Posts Tagged ‘Spain’

Comment: Flags should be signs of support, nothing more.

September 22, 2018

There has been a lot of fuss about a piece of cloth: a flag flown over Ely Cathedral recently. It was a rainbow coloured flag to represent support for the LGBTQI (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer or Questioning, and Intersex) community for Ely and Cambridge Pride. This happened because a Pride celebration was held in the city. What is wrong with that?  The flag was not put up to say that Ely Cathedral was announcing that it was one of the community in question, it was merely a gesture of goodwill.

While flags can be important for what they represent, it is the purpose intended in flying them that matters. There is surely nothing wrong with a flag showing goodwill to an organization that does no harm. It is only flags that represent aggression or injustice that should be condemned. Even then, on more than one occasion I have seen ‘The Jolly Roger’ a pirate flag flown in the district. These pirate flags were obviously harmless – they were not put up as a cry for us to support piracy, a criminal act if ever there was one, but as part of children’s play. When children play they fantasize and through their play they need to be able to have ‘goodies’ and ‘baddies’ to explore the problems of good and evil in our lives, just as so many TV dramas do.

Unfortunately for some, flags represent unreasonable and extreme beliefs about a subject.  It seems to be particularly noticeable in the UK that flags are seen as antagonistic signs. There are many people who feel that even the Union Jack has been adopted by some extremists and so the feelings the flag engenders in the population can be mixed. We do not see households simply flying the Union Jack as a symbol of their appreciation and support for their country, certainly not in the way that they do in Spain where it is quite common to see the Spanish flag flown from balconies or from shop windows.

It is time for the ordinary people of our country, to re-adopt our flag and fly it with pride. The Scouts and Guides were once taught the significance of the flag and how it is constructed and how it could be used as a sign of distress by flying the flag upside down. Few people seem to be aware of this these days so if they were to do so it is very doubtful that any help would come. Our own government has been known to slip up on one occasion and when the flag was accidentally flown upside down on a government building, fortunately there were a few informed people who contacted the BBC immediately!





Review of the piano recital given by Gabriel Escudero in the Palacio de la Musica de Torrevieja this Sunday night, 22nd December 2013

December 24, 2013

When I decided to attend a piano recital in the Palacio de la Musica in

Torrevieja because it was for a charity that is very close to my heart, I

was not expecting anything  out of the ordinary. When the , humble

figure of Spanish-born Gabriel Escudero arrived on stage, I was

still unprepared.

Then, as he confidently ran his fingers over the keys of the grand piano

to begin his first piece, I was amazed. This pianist really knew his stuff

and knew how to get the most from the instrument, no matter how

sensitive or how technical the demands.

The programme was well selected and included works by Mozart,

Haydn, Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninov, Chopin, Schumann and Liszt –

all favourites of best of pianists. He brought out such musicality in

the ‘Fantasia’ by Mozart, that I was questioning whether it was a

piece by Beethoven, so advanced and effective was the expression.

The contrasts this phenomenal pianist was able to display were

amazing. He played the Hayden sonata with strength, security

and clarity – exactly what is required for this popular composer.

In the second movement, Gabriel’s ability to incorporate lengthy

embellishments so seamlessly was awe-inspiring.

In his offerings by Tchaikovsky, the character of the pieces were

wonderfully well displayed while his Rachmaninov and Chopin

reflected these composer’s psyches perfectly. Rachmaninov’s

underlying sense of anguish  was never lost amid amazing bouts

of virtuosic display. Chopin’s melancholic reflection was beautifully

integrated with more technical wizardry in the composer’s own

inimitable style.

It was hard to believe that things could get any better, but the final

pieces of Schumann and Liszt were wonderful and Gabriel  maintained

perfect control while the music flowed from exquisitely clear melodic

developments to incredible gymnastics that only the most accomplished

of performers would dare consider playing. For Gabriel, this was obviously

his delight to master and exhibit. He had the audience transfixed.

His encore, an arrangement of Bach’s ‘Jesu Joy of Man’s Desiring’, was

very well deserved and the audience rose to their feet as they applauded

in appreciation.

The charity was very ably organized by president, Matilde, of the AFA

(Asociación Alzheimer de Familiares y Amigos de Torrevieja).

For more information about the association, contact

Review Pre-tour Concert The Choir of Ely Cathedral on Saturday 16th October 2010 in Ely Cathedral

October 19, 2010

Paul Trepte, Jonathan Lilley and The Choir of Ely Cathedral are a phenomenal combination and any performance they offer is undoubtedly first-class. Their pre-tour concert was no exception.

The sheer beauty of the ‘English’ sound, the tonal potency and the expressive and rhythmic agility of this amazing group of performers will no doubt wow the audiences in Spain.    

Extra chairs had to be brought in for the listeners who knew they were about to be hear music of the highest quality.

The event opened with what Paul called their ‘party piece’: ‘The heavens are telling’ by Haydn.    Dressed in red, the choir stood in the choir stalls, with the candles flickering and Ely Cathedral’s unique atmosphere shrouding them in support. The Cathedral vaults resounded with the glorious sounds of choir and organ as this wonderful concert began.

Swiftly moving to the magnificent altar at the east end of the Cathedral, the choir sang the first unaccompanied piece: ‘Tomorrow shall be my dancing day’ by Holst in which the voices fully explored the variety of expression in the different verses.

Long phrases and sustained beauty of Byrd’s ‘Prevent us O Lord’ provided notable contrast. As the choir memebers moved back to the stalls, Jonathan Lilley, organist, played a delightful number: ‘A fancy’ by Harris. It was indeed a ‘fancy, with light-hearted forays and dialogues that tickled the senses.

Beethoven’s ‘Hallelujah (The Mount of Olives)’ brought matters into a more serious, deep-seated frame of mind while the following unaccompanied ‘Alleluia psallat’  brought us into the twentieth century with its delicious discords, challenging rhythms and exciting effects.

The more traditional religious music of Stanford featured twice in this concert and both pieces (‘Justorum animae’ and ‘Beati quorum via’) were a testament to Paul’s conducting prowess as the sustained beauty of Stanford’s phrases were fully explored.

The boy choristers gave a splendid performance of Marcello’s ‘Give ear unto me’ and the full choir conveyed the forthrightness and musical vigor of ‘Hymn to the Trinity’ by Ely resident and Organist Emeritus to Ely Cathedral, Arthur Wills. The choir exemplified the attractiveness of John Rutter’s ‘O clap you hands’ by Cambridge-based John Rutter.

However, for me, the real highlights were the choir’s performance of Paul’s composition ‘The Gateway of heaven’ and Bruckner’s ‘Locus iste’ and Jonathan’s organ delight ‘Salamanca’ by Bovet. ’The Gateway of Heaven’ was fresh, intriguing and permeated with very agreeable and colourful harmonies. The performance of the very popular ‘Locus iste’ under Paul’s influence was brought to life by his indisputable attention to detail and expressive precision without losing any of the emotional impact. In ‘Salamanca’ by Guy Bovet Jonathan had the audience grinning with his exploitation of the extremes of witty expression within this amazing piece. Stops producing sounds reminiscent of penny whistles, beating drums, fog horns and demonic fairground music were the order of the day in a composition that was no easy feat to play. It was also a good choice for the tour as Bovet taught at Salamanca University in Spain.

Spain should be very impressed with these fantastic musicians.

review of concert in Torrevieja 18th Sept 2010

September 19, 2010

 It is commonly believed that English and Spanish cultures have little in common. The best concerts I have attended in Ely, especially those in Ely Cathedral, have inspired tremendous awe and magnetic attraction. As a member of the audience I have always felt a sense of communal wonder when the best soloists’ voices have filled the Cathedral with their beautiful powerful sounds and potently integrated rhythm.

I attended a concert (11 Festival de la Copla) in Torrevieja in Spain last night and I experienced that same sense of joyous recognition of the best in music. This time it was singer Paquito Sanchez who caught my attention. He entered the stage with his guitarist and they both sat down. My expectations were not high.

Then the guitarist struck the first chords. The music was fired with spirit and excitement. Paquito sang the first notes of ‘Servillana a Untrera’ and I was captivated. His strong passionate melodies, his lengthy emotional embellishments and his restrained but essential soft or percussive clapping integrated superbly with the guitarist. Charisma and grace mixed with vital exuberance and a real empathy for the soul of the music, captivated the audience immediately. The listeners were not the silent, transfixed, awe-inspired ones of the Cathedral; this packed hall punctuated the music with ‘Olé’, ‘bueno’ and spontaneous clapping that lifted the spirits akin to the last night of the Proms.

We may differ in many things, but in appreciating the finest things of life, I sincerely believe we are of one mind.

live music

May 31, 2010

A pub that advertises ‘live music’ is one that I usually avoid. The ‘live performances’ I have experienced while having lunch on the beach in Torrevieja Spain,  are often brief, a little over enthusiastic and with a splattering of wrong notes, but enjoyable enough for the purpose. Consequently, I do not usually go out of my way to spend an evening out listening to ‘live music’. 

When a friend suggested I join a group and spend an evening listening to live music at Betty Boop’s on the Alcequion beach, I weakened and I decided a night out would suit me fine, with or without the ‘live music’.

After listening to the first few notes by Roberta, I had an immediate change of heart. When Roberta and Garry sang their separate songs, there was nothing ‘slap-dash’ about their performances. They focused on their songs, shaping their singing to match almost exactly the performers who first made the popular songs famous. Songs ranged from early 20th century to today: there was something for everyone. Their sense of rhythm, their tonal variety and their sensitivity to the messages of their songs were second to none. Garry gave the impersonator of Frank Sinatra of the Rat Pack (that I had heard in Bournemouth sometime ago) a good run for his money and Roberta held us in awe as she really lived for the moment, drawing us into the world of emotions or excitement the songs engendered. 

So the next time I am invited to go to an evening of ‘live music’, it will take a lot to stop me!

Contacts: Betty Boop’s, Avda Gregorio Marañon, 47, 03185 Torrevieja tel: 660113650 email:

Roberta, R and R Entertainment tel: 638404363 email:

Garry Dorsey tel (UK) 01761437993 mobile: 07704137857 email:

Rosemary Westwell (teacher of music Cambridgeshire, UK)