A musical composition has stayed with me over the last 50 years. We earnest – and often not-so-earnest – students would play it for ’atmosphere’ in college in the evenings as we drank coffee or cheap wine or beer, and discussed “Life” and similar earnest things. Alone in the Sudan I had it on a rather scratchy tape, sharing it willingly with friend Malcolm and other volunteers when we got together. In the middle of the Libyan Sahara I‘d listen to the cassette quietly in my trailer, or would sit outside on the step, feet in the sand, gazing at the thousands of stars in the ink-black sky. In Saudi Arabia it lifted spirits with thoughts of home. And now it’s available for calming or rousing when I need it. It’s Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis by Vaughan Williams.
Hope this doesn’t sound silly but I reckon that if you close your eyes and just listen, this piece can conjure up all sorts of visions, your own visions. On my desert island it could be the sea in all its moods, or nature serene and wild with the swaying of the palm trees, or memories of homeland, or dreams, or contemplation of Ultimate Things. Try it.
Coming back to today, here’s a respectable socially-distanced performance: