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It’s a dwindling band; old-fashioned and of a certain age, you can pick us out at funerals and memorial services because we can sing the hymns without the book.
Alan Bennett writes: In 2001 the Medici Quartet commissioned the composer George Fenton to write them a piece commemorating their thirtieth anniversary. George Fenton appeared in my play Forty Years On and has written music for many of my plays since, and he asked me to collaborate on the commission. Hymn was the result. First performed at the Harrogate Festival in August 2001, it’s a series of memoirs with music. Besides purely instrumental passages for the quartet, many of the speeches are under-scored, incorporating some of the hymns and music I remember from my childhood and youth. The text includes both words and music.
Hymn is coupled with Cocktail Sticks, an oratorio without music that revisits some of the themes and conversations of Alan Bennett’s memoir A Life Like Other People’s. A son talks to his dead father as his mother yearns for a different life. It’s funny, tender and sad.
The pinnacle of my social life is a scrutty bit of lettuce and tomato and some tinned salmon. Mind you, I read in Ideal Home that if you mix tinned salmon with this soft cheese you can make it into one of those moussy things. Shove a bit of lemon on it and it looks really classy.
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Is it appropriation to invent a voice – or is it an act of empathy?