Tuesday, 10 November 2009

From a red poppy to a pink ribbon

Sunday started on a sombre note – we always watch the Remembrance Day service from the Cenotaph (on television). In the years when South Africa was out in the cold politically, I used to be frustrated that they could not be included in the service when so many South Africans volunteered, fought and died alongside the British army in WWII. My father was a surgeon on a British hospital ship (the Amra) and was behind the navy for many of the invasions. Number One Husband had cousins in North Africa and in POW camps. It is a time for reflection, gratitude that we never had to do what they did – and of course now a very poignant time to remember the soldiers who are fighting and dying now.

However, the day ended on a truly joyous note, full of wonderful music, inspiring words and a great energy and enthusiasm about what Breast Cancer Campaign is doing and the people who are making it possible at the Pink Ribbon Gala Concert at the Cadogan Hall, with Debbie Wiseman and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.

The concert was Debbie’s inspiration and she undertook the huge task of organising the concert and persuading actors and actresses to become involved. She is an award-winning composer of over 200 film and television productions. You may not recognise her face but will remember the music from productions such as Judge John Deed, Tom and Viv, Wilde (with Stephen Fry), Before you go, Jekyllhave a look at Debbie Wiseman’s website.

She created the most amazing programme, interweaving her music with readings from T S Elliot (Tom and Viv) and Oscar Wilde (Wilde) and a reading from Hilaire Belloc against music by Benjamin Britten with other music by Borodin and Tchaikovsky. The readings were by Timothy West, Prunella Scales, Cherie Lunghi and George Layton. All was expertly sewn together by the ‘voice of Classic FM’ – Simon Bates.

There was also the world premiere of a beautiful song sung by Mary Carewe – “Nothing Grows on Gold” music by Debbie and lyrics by Don Black, which will be in their musical Feather Boy next year.

Perhaps the secret of her great success in writing scores for a visual medium is that she can bring together the words, the music and the visual. Images of our supporters and volunteers and of our fundraising floated across the screen behind the orchestra providing a wonderful backdrop for the music and words without intruding.

Number One Husband and I go to lots of classical concerts – probably our favourite hobby - and we have seen great musicians and heard great music. Debbie conducted the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra last night and brought a vigour and enthusiasm beyond the music and words which translated into an energy which was palpable in the audience.

Everyone was smiling as they left – a great tribute.

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