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The excellent Oakham Citra again. This time in Boot's no. 2. (now The Embankment), after an interesting evening in the Royal Concert Hall listening to the Britten Shostakovich Festival Orchestra and starring Edward and Freddie Fox.

I found the antics of the conductor a little off putting but the music was very good. I do wonder how effective these exaggerated bodily expressions actually are as it seemed that the first violin hardly ever glanced at the conductor's baton during the performance. Perhaps she had seen it all at rehearsal and his exertions were now for the benefit of the audience.

The Foxes were not good. I'm not sure why they were recruited to do the readings, their presence did not seem to have been advertised and I suspect they would have been expensive.

Using mics for the readings emphasised the poor delivery and rather hammy performances. Edward was already coming off as the worser of the two as the microphone emphasised his sibilance and exagerated the plosives when he took the biscuit by loosing his place. He started reading the wrong line, then when he realised what he had done he backed up to the correct line, took a run at it and repeated the one he'd almost finished.

Freddie seemed to resonate everything in his nose and upper palate and gave a disappointingly poor rendition of Hamlet's soliloquy.

I was sorry to note that there was not a single black face in the orchestra and only one in the auditorium. Now I had two free tickets as a result of an offer I'd become aware of through the U3A. I cannot believe that had the same offer been made through black and Asian organisations that some small impact could not have been made on that worrying stat. It would have been hard to drag my boy along to such an exclusively white event.

I also know that I could have done a better job of those readings myself and so I am confident that the roles could have been filled by almost anyone with some strength and timbre to their voices coupled with the ability to read. Few I think would need microphones either.

With a little effort most, if not all, of the lines could have been learned, enabling the readers to avoid Freddie's dilemma of continually wondering whether to look down at the text or up at the microphone.

The opportunity to have ethnic minority participation in both the presentation and reception of the performance was awfully missed.

Still the audience cheered the Foxes to the rafters and I might have suspected my assessment wrong had the lady next to me not leaned across and shared her admirable views as to the paucity of their efforts. It did rather seem that the audience was cheering the performers rather than the performance.

I wasn't at all sure about the electronic canon noises in the 1812, not so much because they didn't sound quite right but because they felt like cheating. Otherwise, except for the poor chap with the clapper sticks who started his strokes on time only to have them complete milliseconds behind the rest of the percussion, the music was excellent and the beauty of the solo violinist's performance was only matched by the shimmering of her stunning sequinned dress.

Not at all sure why FB thinks the photograph was at Croyde beach, it wasn't, not unless the Royal Concert Hall has become a Tardis, which is a rather grand thought isn't it?

"Yes", said Max, "I'm sure it is, perhaps you can sell the film rights."

"Your right Max, I could be missing a trick there."

"Good grief", said Max, "What have I started? Do you think you could commence that particular task after my walk? It is now getting rather late."

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