I look forward to visiting “my ladies”. I’m a retired engineer, not a professional musician, and I love to hear from them about their experiences of the classical music scene. They need no encourgement to talk! I hope that they get something from me in return.
Some years ago, I thought it was about time I put something back into the charitable side of music. I’d sung in choirs for over 50 years and was recently retired, so the time was ripe. A friend in one of the choirs I sang with was already a Visitor for the Musicians’ Benevolent Fund – as it was then, now Help Musicians UK – and I quickly got in touch with Angela Riches.
4 years ago Angela went with me to see a number of beneficiaries, which was an excellent introduction to both MBF and to the beneficiaries. I normally visit the beneficiaries about twice a year. “My ladies”, as I now call them, still causes amusement among some of my non-musical friends. One of the ladies lives in Dundee and I normally drive north through Fife just so I can see the wonderful view of the waterfront from the south end of the Tay Bridge. I pass the new V&A extension and Scott’s RRS Discovery on the way up to the west end of Dundee.
The lady in Dundee is a widow and was a piano teacher. Her husband played with one of the London orchestras, but she returned to Dundee some years ago after he died. I try to visit early in the afternoon which gives us ample time to talk over many subjects ranging from her holidays with an ex-pupil in London, operas, Dundee and environs, gardening, advice on how to grow camellias, the best way to book cheap rail tickets, how to work an i-Pad (no, I don’t have one), and so on. We could talk all day! In winter, daylight is long gone before I leave.
I sing in amateur choirs in the west of Scotland, but I am hopeless as a solo singer, I just don’t do it…. Except during a recent visit, she persuaded me to sing the Libera Me from Fauré’s Requiem. She seemed to think I made a good job of it, but I have my doubts!
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