Tuesday, July 31, 2012

NZ Symphony Orchestra under threat of closure

Axing the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra is one of four options being put forward in the face of falling ticket sales for performances.
The Culture and Heritage Ministry today released a new discussion paper looking at the future of orchestras in New Zealand, amid concerns that falling ticket sales and rising Government funding were making the sector unsustainable.
New Zealand has four regional orchestras, in Wellington, Auckland, Christchurch and Southland, as well the national touring orchestra.
Once closed down the NZSO it will be nearly impossible to resurrect this world class orchestra so the NZ government has to think carefully over this one. 

Everyone in the music industry is suffering today but some of the pain that orchestras are now suffering is self inflicted. Over the years orchestras have not been very thoughtful to others and now the sympathy that orchestral players expect is not forth coming.

As an artist and a producer and director I have a love/hate relationship with orchestras as organisations. In my experience they have not been easy. When it comes to money and treatment orchestras, like tenors are prima donnas. In my time everything was done to placate them for they could and did make life difficult and expensive for other artists.

In the past musicians and record companies had it all they own way. They got and demanded huge fees making it impossible for many other artistic disciplines to use them. It meant that many operas and ballets could not and are still not be shown on TV or DVD as the orchestral fees demanded were far in excess of the income.generated Consequently opera & ballet and classical music did not and still does not get promoted and many artists have had their brilliant performances lost to posterity. 

At charity concerts when other artists forgo their fees orchestras's get paid!  As Gilbert of G&S once replied after being asked to donate his the royalty for a charity concert. If the orchestra gets paid I get paid! Orchestra's do not do charity unless for themselves. 

Because of cost singers get only one rehearsal with an orchestra. If singers sing with the orchestra the orchestra gets more money consequently singers just have to sit and listen. This does not improve performances.

Orchestra's are good at downing instruments and leaving if rehearsal time overruns or demand overtime. This does nothing to help get good performances either. Orchestras are within their rights but for others who have to suffer this appears unreasonable. Sometimes the singer will sing for the first time with the orchestra on their first night. It wouldn't have hurt them. If others behaved like this nothing would get on.

Orchestras usually get paid more than performing artists too and on a regular basis. I never got paid as well as the orchestra although many West End shows relied on my performance. These musicians who were well paid often used substitutes  so they could take other work and on those days the orchestra sounded awful and the show and our jobs suffered as the orchestra sounded appalling. Shows relie on word of mouth!

The present copyright regime bought in by USA to protect Micky Mouse stifles creativity. Having to wait 70+ years  for re-interpretation is too long so new up to date versions of hits of the recent past miss out on promotion and will be forgotten. 

I used to hate dealing with orchestral musicians as a bunch both as a performer and a producer. I recall once trying to employ the NSO when instead of seeing the General  Manager I was given five minutes of the Concert Manager's time where he insisted on showing off his digital watch. As this interview had been arranged by Radio NZ I do not know was the most embarrassed. Point being is orchestra's then were prima donnas and instead of being helpful appeared self satisfied and greedy and prepared to put a woman in her place. Anyone prepared to employ an orchestra should be taken seriously. I made do with recored music and later digitized music. Digitized music which is now so good and so cheap too by comparison. 

So is recorded music. In Sydney I attended the Australian Ballet with orchestra, In the third ballet I thought the orchestra was playing, mush better than in the previous ballets so I glanced down to see an empty pit. The orchestra had gone home after the first two ballets! The  recorded sound was so good.

Lastly it is a pity that orchestral musicians do not appear happier when playing instruments at concerts. Usually they look bored stiff as if they would rather be somewhere else!  On tour they grumbled constantly in spite of having paid for weeks off while we artists had no pay for that week just the fare to the next town.

But that is a minor quibble. I should hate to see the NZSO go!

Saturday, July 28, 2012

The Queen & The Olympics We are not amused

The photo above seems to say it all. Her Majesty appeared to be definitely Not amused.  She seems to be thinking how on earth did I let myself be talked into this? and in fact one wonders how she was?

I found the James Bond section embarrassing. I seem to be alone in this as the British Press and comments are all rapturous on the subject. I felt the sequence made the Queen look like Dame Edna Everage and although not a tremendous fan of the Royal Family I felt sorry for her. She must have hated it. You can see it written all over her face.

The British Press appears to have given the Opening Ceremony a 5 star rating and so who am I to disagree. I am well past my sell by date and in truth the Great Britain of my youth has long since vanished into the distance past so I can hardly comment.

This sort of ceremony must be a nightmare to produce and a poisoned chalice to the producer. Not everyone will like it. I thought it was like the curate's egg good in parts.  I loved the Abide with me sequence and the lighting of the cauldron. Very inventive and spectacular but I am not into rock and roll.

I do not get Mr Bean and I thought the Bond Sequence in  questionable taste.

I did enjoy 1948 better. It had a simplicity of purpose that I still think more appropriate and moving. The cost was minimal and the impact was stunning. It felt like an Olympic Games. The world athletes were the major attraction. The King was dignified. The massed pigeons  and massed bands were unforgettable.

Beijing was a difficult act to follow and London's ceremony was certainly different. Beijing was so expensive that London could have got away with a simple ceremony. I think most countries would be relieved at not having to copy the extravagance.

 I can't pretend I wasn't a bit disappointed that many things Britain does so well were not included but at least it did not rain!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Big Ben Olympic Style. NZ Style Work of Art

Commissioned by the London 2012 Festival, Turner Prize-winning artist Martin Creed has developed a collaborative artwork that will enable people throughout Britain to welcome the Olympic Games and those participating in it to the country. At 8.12am on July 27, members of the public are invited to ring any type of bell available to join a chorus of thousands of others in expressing their enthusiasm for the Games. Telegraph

Ben Ben has chimed 40 times to welcome in the London Olympics. 

Being English and proud of it I am doing my bit here in Auckland New Zealand to welcome the 2012 Olympic Games.  I love works of art, the quirkier the better.

The neighbours who think I am eccentric anyway will now think I am MAD!

I may not have a Big Ben but I do have a working Angelus Bell. I still recall the sound. Everything stopped at my convent school for the Angelus. I have completely forgotten the ritual but I know it included a few Hail Mary's and was a welcome break in a maths lesson.

I stood on the veranda for the three minutes. I don't think anybody heard but there were just two passers by who did give a glance but I enjoyed it.

As I attended the Opening Ceremony at Wembley in 1948 this is the least I can do. 

Tally Ho! Let Battle commence!

Modern Music really does all sound the Same

The scepticism about modern music shared by many middle-aged fans has been vindicated by a study of half a century's worth of pop music, which found that today's hits really do all sound the same. Nick Collins, Science writer, DT
And nothing in 3/4... that's a waltz to anyone under twenty! I could not understand why none of my loops in Garageband were available and neither could the Apple tec. We were on it all day and eventually gave up. That night I changed from 3/4 time signature to 4/4 and bingo all the loops arrived back. Very poor selection of loops in minor keys too! Don't think today's music does minor either.

Mozart, Mahler or Beethoven  have no need to worry. They knew how to write a good tune and they are safely out of copyright which means their music will get played unlike the present lot which won't and will be consigned to oblivion. 

You can do brilliant things with Garageband. For fun I wrote out the complete orchestration of September, one of the Four Last Songs by Richard Strauss. 

I hadn't realized that the 1600 bar four minute song is one of the richest orchestrations ever written. Every bar is different. My feat is more amazing as being a singer  I do not play an instrument. However I do have a bit of theory. I should have paid attention in harmony class. 

Played over good speakers the transcription was a revelation. I sang it quite well too. You never hear it like this is a concert hall or recording because it is just too difficult to play. The first bars of cascading violins must be a conductor's nightmare! How does one get them together?

For the first time I could hear the showers of rain, the bees and the cuckoo at the start but as winter approaches the huge orchestration descends to a single French Horn.

Sadly no one can hear this! Yet! The copyright on Strauss's work is so strong that it is forbidden. The price required is just too high for me. Boosey and Hawkes informed me that they considered it my arrangement although every note is as Strauss wrote it.

Under copyright law MY arrangement will be under MY copyright so I suppose if Boosey & Hawkes is correct as MY arrangement is exactly the same as Richard Strauss's I shall own the publishing rights of September for the next 70 years. What a paradox!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

The USA love affair with Guns

What is it with the USA citizens and guns? I heard with horror this morning that children of the age of eight are given firearms on their eighth birthday!

Not only that but the guns are pink for little girls! No wonder the USA has a problem.

Over the weekend 3000 USA citizens were cleared to buy guns. It is scary to think that nearly every citizen you see on the USA streets or in the supermarket has a deadly weapon JIC (just in case). WHY?

The pink rifle above is 100% legal and is on sale in the USA. Can you believe it?

On the BBC's World Have Your Say this morning a USA woman proudly told how she gave not only this but a selection of guns to her young eight year old daughter as if it were a bag of jelly babies. The mother could see nothing wrong with this. The gun lobby can see nothing wrong with this. The gun lobby thinks owning a gun  makes USA safer. It certainly makes the gun manufactures richer

Words defeat me. No wonder the USA has a problem.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Olympics Why are the Brits so negative?

Why are the Brits so negative about the Olympics? 
Last night in NZ I just watched a TV Documentary on the achievements of building the Olympic Park. It was a magnificent. I was so impressed. 
The tunnels for the electric cables, the downsizing stadium, the tennis racket roofs, the land scape, the use of rail, the waterways, the soil clean up, the incredible swimming pool,  all this is a tremendous feat. The site was ready two years in advance unlike many Olympic venues. That in itself is a feat. You wait until Rio!
Yet all the rest of the world hears about are grumbles about a few queues at airports, a lack of security staff and threatened strikes by selfish immigration staff who ought to be ashamed of themselves on this occasion by taking advantage and acting as spoilsports. This does nothing for UK's overseas image and negates all the successes.
With an event of this magnitude something is bound to go wrong, this time security is the culprit. Fortunately you have an  army so why not use it when needed? That is what it is there for. Better than a war any day!
As  child I went to the Opening Ceremony in 1948. There were grumbles then too! Appalling weather, not enough medals, not enough audience but it was an event I have never forgotten. I was four.
The building of the Olympic Park is a brilliant showcase of what the British can do and that alone deserves a gold medal. If I had a stadium to build I'd give the contract to the Brits!
So stop shooting yourselves in the foot. The British workers have shown on this project they are industrious, creative and hard working given the chance. This achievement is something of which to be proud.
Now get on with it and enjoy it. It is only a couple of weeks!

Monday, July 23, 2012

The Worst Journey in the World Cherry Gerrad

© Peter Hargreaves mmxii

This wonderful photograph of the Emperor Penguins was discovered on Facebook and was taken by Peter Hargreaves.

I have alway loved the Emperor Penguin ever since I read the book The Worst Journey in the World by Apsley Cherry Gerrard who was part of the 1910-1913 British Antarctic Expedition led by Robert Falcon Scott.

It tells of extreme hardship and the meaning of human suffering under extreme conditions. The text is very hard to read as it describes the horrendous journey and the disastrous outcome in great detail. One can almost live every horrible step.

The scientific reason was to collect the eggs of the Emperor Penguin to study the embryos. This could only be done in the polar winter so the whole journey was undertaken in the worst of possible weather. The trip nearly killed them.

For me the most poignant moment in the whole book was the last chapter when Cherry-Gerrard takes the precious eggs to the Natural History Museum. In the time that they had been away science had moved on and nobody cared a jot about Cherry-Gerrard or the eggs. They did not want to know.

He arrived at 10 am to be told to leave the eggs on receptionist's desk. Considering these eggs had nearly cost him his life Cherry Gerrard was a trifle annoyed. He refused to leave them without talking to someone and had to suffer the indignity of having to wait i the entrance hall until late afternoon when somebody in authority could be found to receive them.  Even then the recipient was cold and unwelcoming.

How often have most of us had the experience of the smirk and distain of an unobliging secretary who protects his/her boss! The BBC variety used to be awfully good at this. Scared me stiff!

That somebody never realized that his rudeness and lack of empathy would be immortalized in this amazing book.

Whenever I see an Emperor Penguin I think of him. It may have been a useless journey scientifically but it is a wonderful example of just how courageous and brave humans can be. Cherry Gerrard's book is his gift to posterity. Everyone should read it.

The Beautiful Miller Maid Chapter 3 Halt by the Brook Part 2

The following is part of the opening chapters of a novel I have written based on my youthful experiences. It is based on Schubert's song cycle Die Schöne Müllerin which tells the tale of a young miller who falls in love. You can find the earlier chapters on this blog. One day I'll put the whole thing up as a iBook.

The Beautiful Miller Maid
Chapter 3 Halt by the Brook part 2

Tring retired to the tiny kitchen and King continued to talk to this fascinating young lady. He had never spoken to a young pubescent girl before. This was a first for him. King felt strangely drawn to her. He wanted to know all about her and the time flew. Eventually he thought the time had arrived for her to sing. Actually he was dreading it as he was so afraid that she would not be able to mange the part and he would be left Phebe-less. He knew without a young Phebe his Ghosts would remain on the shelf. Fortunately the potential Phebe was totally in the dark about this.

The baby grand was by the wall and almost filled the tiny room. Simon placed her on his left side and she was right against the wall and up beside his ear. There was not room to swat a fly.

“Now give me the score!” he demanded.

“I am awfully sorry but I don’t have any music. Miss Salmon did not give me one”.

“Look I am awfully sorry Antoinette but although I write this stuff I can only play it from music!” said an exasperated King. “Tring!”

The next quarter of an hour was taken up with a hilarious search of the flat by the two bachelors until eventually by luck one was found.

The moment now could not be put off any longer and Antoinette started to sing the difficult little lullaby that Phebe sings to her doll. The moment Antoinette started to sing it was as if they were still lost again in the dream on the stage at Churston.

She sang it beautifully, dead in time dead in tune he couldn’t believe his luck. King looked at her seriously straight into her eyes.

"Well you can manage that!" was all he said. No notes, no "this could be taken faster" just "Well I think you can manage that."

“How many rehearsals did you have to learn this?” he enquired “And when was your last practice?”

“Three hours only. The last was about ten days ago”

“Pansy is a devil” he thought. “Gosh this child is clever.”

“Let’s do it again!” There was no need to ‘Do it again!” as she had sung it perfectly. For the television it was not necessary for her voice to fill a two thousand-seater theatre if she could do The Anger Quartet she would be perfect but he wanted her to “do it again” simply because he had enjoyed the experience of singing with a young girl standing close to his ear. He found the soft feel of her body up so close exceptionally comforting and to his surprise enjoyable. He had never felt like this before.

He found he enjoyed playing and making music with her and this would be his only chance. The lullaby had never sounded so good. He never went to rehearsals and he could never ever ask her, a young girl to come to his flat again. So it was now or never.

She was so near and he could feel her soft breath on the back of his neck. It was so sexy. He discovered he loved to hear her soft female voice in his ear. It made him want to kiss her. He loved the smell of her. She was slightly sweaty as she had been dancing all day but he found her smell so enticing. He never, never felt like this with Tring! Tring was kept on the other side of the piano but how nice it was to have someone close beside you blowing softly in one’s ear. Like a cat purring on your shoulder saying “I love you! Unconditionally, Love me” in your ear.

King made the audition last as long as he could. He went through “the Anger” aria twice and she just told him the top ‘A’ was too high. “I just cannot sing it. I have a light voice but not a high voice. Please you said you would re write to make it easier for me”.

“I did indeed, but you can sing this. Phebe although a child is an old, old woman, so my writing is for an old woman but it is so effective if you could sing it as is.” Also King knew re orchestration was expensive and it would put the oboe into a difficult key.

Again she was perfect and he offered not one word of advice or correction. King knew he had found his Phebe but he was not going to tell her just yet.

He did not want her to go.  None of his little boys had been able to talk to me like this as an equal. He talked and talked about music and Devon about the poems of Thomas Hardy which she was studying. He even got her to recite one but by half past nine a 15 year old Antoinette really had to go. He took both her hands and squeezed with feeling as if to say once again thank you.

“I enjoyed our evening making music together. Tring is right ! You should learn “Die Schöne Müllerin”. If you do we could sing it together for fun.”

“I’ll do my best Mr. King. I cannot promise. I have to take my intermediate ballet exam next month and my GCE’s.” With that Antoinette put on her school hat and the pretty Miller’s maid said goodnight to the two bachelors walked the mile in the of late night to the tube station and went home to Hillingdon. She arrived at eleven o’clock and her parents did not bat an eyelid.

But that night a15 year old Antoinette too felt that something special had happened. She too felt close to Simon and had fallen under his spell. To be honest for once Simon had not done this deliberately as he had planned originally as he really, really needed a young Phebe. He genuinely liked and admired her as a colleague but she was just15 and a child, a pretty little ballet dancer with a small but accurate voice and at the moment extremely useful so must be cultivated. No Phebe no TV Ghosts and that meant a lot to him.

Tring was amused and went around humming “Die Schöne Müllerin” and from that moment Antoinette’s nickname became “Die Schöne Müllerin” between themselves, although the rest of the entourage eventually called her Phebe. It was the start of a strange menage a trios that would lead to tragedy like the song cycle.

For the next few years Antoinette was not to feature in Mr. Tring’s life and he hardly gave her another thought although Pansy Salmon did.

Simon King was just relieved to have found a young Phebe. He felt sure he had done enough to entice Miss Miller to accept the role and from then on took little interest. "If that concert is anything to go by she will be fine but perhaps I’ll put her on the Xmas card list" and Miss Miller almost became a ghost!

Thank you all for reading this 'trail'. The response has encouraged me to try to make an iBook! Then for a few dollars you can find out what happened.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Agatha Christie and the Brixham Horticultural Show

When I was eleven years old I had the good fortune to have two maiden aunts who lived in Brixham. In 1954 Brixham was a cute, unspoiled fishing village on the other side of the bay from Torquay. It was heaven and I and my cousins spent the summer holidays there.

In those days Brixham was small and everyone knew everyone. The fisherman were real fishermen and Brixham was a working fishing port with a real fish market every morning. Most of the houses were falling down including my aunts and housed fisherman and the gardens if they had one were tiny. 

So it was with great interest that I watched a TV documentary on Agatha Christie's beautiful house and garden on the road to Dartmouth. There is no doubt that Mrs Mallowan as she was known by the locals, was the town's illusive celebrity but no one ever saw her.

Every year Brixham held a small horticultural show in the local village hall.  There was great competition for the prizes but when Mrs Mallowan arrived on the scene in the late forties everything changed. Nobody in Brixham won anything ever again simply because  the Mallowans were rich enough to afford gardeners and greenhouses and in fact ran a commercial enterprise.

That this was blatantly unfair and not being in the spirit of the thing never entered the heads of the Mallowans. Year after year the Mallowans won every section they entered and they entered everything from large carrots to flower arranging. It was so unfair but the Mallowans did not seem to realise.  Their advantages and skilled gardeners  could be likened to a Wimbledon tennis champion entering the local Brixham tennis tournament and playing at Grand Slam standard. No surprise who would win and seeing no difficulty in doing this year after year. Naturally there were grumbles all around. Agatha Christie was not popular with the locals.

Eventually in about 1960 the Mallowans must have got the message that all was not well with their selfishness. This still did not deter them from entering and winning all the prizes but they donated a cup for all those who did not employ a gardener for more than 2 hours a week. This cup became the true competition.

It was nostalgic to see this presented in the documentary on Agatha's magnificent garden, which has been gifted to The National Trust. It was just as I remembered it.

What did surprise me was the way this minor horitcutural event was portrayed in the documentary. It was made to sound The horticultural event of the year, second only to Chelsea. The winning of all the prizes was an incredible feat comparing in stature to a Chelsea gold medal. The fact there was no competition at all seemed to illude the presenters. The presentation of a special Agatha Christie Cup after nine years of total domination was made to sound generous.

The Mallowans should never have entered this competition. They should have entered Chelsea. If they had won that they would have had cause to crow about it but beating a few fisherman and crowing about it is frankly not British.

They did not even come to collect their trophies  They lived the unreal lives of the characters in her novels in real life and apparently saw nothing wrong in depriving the fisherman of their small pleasures for their greater glory. 

Murder at the Flower Show could easily have been real with the whole of Brixham as suspects.

The Beautiful Miller Maid by Janette Miller Chapter 3 Halt by the Brook part 1

The following is part of the opening chapters of a novel I have written based on my youthful experiences. It is based on Schubert's song cycle Die Schöne Müllerin which tells the tale of a young miller who falls in love. You can find the earlier chapters on this blog. One day I'll put the whole thing up as a iBook.

The Beautiful Miller Maid by Janette Miller
Chapter 3 Halt by the Brook Part 1

 “I think she will do for Phebe” said Simon. “I’ll get Louis Crick to write to her school. I’ll get Pansy to teach her the two little arias and see if she is up to it. I’ll tell her school I am prepared to rewrite.”

“Do what you like” said a disinterested Tring “but I shall never sing Rawlings again even for British Television” and Tring lost interest. It was now another rival that took up the cudgels against Antoinette who was in the future to prove deadly.

Pansy Salmon was duly instructed to teach Antoinette the fiendishly difficult little aria that Phebe sings to her doll. Pansy by now was completely jealous. Her best friend had played the first Phebe and it seemed inconceivable that this chit of a girl with no musical background should usurp the role. Pansy’s strategy was masterly inactivity, just three one hour sessions and no score to the applicant.

“That should put paid to her chances” thought Pansy who was a first class unmarried bitch.

November came and the  BBC decided to do The Ghosts so it became imperative to see if Antoinette was up to it. It was arranged that she should come to Simon’s flat in Swiss Cottage at 5 pm on a dark cold night in November and sing for him. He forgot and it was around about six o’clock when he and Tring arrived in the dark at their London “pad”.

The flats on the second floor had a flight of steps leading up to it. The entrance was forbidding. It was of the hideous red brick Edwardian era and resembled  the blocks of council flats in the next suburb. The flats also had the sort of lights that turn themselves off when not needed to save electricity and when the happy party pushed the button and turned on the lights they were in for the shock of their lives. There was a young schoolgirl in full uniform sitting on the door step of their flat who was overjoyed to see them.

“I’m awfully sorry” said Simon, “How long have you been here? We were delayed.”

The child very composed stood up and said “Since five. The lights went out and I had no idea where I was. I was afraid to move for fear of falling down the stairs. I have never seen this type of light before.

My chaperone just bought me here and dumped me. I mean you were supposed to be here at 5 pm. Then all the lights in the passage went out and I was stuck. I mean you are sort of on the second floor and I have only been here once.”

Antoinette sound like a very young and “Not amused” Queen Victoria. It was hard to say who was the most embarrassed, Antoinette or the naughty and rude grown men who ought to have known better. Actually her school should have known better! Taking a child to a man's flat and then leaving her alone on the doorstep would not be allowed today!

Antoinette was ushered in to the tiny and to her disappointing flat of the major English Opera composer. It was small, dark, dingy and depressing and she felt unworthy of so great a man. Tring was dispatched to make tea.

“Indian or China” he called out in his upper middle class voice. This would be enough to intimidate any working class or lower middle class child as he well knew but he was greeted with the words.

“Russian, please but if you have no lemon china will do!" came the confident reply.

Simon could not help laughing. He knew exactly what Tring was up too. Putting Antoinette in her place! There was no lemon!

For the first time Simon decided he better get to know this young girl a little better so he sat down and started to ask her a few questions. He did this with his little boy friends all the time. Cars and aeroplanes were his usual openers but here was a little girl. King was at a bit of a loss and then he remembered that Antoinette had seen his disastrous production of“Henry VIII” at the Royal Opera House so he asked her about that.

He discovered she was a little ballet dancer who had worked at The Royal Opera House, Covent Garden since the age of twelve in the ballets and consequently had had an almost impeccable musical education. That is why she knew all his ballet music so well. It seemed she had grown to love opera and ballet and besides watching rehearsal from the wings queued for tickets in the gallery for the operas and ballet.

She was astoundingly knowledgeable especially in modern music, which she loved. She could talk knowledgeably about Beethoven, Berlioz, Herne Heinz, Wagner and Stravinsky as well as himself.

“You should try Mahler” Simon said.

“I don’t do symphonic music. I get so bored at concerts as I am always waiting for the curtain to go up. That's why I like opera” Simon was not impressed that this young lady with impeccable taste did not like Mahler and told her she would learn to love Mahler as she grew older. He suggested Symphony 2 Second Movement as a start.  In her school uniform Antoinette still looked 12 years old. She had not grown one inch.

She looked him straight in the eyes and said seriously. "Mahler is never performed and I cannot afford the records! Long playing records are  expensive".

Tea was served, China as there was no lemon and Tring, trying to be helpful suggested that Antoinette should learn Schubert. Antoinette had a small voice but would be suitable for this genre. Antoinette was at a disadvantage, as she had never come across Schubert. Tchaikovsky, and Stravinsky wrote ballet music and it appeared that Schubert wrote songs.

“My dear young lady, you should sing Schubert, I know it is written for the male voice but your tiny voice would suit it and it is not as if you will ever be performing it in public, is it” Tring delivered in a condescending manner.

Antoinette looked at Tring rather like Alice in Wonderland looking at the caterpillar on the mushroom.

“Tring and I perform the two Schubert cycles often” said Simon softly. He could see that Tring was in danger of putting Antoinette off

“ I’ll make a point of looking up the songs up when I get home. I am not a singer I am a ballet dancer.” said Antoinette defensively.

“Antoinette Miller,” said Tring for that was her surname and this was the first time he had grasped the suitability of the name , “ Why ‘Die Schöne Müllerin’ Tring exclaimed in glee sounding more like Lewis Carrol's caterpillar than ever!

‘Yes, you shall be King’s “Schöne Müllerin”

King too was struck by the aptness of Miss Miller’s surname and both of the mature men giggled like naughty boys and the “in” joke went far above Antoinette’s head as although she spoke French she did not have one word of German. Translated “Die Schöne Müllerin” means “Beautiful Miller Maid”. It was a joke that would come to haunt them all.

The Beautiful Miller Maid Chapter 3 Part 2 can be found here.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

The Beautiful Miller Maid By Janette Miller Chapter 2 part 4

The following is part of the opening chapters of a novel I have written based on my youthful experiences. It is based on Schubert's song cycle Die Schöne Müllerin which tells the tale of a young miller who falls in love. You can find the earlier chapters on this blog. One day I'll put the whole thing up as a iBook.

The Beautiful Miller Maid by Janette Miller

Chapter 2 Where? Part 4

Performance, any performance is like consummating a marriage. Here was an middle aged, performance hardened experienced man and a young, inexperienced girl of whom King actually knew nothing, performing in front of this knowledgeable audience and neither of them had really met let alone practiced. Simon knew at that moment that he had taken one hell of a risk. It could be a disaster for both of them.

It was just like consummating an arranged marriage in public. Both had to get on with it, like another famous couple, a young Marie Antoinette and her young husband, many years ago in France, in very public public.  It took Louis XVI many years but for King and Antoinette the moment had come.

Antoinette stood still and composed while Simon played page after page of the introduction. It was very long and seemed even longer to Antoinette who had never heard it before and keeping his fingers crossed Simon gave the eye signal and four bars later in Antoinette came dead in pitch and singing like an angel.

Audiences then were unused to the untrained, natural female voice. There was little call for it. Composers never wrote for young girls only choir boys and because of no audio enhancement young girls had to trained to become hooting  hollering sopranos so the freshness of the sound that came out of her mouth was like a breath of magic. The audience sat stunned as they listened for perhaps the first time, to the beauty a young girl’s voice.  The Pied Piper part had not done Antoinette justice but Wagner certainly had.

The piece was over and both Antoinette and Simon were overcome with relief. He got up and kissed her and said  “Thank you, thank you so much. I am just so sorry I put you through this.” Then he took her had and squeezed it as only an intimate can. His handshake said “Thank you we are artistic equals and I admire you! You may be just 14 but not many singers could do what you did for me tonight ”

Simon led her forward to take her applause and she curtseyed so beautifully and gracefully and gently without smiling as if to say to the audience “for me? This is for me?” Then still in the deep curtsey she raised her head and smiled at the audience, flashing her eyes from side to side , taking in the house and the house responded and went absolutely wild with applause and encores.

“I think we must ask for an encore!” The Royal host demanded and amid the uproar Antoinette looked a Mr. King and said ‘Do you mean I have to do this again?”

“I am afraid so” said Mr. King “Sorry, but you’ll enjoy this time. We both shall enjoy it this time” and they did. This time they knew what they were doing and the music took them to a different world away from the crowds.

It was over, again rapturous applause. King arose from the piano, took Antoinette’s hand and said while shaking it softly. “I really enjoyed that, thank you, thank you so much!” Simon King's admiration for this young lady who had done him proud under the most difficult circumstances was boundless. Miss Miller had definitely put Tring in his place, even Tring could not top her  performance that night!

A kiss on the forehead, lots of curtseys  and that was it.  Antoinette Miller left for London with her parents the next morning.

“The audience certainly seemed to like her” said a flustered Tring the next day. "Pity she is not a boy!”

The Beautiful Miller Maid Chapter 3 Part 1 The Halt by the Brook can be found here

Friday, July 20, 2012

The Beautiful Miller Maid Chapter 2 part 3 Where?

The following is part of the opening chapters of a novel I have written based on my youthful experiences. It is based on Schubert's song cycle Die Schöne Müllerin which tells the tale of a young miller who falls in love. You can find the earlier chapters on this blog. One day I'll put the whole thing up as a iBook.

The Beautiful Miller Maid

Chapter 2, part 3 Where

Pansy Salmon was told to teach Antoinette the Wagner. Pansy, an aged spinster, who worshipped Simon was so jealous of this tiny girl that she followed Tring’s instructions to the letter. Pansy gave Antoinette just twenty minutes instruction. Considering the male children had had six weeks to pull The Pied Piper together this translated into virtually none.

Trevor reported that Pansy said Antoinette was fine but unmusical. Can’t play the piano but has a good ear.

The night of the Wagner Gala arrived cold and wet. It can rain in Devon and as tempus fugits there was no time for even a full run through for Antoinette. Trevor Tring saw to that. Antoinette was being asked to perform in front of one of the most knowledgeable musical audiences in Great Britain without a full run through. No one had bothered. Nobody had told her anything except that it was the most prestigious concert of the whole festival and she was a very lucky girl.

Antoinette was bright enough to realize that this was totally unfair on her but she had better try to put on a show.

Trevor kept Simon busy with the members Royal Family who were present until the last few minutes before the house was let in. It was bucketing down with rain and they could not be kept out any longer. The Churston Church hall was basic.

Then the stage manager realized that nobody had given Antoinette a run through.

“Mr. Tring” said Nigel Field “You must give the little girl and run thorough”

“She’ll be OK! I’m too busy and so is Mr. King. Let the audience in”

The Stage Manager was not afraid of Mr. Tring. “I am not opening those doors unless that child has a run through. Are you mad? Get Mr. King on this stage immediately and have a run through!”

“There isn’t time. Pansy says she knows it. It won’t matter if it is a disaster. I mean I did tell Simon not to do it! The girl is a dancer after all, not a musical bone in her body. Open the doors”


So Mr. King was prized from the Royal Family and was forced to rehearse. Never suspecting that the last time and only time Antoinette had sung this was yesterday morning for twenty minutes.

This was the first time Simon had spoken to Antoinette since the audition. Yes he had seen her as a child in the opera but this was the first time he had actually seen Antoinette as a person.

She was wearing a very pretty grey dress with a fluffy pink petticoat so fashionable in the 1950’s and she had the cutest of shoes, little gold sling backs with a slight high heal and her hair that had been hidden in the horrific costume was clean, shiny and softly curled. She was poised and confident and Simon could hardly believe his eyes. This was not the little 14 year old he had expected. In fact she looked closer to 17 than 14. Here was a young beautiful, poised young lady who was on the brink of adulthood. She was tiny though, just 4ft 9 ins and in school uniform and the ghastly Pied Piper costumes she looked about 12.

Antoinette looked startlingly pretty and fresh and not at all flustered. She looked rather annoyed. Simon immediately felt guilty. He should have rehearsed with her properly and now there was little time and in fact no time for a proper run through. Damn Tring.

“Look Antoinette, time is short, there is a bit of an introduction which I haven’t time to play for you but when I nod come in four bars later.”

They then proceeded to sing the work through once without the introduction and that was it! Antoinette faced one of the toughest musical and social audiences one could ever face with one rehearsal and a half run through.

A very nervous Antoinette waited through the first half of the concert and the rain was dashing down. David came along to help and encourage in an ironic way as he was miffed at not having been chosen. David was not used to playing second fiddle and never did again.

The special item was scheduled as the first on after the interval. It was not on the program so the audience got a coup de theatre as the curtain arose with Simon King seated at the piano and a beautiful young girl center stage with four young children behind her. Tring had been right about this bit!

A gasp of pleasure was heard from the audience and while the Presenter the Royal Duke and cousin of the Queen, gave the introduction one could hear the audience working out that the pretty young lady centre stage was the little girl from The Pied Piper. She stood amazingly still while the long introduction of about three minutes was played.

During this introduction Simon himself began to get nervous. He realized that Trevor had set him up and he was furious and he could hardly stop now and say ladies and gentlemen Your Royal Highnesses, I have to withdraw this item as I haven’t rehearsed it and it would be unfair on the young lady that is before you but he would dearly have loved to. For once Simon King was nervous.

“Oh my God I should have warned Antoinette that the introduction takes three minutes” thought Simon a bit too late. “I hope to God she comes in!”

The Duke who was Simon’s greatest hetrosexual friend and one of the few lovers of serious modern music in The Royal Family went on and on with his introduction for about 5 minutes. It was interesting, but for Antoinette and King it only put off the moment of truth. Would she come in?

“Your Royal Highnesses, Ladies and gentlemen I give you Richard Wagner’s birthday tribute to his wife.”

King caught Antoinette’s eye as he began to play and she looked at him and for the first time they were alone together.

To be continued tomorrow!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

The Beautiful Miller Maid Chapter 2 Where Part 2 by Janette Miller

The following is part of the opening chapters of a novel I have written based on my youthful experiences. It is based on Schubert's song cycle Die Schöne Müllerin which tells the tale of a young miller who falls in love. You can find the earlier chapters on this blog. One day I'll put the whole thing up as a iBook.

The Beautiful Miller Maid

Chapter 2 part 2 Where?

There was in the cast  one of King's and Tring’s favourite young gentlemen David. David was the flavour of the month. There was no doubt that David was brilliant and went on to fame and fortune. Normally this young gentleman would have stolen the show but the strangest thing started to happen. Although Antoinette had but two single lines she was mesmerizing.

The moment she arrived on stage the work started to live. David was brilliant but Antoinette was exceptional. The BBC director put her dead center and used her as the editing lynch pin for his program. She was so thin and pretty and classy. When she came on she sort of took in the house it was as if she actually looked at everyone in the audience personally.  When she sat still you looked at no one else and she could sit still.

Simon too for the first time in his life could not stop watching this tiny girl child. He forgot about David to the David’s annoyance although David was still given all the honors of the current favorite but the rides home in the silver Alvis and trips up to the Mill for tea stopped abruptly. David was a ghost.

Phebe! Simon thought. Antoinette could play Phebe! but could she sing Phebe that was the question? Simon had written Phebe for an adult not a boy treble and consequently it was very, very tricky and hard to sing. “I wonder?” Simon thought but as he watched the young girl and saw how her performance never varied. He became more confident that here at last was the girl he had been waiting for which would allow The Ghosts to be taken off the shelf where it had languished.

During the entire six weeks Simon never approached or spoke to Antoinette but there was no doubt in anyone’s mind that this was the star of the Churston Music Festival. The audiences loved her but Simon was still not sure she was up to it. The Ghosts was hellish difficult and had a sensitive subject – the seduction of young innocent children.

Simon started to make excuses to Trevor to go and watch rehearsals. Suddenly it appeared Simon was needed. Simon made sure he never actually talked to Antoinette but he watched her. He watched how she outplayed David who was as brilliant as ever. He watched how she coped with the ghastly costumes.

“The designer sure hated women’ thought Simon as he looked at the Marks & Sparks slippers that all the children had been forced to wear in the purpose of economy. 

Then one morning at breakfast Simon casually mentioned to Tring that he had possibly found a ‘Phebe’. Tring immediately became alarmed. There was a possibility that the BBC would mount a production of this opera next year.

“I’ve told you I am not doing that opera again.”

“Don’t worry. You will if I say so. This child might do.”

Reluctantly Trevor decided to take a look. He just turned up and he did not have to ask who this Phebe might be. It was obvious. “She’ll never be able to sing it” Tring consoled himself with this but I better make sure otherwise I shall have to sing Rawlings again. I’ll suggest a test and make sure she fails.”

A few discreet enquiries and Trevor found out that Antoinette had had no musical training, was a ballet dancer at a ballet school and had little formal education. Trevor knew exactly how to make a middle class girl fail and he would make it a BIG fail so she never came back.

That night Trevor casually mentioned to King that he had seen The Pied Piper that afternoon from the back.

“I didn’t want to make a fuss or put anyone off but I did see who you think could be Phebe. Yes she looks the part. Very upper class and proper and she has a sort of mousey charm which I find extraordinarily unattractive but could she stand the strain? Could she sing it? You ought to give her a trial run. A test!  I know the last night’s Wagner Concert. She could sing the solo in that little piece of Wagner that Wagner wrote for his wife Cosima on her birthday,  ‘Cosi Rosy’ and you could play for her. Oh it would look so charming and good for our reputations. A girl soloist instead of a boy. Oh you must”

“That’s too hard on her. It’s difficult. The boys needed weeks to get their solo lines right and they were simple. I made them simple. Wagner, any Wagner is not simple. I bet it has some horrible intervals. There is only a day. No that’s not a fair test.”

“Don’t be silly! It’s two lines. I’ll get Pansy Salmon to teach her. She can spend the mornings on it. Two mornings and you can play it through a couple of times. Pansy will say if she is not up to it.
Oh it will be enchanting.”

“But the whole of London will be there! The Duke is presenting it.
It’s the Festival’s main feature. Well it was until the success of The Pied Piper. Besides I haven’t even spoken to the child. No Trevor, think again.”

But Trevor was beguiling and indeed Simon had wanted to talk again to the child. She was so enchanting and pretty and her laugh was infectious so reluctantly Simon gave in with a proviso that he had rehearsals with her each day”.

Trevor agreed to everything but he instructed Pansy Salmon to give Antoinette just one short rehearsal. The first time she sang it through perfectly that was it. Then he saw to it that Simon King was too busy to rehearse or even play through. The first time they would play through would be on the night and even then it would only be half a play through. Antoinette would never have heard the introduction, which was over two minutes long. She would be unsure when to come in. Pansy was instructed not to play Antoinette the introduction.

Trevor smiled to himself. That should do it. Should be a disaster and goodbye Antoinette. Trevor slept well that night.

To be continued.

Beautiful Miller's Maid Chapter 2 part 3 Where?

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The Beautiful Miller Maid Chapter 2 Where? by Janette Miller

The Beautiful Miller Maid

Encouraged by the fact I had quite a few readers I shall upload Chapter 2 part 1.

Chapter  2

Song 2 Where?

Trevor and Simon were not involved with the rehearsals for ‘The Pied Piper’ in any way. Trevor did not have a part for once in ‘The Pied Piper’ much to his chagrin, Simon had deliberately not cast him. Trevor was destined to be cast as a villain in the nicest possible way. True there were lots of children in the cast and in the orchestra and that is where the two gentlemen spent most of their time.

In fact during the first weeks of rehearsals in London and at Churston, the cast saw virtually nothing of Mr. King at all except for the favoured  young male tenor who just got One lift home in the Alvis, a particularly expensive open topped sports car the make of which Simon King was particularly fond. It made him feel young.

The Pied Piper has an awful lot of boys.” the jolly Australian conductor Digger McQueen unwisely remarked to a gay colleague of Simon.  Digger was one of the most talented opera conductors around, had a ready heterosexual wit and seemed unaware that anyone could take offense.

“Simon has gone overboard this time! Not one boy but hundreds of boys!” This comment landed Digger in hot water. One of Trevor’s ‘little clique’ who had actually wanted to direct The Pied Piper himself sneaked to try to curry favor with Trevor and Simon. He did the unthinkable and told Trevor.

For Simon and Trevor this was not only an insult but a blow. If this became public it would be the end of their careers and perhaps the start of a prison sentence. Simon liked children, he would have liked his own but Trevor really did like boys. Simon felt his partner was more of a voyeur than an active pedophile but nevertheless this was the most dangerous moment in their entire public career and he would be an accomplice. Like Adam and Eve’s children he would pay for that sin.  

There was a nasty scene in the doorway of the local village hall where rehearsals of The Pied Piper were taking place where Digger McQueen and Simon King nearly came to blows. Simon it must be said landed a heavy right cut from which the Australian reeled. Fortunately none of the children witnessed this altercation and it was quickly hushed up. 

Digger was summoned to The Mill, where Tring and King lived in great splendor. Two very angry men accosted Digger. King would have loved to have sacked the conductor on the spot but what reason could he give? That the conductor was sacked because he had made a somewhat humorous but unwise remark about the pair being pedophiles?  Hardly.

“There are lots of girls too” said a very haughty Tring in his best upper class BBC voice in order to put the rough colonial in his place and so there were but out of sight.

The BBC Arts in Focus had been filming the opera but the young ladies all three of them had been banished to the beach while the boys did their bit in front of the cameras. Not a young girl in sight. One of the young ladies, Antoinette actually, had pointed out to Louis Crick who was wearing the tightest of trousers that it would be nice if the girls could be included in the documentary or words to that effect. Louis who would forgive a little boy anything could not bring himself to be questioned by a fourteen year old girl in such an outrageous fashion and banishment to the beach for the little girls was the punishment.

In the interests of ‘balance’ and to give a good impression the three little girl soloists were quickly retrieved from their isolation on the beach and without any rehearsal shoved in front of the cameras to restore the balance. For years after Antoinette felt that it was her outburst that had resulted in the change but she was mistaken.

Almost as bad was the fact that Simon King minus Trevor Tring was forced to waste a day and go and watch a rehearsal for the cameras. God how he hated rehearsals! It immediately  became apparent after one take that a new star had arrived in Churston. The little girl he had auditioned and had enchanted him was quickly enchanting everyone else and yet she did nothing. She had no part, a couple of solo lines and even these were a duo and yet Simon could not take his eyes off her.

Antoinette stood out like a beckon. She just sort of “shone”.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Dior uses real Flowers as set

The House of Dior has come up with an original idea. It is using over one million real flowers to decorate the rooms where the fashion parade is being shown. A highly original and expensive idea.

In theory the use of millions of flowers sounds wonderful but the reality judging from the photos leaves a lot to be desired. The result looks something of an overkill. Too many flowers too close together  looks awful. 

Flowers are like people. To be appreciated properly a person has to be treated as an individual. In a crowd the person who stands out is the person who is given the most space. The Queen is always presented with lots of room around her even when her subjects are crowded together. Although she is not the most beautiful person or indeed the cleverest she is the one that stands out.

Imagine millions of Queens wearing a crown all crowded together! Mind boggling!

A single red rose can be stunningly beautiful but the room of millions of red roses is overpowering and uncomfortable.

Original idea? No. I did this 30 years ago for a production of Gilbert and Sullivan. The First Act was all real flowers. The production only had to last for 6 days and the flowers just made it. Sad as it is in weekly rep all the old scenery gets dumped. The flowers looked beautiful but some members of cast and audience had hay fever!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

The Beautiful Miller Maid Chapter 1 To Wander by Janette Miller

Here as promised is the first chapter of my novel. There is a prologue which I have omitted. The book is based on the Schubert song cycle Die Schöne Müllerin. There are 24 songs and 24 chapters. The cycle tells a tale of a three sided love triangle. It ends in tragedy. A CD of the songs accompanies the book and is already available on iTunes.

The Beautiful Miller’s Maid 
Song One – To Wander Die Schöne Müllerin Schubert

It became necessary to hunt for a few little girls again to sing alongside the boys in The Pied Piper. The girls parts would be small, just a couple of solo lines. This did not stop Simon King from writing some horrible musical lines full of augmented fourths for the poor little girls whereas the boys lines were a piece of cake as Simon knew how to write for young male voices.

It was decided in desperation and as a last resort to audition girls from the local London Professional Arts Schools of which there were three. These schools were actually ballet schools providing child ballet dancers for the Royal Ballet which would not allow children from its own school on stage at this time, along with children for musicals and television. Some of the little ballet dancers had singing lessons.

If the girls could handle one line and were small they would do at a pinch. Naturally more trouble was taken with the boys, as they would have the major parts.

One morning in April Simon, without Trevor who could not bring himself to be present on this occasion although wild horses would not have stopped him being at every audition when young boys where involved, found himself in a small room in a Regency House in Hyde Park listening to a selection of young girls from London ballet schools that had already been pre selected by his gay but very creative director Louis Crick. It was not encouraging.

The morning was almost over when a tiny little fourteen year old with mousey hair and a very old singing teacher who was obviously a bit the worse for wear and very nervous entered the room. Simon had made sure that his name was not mentioned to the little girls although the singing teacher knew very well to whom she was about to perform, Britain’s foremost classical composer, and it scared her stiff. Dutch courage has been called for.

The last little girl curtsied, which Simon found vaguely amusing, why didn’t Trevor do that? and started to sing, a sentimental Edwardian song, “The Second Minuet”. She sounded a little nervous and tremulous but her voice was clear and true and she had, something, a special quality and nothing else had aroused any interest that morning and she was small.

The little girl finished curtsied again very prettily and her singing teacher relieved it was all over made haste to collect the music and leave.

“Just a moment” said Mr. King “Have you anything that you could sing a little faster?”

“No I am afraid she hasn’t” said Miss Wakefield, for that was the singing teacher’s name. “I am so sorry”.

The little girl seeing her chance of fame and fortune fading away jumped in with alacrity. “Oh but Miss Wakefield what about “The Fairy Pipers? I can sing that!”

Miss Wakefield gasped in horror. “The Fairy Pipers” was a Victorian musical hall song with double entendre, which had gone unnoticed by a young innocent fourteen year old but Miss Wakefield knew was highly unsuitable for performance to the greatest British living and very gay composer. Miss Wakefield was not going to let her lack of musical taste let her down on such an occasion. She had her standards.

“So sorry I haven’t got the music, come on Antoinette and she pushed Antoinette out of the room.”

“Oh but Miss Wakefield” said an anxious little voice “You always play it from memory!”

Then Simon used all his little boy charm. He was not really interested in this little girl, she could have walked out and he would never have given her another thought but he was bored and decided to try his ‘little boy lost ‘act to see if it would work and it did. Like a charm.

Simon had this ability and charisma to make people fall in love with him almost instantly. It was enchanting and it worked every time on male and female alike. It was hard to resist. Many women in his past had been bowled over by this feat. Lorna Winter was still enthralled. Simon knew he could do it and he secretly enjoyed it. Trevor knew this too and took great care to see any female conquests were disposed of rapidly, even Lorna would go as soon as Trevor could get an opportunity. But Lorna was canny.

“For me” said the little boy lost seductively looking into Miss Wakefield’s eyes, “Just this once?” and Miss Wakefield did. Never in her life had this elderly spinster been looked at in such a fashion. Miss Wakefield’s knees trembled and she caved in graciously. Miss Wakefield’s reward was never to see him again.

What happened next was momentous. Antoinette launched into the musical hall song, which was all about fairy pipers playing about at night with actions. She did the lot with a straight face and totally oblivious to the sexual innuendos. Finishing up with a “Come! Come!” and another curtsey. That’s three already thought Simon. What next?

How Simon and Louis kept a straight face throughout this song will never be known but they did. It must have been hilarious as never before or since has anybody auditioned for Simon King, England’s youngest and famous classical composer with a musical hall song about “fairies” and got away with it.

“Thank you Antoinette” said a shaken Mr. King “That was very nice” and he looked down to see who was to be next. Both of the men were about to explode with laughter and the quicker the elderly woman and the young innocent, mousy girl left the better.

“Excuse me” said a small but attractive speaking voice “But are you Mr. King, the composer of “Henry VIII”?

Mr. King, the said composer looked up in astonishment!

“Yes! Yes I am! How did you know that?”

I recognized you from the photo in the souvenir program. My mother took me to see Henry VIII at Covent Garden in Coronation year and I adored it, may I just say how I love all your ballets. I have seen “The Little Mermaid “Twice” and not to be stopped Antoinette started to sing the “little march”. As this had yet to come out on LP the only way she could have known this was to have seen it and more than once.

Mr. King took a longer look at this funny little thing who had recognized him and knew his “little march!”

“Thank you! Thank you Antoinette! Not many people actually saw that opera. It was not a success. I don’t think even Louis has seen it!”
Louis concurred.

“Come along, Antoinette, you mustn’t speak to Mr. King like that!” said a flushed and bewildered Miss Wakefield.

Mr. King took another long look at this little girl who had spoken up so knowledgably and he held out his hand to her and shook it with real warmth but he did not bother to look in her eyes as he had done for Miss Wakefield but he was impressed if only for a moment.

Antoinette curtsied yet again, smiled and deliberately caught Simon's eye with a cheeky little grin as if to say, “I’m something special!” It was weird. Simon felt that for once someone had enchanted him as he did with others. For a second Simon had fallen under the spell of a fourteen year old child and a girl child at that. He pulled himself together instantly but she had gone.

“I really cannot see what I see in her” remarked Louis “But she is small and can sing in tune. “She’d make a good Phebe with all those curtseys! Only joking! She’d never sing it. Stupid of you to make Phebe’s music so difficult! We’ll never find a child Phebe now!”

Antoinette got the job as she was the best of a bad bunch and there was truly no one else and duly arrived at Churston Devon for ‘The Pied Piper” rehearsals and the 1958 Churston Music Festival.

The Beautiful Miller Maid Chapter 2  part 1  can be found here!