  This would be an unconventional choice, to say the least.  He claims he used to sing it as a chorister, and this is just about possible.  Here's a boy soprano giving it a whirl:

Eek!  And now, quickly, to take away the effect, here is Ian Bostridge singing 'Now Sleeps the Crimson Petal':


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  2. Wow, 'Queen of the Night' sung by a boy soprano, thanks for sharing that!
    Are you now considering the accompanying CD for your novel, like the double CD of all the music featured in Vikram Seth's "An Equal Music"?
    Can I look forward to weekly musical accompaniments to the text? Just so long as none of your characters loiters for too long in Evangelical land; Kendrick doesn't really hold its own alongside Handel ;-)

    1. I thought the boy soprano was rather scary. I could devise a sound track, couldn't I? I missed off Ella's Sentimental journey, though,

  3. OK...I will officially forgive you for Dominic and the funeral because you've sent me to listen to Ian Bostridge on a Sunday evening. Heaven. Utter heaven :)

    1. I know, poor Dominic. You're right about the song: utter heaven.