Tuesday, 12 April 2016

Experienced Musicians and Enthusiastic film-makers: Harmoniemusik and BFI scholarship films

On Feb 19 I heard the talented wind quintet Harmoniemusik play in Queen Square; on Feb 20 I saw five films made by teenagers on a BFI scholarship course. The two events were a fine contrast with the musicians being experienced and confident and the teens enthusiastic and able to tackle difficult subjects with insight and enthusiasm.

The concert was given by my friends the Harmoniemusik wind band and Sarah Devonald plays the oboe for them. This year the winter concert was in the Greek church of St George the martyr, Queen Square. The interesting programme had a wide range of music including Hungarian dances by Farkas, a trio by Bruch, Suite Bourgeoise (Arnold) Rossini’s quartet and Roussel’s divertissement. I felt that I was listening to six people who knew each other well and brought out the best in each other’s performance. They each introduced each piece to the audience with enthusiasm, keen that we should all share their enjoyment. They have now been playing together for 25 years. I am proud to have on that journey as an audience member. The winter concert is followed by a party in Alec Forshaw’s Georgian house in Great Ormond St and I always meet interesting people there. This year I met a Hungarian artist and her German scientist husband.

The next morning was a contrast. Tamsin Rose-Palmer (Amber’s daughter) had been on a BFI documentary film academy. Forty 17-19 year-olds stayed in Debden under the guidance of BFI tutors and made documentaries in teams. They also had master classes from experts and in Simon Chinn’s class they held his Oscar statuette (or directing Sugarman) and took selfies. The week ended with a private screening of the films at Rich Mix cinema. Tamsin was in a team making a film called “Vacant” about homeless people and interviewed John Stephenson (Founder Big Issue) and put forward a clear argument that vacant houses should be opened up to ease the homeless problem. They also interviewed a hostel manager and a young Kurdish refugee showing his route into homelessness. The other films were also impressive, one on people working in care homes had beautiful close up photos of old people in care, another told the life of a punk street artist who works by lying on a bed of nails in in Trafalgar square, another was about gender identity and had interviews with two young trans people in Islington. The final film was called “25” and was about 17 year-old twins who had been born at 25 weeks; one with cerebral palsy, one able bodied and explored their different abilities and the intense relationship that bound them. All these were just 10 min pieces but all done to an impressively high standard. As Tamsin’s relative I experienced the pride and partisanship of being a parent.

Later on I reflected that this had been a fine 24 hours with two contrasting experiences, the experienced confident group and the young energetic group. I felt proud to be part of both events. A Jewish friend tells me that there is a word for this pride “ nachas”


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