100 years

Fine, 12°C, blustery sun.

100 years is a significant anniversary, one century ago, WWI came to a sudden end.

We marked the day with a trip to Birmingham’s Symphony Hall to see the lad perform in a choir.

Music: the performance was split in two across the interval. Before, each school’s choir performed and presented readings.

School orchestras can be slightly wobbly performers; for me, that’s a source of charm. Strings and brass seem to show this quality more than others. Usually, voices are spot on. Readings were delivered wonderfully, with clarity and measured pace.

Poppies: one moment stood out for me. The Last Post and 2 minutes silence are to be expected really. But then something spine tingling happened. The edge of your vision was caught by fluttering shapes. Red poppy petals slowly fell to the floor, sometimes, whole flower heads. It’s ironic that the most poignant moment in a concert was silence. That was a beautiful moment that afternoon.

The second half was taken up by a grand performance of Mozart’s Requiem. A strange choice, I thought; it was written over 150 before the Great War. I didn’t see what it offered of relevance to this day. The Requiem is a long drawn out dreary piece that left many in the audience browsing through their copy of the programme. With so many composers of the early 29thC who relate to the birth of modernity, why Mozart? The choice was probably a comprise selection to satisfy the 8+ schools who took part. Mozart undoubtedly has innovations to offer in the context of his time, but the modernist shift was far more fundamental. For some, Mozart represents the conformity and obeyance that led to the WWI disaster. One level, his Requiem represents poor taste.

It was lovely to see Birmingham.

You can forget how attached you are to a town until a later return: much has changed, new buildings and more going up.

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