Friday, 23 April 2010

Imagine a cross between an ocarina and an owl

We had another very good day of auditions today, this time in Sheffield. We were based at the enormous Methodist Church in the city centre, which seems to be a true community space in the proper sense of the word. We kept hearing this bizarre Wurlitzer music drifting around the building’s network of corridors, and followed it to discover scores of old people line-dancing in a room across the way. I went to watch them for a while and found it really touching; particularly as, when it came to dancing in pairs, there plainly weren’t enough men to go around.

We met a ridiculously talented child prodigy who seemed to play the saxophone and accordion with an equally dazzling proficiency and a girl who could play extremely complicated tunes simply by blowing into her cupped hands. Imagine a cross between an ocarina and an owl and then imagine writing a symphony which includes one of them!

The BBC up here continue to get behind the project and word now seems to be out amongst the musicians in the county. I’m doing three or four interviews each day and every single audition is now being filmed and archived. This was posted on You Tube earlier today.

There’s a really good feeling about things, and I haven’t yet met my Internet nemesis, who I really expected to turn up at an audition simply to fling poo at my head!

I met performance poet Ian MacMillan earlier on; a charming and hugely witty man. I think we're going to meet up for a cup of tea when he's next in London to throw some ideas around. He was one of the judges of the competition to write an anthem for Yorkshire, which I'll set to music, and was reading the unanimous winning entry as part of a pre-recorded package which will be broadcast on Monday.

Monday 23rd April, 1660 and Pepys spent the morning putting a package together to send to London, whilst tucking into a barrel of pickled oysters. The evening became something of a sports day on board the Nazeby, with games of ninepins (an early form of ten-pin bowling) and probably gambling. Pepys then retired to the great cabin where he played string trios and sang late into the night with William Howe and Montagu, who chose to sing a satirical song about the Rump Parliament, to the tune of Greensleeves.

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