Friday, August 19, 2005


Is this paradise?

The best thing to do after your car starts smoking because someone left the oil cap off is to go to Chatsworth and walk thru one of the most perfect gardens on earth.

Sledmere House

The beautiful park at Sledmere House - with Copper Beech trees - my favorite tree. The new formal garden in the second picture is boxwood and lavender - the scent on a warm afternoon was intoxicating. Lots of fat bumblebees!

Beverly Minster

The beautiful nave of Beverly Minster - wonderful Perpendicular gothic. The organ contains nearly all of a Snetzler organ rebuilt and added to by Hill.

The Adam Statuary gallery at Newby Hall

Maestro Clemmitt

More pics of the Alnwick Garden

Alnwick Garden - the Benjamin Britten Rose

look in the center of the picture - you can see the Yorkshire horse carved into the side of the hill - seen from the state rooms of Beningbrough House

Details of the Organ Case

The back of the organ case on the south side - you can see the mouths of one of the 16' Open Woods near the floor. The door to the organ loft is in the lower right corner

The view from my window in St. Chad's College - the east end gothic addition (Nine Chapels) with the Lantern Tower behind

Evening views of the East End and West End entrance

Lindisfarne Castle

A view of Lindisfarne Castle through the ruins of the Priory

Our walk thru the upper bits of the Cathedral

The view down the nave from the ledge under the West Window - 1 1/2 feet wide!

Looking thru the Triforium.

In the Lantern Tower - looking at the Choir.

In the Lantern Tower - looking down the nave.

Frank, Christine, Beth and Mark in the Lantern Tower.

In the Triforium - looking over the 16' Great Open Diapason at the North Case - you can see the top of the Swell box and the Solo box above in the North Triforium.

A view of the East Rose window from a teeny ledge.

In the Nine Chapels gothic addition - someone miscalculated! The ribs don't meet up with the Keystone!

Thursday, August 18, 2005


The spectacular view of the west end

Durham - views from the organ loft

Edinburgh Pictures

My Dramatic Edinburgh hotel room

Pictures from Glasgow

More R. Mackintosh architecture - the Glasgow School of Art. Now that's brawny Arts & Crafts.

Shaggy Scottish cows at the Burrell Collection - I love cows.

The Willow Tea Rooms - Rennie Mackintosh

Glasgow - St. Mungo's Cathedral


Just home and hooking up the camera! Will post a Lot of Pics later. A glorious, wonderful, inspiring 2 weeks.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005


Another gorgeous and hot day in Yorkshire and Derbyshire. Up early and went straight to Temple Newsam which is now actually a museum run by the city of Leeds. Huge. Staggering. More stuff per square inch and all good. A Tudor house where Lord Darnley was born added onto with amazing collections of good English furniture: Chippendale, Gillow, etc. The family sold the house and much of its collection was bought for the new museum - mainly by the Chippendale Society. I was there for over 2 hours just marvelling.

Then we had an Adventure. Meant to go to Nostell Priory - missed the turn and ended up far south. So went on to Hardwick Hall. Got out of the car - the car was seriously smoking. Oh dear. So I went in the Hall and spent some time in the serene and beautiful place enthralled by the strange greenish beige light on the tapestries and soaking up the serenity of the Long Gallery - one of the world's most glorious spaces. Then called Hertz and they had someone there within 40 minutes who discovered that someone in York had not replaced the oil cap! it had been lying on the motor for 3 days. A top-up of oil and I was on my way.

However, not fast enough to make the last entry at Chatsworth so I spent a v. happy hour wandering around the gardens in the glorious Derbyshire sun. Completely wonderful.

Then I had the most impressive experience of the entire trip - driving to Manchester thruough the Peak District - a truly inspiring, thrilling, exhilirating, terrifying, spiritual and happy journey into the setting sun. I suppose all this car trouble was nature's way of making me pay attention to nature - rather than the inward inspection of man-made glories. And Nature rewarded Big. Glorious.

Now I'm at the hotel at Manchester Airport which is v. cool - I only have to go about 200 yards to get to the terminal, there's a gas station in the middle of the joint to fill up the rented car, and everybody's just nice.

Happy to be coming home tomorrow - I will be v. appreciative of my wonderful bed.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005


I'm sitting in the Days Hotel, Wakefield, which turns out to be, after the Christoper North Hotel in Edinburgh, the nicest hotel yet. Great design, great location, great price, good food! And a computer.

Picked up my little Ford Focus at the York train station and whizzed off to Harewood House - with a few interesting wrong turns on the way. But got there and was thrilled to find that since I was last there in 1985 they've completely replanted the terrace, re-organised the rooms, re-hung the pictures, and generally spruced the place up. It's wonderfully beautiful - full of Chippendale (Father and Son) furniture, Robert Adams interiors, a spectacular collection of paintings, and some v. good Sevres. Wonderful.

Then off to Newby Hall - another Robert Adama design full of exquisite things in a serene setting. Then a fast run to Beningbrough House for a trip back a century (17th) and some impressively inspiring Baroque rooms with Grinling-esque carvings. V. Grand. and a beautiful park.

Then the Focus zipped off to Beverly for overnite at the Beverly Royal Arms - supposedly a grand hotel - ah well...... however, St. Mary's Church across the street and the Beverly Minster were v. much worth the drive - spectacular perpendicular Gothic. And a Snetzler organ in the Minster! (much rebuilt but nevertheless)

Up this morning to race up to Sledmere which sets a new standard for English country house presentation. An exquisite house, in an exquisite setting, exquisitely maintained. The Library is paradise. And there's an organ! 3 whole manuals which they wanted me to play but I really wanted to see the house and by the time I was ready to play things had changed. But Robert Adams' rival John Carr built a gorgeous place and Adams' plaster man did some fantastic and elegant things. The Sykes family have done wonders restoring the place after a disastrous fire and their love shows. And, it turns out that one of my favorite authors on all things country house British is a member of the present family (brother) - Christopher Simon Sykes.

Then down to Burton Constable - reputed to be a gem of Elizabethan architecture and housing a splendid collection. I failed to read the part of the sentence that said "faded splendour"...... It truly is beautiful on the outside with a C. Brown park but inside - oh dear.... it needs some love. The plaster is coming off the walls, the silk is shredding from the walls, it's kind of a mess. And, it was redone totally in the 19th c. in a strange and tasteless imitation of Napolean III - truly frightening. Made me shudder. However! they did hang on to all the Chippendale roccoco furniture and restored it so I found something at least to admire.

Then onto Wakefield for overnite to rest up for the last day - Temple Newsam, Nostell Priory - and if I can manage it - Hardwick Hall and Haddon. Or maybe Chatsworth. or just onto Manchester and take a look around there.

Then home on Thursday and uploading a Lot of Pictures.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Music at Durham

Howells: Praeludio sine nomine
Sumsion: Magnificat & Nunc dimittis in A
Tournemire: Choral-Improvisation sur le Te Deum

Demmesieux: Prelude on Attende Domine
Stanford: Magnificat & Nunc dimittis in C
Philips: The House of Faith
Reger: Toccata, d minor

Vierne: 3me Symphonie - IV. Adagio
Murrill: Magnificat & Nunc dimittis in E
Bainton: And I saw a new heaven
Messiaen: La Nativite - Les Enfants de Dieu

Sunday Matins
Reger: Benedictus
Archer: Te Deum

Sunday Eucharist
Buxtehude: Komm, Heiliger Geist
Jackson: Gloria in excelsis Deo
Vierne: Prelude

Friday, August 12, 2005

View of the organ & Choir from the ledge inside the Lantern Tower - we stood here!

Alnwick Castle

Lindisfarne Castle

Lindisfarne Castle

Moray Place - Edinburgh

Charlotte Square - Edinburgh


Howdy! I finally found a computer in Durham - internet cafes don't exist up here yet. It's rather charming that the city retains so much of its medieval character but one does wish for few modern conveniences!

Durham is quite beautiful - the Cathedral is one of the most beautiful I've seen - completely Norman architecture until the end of the Choir where a new gothic sanctuary and chapel were added to the east end. The organ is an absolute dream to play - Father Willis (1877) then rebuilt by Harrison & Harrison in 1907, 1930 and 1970. Everything one chooses to use is beautiful, blends so perfectly, and supports the choir v. elegantly. The choir is singing v. well and we're all v. happy to be here. We're staying in St. Chad's College across from the east end - my view is the great rose window!

Nine of us had a terrific private tour on Wednesday - one of the guides took us up the north tower, across a tiny ledge in front of the west window with a spectacular view down the Nave, peeks into the Triforium, into and out onto the south tower for glorious views over the Durham valley, across the ceiling and out into the great lantern tower to walk around the narrow ledge to the other side, back across the ceiling of the choir to go out on the roof, back in and down to the triforium again past the back of the organ and out onto a tinier ledge to stand in front of the rose window! an amazing and vertigo-inducing trip. I stuck v. close to the wall.

Edinburgh was a complete joy - and for the record it's the second most beautiful city I've ever seen! Of course, Paris is the most beautiful - but Edinburgh has an incredibly dramatic setting between the Salisbury Crags and the Firth of Forth. The Old Town is still medieval in character while the new town is an elegant and beautiful creation of the 18th Century. One gorgeous street flowing into an elegant Adam square, flowing into a beautiful crescent. I must have walked 10 miles every day. Uphill and down - a great workout!

We arrived in Durham and immediately got busy on the music - what a wonderful place to create music - the acoustic is very clean and one hears very well. The Choir is responding very well in the room and each day the Choir's sound blooms more.

Yesterday, Thursday, we went to Lindisfarne - Holy Island - a very stark, mystical place on an island just off the coast which can only be reached at low tide. The main purpose of the visit for the Choir was the ruined Priory where St. Cuthbert lived. Of course, for me, the whole point was Lindisfarne Castle, an Edwin Lutyens rebuilding of a Tudor fort. Very romantic and stark, minimal and elegant, evocative and, of course, I want to live there. We then set off to Alnwick Castle - gloriously medieval on the outside and, altho the pictures are grand and there's a good collection of Sevres and Meissen, hideously 19th Century on the inside. One walks around and grieves for the Adam interiors....... ah well, we can only be grateful that the 4th Duke left his other house alone. The new Duchess is a real mover and has created an incredible new garden with the most amazing collection roses, 18,000 varieties of flowers, bamboo mazes, and a real challenge to Versailles for fountains. Lots of fun. I think she's the new version of the Duchess of Devonshire.

We sing again today and start the intense round of weekend services - a lot of music to sing. Monday starts my driving around Yorkshire, Humberside, Lincolnshire and Greater Manchester. Let's all hope there's an automatic car at the Hertz - otherwise you'll be seeing the disaster on CNN.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Glasgow continued - it appears that T-Mobile does not work here - so I have an English phone number with voicemail! You can call: 011-44-7789-128-170. We'll see if my US number works in Edinburgh and Durham.

A lovely day in Glasgow - sunny in the 60's. continued the tour with St. Mungo's Cathedral - a brawny 12-15th C. building with a Henry Willis organ and the only Rood screen left in Scotland after the Reformation.

Then on to tea at the Willow Tea Room - a recreation of the famous place designed by Rennie Mackintosh - lovely and charming. Then more Mackintosh at the Glasgow School of Art - a handsome building. A long walk around the west end looking at the Georgian architecture - a wonderful day.
Arrived in Glasgow and immediately got busy - went out to the Burrell Collection which has some lovely Boudins, a couple of Chardins, and exquisite Egyptian, Gothic and Chinese art. But the real treat was the Pollak House - an 18th C. mansion housing an extraordinary collection of Spanish art. El Greco! Murillo! Beautiful decorative arts. Now off to the Willow tea rooms.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

The north and south facades of the great Willis/Harrison & Harrison organ in Durham Cathedral. An entire week to play this glorious instrument - 4 Open Diapasons on the Great!