Wednesday, 28 February 2018

Including Music.

Everyone's Facebook pages (including mine) have pictures of snow today.  We didn't have any last year, and I do love to see it coming down, although I am not so keen on it lying in the streets for weeks on end.   



T and I haven't been out and about as much as usual, (although I've had some nice walks) because T. has managed to wrench his back. He's on the mend but he is being careful not to overdo things.   Actually I've enjoyed my own forays into the cold but colourful outdoors. A week or so ago I spotted these three fellas sitting on a dead tree, cawing in turn. 


Are they crows or ravens? I'm not enough of a birdwatcher to know - in fact, I think I did pretty well to spot them at all!   But I hope they are ravens, because I love the "Three Ravens" folksong, written down by (appropriately enough) Thomas Ravenscroft as long ago as 1611. This performance specially appeals to me, but the band, "Black Country Three" was active in the 1960s so I don't suppose I'll find any more of their singing.    



For birthdays and Christmas it's sometimes nice to have an outing - to a movie, a meal, a play, musical or opera or - well, anything really!    For Christmas I got tickets for  "Iolanthe" at the ENO.  It has only recently opened so we finally went and saw it the other day. I love Gilbert and Sullivan, although I know it's not for everyone. Gilbert's barbed wit of the 1880s often seems eerily topical even today, and Sullivan's music is so much fun. It's ironic really because apparently the poor man always yearned to be remembered as a serious religious composer, and not the entertaining guy who gave us this...



There have been four birthdays this month, two of them the twins -  I was pleased that my gift of a Spiderman umbrella went down well, as you see.  The party was fun but many of the guests were just as keen to play with the twins' toys.  That's one of the things I loved best at parties when I was little too - did you? 


I had a lovely surprise too. It arrived in the mail from Jeanie at  "The Marmelade Gypsy."  one of my favourite blogs. I was a prizewinner on her Blog Anniversary giveaway, and so a week or so a beautifully packaged item arrived in the post. 


Inside was a beautiful painting taken from a photo I posted from Miyajima island last year! 
It is nicely mounted in brown, and now I am on the lookout for a suitable frame.   Thank you so much Jeanie, it's lovely to have something so pretty and personal!  To me it makes the scene seem really magical in a way that a photo never could. 


The bulbs I planted last autumn have been coming up.  More crocuses - and my favourite variety, "Tricolour".  This was taken 3 days ago when the sun was shining and the bees were out, but I'm afraid the snow might have done for them now.  


I haven't been much at the computer - we've had workmen in and everything's very dusty so the best thing has been to sit in a nearby cafe and read a bit more than usual. I've just finished Edna O'Brien's "The Little Red Chairs" - a powerful, original and remarkable book, which I found extremely difficult to read at times.  It tells of what happens when an erudite and intriguing war criminal escapes to rural Ireland, and the village beauty, who longs for a baby, falls in love with him. 

If you think this sounds like a pleasing (though slightly challenging) read, you'd be wrong.   The relationship is glamorous and exciting in its way, and yet eventually we realise that the real story is  about different sorts of exile, and that some people are exiles from the human race.   

If I still wrote book reviews professionally, I'd have found it hard to produce an article about something as unusual and disturbing as "The Little Red Chairs."  Although it's so well written that I couldn't put it down, I began to feel in an odd way as if I was having to read it at gunpoint, unable to stop.  Alarming. Honestly.

If you'd like a proper review of it, click here and read what Julie Myerson wrote in "The Guardian."   



There's been quite a bit of music in this post, and so I should say that for the first time in all my years travelling on the London Underground, I saw a man busking with a didgeridoo.  It was a wonderful thing which appeared to be made out of a tree trunk.


I'd never thought I'd like didgeridoo music until I went to a concert by the virtuoso William Barton, and then I saw what this instrument can do. I was pleased to find a recording of him on Youtube so see if you agree with me that he is something special. 

66 comments:

  1. Oh my gosh, we had a lot of snow too, but thankfully we are now in a big melt down for now, anyway, until the next dumping! Don't you just love winter? Thanks for sharing the videos too! Your posts are always filled with such interesting things!

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  2. I saw at least part of a global temperature map yesterday, and it seemed that Europe was the only place experiencing colder than normal temperatures. We are setting warmth records hereabouts.

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    1. that is not much fun either. I am a moderate at heart!

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  3. I'd be game for the little red chairs if I can find a copy in the library. I've had occasion to feel exiled both from places and people. I can see why that might be a difficult read. Happy birthday to your beloveds and as one in the throes of a chronic back problem now, I empathize.

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    1. I also sympathise with you, I think it is true we don't always realise what a blessing it is if we are free of pain. The book is a harrowing read in some ways but very interesting too.

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  4. I am sure you are right Jenny that those are crows - ravens have a bigger beak and I always think look rather 'wicked' if you know what I mean.
    The twins are growing up so quickly, it hardly seems anytime at all since you were telling us that they were born.
    What a lovely, and very personal gift to have received from 'the marmalade gypsy'.

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    1. Yes, I have always been astonished at the size of the ravens at the Tower of London but the birds were rather a long way away at the time! I like the Three Ravens song better than the Twa Corbies one though :)

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  5. The didgeridoo is certainly unique, and i do enjoy listening for a while.

    it sounds like things have been very busy up your way, and i wish many happy returns of the day to all of your family who have celebrated recently!

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    1. Thanks! I was surprised at how long I could listen to William Barton when I heard him in concert but people had said it was surprisingly easy to get into the music and it was.

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  6. Glad you're getting out and about. Love the picture of Miyajima Island, isn't that the most wonderful place. What a kick to see a digeridoo played.

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    1. Quite amazing place, and although we had a day there we would like to return and explore more. It was sacred and "ordinary" folk were not allowed to set foot on it for many years, apparently.

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  7. Many interesting things in your post Jenny. William Barton is a great musician who we have seen perform with the symphony orchestra, and often hear him on the radio. Traditional dingeridoos are made from a suitably hollow piece of tree - termites eat out the centre. The maker knocks on the wood to find one with the appropriate resonance. And what an amazing prize to receive a painting taken from one of your lovely personal photos. You must be thrilled. Happy Birthday to the twins, and we are enjoying all the delightful snow photos coming in across the globe.

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    1. I thought that you might have heard William Barton. He came here on a tour a few years ago and we got the chance to hear him at Snape Maltings, a full sized world class concert hall in the middle of a reed bed. A tremendous setting for a great concert.

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  8. My brother-in-law could make music on almost any instrument. I never saw him at a loss, from a harp to a flute/sheepscrook. I gave hime a didgeridoo, and it took him some practice, but he bested it in the end, too.

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    1. Oh, what a gift! I wish I could do something like that, I am always very envious of people who can play jazz piano, which might be a similar sort of skill.

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  9. Funny that you had never come across a busker with a didgeridoo in all your years of using the underground, whereas I have seen at least two during the years I came to London frequently (my sister used to live in Denham for a year, and I had friends living in Erith)!
    My aunts in Yorkshire love Gilbert & Sullivan and go to performances in Harrogate every year. I must admit I'd love to go, too, but you don't find them in Germany - at least not in my area.
    Having to read a book at gunpoint does indeed sound alarming, but it describes very well the sensation we can get from a really well written story, one that pulls us in all the way.

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    1. Well, that IS strange! Maybe this busker usually frequents places I don't visit, and not a very large selection of them. (I guess it can't be that easy to heave around a tree trunk to outlying places!) Gilbert and Sullivan is one of those things people either love or hate, I am not too keen on ultra traditional performances but this was a really spectacular production which brought out all the fun.

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  10. First of all, your header photo is so beautiful. The temperature has warmed up (slightly) here in the TN boonies and no snow is in sight - but there's plenty of rain.

    I like ravens and crows but - admittedly - can't tell them apart. The trio of birds that you captured in the tree is wonderful! (I just did a very quick Google search and found out that ravens are bigger than crows - - but that didn't help me identify the birds that you photographed...)

    I really like the Three Ravens folk song - I haven't heard it before. I'm not too fond of Gilbert or Sullivan, but the production in your video clip looks delightful and I wouldn't mind seeing it!

    The Miyajima painting is lovely. What a nice surprise!

    I've never heard of didgeridoo music. Wow! That would frighten the crows away!

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    1. I am so glad you like the header picture, Jon. It was taken in very early morning in the frost, and was a great thing to see out of the kitchen window as I crept down in the freezing cold. Glad that your ice and snow has gone in TN, sounds quite alarming when you describe it in your blog sometimes. I am glad too that you like the Three Ravens song, it's such an old song that it is performed in all kinds of different ways.

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  11. Never before have I heard a didgeridoo. I loved it... listened to it tree times! Your posts are always so interesting.

    Thanks for your response to my last blog post, I left a reply about publishing if you care to have another look.

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    1. I'm glad you loved it and listened to it, always nice to find something new, isn't it? I returned to your blog and you will have seen my comment, I am sure you are right but your stories really are exceptionally good!

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    2. Another thing I remembered about publishing on Kindle.... the payment of tax. Joe being a CA he didn't like that idea. Your compliments are encouraging me to post more on the blog.

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  12. I’m sure your grandchildren are taking you out in this snow, Jenny - do hope you can keep warm enough.

    And aren’t paintings of photos very special? I have a picture from a photo of a fish market on a beach in Ecuador, painted by a good friend who shares my passion for cricket. So the painting is about her, and travelling, and Ecuador, and cricket! And I love it!

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    1. That's really nice, Jo, although sometimes I do frame photos they always look a little drab compared with the textures and colours of a proper painting.

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  13. Well a very musical post! What a beautiful package to receive but I think I'd be more excited to get a Spiderman umbrella myself. :D

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    1. You know I rather fell in love with it myself.... a bit small for me though :)

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  14. Oh Jenny! What a fun post -- loads of fun. I love the Raven song especially and the Iolanthe clip is terrific! The costumes look fabulous and I love the music. Sounds such fun!

    That photo of the bee in the crocus is a prize winner. You should submit that one somewhere. It's beautiful. So is your snow -- is that photo from your window? It is a pain to be in but oh so pretty coming down. I loved the birthday party pix. That playing with the presents by everyone else happened with our Baby Grand's too! Well, all had fun. The umbrella looks like a very big hit! And I am SO glad you liked the painting. I hope you can find a frame that fits but feel free to change the mat if you find one that works!

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    1. I am glad you like the bee photo, Jeanie. I hope the bees are going to survive this sudden bitter cold spell having been out and about. There is a beehive not far from us and I will go along and see when the weather improves... TBH I am not a fan of snow once I've admired and enjoyed the experience of the flakes coming down - and I DO rather like that, it's kind of Dickensian, isnt it? :) I don't think I commented on your baby grand party pix come to think of it even though I read it on your blog and admired your lovely painting of him.

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  15. Oh, I loved Three Ravens! Thank you so very much for the very generous help you sent me. If you would email me at fishhawk7@gmail.com, I would like to send you a copy of the Little Lost Leon eBook.

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    1. I'm so glad you liked the Three Ravens, Jerry. I've sent you an email and it was as ever a pleasure to read your blog so I am sure I will like Leon.

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  16. Great photos as always.
    I used to pack digeredoos while working in a warehouse nearby. They came from Indonesia wrapped in old newspapers (back pages full of English football) and were bought by folks to decorate their walls or by proper musicians of that ilk. I never attempted to play one.
    Do Ravens not have grayish heads?

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    1. If only you had had the chance to go on "What's My Line" I am sure there can't ever have been that many didgeridoo packers around in Britain!

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  17. Sad ballad to an amazing didgeridoo solo!
    Funny--the first thing I thought of when I saw the picture of the spiderman umbrella is that it is bad luck to open an umbrella inside. Is that only over here?

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    1. No, I have heard it but I don't think it applies to toy ones :)

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  18. Hope you're weathering the weather, Jenny. Enjoyed your post, as I always do. The Little Red Chairs sounds intriguing, I've never heard a didgeridoo played like that (amazing!) and everyone should have a Spiderman umbrella!

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    1. We've got better weather here than in many parts of the UK. My niece has been trying to get out of Nottingham! I think she's now found a train going to Birmingham but last I heard it was not moving. ...

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  19. I remember there being much more snow when I was a child. Snow is now so unusual that people aren't used to it and they blithely drive off somewhere without thinking they might get hopelessly stuck.

    As you say, that painting is much more evocative than a postcard. There's a sort of coldness and detachment about a postcard.

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    1. Hi Nick, this i,s the comment that disappeared, i found it in spam folder. Mysterious! I wonder if you see less snow now because NI has a milder climate than many parts of Britain?

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  20. Lovely post and photos
    The snow does look beautiful. Alas, to day it is very windy here with blowing icy snow.

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    1. Blowing and icy sounds like a bad combo!

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  21. Wonderful, beautiful and interesting post today. I can not see that well but I know Ravens have bigger beaks.
    What a wonderful gift, the painting is lovely and very special.
    I love the didgeridoo. Youngest Son has one and used to play it. I wish he would start it up again.

    cheers, parsnip

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    1. What a great choice of instrument, it seems to allow a lot of original interpretation. Was he living in Oz when he got the idea? Until i saw William B I had not realised its marvellous qualities.

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  22. I did post a comment, but it's vanished. This keeps happening to me on numerous blogs, I don't know what's going on. I like the painting. As you say it's more evocative than a photo, which is always a bit cold and detached compared to the reality.

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    1. It is a mystery why your comment should go into Spam but hopefully Blogger will fix that before long.

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  23. What a lovely post Jenny - thank you.
    I love your video offerings - so rich in their diversity (she wrote as she listened to the didgeridoo).
    Kind regards
    Anna :o]

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    1. I am glad you liked the 3 videos, i was a bit concerned I had too many but reassured by some nice comments.

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  24. Dear Jenny - Is this snow a part of Siberian cold wave which killed about 60 people in Europe? Living in Nara, I welcome snowfall as rare presents from the heaven, but four meters of snow (which I reported in my blog and you reacted) is catastrophe even if people there are used to amounts of snow. It is almost total destruction including isolation and houses destroyed by accumulated heavy snow on roof (if you don’t have heating system of the roof). I like your photo of the luminous bee in a crocus and the three ravens on their vantage point. Low angle made possible to make the tree look soaring into sky. The performance of the song, which sounds sentimental, is so nice. Though tone is quite different, it reminded me of a Japanese children’s song “Seven crow chicks” by association. Crows, now seen as nuisance in urban area, once had a place in people’s heart.

    Belated my wishes to your loved Twins another year of healthy growth. Like your February, there are three birthdays and one anniversary in my family in December, warming up the cold season with thanks and laughter. Wish T’s full recovery soon. Take care,

    Yoko

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    1. I thought I'd replied to this, and some of the other comments, I think perhaps I didn't scroll down far enough. But since there has been a delay in responding to your comment, I'm glad to say that the snow has gone and I don't believe we'll get any more. (I hope I'm not being over optimistic). We once had fairly heavy snow in April and it was quite beautiful with the blossoms and the snow, not unlike your latest post. Crows, like other scavengers, no longer have much use in cities, and in a way this is a shame, as they are particularly intelligent and interesting birds, if what I read is to be believed. Maybe people should start keeping them as pets. The warders at the Tower of London can get very attached to their ravens.

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  25. It looks like a heavy snow. Last week I read Public Health England had alerted people to cold spells in their website. Please take good care.

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    1. It was strange snow, it fell heavily but disappeared very quickly, without leaving too much ice. It was very powdery, too, unlike the normal snow we get there. So I guess it was a fluke.

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  26. A lovely post, Jenny. I do like to hear all your news. We too had snow but not as much as you. The Beast from the East sent the snow away but left us with a painful biting wind. A friend from Finland told me his son was visiting Amsterdam last week and found the harshness of the wind almost unbearable. I felt vindicated for complaining if a Finn found it too much! Anyway, enough of that, what a lovely prize you received and I love that spiderman umbrella. I would also love to see a didgeridoo played in the tube! The book by Edna O'Brian sounds compelling even if you found it disturbing. I love your crocus photo with the bee. I hope ours come up soon. So sorry T has hurt his back, though. Wishing him well!

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    1. The wind in Amsterdam really was biting but I thought that it was because I'd come expecting it to be damp and not very chilly, which is what the forecast had said when I packed. I suppose it wasn't very smart to go in December and hope for the best!

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  27. Absolutely Delightful post dear Jenny!!!

    I am glad that you like snow little bit and you just have it in your area.
    Snow is something which looks magical and appealing until it doesn't disturb the routines of life .
    And here comes the truth about saying that"balance is base of beauty"

    I always find crows sitting on dead trees and bare branches so poetic.

    Love the "three ravens"!
    Second video is so much fun to look at ,than you for making us part of your visit to such hilarious place!

    I still enjoy to have toys around me and though i can't play with them but touching them for moment takes me to my childhood where life was carefree and like a butterfly!

    thank you for sharing precious family photo my friend
    Happy birthday to little angles:) may they see many more springs in their lives ahead ,amen

    Never saw such musical instrument before ,
    incredible skills to play it .
    wishing you a happy safe ,healthy life dear.
    and yes the little red chairs sound really interesting book though little tough as if brilliant writer like you find it hard to display it in her review then it must be something extraordinary

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    1. Thank you Baili for your comment. I like toys too, it's fun to play with them with children even if they are not so interesting when I am on my own ! :) I am glad winter is on its way out and we will have better weather. I hope you have a good April too!

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  28. Oh, I love the didgeridoo. When I was working at a resort in Tropical North Queensland I hired David Hudson, who was then a well-known didgeridoo player not only in this state of Queensland, but throughout Australia...to play at the entrance to the foyer when a group of American tourists arrived at the resort. Back in the late 80s Hudson's brain child was the Tjapukai Dance Troupe. He was terrific.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Hudson_(musician)

    http://www.tjapukai.com.au/

    I've not heard of that particular Edna O'Brien book before...it sounds interesting.

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    1. Thank you, Lee. I am sorry I didn't respond before, I liked your comment and thought I had. Tjapukai looks wonderful. I looked at your links and I found a great youtube video showing those dancers. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3xGAyhrqndw

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  29. Brilliant post! It was certainly interesting to hear a didgeredoo in the train station!

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  30. Thank you for posting the link to the raven song - how beautiful! I like ravens and crows, but from that photo I couldn't say what they are. So let's just stick with ravens.
    I think I spy a Brio train in the birthday picture. My daughter had one when she was little and everybody liked to play with it, including the adults!
    Didgeridoo music is certainly not for everyone, but I do like its earthiness. This little piece is simply amazing.

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    1. Brio is wonderful. And it can just go on and on.... out of the door, along the corridor, into the next room....

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  31. I reckon those birds are probably jackdaws. We do have sometimes hundreds of corvids nesting in the trees behind our house! I still have to look twice sometimes to tell them apart though.

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    1. I would love to be able to distinguish birds from each other, but unless I'm trying to tell an ostrich from a flamingo or a wren, I usually get it wrong :)

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  32. Such an interesting post. We love G&S, and I walked down the aisle in 1975 to ‘Loudly Let the Trumpets Bray’ from Iolanthe; the wonderful fanfare section, not the peers exorting the lower middle classes to bow! There isn’ta You Tube clip of the piece played ona church organ unfortunately.

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    1. What a brilliant idea. It's perfect wedding music. Sullivan would have been pleased. I think he always felt he should be writing stuff to be played in churches...

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  33. I loved The Black Country Three music simply healing and relaxing your soul

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