Yesterday evening I was tremendously honoured to take part in a concert in memory of the late and much-lamented Philip Langridge, at the Royal Academy in London (erm, yes, I know I appear to have forgotten the entry summing up my first season singing in Germany, and subsequent account of my trip back to England; I am hatching something along those lines, but a little detail has been lost in the past week due to being in something of a drug-fuelled post-operative haze. Normal service, i.e. wine-fuelled music-induced haze, will resume shortly).
I was sharing the stage with truly great artists, and to be so near when musicians who knew and loved Philip for many, many years stuck their hearts firmly on their sleeves and performed with such raw emotion and passion was something which I doubt will ever leave me. Philip was deeply loved by all the performers last night, and to leave such a legacy of inspiration is a mark of his worth as a great man. Everyone there, however, would palpably have lopped off their right arms in a second to have him back with us again; he really is sorely missed.
My contribution was to have been a spoken tribute and the mezzo line of Soave sia il vento. As it happens, my neck muscles have finally woken up to the outrage of incision, and have spent the past few days attempting to strangle me (I can't find it in myself to blame them for this, I have to say) so I had to ask a colleague to kindly sing in for me. I was of course disappointed not to sing, but I was still able to speak (thankfully there was a microphone) and I was pleased to have managed to say what I wanted to say about Philip as a teacher and an inspiration without bursting into tears or wandering flippantly off track (I am rather prone to this when allowed to speak in public). I was a little overcome by emotion after my speech, though, and would like to apologise to my colleagues in the trio for stirring up memories of Philip, introducing the piece as one of the most sublime musical moments ever, apparently (... as was whispered between the performers just after I'd said that; oh great, no pressure there, then...), and then buggering off the stage post haste, leaving them with lumps in their throats just before launching into Mozart!
I know I appalled a few people by appearing at all, gussied up to the nines with velvet and diamonds but noticeably throat-bandaged (would have taken all the contents of Asprey or wherever to actually cover the dressings!) and choked, but it would have taken more than recovering from simple emergency spinal surgery to stop me from doing what I could for that concert, and I am so glad to have lived through such an experience!