Francis's Christmas Newsletter 2011

 

 
Welcome to Francisís fifth electronic Christmas Newsletter. As usual, I donít buy cards, but make a charity donation. Some of my friends and relations (mainly those who are still off line) will get paper copies of this.

2011 has been another good year for the Roads family. For me music and go have continued to flourish. As usual I have been on my travels, to the Netherlands, Switzerland and the USA this year.

It was West Gallery music rather than go which took me to Valkenburg in the Netherlands. My friend Jackie and I took a party of 20 or so WG singers and players on an organised concert trip by coach. We gave one concert in the bandstand at Valkenburg, and another in a nearby hospital. The latter, being an indoor event, was the more successful. Valkenburg itself is a charming town. We had plenty of time to explore it, and for to trips to nearby Maastricht and Aachen. Everyone seemed to enjoy it, and there was talk of "next time". Hmm, we'll see; it was a lot of hard work, especially for Jackie who did all the admin. More details here.

London Gallery Quire has changed somewhat, in that we have lost a couple of good instrumentalists, but gained some good singers, especially in the soprano and tenor sections. We are unusual for an amateur choir in that our tenors are probably our strongest section. We continue our programme of services and concerts wherever we are welcome.

I have added another weekend West Gallery course to my calendar, at Farncombe Estate. This is a very well appointed establishment in the Cotswolds, with fine views across the Vale of Evesham to the Malvern Hills. About 20 turned up for the first course, and another is booked next year.

It was neither music nor go which took me for my first visit to Switzerland, but an international meeting of Quakers, where I tagged along with Judith for the long weekend. She took part in the serious business, while I just joined in the social events and enjoyed the surroundings and scenery. We took the opportunity to visit various of her Quaker friends in France on the way there and back.

But it was indeed go which took me to the USA. I first visited friends in Boston, and took the opportunity to lead a West Gallery workshop for the local quire. Then after visiting more friends in New York I travelled on to Santa Barbara, a pleasant city a couple of hours north of Los Angeles, for the US Go Congress. The city lies on the Californian coast, so unlike some previous US locations that I've been to the weather was temperate. The University campus where we played backed on to the Pacific Ocean, and there was a lagoon where all manner of waders (the feathered variety) were to be seen. So there was plenty of scope for walks after the morning go sessions.

On the off day I opted for a beer tasting excursion. I was able to sample 16 beers (in small quantities) from micro-breweries at three different pubs. This dispelled my previously held notion that Americans cannot brew good beer; they can, but the big corporations choose not to.

Autumn saw a most welcome reunion of members of Oxford University's Cecil Sharp Club. In 1961 I joined this club on an impulse, never having had anything to do with folk music or dance before. It stimulated a lifelong interest in folk music, much of which I have arranged for both adult and school ensembles, and led eventually to my interest in West Gallery church music.

As you will have gathered, Judith is still in the thick of Quakerdom. She has taken on the post of Clerk of the Committee on Clerks. Don't ask. It's a post of national importance within Quaker organisation. Her PhD research into 17th Century Quaker language seems to progressing well. And Sam is very happy with his partner Lizz, who also happens to be a busy bee within the Society of Friends. His business in Cardiff seems to have its ups and downs, but is keeping its head above water in these worrisome economic times.

When I'm not globetrotting or making music I am mostly sitting in front of my computer editing music, or else visiting the British Library to find music to edit. You may see some of the fruits of my labours on my website. I expect next year to be more of the same; why change, when you're enjoying life?

Bandstand at Valkenburg
Bandstand at Valkenburg
 
Farncombe Estate
Farncombe Estate
 
Herzberg, Switzerland
Herzberg, Switzerland
 
Santa Barbara University
Santa Barbara University
 
Ken Koester and self at Santa Barbara
Ken Koester and self at Santa Barbara
 
Folkdance reunion
Folkdance reunion

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