Saturday, 2 August 2008

Christopher Blake, Oboist


I attended a BBC Summer Invitation Concert at the Whitla Hall in Belfast last night, the theme being the music of Ulster composers.

I think it was my first visit to the Whitla Hall, and I found it sufficiently comfortable and spacious; although I'm eagerly awaiting the grand re-opening of the rejuvenated Ulster Hall later this year.

I got a seat on the ground floor about six rows from the orchestra. The conductor was Brazilian - the BBC proudly proclaimed that we were in the presence of the Brazilian ambassador to Eire. The two soloists were Hugh Tinney and Christopher Blake: both were excellent.

I particularly enjoyed Mr Blake, who is the principal oboist in the Orchestra. He was outstanding. He played Orientale from three pieces by Sir Hamilton Harty and it lasted a mere six minutes (I could have listened to it much longer).

The first piece was a BBC Radio 3 world première by a Belfast composer called Stephen Gardner. It lasted five minutes which was four minutes 59 seconds too long for me; it was abominable and I did a crossword while it lasted. Ghastly stuff. The other pieces were all agreeable indeed.

I cannot sign off without a reactionary gripe: the casual dress of the orchestra. The men wore black trousers and black open-necked shirts. The traditional attire for leading orchestras has always been full evening dress - white tie. Perhaps this is too much to expect of them; nevertheless, they could, at least, wear dinner jackets and black tie. The way they dress down now is too egalitarian.

5 comments :

Alan in Belfast said...

Chris is good on an oboe, a piano, with his voice ... and a really nice guy too!

Timothy Belmont said...

Indeed; I'll likely go to the concert on Tuesday. Can't wait to see the revived Ulster Hall.

Hope your new car's giving satisfaction! :-)

Anonymous said...

You most certainly were not informed that you were in the presence of an ambassador to Eire.

That term hasn't been used since 1949 and no-one, but no-one at the UO or even the BBC would be so discourteous to the ambassador or the country to which he is posted.

Timothy Belmont said...

That's my term. What is discourteous about it anyway? Unless you object to the Gaelic language?

He was referred to as the ambassador to "Ireland" which is incorrect as far as I am concerned. The Brazilian ambassador to the Court of St James represents Northern Ireland.

Timothy Belmont said...

Anonymous, kindly refer to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eire

for the definition of the term "Ireland".

And, by the way, BBC Northern Ireland was exceedingly discourteous to the Brazilian ambassador to the republic of Ireland as "the ambassador to Ireland".

I have no further comment to make on the matter and have moved on.