Sunday, 9 December 2012

Carols at St Martin-in-the-Fields

The weekend festival of festivities continues today. Still wilfully ignoring my stomach bug, not least because this afternoon we're off to Feast, a pop up Christmas banquet in an old disused building in Islington where food will clearly be unavoidable... The terrible teenage girl in me would see this set of circumstances as a fortuitous silver lining but I'm an adult and so I'm pretending otherwise. Actually, the down-to-my-last-10-pounds-before-payday adult that I really am sees it as a shocking waste of money.

But enough with the slightly impolite discussion about stomach bugs and what happens when you feed them...

Last night we went a'carolling at St Martin-in-the-Fields and it was just delightful. I mean - I probably wouldn't have chosen Away In A Manger or Silent Night as my top two Christmas songs (the pesky high notes chief amongst my reasons, never mind the lack of a spine-tingling chorus...) but the Handel, Vivaldi and Bach they threw into the mix was beautiful.

It's such a gorgeous old church and I adore Shirazeh Houshiary's East Window, unveiled in 2008 as part of a multi-million pound renovation. The London-based Iranian artist won the commission to design the permanent window, the original of which was shattered by bombs during the Second World War. The brief for the job was apparently to "animate the light" and the restrained, gently warped, monochromatic grid seems to manage to do that even on a miserable, cold December evening. There's something beautifully inarticulate about it, which is I suppose part of it's success, as both a work of conceptual art and a window in a church.

On the scale of London churches (Westminster Abbey, St Paul's...) St Martin's is quite modest in size, but that gives it a real intimacy, made even more so when the orchestra came down the main aisle for the last carol (a rousing O Come All Ye Faithful) and members of the audience (congregation?) were asked to hold their sheet music for them. I got to hold the music for two viola players. Needless to say I felt very special...

We wandered over to Trafalgar Square afterwards for a better look at the tree - appreciating the alignment of London icons against the dark sky - Big Ben, Nelson's Column and the tree, an annual gift from Norway since 1947 in thanks for support during World War 2.

And then we scattered in respective directions of home. Our Christmas tree, purchased last night and delivered this morning, is up but naked and so we're off to Homebase for some light action before our Feast this afternoon.

Lots to look forward to.

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