Morning with my friends in Clerkenwell, breakfast and conversation. First stop in the day is a visit to the folks at Wildkat PR, who are promoting Klara Min’s Wigmore debut, and who happen to have new offices on Roseberry Ave, just a few blocks from Gail and Mark. Nice meeting with Kat Alder and her team in an office that wouldn’t look out of place in New York’s Soho.
A long walk through Bloomsbury takes me to the Royal Academy of Music, where I run into some notables such as pianist Benjamin Grosvenor and composer Ben Perry, who I had just met two weeks earlier in Dallas. I’m here to meet with Marc Ernesti, head of professional development for the school, about giving a lecture and some career guidance to students. We have a light lunch in Marylebone to discuss the angles. Marc is also the marketing manager of the Aldeburgh Festival and invited me to attend concerts there, which I so wish I could do. Since the Essex town beside the North Sea was home to a friend of mine, not to mention Benjamin Britten, it’s long been a place I’ve wanted to explore in detail. Snape Maltings will hopefully be in my future, though likely after the Britten Centenary concludes. Marc gives me a whistle-stop tour of the school as well as the interesting museum adjacent.
In Soho I catch up with Katie Ferguson, a friend and former Naxos colleague, who married and moved to Ipswich. She is now a proud mother of a beautiful boy.
From there I wander along Embankment to Parliament and to Westminster Abbey. Noting that there were nearly no tourists milling about and the doors were shut, I innocently asked a guard, “evensong?” and was promptly let in for the start of the solemn service. The Harrison and Harrison organ, installed in 1937 for the coronation of King George VI, is a subtle and woody-sounding instrument. Previous organs in this space were certainly played by John Blow and Henry Purcell, not to mention Handel.
Evensong is an afternoon liturgy in use in the Anglican communion. It is almost always delivered chorally and usually performed by a boychoir in slow and semi-florid unision, roughly equivalent to the Catholic Vespers. Though I can’t claim to like a lot of choral music in the Anglican tradition, which I find dutifully austere, I can’t help but be fascinated by it and have been listening to it for years. I’m fortunate to have experienced it at St. Paul’s and now here.
More wandering and a dinner in Soho, followed by a long walk back to Clerkenwell, and more late night conversations with my friends. An over-active dwarf hamster would keep me up for portions of the night. Tomorrow night: the Wigmore premiere.
— Sean Hickey