The Portlaoise lunchtime concerts have grown. People thank me for brightening up lunchtime as if I were some sort of philanthropist. Little do they know me! The truth is, of course, that I started the concerts last year for my benefit, to get a bit of culcha. They have the added value of bringing a bit more music to a town that in some respects needs it. They get people into the church-—and this is a good thing, for there are still some out there who haven’t quite lost the notion that they might go to hell if they come in. And they raise a bit of money for the Hospice, Dunamaise Arts Centre and the church. But first and foremost they revive my sometimes drooping spirit!
This summer we’ve had some spectacular performers: organ, violin and cello were lovely, trumpet and organ were thrilling, ladies close harmony was charming, organ-alone concerts have been refreshing, and today’s Midlands Concert Orchestra was terrific. There were about 80 people there. Toe-tapping tunes. You could see people’s bodies moving to the beat of Dvorak, Bizet, Offenbach, Lennon/McCartney, and marches from the movies. Organ music has featured most, not surprising given my background and contacts, but then St Peter’s has an organ that sounds well and is good to play.
Visiting musicians comment on the lovely church and its sense of intimacy, the brightness of the place, and an acoustic that gives a bit of bloom to the sound. And, I hope, the welcome. It’s particularly good to have young players, and several have said how much they value the experience of giving a public performance. For organists in particular, it’s gratifying to play music that people actually listen to, rather than merely talk over. There’s plenty of talent about, and it’s great that people are willing to come to St Peter’s.
It’s a truth universally acknowledged that if you please yourself, then some others will be pleased with you. Here’s to the rest of the 2013 season.