Monthly Archives: April 2016

War Requiem

This weekend I’m in Exeter for the last of three weekends rehearsing Britten’s War Requiem, to be performed in Exeter Cathedral on Saturday, April 23rd.  A fantastic work, and I anticipate an exciting concert.  Strongly recommended to music lovers.

This is my third concert with the EMG symphony orchestra and chorus.  The previous two, Mahler’s 8th symphony and Vaughan Williams’s Sea Symphony, have been amongst the most exciting in my life, due both to the music and to the group and inspirational director.  She is alas leaving after this concert, having got a new job in Germany, so we just have to hope the group can find a worthy successor.

In the past I have found Britten to be much easier (to sing) than it sounds[1].  That’s based on shorter to middling-scale works such as the Hymn to St Cecilia, Rejoice in the Lamb, and St Nicholas.  The War Requiem is different: it is genuinely as challenging as it sounds to perform.  It’s intensely rewarding: studying the work reveals much more than just listening to it of the (pacifist) composer’s horror of war.  And it shows a work whose stupendous imagination could make it a lot more than any performance or recording I’ve heard, including the composer’s own.

[1] There’s a whole thesis to be written on what is easy or hard in music, vs what you’d think just by listening.  For example, Bach is hard, and much of Beethoven is fiendish.  On the other hand, Verdi’s spectacular requiem must be one of the easiest big works in the repertoire.

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Public wifi menace

A couple of days ago, I was looking up a bus timetable from my ‘phone.  All perfectly mundane.

The address I thought I wanted failed: I don’t have it bookmarked and I’ve probably misremembered.  So I googled.

Google failed too.  With a message about an invalid certificate.  WTF?  Google annoyingly[1] use https, and I got a message about an invalid certificate.    Who is sitting in the middle?  Surely they can’t really be eavesdropping: with browsers issuing strong warnings, they’re never going to catch anything sensitive.  Must be just a hopelessly misconfigured network.

I don’t care if someone watches as I look up a bus time, I just want to get on with it!  But it’s not obvious with android how I can override that warning and access google.  Or even an imposter: if they don’t give me the link I wanted from google, nothing lost!

So has my mobile network screwed up horribly?  Cursing at the hassle, I go into settings and see it’s picked up a wifi network.  BT’s public stuff: OpenZone, or something like that (from memory).  This is BT, or someone on their network, playing sillybuggers.  Just turn wifi off and all works well again as the phone reverts to my network.

Except, now I have to remember to re-enable wifi before doing anything a bit data-intensive, like letting the ‘phone update itself, or joining a video conference.  All too easy to forget.

Hmm, come to think of it, that broken network is probably also what got between me and the bus timetable in the first place.  That wasn’t https.

[1] There are good reasons to encrypt, but search is rarely one of them.  Good that google enables it (at least if you trust google more than $random-shady-bod), but it’s a pain that they enforce it.

Spring

Apart from rapidly-lengthening daylight hours, the progression of the flowers, and the gradual migration to warm-weather clothes, today I have encountered a couple of very specific signs of the season.

First, after several hours of rain this morning, I went out in the afternoon.  In the damp post-rain air, I suddenly caught the strong whiff of the wild garlic, the first real treat of the year available for foraging.  I shall enjoy collecting and eating it over the next few weeks.

Second, I seem to have a nightingale in the back garden.  OK it could also be a near neighbour, but on balance of probabilities I think it’s my garden.  It’s a noisy bugger, though one of the nicer noises in this or any other place I’ve lived.  I’ve just finished my evening meal and was serenaded.  Damn, the glass of wine was right, but I should’ve been out on the terrace with a young lady!  Alas, I fear for any innocent little bird in a garden where the neighbours both sides have cats.