Up and out with our two contrasting mutts: Westie = delicate, reluctant, elderly, small and off-white; Labrador = black and big, galumphing in all directions in search of a soggy tennis ball. But spring is in the air, the playing field grass has had its first cut (summery freshly dead grass smell) and the birds, as Chaucer has it “maken melodye”. Time then to reflect on a three days when I have been lucky enough to witness different kinds of artistic talent – at different stages in the Protean journey of striving and learning.
Tuesday evening and its Dunhurst Chamber Music where Ben Harlan and Mia Wade give the Dunhurst musicians an opportunity – for some their first – to perform; and it is in a friendly and informal setting which mirrors Western music’s early days of performance in private houses. The sense of accomplishment – of those, often halting, memorable first performances, sometimes battled through – is palpable. More young musicians are embarked! Wednesday night and I am in Chelsea at a comparable occasion courtesy of Hill House International, one of the largest prep schools in the country and the largest family owned one. Here one of their musical showcases, this one for brass, is the attraction and, as at Dunhurst, we see in many cases boys and girls rising to the difficult challenge of first performance.
Thursday brings a triptych of creativity in three media. The lunchtime St Luke’s, Chelsea concert by Bedales musicians brings pieces as various as seventeenth century madrigals, a Handel (Ombra Mai Fu) piece complete with James H singing male soprano and the old favourite, Somewhere, over the Rainbow. Early evening, back in Steep, and it is the private view for the Dunhurst Art exhibition where work ranges from traditional, draughtsman-like renditions of the Memorial Library (very difficult with all that Arts & Crafts irregularity) to Gormley-inspired sculptures and a tussock of riotously-decorated skate boards (sorry, nomenclature betrays my generation). It’s a wonderfully engaging exhibition and needs to be seen. Then on to the theatre for Bedales Dance Performs, where an enthralled audience sees 24 pieces, performed by a comparable number of dancers, ranging across the age span. Under Liz Richards’ inspired tutelage these young men and women produce work that shows how freedom to explore, coupled with the discipline of hard work and talented direction can have extraordinary results. Truly Head, Hand and Heart in action.
Bedales School is one of the UK’s top independent private co-education boarding schools. Bedales comprises three schools situated in Steep, near Petersfield, Hampshire: Dunannie (ages 3–8), Dunhurst (ages 8–13) and Bedales itself (ages 13–18). Established in 1893 Bedales School puts emphasis on the Arts, Sciences, voluntary service, pastoral care, and listening to students’ views. Bedales is acclaimed for its drama, theatre, art and music. The Headmaster is Keith Budge.