Monthly Archives: August 2014

If it could go on….Orchestra Concerts not to be missed in England!

I would not rate myself a music aficionado. I am just a cheap consumer of music of all sorts which makes me run faster on treadmill or curb some insomniac nights or just for any moment for pumping up my adrenaline. However i would definitely put Music on my “Top Five companions of Life” list.

Staying in England one cannot help getting addicted to music of all sorts. From street musicians to high profile performing artists, one can find every rhythm to soothe one’s sense. In couple of my travels within England, i was coaxed by a music loving friend to attend Orchestra concerts, the idea didn’t excite me nor was it too repugnant, so i gave in. What i experienced was so beautiful and soul stirring, i decided it to share with all fellow travelers who are music lovers and travel to England, to keep few hours of their visit to attend an Orchestra show.

Oxford : The City of the Learned and the Artists

My first experience of attending a concert was at the very famous Sheldonian Theatre in Oxford. This theatre is a masterpiece of architecture built in 1669 and has beautiful frescoes on its walls and ceilings. The concert I attended was to commemorate the 700+ years of Magdalene College in Oxford.

Sheldonian Theatre, Oxford, UK

The choir came in immaculately dressed in black. Violins, Drums, Saxophones along with Opera Singers, they performed the famous ‘Dream of Gerontius’ by Edward Elgar. My eyes were shut in bliss as the music went thru its high and low notes. For a person who doesn’t really understand fine music, i would say it was an amazing experience which one shouldn’t miss.

A Choir performance in a Cathedral : Winchester and Worcester

Cathedrals have historically been performing such concerts producing famous works of artists. Those who happen to stay in Cathedral and parish towns may find this as a way of life.
Another of my beautiful experience to an Opera was at Winchester and Worcester Cathedrals. The intimidating interiors, tall columnar walls, arches and grandeur of such large notable Cathedrals is already mesmerizing.

Winchester Cathedral, Wincheshter, UK

To sit in one of the rows and listen to a beautiful rendition, for me it definitely would be once in a lifetime experience. I was really fortunate to attend Mozart’s requiem, one of the most famous and mysterious work of the remarkable artist.

Worcester Cathedral, Worcester in preparation for the Three Choirs Festival

While i may not have understood the finer nuances of these performances, i still felt extremely moved and transported to a blissful world with these lovely symphonies.

I would highly recommend music and instrumental lovers to attend one such concert while in England.

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The Hidden Gem of English Heritage – Canterbury

On a bank holiday earlier this year when I felt frustrated as I didn’t join any of my friends for a trip to Europe, I aimlessly surfed the ‘must visit’ places of England to find a place to go on a solo day trip. In hindsight I feel blessed and thankful that I made an uninformed, random choice to visit Canterbury only to discover a hidden gem loaded with history.
Canterbury is truly an inspirational city in the beautiful county of Kent. I did not really find it listed in the ‘Must See’ places websites, however it will be in my list for those who are sucker for history and have a long stay in England to devote a day or two for this visit.

Few would know at the back of their hand that Christianity has its genesis in England in Canterbury. The first church of England, St Martin’s is the oldest living parish and is nestled in a quiet corner beyond the City center. 

St Martin’s has few visitors other than the locals who come here for prayers. I apparently happened to attend the afternoon service on a Good Friday which was serene beyond words. The Church has a large resting place for many notable families and personalities from the 4th century. St Martin is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

A google search on Canterbury will lead you to one ‘Do Not Miss’ monument and that’s the magnificent Canterbury Cathedral. It was difficult for me to find the entrance to the Cathedral as it opens up at the end of a busy street. However after going around it couple of times, i finally ended up to see a very interesting facade in a busy market square.

Founded by St Augustine in 597 AD who was sent to England as a missionary, this Cathedral has seen centuries of history of invasions, plundering and renovation. I was totally intimidated by its mammoth edifice, the honey colored tall Romanesque spires, and people like ants spread around to take a click from every possible angle of this beautiful monument. Joining the St Martin Church, this cathedral is also a part of the World Heritage Sites.

The interior of the Cathedral is mindblowing. I was awed by high arches, exquisite stained glass depicting various events in history, statues of saints and bishops. This Cathedral has its own share of secrets and gory past. The most talked about assassination of Bishop Thomas Beckit has gone down the relics of history.

The Cathedral has a strong pillared Crypt. There is an esoteric atmosphere in every corner of the Crypt. While I went around the pillars and altar, I felt as if there are stories untold to the world buried here, truths never to be revealed and mysteries awaiting to be unraveled.

The third one of the Canterbury World Heritage Site Buildings is St Augustine Abbey. Completely in ruins, this is a very less visited site by tourists. This was a monastery used by St Augustine for educational and religious purpose. Today there are only few leftover dilapidated walls, graves and a lush green scenery all around. One needs to buy a ticket to view the Abbey ruins.

There are plenty of other places to see in Canterbury like the Chaucer’s Tales, the very modern Marlow Theatre, The Beaney Musuem, the riverside walks and a plethora of pubs with very quirky names. However in the chronicles of my travels, the visit to these three iconic world monuments will be etched forever for being replete with tales of the bygone English history.

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