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Andy Moss and the Beethoven Sand Sculpture

Whilst shovelling some sand below Beethoven’s chin I turned to Andy Moss. “So lets go and see a show tonight.”

Andy returned my gaze with a quizzical scepticism. “Oh yeah?  Why’s that then?”

“Well, we are making a sculpture for a classical music festival and we should probably see some classical music.”

“Mmm.”  Mr Moss eyed me even more suspiciously.  “And that’s the only reason is it?”

Whatever did he mean I thought to myself.  “Well yes.  We could go tomorrow night but there is a really good tune being played tonight that I really like and I think you will all really enjoy it.  It’s called Lark Ascending by Vaughan Williams and is one of the most magical tunes around”

“….And there’s no other reason why we are going? You see there is usually some other reason that we don’t know about.”

I was beginning to feel offended.  “Nope, just the music”

Mr Moss began to twist the ends of his moustache neatly in his thumb and forefinger, deep in contemplation of the situation.  “Ok.”  He was evidently willing to sit this one out and await the true conclusion.  “We will see.”

We were at the East Neuk Music Festival again making a sand sculpture in the village of Crail outside the glorious Honey Pot Café with Graham and Edna that is home to the world famous Crail Carrot Cake (claimed to be made by Page).  We were making a sculpture on the theme of Beethoven with Dan Glover from America working on the music score, me the face of Beethoven, and Andy Moss the haircut.  It was a somewhat daunting experience on account of it being a portrait of sorts and Beethoven’s miserable expression.  It is very true that if I am making a laughing face then it makes me laugh and smile, and the converse is true with a miserable face.  Still I plodded on.  I was encouraged greatly however when someone thought that it was to be Margaret Thatcher and then another Lady Gaga.  Lildhi who was one of the stewards looking after the sculpture said it was going to give her nightmares. Thanks for that.

On that note, I decided to go all the way and take up on Dan Glovers suggestion and give it roaming eyes.  You see there is an optical illusion where if you sculpt an object concave (negative) rather than convex (positive) as normal, then it will appear to follow you.  And so it was that Beethovens black eyes would follow you constantly no matter where you were.

Beethoven is watching you!

Some hours later we had arrived at the concert hall and watched the first half of the concert which was entirely strings.  “Well she was pulling some funny expressions.”  This was the half time commentary by Mr Moss on the violin soloist’s Isabelle van Keulen performance after the interval.  She is a very charismatic violinist from Holland and she is characteristically blond and tall as the Dutch tend to be.  It was evidently her that was to play the Lark Ascending.  “…..So why are we really here Jamie?”

“I told you, there is a really good piece later on.  You will like it.”

Dan then rolled into conversation with tired looking eyes, “Oh, man, I nearly fell asleep there, I need a coffee.” The poor lad looked like he had just got out of bed.  During the concert I had to pinch the soft tissue of his hand at one moment to stop him from dosing off.  “It’s not that I don’t like it, it’s just so soothing that it just lulls me off to sleep!”

For the second half we took our seats and we were this time accompanied by Tilly and Mohsina who were fashionably late as they are just so cool.  Mohsinah also had a cold which was great as she added to the lulls in the music with her sniffles.  But the second half was much more lively and nobody was dozing off this time.  Schubert woke us all up and got our feet tapping.  I was so excited by the sight of the trombones (I used to play the trumpet) that I had to correct myself for using some colourful expletives.  I was in civilised company now.  It has been said to me many times, you can take the boy out of Bradford, but you cannot take Bradford out of the boy.

And back onto the stage came the lead violinist Isabelle van Keulen.  I was by this stage a little nervous due to Mr Moss’s probing accusations and the fact that I’d brought everyone here to pretty much listen to this piece.  I myself had heard it many times on the radio and then began to realise that it is actually a very difficult piece to play and some fourteen minutes long.  I began to question whether this tall Dutch lady could play this delicate solo.  As she walked on there was lots of clapping and nodding, but I did detect some nerves from her, and rightly so, only later did I find out that she had never played this at a concert before.  The audience then went quiet and she propped the tiny violin that is 250 years old onto her shoulder and then clamped it there with her chin, occasionally releasing her hands from it entirely to make sure it was balanced and secured comfortably.  Her expression was now sombre and totally concentrated.  It was just her and the violin, building up to the moment when her bow would move across the strings and the piece would begin.

Total Silence, no movement from anybody.  And then the Lark began to Ascend.

There is something utterly compelling about music.  What is in the fabric of a rhythm and sound that can make people stand aghast with such joy and amazement?  The sounds that came from that little violin and the supporting Scottish Chamber Orchester were as sweet as Dan Glover’s honey, and all were licking their lips and some wiping their eyes towards the end.  But as if this was not enough, Isabelle played the piece so magnificently that even the seagulls chimed in their calls in perfect pitch to celebrate this wonderful piece of music.  Vaughan Williams, thank you so much for such an amazing piece, and Isabelle van Keulen you were fantastic.  Even Mr Moss had to almost concede that my true intentions were to see the music.  But still there is an element of doubt in the end of his moustache!

Oh, and we also did some sand drawings just to throw in an added extra.

Brittle Star

Brittle Star. Photographed by Nigel King from

Star Fish Sand Drawing

Star Fish Sand Drawing.  Photographed by Nigel King from

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