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5 & 1 Classical Playlists

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Begun during the pandemic, the 5 & 1 series was rebooted in early 2024 to offer access to the wonders of the world of classical music.

For many, it's a remote and intimidating world, full of arcane conventions, elitist institutions, and incomprehensible noises! As such, it is an art form widely assumed to have lost its relevance. Far from it!. After all, film music would never sound as it does without the foundations laid even by relatively recent compositions.

So, while many are willing to enjoy classical music, they have no idea where to start. Enter, the 5 & 1 series. The idea is simple. Every few weeks, we will post a new theme, under which five short pieces or extracts will be introduced, followed by one substantial composition (which might last anything from ten minutes to an hour). Everyone will hopefully find at least one piece to connect with in each post, and that this would spur listeners on to explore further exploration. 


The music will be as varied as possible, drawn from the last six centuries or so, originating from or evoking many different cultures, as well as the genius of all kinds of musicians.

Happy exploring!

The Seasons: Sumer is icumen in!

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During our four years living in Uganda, one of the things I never really got used to was nice weather almost constantly. But then I am English. It was nearly always shirtsleeves' weather, hot but not usually unbearable. Downpours, when they came, tended to come in big bursts with what we called 'fat' rain; but normality quickly resumed. If the temperature did fall, the most one would need was a light sweater (which I would have to retrieve perhaps 2 or 3 times a year). It was perfect. Apart from the fact that it doesn't change much. There were supposedly rainy and dry seasons, but climate change has messed all those up...

The Architecture of Sound

Architecture and music don’t always feel like natural bedfellows. In fact, you might think they were mutually exclusive. One is characterized by solidity, permanence, and physicality; great buildings make us gaze in wonder in 360 degrees. The other is, by definition, fleeting and...

Music in Times of Crisis

Just weeks after the Second World War broke out in 1939, the renowned pianist Dame Myra Hess organized lunchtime concerts in the empty halls of London’s National Gallery. All the art had been whisked away for safekeeping deep in caves in the Welsh mountains. So instead of visual beauty...

A Choral Lent:

Retreat Into the Desert

The pilgrims who trudged to the Passover in Jerusalem often had to pass through barren, inhospitable terrain. Then, on top of the dangers inherent to being out in the wild, they faced the frequent threat of bandits or hostile inhabitants. It is no wonder that such dangers feature in the poems purposely written for these journeys (the Songs of Ascent: Psalms 120-134)...

Past Themes

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