Regular readers of the blog will not be surprised to know that I am writing this having just watched Wales destroy Namibia in the Rugby World Cup. My Welsh father and a childhood involving many trips to Cwmllynfell to see my granny, cast my musical soul in red many years ago. But as most of the mines fell silent by the 1960s, like many others of his generation, dad moved away to East Wales, or as you would probably know it, Guildford in Surrey. As far as rugby is concerned there is never any question about which team I support, even when England won the world cup I’m afraid I felt no tingle of excitement. Sorry. However I am very proud of coming from Guildford, especially as I still live there with my family, my kids go to the same schools my wife and I did and our parents are a few minutes away. Old fashioned some might say, but it keeps me happy especially as we travel so much. I have visited many fabulous places around the world, but my favourite view is coming round the corner of the A3 at night on the way home and seeing the cathedral in the distance, the golden angel lit up on the top. Home.
You can imagine my excitement when I heard that the LSO was going to be playing in the opening concert at Guildford’s brand new concert hall, G-Live. I have played in Davies Hall in San Francisco, but to play with my orchestra in my home town and then find out that Guildford Borough Council had decided to name it after me…well I was speechless.
The new shiny hall with its glass frontage and sleek modern lines has not been without controversy in the town. It was a replacement for the much loved old Civic Hall which gradually fell into disrepair, mainly because it was never repaired. Inevitably, it reached a tipping point and it was cheaper to knock it down and start again. Of course it wasn’t, and so started a very long round of furious letter writing and point scoring in the Surrey Advertiser. You know the kind of thing. Most of us just waited and watched the new hall rise up and ignored the rantings and crossed our fingers that it would sound good. I have fond memories of the old Civic. I used to go and sell programmes for the Guildford Philharmonic Orchestra concerts on a Sunday afternoon in exchange for a free ticket. I remember meeting Todd Handley who was conducting and hearing the sound of an orchestra in the flesh for the first time and thinking that I would quite like to play in one myself. I hope that now the new hall is open the GPO can finally settle down into their new hall and inspire a new generation of kids.
So, Saturday arrived and I walked to work for the first time ever. As I made my way up the high street I had a smile on my face and was excited about going in the building for the first time when all of a sudden, my two worlds collided. Living out in Surrey, I don’t think I have ever bumped into anyone from the LSO. I go into London to work and see work people, I come home and see home people. I like it that way. On Saturday, one of the most surreal sights was when I was walking up the high street and out of the door of a photographic studio stepped Valery in a suit. In Guildford high street. I was so stunned I walked right passed him and didn’t say anything. As I got nearer the hall there were familiar LSO faces everywhere, every single one of them said the same thing,