I have been disgracefully negligent over the last weeks - but I hardly wanted to bore my patient readers with details of my endless preparations for family Christmas - largely shopping for the lovely hoards of children. So I have let things slip with a longer gap between blogs than in all the ten years that I have been doing this.
The Hilliard Ensemble - David James, Rogers Covey-Crump, Gordon Jones, Stephen Harrold
In fact there has been little enough music and operatic activity anyway. But last night there was the bitter sweet occasion of the farewell concert of the Hilliard Ensemble - their last appearance after 41 glorious years of giving abundant and varied pleasure to appreciative and knowledgeable audiences around the world.
So there was a packed house at the Wigmore Hall yesterday evening and a standing ovation and many tears from the assembled friends and colleagues. They included of course my old dear friend Errol Girdlestone, one of the founding members of the Hilliard in 1973 when he was a lay clerk at St Paul's Cathedral. It is remarkable that over the 41 years of the Hilliard's existence there have only been nine members - there were the four current and final members on stage, and I believe that the other five were in the audience.
We were treated to a typically varied programme last night. The superlative musicianship, the intellectual curiosity, and the immaculate teamwork, were all on display as brightly as ever. Such merits are rare, and it is understandable that, with such attributes, the Hilliard endured for so long. They will be terribly missed.
Othger activities over the last two weeks have been a terrific evening at the Old Vic for Electra, the Sophocles rather than the R. Strauss of course. There was a remarkable central performance from Kristin Scott Thomas.
And my younger daughter took part in W11 Opera's revival of Deep Waters at the POSK Theatre in Hammersmith. This company has been doing an excellent job for young people over the years - bringing professional demands and rigour to a process which is rarely encountered in youth theatre activities. They worked really hard for 12 weeks.........
The new year will bring a quick trip to Quercy in January, a trip back to the Côte d'azur I hope in February, a week in Copenhagen in March, and then the non stop grind of Neue Stimmen from April onwards. Meanwhile opera and concerts in London will gather pace. But for the time being it is the Christmas holiday period - for rest and family.