One of the things I was looking forward to before the C word struck was a performance by The Orchestra of Opera North of Also Sprach Zarathustra, which was due to take place in Leeds Town Hall and Huddersfield Town Hall.

They always say that you can tell if someone is cultured by how they refer to pieces of music. Is it William Tell Overture or The Lone Ranger, Spartacus or The Onedin Line, The Flower Duet from Lakme or The BA advert, Bolero or that tune wot Torvill and Dean used to skate to? However you refer to Also Sprach Zarathustra it is one of the most stirring pieces of music ever used in a film – 2001: A Space Odyssey if you hadn’t already worked it out.

Indulging in one of the most extreme examples of WFH so far in this pandemic, The Orchestra of Opera North have put together a film of themselves playing this piece of music to make up for not being able to do it in the concert hall.

When the original dates were cancelled Daniel Bull (cello) and Lourenço Macedo Sampaio (viola) got in touch with Tobias Ringborg, who was due to conduct the concerts, and worked out how to put on a socially distancing performance. They decided that they would get the forty members of the orchestra to scrub up and put on their posh frocks to play from their own homes in Yorkshire. Tobias Ringborg, the guest conductor wielded his baton from an empty church in Stockholm. Before you say that his journey to the church wasn’t strictly necessary, there is no lockdown in effect in Sweden where bars and restaurants are still open.

The film is brilliantly edited and obviously the performance is superb despite the circumstances. So, if you are fed up of seeing people who think that they can play an instrument or sing, and insist on proving that they can’t by posting a video of themselves ruining an otherwise good song, then see how it should be done here.

If this is not the best way to spend five and a half minutes today then you must be in lockdown with somebody very special!

I wish you all a very Happy Easter/Passover/weekend but please remember that COVID-19 will not be taking a holiday so please STAY INSIDE. I will be spending the weekend indoors with the one I love – myself!

Photograph provided by Opera North

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