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The good news is that every day will be longer than the previous after the winter solstice.

Bon Journal

Sicilienne Christmas

After experiencing September 11th in New York, I figured this Christmas would be a special one, or rather, a much needed one. I wanted to give my friends the gift of music. It was also the perfect excuse to realise an idea I've been harbouring.

Some time ago I came across Bach's Sicilienne hidden in a flute/piano sonata. At my favourite second-hand book store in London, I found a very old edition of Bach's Sicilienne written for violin and piano. The yellowed paper was all but torn. In Houston, I discovered that Schumann had written a Sicilianish, hidden in his easier pieces. Encouraged by my discoveries, I set about looking for more pieces like this in London, Houston, Brussels, and Milan.

Then I challenged the Dutch guitarist Robert Bekkers to arrange them for piano, flute, bassoon, and guitar - in different combinations. He wrote a Christmas medley for the four instruments and a sicilienne movement for piano and guitar. Then I suggested that it would be a good opportunity to play the familiar Pachelbel's Canon in D, if only there was an arrangement for it. He promptly arranged it for flute, bassoon, classical and folk guitars.

I had chosen an afternoon (Sunday 16th December) so that my friends with children could drive to London. It was also the weekend before my ski loving friends' ski holiday.

The first part was composed of sicilienne pieces. The second part comprised of Christmas medleys including a piano duet. And only just before we started did we decide to have a third part - of serious music that we had spent time practising on our own.

The musicians got together the day before the concert to sightread the new arrangements. We practised that evening individually. And then we were ready to play.

My neighbour Amanda kindly offered to make the main course: curly pasta with different kinds of sauces.

My friend Yasmin brought good cheese and fresh baguettes.

I asked everyone to bring a bottle of (inexpensive) red wine, to pour into my pot of hot mulled wine. For the non-alcoholics, I made hot spiced apple cider (apple juice boiled with cinnamon sticks and cloves).

It occurred to me that I wasn't altogether altruistic in holding home concerts. In most private parties, the guests know each other but not the relatively anonymous performers. Here the performer knows all the guests. Rather than inviting performers - it was more like inviting the audience to listen.

22 December 2001 Saturday

Related links:
18 Nov 01 In search of Scarlatti's Sicilienne
24 Nov 01 Sheet music where art thou?
Searching for music
London home concerts
the invitation for 16th Dec including photos
the programme with links to sample music scores and midi sound files