For many years, in a different lifetime, Good Friday was the day on which Jill and I would schlep to Birmingham's magnificent Symphony Hall to see and hear this combination of religious mass and secular opera performed by the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, with Willard White (now Sir Willlard White) as Christus. The sheer brilliance of the CBSO, rigorously rehearsed by Simon Rattle (now Sir Simon Rattle), the superb acoustics of the hall itself, and the power of the Symphony Hall organ (featuring a couple of pipes donated by everysmith – a different lifetime indeed!) made these afternoons among the highlights of my extensive experience of live music: right up there with Dylan in 1966, Kyril Kondrashin and the Leningrad Philharmonic in 1971 and the the Dead in 1972.
So when it was announced that the Armonico Consort & Baroque Orchestra directed by Christopher Monks was to perform the Passion on period instruments and that Ian Bostridge was to sing the role of evangelist, there was no doubt where we would be between 3pm and 6pm. We were not disappointed. Fortified with a glass of indifferent Chilean Merlot, we were transfixed - is that the right word for a performance of the Passion? – by an extraordinary performance, closer to what one suspects was the original sound than the power and magnificence of those Symphony Hall concerts.
Not necessarily better, but different in kind, in style, in its religiosity.
It was a wonderful experience, although stressful in the extreme. Only the goals and the final whistle provided exhilaration. But we did it. And the joy in the City half of the ground – rather more than half actually – was palpable.
Owners SISU have destroyed the club, in the search for mammon, but Sunday showed that there is still a Coventry City Football Club and it exists in the hearts and minds of those players and those 43,000 fans.
It’s a broad church and its breadth and depth will not be diminished nor destroyed by a hedge fund.
My special commemorative scarf has been passed to my grandson, who wears it with pride. He’s only 6. But quasi cursores vitae lampada tradunt.
Today from the everysmith vaults: A show from last year, at Asbury Park NJ, featuring members of the Dead and Airplane families, including children of the original bands. Another wonderful example of the torch being passed.