Beautiful June 1st!

Saturday June 1st and what a stunning start to the month – perhaps it will turn out to be a proverbial ‘flaming June?’  During the morning we walked up over Seaford Head.  The first image shows the difference where Sussex Wildlife Trust have winter-cut the invasive tor grass and where not; note the cut, flower-rich lower RH side of image against the rank LH side of the image.

On the bare chalk area on the Hawks Brow area, noticed at least 6 vertical seems of flint within the chalk, flint normally having been deposited horizontally within the bedding of the chalk.  Note one of these peculiar features running from right of centre at bottom of image towards right of person, the adjacent chalk being more eroded towards the cliff edge and so highlighting it better.
Attended the Southease Open Gardens event.  Some idyllic houses and beautiful gardens, all set-off in a quintessentially English fete-like atmosphere, accompanied by the brilliant The Maestro Big Band from Newhaven playing 40’s swing music.

Impassioned Speech Against Brexit

Unusual, rousing speech at end of tonight’s Prom concert by conductor Daniel Barenboim in the Royal Albert Hall with the Berlin Staatskepella orchestra, about international isolationism, education, music, Europe and rounding it of with a rousing performance of Land of Hope and Glory. Watch last 15 minutes of the concert on BBC iPlayer!

UPDATE  BBC have edited/blacked-out speech!  So listen to some of it at


Building a CD Library: Vaughan Williams: A London Symphony and Cuckmere Haven!

Building a Library: Vaughan Williams: A London Symphony.

Mark Lowther makes a recommendation from the available recordings. Despite the sound of the famous Westminster chimes, the composer said that while the title may suggest a programmatic piece it was intended to be heard as absolute music. He suggested that “Symphony by a Londoner” might be a better title.

I have just listened to Radio 3’s discussion of recordings of Vaughan-Williams London Symphony, a piece finished in 1914 and which I find particularly moving.  Interestingly, of the two versions I possess, they were both highly praised.  The presenter’s first choice however, was by the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Vernon Handley and recorded in 1957, (he being a champion of British music).

Composer Vernon Handley at Cuckmere Haven.

Composer Vernon Handley at Cuckmere Haven.

He died a few years ago, but I was honoured when in 1987 I negotiated and attended a small BBC film unit, which filmed him on the beach down at Cuckmere Haven discussing the music of composer Frank Bridge who used to live at nearby Friston.  In between shoots, I was lucky enough to be able to talk with him; one thing he said was that in another life, he would have loved to have worked in wildlife conservation!

Today’s Cultural Desire For Love

YouGov, the global market research company has offices in 21 countries around the world in countries as diverse as China and Saudi Arabia finding out what people are really thinking.

Recently, they asked people across the world what they most wanted in life, and noticed a fascinating discrepancy. “Love” came top of the wish list in most Western countries including the UK – while in Asian and Middle Eastern countries it’s much further down the list, with good health and money more popular options. It’s a powerful reminder that the concept of romantic love that dominate pop songs, movies and our general understanding of what makes a good life is really a relatively recent Western invention.

Glyndebourne’s £16m Boost to Sussex Economy

Special report: Glyndebourne’s £16m boost to Sussex economy.

By Finn Scott-Delany, Senior Reporter  Thursday 27th February 2014.

Glyndebourne contributes more than £16 million to the Sussex economy, a report has found.  The gross economic impact of Glyndebourne, in Ringmer, supports the equivalent of 682 permanent jobs with £10.8 million of gross value added (GVA). The 600-year-old country house, home of the Glyndebourne Festival Opera since 1934, pays more than £3 million in wages to employees, many drawn from the area. Guests spend more than £11 million at hotels, restaurants, shops and attractions.

David Pickard, general director of Glyndebourne, said: “Our location here in East Sussex is a big part of what makes Glyndebourne so special for audiences, staff and visiting artists alike. We’re very proud that the company makes such a significant contribution to the local economy and to the reputation of the area as a cultural destination, and look forward to exploring closer partnerships with both local businesses and East Sussex County Council.”

The findings were revealed in an economic impact report launched today by BOP Consulting, commissioned by Glyndebourne and East Sussex County Council, with additional funding from Arts Council England and the East Sussex Arts Partnership.

The largest economic contribution comes from audience spend for the annual festival. In 2013 86% of the 98,000 festival visitors came from outside Sussex and the research reveal them to be a large, high-value group who would not otherwise visit the area. Half of the money was spent in nearby Lewes which benefits from £8.6 million – the equivalent of employing 354 people.

The opera house spends more than £1 million with Lewes-based suppliers and a further £300,000 with East Sussex suppliers. It brings visitors, artists and jobs to Lewes and its presence has encouraged specialist businesses to start up, while businesses that work with Glyndebourne gain revenue, prestige and footfall.

Rupert Clubb, director for communities, economy and transport at East Sussex County Council, said: “We have a county with an extraordinarily high quality cultural offer and we are very fortunate to have Glyndebourne as a highlight of our cultural destinations. This study demonstrates its value both as an employer, a part of our tourism offer and also in terms of the contribution Glyndebourne makes to the local community.”

The Glyndebourne Festival was founded in 1934 by John Christie and his opera singer wife Audrey Mildmay. The registered charity has remained financially independent since its inaugural season while receiving some Arts Council support for the tour and some education work.

With more than 150,000 visitors every year the report aims to demonstrate the economic value of the arts for funding and marketing. Glyndebourne is the largest business in the Lewes area with a turnover of £25 million.

David Clark, president of the Lewes Chamber of Commerce and managing director of Clark and Sons jewellers, said: “Glyndebourne has a hugely positive impact on the whole surrounding area – it helps everyone from restaurants to shops to hotels. People come from and wide to watch the productions and that feeds into the local economy in all sorts of different ways; it has massive benefits. It helps us in the jewellery business because whilst visitors are in Lewes they explore the surrounding villages and if they say something they like they will often pick it up. We find a lot of out costumers are coming for the opera.”

Natalie Canavan, general manager at Shelleys Hotel and Restaurant, Lewes, said: “In the summer season it’s definitely one of the biggest tourist attractions in the area. We benefit from a lot of customers who have been using our hotel for many years. When they pay the bill they say ‘see you next time’ and year after year they come back. A lot of regular opera goers get the listings before they are out and book their accommodation well in advance which is good for us. It’s not just accommodation – they will have dinner, take a picnic basket, afternoon tea and evening drinks. All hotels will say the same.”

Glyndebourne employs 150 direct staff all year round, 600 performing company and production staff and 1,500 artists and singers over the course of the year.

Of the festival’s 98,000 visitors 96% are from outside the area. And of the 35% who spend the night an average of £81 is spent per day per person. The festival generated 21,000 overnight stays in the immediate area, plus 40,000 in East Sussex and 5,000 in Brighton and Hove.

Staff and collaborators started working there in the 1970s and 1980s the London Philharmonic Orchestra based there. The orchestra manager said the location created stability and was “extremely healthy” for players.

One transport company was cited to have increased its turnover from £300,000 to £1.7 million after working with Glyndebourne. The on-site restaurant Leiths employs 300 during peak season with 60% to 70% of seasonal staff are from the local area.

High-value visitors said they would stay longer if they knew more about other cultural attractions in East Sussex. Council leaders said better partnership between Glyndebourne, local business and the local authority’s tourist promotion was needed after people said East Sussex County Council did little to market the attraction. Keith Glazer, leader of East Sussex County Council, said: “Historically we have not made the most of what we have. Anything we can do collectively is good.”

In numbers:

£25m – Glyndebourne turnover 150,000 – visitors each year

£16.25m – gross economic impact

£10.8m – gross value added (GVA) 682 – equivalent jobs

£8.6m – economic impact in Lewes

3,367 – responses to economic impact report

1,500 – artists and performers each year

£81 – spent by visitors each day

£4.5m – amount paid in wages

Film Music Star

What amazing talent! I watched the BBC Proms broadcast of Friday, August 30th and was astounded by the performance of 41 year-old conductor, arranger and lecturer, John Wilson and his Orchestra. They have become something of a fixture at the Proms since their debut there in 2009. Wilson specialises in the genre of 1940’s & 1950’s film music, performing a limited number concerts a year. He has also painstakingly reconstructed the scores of many famous films after MGM destroyed the original scores in 1969. His orchestra consists of up to 90 hand-picked musicians; the other night for example, there were 9 Leaders of well-known orchestras in the first violins alone, which says something about the desire to be involved and the calibre of musicianship.

In an interview on last night’s BBC Proms Extra, he said that, “It differs from a regular symphony orchestra in that at its heart, is that old-fashioned dance band and when you add that into the regular strings of a symphony orchestra, you get an old-fashioned movie studio orchestra.” Violinist Andrew Haveron said, “It’s a very expansive, it’s got more notes in the harmony than you’ll find anywhere else; more opulence in this music; the way it’s orchestrated; there’s more musicians, more instruments.” Pulling all this together produces an incredibly rich and lush sound  with all the musicians going for it, and the level of musicianship required needing to be extremely high and often loud!