February is the month of love; the shops are full of Valentine’s cards and we are having a special concert in Brill church on the evening of February 14th to celebrate St Valentine’s Day. “If music be the food of love, play on”!
Have you ever listened to the Radio 4 programme “Desert Island Discs”? The programme’s guest is stranded on a desert island and they choose 8 pieces of music that they would like to have with them to provide solace in their isolation. I find that I learn so much about the person from their choice of music and the little snippets of their life story that they recount as they explain why they have chosen that particular record.
A few months’ ago my family decided to compile their own Desert Island Disc list. Here are some of my choices and the reasons why I chose them.
My first choice was the folk song or sea shanty “Bobby Shafto”. I learnt this when I was at primary school, which was a Roman Catholic convent school. My class were chosen to sing for a special visitor, the Reverend Mother of the order who was visiting from France. We practised the song over and over again but our teacher was not satisfied with the performance. She came round and listened to each pupil in turn – and then she asked me to just mime the words rather than singing! Ever since then I have been convinced that I can’t sing; I was scarred for life! But on my desert island I’ll be able to sing away at the top of my voice without disturbing anyone.
My second choice is the aria “What is life?” from Gluck’s oratorio Orfeo and Euridice sung by Kathleen Ferrier. This is a poignant and beautiful piece of music. I remember reading a story about the life of Kathleen Ferrier when I was about 11. She died tragically as a result of cancer at the age of 41, but she was a wonderful singer. The tribute to her on my CD says “Her voice and spirit gave hope and radiance to the world”. I found the story of her life and her music very moving. This was also a favourite piece of music for my mother and my brother-in-law, David, and so it reminds me of them.
I feel that I have to choose something by the Beatles because I was a child/teenager of the sixties and their music was so important at that time – and has continued to be. The words of “Imagine” are very thought provoking and the music is inspiring.
My fourth choice is “Rose Garden” sung by Lyn Andrews. John and I met at our first teaching job in Newbury in Berkshire. We used to go to the pub in the market square on Saturday evenings and John would choose this record on the juke box. There is a line in it that says “I never promised you a rose garden; along with the sunshine, there’s got to be a little rain sometimes.” Was he trying to tell me something about our married life?!
I’ve run out of space in this article so if you want to know what my other 4 choices are you’ll have to read next month’s Rector’s Ramblings. In the meantime, start thinking about what you would choose if you were a guest on Desert Island Discs. Music provides so much joy to us in our lives. It is a gift from God that helps us to celebrate and have fun but also provides comfort in times of sadness. Which pieces of music have special meaning for you?