We were very lucky in our small rural County Secondary School circa early 1970's to have such a capable Headmaster as Mr Sampy. He set the bar high and I doubt anyone anywhere would be capable of improving on what he had to offer to Seahouses. It was 'only' a Secondary School, the brighter Grammar kids that had passed the Eleven Plus were bussed off into the nearby town fourteen miles away but for the material he had to hand he worked wonders, producing good citizens and scholars as best could be expected.
The children and the community were served well.
I also think that Mr Sampy enabled (or more accurately threatened, forced, terrified) children to make an effort, something seemingly absent in our modern world circa 2016.
The same school I think looks set to be closed, the greatest act of idiocy imaginable by both Northumberland County Council and the Educationalists. Idiocy beyond belief (much like the abandonment of the traditional wood and metalwork courses) to close such a school an utter waste of facility and premises, such schools fundamentally without question need to be in the local setting, in this case within walking distance for many of its users. Are they jealous of its good name and reputation or why do they wish to put the knife in to such a community? Obviously the machinations of those from afar, not local folk. Again we are being badly served by those that think they know better (the result of education !!) and unfortunately hold the power to 'swing' and implement such decisions; Orwell predicted the danger would emerge from the so-called Left (which would become indistiguisable from Fascism) which at the moment due to roughriding over any discussion process or process of logic or assimilation of human good sense looks more like a Dictatorship as indeed he predicted. They need to realise they are the servants of the public, the community, not its Masters!! .... I shudder to think what bizarre conversations are held behind closed doors and that goes for much of what the present County Council is doing. Its not Democracy, its crow-bar politics. I wonder how why or what is pulling their strings ????
Its another instance of 'doublespeak' when the politically imbalanced and seemingly non-Democratic County Council are telling us of the imagined 'benefits' to arrive from fragmenting Council Departments to around the County yet are reinforcing the opposite view by dismantling all the many irreplacable hubs of communities and bussing kids to distant towns. Here in place already we have a wonderful local on the doorstep service that is being mangled to endless bussing to and fro in the so-called need for consolidation; never again the walks to school (ie exercise, chatter, realising the seasons, fresh air, frosty days, spring mornings, autumn leaf fall etc). Now they will have to implement some dizzy 'initiative' ... (God how I hate that word) ..... to get kids walking again !
Never mind, think of all the extra time they can gain glued to their i-phones....
Its due to Mr Sampy that I get my passion for Classical music, an early and in fact singular exposure, pieces played at the beginning and end of Assembly have stayed with me for life and I would imagine likewise with many of the other children that also attended that school. A little bit of knowledge goes a long way to helping ones confidence to learn more. For instance, the famous duet from 'The Pearl Fishers' by Bizet is so beautiful, so emotional; I also remember Mendlesohns 'Fingals Cave'. But I cannot remember any Britten, perhaps Miss Lambert the Music Teacher played 'Young Persons Guide' an excruciating piece that leaves me disinterested etc not all classical music appeals to me; but surely we should have been treated to something more appropriate for instance Brittens 'Four Sea Interludes' a favourite of mine I am sure only found twenty years later in adulthood. So luckily tonight I have found a version of the Bizet with subtitles.... enlightenment at last as to what the heck they are singing about. Opera is a funny old game, to quote the old joke 'a man gets stabbed and what does he do.... sing' !! Miss Lambert I think had difficulty putting across what joy she found in these pieces, i have a feeling she enjoyed Purcell but I cannot remember feeling any connection to what his work might hold for me in those distant days and anyway now I adore his music.
One of the tricks of teaching is to somehow put across the value and importance of the subject in hand, its excitement.
We also had the problem that on tv we had at least a weekly arts programme I guess Sunday evenings and some of its offerings were indeed hideous to my mind, I can still recall forty five years later some piece of say Maxwell Davies or Harrison Birtwistle dramatised to a stage performance of 'living toy soldiers' that haunts me dreadfully to this day; Maxwell a man that when in conversation sounds so grounded and likeable and encouraging but his music turns me away from anything pigeon-holed as 'classical/ serious/ new music' and I reckon would do the same for anyone else but the most adulatory and committed.
So what would I reckon to be a crash course in getting a hook into classical music?
Schumanns 4th Symphony.
Beethoven Rasumovsky Quartets, op.59... theres three pieces.
Brittens Sea Interlude 'Dawn'
Purcell 'If Loves a Sweet Passion' from the Faery Queen.
Purcell 'Come Ye sons of Art'. https://youtu.be/Y_Up3cZa0wI
Bach Cello Suites especially 4,5,6.
Beethoven 5th (there was an animation on tv thirty years ago that got me started).
Beethoven 6th Pastoral Symphony.
Songs of John Dowland, early Alfred Dellor, William Blow, etc etc
Performances can be variable, not all I like, a performance may not please me, I prefer creaky old recordings.
I don't have the acuity or staying power to follow a complete opera but there are excerpts that are utter gems and Mr Sampy knew fine well when in his care it was the only opportunity we would have to sample such things. Likewise with Mr Yellowley our Tech Drawing, Wood and Metalwork Teacher, a once in a lifetime opportunity to be in the presence of such high calibre ability, I cannot praise these men sufficiently.
Likewise this man, http://www.berwick-advertiser.co.uk/news/local-news/all-news/glendale-middle-school-head-retires-after-two-decades-1-236326
Again, I think Mr Sampy realised the fleeting nature of time, its brevity; the few short years he would have to mould and influence his charges, once fourteen and fifteen the majority were drifting away from his influence.
So heres back to the Bizet thread ....
This tribute Concert for James Levine resonates certainly, a name I know from the many Saturday nights i have worked when listening to the bbc r3 'Live from the Met' with his most distinctive voice taking time to explain.
And heres the Bjorling/Merrill that is unforgettable, how can any child fail to be stirred by this gem ....
Above are the singers we would hear at school Jussi Bjorling and Robert Merrill, names new and exotic to simple village kids yet when re-transmitted to unknowing victims would make the child sound so knowledgable !! A little knowledge can often go a long way.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Au_fond_du_temple_saint
The above Ancona and Caruso does it for me, admittedly its hard to choose but somehow 'its the one'......
And so newly hooked on Caruso I find the incredible piece below .... I am utterly captivated.
heres a link explaining the excerpt .... https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Una_furtiva_lagrima
the opera itself by Donizetti 1830 .... https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/L
fascinating and tragic ... https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Enrico_Caruso
Imagine the eagerness and anticipation afforded by these older recordings when themselves new, allowing a window onto such abilities and human achievement no matter where you are in the world or in any distant village. Assuming of course you could afford the apparatus and the recordings in the first place and to be eager for such things, not so likely for the ordinary working household.
Unfortunately some people have a glass wall that cannot be bridged, they compartmentalise as 'classical music' and henceforth at all accounts be impervious to its merits. But in many cases there is little difference of many genres when you actually seek out with your ears and your mind the thread of what each performer is doing, our imagined study case here would prefer latter day rock music let us imagine, but they fail to realise that the 'freedom' and spontaneity of what they are listening to has in fact even from the start been 'arranged' and developed to be in fact a scripted piece and most likely their favourite hit will have been played hundreds of times already at rehearsal and concert to within an excruciating familiarity for the performers and crew, in fact as lets say professional musicians the simplicity of the work must make them crave something more like Chamber or Opera. To a certain extent it would be impossible to be high functioning in the music business and not develop such tastes. But of course the Record and Promo people would never tell you of such things.
Of the modern versions of 'Una Furtiva Lagrima' from Donizettis comic Opera i am utterly delighted in finding Vittorio Grigolo ... delicacy, diction, brilliance, tender humanity ... I am an instant fan. Placido Domingo I liked, Pavarotti not so much, but this man enriches the piece and ones own life ....