Voskresenije in Glasgow
A grim journey to Glasgow today, through pouring rain and strong wind, was utterly worthwhile to hear a concert by Voskresenije, the vocal ensemble from St Petersburg who are currently touring the UK. The choir director, Jurij Maruk, and I are old friends - I've been organising concerts in Dunoon for him for the past 13 years or so - and so, in a year when we weren't hosting them, we travelled to hear the choir sing in St Patrick's Cathedral in the city centre.
I think this was one of the best performances I've heard from them, in the glorious acoustic of this recently renovated space. It's hard to believe that they've already been on the road for over a month, travelling in a minibus driven by their conductor, staying in different houses after gigs and moving on the next day. They are paid whatever the takings are for each concert, less whatever money the venue takes to cover costs, and the hospitality of audience members is vital to their budget.
So it was hardly surprising that I felt for them today, as they sang so beautifully to an audience of no more than 25 people before going off to spend a night in the nearby Euro hostel at their own expense. Yes, a big city like Glasgow has many concerts to choose from - but not like this. Yes, there is music everywhere - but not like this. There had been publicity, not least as posted on Facebook to amateur choirs in the area, but clearly either the weather or sheer indifference kept people away.
Well, hard cheese for them. They missed a lovely concert. And my head, at least, is full of Rachmaninov and the sound of the Volga boatmen - which is what the tall bass in front of the choir is singing here.
До свидания, Воскресение!