What an enjoyable day we had today in Harlow! Emma picked me and Susi up from Crystal Palace station at 10.30 and drove us which was a welcome break as we spend much of our lives trains running around all over the place. An hour and a half of awful traffic later (Blackwall tunnel, as usual...) we arrived at St John's Arts and Recreation Centre. Somehow Emmas little baby which was sat beside me all the way managed to stay asleep for the whole journey. I remain thoroughly jealous of this extra lie in on her part!
As if the warm non-draughty-modern-converted-church-arts-centre wasn't enough, on our arrival we were offered coffee and a choice of two soups: tomato, lentil and carrot or celeriac and leek. It immediately went up in my estimations and obviously I started formulating various plans about how we might secure further engagements there on the basis of free food. I love free food..especially nice free food! It can vary massively as to whether you get that kind of treatment at recitals but makes it all the more worthwhile when you do!
We played a programme of Mozart, Ibert, Shostakovich, Francaix and Rossini to a very friendly and engaging audience of about 80 people who clearly love going to the variety of concerts that take place there each monday. What was so humbling was that they thought it was amazing that we would go out to play in "such a small little place" as one of them said- equally I think it's amazing that people would want to come along and hear you play when they don't know anything about you as a group-such is their trust in the institution and people that book the ensembles in the first place. In a world where so much music is taken for granted, when it can be produced at the click of a button, when you play lots of similar repertoire week in week out in a variety of different places it's easy to forget that it is a treat for people to hear live music. Seeing how much the audience enjoyed our performance really left me feeling even more than ever that what we do is a truly valuable thing that many people cherish and look forward to.