April 20th - Day 2

At lunchtime I walked up eight large stone steps and into the entrance of St Martin-In-The-Fields, the large, bright church that has overseen Trafalgar Square and before then the King's Mews from the square's north-east corner for nearly three hundred years. I stopped in front of two closed doors, one of which had a sign on it saying "Concert in progress - no entry".

I stood in the porch area and marvelled at how clear the music coming from the main part of the church was - how it managed to fill up every inch of this small adjacent place despite being performed a hundred yards away in a different room and on the other side of two large wooden doors, probably made of something thick and sturdy like oak. Then I noticed, perched above me on either side, two audio speakers.

I was allowed in during a break between pieces of music and sat on a pew about half way up the nave, near the sides. The audience was at least a hundred strong. Many of them were quite elderly and some were tourists. We listened to flautist Eimear McGeown play a selection of reels on traditional Irish flute before she was joined by pianist Aleksander Szram to perform a lovely, drifty short piece of music called "Home from the Storm" by David Heath. It was written in 1984, but wasn't orchestrated for a cd recording until 2003. As I leant back in my pew, gazed at St Martin's fine ceiling and watched the music swirl sleepily above me, I realised that unexpectedly stumbling across wonderful music played by renowned musicians was something I'd like to do more often.

The concert finished. The musicians left the altar, momentarily disappeared behind a side door, reappeared for an encore of applause and disappeared once again into the vestry, or something similar, where they probably worried if they could have played that note a little bit better. Then the audience also left. Apart from one man who was asleep in the furthest corner of the furthest pew. He wore khaki shorts and his legs sported large scabs. I went back in five minutes later and he was still asleep. I wondered at what time they usually kicked him out.


2011 update. This May Elmear has been invited by the Queen, I think to perform, to a reception at Buckingham Palace for Young People in the Performing Arts.

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