Monday, 12 November 2007

From Village People to Tchaikovsky

The closest I usually get to classical music is Go West by the Pet Shop Boys, which apparently emphasised the original 1979 Village People version's chord progression from Pachelbel's Canon in D Major! But on Saturday I took my sister (who loves classical music) to see the Sussex Symphony Orchestra perform Tchaikovsky's Romeo & Juliet Overture and Violin Concerto at St Bartholomew's Church in Brighton.

Well, it took me somewhat by surprise because it was actually rather emotional. If you don't know St Bartholomews its tucked away behind London Road. In fact, you can almost miss it, despite it being the highest church in Brighton, with the tallest nave of any church in the country and one of the largest rose windows. Its an amazing building - quite awe inspiring - so the rousing orchestra was quite an experience. I was almost drawn to tears at a live performance for the first time since the spectacle of Starlight Express made me blub mildly hysterically in the mid 80s! (Oh, OK , so I nearly cried whem I saw Madonna for the first time too and I'm not even a gay man!)

The acoustics were amazing, although with the astonishing height of the church, I imagine the sound of anything less than a full blown orchestra would have been lost into the ether. How the vicar copes I don't know. I imagine he or she is a little hoarse!

One of the most important of the churches built by Arthur Douglas Wagner, St Bartholomew's interior is awe inspiring; a vast space with a wealth of art nouveau work by Henry Wilson carried out between 1899 and 1910. Mosaics by Hamilton Jackson date from 1912 and create a real Byzantine effect. St Bartholomew's is a grade 1 listed building and one of the City's proudest possessions. Well worth a look if you're passing.

And much as I love the Village People, (well who doesn't secretly like doing the YMCA) I'm off to the classical music section of Borders at lunchtime. Hmm, and last week I was sipping green tea in the Duke of Yorks - I think I've officially joined the Brighton artsy, scratchy beard brigade. Oh dear...I was hoping to wait until I was 40...

Find out more about St Bartholomew's Church


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